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Homeowner's Guide: Is a Metal Roof Cheaper Than Shingles?

September 27, 2021

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Is a metal roof cheaper than shingles? At first glance, you might assume that metal is costlier than standard asphalt shingles; however, a metal roof can actually be a more cost-effective investment over the lifetime of homeownership!

Metal roofs might average between $120 and $900 per 100 square feet, while shingles might cost between $100 and $400 per 100 square feet, not including labor costs. While asphalt shingles are typically cheaper to install, metal roofs can offer more durability and longevity, meaning fewer repair and replacement costs over the years.

Metal roofing has many advantages over standard asphalt shingles, which can make them worth their price. Knowing a few differences between the two materials, especially some pros and cons of each, can help you decide the right option for your home.

pro roofing cost calculator

It’s also helpful to discuss the materials with a roofing contractor near you. He or she can offer more personalized advice about metal roofs vs. asphalt shingles, and help you choose a roofing material option you’ll appreciate for years to come!

Metal Roof Cost Compared to Shingles

First note that roofing prices are typically figured per 100 square feet, or what roofers call a “square.” One 10-foot by 10-foot square equals 100 square feet or one “square” of roofing area. A typical two-story, 2300 square foot house will usually have about 1500-1700 square feet of roof area or 15-17 roofing “squares.”

Metal roofs might average between $120 and $900 per 100 square feet, while shingles might cost between $100 and $400 per 100 square feet, as said. These costs are just for the materials themselves and typically don’t include labor costs for installation.

While these figures can give you an average price for roofing materials, note that reroofing costs might also increase for steeply sloped roofs or those with lots of eaves, dormers, and other obstructions. Needed repairs to the underlayment and decking can also add to those costs.

While shingle roofs are cheaper upfront, this doesn’t mean they’re the best or most cost-effective option for your home! For example, metal roofs are more fire-resistant and aren’t likely to combust if hit by lightning, as do shingles. In turn, some insurance companies might offer a discount on your homeowner’s insurance for a metal roof.

Metal roofs also offer added insulation versus shingles, so you might enjoy lower utility costs over the years. Investing in a metal roof can also mean fewer roof repair and replacement costs for as long as you own your home. Check out a few more details about metal roofing vs. asphalt shingles, including their advantages and disadvantages, which can help you decide the right material for your property.

Advantages of metal roofing

Metal roofing might cost half over again the price of shingles, on average, but there are many reasons why homeowners today are appreciating its value despite that cost! One advantage of metal roofing vs. asphalt shingles is that metal is lightweight and easy to fabricate. If allowed by local building codes, a roofer might install a metal roof over existing shingles, eliminating the cost and mess of a full roof tear-off.

metal roofing costs

While both materials are recyclable, it’s easier to fabricate and reuse metal panels than asphalt shingles, which typically need extensive reheating before they can be reused. Metal, however, can be cut, sanded, and otherwise reshaped or reclaimed without creating fumes, emissions, and other pollutants.

Long metal panels bolted to a home’s roof are less likely to blow away in a storm than shingles. Metal is also far less combustible if hit by lightning, and can stop a house fire from spreading, as said. Metal roofing is also available in more shades and color tones than asphalt shingles.

Metal roofing disadvantages

One drawback to metal roofing vs. asphalt shingles is that shingles are easy to install and repair. Not all roofers even offer metal roof installation options for homeowners! Some homeowners also might prefer the look of traditional shingles to metal roofs, especially if all the homes in their area have a standard appearance that would make a metal roof stand out.

Asphalt shingle advantages

A lower installation cost is typically the main reason homeowners prefer asphalt shingles vs. metal roofing! Repairs might also be easier, as a roofer can replace a few missing or damaged shingles more easily than long metal panels.

Asphalt shingles also work well with most home styles, while metal roofing might seem too rustic for modern homes or too modern for gothic architecture. Shingles might also suffer less damage during hail storms or if something heavy should fall on the roof, such as a tree branch.

Asphalt shingle disadvantages

Individual asphalt shingles are more likely to develop ice dams and water damage than long metal panels. The slick surface of metal also encourages water, snow, and ice runoff more readily than shingles.

Shingle roofs also might encourage mold, moss, mildew, and algae growth more easily than metal roofs, and improper pressure washing techniques can strip shingle granules. The heavyweight of shingles also means you might not be able to add new roofing over existing materials, as this could put too much weight on roof rafters and joists.

Metal Roofs and Asphalt Shingles - Life Expectancies

The overall longevity of metal roofs is another vital advantage they have over asphalt shingles! Even the highest-quality shingles might need replacing after 20 or 25 years, while a metal roof can last 50 to 60 years if not even indefinitely.

roofing types and materials

This difference in metal roofing durability vs. asphalt is why metal is considered more cost-effective over time. Investing in a metal roof now can mean not having to pay for reroofing for another 60 years.

However, if you install an asphalt roof now, you might need another new roof in 25 years and then again 25 years after that! By the time you would need a new metal roof, you would have paid for two or even three new asphalt roofs.

While a durable metal is a good investment for many homeowners, consider if you might sell your home sometime down the road. In that case, spending the extra money for a metal roof for a home you’ll move out of in a few years isn’t necessarily a good investment! A high-quality asphalt roof that will still be in good condition when you’re ready to put your home on the market might be the better decision.

Are Metal Roofs More Energy-Efficient Than Shingles?

Metal roofs are considered more energy-efficient than shingles, as metal facing reflects up to 83% of the sun’s energy away from a home, keeping it cooler during summer months. (https://www.abmartin.net/warminwinter) While this can mean lower cooling costs during summertime, does this mean that metal roofs are a poor choice for homes in colder areas?

While the surface of a metal roof might get cooler in wintertime, the underlayment used for metal roofing and the gap between the roof decking and metal itself doesn’t tend to absorb that cold. In many studies, the air in that gap stayed the same temperature as the home’s framing underneath.

metal roofing contractor

In other words, the layers placed under a metal roof provide added insulation for a home so that outside cold doesn’t transfer to your interior rooms. A metal roof can then mean lower utility costs year-round, with more comfortable interior spaces no matter the outside temperatures.

Roofing Types Most Likely to Leak

Metal roofs shed rain, ice, and snow more readily than asphalt shingles, reducing the risk of water leaks. Long metal panels aren’t likely to get brittle and split over time, as do shingles, which also means less risk of water leaks!

general contractor repairing roof leak

However, incorrectly installed metal panels might separate from each other or expand and press against other panels or the roof decking, risking dents and curves. When this happens, those metal panels are then more likely to risk water damage than asphalt shingles.

To keep your home protected from water damage including wood rot and mold, ensure your metal roofing is installed by a qualified contractor with a stellar history of providing excellent services. He or she will ensure a high-quality installation without gaps but with room for expansion, keeping your roof solid and damage-free.

Are Metal Shingles Worth It?

Only you can determine the best roofing material for your home and if metal shingles are worth their added cost. To help you decide on the right option, talk to a roofing contractor near you and note some added considerations as well:

  • How long are you planning on owning your home? If you’re new to homeownership or want to stay in your house indefinitely, a metal roof might be the last roof you’ll ever need to purchase.
  • Consider your own age. If you’re 50 or 60 or older, a metal roof could quite possibly outlast you! That added cost for a metal roof probably isn’t worth it if you might move to a retirement or assisted living facility in the next decade or two.
  • Since metal roofs typically need fewer repairs than shingles, investing in metal now can mean not facing unexpected, expensive roof repairs in a few years' time. While it’s good to budget for some minor repairs to metal roofs, your repair costs are usually far lower with metal than with shingles.
  • If you’re environmentally conscious, consider that metal is more eco-friendly than shingles. You might even find a metal roof manufacturer that uses a large percentage of recycled or reclaimed metal for their roofing materials more easily than a shingle manufacturer.
  • Don’t underestimate the importance of a home’s curb appeal when choosing a roofing material. Metal might seem a bit rustic and out of place on some homes, while shingles might detract from modern designs or give your house a dull, “cookie-cutter” look.

The Best Type of Roofing - Metal vs. Asphalt Shingles

best roofing types

In addition to metal and asphalt shingles, there are many other roofing materials from which to choose for your home. Knowing their pros and cons can help you decide which is best for your home.

  • Slate roofing is appreciated for its natural appearance and texture, and its longevity, as slate roofing can last 60 years or longer if not indefinitely. Slate is typically one of the most expensive roofing materials from which to choose and is very heavy, so your home might need added bracing and support for a slate roof.
  • Clay tiles are naturally water-resistant so they’re a popular option in tropical areas. Clay also offers a natural aesthetic that homeowners appreciate, but clay is also costly and heavy and might not coordinate with every home design and style.
  • Fiber cement is lightweight and eco-friendly and can mimic the look of high-end materials for far less cost. However, not all roofing contractors are experienced with fiber cement installation.
  • Wood roofing offers a rustic, natural look that complements traditional or country-style homes. Wood is also very durable and its natural oils repel water, but is more combustible than other materials, increasing the risk of fire if hit by lightning.
  • Synthetic roofing materials including plastic and rubber are lightweight and inexpensive, but most haven’t been on the market long enough to determine their longevity. Not all roofers are experienced with synthetic materials, so you might pay more for specialty installers and repair contractors.

Adding Property Value with New Roof Installation

If you’re still putting off a new roof installation because you can’t decide on the right material or are afraid of the costs, note that a new roof can add value to your home. An old and outdated roof, especially if it’s in great disrepair, can also reduce your home’s value!

best roof replacement

Home values are determined by how much a potential buyer might pay for that property. Homebuyers often appreciate a new roof on a home, as they know they can then move in and not need to worry about replacing that roof for years to come.

On the other hand, buyers will usually lower their offers for a home with an old roof in disrepair, if that house gets any offers at all! Investing in a new roof can then pay off in terms of increased property values and a greater chance of selling your home if you should decide to put it on the market.

United Better Homes is happy to help answer the question, is a metal roof cheaper than shingles? If you need reroofing, call our expert Rhode Island roof repair contractors. We offer FREE price quotes and guaranteed repairs. To find out more, give us a call today!

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