The Pros and Cons of a Metal Roof vs Shingles

Metal Roof VS Shingles - A Comparison for Homeowners

Your roof has the primary task of keeping your home safe from the constant assault of rain, snow, sun and wind. If it fails, even in a small area, it could result in thousands of dollars in damages and even creating an environment for dangerous mold to take hold. Even though it's such an important element of the home, most homeowners don't think about their roof until there's a problem.

Depending on who you ask, you'll probably get several different opinions as to what the best material is for your roof. A builder would suggest that asphalt is best. Asphalt shingles are cost effective, offer a long life-span of 20 or 30 years, and are easy to install. If you speak with an architect, they would probably suggest a metal roof. While it costs more, it offers almost lifelong protection with a lifespan (and often a warranty) of 50 years, comes in a variety of materials like tin, copper, aluminum or galvanized steel and requires minimal maintenance.

So where does that leave the homeowner? Both materials are versatile, offer a number of designer looks that can enhance your homes curb appeal while protecting you from the elements and can last for years.

Putting on a new addition or remodeling the exterior of your home often times requires changes to your roof. If your roof is more than ten years old and is showing wear, you may want to look at replacing it.

Because of Ann Arbor's harsh weather we've compared a replacement metal roof vs shingles to see what the pros and cons are of each.

The Pros and Cons of Metal Roofing

Metal roofing is available in a variety of materials like copper, tin, aluminum and galvanized steel that can add a dramatic design element to your home while keeping you dry and safe for decades! Here are some of the major benefits of metal roofing.

It's Lightweight - Metal roofing is probably the lightest material you can install. Though the weight will vary depending on the material, aluminum can weigh as little as 50 pounds per square, while steel can weigh anywhere from 100 to 250 pounds per square.

It Lasts for Decades - A quality metal roof can often outlast the home's lifespan! It offers great weather resistance and if properly cared for, can last about 60 years, although there are rumors of zinc and copper roofs in Europe lasting well over 100 years!

Long Warranty - Many manufacturers offer limited warranties of up to 50 years!

Excellent Performance -  Metal is excellent at preventing leaks, offers excellent protection from the weather, and is fireproof. Some insurance companies even offer homeowners reduced premiums for weather resistant metal roofs.

It's “Greener” Than Asphalt - Metal roofing is one of the most energy efficient materials. It reflects heat keeping houses cooler in the summer, lowering energy use. Plus it often contains high recycled content and is recyclable itself.

When comparing a metal roof vs shingles, metal roofing does offer many benefits, but there are a few downsides. Metal's biggest downside is the price. While prices have come down in recent years, metal roofing can cost three times as much as asphalt. Pricier metals like copper or zinc can cost way more.

Critics state that some metals roofs expand and contract a fair amount and that this can compromise their long term performance. There is also a misperception that metal roofs don't last. Today, with modern installation techniques and high-quality materials these issues are no longer a problem. The key is to purchase the highest quality you can afford and make sure that your contractor has experience with proper installation.

The Pros and Cons of Asphalt Roofing

When comparing a metal roof vs shingles, asphalt is a proven material that is accepted throughout the industry and has a long history of excellent service. Homeowners are comfortable with it as a look. With a cost of $100 to $200 per square (10'x10' area) it's an affordable roofing option. Here are some additional benefits.

It's Easy to Work With, Easy to Install – In fact, probably no other material is as easy to install as asphalt shingles. In many cases, a house can be done in one day by professionals.

It's Easy to Repair – As easy as it is to install, if there's a leak or it gets damaged, it's just as easy to repair.

Wide Selection of Style Options – Asphalt is available as a basic material for those on a strict budget, but it also comes in fancy styles that mimic wood shakes or slate. Basic three tab shingles are most common, but thicker, high-end laminates are available in a variety of colors.

Good Performance History – Most shingles come with a 20 to 30 year warranty. Many are fire rated and asphalt requires minimal maintenance. Some manufacturers offer Energy Star compliant products that meet federal standards and are eligible for tax credits as a “cool roof.”

Like metal, asphalt does have some downsides. It is not as protective as metal in severe weather like hail. Wind and impact resistant asphalt shingles are available but cost up to 50% more than conventional shingles. In addition, asphalt shingles that don't get enough sun can be vulnerable to moss, mildew, and algae which can impact their lifespan.

While warranties on asphalt shingles are relatively high their performance is tied to their installation. You must have a well-ventilated roof deck and they must be periodically maintained. Finally, asphalt shingles can be heavy, weighing far more than metal! Basic shingles can weigh as much as 200 pounds per square, and higher end shingles can be as heavy as 500 pounds per square!

Metal Roof vs Shingles: The Takeaway

The best action to take if you're planning on replacing your roof is to get multiple written bids from reliable local contractors. Ask them for a cost-benefit analysis of metal roofing versus traditional shingles that is specific to your location. Analyze and evaluate the information they provide to make the best choice for you.

Some environments, like extremely hot locations, can benefit from metal roofing's energy efficiency and lower your energy costs. Other locations, like near the ocean or in areas of high humidity, can shorten their lifespan. No matter what material you choose, make sure that you hire a professional contractor who understands how to install each type. Traditionally, shingles are nailed down while metal roofs are interlocking and screwed down, this can take twice as long as installing shingles.

So, what is the bottom line when it comes to a metal roof vs Shingles? It really comes down to your needs and budget. If you're planning on making your current home, your “forever home,” replacing with a metal roof means that you will probably never need to deal with your roof again. If cost is an issue or you're planning on moving in the future, high-quality asphalt might be a better choice. Speak with an expert and Forward Design Build Remodel. They can help you to understand your options so you can make a perfect choice!

Forward Design Build is a residential design-build firm in Ann Arbor, Michigan that is known for its commitment to craftsmanship and communication. We are committed to improving our neighbors quality of life with inspired design and creative remodeling. Our homes are highly functional, exquisitely beautiful, and remarkably comfortable. Contact us to speak with an expert about your new home or remodeling project.