Metal Roofing 101 – Everything You Need To Know

Metal roofs can be made of different materials, including steel, aluminum, copper, and zinc. These roofs differ in style and application, but one thing is for sure; installing a metal roof is one of the best investments you can make as far as your home or building is concerned.

Sure, metal roofs are not appropriate in every situation. They can also be quite pricey, but there is no denying that they offer unparalleled reliability, are cheap to maintain, and last a long time.

This article is a comprehensive guide on metal roofing. We tell you everything you need to know, including popular options in style, color, and dimensions. We also examine the pros and cons and answer some of the most frequently asked questions.

What are the Popular Options of Metal Roofs?

Popular roofing systems include standing seam and corrugated metal roofing. Metal roofs that mimic the look of traditional roofing systems are also increasingly gaining popularity.

Standing Seam Metal Roofing

Standing seam is the holy grail of metal roofing. It is the most durable and long-lasting option owing to its concealed fasteners. It also has a sleek, modern look to boot. If you are considering a low-slope metal roof, standing seam is your best bet.

However, remember the minimum slope for a metal roof is ¼:12.

Standing seam easily beats other metal roofing options in aesthetics and functionality. But there is a caveat—it is one of the most expensive metal roofing options. Standing seam panels with a Kynar painted finish go for between $2 and $4 per square foot.

Additionally, this roofing system is the most challenging to install. In fact, not many contractors are qualified to handle the task. That results in hefty installation costs. Of course, DIY is not an option.


Standing seam panels come in varying dimensions. You can either purchase the specific sizes or rely on the installer to roll-form them on site. 

The width may vary depending on the manufacturer. Standard options range from 12 to 18 inches, with 16 inches being the most common option.

Seam height, which is also called rib height, is just as important. Most systems have a seam height of between one and three inches. However, the most common choices are 1.5 and two inches.

The thickness of the panels is measured in gauge. This usually ranges between 22 and 26 gauge, with 24 gauge being the most common.

Corrugated Metal Roofing

Corrugated metal roofing is also a panel system but with exposed fasteners. It is a more affordable option compared to standing seam and will outlive other non-metal roofing options. The cost of a corrugated metal panel with a Kynar painted finish ranges from $1.5 to $2 per square foot.

This roofing is easy and cheaper to install, making it DIY-friendly. However, the exposed fasteners take away from the aesthetics by giving the roof a bumpier and less sleek look. Moreover, it also increases the risk of water leakage.

Unlike standing seam, exposed fastener systems do not allow expansion and contraction. Therefore, the fasteners risk backing out with temperature fluctuations.


Corrugated metal panels come in different dimensions. They have varying lengths, widths, and thicknesses to suit different needs.

Standard lengths for corrugated metal panels range from 8 to 12 feet. The width will vary depending on the roofing style, but standard widths range from 24 to 39 inches. The most common are 26 and 36 inches.

Thickness is expressed in gauge, and varies depending on performance. Standard options include 18, 20, 22, 24, and 26 gauge.

Metal Slate Roofing

If you love the look of authentic slate roofing, there are metal alternatives that look as good. And these are cheaper and lighter. Metal slates cost between $3 and $5 per square foot. Authentic slate costs between $6.5 and $15 per sq. ft.

Traditional slates are not only expensive but also quite heavy. The extra weight can overburden your roofing structure, causing it to cave in under pressure. Moreover, the excess weight translates to high labor costs, which further exacerbates the overall cost.

Metal Tile

Clay tiles weigh between $6 and 6.5 lbs. per square foot. The weight can go up by 15% when it pours since the tiles will absorb moisture. If you wanted to install these tiles, you would need to reinforce your roof to handle the extra weight.

Reinforcement means additional costs on top of the high cost of buying and installing. Clay tiles cost between 10.5 and 18.5 for materials and installation. Metal tiles will cost between $4 and $6 per square foot and don’t weigh as much. 

Metal Shingle

Asphalt shingles are cheap and easy to install. However, they can only last for 10 to 20 years before you have to replace them. Metal shingles not only last longer but come with the benefits of metal roofing. These include energy efficiency, durability, and minimal maintenance requirements.

Metal Roof Materials Options

Steel is the most common metal roofing material and is suited for all types of applications. It is durable, long-lasting, and requires minimal maintenance. Other metal roofing options include aluminum, copper, and zinc.

As you would expect, each metal has its advantages and drawbacks. 

Copper and zinc will give you the longest lifespan. A roof with either material can last for 100 years or longer. They also develop patinas over time, giving your roof a unique and striking appearance. However, the two are the most expensive metal roofing materials.

Aluminum is not as expensive. It is the lightest metal roofing material, weighing as little as five pounds per square foot. This metal will not rust and is, therefore, a favorable option if you live near a coastline.

The following table compares metal roof materials prices per sheet.

Type of Material



$75 - $350


$150 - $600


$800 - $1,500


$600 - $1,000


$300 - $1,500

What is the Best Color for Metal Roof?

There are hundreds of options available when it comes to the color of a metal roof. But the abundance of choice can be overwhelming. Here are a few things to keep in mind during the journey.

Style of Your Home

Whatever color you choose should blend with the overall style of your home. Try picking one that complements the color of the doors, siding, windows, landscape, and other elements of your house’s exterior.

Trends in the Neighborhood

Walk around the neighborhood to get a sense of the general color trends. Although you should only pick a color you like, you don’t want to depart too much from the norm either.

Energy Efficiency

Cool roof colors make metal roofs energy-efficient. The best options include white, beige, light green, light bronze, or blue.

Recommended Metal Roofs Colors and Styles in 2021

Styles and trends are ever-evolving. Here are three popular roofing trends in 2021.

1.Low-Pitched Roofs

For many years the trend has been overly large homes with steep slopes. But people are shifting to low-pitched roofs with long, sleek lines. Simpler shed-style roofs are replacing the traditional hips and valleys.

2.Energy Saving Roofs

Solar energy has become a growing trend as more people become environmentally conscious. While solar panels are the most popular tools for generating green energy, the market has evolved to include solar tiles and shingles.

3.Roofing Colors

Dim and dark colors were the only dominant shades a few years back. While they are going nowhere soon, consumers are now opting for lighter hues. Colors such as bright blues, delicate greens, grays, and beiges are now prevalent.

Average Cost of Metal Roofing

The average cost of installing a metal roof ranges between $5,300 and $14,700. You should expect to pay $9900 on average, as demonstrated by the table below.

Level of Cost








Advantages of Metal Roofing

Metal roofing has several advantages over other roofing systems like asphalt shingles and clay tiles. They include:

Long Lifespan

A survey by McGraw-Hill found that most consumers choose metal roofing due to its longevity. While an asphalt shingle roof will need a replacement after 10 to 20 years, a metal roof can last between 40 to 60 years on average. If you go for copper or zinc materials, it can even last for more than 100 years.


Metal is stronger compared to other roofing materials. As a result, it will hold up better amid harsh weather conditions such as heavy snow, rain, and hail. Moreover, it is unlikely to get damaged by debris or foot traffic.

Low Maintenance

Metal roofs require minimal maintenance save for routine inspections and basic cleaning to remove debris and leaves. You will not need to make regular repairs like in other roofing systems owing to their high durability.

Energy Efficiency

Metal roofs feature cool colors and reflective coatings that prevent overheating by reflecting UV and dissipating heat. This results in annual savings of up to 25%. That is according to a survey by the U.S. Department of Energy.


If you are environmentally conscious, you should consider metal roofing. Besides being energy efficient, metal consists of 100% recyclable material. Once it reaches the end of its lifecycle, you can also recycle it again.

Large Variety of Options

Consumers who opt for metal roofing are spoilt for choice. Apart from the different styles of metal roofing, there are hundreds of color options. That gives designers and architects a lot of creative freedom.

Disadvantages of Metal Roofing

Installing a metal roof is not an all rosy affair. This roofing system is not without shortcomings. They include:

High Price Tag

High cost is the main reason why most consumers prefer other roofing systems to metal. The price is significantly higher than, say, asphalt roofing.

Susceptible to Denting

Although metal roofs today will hold up well to abuse, lighter metals such as copper and aluminum are prone to denting. If you live in an area that experiences heavy snow and hail, you should opt for stronger metals such as steel.

Installation is Not Foolproof

Metal roofs are the most challenging roofing systems to install. And it is easy to make costly mistakes. For instance, the roof becomes susceptible to water leaking if the contractor installs the screws improperly.

Is a Metal Roof Worth it?

Metal roofing can be expensive to buy and install. It can even be twice as expensive as, say, asphalt shingle roofs. If you intend to install a commercial or residential metal roofing, the investment better be worth it.

Is metal roofing always the best route? Of course not. For instance, a flat metal roof is a bad idea. The question, then, is: when is it worth it to invest in a metal roof? To answer this question, you need to consider the following factors.


If you have a low or flat slope, investing a lot of money in a flat metal roof for curb appeal would not make sense. On the other hand, a high-pitched metal roof can make your home stand out. For instance, a standing seam metal roof in black matte or dark bronze will draw the attention of everyone passing by.

How Long You Intend to Live in the House

Most conventional roofs will not last long before you need to repair or replace them. But they are cheaper to install. Conversely, a metal roof can last for up to 50+ years. However, it requires a significant upfront investment.

A metal roof could be a wise investment if you intend to reside in your home for more than 15 years. For one, it will not bog you down with regular repairs and maintenance. Also, you could save a lot on energy costs and lower insurance premiums.

But if you intend to move out before 15 years, an asphalt shingle roof looks like the better investment on paper. However, metal roofs offer additional benefits that may not be as obvious.

For example, installing a metal roof could increase the resale value of your house and help you recoup a chunk of your initial investment. Conversely, an asphalt roof could have taken quite a beating by the time you are moving out, thus reducing the resale value of your home.

Roofs in Your Neighborhood

If you live in an upscale neighborhood where every home has an expensive and beautiful roof, don’t be the only home that looks out of place for having an average-looking roof. Instead, invest in a quality roof that matches your surroundings.

However, the converse is also true. Do not invest in an expensive metal roof if the roofs in your neighborhood are average looking at best. Otherwise, you will look out of place instead of standing out as you hoped.

Before settling on a metal roof, it would not hurt to look around first. Drive around the neighborhood and look at the common trends before deciding whether a metal roof is worth it or not. The idea is to avoid overbuilding or underbuilding as much as is possible.

Do You Want to Resell Your Home?

As we mentioned earlier, a metal roof can increase the resale value of your home. Consumers are now aware of the benefits of metal roofing, and many would be willing to pay more for a home with one. According to Remodeling Magazine, you could recoup between 85 to 95% of your investment if you replace your roof with a standing seam metal roof.

A metal roof could also affect how quickly you sell your home, depending on the state of others in the neighborhood. If your house stands out, it will sell quickly. Conversely, you will have a hard time selling your home if it is the only one without a premium roof in the area.

Metal Roof VS Shingles, Which Is Better?

Metal roofs and asphalt shingles are popular roofing options, and consumers are ever pitting them against each other. Of course, metal roofing is better in almost every aspect. It is the most durable and long-lasting and, therefore, requires minimal maintenance.

Metal roofing is also more environmentally friendly and offers the best resistance against fires. Additionally, it is energy efficient since it has reflective surfaces and cool colors that reflect UV and dissipate heat.

Is it Cheaper to Get a Metal Roof or Shingles?

If you are purely talking about the cost of material and installation, asphalt shingle roofing is cheaper. However, if you consider the long-term costs, metal is the better choice. That’s because it lasts twice as long or more, and it requires minimal maintenance. It can also save you a lot in energy and insurance premiums.

Is It Okay to Put a Metal Roof over Shingles?

Yes. You can install a metal roof over shingles. Your home will benefit from the added insulation and extra protection. But most importantly, it will save you money and time since you will not need to remove the shingles first.

Can a Metal Roof Lower Your Insurance?

If you live in a region that experiences hailstorms, you will have to pay high insurance premiums. Luckily, there are home upgrades that can lower your rates. For instance, if you install a class 4 impact-resistant metal roof, you will reduce the risk of your roof getting damaged. Consequently, the insurance company will reward you with lower premium rates.

Do Metal Roofs Attract Lightning?

There is a misconception that metal roofs are lightning magnets. Nothing could be farther from the truth. According to the Metal Construction Association, a metal roof will make the lightning less impactful. That’s because the metal structure will provide a low-resistance path for lightning to the earth.

Is It a Good Idea to DIY Metal Roofing?

Metal roofing is one of the most challenging roofing systems to install. It requires specialized technical skills that homeowners and DIYers may not possess. Here are four reasons why you should not attempt to install one.

  • Lack of proper installation can be costly

  • You risk injuring yourself

  • You may pick the wrong roof

  • Installation requires specialized skills and tools

How Can I Choose the Most Suitable Metal Roof for My House?

It is not a one-size-fits-all for metal roofing. The type you choose will depend on several factors including, budget, aesthetics, durability, environment, and longevity. You also have to consider whether you want a high or low slope metal roof.


Metal roofing comes in different styles, colors, materials, and dimensions. But it can get overwhelming with too many options and not enough insight. Remember, there is no one-size-fits-all in metal roofing. Whatever choice you make should depend on the type of roof in your home, how much you are willing to spend, weather, and personal needs and preferences. Whether you want commercial or residential metal roofing, there is something for everyone.

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