8 Best Roofing Materials for Hot Climates

roof

Traditional black shingles can soar to scorching temperatures of 190 degrees Fahrenheit, while their white counterparts only reach 120 degrees. Your roof is your first line of defense against the sun, slowing down heat transfer into your home. It is important to select the best roofing materials for hot climates, keeping in mind that lighter colors reflect the sun while darker colors actually absorb it.   

8 Best Roofing Materials for Hot Climates?

Did you know that your roof covers more square footage than your floors? It slows down heat transfer, stabilizing your room temperatures and creating a more comfortable living environment. 

Today, many warm climate roof types coincide with another environmentally friendly category of materials: cool roofs. Cool roofs are a collection of roofing materials that all share the same properties. 

  • They absorb less heat.
  • They reflect more sunlight.
  • They reduce energy consumption.

Cool roofing materials and coatings lower a roof’s surface temperature and decrease heat transfer

1. Asphalt Shingles

A bird perched atop an asphalt shingle roof
Photo credit: TriviaKing at English Wikipedia / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

Asphalt roof shingles are the most common type of roofing material. Found in 80% of homes, these shingles comprise fiberglass or cellulose mat, asphalt, and mineral granules. Asphalt shingle roofs come in a variety of colors and are a cost-effective replacement solution. 

These roofs last approximately 20 years and work for all climates. Typical asphalt shingles comprise dense, dark-colored materials. However, Energy Star-rated varieties comprise light-colored options and exterior granules and coatings to reflect sunlight. 

Price: $1.75 to $7 per square foot 

Pros

  • Available
  • Affordable
  • Variety of color options
  • Low-maintenance

Cons

  • Short lifespan compared to other roofing materials
  • Less energy-efficient than other cool roof options
  • Prone to wind damage
  • Overused; 80% of homes have asphalt shingles

Types of Shingles

There are two dominant styles of asphalt shingles – three-tab and architectural shingles, both offering distinct style characteristics.

Three-Tab Shingles

Three-tab shingles are the cheapest option. They have a flat appearance and are cut to look like traditional shingles. However, these economical shingles only last between 7 to 15 years and are only rated for winds up to 60 mph.

Architectural Shingles

Architectural shingles offer a more substantial alternative to three-tab shingles. They are thicker, creating a layered, textured roof that is more durable, lasting between 18 to 20 years. They are also more weather-resistant and can withstand extremely high winds up to 120 mph. 

2. Metal Roofing

metal roof tiling
Photo Credit: Hippopx

Metal roofing is a highly reflective cool roofing material that forms a thermal barrier by creating an airspace between your roofing materials and decking, lowering your average cooling costs. It is the second most preferred roofing material in the U.S. covering a broad range of materials, styles, and price points. 

Metals like aluminum, zinc, tin, and galvanized steel are cost-effective and low-maintenance options, while copper offers a unique appearance for a high-end metal roof. Metal roofs last between 40 to 80 years and require very little maintenance.

Price: $3 to $20 per square foot

Pros

  • Durable
  • Low-maintenance
  • Recyclable
  • Lightweight
  • Fire-resistant
  • Mold– and rot-resistant
  • Energy-efficient

Cons

  • Noisy without soundproofing
  • Can warp over time
  • Specialized labor required for installation

Types of Metal Roofing

There are two dominant types of metal roofs – standing seam and stamped metal roofing. 

Standing Seam Metal Roofing Systems

Standing seam roofing systems are extremely easy to install, comprising an underlayment with large, vertical metal roofing panels joined by interlocking seams. The concealed fastener system allows for increased durability and a seamless aesthetic.    

Stamped Metal Shingle Roofing

Stamped metal shingle roofing comprises small modular panels stamped to mimic the aesthetics of classic roofing materials like asphalt shingles, wood shakes, clay tiles, and slate. Each panel features a four-way interlocking system for staggered installation matching traditional shingles. 

Stamped metal shingle roofing is often pre-painted with a protective coating. Steel and aluminum are the most commonly used metals and are premium residential metal shingles. 

3. Slate Tiles

Slate roof tiles on a home in Greenbelt, Maryland
Photo Credit: Picryl

Slate is one of the most durable and natural-looking roofing materials. This high-end material comes with a high price tag and is naturally energy efficient. Often found in luxury homes, slate roofs last anywhere from 60 to 150 years and can withstand extreme temperature fluctuations, high winds, and hail.  

Also known as shale roofing, the thin sheets of actual stone are fire-resistant, making the material an ideal choice for warm, dry regions like the Southwest. 

Cost: $7 to $20 per square foot 

Pros

  • Suitable for all climates
  • Water-resistant; not susceptible to fungus or mold growth
  • Fire-resistant
  • Durable
  • Low-maintenance
  • Eco-friendly and recyclable

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Heavy; may require additional structural support
  • Requires highly specialized installation

Metal Slate Roofing

If your budget is feeling stretched by slate, consider stone-coated steel tiles, also known as metal slate roofing. These tiles last approximately 30 years and give the look of a slate roof without weight. 

Metal slate roofing is weather-resistant, eco-friendly, and budget-friendly. Like all metal roofing, the downside to these steel tiles is the noise. You may need to consider soundproofing before installing your new roof to reduce outside noise and vibrations. 

4. Clay Tiles

clay roof tiles
Photo Credit: Loadmaster / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

Clay tiles, also known as terracotta tiles, date back 5,000 years, making them one of the oldest roofing materials. Similar to slate roofing, terracotta roofing will last over 100 years. These tiles are ideal for tropical climates and are common in Southern California and Florida. 

Clay tiles can withstand extremely high winds and constant salt exposure and naturally darkening with age. They come in four dominant styles: mission, interlocking, French, and Spanish to fit any design aesthetic. The molded ‘s’ shape in many clay roofing styles allows for good airflow below the surface of your roof, keeping your home cooler. 

Cost: $8 to $20 per square foot 

Pros

  • Low-maintenance
  • Natural materials 
  • Energy-efficient
  • High curb appeal
  • Salt-tolerant

Cons

  • Heavy; may require additional structural support
  • Expensive

5. Concrete Tiles

Photo Credit: Visut Thepkunhanimit’s Images / Canva Pro / License

Concrete tiles offer the same qualities as clay tiles for half the price. These tiles last over 100 years, and their seamless design resists leaks and water damage. Many concrete roofs feature a wave pattern to improve airflow between your roof’s decking and surface, reducing heat transfer.

Concrete tiles are fire-resistant and darken with age. They come in any color and a variety of profiles, including those mimicking wood shakes and terracotta tiles.

Cost: $4 to $10 per square foot 

Pros

  • Durable
  • Low-maintenance
  • Energy-efficient
  • High curb appeal
  • Fire-resistant

Cons

  • Heavy; may require additional structural support

6. Solar Roofing

solar panel fixing on roof
Photo Credit: Picryl

There is no more practical roofing material for warm climates than photovoltaic panels. These panels absorb solar energy and convert it into electricity to power your home.  

Cost: $21 to $25 per square foot

Pros

  • Renewable and usable energy
  • Increases property and resale values
  • Weather-resistant
  • Low-maintenance
  • Reduced utility bills

Cons

  • Heavy; may require additional structural support and wiring 
  • Requires specialized installation
  • Expensive

Types of Solar Roofing

There are two types of solar roofing materials on the market: solar panels and solar shingles.

Solar Shingles

Solar shingles, also known as solar roof tiles, are thin photovoltaic panels that absorb the sun’s energy and convert it into electricity to power your home. These shingles perform like traditional roofing materials, protecting you and your home from the elements while saving you money on your electric bill.

Unlike solar panels, solar shingles are an entire roof system with a lifespan of approximately 20 to 30 years, though output will diminish around the 20-year mark.

Solar Panels

Solar panels are a larger version of a solar shingle. They are a collection of solar cells, also known as photovoltaic cells, that harness the sun’s rays and convert them into electricity. They also have a lifespan of 25 years. 

7. Green Roof

Text: Green Roof Cost | Background Image: House with Green Roof
Photo Credit: Unsplash

Green roofs invoke thoughts of apple pies cooling in the open window of a fairytale cottage while the Big Bad Wolf lurks just beyond the trees. These living roofs comprise grass and native vegetation, like wildflowers, to form an insulating barrier. 

They last 30 to 50 years and have a beneficial impact on the environment. Green roofs reduce air pollution and can absorb up to 90% of rainfall, preventing flooding and drastically reducing polluted runoff. 

These roofs reduce both heat absorption and heat loss, making them an ideal choice for both hot and cold climates.

Cost: $10 to $30 per square foot

Pros

  • Durable 
  • Environmental, supports pollinators
  • Reduces runoff 
  • Energy-efficient 

Cons

  • High-maintenance
  • Heavy; requires additional structural support
  • Requires highly specialized installation
  • Requires a flat or low-slope profile

8. Membrane Roofing

Membrane Roofing
Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Membrane roofing is a great option for commercial, low-sloped, and flat-roof buildings. The added reflective materials and cool roof coatings make these roofing materials cost-effective and energy efficient.

Single-Ply Membranes

Single ply membranes comprise PVC, TPO, or EPDM comprising four layers: insulation, a plastic or waterproof rubber membrane, flashing, and adhesive. Many membranes have a speciality cool roof coating, making them extremely energy efficient. Rubber roofing options have a lifespan of over 40 years.

Built-up Roofing

Built-up roofing (BUR) comprises multiple layers of granules fused together to create an extremely durable roof. Many comprise reflective cool roof coatings applied directly to your roof decking. 

What Makes a Roofing Material Suitable for Hot Climates?

how cool roofs work

The best roofing materials for tropical climates lower a roof’s surface temperature and decrease heat transfer. They strongly reflect sunlight, or solar energy, through solar reflectance (SR), and efficiently emit absorbed heat, or infrared radiation, through thermal emittance (TE). 

To be classified as a cool roofing material by the Cool Roof Rating Council (CRRC), the cool roof product must possess both high solar reflectance and high thermal emittance over a three-year testing period. 

FAQ About the Best Roofing Materials for Hot Climates

Can a cool roof affect indoor air temperature?

Yes. Cool roofs reduce energy use and stabilize room temperature. Compared to traditional roofing materials, they can reduce indoor temperatures between 3.5 to 9 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Are ENERGY STAR roofs worth it?

Yes. Energy-efficient roofing pays for itself, and homeowners can recover 100% of their investment when installing a new roof. The average homeowner saves up to $500 per year, and ENERGY STAR-rated roofing materials can help lower energy costs by up to 25%. 

What color is the most energy-efficient?

White reflective roofs are the most energy-efficient, significantly lowering temperatures and reducing the overall urban heat island. White roofs reflect up to 80% of sunlight while gray roofs only reflect 20%.

Installing Roofing Materials in a Hot Climate

According to experts, American homeowners spend 3% of their annual income on energy bills, with this number rising to 6% in some locations. If you live in a tropical climate and are in the market for a new roof, contact a LawnStarter roofing pro to learn about cool roofing materials so you can start saving on your energy costs and reduce your financial burden.

Main Image Credit: Pxhere

Kimberly Magerl

Kimberly Magerl

Born and raised in Springfield, Illinois, Kimberly Magerl enjoys growing fruits and vegetables in her garden. When she isn't gardening, Kimberly enjoys trying new recipes and cooking with her home-grown herbs.