What Are the Strangest Replacements for Roofing Materials?

By Staff WriterLast Updated April 24, 2019
CC BY-SA 2.0/RobertStok/Flickr

As more people become interested in their household's energy efficiency, attention is increasingly turning to roofs. From recycled plastic to solar tiles, here are 10 roofing materials you may not have considered.

Plastic Bottles

There's enough of 'em around! And the kind of malleable plastic used in drink bottles is actually a great alternative to other roofing materials. Not only is plastic waterproof, it's also more resistant to bacteria than, say, wood or thatching.

CC0 1.0/zhrefch/Flickr

Tires

Recycled tires are another option. After removing the tire wall, the tread can be cut into large pieces (think of them as roof tiles) and buffed out before covering them with slate dust. They can then be nailed down individually.

CC BY-SA 2.0/uweihe1/Flickr

Newspaper

An odd thought, perhaps, but Elis Stenman built an entire house out of paper in 1922, and it's still standing! Nowadays, you can simply buy NewspaperWood. These are planks cut from "logs" of newspaper and solvent-free glue. They're both waterproof and flame-retardant, as well as better for the world's forests.

CC BY-SA 2.0/DaveCrosby/Flickr

Aluminum Cans

Flattened soda cans can be overlapped and nailed down for a low-cost, and often surprisingly attractive, roof. The raw materials can be stockpiled at home or collected from a landfill.

CC BY-SA 2.0/scottmacpherson1/Flickr

Green Roofing

This eco-friendly option can help to keep your home cool in the summer and warm in the winter, while also providing a habitat for local wildlife. It involves growing plants on your roof. It takes some planning, though, as you'll also need waterproofing and drainage.

CC BY 2.0/Ian Sane/Flickr

Solar/Photovoltaic Tiles

Thinking about solar tiles for the roof? Considering all the solar energy it receives, it can feel like a massive waste not to! Photovoltaic (PV) roof shingles capture energy from the sun and store it to power your home. You wouldn't know it to look at them, though; they look just like any other roof tiles.

CC BY 2.0/desertdutchman/Flickr

Concrete

A good quality concrete tile roof installation can last a lifetime. There are various styles to choose from, including the heat-resistant S-shaped and flat concrete tiles, or the ultra-durable cool color concrete tiles. They're all naturally fireproof.

CC BY 2.0/Reuse Warehouse Houston/Flickr

White Metal

White metal reflects around two thirds of the sun's rays, and it cools much faster at night than many other roofing materials. Although it can be more expensive, its durability makes it worth considering for minimal maintenance.

CC BY-SA 2.0/oliva732000/Flickr

Terra Cotta and Clay

The average home in sunny countries has a terra cotta tile roof or clay tile roof. Because they're relatively light in color, they don't retain so much heat. Watch out for glazed or painted types, though, as their lack of porousness can make them liable to crack in cold weather.

CC BY-SA 2.0/marianne muegenburg cothern/Flickr

Slate

Slate is naturally reflective, so it can help to save money on air conditioning. It looks nice, but the relative cost (including transportation costs, given the weight) can add up easily.

CC BY-SA 2.0/frennlareo/Flickr

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