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Metal roofs and asphalt shingles are two of the most popular choices for new roofing, and both have merits: Shingles are less expensive in the short term, but metal is more durable. Read our guide below to help you decide if metal or asphalt is the right choice for your roofing project.
What Is Metal Roofing?
Metal roofs are large flat sheets that are folded longitudinally and sold as either flat seam metal roofing systems or corrugated metals.
Flat seam metal roofing features an interlocking seam design that connects with fasteners. It costs more to produce and install, but it has a reputation for being one of the best metal roofing options available.
Corrugated metals such as corrugated steel, aluminum, tin, and composite metals aren’t as aesthetically pleasing as flat seam metal roofing but are equally durable.
What Are Asphalt Shingles?
Asphalt shingles are available as sheets, stacks, or rolls and consist of a fiberglass base covered by a smooth asphalt layer. They’re topped with ceramic granules for texture and nailed directly into a roof’s underlayment.
An asphalt shingle roof is the most economical option for a roofing project and the easiest system to install for DIY roofers.
Finish Options: Both Types Offer Variety
Both metal roofs and asphalt shingles are available in a number of styles and finishes to suit your curb appeal preferences.
Paint is a popular finish for metal roofing systems, especially since metal roofs have more color choices available than any other type of roof. Metal roofs can also mimic the look of natural stone.
Asphalt systems are available in a number of shingle types, some of which mimic materials such as wood or slate. Architectural shingles are especially popular and offer a three-dimensional look to a roof.
Durability: Metal Roofs Are More Durable
Metal roofs are the superior choice when it comes to durability. A metal roof doesn’t absorb any water, no matter the amount of rainfall. Shingles soak in most types of precipitation. As trapped water freezes and expands, shingles may eventually lift or crack. In hot weather, moisture trapped in a shingle can lead to mildew or algae growth.
Cost: Shingles Are Less Expensive
Roof shingles cost less than metal roofing per square foot, at least initially. Compared to metal roofs, shingles have the following characteristics:
- Easier and quicker to install
- Made from relatively inexpensive and widely available materials
- Widely available with more competitive pricing
However, a metal roof might be the more cost-effective choice in the long run, as homeowners with metal roofs will likely save on repairs, replacements, and maintenance costs over time.
Life Span: Metal Roofs Last Longer
A metal roof can last up to 80 years, while a shingle roof typically lasts 20 to 30 years. A metal roof typically outperforms a shingle roof because of the following factors:
- Durable, even in extreme weather conditions such as high winds and hail storms
- Fire-resistant, which is beneficial for warm climates with a high risk of wildfires
- Inaccessible to most pests, such as insects, rodents, birds, and squirrels
- Moisture-proof, which offers protection from freeze-thaw cycles, mold, mildew, and rot
Sustainability: Metal Roofs Are More Eco-Friendly
Metal roofs have longer life spans than shingle roofs. This ultimately makes them better for the environment and lowers your energy costs. Metal roofing materials are also recyclable (steel roofing is an astounding 100% recyclable), and some materials such as aluminum can be reprocessed indefinitely.
Metal roofs can shave up to 40% off your home’s energy bill, making them decisively more eco-friendly.
Maintenance: Shingles Are Easier to Install and Repair
Shingles are easier to repair and maintain than metal roofing, whether you’re hiring professionals or roofing a house for the first time as a DIY project. Shingles likely require more work over the years than metal roofing, but related labor won’t require any specialized knowledge or tools.
How to Choose Between Metal Roofing and Shingles
Shingles are the winning choice for anyone with a limited budget. They’re available in a wide variety of colors and design options and can easily match a home’s existing style. Shingles are also easier to install as a DIY project.
Metal roofing lasts decades longer than asphalt shingles and is the superior choice for a long-term investment. The material is eco-friendly and requires minimal maintenance.
Other Roofing Options
There are several roofing options to consider beyond metal and asphalt shingles, including the following:
- EPDM roofing: This roof type is often made from recycled materials that are easy to install but can be punctured by branches and other sharp objects.
- Green roofing: This roofing offers environmental benefits and can lead to high energy savings, but installation can be expensive.
- Slate roofing: Slate can last for more than a century with proper maintenance but is less budget-friendly than other options.
- Tile roofing: Tile is highly durable and available in various colors and styles but may require additional work to support its heaviness.
- Wood shakes: This roofing material offers rustic charm and is a great insulator but requires routine maintenance.
A shingle roof investment is more cost-effective in the immediate term, but a metal roof’s durability, longevity, energy efficiency, and low maintenance make it a better value and choice overall. We recommend choosing metal for your roof replacement or installation if your budget allows for it.
Metal Roofs vs. Shingles FAQ
Does a metal roof devalue a house?
Installing a metal roof does not devalue a house. Metal roofs frequently increase a home’s resale value and can offer a return on investment of 61.2%.
Can you put a metal roof over shingles?
A new metal roof can usually be installed over an existing shingle roof. This makes the process quicker and less expensive than outright replacement. Metal is strong but light, and adding it directly over shingles shouldn’t overwhelm a home’s support system.
Do metal roofs leak more often than shingles?
Metal roofs leak less often than shingles. Metal roofs are durable and rarely leak if properly installed and maintained. Metal roofs are also less susceptible to moisture damage than shingles.
Does a metal roof make your house colder during winter?
No, a metal roof does not make your house colder during the winter. A metal roof maintains temperatures just as successfully as shingle roofs and can even help retain warmth.