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Choosing the Best Roofing Material for Your New Home: Expert Tips

June 19th, 2024

By Sofia Alonso

5 min read


Building a new home is a significant investment, and selecting the right roofing material is crucial. The roof is your home's first line of defense against the elements, playing a significant role in its aesthetic appeal and overall value. However, with a plethora of roofing options available, the process can quickly become overwhelming. How do you choose a roofing material that not only fits your budget but also suits your climate, enhances your home's look, and requires manageable maintenance?

At AV Architects + Builders, we understand the challenges that come with making such a pivotal decision. With over 20 years of experience in designing and building luxury homes in Northern Virginia, we have guided countless homeowners through the intricacies of selecting the perfect roofing material. Our expertise isn't just built on years of experience but also on a deep understanding of the local climate and architectural styles. We combine this knowledge with a personalized approach, ensuring that every client receives tailored advice that aligns with their specific needs and preferences. 

In this article, we hope to simplify your decision-making process by offering a comprehensive comparison of various roofing materials. We will discuss the pros and cons of each option, helping you understand their suitability based on factors such as durability, cost, maintenance, and aesthetic appeal. Whether you are looking for an economical solution, a mid-range option, or a high-end roofing material, this article compares different roofing materials to help you find the best fit for your new home.


Types of Roofing Materials


1. 3-Tab Shingles

3-tab shingles are the most basic and economical option among asphalt shingles. They are flat, with a single layer of material, and each shingle is shaped like three tabs.


  • Economical
  • Easy to install


  • Shorter lifespan
  • Less durable compared to other options


2. Architectural Shingles

Architectural shingles, also known as dimensional shingles, offer an upgrade over 3-tab shingles. They have a more robust construction, featuring multiple layers of asphalt, which give them a three-dimensional look.


  • Enhanced aesthetics
  • Better durability and lifespan


  • More expensive than 3-tab shingles


AV Architects + Builders, Inside Out Home, Virginia, Photography by Maxwell Mackenzie

3. Luxury Shingles/Grand Manor Shingles

Luxury shingles are designed to replicate the appearance of high-end roofing materials like natural slate. They are thicker, more durable, and offer superior aesthetic appeal.


  • High-end appearance
  • Superior durability


  •  Higher cost
4. Rubber/Synthetic Slate Roofing

Rubber slate roofing or synthetic slate roofing is a sustainable alternative made from recycled rubber products. It mimics the look of natural slate but is more affordable and eco-friendly.


  • Eco-friendly
  • Affordable alternative to natural slate
  • Long lifespan and resistant to mold and water


  • Less traditional appearance

Synthetic-Slate-quoteExterior Medics, Synthetic Slate Roof

5. Metal Roofing

Metal roofing, typically made of aluminum, offers durability and a long lifespan of up to 50 years. It is resistant to extreme weather conditions and is available in various styles.


  • Long lifespan (up to 50 years)
  • Resistant to extreme weather conditions


  • Higher upfront cost

MACKENZIE-AV-ArchBuild-Commonage-Final-4AV Architects + Builders, The Vista House, Virginia, Photography by Maxwell Mackenzie

6.Clay or Concrete Tiles

Clay or concrete tiles are known for their durability, with a lifespan ranging from 40 to 100 years. They offer a classic look and are resistant to fire and pests.


  • Very durable (40 to 100 years)
  • Fire-resistant


  • Heavy, requiring additional structural support
  • Expensive


7. Slate Roofing

Slate roofing is one of the most durable and long-lasting options, with a lifespan exceeding 100 years. It provides a timeless, elegant look but comes with a higher price tag.


  • Extremely durable (over 100 years)
  • Elegant and timeless appearance


  • Very expensive
  • Heavy, requiring reinforced structure


AV Architects + Builders, Backyard Retreat, Virginia

8. TPO Membrane Roofing

TPO membrane roofing is commonly used for flat roofs. It is a single-ply reflective roofing membrane made from polypropylene and ethylene-propylene rubber.


  • Ideal for flat roofs
  • Energy-efficient due to reflective properties
  • Perfect for hiding Solar Panels


  • Limited color options
  • May require professional installation

MACKENZIE-AvArch-TacomaHouse-16Selections-10AV Architects + Builders, The Solar House, Virginia, Photography by Maxwell Mackenzie

9. Cedar Shingles

Cedar shingles offer a natural, rustic look but require significant maintenance. They are not ideal for humid climates as they can mold and degrade over time.


  • Natural, rustic look
  • Long-lasting if well-maintained


  • High maintenance
  • Not suitable for humid climates

Cedar-Shake-Roof-HomeExterior Medics, Cedar Shake Roof


How to Choose the Right Roofing Material For Your New Home

1. Assessing Your Climate

Your local climate plays a significant role in determining the best roofing material. Different materials respond differently to weather conditions, and selecting one suited to your climate can prolong your roof's life and improve your home's comfort.

  • Hot and Sunny Climates: In regions with high temperatures and intense sunlight, materials that reflect heat are ideal. Metal roofing and clay tiles are excellent options as they reflect a significant amount of solar heat, helping to keep your home cooler.
  • Cold Climates: For areas with cold winters and potential snow, materials that provide good insulation and withstand freeze-thaw cycles are crucial. Asphalt shingles and slate are effective at insulating homes and are less likely to suffer from ice damage.
  • High Wind Areas: If you live in a region prone to high winds or storms, wind-resistant materials like metal roofing and architectural shingles are recommended. These materials are engineered to interlock and provide additional protection against wind uplift.
  • Rainy or Humid Climates: In areas with high rainfall or humidity, moisture-resistant materials are essential. Rubber slate roofing and metal roofs are resistant to mold and water damage, making them suitable for such climates.

2. Evaluating Your Budget

Roofing materials vary widely in cost, and your budget will significantly influence your choice. It's essential to balance upfront costs with long-term value and durability.

  • Economical Options: If you're looking for budget-friendly materials, 3-tab shingles are the most affordable. They provide basic protection and are easy to install, making them a cost-effective choice for many homeowners.
  • Mid-Range Choices: Architectural shingles and rubber slate roofing fall into the mid-range category. They offer enhanced durability and aesthetics without breaking the bank.
  • High-End Materials: If budget is less of a concern and you're looking for premium options, consider slate, clay, or concrete tiles. These materials have a higher initial cost but offer exceptional durability and a high-end appearance.

3. Considering Durability and Maintenance

Think about how long you want your roof to last and how much maintenance you are willing to perform. Different materials have varying lifespans and maintenance requirements.

  • Low Maintenance: If you prefer minimal upkeep, metal roofing and rubber slate are excellent choices. They require little maintenance and have long lifespans, reducing the need for frequent repairs or replacements.
  • Moderate Maintenance: Architectural shingles offer a good balance of durability and maintenance. They require occasional inspections and minor repairs but generally hold up well over time.
  • High Maintenance: Cedar shingles provide a natural, rustic look but demand significant maintenance, especially in humid climates. They need regular treatments to prevent mold and decay.

4. Aesthetic Preferences

Your roof significantly contributes to your home’s curb appeal. Choose a material that complements your home’s style and enhances its overall look.

  • Traditional Look: If your home has a classic or traditional design, asphalt shingles, slate, and cedar shingles are great options. They blend well with various architectural styles and offer timeless appeal.
  • Modern or Industrial Style: For modern or industrial-style homes, metal roofing and TPO membrane roofing provide a sleek, contemporary appearance. They are available in various colors and finishes to match your aesthetic preferences.
  • Mediterranean or Spanish Style: Clay or concrete tiles are ideal for Mediterranean or Spanish-style homes. They offer a distinctive, elegant look and are available in various shapes and colors.

Choosing the right roofing material for your new home involves balancing multiple factors, including climate, budget, durability, aesthetics, and maintenance. By thoroughly researching and considering your specific needs, you can select a roofing material that will protect and enhance your home for years to come.



Q: What are the most durable roofing materials?

A: Slate and clay/concrete tiles are among the most durable, with lifespans exceeding 100 years.

Q: Are metal roofs a good investment?

A: Yes, metal roofs offer a long lifespan of up to 50 years and excellent resistance to extreme weather, making them a solid investment.

Q: How often do asphalt shingles need to be replaced?

A: Standard 3-tab asphalt shingles typically need replacing every 20 years, while architectural shingles can last up to 30 years.

Q: Is rubber slate roofing environmentally friendly?

Yes, rubber slate roofing is made from recycled rubber products, making it an eco-friendly option.

Q: Do cedar shingles require a lot of maintenance?

A: Yes, cedar shingles require regular maintenance to prevent mold and decay, especially in humid climates.

Q: Can I install a metal roof over existing shingles?

A: In many cases, yes, metal roofs can be installed over existing shingles, reducing the cost and effort of removal.


9903 Georgetown Pike Suite 201
Great Falls, VA 22066
(703) 865-5065