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Metal Roof vs Shingle Roofing


Metal and asphalt shingles are two common roofing materials in the United States. If you need a new roof, consider whether you want a metal roof replacement or a shingle roof replacement. You can use this complete guide to metal roofs vs. asphalt shingles to help you decide which one is better for your budget and design preferences.

What's the Difference Between Asphalt Shingles and Metal Roofing?

Asphalt roofing is a popular roofing material available in several colors and textures to accommodate any home aesthetic at an affordable cost. This durable shingle features a matting or fiberglass core with a coating of asphalt and a ceramic or stone surface. You can choose standard three-tab, laminated or architectural asphalt for your property.

Metal roofing is also becoming more prevalent because it features more visual options than asphalt shingles. You can choose from different shapes and colors that make your roof look like other popular materials, such as wood or slate. There are many types of metal roofs, including tin, steel, aluminum and copper.

Despite the differences between these two roofing materials, they're both wise investments for your property. The choice you make depends on your design preference, local climate and durability requirements. Consider the advantages and disadvantages of each before you decide which one to install.

What Are the Advantages of a Metal Roof?

Here are some of the characteristics of metal roofs that can add value to your house:

  • Roof durability: A metal roof can maintain its integrity in most unpleasant weather conditions, including strong winds, rain, snow, hail, cold and heat. It's also one of the most fireproof materials you can get for the top of your house. You can consult with your manufacturer about the various types of metal roofs to find the one that's most durable for your property.
  • Eco-friendliness: Since metal roofs contain recycled material that you can recycle again, they're more sustainable than asphalt shingles. You also might be able to recycle the underlayment that protects your metal roofing against moisture and ice damage if it only contains polypropylene.
  • Energy efficiency: Metal roofs are more energy efficient because of their ability to reflect the sun and its heat away from your home, lower the indoor air temperature and reduce wear and tear on your HVAC system in the summer. These insulative qualities work both ways because they can retain heat, keeping you warm and cozy in the winter. Besides the roofing itself, you also have the option to mount solar panels and other energy-saving technology onto your metal roof.
  • Most options available: If you invest in metal roofing, you can choose from a vast selection of metal, color and format options, depending on your aesthetic and budget preferences. Instead of the standard shingle options, you can also choose tile, ribbed, shingle or panel metal roofing for your property. You can even customize your roof components to imitate the look of wood or asphalt shingles.
  • Length of life: When installed and maintained correctly, metal roofs can last more than half a century, which is twice the lifespan of an asphalt shingle roof. You may even be able to find different metal materials, such as copper and zinc, that can last closer to a century on the top of your house.
  • Light weight: Metal roofing is a lightweight material that's easy for contractors to carry and install onto your property without causing impact damage on the roof's structure. This light material also won't apply too much pressure to the top of your house and cause frame damage.

What Are the Disadvantages of a Metal Roof?

On the other hand, you may want to consider some of the drawbacks of having a metal roof on your property:

  • Vulnerable to dents and chips: Hailstorms, falling branches and walking on it too often can dent a metal roof. Depending on your roof's specific metal, the paint may also be vulnerable to chipping and fading.
  • Expensive to install: Putting a metal roof on your house comes at a hefty price. Even though many factors can influence your roof's cost, you may have to pay more than four times what you'd pay to install asphalt shingles.
  • Limited qualified contractors: To install your metal roof correctly, you need to find a roofing specialist who has adequate experience working with metal. Unfortunately, its lack of popularity makes it more challenging to find a metal roofing contractor than an asphalt shingle one.
  • Difficult to repair: Metal roofing is more complicated to replace than asphalt shingles because all the full-length panels are connected. Since it's more challenging to walk on it, metal roof maintenance may be difficult.
  • Noisy: You may hear rain or hail tapping on your metal roof throughout the day. Unless you like the sound of rain, you can install some extra insulation to fix the issue.

What Are the Advantages of a Shingle Roof?

A shingle roof has the following characteristics that can benefit your home:

  • Cheaper to purchase and install: Asphalt can be about half the upfront cost of metal because it's more popular with homeowners, so it's widely available. They're also significantly cheaper to install than metal roofs.
  • More visually appealing: Asphalt shingles offer plenty of color and texture options to help you find a cost-effective material that enhances your property's aesthetic. If you live in a suburban area, it's also more likely to blend in with the other houses in your neighborhood.
  • Cheaper to repair: Since it's more affordable to purchase and install, shingle roof maintenance is more manageable and less expensive. You can remove each shingle one at a time instead of replacing the whole roofing structure.
  • More contractors available: Asphalt shingles are relatively easy to install, so more contractors are willing to offer them than metal roofing. Keep in mind that finding the right roofing specialist is essential to getting a protective, long-lasting roof.

What Are the Disadvantages of a Shingle Roof?

Along with the benefits of a shingle roof, here are some of the drawbacks:

  • Unsafe for the environment: Since asphalt shingles have a shorter lifespan than metal roofing and can't be recycled, they produce billions of pounds of waste each year. Additionally, asphalt shingles are a petroleum-based product and depend on fossil fuels that could pollute the air.
  • Dark and ordinary: The surface granule's color puts a dark tone on the shingles that could reduce their aesthetic appeal. Even though a shingle roof blends in with your neighbors' houses, it may also make your property look too ordinary.
  • Shorter lifespan: Asphalt can last a few decades, especially if they're higher-end materials, but they don't have the same lifespan as metal roofs. When you consider how often you have to replace your shingles and their upfront cost, you may discover that metal roofing is a better investment for your property.
  • Prone to fires: Shingles are typically Class A fire-rated, but asphalt is a flammable material. The granules can protect the shingles from a fire, but if a flame comes into contact with the asphalt coating, it may catch on fire.
  • Vulnerable to weather damage: Asphalt shingles tend to get damaged in wind, hail and snow, cutting their lifespan short. If the installer doesn't set up the roof correctly, the shingles can lift or rip off one at a time. However, keep in mind that?architectural shingles with multiple layers offer more protection than standard ones, and our Atlas shingles feature a Scotchgard Shingle Protector to prevent black streaks from algae.
  • Flaking granules: The granules that protect and give color to your shingles can fall off and get stuck in your gutters and pipes.
Frozen ice. frozen icicles dangerously hanging from building edge on cold winter day, dangerous ice formation on metal house roof during bright sunny, but sub-freezing weather outside
Big frozen icicles dangerously hanging from building edge on cold winter day, dangerous ice formation on metal house roof during bright sunny, but sub-freezing weather outside. Ice dam prevention

Metal Roof vs. Shingles in Cold Climates

If you experience cold temperatures in your local area, comfort and energy savings are essential, especially in the winter. Asphalt shingles tend to absorb heat from the sunlight and transfer it inside your home. As a result, your heating system may not have to work as hard to provide a comfortable indoor temperature, and you can save money on your utility bills.

However, in most cases, a metal roof can warm up your indoor living space more effectively than asphalt shingles. Since metal is a natural conductor, it can easily absorb sunlight and convert it into heat that makes your home comfortable in the winter. The sheathing that goes under this roofing material has insulating properties that keep the absorbed heat contained. Besides absorbing heat, metal roofs can also withstand snow and ice without suffering from moisture damage.

Metal Roof vs. Shingles Resale Value

Asphalt shingles tend to have a higher resale value than metal roofs. In 2020, a roof replacement with asphalt shingles yielded a return on investment (ROI) of 65.9% nationwide, but one with a metal roof only 61.2%. Keep in mind that the ROI for a metal roof replacement has increased since last year, but the rate for asphalt shingle roofing has decreased, so metal roofs may surpass asphalt ones in the coming years.

The resale value of your roof depends on the potential homebuyers' preferences. They may appreciate a metal roof's energy efficiency, long lifespan, resistance to weather damage and unique aesthetic. On the other hand, if the buyer doesn't prefer your roof's color and style, you might not get a higher offer on your property based on how it looks next to the other houses on your block.

Prospective buyers may enjoy the reliable, low-maintenance asphalt shingles on your house. Architectural shingles tend to have a higher ROI than traditional asphalt shingles because of their additional protection against weather damage. However, if the buyer wants a unique roof, they may skip over your house because it looks like every other property in the neighborhood.

Frequently Asked Questions

If you're still unsure whether you should install a metal or asphalt shingle roof, here are some answers to the questions you may have.

Is a Metal Roof More Expensive Than Asphalt Shingles?

A metal roof is often more expensive to purchase and install than asphalt shingles. However, it depends on the kind of roofing you end up installing. Architectural shingles tend to be the most costly form of asphalt shingles, and you can get inexpensive aluminum metal roofing.

It also helps to consider the benefits of metal roofs because they may outweigh the upfront cost you have to pay. Since they last longer than asphalt shingles, you may not have to replace them as often, so it may be worth the investment to save money in the long run. With those factors in mind, a metal roof can be cheaper than shingles over time.

Do Metal Roofs Leak More Than Shingles?

If installed incorrectly, metal roofs have the potential to leak more than shingles. However, if you find an experienced contractor who can install it correctly, metal roofs shed snow and ice to prevent moisture buildup. Since the material is also less likely to suffer damage from weather than other roofing materials, moisture may not leak inside your roof.

Even though high-quality shingles can keep water out of your home, they're more likely to lose their integrity since they have a shorter lifespan than metal roofs. As a result, you may end up seeing more moisture damage from asphalt shingles than metal panels.

Is It Difficult to Replace Asphalt With Metal?

Replacing shingles with metal roofing requires more labor and time than it takes to install asphalt shingles. However, an experienced roofing contractor can adequately replace your roof with metal panels with minimal difficulty.

The roofing specialist might need to remove the asphalt shingles first, but it'd be much easier if they're able to install the metal panels on top of your old roofing. You can consult with them about the installation process and how much the roof replacement may cost.

Can You Put a Metal Roof on Top of Shingles?

Since most metal roofing is light, pliable and thin, it's usually possible to put these panels on top of your existing shingles. Both the shingles and underlayment should be in good condition so you don't have to replace your whole structure for at least a couple of decades.

You may want to consult a professional in the roofing industry to inspect the top of your house and determine the quality of your existing shingles. It's also helpful to consider what local regulations require for your roof. In general, most states allow you to have a maximum of two or three layers on top of your house, so if you've already had this done, you'd need to remove the existing layers before installing your new roof.

What Is the Best Way to Install a Metal Roof Over Shingles?

Before installing a metal roof over your asphalt shingles, the shingle roof and its underlayment need to be in good shape. To apply your metal panels, you can have the contractor run new underlayment over an existing shingle roof, covering the old material and protecting it from moisture damage.

As an alternative, you can install a metal roof over shingles with purlins, timber pieces that provide additional support for the roofing structure. The contractor screws down the purlins onto the roof deck and installs the metal on top of them. This method gives the installer a flat surface to place the metal roofing panels instead of the shingles' grooves and irregularities.

Are Metal Roofs Better Than Shingle Roofs?

Overall, both metal roofing and shingle roofing have their advantages and disadvantages. The best choice for your home will depend on your budget, aesthetic preferences, and other factors such as energy efficiency and durability. It's important to work with a qualified roofing contractor to assess your needs and help you choose the best roofing material for your home or commercial building.

If you need additional protection for the top of your house, our team specializes in roof replacements. We partner with experienced contractors who know how to install all types of roofs, including metal and shingle. For more information about starting the process of installing a new roof, you may contact us online or call 855-560-3765 to get a roof inspection.

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