Roof Shingles Alternative – Cheap Roofing Options Other Than Wood

benefits of asphalt roof shingles

While wood is the most common roofing material, it’s not the only option for shingles and shakes. The most common drawback with wood is its high price and risks of fire hazards.

And that’s the reason why many homeowners look forward to getting several other cheaper options available on the market.

If you’re looking for a roof shingles alternative, other than wood, asphalt shingles are the most popular and by far the cheapest roofing materials.

Not only do they have relatively lower upfront costs, but they’re also easy to install, which can save you money on labor costs.

Asphalt shingles typically last around 20 years, much longer than most other roofing materials. This saves you money in the long run, as you won’t have to replace your roof often.

Several synthetic options are also available that can mimic the look of wood and are not as expensive.

In this blog, I will tell you some of the best alternatives to wood roofing then you can make an informed decision for your home.

But first, let’s start with.

What are Roof Shingles?

Roof shingles are typically thin, overlapping pieces of material installed on a roof to protect it from the elements.

Shingles are typically made from asphalt, wood, slate, or metal. They are available in various colors and styles to suit any home’s aesthetic.

The purpose of shingles is to protect your roof from water damage.

Shingles work by creating a barrier between your roof and the elements, such as rain, snow, and ice. This barrier prevents water from seeping into your home, which can cause serious damage.

Shingles roof sheets also help to insulate your home and keep it cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. It will help you save money on your energy bills.

Shingles roofing materials also help in a way it adds to the curb appeal of your home and can increase its value.

Asphalt Roof Shingles- Pros and Cons

Asphalt shingles are the popular types of roofing material in the United States because of their low cost.

They are much cheaper than other roofing materials, but they’re also simple to install, which means they can save your money on labor expenses.

Although their name is asphalt, shingles are not made of asphalt. Instead, they are made from a fiberglass mat coated with asphalt and then covered with ceramic granules.

The key benefit of using asphalt shingles in modern homes is that they are available in various colors and styles, typically lasting 20 years or more.

The Pros:

  • Lowest cost
  • Made of recycled materials
  • Lightweight & durable
  • Wide range of styles and colors

Asphalt roofing is a good choice for those looking for durable and long-lasting roofing material. But it has some disadvantages as well.

The Cons:

  • Not as energy-efficient as some other materials
  • Can be damaged by high winds and need to be replaced more often
  • Can be susceptible to curling, cracking, moss, mold, and mildew
  • Water can get under them and can freeze, causing the shingles to break
  • Will require more maintenance than other roofing materials

Since asphalt is prone to cracking and breaking in bad weather conditions, I would not recommend this roofing type if you live in an area with extreme weather conditions.

Wood shingles and wood shakes are the cheapest alternates that can be installed on your roof to protect it from the elements.

Cedar and redwood with good hail ratings are also fire-resistant and can last up to 30 years. Do not use the cheaper quality wood with a low hail rating as it can again lead to repair and replacement costs in bad weather conditions.

You should go with these two if you want your house to be safe, look unique, and increase its curb appeal – resulting in the appreciation of your home’s value.

Different Types of Asphalt Roof Sheets & Shingles

Now when you know the benefits and drawbacks of asphalt roofing, you can decide better whether this material is good for your home or not.

If you have decided to go with asphalt roofing replacement, three types are available in the market. These include:

a) 3-tab shingles

These are the cheapest asphalt shingles, and when installed correctly, they can endure for 15–25 years on a well-ventilated roof.

3-tab shingles will generally lay flat, creating a smoother and neater appearance with three tabs per strip.

b) Dimensional shingles

It is also known as laminated or architectural shingles; these are slightly more expensive than 3-tab shingles.

Dimensional shingles provide a more dimensional and textured look to your roof and can last for 20–30 years with proper installation.

c) Premium asphalt shingles

Premium luxury shingles are the most expensive and durable option.

They are made of thicker materials that are designed to resemble slate shingles. And they often have a longer warranty than the other two types.

Luxury shingles can last for 30–50 years, making them a good investment for your home.

Is rolled roofing as good as asphalt shingles?

Rolled roofing (MSR) is a mineral surfaced oil-based asphalt product. It is much like shingles in that it is a long roll of interlocking material.

The main difference is that it doesn’t have the granules that provide UV protection on shingles.

Rolled roofing is a very popular material for commercial and industrial applications because it is very easy to install.

Since this type of roofing can be installed by a single person in a relatively short amount of time, it’s an ideal roofing choice for smaller projects.

The other advantage of using rolled roofing is that it is much cheaper and more durable than traditional shingles, making it an excellent choice for budget-conscious homeowners.

drawbacks of asphalt shingles

A Few Other Alternatives to Wood and Asphalt Shingles

I understand that asphalt and wood might not be the best options for you in some specific conditions.

In this case, I have a few more alternates for you that are quite popular these days.

You can go with these options, but they are slightly more expensive than wood and asphalt.

1- Metal Roofing

Metal roofing is a good option if you want something that will last a very long time. It’s also energy-efficient and can be recycled.

The only drawback of this classic American roofing material is that it’s quite expensive, and the installation process is also a bit complicated.

Aluminum and galvanized metal are two of the most popular and cheapest types of metal roofing. Whereas Zinc and copper are on the expensive side.


  1. Lasts for a very long time
  2. Sustainable, recyclable, and energy-efficient
  3. Reduces the amount of heat entering your home


  1. Expensive
  2. It can be noisy during rain and hail
  3. A complicated installation process that requires experts

2. Slate Roofing

Slate is a naturally occurring stone that has been used for centuries as a roofing material. It’s durable and long-lasting roofing materials that can last for over a century.

Slate is a bit expensive, but it’s worth the investment because when installed correctly, it pays for itself in the long run.

If you live in an area with severe weather conditions, slate is the best roofing material for you as it can withstand high winds and heavy rains.


  1. Lasts for over a century
  2. Withstands severe weather conditions
  3. Fireproof


  1. Expensive
  2. Heavier than other roofing materials
  3. Difficult to install

3. Clay Tile Roofing

Clay tile is another popular and durable roofing material that has been used for centuries in homes.

It’s made from natural clay that’s fired in a kiln, and it’s available in a variety of colors. Clay tile is more expensive than asphalt shingles, but it can last up to 50 years.

Particularly for areas like Florida that experience a lot of hurricanes, clay tile is an excellent roofing option because it can withstand high winds and flying debris.

It’s also fireproof, which gives it an extra level of protection.


  1. Lasts for 50 years or more
  2. Withstands high winds and flying debris
  3. Fireproof
  4. Available in a variety of colors


  1. Expensive
  2. Heavier than other roofing materials
  3. Difficult to install

4. Solar Shingles

Solar glass roofing is becoming quite popular these days in residences as well as commercial places as they are not only durable but also energy-efficient.

They are made of thin-film solar cells that are embedded into asphalt shingles.

Solar shingles are more expensive than traditional asphalt shingles, but they can help you save money on your energy bills and can last for a lifetime when installed correctly.

The only drawback is there are not many solar glass roofing manufacturers at present, so it might be difficult to find them in your area.


  1. Lasts for a lifetime
  2. Energy-efficient
  3. It can help you save money on your energy bills


  1. Expensive
  2. Not many manufacturers
  3. Needs a sunny location to work efficiently

5. Plastic Polymer Roofing

Plastic polymer roofs are incredibly durable and can last for decades. These are relatively cheaper (than slate and solar glass) and will require significantly less maintenance.

Plastic polymer roofs like single-ply roofing are mostly preferred these days in commercial buildings because they have excellent hail ratings and can endure harsh conditions.

Plus, they are also energy efficient as they reflect sunlight and help keep your home cool in summer. When choosing plastic polymer, look for companies that make use of recycled materials.


  1. Durable and long-lasting
  2. Relatively cheaper
  3. Energy efficient
  4. Low maintenance
  5. Hail resistant


  1. It might not be fireproof
  2. Not as aesthetically pleasing as some other roofing materials

What Are Roofing Materials Best to Use for Low Slope Roofs?

TPO, PVC, EPDM, and Modified Bitumen are the four most common roofing materials used on low-slope roofs these days.

Ethylene Propylene Diene Terpolymer (EPDM), which is a modified rubber material, is particularly beneficial for low-pitched roofing due to the qualities it offers, such as excellent flexibility and durability.

When installed correctly, rubber material provides a watertight seal that is resistant to ponding water, harsh weather conditions, and UV rays.

It is also a very lightweight material which makes it easy to work with and install.

Modified Bitumen is another type of asphalt that has been reinforced with either fiberglass or polyester matting.

It is also a very popular roofing material for low-slope roofs because it is easy to install and provides a high level of durability.

Roof Shingles or a Concrete Slab – Which is Cheaper for My Home?

Concrete roof slabs are often made with portland cement and are sometimes reinforced with steel mesh or rebar.

They are more expensive than asphalt shingles, but they can last up to 50 years. Concrete roof slabs are also fireproof, which makes them a good choice for homes in areas with wildfires.

Assuming that both roofing materials will last for the same amount of time, a concrete roof slab can be cheaper in the long run.

This is because concrete roof slabs are more energy efficient and require less maintenance than asphalt shingles.

Asphalt shingles and wood shakes will need to be replaced more often, and they are not as energy efficient, so they will end up costing more over time.

Final Thoughts

Keep in mind that the roof is one of the most important parts of your home, so make sure to choose a roofing material that will be able to withstand the conditions in your area.

The above are the most popular and durable roofing materials.

While asphalt and wood are among the classic roofing materials that are cheaper alternatives, it’s not always the most practical or affordable option depending on your conditions and specific location.

So, factor in the cost of installation and maintenance when choosing a roofing material for your home, and that can help you make the best decision for your needs.

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