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Comparing Roofing Materials for Your Michigan Home

May 9th, 2024 | 5 min read

By Aaron King

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Are you considering a roofing upgrade for your Michigan home but feeling overwhelmed by the array of materials available? Choosing the right roofing is crucial for durability, especially in Michigan's climate.

At Custom Built, we have 15+ years of experience helping homeowners pick and install the best materials for their remodels. We know the challenges of Michigan's weather and offer expert guidance for lasting roofing investments.

In this article, you'll gain insights into the pros and cons of different roofing materials:

  1. Asphalt Shingles
  2. Metal Roofing
  3. Slate Roofing
  4. Wood Shingles/Shakes
  5. Synthetic Roofing Materials

1. Asphalt Shingles

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Asphalt shingles are one of Michigan's top choices for roofs due to their affordability and versatility. Available in many styles and colors, they suit any architectural design, from classic to modern.

Yet, while asphalt shingle roofs offer excellent value for money, they come with their considerations.


  • Affordable: Asphalt shingles are one of the most cost-effective roofing options available.
  • Variety: Available in various colors and styles to suit any architectural design.
  • Easy Installation: Asphalt shingles are lightweight and easy to install, reducing labor costs.
  • Fire Resistance: Many asphalt shingles are treated to provide fire resistance.


  • Limited Lifespan: Asphalt shingles have a shorter lifespan than other roofing materials, lasting 18-22 years, compared to metal shingles, which can last 40-70 years.
  • Prone to Damage: Susceptible to damage from severe weather conditions, such as hail and high winds.
  • Maintenance: Regular maintenance is necessary to prevent algae growth and shingle degradation.
  • Environmental Impact: Asphalt shingles contribute to landfill waste when replaced.
  • Less Energy Efficient: Asphalt shingles provide minimal insulation and may increase energy costs.
Susceptible to Cracking: Due to their lightweight nature, asphalt shingles can crack under hotter weather conditions (90℉ —100℉).

2. Metal Roofing

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Metal roofs are a hit with Michigan homeowners because they're tough and energy-efficient. They can handle harsh weather, like heavy snow and ice, keeping your home safe. Although they cost more upfront than asphalt shingles, their long-term advantages make them a smart choice for many.

Metal material selections include aluminum, steel, and galvalume, with aluminum and steel being premium options and galvalume being a more affordable choice.


  • Durability: Metal roofs are durable and last 40-70 years.
  • Weather Resistance: They are resistant to fire, wind, hail, and snow, making them ideal for Michigan's climate.
  • Energy Efficiency: Reflective coatings reduce heat absorption, lowering cooling costs in summer.
  • Low Maintenance: Requires minimal maintenance compared to other roofing materials.
  • Eco-Friendly: Metal roofs are often made from recycled materials and are recyclable at the end of their lifespan.
  • Long-Lasting Designs: This material can create standing seam metal roofing, a unique design that helps prevent rainwater penetration. 


  • Higher Initial Cost: Metal roofing costs more upfront than asphalt shingles.
  • Denting: Some metal roofs can dent from heavy hail or falling debris.
  • Noise: Metal roofs can be noisy during rain or hailstorms without proper insulation.
  • Expansion and Contraction: Metal roofs can expand and contract with temperature changes. This causes issues over time.
  • Limited Style Options: Metal roofs come in different colors and finishes. Yet, they might not match every architectural style.
  • Some Metals Susceptible to Rust: Without proper paint coatings, steel metal roofing will rust over time, weakening its durability and causing moisture issues.

3. Slate Roofing

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Slate roofing offers unmatched beauty and durability for a timeless and elegant roofing solution. With its natural stone appearance and exceptional longevity, slate roofs add a touch of sophistication to any home. However, the weight of slate tiles and the associated installation costs may be prohibitive for some homeowners.


  • Longevity: Slate roofs can last 100 years or more, making them a lifetime investment.
  • Aesthetics: Offers a timeless and elegant appearance that enhances a home's curb appeal.
  • Fire Resistance: Slate is a natural stone material and is fireproof.
  • Low Maintenance: Requires minimal maintenance and is resistant to rot, mold, and pests.
  • Sustainability: Slate is a natural material that can be recycled at the end of its lifespan.


  • High Cost: Slate roofing is one of the most expensive materials due to its longevity and premium quality.
  • Weight: Slate roofs are heavy and may require extra structural support, increasing installation costs. If your home isn’t framed or structured to take on this weight, slate roofing isn’t the right choice for you.
  • Fragility: While durable, slate tiles can be brittle and may break if walked on or hit by falling debris.
  • Limited Experience Availability: Some areas may not have roofing contractors with slate roofing experience.
  • Color Variation: Natural slate may vary in color and texture, resulting in a less uniform appearance.
  • Lack of Warranty is Possible: While you can receive workmanship warranties from your contractor, you might not receive material warranty coverage from slate roofing manufacturers.

4. Wood Shingles/Shakes

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Wood shingles or shakes are prized for their rustic charm and eco-friendly appeal. Wood roofs offer excellent insulation properties and natural warmth and character to a home's exterior. Yet, it's essential to think about wood roofing's vulnerability to rot and fire, as well as the requirement for regular maintenance.

Additionally, it’s worth noting that wood roofing has decreased in popularity in recent years due to the emergence of more affordable and weather-proof options.


  • Natural Beauty: Wood shingles offer a warm, rustic appearance that adds character to a home.
  • Insulation: Provides natural insulation, helping to regulate indoor temperatures and reduce energy costs.
  • Sustainability: Wood is a renewable resource with a lower environmental impact.
  • Customizable: Can be stained or painted to achieve the desired color and finish.
  • Biodegradable: Wood shingles break down at the end of their lifespan, reducing landfill waste.


  • High Maintenance: Regular maintenance, including sealing and staining, prevents rot and decay.
  • Vulnerable to Damage: Susceptible to rot, mold, pests, and fire if not maintained.
  • Limited Lifespan: Wood shingles have a shorter lifespan compared to other roofing materials, 20-30 years.
  • Cost: Wood roofing is more expensive than asphalt shingles and may require frequent replacement.
  • Environmental Concerns: Cutting down trees for roofing can harm forests and animal habitats if done irresponsibly.
Regular Chemical Treatments: Every 1-3 years, your wood shingles will require chemical treatments. While you can do this yourself, it’s best to hire a professional to perform this task, which will lead to additional labor costs.

5. Synthetic Roofing Materials

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PC: Roofcrafters

Synthetic roofing materials like composite shingles or polymer tiles give a natural appearance. Like composite decking, they can imitate wood, slate, or tile but resist weathering, pests, and mold better than natural options. While synthetic roofs have perks, they might not feel genuine or last as long as natural materials.


  • Cost: Synthetic roofing materials are one of the more affordable options in the market, with some manufacturers costing 40-60% less than authentic materials.
  • Versatility: Synthetic roofing tiles look like natural materials but last longer and perform better.
  • Durability: It lasts longer than natural materials because it's tough against weather, pests, and mold.
  • Lightweight: They are often lighter than natural alternatives. This reduces structural load and installation costs.
  • Low Maintenance: Requires minimal upkeep and is resistant to rot, mold, and pests.
  • Environmental Benefits: They are made from recycled materials and can be recycled when they're no longer needed.


  • Appearance: Although they look like natural materials, synthetic roofs might not be as attractive.
  • Long-Term Performance: Their can vary depending on their quality and installation.
  • Limited Lifespan: Synthetic roofing may have a shorter lifespan than natural materials like slate or metal.
  • Environmental Concerns: The production and disposal of synthetic roofing may have environmental impacts.

Next Steps to Replacing Your Roofing System

Picking the best roofing material is a big decision for any homeowner. But this is especially true in Michigan, where the weather can be unpredictable. Each roofing option has pros and cons, and it's essential to weigh these factors before deciding.

In this article, you learned about common roofing materials for Michigan homes.

At Custom Built, we understand the importance of choosing the right roofing material for your Michigan home. With over 15 years of experience in the industry, we've helped many homeowners navigate and achieve their remodeling goals.

Ready to upgrade your roof? Contact Custom Built Design & Remodeling today to schedule a consultation.

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Now that you know more about common roofing materials, let’s explore how Custom Built will approach your project, the best exterior home improvement projects, and the most popular types of home additions in Michigan:

Aaron King

Aaron has been in the building industry his entire life. He worked in his family’s housing business growing up in Dewitt, MI, and for nearly 40 years, built homes in the Mid-Michigan area. He has also worked with the Greater Lansing Home Builder’s Association since he was 18 years old.