Asphalt is the most common choice for residential dwellings, which include apartment complexes and other large structures that have a similarly designed roof. Tar paper is usually laid under them to help provide a waterproof barrier. Asphalt roofing is available in an assortment of colors.
Wooden shingles and shakes are another popular material for those who want the rustic look. The difference between the two is that shakes are tapered much like a large shim, and give a more 3D look than the flat sawed wooden shingles. Both of them can last for 50 years, and as they age the color changes to give that old farm cottage look.
Clay tiles are commonly used in desert areas, but can be used anywhere to provide the overall Spanish look. Clay provides its own cooling system because the air under them is not heated by the sun as much as other types of materials. They shed water very well, and come in several choices of color tints.
Metal roofs are no longer restricted to the old galvanized look. They are available in many colors including dark maroon, festive blue, rustic gold, and forest green. They are also available in copper color which can resemble gold when the sunshine strikes them.
Slate is a very expensive material, and requires a stone mason to install it. However, for a roof that will last for many generations, this is the most durable of all. Due to the weight involved, they do not lend themselves well to certain types of architecture, but measures can be taken to reinforce the under structure to accommodate these most hansom roofs.
Electricity continues to be more costly as a means of heating and cooling homes, and offices, and technology has developed solar roof tiles which look much like the asphalt shingles. These solar tiles are interlocking, and available in an inconspicuous dark blue. They can greatly reduce electric bills, weigh only 2.5 pounds per square foot, withstand 60 mph winds, and come with a 25 year manufacturers warranty is in place.
Rubber roof material is used on RVs, but some people are using it to cover the tops of their homes. This material comes in large rolls and are adhered to the structure much the same as when installed on a recreational vehicle. Due to the sheet surface, they provide great resistance to winds, and are an almost perfect water seal against rain and snow.
Give it enough years, and any structure will need a new roof. When the time comes to replace it, there are many choices of materials from which to choose. Metal to asphalt, slate to solar power, some of them could be more affordable than others.