Every home needs a roof. Whether you’re building a new home, or replacing the roof you already have, roofing materials are a big decision. The roof represents the single biggest investment in your home’s structure, and the most exposed plane. The roof has a huge responsibility, even more than exterior walls (and those are pretty darn important).
The roof is under constant attack from sun, rain, wind, ice, and snow. Even more, damage to the roof almost always means damage to the inside of your home as well. Still, most homeowners don’t think twice about their roofing investment, until of course it’s raining in the living room.
At Perfect Steel Solutions, our expert roofing team is here to break down the two most popular types of roofing today: a metal roof vs asphalt shingles. We will help you compare the pros and cons of each so you can find the perfect solution for your home.
Difference Between Metal Roofs and Asphalt Shingles
The metal roof is taking over as one of the most popular choices for residential and business roofing projects. They have been popular for barns and commercial buildings for years, but now residential customers are opting for all the benefits of metal roofing. Metal roofing comes in tiles or sheets in a myriad of styles and colors in tin, steel, aluminum, copper and zinc.
To most, an asphalt roof is the classic roof. It’s the most common roofing material used across the country in neighborhoods everywhere. The shingles are made up of a fiberglass core or matting, an asphalt coating and a ceramic or stone granule surface.
Metal Roof vs Asphalt Shingles – The Pros and Cons
If you were to ask a sampling of production builders what the best roofing material on the market is, they’re likely to tell you asphalt shingles. Ask the same question to the average residential architect, and they would probably say metal is the real deal. It’s no wonder why homeowners are confused between a metal roof vs asphalt shingles.
Do you go with the traditional asphalt shingles or the more modern metal roof that is rapidly gaining popularity? We are going to break down each category and look at the pros and cons of a metal roof vs asphalt shingles.
Here is a summary of the major considerations when deciding between the two.
Metal: Metal roofs have come a long way from the farm. Today’s metal roofs come in a variety of materials, colors, and styles to complement your home style.
- Pros: There is enough variety to find a color and style to complement any home.
- Cons: There are some HOAs that do not allow metal roofing if it is inconsistent with the look of a neighborhood.
Asphalt Shingles: Asphalt shingles are the most popular form of roofing in residential homes across the country, and for good reason. They look great with a variety of home styles and provide a uniform look for neighborhoods and communities.
- Pros: The number one most common roofing material used today.
- Cons: Shingles aren’t very unique, which means your house will likely look very similar to your neighbors.
Metal: Metal roofing comes in a few different styles, and almost any color under the sun. You can choose panels, tiles, shingles, and can add texture options to your metal roofing so that it looks very similar to the rough texture of asphalt shingles.
- Pros: You can get any color of roof you’d like, including bright color options.
- Cons: Not all materials are available in all areas and come at a higher price point.
Asphalt Shingles: There is quite a bit of variety in asphalt shingles so that you can pick the shade and shape that matches your home style. You can even find asphalt shingles that look like wood, shake, or slate.
- Pros: Comes in a variety of colors and textures.
- Cons: Most builders will use standard, dark and dull colors because they are more easily available.
Metal: Metal is more expensive as a one-time cost comparison. However, you will have to replace your asphalt shingles 2 or even 3 times. Therefore, one metal roof outlasts at least three shingle roofs, making the metal roof significantly cheaper over time.
- Pros: The price is worth it if it outlasts your shingle roof.
- Cons: The upfront cost is more expensive.
Asphalt Shingles: Installing an asphalt shingle roof can be nearly half the cost of a metal roof, so there is significant cost savings to the homeowner by choosing asphalt shingles.
- Pros: They are a cheaper, short-term cost, roughly half the price of a metal roof.
- Cons: You will likely have to pay for a new roof within 15-20 years, making the long-term cost more expensive.
Metal: Installing a metal roof requires precision and is less forgiving than shingles. However, it can be installed directly over your existing roof, so there’s no removal process.
- Pros: Metal is light and easy to work with and can be installed over existing roofing.
- Cons: There are limited qualified contractors that install metal roofing, so finding a reputable contractor with the experience may end up costing you a little bit more.
Asphalt Shingles: As one of the most common roofing materials, asphalt shingle roofs are easy to install and can be done quickly with a wide range of qualified roofing contractors.
- Pros: It is easy to find materials and a qualified contractor to install your metal roofing quickly and easily.
- Cons: In order to install a new asphalt roof, you must first remove the old one, which adds time to the installation.
Length of Life
Metal: This is perhaps the single biggest difference between metal roofing and shingles. For metal roofing, once installed it is expected to last AT LEAST your entire adult life (est. 50 years). Meaning, there is a strong possibility your grandchildren could enjoy the roof you’ve chosen.
- Pros: 50 years, at least. Some metals (copper and zinc) can last up to 100 years or more.
- Cons: The lifespan of any metal roof is contingent upon the quality of initial installation.
Asphalt Shingles: Most asphalt shingles come with a 15-20 year life expectancy. However, that doesn’t take into account strong weather, hail, winds, etc. These types of storms can damage even brand new shingles.
- Pros: They have a decent performance record, and generally come with a warranty that is relatively high.
- Cons: Asphalt shingles do not last as long as a metal roof will.
Metal: Homeowners can choose specific ENERGY STAR rated colors and finishes to increase the energy efficiency of their roof. Some manufacturers even offer cool roofing, which release the absorbed heat in the summer and retain heat in cooler months.
- Pros: Metal is a fully recyclable material and reduces energy consumption in the home. In addition, metal roofs make it easy to mount solar panels using clamps.
- Cons: If they are installed incorrectly, your efficiency will not be as high.
Asphalt Shingles: Because of their dark colors, asphalt shingles absorb a lot of heat, making your HVAC system work overtime in hot summer months. You can install cool roofing under shingles as well, to help release that heat.
- Pros: Absorbs heat and warms the home in the winter months.
- Cons: Heat absorption makes it harder to cool down in high heat climates. In addition, the shingles themselves are not recyclable.
Metal: Metal is a very lightweight material, relieving the stress of additional weight on the roof which reduces frame damage and preserves the integrity of the building.
- Pros: Essentially maintenance free, all you need is a light cleaning to keep it looking nice. There are very few possibilities for repairs.
- Cons: Lightweight metal roofing can be dented from hail or fallen branches.
Asphalt Shingles: Although the shingles today are lighter than shingles of 10 years ago, they are still heavier than a metal roof, adding about 200 pounds per square. This adds additional stress to your structure.
- Pros: The repairs are less expensive for asphalt shingles than metal roof repairs.
- Cons: Shingles add significant weight to your surface, adding stress onto the structure itself.
Fire, Water & Hail Resistance
Metal: Typically rated as a Class A fire-rated and noncombustible material, it is the most resistant to catching fire. Metal is also stronger and more durable in both every day and extreme weather conditions.
- Pros: Fire resistant and durable against wind, rain, snow, hail, ice, and extreme temperatures (both cod and heat).
- Cons: Prone to dents in hail storms.
Asphalt Shingles: Many shingles are Class A fire rated, but because they contain asphalt, they are still combustible. So, they are fire resistant on the outside, but if they come in direct contact with a flame, they can catch on fire.
- Pros: They are Class A fire rated and many are impact resistant.
- Cons: More likely to combust if they come in direct contact with a flame. Can also incur hail damage and grow moss or algae in humid climates.
Maintenance and Durability
Metal: Metal roofing is essentially maintenance free, all you need is a light cleaning to keep it looking nice. There are very few possibilities for repairs so long as the initial installation is done correctly.
- Pros: Metal roofing requires no major maintenance and can stand up to Mother Nature.
- Cons: If you end up with rippling or a poor installation, repairing a metal roof can be expensive.
Asphalt Shingles: The nature of individual shingles lends itself to more susceptibility of damage and more future repairs.
- Pros: Repairs on asphalt shingles are very easy to repair if they get damaged.
- Cons: Shingles are more susceptible to cracking and breaking than a metal roof.
Painting and Sealing
Metal: Metal roofs should be sealed upon installation to protect from rust and corrosion. In addition, your roof can be painted any color you’d like thanks to specific paints designed for metal roofs.
- Pros: It’s a simple process and protects the roof and doesn’t cost much
- Cons: This is required every few years, which adds up over time.
Asphalt: While asphalt shingles can’t be painted, they can and should be sealed upon installation to prevent leaks and protect the shingles from wear and tear.
- Pros: Sealing protects your roof from weather leaks and sun exposure
- Cons: Sealing is not a long-term fix and replacing shingles may be required.
ROI & Resale Value
Metal: Because metal roofing lasts longer, it can contribute significantly to resale value, especially if it is fairly new or in good condition.
- Pros: Because it’s energy efficient and long lasting, it’s a draw for buyers which raises resale value.
- Cons: If the style/color don’t fit buyer’s preferences, it may deter some potential buyers.
Asphalt Shingles: Having an asphalt roof isn’t necessarily going to deter buyers. It is currently the number one product for residential roofing. You’re going to see a positive return on investment as long as you keep your roof in good condition.
- Pros: Asphalt shingles are extremely popular and provide a solid ROI so long as they are maintained properly and in good condition.
- Cons: While they won’t hurt your resale value, asphalt shingles won’t set your home apart from anything else in the neighborhood or increase your resale value.
Important Things To Consider When Deciding Between Metal & Asphalt
- Your Budget: The single biggest factor in a metal roof vs asphalt shingles is price. This is a big investment either way, and perhaps you don’t mind replacing your roof in 15-20 years. Or maybe you don’t even expect to live in your home that long. However, if you have the cash and want the peace of mind, metal roofing is the best choice.
- Your Roof Design: Some roof designs provide restrictions on what materials you can use. Depending on the pitch, design, dormers, valleys, skylights, venting, and overall square footage, your options may be limited.
- Your Property’s Lifecycle: You don’t want to put a 60-year roof on a building that won’t last 20 years. Consider the type of building or home you’re working with and how long the structure itself is designed to last.
- Your Environment: If you live in a climate with extreme weather, metal roofing has a better track record with wind, hail, rain, heat, and freezing temperatures. If you have a mild climate without drastic weather shifts, asphalt shingles may work perfectly.
- Qualified Contractor Availability: Finding a qualified roofing contractor to install a metal roof can be tricky. If you can’t find one nearby, you may end up paying even more to bring in outside talent.
FAQs About Metal Roofs & Asphalt Shingles