The Homeowner's Complete Metal Roofing Guide

Metal roofing has significantly increased in popularity over the last several years—it's durable, it looks good, and it saves money on energy bills.

Our guide to metal roofing outlines the advantages and disadvantages of metal roofing, the different metal roofing materials and styles available, metal roofing costs, and answers frequently asked questions related to metal roofs.

On this page, we discuss...


Metal Roofing Pros & Cons

Pros and cons of metal roofing

Advantages of a Metal Roof

  • Durability — When properly installed, metal roofing can last as long as 50 years or more. It is more efficient in sealing out water, withstanding high winds, and shedding snow than shingle roofing, and is resistant to fire, mildew, insects, and rot.
     
  • Long term warranties — Many metal roofing manufacturers warranty their product for 50 years or even longer. Compare that to asphalt shingles, which may need to be replaced every 15 to 20 years.
     
  • Lower energy bills — A majority of modern metal roofing products have Energy Star finishes that are certified to reflect sunlight, keeping your home cooler than other roofing materials.

Metal roof owners report paying an average of 20 - 30% less on annual electricity costs than asphalt shingle roof owners.

  • Fire resistant — Metal roofing has a Class A fire rating—the highest rating possible for roofing materials—meaning metal roofs resist the spreading of flames on their surface more than any other roofing product.
     
  • Weather resistant — Metal roofs can withstand extremely high winds and changes in temperature, seal out rain, and shed snow efficiently.
     
  • Convenient — In many situations, a metal roof can be installed directly on top of your existing shingle roof. Not having to remove and dispose of one or two layers of shingles helps make metal roofing more cost competitive.
Although metal roofing can be laid directly on top of shingle roofing, some roofing contractors will recommend removing any existing roofing before installation to inspect the underlayment's condition. If this is the case, renting a dumpster is a convenient way to keep the debris contained. Our Dumpsters 101 Guide is a great place to get started.
 

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Disadvantages of a Metal Roof

  • Cost — The upfront cost of installing a new metal roof is significantly more expensive than a shingle roof. Metal roofing costs typically run anywhere from $150 to $600 per square. (A "square" is 100 square feet of roofing material.)
     
  • Possible denting — Denting and marring can happen with metal roofs, but only in the presence of abnormally large hail or falling tree limbs. On the plus side, many new metal roofs are guaranteed against denting and marring, and textured metal roofs camouflage any minor denting that may occur.

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Metal Roofing Materials

Most of the metal roofing products available today are made of steel or aluminum. However, specialty materials could include copper, titanium, or zinc materials.

Steel Roofing

Steel roofing is a lightweight roofing material and is covered by a protective coating to prevent it from rusting. Metallic coatings on steel roofing are either 100% zinc ("galvanized") or a mixture of zinc and aluminum ("Galvalume" or "Zincalume"). The mixed coating is the most effective way to prevent rust.

Depending on the exact product chosen, steel roofs are often about 20% cheaper than aluminum roofing.

Aluminum Roofing

Aluminum roofs are typically a bit more expensive than steel. This is because aluminum roofing is even lighter than steel and does not need to go through the metallic coating process.

Aluminum is also more resistant to corrosion caused by the salt spray from seawater, too. If your home is near the ocean, aluminum is the metal roofing route to take. Aluminum roofs are typically a bit more expensive than steel.

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Metal Roofing Styles

Metal roofing styles

  • Metal shingle/slate — creates the distinctive look of smooth, uniform slate tiles without the weight
  • Metal tile — the aesthetically pleasing curves of classic tile with the lightness and strength of metal
  • Metal shake — the authentic look of wood with a variety of color choices, but is longer lasting and more durable than traditional wooden shake
  • Vertical panel — pre-painted vertical panels come in all color combinations and are practical and economical
  • Natural metals — made of self-healing materials that naturally develop a protective layer or patina as they age; ideal for urban or historic districts

Today’s metal roofing systems are available in more styles than ever, providing virtually no limit to the look you can achieve for your home. Because metal can be formed into nearly any shape, you can get any style or color you would with shingles, shake, slate, or tile roofing, but with the added advantage of increased durability and protection.


Tile metal roofing installation

Metal Roofing Cost

Metal roofing typically costs between $7 and $10 per square foot but can be as low as $5.50 or as high as $12 per square foot.

Cost to Install Metal Roofing
Roof Square Footage Low-End Cost Average Cost High-End Cost
1,000 sq. ft. $5,500 $10,000 $12,000
1,500 sq. ft. $8,250 $15,000 $18,000
2,000 sq. ft. $11,000 $20,000 $24,000
2,500 sq. ft. $13,750 $25,000 $30,000

Metal roofing can reach nearly twice the price of asphalt shingle roofing in some cases, and for good reason. Not only does metal roofing outlast asphalt shingles 2:1, but the level of experience required to install metal roofing is higher.

Asphalt shingle roofing is relatively easy to install, but metal roofing is a technically involved process that demands extensive training and experience, as well as the right equipment. Unlike asphalt shingles, metal roofing materials must be installed exactly, taking up to 2-3x longer than shingle roofing installation.

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House with black tile metal roofing

Metal Roofing FAQ

Are metal roofs loud?

Surprisingly, when installed with solid sheathing, metal roofing can actually be quieter than an asphalt shingle roof, silencing rain and hail altogether.

Do metal roofs increase the chance of lightning strikes?

No. While metal conducts electricity, lightning is no more drawn to metal roofs than it is to other buildings constructed with traditional building materials; and just like with any building, electricity from a lightning strike is safely transferred to the ground below, leaving occupants unaffected.

Why does the gauge of metal roofing products matter?

The thickness of metal roofing is measured by its gauge—the thicker the metal, the lower the gauge number. For example, a 29 gauge metal roof is actually thinner than a 24 gauge roof.

For residential applications, a roofing product that is at least 29 gauge is recommended.

Lower gauge (thicker) metal roofing products are more durable in extreme weather conditions compared to higher gauge (thinner) choices, but because they are more durable, lower gauge products cost more.

Will a metal roof rust or fade in color?

The level of protection against rust or fading color depends on the grade of material. Steel roofing panels are protected by layers of metallic and polymer coatings, and industry studies have repeatedly shown them to outperform the corrosion resistance of other coated metals.

Higher grades of metal roofs offer more protection against rust, and the higher quality paint is more resistant to fading. Be sure to ask your metal roofing contractor to explain your options.

How does the weight of a metal roof compare to other roofing systems?

On average, a metal roof is 50% lighter than a traditional shingle roof and 75% lighter than concrete or slate tile roofing. The lighter weight material puts less strain on the roofing structure while offering superior protection.

Can metal roofing be installed over an existing roof?

Because of its lightweight properties, metal roofing can be installed over an existing roof. However, many roofing contractors prefer to tear off the old roofing material to ensure the proper sheathing and insulation is installed. This helps optimize the performance of the new metal roof, and it can help extend its lifespan.

KEEP READING: 5 Metal Roofing Myths Debunked


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