Pitched Roofs: Which Material Should You Choose?

modern house with new asphalt shingles roof

Pitched roofs tend to be the norm for residential homes. They look nicer and have better resistance than flat roofs, and there are a lot of different materials to choose from. Asphalt, terracotta, steel… each material has its pros and cons, and some may not be suitable for your climate. To help make your roof replacement project a bit easier, we’ve gone over the most common material choices, along with their price points. Looking to do a deep dive on the subject? You can always learn everything there is to know about roofing.

Asphalt shingles

Asphalt shingles are the most common type of roofing material on the market. They come in a variety of styles and price ranges. These shingles are great to replace any kind of pitched roof material. For instance, you can easily replace a metal roof with shingles. The opposite isn’t necessarily true, as metal roofing is much heavier than asphalt shingles, thus requiring more work. Also, if some shingles are damaged, they can easily be replaced by your roofing contractor. 

Asphalt shingles can last up to 20 years, but high quality ones can last up to 50. Their higher cost is well worth it in the long run. Plus, most manufacturers offer a long warranty along with their product.

As for installation, your roofer first installs a base, usually a fibreglass mat or organic felt, and then moves on to the surface layer (i.e., asphalt shingles). You can also find eco-friendly and recyclable asphalt shingles on the market. Of course, you’re likely to have to pay a little extra for those. 

Pros of asphalt shingles:

  • Can be affordable
  • Quick installation (1–2 days)
  • Can be eco-friendly

Cons of asphalt shingles:

  • Can be affected by extreme weather conditions

Metal roofing 

Metal roofing is our second most common roofing material. It typically lasts between 40 and 70 years, making it well worth it for those wanting to spend a little more. Moreover, you can achieve different aesthetics by using different types of metal panels. They’re typically made of steel or aluminum and can have a standard seam, mimic the look of shingles (die-formed panels), or come in long rectangles called Bermuda panels (installed horizontally down the slope of a roof). The most common metal roofing option has standard seams. 

While metal roofing comes in many forms, it does have some downsides, the biggest one being that it can be fairly noisy (from rain or strong winds). Though, what’s great about this product is that it can be created with recycled metal, which makes it environmentally friendly! It can also be recycled once it’s lifetime is over.  

Pros of metal roofs:

  • Long lifespan (up to 70 years)
  • Environmentally friendly
  • Can be lightweight
  • Comes in various forms

Cons of metal roofs:

  • Loud (due to rain or wind)
  • More expensive upfront cost
  • Can be damaged by strong hail storms and other debris


Slate is typically seen on older buildings as its lifespan is quite long (75–150 years). However, due to its cost and weight, it’s rare to find a new home with this material. From a practical standpoint, slate roofs are highly durable, aren’t easily bleached by the sun (as they’re made of natural stone), and are highly fire resistant. Slate is unique in many ways: it comes in a variety of colours and textures.

Given that slate isn’t all that common, and that it can come with many drawbacks if installed incorrectly, there are very few roofers that are willing to install it. Installing slate onto your home requires the help of a structural engineer to reinforce your home’s structure before even getting started. Some homes might not even be able to support the extra 800–1,200 lbs even if you attempt to reinforce them. 

Pros of a slate roof:

  • Keep its colour
  • Long life expectancy
  • Can give your home a unique look

Cons of a slate roof:

  • Very heavy
  • Expensive
  • Can break easily upon impact


Clay roofing tiles 

Clay tiles can be seen on a number of old buildings as they have stood the testament of time for over 100 years. Although they are expensive, they have an extremely long lifespan, making them a worthy investment. However, given our extreme weather fluctuations in Canada, only certain types of clay can be used on your home, and it doesn’t mean they’ll be all that resistant. Clay tiles tend to be used in areas with warmer climates like California or countries in Southern Europe. 

Clay tiles also have similar issues to those of slate tiles: they’re heavy and need structural reinforcement before they can be installed. Keep in mind that both the material and labour costs will be steep because few qualified roofers are willing to install it. 

Pros of clay tiles:

  • Long lifespan
  • Insulating properties

Cons of clay tiles:

  • Extremely heavy
  • Not ideal for our climate
  • Expensive
  • Easily damaged

Cedar shingles or shakes

Wood shingles, more specifically cedar shingles, aren’t as common as asphalt shingles or metal roofing. However, heritage homes and cottages tend to have wood as roofing. Cedar roofing is usually treated, making its lifespan last longer than if it stayed in its natural state. This material typically lasts 30 years but requires regular maintenance to do so. If well treated and taken care of, it won’t rot and will withstand extreme weather conditions. Though, if you take into account their higher price tag, the fact that they’re highly flammable (because of treatments and stains), and the need to maintain them, cedar shingles might not be the best choice for your home.

Pros of cedar shingles or shakes:

  • Invulnerable to decay (if properly treated)
  • Lightweight

Cons of cedar shingles or shakes: 

  • High price
  • Constant maintenance
  • Flammable

What about eco-friendly roofing solutions? 

Each material mentioned above has its set of pros and cons, and most of them have some way to be eco-friendly. For instance, asphalt shingles and metal roofing can be recycled, whereas slate, clay, and wood are all natural materials. But what about going that extra mile when it comes to being eco-friendly? Of course, you can go ahead and add solar panels to your roof. Though, did you know there are new technological advances allowing homeowners to have solar paneled shingles, like those created by Tesla? We surely see many homeowners opting for this kind of roofing solution in the near future! 

How much does it cost to replace a pitched roof? 

Below you’ll find the average costs of pitched roof materials in both Greater Montreal and the Greater Toronto Area, along with their typical lifespans.

Roof Type Average Cost –  Montreal Average Cost –Toronto (GTA) Lifespan
Asphalt shingles $3.15 – $5.25/sq. ft. $3.75 – $5.25/sq. ft. 15 to 25 years
Metal $15.00 – $26.00/sq. ft. $20.00 – $29.00/sq. ft. 50+ years
Slate $23.00 – $37.00/sq. ft. $25.30 – $40.75/sq. ft. 75 to 150 years

Note: The three listed roofing solutions are those our contractors are most qualified to work with. The other materials are treated on a case by case basis as they are rarer.

Replacing a pitched roof on a typical bungalow with asphalt shingles typically costs between $9,000 and $12,000, but, for a more luxurious building, it can exceed $36,000. For other materials, such as metal, wood, or slate, you’re looking at prices between $18,000 and $96,000. Keep in mind that your roof’s cost will increase depending on the surface area, in addition to any other elements that need to be added. Take a look at our roofing cost article for more details.

Which pitched roof material to choose

  • Most affordable: Asphalt shingles. They’re also the most commonly used roofing solution.
  • Best value for money: Metal roofing. While you will be paying more, they last longer. 
  • Most eco-friendly: Metal roofing, as it can be recycled and is made of recycled material.
  • The coolest: Slate. It has a unique look & can stand the test of time.  

How to know it’s time to get your roof replaced

Many factors can come into play that’ll make you notice it might be time to replace or repair your roof. Here are some signs you should be on the lookout for.

  • Swollen areas of your roof
  • Cracked joints
  • Bowed shingles
  • Obvious stains or mould spots

Take a look at our roof inspection article to learn more! 

A qualified contractor for your pitched roof

Picking the right roofing material for your needs and desired aesthetic is important but so is hiring the right roofer! Materials age, parts need to be replaced, weathering occurs, and sometimes installation doesn’t go as well as planned. Avoid the latter by getting in touch with one of our Renovation Advisors. They’ll recommend you up to three Verified Contractors for your roofing project. Each of them has passed our rigorous verification process, so you know you’ll be working with the best. 

If you’re ready to get started, Call us or fill out our form! Our services come at no cost or obligation.

Happy renovations start here!

pitched roof materials type