Types of Metal Roofs and How to Choose

By Amanda Lutz

Sep 07, 2023
Modern house covered with black metal roofing tiles.

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Metal roofing is durable and comes in a wide range of styles, making it a top choice for homes. The different types of metal roofs can be categorized by material, panel style and shape, or the fastening method used during installation.

Our guide provides an overview of each type, including their benefits, drawbacks, and costs, so you can select the best metal roof for your needs.

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Types of Metal Roofing Fasteners

You’ll need to consider whether you prefer exposed or concealed fasteners when selecting a metal roof. Exposed fasteners are visible, meaning the screws or nails penetrate the panels to create a more industrial look. Concealed fasteners are hidden underneath the metal panels using clips or rails for a cleaner, more seamless appearance.

While exposed fastener panels are typically less expensive, concealed fastener metal roofing provides better weather sealing and longevity. Certain metal roofs, such as stone-coated steel, can accommodate either type.

Weigh factors such as cost, climate, desired aesthetics, and life span when deciding on a fastener type. If you’re unsure, an experienced roofing contractor can advise you based on your home’s style and local weather conditions.



Metal Roof Material Types

1. Aluminum

Cost range: $4 to $11 per square foot*

Aluminum roofing is lightweight, rustproof, and reflects heat well. Despite weighing as little as five pounds per square foot, aluminum is very durable, even against hail and wind. However, the metal is softer than other varieties and dents easily.

Aluminum doesn’t get as hot as steel. It also cools down faster and can save you up to 20% on heating and cooling. Aluminum roofs are eco-friendly and made from approximately 95% of recycled material.


Corrosion-resistant, even in coastal climates
Lightweight yet durable
Made from eco-friendly material


Limited color options
Softer metal, prone to denting
Up to 20% more expensive than steel roofing

*All cost data in this article was sourced from Angi, Fixr, Home Guide, RemodelingExpense.com, and RoofingCalculator.org.

2. Copper

Cost range: $14 to $25 per square foot

Copper is the most expensive type of metal roof, but it has distinct advantages. Copper roofing has a reddish-brown color that sets it apart visually. Over time, the color develops a green patina, which some homeowners love.

Copper roofs have antimicrobial properties that kill algae and moss. Copper also lasts longer than any other metal roofing material, 100 years or more.


Complements historic homes and distinct architecture
Does not rust, burn, or require painting
Resists snow and ice, ideal for cold climates


Costliest metal roofing option
➖Develops patina over time that is drastically different than its original color
Supply can be limited

3. Zinc

Cost range: $6 to $12 per square foot

Zinc is a dense and durable alternative to copper that is popular in Europe. Zinc also has a unique patination process, starting out nearly black and developing into a light blue or gray color.


Eco-friendly and 100% recyclable
Lasts up to 100 years, yet is affordable
Low maintenance


Can develop white rust if exposed to water and air
Costs more than steel or aluminum
Unpredictable patination

4. Stone-Coated Steel

Cost range: $8 to $9 per square foot

Stone-coated steel roofs combine the strength of steel panels with traditional aesthetics. These metal shingles are coated in paint and stone granules to mimic the look of asphalt shingles, wood shakes, or clay tiles. Stone-coated steel offers excellent impact resistance compared to other metals and is considered hail-resistant and fire-proof.


➕Available in diverse colors and styles
➕Extremely impact-resistant


Costs more than standard steel roofing
Heavier roofing material
➖Stone chips can crack if the roof flexes or settles

5. Tin

Cost range: $3 to $15 per square foot

Tin roofs were popular during the 1800s but are rare now that more durable and affordable materials are available. If you enjoy the sound of rain hitting a tin roof or love its simple aesthetic, galvalume or painted metal roofing panels can help you achieve the same look as tin.


Easy to install
Rustic aesthetic


No longer used or available
Not very durable
Thermal movement can loosen fasteners



Metal Roof Styles

1. Corrugated Metal

Cost range: $4 to $26 per square foot

Corrugated metal roofs resemble the zigzag pattern seen inside cardboard boxes. Corrugated metal roofs have an old-fashioned, all-American, rural look.

Depending on the material, corrugated metal can be quite affordable and quick to install, but the ridges can collect debris and must be visually inspected on a regular basis.

2. Standing Seam Metal

Cost range: $9 to $30 per square foot

Standing seam metal roofs consist of long vertical panels joined together at the seams. Standing seam panels use hidden fasteners, which create clean lines and minimize the roof leak risk. The cost of a standing seam metal roof is generally higher than other metal roof types.

Raised seams resist heavy snow buildup by allowing snow to slide off the roof, which makes standing seam roofs great for snowy climates.

3. Stone-Coated Metal (Galvanized Steel)

Cost range: $10 to $15 per square foot

Stone-coated metal can be made to look like traditional roof shingles, roof shakes, or roofing tiles. It’s also available in a variety of colors, making it a versatile metal roofing option. Stone-coated metal is also fire-resistant and has a long life span.

Plus, installing stone-coated metal for roof replacement can potentially lower your homeowners insurance premium.

4. Metal Shingles

Cost range: $7 to $22 per square foot

Metal shingles give the look of classic shingles with the added durability of metal. They have a three-dimensional texture that mimics traditional wooden or asphalt shingles.

But unlike organic roofing materials, metal shingles aren’t prone to mildew growth and can outlast even the most meticulously maintained asphalt shingle roofs.

5. Metal Tiles

Cost range: $9 to $15 per square foot

Metal roofing tiles are designed to resemble ceramic or clay tiles. They feature textures and patterns that add artistic flair to your roof. Compared to flat metal panels, metal tiles are less prone to oil canning, and the varied patterns minimize the visibility of minor imperfections.

6. Metal Slate

Cost range: $3 to $5 per square foot

Metal slate roofing mimics the look of natural stone slate roofing. Unlike smooth metal shingles or those designed to resemble wavy terra cotta, metal slate roofs are staggered and overlapping. You can choose from a variety of colors, including gray, black, red, or green, but finding matching replacement slate can be challenging if a section is damaged.



How To Choose the Best Metal Roof for You

It’s not always easy to decide between metal roofing options. First, consider your location’s weather and temperatures to determine the best choice for your locale. Then, decide whether you prefer the look of traditional shingles or modern standing seams. Next, consider different installation techniques and how important customization options are to you.

Keeping these things in mind will help you make an excellent choice for your new roof.



Our Recommendation

It’s tempting to go with the most popular metal roofing type, but no one style works best for every home. A roofing company experienced with metal roofing can help you choose between available styles and stay within your price point while keeping your curb appeal in mind. We recommend getting quotes from at least three companies before hiring one to compare pricing, product selection, and services.

Compare Quotes from Roofing Specialists
Just answer a few questions, and we’ll take care of the rest!



Metal Roofs FAQ

What is the most popular metal roof style?

The most popular metal roof style is standing seam. Many homeowners prefer its clean lines and appreciate its customization potential. Installation is quick and ongoing maintenance is minimal.

What is the least expensive metal roof style?

Metal roofing cost is dependent on availability, material, and style. Metal slate roofs cost between $3 and $5 per square foot, making them the most budget-friendly option.

What are the benefits of a metal roof?

Metal roofs can last for decades and withstand wind gusts of up to 140 miles per hour. They’re also low-maintenance and energy efficient, saving homeowners up to 25% in cooling costs. Finally, metal roofs can easily be incorporated into sustainable roof designs, as many are 100% recyclable.

Is metal roofing better than shingles?

Shingles and metal roofs each have benefits, but metal roofs are a wiser investment. Metal roofs are more durable than shingles and have a longer life span. While shingle roofs cost less to install, they require more maintenance and earlier replacement compared to metal roofs, increasing their overall cost.