When I took on the project of building my first shed years ago, I had no idea how many options there were for nearly every part of the shed, especially the roof. I knew I wanted something that would last and keep out the weather. After doing some research, I found that some shed roofing materials stand up to the test of time better than others.
In the beginning, I had in mind that I’d use either a steel or asphalt shingle roof. After all, those were the only types I was really familiar with and also the only types my neighbors seemed to have. But after some research and several visits to the roofing aisles of some home reno stores, I realized there were tons of other roofing options out there.
In this guide, we’ll take a look at the most popular shed roofing materials and how each type can work for your shed.
- Factors to Consider When Choosing Roofing Material for Your Shed
- Most Popular Shed Roofing Material Options
Factors to Consider When Choosing Roofing Material for Your Shed
The roof of your shed is the primary line of defense against bad weather – particularly moisture. All of the products below repel moisture. However, other conditions specific to your areas such as temperature, sunlight, and wind should dictate which type of roofing material you use for your shed.
Below we’ll take a look at the factors you should consider when choosing a roofing material to use on your shed.
The overall ability of roofing material to shed water is your primary concern. The main entry points for leaks on a roof are at the seams of the roofing material and nail or screw holes.
Some products have seams that overlap, providing an unbroken flow for water to travel down. Other materials rely on adhesives or tape.
Be sure to research the installation procedure for each roofing product. If you live in an extremely wet area, such as the Pacific Northwest, then you might opt for a product with overlapping seams such as steel or asphalt shingles.
For some of you, this might not be an issue, mainly if you live out in the bush or you don’t care. But most of us live in neighborhoods, and I wasn’t sure if our homeowner’s association had rules about how a shed roof should look.
After contacting the president of the association, I found out that just about any type of roof was allowed except for anything bright, like a painted red steel roof. Make sure you check with your homeowner’s association and municipality to see what type of roof is allowed for your shed.
A beautiful roof – along with a spiffy siding and a few windows – not only increases the aesthetic appeal but also gives future owners of your property a chance to retrofit the shed for different use.
If you’re like me, then you want to put a roof on your shed and forget about it. That means no leaks, no pieces coming off in the wind, and no maintenance such as painting or patching. While this means paying more, you are not going to break the bank purchasing durable roofing for your shed.
Traditional materials such as metal, asphalt shingles, felt, cedar or wood have known the durability. That means they’ve been around long enough for people to know how well they hold up over time. We know that metal is the most durable, followed by asphalt shingles, and then the rest.
On the other hand, there are a ton of new roofing products out there that we don’t know too much about in terms of how well they hold up over time. I’m not talking about 5 or 10 years – I want to know if these new products will last 25 or 30 years. But for many, we still don’t know.
When I build, I like to make things to last, which often clashes with my desire to keep spending in check. However, the great thing about roofing a shed is that no matter the cost of roofing material, you can still likely afford it. Why? Because the small surface area of a shed roof ensures you won’t need much of any roofing material.
Newer products featuring composite materials are more expensive than traditional roofing types such as asphalt shingles and roofing felt.
If you’re like me, then you’ve been burned a few times by “getting what you pay for”. Roof material is no different. Roofing felt is by far the cheapest option, but it is less durable and weatherproof than all other options.
Properly installing a roof requires work, especially if you are taking care to ensure it is waterproof. I liked some of the fancy new roofing products at my local home reno store, but I wasn’t completely sure about their installation. I didn’t want to risk spending money on a product I wasn’t 100% sure how to install properly.
I ended up putting shingles on my shed, and while the installation required some effort, I knew how to install them correctly. Besides, a shed roof isn’t that big, so I was able to do it in half a day.
Also, some roofing products require specialty fasteners, such as steel roofs. This can be an issue when trying to stay on budget. If you are adding drip-edge, underlayment, roof vents, or other roof features, then be sure that these accessories can fit with your roofing material.
Similar to durability, consider the amount of maintenance each roofing material requires. For example, a metal roof requires zero maintenance if installed correctly. On the other hand, a cedar shake roof might need regular servicing as individual shakes or shingles can split or rot.
If you are like me, then your time is your most valuable commodity. Some roofs may look nice, but if they are going to require time in the future to repair – or replace – then it might be advisable to choose a more durable option like asphalt shingles or steel.
On the other hand, all of the types of roofing materials we will cover below are capable of lasting a long time with little maintenance, depending on your geographic area.
Sometimes you don’t have a choice in terms of which roofing material you choose. Why? The pitch of your roof often dictates the type of roofing material you need. If you have a flat roof, you cannot use shingles, shakes, or tiles, as they all rely on gravity to maintain their waterproof properties.
Also, the steeper the pitch of your roof, then the larger the surface area. This is important in terms of cost. A steeper roof could mean the addition of a few extra steel roofing panels, for example. In that case, you are potentially adding nearly $100 extra to your project.
The pitch of your roof also determines how long your roof will last. I happen to live in a colder climate that sees lots of snow. If I had a flat, or low-pitched roof, then I might risk roof damage if I have lots of snow sitting on top of the roof.
Come spring, when all that snow melts, there is good chance moisture finds its way into the shed. A greater pitch is better for my snow-prone area.
Most Popular Shed Roofing Material Options
1. Asphalt Roof Shingles
Asphalt roof shingles are the most popular roofing material for a reason. They’re cheap, easy to install, and are incredibly durable. All you need to install a shingle roof are some roofing nails and a hammer – that’s it.
Also, it’s important to know that asphalt shingles come in two general forms – architectural and 3-tab. Architectural shingles last longer, typically with a 30-year or even limited lifetime warranty. They are thicker than 3-tab. Standard 3-tab shingles have anywhere from a 20 to 30-year warranty, but the average span is typically in the 20-year range.
Asphalt shingles should be applied to a roof with no less than a 2/12 slope. That means the roof should rise 2 inches for every 12 inches of length.
If you live in an area with excessive snowfall, you’ll likely want a steeper minimum pitch for shingles. Architectural shingles do not perform as well on lower pitches because air moves less freely through them than 3-tab.
The average cost of 3-tab shingles is less than $100 for 100 square feet. Architectural shingles run slightly more at $150 for the same surface area.
- Easy to Install
- Visually unappealing
- Not ideal for a flat roof
- Absorbs heat
2. Cedar Shingles
Cedar shingles can take a plain shed and make it an attractive feature in your yard. The best part about cedar shingles is that they are an incredibly durable and natural option for roofing your shed.
The life expectancy of cedar shingles depends on how well you maintain them. Most cedar shingles require little maintenance, but if you live in a wet, cold, or very hot climate then your shingles need more care.
If you stain and clean your cedar shingles regularly, then shingles can last around 24 years. Untreated shingles last around 15 years.
Minimum pitch for cedar shingles is 4/12. Cedar shingles are not waterproof. Therefore you should only use cedar shingles on steep pitched roofs. Shingles cost around $200 for 100 square feet.
Remember, cedar shingles and cedar shakes are not the same. Shingles are machine cut on both sides. Shakes are hand cut.
They look more rustic and are more durable because the cuts follow the natural grain. Shingles, on the other hand, break down faster because machine cuts don’t follow the grain, resulting in edges that develop more cracks.
- Visually appealing
- Not waterproof
- Highly susceptible to UV damage
3. Wood ShakesWood shakes are one of the most visually appealing options for roofing your shed. Shakes are thicker than shingles, but also hand cut. That means the surface texture of the shake is rougher than a shingle.
Also, it means the sides of the shingles aren’t perfectly straight. Although that is part of the appeal of a shake, it means they are less weatherproof than a cedar shingle.
Just like cedar shingles, wood shakes cannot be installed on roofs with a pitch less than 4/12. Due to their imperfect nature, they are highly susceptible to driving rain.
Cedar, cypress, redwood, or any other type of wood shake can last over 40 years if treated regularly and 30 years if left untreated. This length only applies to the thickest types of wood shake – thinner shakes are available but can still last over 20 years.
Shakes cost around $400 for 100 square feet. Since they are hand cut and thicker, shakes typically cost more than shingles.
- Attractive, rustic look
- Adds value to your property
- Reflects heat
- Not weatherproof
Board and batten roofing is a rustic alternative for your shed. Roofs that use board and batten are made up of solid wood boards whose gaps are covered by thin strips of wood called battens.
Typically boards are 6, 8, or 10” wide, with 3” battens. While the widths vary depending on the look you want, the thickness is usually consistent at around 1”.
Cedar, redwood, and some types of pine are used in board and batten construction. Typical costs for board and batten construction are around $500 for 100 square feet.
The lifespan of a board and batten roof is anywhere from 20 to 30 years. However, a wood roof is highly susceptible to UV damage, as well as damage from debris such as dead leaves and other debris. Regular cleaning will extend the life of a board and batten roof by years.
Like wood shingles or shakes, you shouldn’t install a board and batten roof on a shed with less than a 4/12 roof. A board and batten roof is not waterproof; therefore, care should be taken to apply underlayment below.
- Wide variety of installation types
- Not weatherproof
- Requires regular maintenance
5. Asphalt Roofing Felt
Not to be confused with traditional roofing felt used as an underlayment for shingles, asphalt roofing felt is a felt material coated on both sides with asphalt. Each side is then given a granular coat for added protection. Asphalt roofing felt comes in rolls, making installation very simple.
This product is easily the cheapest roofing option for your shed. 100 square feet will cost you less than $40. There are typically two installation options: torch-on or adhesive.
The adhesive is less expensive because you’ll save the cost of having to rent a torch. One container of bitumen/solvent adhesive will do for the area of a shed roof.
Used primarily in low to no-slope applications, this product works for all types of roof pitches. If choosing the torch-on option, avoiding steep pitches is likely a good idea.
The lifespan of asphalt roofing felt is about 15 years. Proper application is critical. You must ensure overlaps are the appropriate length and sealed sufficiently. While these roofs can withstand serious impacts, UV light and weather can strip away the granular outer layer.
- Easy to install and replace
- Short lifespan
- Absorbs heat
6. Corrugated Roofing Panels
Corrugated metal roofing is one of the most durable options you can install on your shed. Metal roofing typically comes in panels of anywhere from 27 to 48 inches. Lengths are commonly 8 or 10 feet long, but you can order sizes to run from the top to bottom of your shed to minimize seams.
The lifespan of a metal roof is around 50 years; however, metal roofs have been known to last much longer. Most metal roofing panels have special coatings that enhance the longevity of the product.
Metal roofing also comes in various gauges — the lower the gauge number, the thicker, more durable and expensive the metal roofing panel.A minimum pitch for a metal roof can be as low as .5/12, if using raised seam corrugated roofing. A low pitch roof using metal roofing should only be used on straight runs without hips or valleys. Otherwise, water can pool in crevices.
Aluminum and steel metal panels are the cheapest of all metal panels. Purchasing 100 square feet of steel roofing can run as low as $75, with aluminum not far behind.
On average, however, expect to pay around $200 for 100 square feet of decent quality steel or aluminum roof. Zinc, tin, stainless steel and other metals cost significantly more.
- Most durable roofing option
- Work with low pitches
- Reflect heat
- Installation is difficult
7. Polycarbonate Roofing Panel
Polycarbonate roofing is an ultra-strong plastic roofing material that is built to withstand harsh outdoor environments. Traditionally used for greenhouses and other structures requiring transparent coverings, polycarbonate now comes in a variety of colors expressly for roofing purposes.
Like many types of roof coverings, polycarbonate comes in different types. However, the most common are sold in big box stores in panels of 6, 8, 10, or 12 feet long and about 26” wide. These can cost anywhere from $15 to $50 apiece. 100 square feet of gray polycarbonate roofing costs around $200.
The lifespan of a polycarbonate roof is anywhere from 10 to 20 years. Polycarbonate is prone to scratching and surface wear, so a shed beneath lots of branches and trees might not be an ideal fit for polycarbonate roofing.
You can install these panels on as low as a 1/12 pitch. They install using foam backing strips and special fasteners. Furring strips are also necessary, as the panels cannot sit on top of a flat surface, such as sheathing.
- Block UV light
- Resistant to extreme temperatures
- Easy to install
- Scratch and dent easily
- Not as durable as other options
- Product-specific fasteners
8. EPDM Rubber Roofing Membrane
EPDM rubber roofing is often found on commercial buildings with low or flat roofs. It is made from recycled rubber and comes in large rolls. Attaching this product is as simple as applying adhesive to the sheathing and rolling the material evenly across the roof. Special latex tape is available to cover seams for extra protection.
The cost of EPDM is low. Covering 100 square feet will cost you around $80. However, if you want a lighter color to reflect heat better, then expect to pay nearly double. Tape costs around $25 per roll, and the adhesive is slightly more at around $35 per container.
While EPDM is typically for flat roofs, it applies just as well to pitched roofs. Therefore, the minimum pitch for this material is a flat roof, with no maximum pitch.
It is important to note, however, that EPDM is not designed for foot traffic or any other type of impact as it punctures fairly easily.
An EPDM roof, properly installed, lasts a long time. If kept free from punctures, an EPDM roof can last 50 years or more as they are negatively affected by sunlight.
- Susceptible to impact damage
- Not appealing visually
9. Metal Shingles
Metal shingles are similar to traditional metal roofing sheets in terms of durability and price. One of the prime differences is the look. Metal shingles are made to look like shingles. They typically come in packs of 10 or more and have edges that interlock with one another.
From a durability standpoint, metal shingles are second to none. If you choose to roof your shed with metal shingles, you’ll likely never have to replace it. Many manufacturers of metal shingles offer a 50-year or limited lifetime warranty.
However, manufacturers only guarantee the finish for around 25 years. Thus, over time, your shingles can fade.
Minimum pitch depends on the style of shingle. For a regular, crimped shingle style, the minimum recommended pitch is 3/12. Styles that have larger raised ends, thus raising the seam further above the surface of the roof, have lower recommended minimum pitches.
The cost of metal shingles depends on the type and raw material used. For instance, steel shingles can cost as low as $150 for 100 square feet. Copper, on the other hand, can be as much as $1500 for the same area. Zinc is less expensive at around $500 for 100 square feet.
- Visually appealing
- Heat reflective
- May require special installation
10. Clay Tiles
If you want your shed also to have some curb appeal, then consider clay tiles. Clay tiles are the very same tiles you see in pictures of old Italian villas or other old-world style structures. They’ve been around for centuries because they work.
Clay tiles are not as common as other materials. While they are attractive to look at, they are prone to moisture penetration. Thus, installing weatherproof underlayment is critical if you choose a tile roof.
The cost of a tile roof will run you anywhere from $400 to over $1000 for 100 square feet depending on the type of tiles you purchase.
From a durability standpoint, clay tile is tough to beat. It is not unusual to see a clay tile roof last over 75 years. However, clay tiles are not impact resistant. A falling branch can easily crack a tile, and you can never walk on the tile.
Clay requires a minimum pitch of 4/12. If you put two layers of underlayment beneath the tiles, the minimum pitch can be lowered to 2.5/12. Since clay tile isn’t ideal for keeping moisture out, a steeper pitch on your shed is recommended.
- Beautiful appearance
- Clay or concrete option
- Very heavy
- Requires heavy-duty underlayment
11. Rubber Shingles
Rubber shingles are becoming more common because they are durable and easy to install. Predominantly using recycled tires, rubber shingles are molded into a shingle shape. Manufacturers guarantee their life up to 50 years, as they are resistant to fire, water, UV light, and impacts.
When purchasing rubber shingles, expect to pay in the neighborhood of $400 for 100 square feet. Installation is simple, much like asphalt shingles, and they are easily cut to fit various spaces on your roof.
These shingles are similar to asphalt shingles in terms of the minimum recommended pitch. Putting rubber shingles on a roof any lower than 2/12 is asking for water penetration. As well, rubber shingles, due to their flexibility, are prone to letting water in during high winds.
- Easy to work with
- Has a rubber smell
- Not good in windy areas
While there is a multitude of roofing types, be sure to consider your environment before you choose a material.
Living in an extremely wet or sunny climate should affect which type of roofing material you put on your shed. While visually appealing materials are always desirable, they might not work for where you live.
Also, if you are going to be installing a roof yourself, consider your ability level. Some roofing material is much more difficult to install properly. Remember, if it isn’t installed well, then you will have leaks and damaged goods within your shed.
As always, I hope you found this article helpful. Please comment below with any questions or information you want to share.