How Long Does a Metal Roof Last?

By Amanda Lutz Updated March 14, 2024

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Metal roofs are a popular choice among homeowners seeking something especially durable and long-lasting. Regular inspections and maintenance are necessary to keep a metal roof intact, though, and there are some risks for homeowners to consider. Read more about how long metal roofs last, how to properly care for them, and what to avoid in our comprehensive guide.


Life Span of a Metal Roof

Metal roofs are highly durable, lasting as long as 100 years when carefully maintained. They’ll last between 40 and 70 years for the average homeowner versus between 15 and 30 years for roofs with asphalt shingles or wood shingles. In other words, the average homeowner won’t need to worry about roof replacement if they have metal roofing panels.

Factors Affecting a Metal Roof’s Life Span

The life span of a metal roof depends on many factors, such as the following:

Installation

Improper installation, such as using incorrect exposed fasteners or failing to properly seal seams and joints, can lead to leaks and premature deterioration. This can significantly reduce the life span of even the highest-quality metal.

Maintenance

Even low-maintenance metal roofs require routine inspections and regular cleaning. Minor issues such as debris buildup, loose panels, and pooling water can shorten a roof’s life span considerably without proper attention.

Protective Coating

The addition of protective coating to a metal roof system can make it more resistant to moisture, corrosion, and ultraviolet (UV) rays.

Roof Pitch

The pitch, or slope, of the roof affects how water and debris flow off the roof’s surface. Steeper roofs with higher pitches shed water more efficiently, reducing the chances of pooling and water damage.

Type of Metal

Copper and zinc are the longest-lasting metal roofing materials. They require very little maintenance and have self-repairing properties. Aluminum and steel, on the other hand, are more common but have slightly shorter life spans.

Weather Conditions

Extreme weather events, frequent temperature fluctuations, and corrosive environments accelerate the speed at which metal roofs deteriorate. Because of this, corrugated metal roofs may deteriorate quicker in Florida or in areas with harsh winter climates.


Types of Metal Roofs

Each metal roof type has a different average life span. Read more about the most common types of metal roofing and their typical longevity below.

Aluminum Roofing

Aluminum is a lightweight and corrosion-resistant metal, making it a common choice for roofing in areas with high humidity. Aluminum roofs are energy efficient and eco-friendly, and they have a life span of 40 to 70 years.

Copper Roofing

Copper is highly durable, aesthetically pleasing, and develops a natural patina over time, protecting it from corrosion. Copper roofs can last for more than 100 years with proper maintenance.

Steel Roofing

Steel is a popular choice for metal roofing because of its strength and affordability. These roofs are typically coated with zinc or a combination of zinc and aluminum, and they last between 30 and 50 years.

Zinc Roofing

Zinc is a versatile and durable metal that’s resistant to corrosion. It naturally develops a protective layer called zinc patina, which helps to extend its life span. Natural oxidation allows zinc roofing to heal itself if it encounters scratching or other damage. Zinc roofs can last for more than 100 years if you take care of typical metal roof needs.


Comparison With Other Roofing Materials

Metal is certainly a durable roofing option, but other types of roofing have benefits too. Read about how metal roofing compares to other roofing types below.

Metal Roof vs. Asphalt Shingles

Asphalt shingles are the most popular roofing material in the U.S. and cost less than metal roofs. They don’t increase a home’s value the way that metal roofs do, though, and metal roofs are recyclable while asphalt shingles typically go into landfills.

Metal Roofing vs. Wood Shakes

A wood shake roof has strong aesthetic appeal and gives homes a distinctive, rustic look. Wood is an excellent insulator, too, making wood shakes especially energy-efficient roofing materials. On the other hand, wood is susceptible to damage from the elements, insects, and water.

Metal Roofing vs. Clay Tiles

Clay tile roofs are beautiful, durable, and long-lasting. They’re the only common roof material with a life span comparable to that of metal. Clay tiles are expensive, though, and prone to damage during installation.

Metal Roofing vs. Synthetic Slate

Synthetic slate roofing mimics the appearance of luxury slate roofing but costs less. The longevity of slate roofs ultimately depends on the type of slate in question and the quality of installation.


Maintenance and Care

Regular care can help your roof last a lifetime, whether you live in a mild climate or commonly face extreme weather conditions. Below are a few action items to consider taking.

Addressing Rust

Metal roofs are mostly rust-resistant but can still fall victim to rust amid harsh weather events. Use a wire brush to remove rust from affected areas, and apply a rust-inhibiting primer and a matching painted finish to protect the area from further corrosion. Consider reapplying a protective rust-resistant coating as well.

Cleaning

Clean your metal roof at least once a year and be sure to remove debris, leaves, and branches. Use a soft-bristle brush or a low-pressure washer to get rid of dirt, dust, and any loose particles. Avoid using abrasive materials or high-pressure washing, which may damage the roof’s protective coating.

Dent Repair

Metal roofs don’t easily dent, but it’s still possible in areas that are prone to heavy hail and high winds. Consider talking to a roofing specialist if you notice any damage during routine roof inspections.

Drainage

Water can damage even the highest-quality roof, so be sure to take care of your gutters and check that they’re properly working. Regular cleaning and maintenance can prevent pooling and leaking.

Regular Inspections

Inspect your metal roof for damage, debris, and pooling water twice a year. Look for loose panels, scratches, and issues with its protective coating.

Repainting

Sunlight and moisture cause roof paint to fade over time, and a protective coating eventually wears off. You may need to repaint your roof every five to 10 years.

You can tackle most of these tasks with do-it-yourself (DIY) approaches, but consider hiring a professional roofer to inspect it every three to five years. Roofing contractors can spot damages you may not notice and fix issues before they lead to costly repairs.


Cost Analysis

Roofing materials, installation, and maintenance collectively dictate the costs of metal roofing. Read more about specific cost data below.

Up-front Costs

A new metal roof can cost between $7,000 and over $100,000 depending on the situation. The typical homeowner will pay around $11,000 for a metal roof. This figure varies by the material, local labor cost, and roof size.

The approximate costs of the materials are:

Meanwhile, the labor costs are between $350 and $400 per 100 square feet of materials. You may be able to save on metal roof installation if your state offers tax credits for eco-friendly roof installation.

Long-Term Costs

Long-term metal roof costs include repairs and regular maintenance. Roof repair can cost you more than $2,000. Professional metal roof maintenance costs an average of $455 annually.

Metal roofing can lead to long-term savings, however. Metal roofing’s energy efficiency creates lower energy bills, and the durability of metal roofing translates to fewer maintenance expenses and more potential insurance discounts.


Our Recommendation

Metal roofs are durable, low-maintenance, and can last as long as 100 years. The initial costs are higher than those associated with other roof types, but a metal roof’s longevity yields a high return on investment.

If you’re thinking about a new roof, consider your aesthetic preferences, how much you’re willing to pay for maintenance, and whether a metal roof makes sense for the climate in which you live. With proper care and maintenance, a metal roof can last a lifetime or longer.


How Long Does a Metal Roof Last FAQ

What is the average life span of a metal roof?

The average life span of a metal roof is between 40 and 70 years, but it can last for more than 100 years with proper maintenance.

How does the life span of a metal roof compare to other roofing materials?

The life expectancy of a metal roof is considerably longer than the life span of asphalt shingles or wood shakes.

What maintenance is required for a metal roof?

The maintenance required for a metal roof includes regular inspections, cleaning, and timely damage repair. You need to clean and inspect the roof at least once a year.

What factors can affect the life span of a metal roof?

Factors that can affect the life span of a metal roof include installation quality, type of metal, climate, and maintenance frequency.

Is a metal roof a cost-effective choice in the long run?

Yes, a metal roof is a cost-effective choice in the long run because it can last a lifetime, earn you tax credits, and reduce your energy bills.