What Is the Cheapest Roofing Material?

Picking out a new roof can be a daunting experience because of the many materials available. For many, the answer is to select some variety of asphalt, the least expensive roofing material on the market as of early 2011.

Asphalt roofing is the least expensive on the market.

Asphalt gives homeowners working with a budget the chance to get a new roof for a lower initial cost, but it also has some issues more expensive roofing materials do not.

Varieties and Makeup

The very cheapest version of an asphalt roof is called rolled asphalt, which is spread across flat roofs or roofs with very little incline. More common and slightly more expensive are asphalt shingles, which come in smaller pieces that must be assembled together. All types of asphalt roofs are made with a combination of asphalt and fiberglass.

Cost Factors

Asphalt roofs are cheaper upon purchase and they are easy to install, so the professionals performing the job take less time doing it and charge the homeowner less for their work. Despite these advantages, asphalt roofs max out around 30 years of usage in an ideal climate. This lifespan is less than half what materials like clay, slate and metal can offer.


The durability of an asphalt roof depends on the grade, so make sure to pick out a higher grade if possible. Asphalt can incur moisture damage over time, which means that shingles will need to be replaced. These shingles can also be torn off during inclement weather. If the whole roof starts to get shabby, you can put a new asphalt roof on top without issues.


Asphalt does not suffer in appearance, as it offers the solid color of your choice and does not look any cheaper or less sturdy than other materials. Asphalt roofs are also quieter during rain than metal roofs. Rolled asphalt sometimes swells around the seams, creating unsightly spots that may need to be replaced.


Asphalt does not provide the help metal and slate roofs can with energy bills, as it does not reflect heat. Asphalt also sometimes has a chemical makeup that makes it tough to recycle, so it is not as green friendly as metal. In terms of resisting fires, asphalt generally fares well.