Many homeowners experience the great debate of asphalt shingles vs. metal roofing.
We're here today to provide the pros and cons of metal roofing and asphalt shingles so you can make an informed decision on which roofing type is best for your home. We'll also cover other helpful information you'll need to know about each roofing solution.
Table of Contents
- What is Asphalt Shingle Roofing?
- What is Metal Roofing?
- Difference between Asphalt and Metal Roofing
- Asphalt Shingles vs Metal Roofing
- Asphalt vs Metal, Which is Better for You?
- Potential Issues After Installation
- Factors to Consider Before Choosing
What is Asphalt Shingle Roofing?
Asphalt shingles are a mixture of a base coat (felt paper or fiberglass) covered by a layer of asphalt for waterproofing and then topped with ceramic granules.
Fiberglass-based asphalt shingles are the most popular choice and have been since their invention in the 1980s. These roof coverings come in 3-tabbed shingles or architectural style.
Three-tabbed shingles give the appearance of three separate pieces combined into one strip. On the other hand, architectural shingles have extra asphalt layers to make them look bulkier. You can find asphalt shingles (3-tabbed or architectural) in a wide range of colors and styles.
What is Metal Roofing?
Metal roofing is a system that consists of pieces of roofing made of a type of metal. Multiple materials fall under the category of metal roofing. This roofing type also varies by style, weight, color, and installation. Common types of metal roofing include:
- Standing Seam
- Metal Slate
- Metal Tile
Each of these metals will have different benefits, drawbacks, installation requirements, price, and longevity. Corrugated metal is a suitable inexpensive option, while zinc and copper roofs have the most extended lifespan.
Difference between Asphalt and Metal Roofing
The most considerable difference between these two roofing types is the material used to make them. As the names imply, metal roofing consists of metal parts while asphalt shingles contain asphalt.
Another difference between these two roofing options is the lifespan. Metal lasts up to three times longer than asphalt shingles.
Depending on the metal roofing design (standing seam or panels rather than shingles), metal roofs have a different visual aesthetic than asphalt shingles, which come in 3-tab pieces and lay horizontally. Standing seam and metal panels are long straight pieces that lay on top of the roof vertically.
Asphalt Shingles vs Metal Roofing
$0.80-$1.20 a square foot
$5-$14 a square foot
Rated Class A but asphalt is flammable
Let's take a look at the different pros and downsides of a metal roof vs. shingle roofs. These factors may help you make an easier decision between the two types.
Pros of Asphalt Shingles
Installing asphalt shingles has many benefits for homeowners that may make them a preferred choice over metal roofing.
- Affordable Price
One of the biggest reasons people opt for shingle roofs over metal is the cost. Not only are shingles less expensive by the square foot, but installation will also be cheaper and quicker. You'd pay $0.80-$1.20 a square foot for materials and $5,319 to $10,857 for installation.
- Lower Repair Costs
Another advantage that shingles have over metal is lower repair costs. In most cases, you can remove damaged shingle pieces one at a time without removing the healthy surrounding parts, meaning the roofer will have less work and faster repairs.
- More Options for Installers
If you're considering hiring a professional roofer to install your new roof, choosing shingles over metal gives you the advantage of having more companies to choose from, which can also mean lower costs. There are fewer options for roofers who install metal roofs, making it difficult to get your new room on ASAP.
- Better Insurance Policies
Many homes built along coastal regions have restrictions on the types of roofs their homeowner's insurance will cover. All insurances will cover asphalt shingle roofs. But they may have specific limits on metal within particular distances from the coastline.
- More Warranties
Yet another benefit is that shingle roofs come with more warranties from the contractor and the maker. At a minimum, you should get coverage from manufacturer errors, algae growth, defects, contractor error, and wind-resistant limits (varies by shingle type).
Cons of Asphalt Shingles
Now, let's look at some of the disadvantages of asphalt shingles. These drawbacks often play a part in homeowners choosing metal over shingles.
- Shorter Longevity
The biggest drawback is longevity. Most shingles have a maximum lifespan of 25 years. The material (fiberglass or asphalt), design (architectural or 3-tab), and coating will affect the longevity of your roof. Regardless, they will not last as long as metal roofs.
- Higher long-term costs
Asphalt shingles are cheaper to purchase and install compared to metal. However, they do have higher maintenance and upkeep costs. And due to the shorter lifespan, there's also the expense of replacements. You'll have to install shingles three times in the same timeframe as one metal roof. At $9,000 a job, you’d pay $27,000 in installations.
- Penetrating Installation
Asphalt shingles attach to the decking with nails, which leaves behind tiny holes. Usually, these small spots won't cause any damage. But, if placed improperly, it can cause compromisation of the structure.
- Limited Color Options
Asphalt shingles have limited, dull dark colors. You can't find light or bright colored shingles like you can metal roofs. The asphalt and dark granite granules create a darker look, which won't lighten. These components are essential for fire resistance and UV protection.
- Weighs More
Asphalt shingles are heavier than metal panels. One square - 100 square feet - can weigh from 150 to 400 pounds. Too much weight can compromise the integrity of the structure. Many times, when re-roofing a home with asphalt shingles, the new layer goes over the old one.
With this, your roof will now have twice the amount of weight. The next time you redo your roof, you'll have to tear off one or both old layers before installing a new one. A tear-off is an extra expense not included in the cost of a roof install.
- Risk of fires
Although most shingles have a Class A fire rating, asphalt is a type of semi-solid petroleum that makes it combustible. To improve the fire resistance, the manufacturer adds a layer of granules. This coating makes the shingles resistant to fire on the surface, but if the flame comes in contact with the asphalt beneath, it will engulf the roof.
- Less durable
Shingles, mostly 3-tabbed, have a higher probability of getting damaged compared to metal roofs. Asphalt shingles do not hold up well under intense weather conditions like snow, hail, or winds. If not correctly adhered to the roof, there's a good chance they'll rip off, curl, or tear.
- Absorbs heat
Due to the dark color and materials, asphalt shingles absorb more heat rays than metal. Once the roof heats up, it turns into solar heat, which can filter down into the building.
Your cooling system will have to work longer and harder to combat the heat, resulting in higher electric bills. When exposed to frequent high heat for extended periods, asphalt shingles are more likely to damage.
- Attracts Algae, Mold, and Mildew
One of the top problems with asphalt shingle roofs is the presence of a slimy coating over the surface caused by algae, mildew, or mold growth. These contaminants can grow when there's excess moisture that doesn't get dried by the sun.
Pros of Metal Roof
Now, let's look at the many benefits that are causing metal roofs to become a popular choice for re-roofs, new builds, and a new roof to go over existing shingles.
- Low weight
Metal roofs weigh around ten pounds a panel or 85 to 120 pounds per square, making them easier to manage and move around during installation. But more importantly, it won't add a lot of extra weight to your roof. Even when added over existing shingles - overlay - the weight will not strain the structure.
- Longer Lifespan
Another significant benefit to metal roofs is their lifespan. Most metal roofs won't start degrading until a minimum of 50 years. Premium materials like zinc or copper can last over 100 years.
- Cheaper Long-Term Cost
While you pay more upfront to install a metal roof, there will be less money to spend on upkeep, repairs, or maintenance. Metal roofs rarely need more than a recoat of waterproof sealant during their entire lifespan.
- Durable and Safe
Metal roofing has a Class A fire rating like asphalt shingles. But shingles are combustible while metal is not, making it practically fire-resistant. Metal also has more durability during extreme weather, withstanding snow, galeforce winds, driving rains, high heat, ice, hail, and extreme cold. Metal roofs are ideal for locations that experience severe weather conditions.
Metal roofs are far better for the environment than shingles in more than one way. First, metal is recyclable so that any leftover parts can become future products. Over 95% of aluminum roofs are recycled materials.
- Energy Efficient
Metal also offers better energy efficiency that allows you to have lower energy bills. Metal reflects heat rather than absorbing it, so your home stays cooler, even in the summer. Some metal roofs have an Energy Star solar reflectance index (SRI) rating, which defines a roof's ability to reflect the sun's energy into the atmosphere.
- More Color Options
A lot of homeowners choose metal roofing due to the wide variety of color options. If you prefer earth tones or vivid bright colors, metal is a better choice than shingles. Multiple paint manufacturers create formulas made for metal that last for decades and have warranties covering their lifespan. In addition to different colors, you can also find metal roofs that look like tile or shingles, panels, standing seam, or exposed fasteners systems for different styles.
Cons of Metal Roof
Next, let's look at the drawbacks of metal roofs. Consider these downsides when trying to decide whether on metal roof vs. shingle roof.
- High upfront costs
The biggest downside of metal roofs is the higher cost you pay. Not only are the materials more expensive, but you'll also pay higher labor costs. You can spend between $5,301 to $14,693 for the installation of a metal roof.
- Fewer Options for Installers
Metal roofs require specialized equipment and knowledge to install. However, although metal roofs are becoming more common, there are still not as many contractors available. You may end up having long delays due to a busy schedule, difficulty finding materials, or experience higher costs because there's less competition to drive the price low.
- Oil Canning
Many metal roofs have waviness visible on flat surfaces. This issue is purely an aesthetic problem and does not affect the roof's function. Oil canning is a common characteristic of metal roofs and usually does not require replacement.
- Might be banned
Some communities and neighborhoods might have regulations restricting the installation of metal roofs for residential homes. Home Owners Associations (HOAs) are the most likely culprits for blocking your decision to choose a roofing material other than asphalt shingles.
- Higher Insurance
Some insurance companies offer benefits or premiums for installing a metal roof. But your insurance company may also charge more for your policy due to the higher cost of repairs. Because the insurance company would have to pay out more to replace a metal roof, they'll charge you more to offset the cost difference.
Asphalt vs Metal, Which is Better for You?
Some situations may make one roofing type the more intelligent choice over the other. If you live in an area that experiences frequent severe weather, like high winds, tornadoes, ice, and snow, or extremely high or low temperatures, you will do better with a metal roof. Asphalt shingles do not hold up well to weather.
The shape of your roofline can also play a role in which type of roofing would be better. Metal roofs require a flat surface to mount securely and adequately. For roofs with multiple odd angles or flat roofs with zero pitch, you'd do better with asphalt shingles over metal.
Where you live may also affect whether you choose metal or asphalt shingles. As we've said, some communities may have regulations against using metal roofs for residential homes due to the industrial aesthetic.
Potential Issues After Installation
Both asphalt shingles and metal roofing have their fair share of potential issues that you should be aware of before deciding.
Asphalt shingles can experience their share of problems after installation. Common issues that can occur with asphalt shingles are:
- Premature cracking
- Raised shingles
- Loss of granules
- Tearing or thermal splitting
Metal roofing can experience multiple potential issues, including:
- Oil canning
- Scuffs and scratches
- Incorrectly matching metals with materials
- Fading and chalking
- Installation error
Factors to Consider Before Choosing
When deciding between asphalt shingles and metal roofing, consider the following factors to ensure you make the right choice.
Your first consideration should be your budget. While you may have the desire for metal roofing, it does cost more, so you might not be able to afford it. The good news is that in many cases, you can install a metal roof over existing shingles later on down the road without having to remove the old roof.
- Roof design
The shape of your roof will also affect which material might be suitable for your home. You'll need to know your roof's pitch or slope (minimum and maximum), the roof's square footage, the complexity of the roofline, including valleys, skylights, flashing points, vent pipes, penetrations, dormers, and hips.
- Age of home
If your home is older and needs many costly renovations, you may prefer to save money by installing an asphalt roof. You can also use an asphalt roof for homes that you plan to sell a short time down the road. For homes that are newer or have recently remodeled, a metal roof would be appropriate.
Metal roofs are better for locations with extreme weather conditions. But in areas with mild weather, a shingled roof would suffice.
Q: Which roofing has more benefits - metal or asphalt shingles?
A: In terms of longevity, durability, weather resistance, and energy efficiency, metal roofing has more benefits than asphalt shingles. However, asphalt shingles are cheaper - materials and installation.
Q: Which roofing lasts longer - asphalt shingles or metal?
A: Metal roofs have more extended longevity of up to sixty years, whereas asphalt shingles generally only last less than twenty. You'd have to replace an asphalt shingle roof thrice at the same time it takes a metal roof to need replacing.