Types Of Roofs

In the Northeast, we typically see 4 types of roofing materials used for residential homes: asphalt shingles, which are by far the most common due to their reasonable pricing and longevity, but also cedar shingles and shakes, slate, and metal. Each material has its own unique benefits and style, and ultimately, it is up to the homeowner to decide which features and design are most appealing.

Asphalt shingles

Asphalt shingles are the most popular roofing material across the United States. They are suitable for all climates, affordable, reliable, and available in many brands, styles, and colors.  Asphalt shingles are a great choice for almost any home. With proper installation and maintenance, a high-quality asphalt shingle roof can last 15-30 years. 

Asphalt shingles come in three main types: 3-tab shingles, architectural shingles, and luxury or premium shingles. All three types are installed in sheets and made from similar materials, but they have some important differences you should be aware of when choosing which will go on your roof. 

3-tab shingles are the most basic example of asphalt shingles available. Most often see 3-tab shingles on older homes, or new “economy” homes, these are the lowest cost shingles you can buy, and may be the best choice for homeowners on a budget. Drawbacks to this type of shingle include limited aesthetic options, fewer color choices, shorter lifespan of 10-20 years, and especially in the Northeast, blow-off, a situation where shingles are blown off your roof in high winds or rough weather, is common on this type of installation, even more so as the roof ages. However, 3-tab shingles have been losing ground in recent years, as the popularity of architectural shingles and other roofing materials has increased. 

By far the most popular option, architectural shingles accounted for nearly 75% of all asphalt shingle sales in 2010, and have now nearly cornered the market. Architectural or dimensional shingles are extremely durable, have a multi-dimensional appearance and texture, and can last 30 years of longer. These shingles are made of two or more layers of shingles, which increases durability and longevity, which is passed on to homeowners in terms of longer warranties, up to 50 years, or even lifetime guarantees. They also come in the widest variety of colors and styles. These shingles do come with a steeper price tag – homeowners should expect to pay about 20% more for the benefits of architectural shingles versus traditional 3-tab.  

Luxury or premium shingles offer maximum durability and protection, and are designed to replicate the look of natural cedar and slate roofs at a fraction of the cost.  Real cedar shakes or slate shingles are beautiful, but they are extremely expensive and the installation process is extensive.  Luxury asphalt shingles, such as GAF Slateline, are a great alternative for your period home and can offer substantial savings over the real thing.  They will also come with the same 50+ year warranty, and added durability over architectural shingles.  

Cedar shingles or shakes

Cedar shingles or shakes, shingles are machine cut, and shakes are handmade and rougher-looking, are a quintessentially New England roofing material and have been used here for hundreds of years. The natural silvery-gray look they take on as they age is a favorite for coastal and historical homes. Cedar is an extremely durable, long-lasting wood, and generally lasts at least 10 years longer than traditional asphalt. It also stands up well to strong winds and extreme weather. Cedar roofs also provide natural home insulation, up to twice that of asphalt shingles. Cedar shingles come in white, yellow, and red wood and can be stained to your desired color. These shingles are installed on piece at a time, which allows for many patterns and styles. They are also eco-friendly, and biodegradable, and each tree harvested to make these shingles is replaced with a new sapling.  

Compared to other roofing materials, cedar shingles or shakes are more expensive to purchase and to install, and pricing tends to fluctuate quite a bit. As a natural product, they also require some additional maintenance to prevent moss, mold or mildew growth. However, cedar, especially in New England, is a beautiful and traditional long-term investment for your home. 

Slate roofing tiles

Slate roofing tiles are another classic roofing material. Traditionally used on castles and churches, slate has long been acclaimed for its beauty and longevity. Slate is a natural stone which comes in a variety of textures, shapes, and natural colors, including gray, red, purple, green, and black, and its appearance will complement nearly any architectural style. As mentioned, slate roofs are renowned for their longevity, and can routinely be expected to last  125 years. Slate is fire resistant, environmentally friendly and provides added insulation for your home.  

Slate is expensive to install, and will require specialized installation by a qualified and knowledgeable roofing contractor. Because slate is very heavy, (around 1,200lbs per 100 square feet) you may even need additional structural work to your home in order to support the weight of the roof. While slate stands up to all types of weather, the tiles can be sensitive to direct pressure, such as someone walking on them. And like most natural tiles, slate is sold in lots, so exact match replacements for broken tiles will be difficult to find.  While slate has some drawbacks, it remains one of the highest-quality and longest-lasting roofing materials available and offers timeless beauty which simply cannot be duplicated with other materials.   

Metal roofing

Metal roofing is quickly becoming a popular, economical choice for roofing throughout the United States. Once relegated to industrial buildings, the versatility of metal roofing as well as the array of material, shapes, syles, and colors available have made this a popular choice for new homeowners. Metal roofing comes in two styles, panels and shingles, and can be made of aluminum, copper, zinc, or stainless steel. Metal roofing, especially copper, are often used as accents to asphalt or wood roofing, being used solely over bay windows or entryways, for example. It is resistant to extreme weather, recyclable, and lightweight. Metal roofing can last between 40 and 75 years. Metal roofing typically costs three times the amount of asphalt shingles, but does offer additional longevity, as well as environmental benefits for the cost.  

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Happy Clients

Went great, they also removed a chimney and patched up the hole. They worked with me on color changes of the shingles right up until the day of install. Highly recommend.

Allston, MA

Kyle said his crew would start the job at 7:30, they started at 7:29. He thought the job would go until 4:30, they were done and cleaned up by 4:25. He and his crew were punctual and efficient. Kyle was easy to work with and highly responsive. He spent a great deal of time discussing the roof, evaluating the project, and answering all my questions. He did not push me into moving on the job too soon, but when I was ready to replace it, Lifetime Roofing scheduled me promptly and executed the job efficiently. They left me with a quality roof at a good price and Kyle was true to his word. I would happily recommend Lifetime to friends and family.

Waltham, MA

Kyle and his team were incredible, They worked fast and efficient, and the price was just right. Thanks Kyle for your fast response and awesome job on replacing my roof.

Waltham, MA

The price was very reasonable. They were courteous, kind, responsible, and dependable.

Newtonville, MA

Kyle was a pleasure to work with- responsive, knowledgeable, and incredibly flexible. Our new roof was installed quickly and efficiently and the quality of the clean up was better than anticipated. We would recommend Lifetime Roofing to any of our neighbors!

Milton, MA

Alan is a great team leader, the workers were prompt and knowledgeable , the ultimate result was very good. No complaints!

Wellesley, MA

A+ work from Kyle and his crew. The roof looks great!

Needham, MA

We needed to put a new roof on our house, as well as repair a sagging porch roof. Shingles had been flying off and we had had several leaks. Kyle provided a very reasonable estimate - well below some of the other Angie’s List companies. The work was done very promptly and professionally. A couple of issues that arose were settled to our satisfaction and Kyle took full ownership of the situation. It was very clear that customer satisfaction is a priority for this company. I would definitely recommend and hire again.


Kyle was fantastic! Met with us and walked us through the process and cost of the new roof. My wife chose the roof type and Kyle had the job done in one day. Very efficient company, reasonable cost, and our roof looks great. We highly recommend Lifetime Roofing!

Milton, MA

I worked with Kyle and his team. It was our first time replacing the roof. Kyle came highly recommended from our relator. I met with him and had him examine the roof. He was able to show me spots that were of concern and took photos while he was on the roof to explain the different options. He did not pressure us and in fact was upfront and said that we likely had a few more years left on the roof. He was very knowledgable and professional. We also appreciated that he was straight forward in the assessment and cost. He went above and beyond in my opinion. He came back the following day to get rid of any tar that had touched the siding, got rid of an old satellite dish that we did not want on the house, even got rid of a bunch of random cables that were placed high up on the house, and replaced an old downspout that I had, making it look much nicer and also more functional. I appreciated how the house had a tarp around it while it was being completed so the shingles and nails were contained. I have a seven year old daughter and a dog and asked them to take the giant magnet around the house twice when they were finished as I was concerned that any nails could injure them. They easily obliged my request. Honestly, it was a very smooth process with no additional fees. I had never met him before, but if I ever need to do the roof again I would have him do it again without reservation.

Milton, MA

We used Lifetime Roofing to replace the roof over our garage and office. The project went great - they were easy to work with, responsive and delivered a great product. When we discovered that the roof tile on our existing roof had been discontinued, they went out of their way to help us find a great match. We were very happy with the work and would definitely hire them again.

Wellesley, MA

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Waltham, MA 02451



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