Understanding Metal Roof Installation

metal roof installation

In this guide, we'll discuss...

Types of Metal Roofing

Metal roofing manufacturers produce styles resembling slate, clay tile, cedar shakes, and asphalt shingles.

types of metal roofing

Metal roofing is manufactured from...

  • Aluminum: a lightweight roofing material that offers superior resistance to corrosion, making it the optimal choice if you live near the ocean where wind and seawater can cause salt-induced corrosion to most types of roofing.
  • Steel: a cost-effective alternative to aluminum. Special coatings are applied to steel roofing to eliminate the risk of rusting and corrosion. 
  • Copper: a beautiful and exceptionally durable alternative to steel and aluminum roofing. It’s often used in architecturally designed roofs where the roof is a focal point of the building. The beautiful patina look – green coloring copper inherits due to weathering – is a big draw to customers looking for a historic, one-of-a-kind roof.
  • Metal Alloys: formulated for their durability, strength, and ability to withstand weathering. Traditionally they’re an expensive option, but price depends on the alloys.

LEARN MORE: The Homeowner's Complete Metal Roofing Guide

Find a qualified metal roofing contractor

Installation Methods

There are three popular methods for installing and securing a metal roof:

  • Exposed fastener systems
  • Concealed fastener systems (aka standing seam roof)
  • Concealed adhesive fastening system

Installing red metal roof with drill and screws

Exposed Fastener Systems

With exposed fastener systems, you can see the screw that is used to hold the metal roof panel in place.

This is a traditional method of roofing attachment but can be problematic because the exposed screws can rust, be over-tightened, or come out over time.

Temperature variations cause the metal to expand and contract, which can loosen the screws. Once this occurs, your roof will be prone to leaks. Generally, exposed fastener roofing methods are more cost-effective, but may not be as durable or long-lasting.

Concealed Fastener Systems

Concealed fastener systems use metal panels with interlocking seams. Screws are used to attach one side of the fastener fins into the roofing deck. The next panel uses a fin to protect and conceal the exposed nails. This system conceals the screws, protecting them from the weather and temperature variations.

However, concealed fastener systems are susceptible to fastener stress, which can lead to dimpling of the panels. This method is also more labor-intensive and therefore more expensive.

Concealed Adhesive Fastening Systems

Concealed adhesive systems utilize an adhesive membrane that securely attaches the metal roofing panels to the roof deck. This eliminates the need for screwing anything down, leading to less warping and leaks over time. This method is considered an innovative technique in metal roofing installation but is the most expensive method.

In many instances, metal roofing can be installed directly over an existing shingle roof, eliminating the labor and hauling costs associated with tearing off a roof. Metal roofing's lightweight properties allow it to be installed over an existing shingle roof (typically) without exceeding the weight limit of the roofing structure.


Low-Slope Metal Roofing Installation

Metal roofs work great in steep-slope applications, but metal is also a valid option for low-slope installations. 

If the low-slope roof has a slope greater than 1:12 (one-inch drop every 12 inches in length), a metal roof is a viable option. According to the National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA), the only type of metal roofing that should be used in low-slope applications is structural metal paneling.

Low-slope metal roofing applications may require a machine seaming during installation to ensure a watertight seal. A seaming apparatus crimps the panel seams together.

A standing seam metal roof assures adequate draining from rain and snow, eliminating ponding water, leaks, and other related problems that can plague built-up roofs. Furthermore, a low-slope metal roof doesn’t degrade due to organic materials, enabling for longer life spans and low annual operating costs.

LEARN MORE: Metal Roofing FAQs: Everything You Need to Know

Advantages & Disadvantages of Metal Roofing


  • Durable, long-lasting roofing material
  • Superior water shedding properties
  • Lightweight; can be installed over existing roof
  • Long manufacturer’s warranties up to 50 years
  • Wide variety of styles, finishes, and metal types available
  • Metal roofing isn’t loud and won’t rust
  • May lower homeowner insurance costs
  • Fire-resistant
  • Beautiful appearance


  • Prone to denting
  • High initial cost
  • Moisture buildup below metal roofing material is a common concern 

Find a qualified metal roofing contractor

Cost of a Metal Roof Installation

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

Metal roofing systems typically cost 2 - 3x more than the price of traditional asphalt shingles, although prices will vary depending on your location and the complexity of the installation.

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

One of the primary reasons metal roofing is more expensive than traditional roofing materials is the specialized training, knowledge, and equipment that is needed to install them properly.

However, a metal roof does not need nearly as much maintenance as other roofing materials; so if installed properly, it can easily last for 50 years.


Metal Roofing Durability and Expected Lifespan

A properly installed metal roof can be expected to last for decades.

It’s not unusual for a metal roof to last 40, 50, or more years before needing a replacement. In general, a metal roof will last two to three times longer than a typical asphalt shingle roof.

Additionally, proper maintenance helps prolong the usable service life of the roof.

A quality metal roofing installation is the key to maximizing the lifespan of any metal roof. To ensure your metal roof is properly installed, make sure your roofing contractor offers a workmanship warranty that covers any problems or defects in the installation. 

red metal roof tiles installed with drill

Metal Roofing Maintenance

Metal roofing products are coated with protective paints and enamels designed to prevent corrosion. However, corrosion is still possible without proper maintenance.

Spraying down the roof periodically helps remove dirt, debris, salt, pine needles, and oils that can hinder the performance of the roof.

Removing tree limbs and leaf debris helps improve drainage and eliminates standing water. It’s also important to keep an eye out for signs of roof damage, including significant denting, standing water, and holes. Addressing the damage early can save loads of cash on metal roof repairs later on.

Here are a couple simple tips to follow when maintaining a metal roof:

  • Wash the metal roof with water using a garden hose or low-pressure power washer to rinse off any harmful chemicals.
  • If there are any loose nails, pull them and securely re-nail them into place.

LEARN MORE: Metal Roof Repair 101

Find a Qualified Metal Roofing Contractor

A high-quality installation is far and away the most important factor influencing the lifespan of a metal roof.

Choose a metal roofing company based on its experience and reputation in the community, not on price alone. 

We make it easy for customers to compare roofing contractors, see what customers have to say about their experiences, and see what others have paid for their metal roofing. You’ll also have the ability to request free quotes for your project.