Asphalt Roof Shingles vs. Slate Roof Tiles: Which One’s Better?

    

Asphalt Roof Shingles vs. Slate Roof Tiles: Which One’s Better?

With so many roof replacement options available to homeowners, some people understandably aren’t sure which material is best for their homes. One debate we see often is between asphalt shingles and slate tiles. Both are common in Maryland, and we specialize in installing both. Is one better than the other? Read on to find out.

Asphalt Roof Shingles: Pros and Cons

Asphalt shingles are the stalwart of American roofs and the shingle type with which homeowners are most familiar. Though that description may seem low-end, today’s best shingle manufacturers (including industry leader GAF) deliver quality, attractive, dependable asphalt tiles that can enhance your home. Here are some pros and cons of asphalt roof tiles:

Pros

  • Low cost: Asphalt is among the most cost-effective shingle types available. Obviously, some shingles will be more expensive more than others, but for homeowners on a strict budget, asphalt is an affordable option.
  • Easy installation: Although no roofing installation is truly simple, asphalt shingles require somewhat less specialized expertise than other tiles, including slate.
  • Variety of colors: Asphalt shingles come in the widest array of colors to match your home and neighborhood.
  • Roofing systems: Top manufacturers such as GAF now offer a complete roofing system as part as an asphalt shingle installation, encompassing underlayment, flashing, gutters, and other supporting elements of your roof.

Cons

  • Lifespan: The life of an asphalt roof is finite. These shingles have come a long way though—with outstanding installation and top-notch materials, as well as regular maintenance, asphalt roofs can last 30 years or more.
  • Less durability: Shingles are lightweight materials and can be easily damaged by the elements or by well-meaning homeowners walking across the roof. Once asphalt tiles are damaged, repairs are critical because surrounding shingles and other parts of the roof become more vulnerable.
  • Susceptible to extreme weather: Mother Nature can be rough on asphalt tiles. High wind can get under a shingle and blow it off, thus exposing neighboring shingles to more damage. Also, asphalt can’t keep up with extreme temperature fluctuations, leaving it susceptible to warping in the summer and cracking during the winter.
  • Not green: Though old shingles can be sent to a recycling plant, asphalt is the least environmentally friendly roofing material in terms of production.

Slate Roof Tiles: Pros and Cons

Slate has been used for roofs for hundreds of years, and it’s not uncommon on houses in the DMV. It’s a more expensive option that can deliver incredible durability, aesthetics, and value to your home. Slate’s pros and cons include:

Pros

  • Long life: A properly installed and maintained slate roof can last more than a century. The owners of your home in 2117 will be thankful for your decision!
  • Durability: Slate roof tiles withstand the elements—both natural and human—better than most other roofing materials. Slate is fireproof, is storm-resistant, is impermeable to water, and staves off the growth of algae and moss that often is harmful to other shingle types.
  • Environmentally friendly: A slate tile is essentially rock, perhaps with some composite material added to it, and is not so much produced as it is cut. As such, it rivals cedar shakes as the greenest roofing material available to homeowners.
  • Appearance: Simply stated, slate roofs look fantastic atop a house. You will appreciate the elegance of slate tiles, as will potential home buyers.

Cons

  • Cost: All the advantages of slate roof tiles come with a price—several thousand dollars more than a typical asphalt roof.
  • Weight: Although some tile options are cut thinner, slate is still heavier than other roofing materials, and the structural integrity of a house must be considered before installation.
  • Expertise: Whereas some general contractors might be skilled enough to install an asphalt roof, slate requires a high level of expertise that can be difficult to find. And for the investment you are making with slate roof tiles, you don’t want to trust the job to just any roofer … .

What’s Better for Your Home?

So which shingle type wins the debate—asphalt or slate? We have a firm opinion on this: Both do! Each is an outstanding option, and each will upgrade your home. The answer lies within what is best for your home and what your goals and budget are. Some homes can’t support slate, and some homeowners don’t have an unlimited budget, which points to choosing asphalt. Other homes draw a greater benefit from slate. Considering the pros and cons of each, as we have detailed in this post, sets you on the path toward making the logical choice for your home.

Don’t Make the Decision Alone

Picking between asphalt and slate shingles requires plenty of due diligence. The pros and cons outlined in this post are just a starting point for your decision. Ideally, involving quality roofers with sterling reputations in the process will provide some clarity for what will work best for your home and budget. The best contractors answer all your questions, provide plenty of options (including other materials, such as cedar shakes or metal, that might be a better choice for your roof), and detail exactly what they will do, how much it will cost, and what guarantees and warranties are attached to their workmanship. A roof is a long-term investment, so the more knowledge you have, the more informed your decision will be and the better return your investment will provide.

12 Important Questions to Ask Before Hiring A Roofing Contractor

About The Author

Ben Matthews is a managing partner at BRAX Roofing, a multi-faceted company that focuses on residential and commercial roofing throughout Maryland and Washington DC. Having obtained the highest certifications in roofing from leading manufacturers around the country, Ben takes pride in providing BRAX Roofing customers with top-quality exterior home improvement service and expertise.