Asphalt is the most common roofing material in Canada. There are many types of asphalt shingles, with the 2 most common being 25 year shingles or architectural shingles. The architectural shingles have manufacturer warranties between 30-40 years. The texture of the architectural shingles looks very attractive on roofs with steeper pitches.
Cedar shingles look very attractive and will generally last 40-60 years depending on the pitch of the roof. A cedar roof will be more expensive due to both the cost of the materials and the additional labour required to install.
Slate shingles are not commonly used in new constructions in Canada, however can be found as the original shingle product on older homes or in historic restorations. They are very attrative, and will last almost indefinitely, however the cost of both materials and labour makes it less feasible for the average person.
It is the best material available for a roof and should be considered if it can be afforded and the style of house would suite it.
When installing a high end product such as architectural asphalt, cedar or slate, there are certain accessories that can, and in some cases should be, used in order to highlight the shingles used and in other cases to maintain period authenticity.
Examples would be: copper or lead flashings should be used with cedar or slate; old Victorian style house should be dressed with fineals, copper flashing and copper bay & bell window coverings; older farm-style houses often look good with cupolas. Some plain houses can be dressed up quite easily with the right accessories.