Metal vs. Asphalt Roof: 2023 Comparison

By Amanda Lutz

Aug 09, 2023
Dark asphalt roof tiles on a roof of a house.

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Metal and asphalt are two of the most cost-effective, durable, and easy-to-maintain roofing materials. But they both have unique pros, cons, costs, and other considerations. We’ll detail these differences to help you decide which is best for your home.

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What Is a Metal Roof?

A metal roof is composed of metal sheets—steel, aluminum, zinc, tin, or copper—arranged in different patterns. Options include corrugated metal roofs, flat or standing seam metal roofs, or metal shingles or tiles. According to the Dodge Construction Network, the share of residential metal roofing in the U.S. grew from 12% in 2019 to 17% in 2021. Thanks to its growing popularity, you can find metal roofing in various colors, patterns, and styles. Metal roofs suit all roof types, even those with little or no slope.

Benefits and Drawbacks of Metal Roofing

BenefitsDrawbacks

+ More durable than asphalt

– More expensive than asphalt

+ Can last at least 60 years

– More difficult to install and repair

+ Can reflect solar heat away from the building, helping to reduce energy costs

 


 

What Is an Asphalt Roof?

Asphalt shingles are one of the most popular roofing materials in the United States and come in three main types: three-tab, dimensional, or luxury. There are two types of base materials: organic and fiberglass. Both have an asphalt-saturated base and a top surface covered in granules that block ultraviolet (UV) light.

Asphalt is cost-effective and easy to install and repair. Most roofers know how to work with asphalt shingles, and they come in various colors and styles to fit your home’s design. Shingles also come in varying levels of quality. High-quality materials hold up well against the elements.

Benefits and Drawbacks of Asphalt Roofing

BenefitsDrawbacks

+ Inexpensive

– Can develop algae or moss, so they must be periodically checked

+ Easy to install and can sometimes go over existing shingles

– Even environmentally friendly shingles can still end up in a landfill, releasing toxic pollutants into the air

+ Highly customizable with many color and style selections

 


 

Compare Metal and Asphalt Roofing Differences

Here’s a breakdown of the differences between metal versus asphalt roofs.

Appearance

Metal and asphalt shingles come in various color and style selections that complement almost any home. Both metal and asphalt can mimic other materials, such as wood shake, but unique style options come at a higher price. Metal can often look rural, as it’s commonly used on agricultural buildings, while asphalt is common in suburban areas. Asphalt roofs can blend into the neighborhood more easily, but metal can greatly increase curb appeal.

Cost

Asphalt shingles cost an average of $3.50–$5.50 per square foot, depending on the type.* Very basic materials cost as low as 80 cents per square foot, while higher-end architectural shingles cost $9 per square foot. Though more inexpensive up-front, asphalt requires more maintenance than metal, and you’ll need a new roof much sooner. Asphalt shingles almost always come with a warranty.

Metal roofing costs $4 per square foot for aluminum, but prices go up to $30 per square foot for copper. Metal roof panels may only come with a paint warranty that covers the panels’ coating. While metal is a bigger investment, it lasts much longer than asphalt with little to no maintenance.

FactorCost of Metal RoofCost of Asphalt Shingle Roof

Materials

$4–$30 per square foot

$3.50–$5.50 per square foot

Labor

$40–$80 per hour

$40–$80 per hour

Life span

60+ years

15–30 years

Average cost range

$5,660–$16,888

$6,184–$13,293

*Cost data sourced from Home Advisor.

Durability

Metal is highly durable and lightweight. It’s resistant to water and moisture and can withstand extreme weather, such as high winds, fire, and hail. It’s durable and lasts at least 60 years, with some types of metal lasting more than 100. Metal can dent from impacts, but it can handle substantial pressure from large hail. Some metal roofs can rust if damaged or not properly maintained, especially if you live near the coast.

Asphalt shingles are reliable but not as durable as metal roofing. Asphalt is impact- and fire-resistant, but standard asphalt shingles are vulnerable to weather and certain climates. If you live in an area with more rain and humidity, you may need to check your roof periodically for algae and moss.

Installation

Contractors charge between $40 and $80 per hour to install a metal or asphalt roof. Installing a metal roof will be on the high end of this range. This is because metal roof installation is more complex and takes longer.

Not every roofing contractor knows how to install a metal roof, so you may need to spend more time finding an expert. Additionally, asphalt shingle repair is easier than metal. Metal roof panel replacement is difficult due to how the panels are joined together, so repairs require the contractor to remove and replace the entire panel. We do not recommend do-it-yourself (DIY) roof installation to save on labor costs.

Maintenance

Metal roofs require less maintenance than asphalt, but this depends on the roof slope and installation quality. Check your metal roof for signs of damage, such as dents, scratches, and corrosion, and keep your roof clear of debris.

Asphalt shingles are easy to maintain but usually require more maintenance than metal roofing. Shingles are prone to wear and tear and can fall off the roof, lose granules, curl, or buckle. Roofing experts recommend inspecting your roof at least once per year for any debris buildup or damage, no matter which type of roof you have.

 


 

Other Factors to Consider When Choosing a Metal Roof vs. Asphalt Shingles

Before choosing between metal and asphalt roofing for your home or business, consider the following:

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Our Recommendation

Whether a metal or asphalt roof is best for your home depends on your budget, climate, and style preferences. Regardless of which you choose, using high-quality materials and a reputable roofing contractor can prolong your roof’s life span, as can performing regular maintenance and inspections. We recommend getting at least three quotes before deciding.

Check out our guide to new roof costs for more information on what to expect for your roofing project.

 


 

FAQ About Metal vs. Asphalt Roofs

What is better asphalt roof or metal roof?

Asphalt is more cost-effective and includes good warranty options, but it won’t last nearly as long as metal roofing and requires more maintenance. Metal is expensive but can last 60 to 100 years with little maintenance.

Does a metal roof devalue a house?

A metal roof can help boost your home’s value, but you won’t get as much of a return on investment (ROI) as asphalt shingles. According to Remodeling magazine, metal roofing has a higher resale value than asphalt shingles but a lower ROI.

How much more expensive is a metal roof over an asphalt roof?

Cost is one of the biggest differences between metal and asphalt roofing. According to data from Angi, installing asphalt shingles on a 1,600-square-foot house is around $10,000 while installing a metal roof for the same home is about $16,500.

Is a metal roof loud when it rains?

Whether a metal roof is loud when it rains depends on the roof. Most modern metal roofing is insulated enough that the sound of rain would be comparable to an asphalt shingle roof, but metal roofs on an open frame like a barn or warehouse are much louder.