Metal Roofing vs. Shingle Roofing: Which Should I Choose?

The top two most popular roofing materials in the U.S. are asphalt shingles and metal panels. While asphalt shingles remain on top due to the lower price, metal remains the roofing material property owners choose for longevity and durability. Which one is the best one for your property?

Both roofing materials offer your home protection against the elements. Which one you choose depends on what is important to you, your family, and your home. Let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages of both. That way, you can make an educated decision on your roofing material.

Metal Roofs

Metal roofing has been around since ancient times when copper was used to roof the Parthenon in 27 BC. Today’s metal roofing is often made from aluminum or galvanized steel, though copper roofing is still an option in some areas.

What are the advantages of metal roofs?

  • Last longer – Metal roofs are often warrantied for 50 years. Some metal roofs can last 75 to 100 years without requiring a replacement.
  • Eco-friendly – Metal is 100% recyclable. That means at the end of its life, it can be recycled back into another metal product. Also, many metal roofing panels contain some level of recycled metal.
  • Lower long-term cost – A metal roof is usually more expensive than an asphalt shingle roof. However, a single installation of metal roofing can easily outlast three consecutive installations of asphalt shingles.
  • Energy efficient – You can select a color for your roof that will reflect heat away, making it easier to keep heat out during the summer and keep heat in during the winter. You can also find roof panels specially designed to absorb heat in lower temperatures and to emit it when it’s hotter.
  • Low maintenance – Maintenance is extremely low with metal roofing. Most debris and dust washes away with the next rain. The only thing a property owner has to do is keep an eye out for debris that might have gotten stuck in the gutters.
  • Durable and fire-resistant – Metal roofs have shown how durable they are over many centuries. They are fire resistant and can withstand high winds, blowing rain, driving snow, and extreme temperatures.

What are the disadvantages of metal roofs?

  • Cost more upfront – A metal roof is going to cost more than asphalt shingles. That’s because metal is more expensive and labor is going to be higher.
  • Requires trained and experienced installation crew – Metal roofing is not something a weekend DIY’er should tackle. It requires training and experience to get the installation right. Fewer roofers handle metal roofing jobs because of this specialized knowledge.
  • More labor intensive – Metal roofing requires more labor to install than asphalt shingles. That drives up the cost of initial installation.
  • May not be accepted by town code or HOA regulation – Some towns and HOAs prohibit the installation of metal roofs. They are often considered too industrial in style or too different from other existing homes.

Shingle Roofs

The most popular choice in roofing materials today is asphalt shingles. This style of shingle has been around since the early part of the 20th century. Due to their easy installation and relatively low cost, they became the go-to roofing material of choice throughout the 20th and into the 21st century.

What are the advantages of shingle roofs?

  • Cheaper up front – Asphalt shingles cost less to buy and to install. They go on faster than metal which lowers labor costs.
  • Easier to install and repair – Installing asphalt shingles is relatively easy to learn and does not require special training or tools. This makes it easier to train a new roofer to do an installation.
  • Readily available – Asphalt shingles are available through multiple sources, which makes them easy to find and purchase. Metal roofing is less readily available, often requiring a purchase from a specialized vendor.
  • Can handle foot traffic better – While walking on an asphalt shingle roof is not recommended for property owners due to safety concerns, the shingles themselves are durable enough to withstand some foot traffic. Metal roofing is easily damaged by foot traffic.
  • Easier acceptance by town code or HOA regulation – Because asphalt shingles have become the “norm” in many communities, they are more readily accepted in comparison to other roofing materials.

What are the disadvantages of shingle roofs?

  • Shorter life cycle – You can expect to replace asphalt shingles every 15 to 25 years, depending on the quality of the shingles and installation. In contrast, metal roofing can easily last 50 years or more.
  • Higher long-term cost – Because you have to replace asphalt shingles more often than a metal one, the long-term costs are higher with asphalt shingles.
  • Not eco-friendly – Asphalt shingles can be recyclable, however, most are not. Roofers, instead, dump them into the landfill. Plus, these shingles contain little to no previously recycled materials.
  • Holds heat – The asphalt that holds the shingles together tends to hold heat for longer periods. That means, even after the sun goes down, that heat remains on top of your home, making it harder to keep the inside cool in the summer.

This information will help you determine if a metal roof or a shingle roof is best for your property. No matter which one you select, always have it installed by a professional, licensed roofer. That way you know your roof will last a long time without worry.