Ultimate Guide To The Cheapest Replacement Roofing Materials (2023)

Considering buying a new roof? If you’re on a tight budget, it’s probably tempting to look for the cheapest type of roofing material out there. But is that a good idea? In general, saving money on a roof is wise, as long as you’re using a material that will protect your home and last at least a decade. This helps you avoid paying for labor fees more frequently.

In this article, we’ll take a look at the best cheap roofing materials and help you strike a balance between affordability and durability.

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What Is the Cheapest Roofing Material?

Replacing a roof is not the most affordable home improvement project. So it makes sense to want to search for the cheapest roofing material on the market. Asphalt will typically be your best choice. But even with this, there are different types, some of which can be more expensive than others.


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Cheapest Replacement Roofing Materials


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When it comes to roofing materials, there are lots of choices if you have a large budget. If your price range is more limited, though, you’ll likely be looking to replace your roof with asphalt shingles. And that’s okay. Today’s asphalt shingles are durable and affordable, making them an attractive option among homeowners. What’s more, asphalt roof shingles cost about $1 to $2 per square foot to install.

This type of shingle is made from a mix of asphalt and fiberglass to provide your roof with a barrier of protection against water and other elements. Asphalt shingles are typically nailed down in rows over a protective underlayment.

What you may not know is that there are three types of asphalt shingles to choose from:

  • 3-Tab shingles: This is a single layer of shingles with no overlap. You can expect 3-tab shingles to last about 15 years and withstand wind speeds of up to 60 miles per hour without damage.
  • Architectural shingles: These asphalt shingles overlap some, and look a bit more attractive than 3-tab shingles, with a slightly dimensional look. They can last 20 to 30 years and withstand wind speeds up to 120 miles per hour without damage.
  • Luxury shingles: The most expensive type of asphalt shingle, these luxury options can last up to 50 years and protect your home against elements like water, wind and even fire.


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If asphalt isn’t your first choice of roofing material, you could consider corrugated metal. You can expect to pay between $1 and $2.50 per square foot for metal roofing, and you can choose from several different colors to match the aesthetic you’re hoping for when it comes to your home’s exterior.

Metal roofing is installed on your home in large sheets which overlap slightly to protect against water damage. The sheets are then bolted or screwed down using special water-resistant screws (in the same color as the roofing). When installed and maintained properly, a metal roof can last up to 50 years, making it a wise option if you’re looking for a cheap roofing material.

However, installing metal roofing is not a simple DIY project. Be advised that the sheets are heavy and can easily cause serious cuts to skin. Moreover, the metal can quickly become extremely hot in the daytime sun, and it isn’t advisable to walk on metal roofing since the material can become bent and damaged.


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Rolled Roofing

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By far the cheapest roofing material you can buy, rolled roofing is affordable but it has significant drawbacks when used on residential properties. Made of a fiberglass material mixed with asphalt, this type of roofing comes in rolls and is installed by unraveling the material and laying it down on your roof. It comes in 100-square-foot rolls and can be found for as low as $.50 per square foot.

Many people find that installing rolled roofing is a relatively simple DIY project. But in general, it’s only advisable to use rolled roofing on uninhabited structures due to its low durability and lack of protection against the elements. In general, a rolled roof lasts only five to 10 years. If you’re looking for the cheapest roofing materials for a shed, for instance, rolled roofing might be a great option.


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If you’re hoping to find the cheapest materials for your roof but simply can’t live without the beautiful aesthetic provided by wood shingles, cedar might be your best option. Cedar shingles can be installed for about $2 to $4 per square foot. This means they’re slightly more expensive than asphalt, but they boast a long lifespan of up to 30 years with proper maintenance.

What’s more, they provide better insulation and weather resistance than even top-of-the-line asphalt shingles.

What to Consider When Choosing Cheaper Replacement Roofing Materials

When it comes to replacing your home’s roof with cheap roofing materials, the old adage certainly applies: You get what you pay for. Choosing the least expensive materials will mean your roof won’t last quite as long as if you’d invested a bit more money into finding durable roofing materials with a slightly higher price tag.

That’s why we love the option of asphalt shingles, which tend to be a good compromise between price and durability.


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DIY Roof Replacement vs. Hiring a Roofing Company

Unless you’re a seasoned do-it-yourselfer, Forbes Home doesn’t recommend taking on a roofing project in order to save money. Roofing is an inherently dangerous task, which is why you pay for labor costs when hiring a professional roofer to take care of the job. Below, we’ve listed some of the factors you’ll need to consider when thinking about installing your own roof.

  • You’ll have to remove the existing roofing.
  • You will need a way to get the new roofing materials (which can be extremely heavy) onto the top of your property.
  • You’ll be exposed to the elements, and in some cases, even the roofing materials can heat up to dangerous levels, causing potential burns.
  • Falls are always a risk, and a fall from a roof can have catastrophic outcomes.
  • A roof that isn’t installed properly will not have the same lifespan as one that is correctly secured and installed.
  • You may have to work around difficult angles, soffits and dormers.

To arrive at the average costs in this article, editorial team members surveyed one provider and three cost databases on national and local levels. All averaged figures were correct at the time of publication and may be subject to change.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Why should I consider a more expensive roof?

It comes down to durability and lifespan. Choosing cheap roofing materials means your roof likely won’t last as long as if you had chosen a more durable material. Replacing a roof in a shorter timeframe because you chose cheaper materials also means you’ll pay much more in labor costs over time.

What is the most expensive type of roofing material?

One of the most expensive roofing materials you can buy today is solar shingles. These are like solar panels that are shaped to look (and function) like regular shingles. They’re beautiful, and over time they can generate electricity for your home, just like solar panels. However, the average cost to install solar shingles on a home is a whopping $52,000.

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What is the cheapest roof replacement material? ›

What is the Cheapest Roofing Material? Plain and simple, the absolute cheapest roofing material based on cost alone is asphalt shingles. However, some other options are more expensive at the initial cost but will last longer, such as wood shingles, metal shingles, slate shingles, and solar glass shingles.

What is the best roof on a budget? ›

If you want the absolute lowest costing roofing material, asphalt shingles are usually your best option. Dimensional asphalt shingles are very durable, affordable, and go well with most residential structures. Affordable concrete tiles or corrugated metal roofing can also be great options for a budget-friendly roof.

What is the most common and affordable roofing type? ›

Shingles (Asphalt, Fiberglass, Composite)

Almost 90% of homes in the US use composite asphalt shingles because they're affordable, durable and easy to install. Asphalt shingles only cost $1.50 to $5.50 per square foot or roughly $8,000 per roof installation.

What is the longest lasting roof material? ›

Concrete, clay, and slate tiles have an average lifespan of 100 or more years. They are without a doubt the materials that last the longest but are also, bar none, some of the most expensive. Slate roofs are often called the “forever roof” because they can last seemingly forever.

What is the easiest DIY roofing? ›

Rolled roofing is one of the easiest and cheapest roofing materials you can purchase. Plus, it is one of few types of roofs that most homeowners can install on a do-it-yourself basis, although in a limited fashion.

What is the cheapest metal roof to install? ›

Corrugated Metal Roofing

Corrugated steel panel roofs are the least expensive type of metal roofing, costing about $3.50 to $6.50 per square foot comparable to the price of asphalt shingle roofing. Average costs to install a corrugated steel roof would be from $10,500 to $19,500.

What is the cheapest longest lasting roof? ›

Asphalt shingles! These are some of the lowest-cost materials on the market for roofing. Asphalt shingles are very common and great for budget-conscious homeowners. Their lifespan is shorter than other roofing materials with warranties of 15-30 years (about half as long as metal roofs).

What is the best roof for all seasons? ›

Metal Roofing

Metal roofs with standing seam panels and rib panels are among the most resilient and weather-resistant roofing systems on the market. Plus, the lifespan of a metal roof is up to 60 years.

What is the most durable roof covering? ›

Roofing material that lasts the longest are concrete, clay or slate tiles. These materials significantly outperform other natural products like wood shakes or any manufactured roofing materials including asphalt shingles and metal roofing.

What type of roof is most expensive? ›

The most expensive type of roofing material is slate.

For labor and materials, you can expect the cost of a slate roof to start around $15.00 per square foot and has the potential to get up to around $30.00 or more per square foot.

Which of these roof types would typically be the least expensive to construct? ›

Rolled Roofs (Around $50 Per Roofing Square)

This type of asphalt roof is typically available in 100 square feet rolls for easy transportation and installation. As the cheapest roofing material, it is less durable than other options in the market.

What are 3 basic roof types? ›

Three Common Roof Designs and Their Advantages
  • Hip. A hip roof has slopes on all of its sides. The roof doesn't have even a single vertical side. ...
  • Gable. A gable roof features two sloping sides that meet at the top to form a ridge. ...
  • Flat. A flat roof has an extremely low pitch and is almost horizontally level.
Nov 23, 2020

What color roof lasts the longest? ›

Lighter colored shingles might be better for longevity than dark colored shingles because of the way they react to light and heat.

What roof has the shortest lifespan? ›

Roofing materials generally have the following lifespans:
  • Wood shakes and shingles: 15 to 20 years.
  • Asphalt shingles: 10 to 30 years.
  • Metal/steel: 50+ years.
  • Slate: 50+ years.
  • Tile and concrete: 50+ years.
  • Foam: 25+ years.
  • Built-Up roofs: 25-30 years.
  • Single-Ply: 30+ years.
Nov 1, 2017

What type of roof has a life span? ›

Other Roofing Materials
  • Cedar shingles and shake roofs — between 20 and 40 years.
  • Natural slate — can last anywhere from between 50 to 100 years.
  • Composite roofs — 30 to 50 years.
  • EPDM roof — 5 to 15 years.
  • PVC and TPO membranes — 20 to 30 years.
Nov 29, 2019

What do roofers use to not fall off a roof? ›

Personal Fall Arrest systems, or PFAs, are body harnesses roofers wear and attach to a roof anchor by a lanyard. All components must be able to hold a certain weight, fit in a certain way (and not be a belt, for example) and be tested regularly.

Is it worth doing your own roof? ›

Overall, it's wisest to hire a professional roofer instead of attempting DIY roof repair. If you try to repair your own roof, you risk damaging it and the rest of your home. You may also void your warranty and end up costing yourself much more than if you had hired a professional roofer in the first place.

Which type of roof uses the simplest material? ›

The gable roof is a particularly common style of the roof because it is simple to construct, sheds water well, allows for ventilation, and can be used with almost any building design.

Is it cheaper to put a metal roof or shingles? ›

Not only do the metal panels themselves cost more than asphalt shingles, but a metal roof also requires more skill and labor to install. You can actually expect the cost of a metal roof to be more than double or triple the cost of an asphalt shingle roof.

What type of metal roof is easiest to install? ›

Zinc Roofing

Zinc is easy to form and work with, making it a good choice for standing seam or crimped panels. It naturally resists weather, and so will not rust. Zinc weathers to a dull blue-gray color over time. Depending on the climate, zinc can last 80 to 100 years when properly installed.

What time of year is cheapest to replace roof? ›

Roofers are busiest in late summer and fall. Scheduling your roof replacement in late winter or spring may yield lower prices or off-season discounts.

What is the lowest maintenance roof? ›

Slate roofing is one of the most maintenance-free roofing options available. Slate is Eco-friendly, long lasting & durable. In addition, slate roofs are resistant to the harshest elements your home must endure, including damage from extreme temperatures, fire, and wind.

What is the longest lasting roof underlayment? ›

Traditional asphalt felt underlayment has a lifespan of 15–25 years. While asphalt-saturated felt, modern synthetic and rubberized underlayments are far more long-lasting and waterproof. These second “type” of underlayments will usually last 25 to 35 years.

What time of the year is best to roof a house? ›

Fall. Fall is the universal go-to season for roof replacement. With spring's mild temperatures and early summer's weather consistency, fall is commonly referred to as the best time of year to replace your roof.

What color roof repels heat? ›

White or light-colored roofs reflect heat rays from the sun, keeping the attic and rooms below it cool during warm weather. As a result, the building's cooling load decreases, helping home and business owners stay comfortable and save money on their energy bills.

What is the most common roof for a house? ›

The most common residential roofing material used in the United States, asphalt shingles are popular because they are economical and easy to install. These shingles can be reinforced with fiberglass or organic materials (cellulose) without changing the appearance of the shingle.

What kind of roof will never leak? ›

Unlike other roofing shingles, such as those made of asphalt or wood, rubber shingles are rot-resistant and highly resistant to temperature fluctuations. They can withstand all sorts of precipitation easily, including hail, and do not absorb water.

What is strongest material for roofs? ›

If you're looking for the strongest type of roof, you're looking for a DECRA metal roof. Since 1957, DECRA Metal Roofing has set the industry standard for durability and longevity.

What is the best roof sheeting? ›

A very dense material, plywood helps prevent moisture from entering wood fibers, reducing the risk of rot and warping to your home and roof. Compared to other wood-based roof sheathing materials, such as OSB, plywood has similar strength and durability.

Is it better to have a lighter or darker colored shingle? ›

Light shingles fair better in warmer weather, as light colors tend to deflect sunlight and keep your house cooler. Dark shingles are the opposite; they absorb heat, which makes them excellent for colder climates. They also tend to make snow melt much more quickly.

What is the strongest roof shape? ›

What Type of Roof Is the Strongest? A metal hip roof offers the most durability of any common roofing design. Because hip roofs have an inward slope, they're ideal for regions that are prone to strong wind and frequent snow.

What type of shingles last the longest? ›

Of the 3 types of asphalt shingles, the longest lasting are luxury (or premium) asphalt shingles. Luxury asphalt shingles are larger and thicker than 3-tab or architectural shingles, which makes them more durable.

What roof is best for lower insurance? ›

Material: A slate roof is considered more stable and may earn you a lower rate. A wooden roof isn't fire-resistant and poses a risk, resulting in a higher rate or may make you ineligible for a policy. Shape: Gable roofs and hip roofs are the two most common roof types.

What are 2 disadvantages to asphalt shingles? ›

Drawbacks of Asphalt Shingle Roofing
  • It's not the most durable roofing option. ...
  • Shingles can be damaged by high winds. ...
  • Mildew is a common problem. ...
  • It isn't the most energy-efficient option.
Dec 23, 2019

What type of roof is best? ›

Slate is the most durable and longest-lasting roofing material, with a life expectancy of more than 150 years. The next most durable material is clay, which has a lifespan of about 100 years.

What kind of roof is best for saving energy shingle or metal? ›

Metal roofs are one of the most energy efficient options available. They're more energy efficient than asphalt shingles.

Which type of roof is the most simple? ›

The simplest is the lean-to, or shed, which has only one slope. A roof with two slopes that form an “A” or triangle is called a gable, or pitched, roof.

What is the best under roof shingles? ›

Synthetic Underlayment

This is currently the most popular choice for roof underlayment, and with good reason. Made with an asphalt-saturated basemat and fortified with a mix of fiberglass, this product is not only extremely water-resistant, much stronger and more resistant to tears than other types of underlayment.

What ruins asphalt shingles? ›

Over time, even small movements can add up to problems for your shingles. However, the sun also emits ultraviolet radiation, and UV rays are even more harmful to asphalt shingles. These rays can turn shingles dry and brittle, making them more easily damaged by the weather.

What is the life expectancy of asphalt shingles? ›

General life expectations of roofing materials:

Asphalt Shingles (3 tab Shingles): 15 to 20 years. Asphalt Architectural Shingles: 20 to 30 years. Built-Up Roof: (tar and gravel) 10 to 20 years. Modified Bitumen Roof: 15-20 years.

What is the most common damage done to asphalt shingles? ›

One of the most common asphalt shingle issues that contractors are called out to fix is blistering. This happens when moisture trapped within the shingle expands and pops/breaks through the surface and creates an exposed spot. Most of the time, blistering occurs during the high-temperature summer months.

What is the most efficient roof material? ›

Metal roofing is by far one of the best choices you can make for your roof in general. They're the most energy-efficient roof for residential installations, can last more than 50 years, and require very little maintenance. Metal roofs are very reflective, which is why they get so hot to the touch.

What do roofers use on a roof? ›

Asphalt shingles are the most common types of roofing materials used for homes.

Is a drip edge necessary on a roof? ›

Without a drip edge, water may end up beneath the shingles and may cause damage to various parts of the home. Though your home may not have originally had a drip edge installed, drip edges are now required by most building codes across North America to protect homes from damage.


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