If you have leaks and water stains in your attic, more shingle debris in your gutters than usual, or even moss or other plant growth on your roof, it’s time to consider getting a roof replacement.
With so many roofing material options to choose from these days, the process of planning for a new roof can be overwhelming, to say the least.
Metal panels and asphalt shingles are two of the most common roofing materials on the market today, and many homeowners want to know the upsides and downsides of each of these materials. Here, we break down the advantages and disadvantages of getting a metal roof vs shingles to replace your current roof.
Cost of Each Roofing Material
It isn’t for nothing that asphalt shingle roofs became so popular; affordability is a huge part of their appeal. Shingle roofing tends to cost around $1 to $6 per square foot, resulting in a total roof cost of around $10,000.
Metal roofing prices, on the other hand, are quite a bit higher than the upfront cost of asphalt shingles. While prices depend on your location and the current cost of materials, metal roofs can cost $10 or more per square foot or about $20,000 for a whole roof replacement.
While it seems like asphalt is the cheaper of the two materials, there’s more to it than initially meets the eye. You’ll likely only need to purchase a single metal roof in your lifetime, but because of the typical lifespan of asphalt shingles (explained in the next section), you might need to redo your asphalt roof multiple times. If you have the cash available and plan to stay in your current home for more than 5-10 years, the initially higher cost of metal roofing actually becomes a lower cost than asphalt shingles in the long run.
Durability and Lifespan
What metal lacks in short-term affordability, it more than makes up for in longevity. Barring severe weather events or other emergencies, you can expect your roof to last 50 years or more (depending on the type of metal you use, your roof might even last 100 years). Compared to the 25-year maximum lifespan for most asphalt shingles, it’s easy to see how a metal roof becomes the less expensive option in the long run.
Metal roofs also tend to be more durable than asphalt shingles. In extreme weather conditions like strong wind and hail, asphalt shingles are more susceptible to damage than metal roofs. Metal is also more resistant to snow and ice accumulation than asphalt.
This, in addition to asphalt being the more absorbent of the two materials, means that if you live in a climate that has multiple season changes, asphalt shingles may absorb water and expand and contract throughout the year. This erodes the quality of the material over time, and in rare cases, may even cause it to crack.
While an asphalt roof may take a day or two to install, a metal roof may take nearer to a week to be completed. The more exacting nature of a metal roofing project also means that you may have to wait a bit to get an appointment with a contractor who has the skill necessary to work with metal roofing, whereas most contractors should be able to handle asphalt shingles. (Luckily, we’re more than happy to take on either kind of project for you here at Mars Restoration.)
Aesthetics and Appearance
When considering purchasing metal roofing for their home, many homeowners are worried about ruining their home’s curb appeal; in the relatively short time they’ve been on the market, metal roofs have gained a reputation for looking cold, industrial, and unsightly.
However, metal roofing options have come a long way since they first became available for residential use. As you probably know, you can choose between many kinds of metal for your roof, including copper, aluminum, zinc, and steel. However, you might not have known that you can also choose between many different styles for your metal roofing:
- Corrugated metal
- Standing seam
- Stamped metal
- And more!
Each of these materials and styles of metal roofing comes in a variety of colors, and some are even built to emulate the look of shingles, tiles, and other kinds of roofing! No longer do you have to compromise between having an attractive roof and reaping the quality benefits that metal roofing has to offer.
Asphalt shingles also have similar aesthetic options. They come in various colors and styles. You can even choose multi-color shingles to add depth to the look of your roof, giving you near-infinite options to choose from for your roof’s appearance.
We’ve come to one of the more dreaded parts of home ownership: roof maintenance. While you may not enjoy thinking about this chore, it’s an important part of maintaining the long-term health of your home.
For both kinds of roofs, you’ll need to perform routine maintenance tasks like clearing debris, cleaning out the gutters, and visually inspecting your roof for wear and tear. Beyond these basic tasks, though, metal requires little or no maintenance in most circumstances. Depending on the style of metal roof you have, exposed fasteners may need to be replaced as they rust and degrade over time, but the roof panels themselves shouldn’t require much upkeep from you.
Asphalt shingles, on the other hand, will need at least some maintenance over their lifespan. Some shingles may become damaged or fall off, requiring replacements to be put on in their place. Additionally, the flashing, sealants, and other auxiliary components of the roof will need repair and replacement before the shingles reach the end of their lifespan.
Climate and Weather
Metal roofs are reflective, which means they’re great at keeping heat out of your home. Asphalt shingles work very well to retain heat. So, in cool climates, installing a metal roof might increase your heating costs, while putting on an asphalt roof in warm climates will take more energy to keep your home cool. You can combat these issue with proper insulation, however.
Metal roofing offers the most fire resistance of any roof type. It’s also extremely durable against:
- Strong winds
An asphalt shingle roof will likely succumb to these environmental pressures, requiring at least a few repairs over its lifespan.
As mentioned earlier, metal roofing will keep your home cool throughout the year, while asphalt shingles will keep your home warm. Depending on which climate you live in, one roofing material may lead to more energy savings than the other.
Did you know that asphalt can be recycled? For a while, it was thought that asphalt had to go to the landfill because it’s an oil-based product. However, as long as you live in an area with the appropriate recycling facilities, recycling asphalt shingles is completely doable. Once the asphalt is separated from the other materials in the shingles, it can be reused for paving projects. Metal roofing panels are, of course, even easier to recycle than asphalt and can then be used for a variety of purposes, depending on the kind of metal the panels were made from.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t necessarily make asphalt an environmentally-friendly product, as asphalt is a byproduct of the refinement of oil. Since nonrenewable resources have to be used to create asphalt in the first place, metal roofing is the way to go if you want to reduce your home’s overall environmental impact.
Because of the durability and long lifespan of most metal roofs, some insurance companies offer discounts on home insurance premiums to homeowners who choose to install a metal roof. However, because of the higher upfront costs of metal roofs, some companies will increase your premium to cover the high anticipated cost of materials should you need another roof replacement.
You’ll need to check with your insurance company to determine how your rates will change with a metal roof, if at all. Asphalt shingles likely won’t affect your insurance costs in either direction.
In Review: Pros and Cons of Asphalt Shingles vs. Metal
As you can see, both asphalt shingles and metal roofs have both advantages and disadvantages.
✅ Pros of Asphalt Shingles
- Low installation cost
- Quick to install
- Many aesthetically-pleasing appearance options
- Great at keeping warmth inside the home
🚫 Cons of Asphalt Shingles
- Only last 15-25 years
- Require regular maintenance
- Not environmentally-friendly
✅ Pros of Metal Panels
- Last 50+ years
- Many aesthetically-pleasing appearance options
- Require little to no maintenance
- Very durable against extreme weather
🚫 Cons of Metal Panels
- High initial materials cost
- Require specialized knowledge to install
- Might affect insurance rates
And these are just two of the available roofing materials on the market; other materials like clay, concrete, slate, and wood have their own pros and cons.
Metal Roof vs. Shingles: Which Should You Choose?
The right choice of roofing materials depends on your finances, your climate, and your long-term home ownership goals. Asphalt shingles and metal each serve their own purpose, and determining the right choice is entirely up to you.
Ready to get started on your new roof replacement? Reach out to Mars today to learn how our roofing professionals can help you with your metal or asphalt shingle installation!