An Expert Comparison of Metal and Asphalt Shingle Roof
Metal roofing used to be rare for residential properties, but the material is growing in popularity because of its strength and durability. Steel and aluminum are the most popular materials for metal roofing, but other options include copper, zinc, titanium, stainless steel and stone-coated steel.
There are many myths that circulate about metal roofing. Contrary to popular belief, it is not any noisier than asphalt when properly installed. It is not more susceptible to lightning strikes, and it is highly resistant to rust. Also, metal roofing does not have to look industrial; modern versions are available in all sorts of colors and designs that mimic traditional shingles.
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Types of Metal Roofing
Steel roofing has a protective coating that protects it from rusting. There are two types of coatings: galvanized, made of 100 percent zinc, and galvalume, a mixture of zinc and aluminum. The galvalume coating offers more protection in most cases, but it is typically more expensive, too.
Both galvanized and galvalume steel roofing are available in a variety of grades. Galvanized steel is available in G-40, G-60 and G-90, with higher numbers indicating better quality. For homes, most experts recommend G-90. Galvalume is available in AZ-50 or AZ-55, both of which are roughly equivalent to G-90.
Aluminum roofing, which is preferable to steel for homes near the ocean because it stands up better to heavy-salt environments, does not require a metallic coating. It tends to be slightly more expensive. Copper, zinc, stone-coated steel, stainless steel and titanium are more durable than steel yet considerably more expensive.
Metal Roofing Costs
Metal roofing is a premium product, so it comes with a higher price tag than most other roofing materials. However, the price varies widely based on a number of factors, including the type of metal, the grade, whether the roof is painted or unpainted, local labor rates, and roof pitch and height.
- Steel and aluminum shingles typically sell for about $2-$6 per square foot, not including installation.
- Since metal shingles are often sold by the square, or 100 square feet, chances are you’ll see prices labeled $200-$600 per square.
- Including installation, the total cost for steel or aluminum roofing is often $500-$1,000 per square. For a 1,500-square-foot roof, that works out to $7,500 to $15,000. For a 2,500 square foot roof, the cost is $12,500 to $25,000.
- Premium metal roofing products such as copper cost about $10-$15 per per square foot, or $1,000-$1,500 per square, not including installation.
Keep in mind that the costs are often higher for roofs with high pitches, intricate details or features like skylights. Some people pay as much as $30,000 for a metal roof, although that price is certainly on the high end.
Metal Roofing Installation
There are two types of fastening systems used for metal roofs: exposed and concealed. Exposed fastener systems cost less and are easier to install, but many people consider them less attractive. It’s a good idea to look at pictures of both before making your decision – the difference may or may not matter to you.
All metal roofs require an underlayment for extra protection. Some roofers use asphalt-saturated felt, while others user newer synthetic products. The cost of the underlayment should always be included in the price you are quoted.
Finally, all metal roofs need to be on a solid sheathing to eliminate excess noise. Sheathing options include plywood and oriented strand board (OSB). With this added layer of protection, a metal roof will be no louder in rain, hail or other inclement weather than an asphalt roof.
Metal Roofing Pros
- Strength – Metal roofs can withstand high wind speeds without damage. They’re highly fire resistant and very low maintenance. They will never rot or mildew, and bugs will never be able to eat through them.
- Durability – Metal roofs last longer than shingles. The lifespan is anywhere from 25 to 100 years, depending on the quality of the materials and how well the roof is maintained.
- Energy savings – Metal roofs are extremely energy efficient. You’ll see the largest energy savings in the summer because metal reflects heat, but metal also prevents some heat loss in the winter. For the best results, look for metal roofing that is Energy Star rated.
- Resale value – Metal roofing boosts your home’s resale value because of its strength and durability.
Metal Roofing Cons
- Price – Metal roofs are significantly more expensive than asphalt shingles. The cost is often double and sometimes triple.
- Difficult to repair – Metal roofing is sold in large sheets, so it’s difficult to replace or repair damaged areas. You’ll spend more for repairs than with shingles and most likely will have to call in a professional.
Asphalt Shingle Roof Overview
Asphalt shingles are by far the most popular roofing material because of their affordability and clean look. By most estimates, asphalt shingles make up some 80 percent of the residential roofing market.
Shingles are sold in many different sizes, brands and colors. Some actually look like asphalt, while others closely resemble higher-end roofing products such as slate or wood shakes. There is a significant difference in quality between brands of asphalt shingles, so be sure to do your research before making a purchase.
Types of Asphalt Roofing
There are two types of asphalt shingles: fiberglass and organic. The primary difference between the two is the makeup of the core.
- Fiberglass shingles, the newer of the two, are coated with asphalt but have a woven fiberglass mat core. They are lighter in weight and less expensive. They have a higher fire rating and hold up better in very hot climates. They’re better for the environment, too.
- Traditional organic shingles are popular in regions with cold weather. They have a felt-like paper core that is coated in waterproof asphalt, then top-coated with an adhesive asphalt. Organic shingles are heavier because they contain more asphalt, and they’re more expensive. They’re considered more rugged, but they’re also more absorbent, which can lead to warping.
Both types are available in architectural or three-tab styles. Architectural shingles have a heavier base mat and several layers of shingles, which makes for a multi-dimensional look. They are stronger and more attractive, yet more expensive. Three-tab shingles, which consist of one flat layer, are cheaper and easier to install.
Asphalt Shingle Roofing Costs
Three-tab asphalt shingles typically cost anywhere from $60 to $120 per square (100 square feet), although low-quality products can be found for less than $50 per square and high-end products sell for as much as $200 per square.
Installation adds about $80-$200 per square and removal of the old shingles costs about $80-$150 per square.
- For a 1,500-square-foot roof, the total cost for materials and installation would be $2,100-$4,800. That does not include removal of the old shingles, which might cost an additional $1,200-$2,250.
- For a roof with 2,500 square feet, materials and installation would fall in the range of $3,500-$8,000. Removal of the old shingles would add $2,000-$3,750.
Architectural asphalt shingles cost about $200 to $400 per square installed, or $5,000 to $10,000 for a roof with 2,500 square feet.
Keep in mind that these prices are meant to be general estimates, not absolute figures. If your roof has a steep pitch or lots of dormers, for example, installation costs may be higher. Geographic location also has a major impact on price.
Asphalt Shingle Installation
In most cases, professionals can remove your old asphalt roof and replace it in a matter of a day or two. Some roofers will install a layer of asphalt shingles over your old shingles, while other will completely remove the old layer and clean the decking before laying new shingles. There are pros and cons to each method, although most experts recommend removing the old shingles. Complete removal is more expensive because it takes longer, but it also results in a roof that lasts longer and looks better. In some cases, layover voids the warranty on your shingles.
Asphalt Shingle Roof Pros
- Price – Asphalt shingles are significantly less expensive than metal roofing materials. The cost is usually about half.
- Options – Asphalt shingles are available in a wider variety of color and design options.
- Look – Because asphalt shingles are so common, this is the roofing material that most homeowners are used to seeing. For some people, the familiarity makes asphalt shingles more appealing.
Asphalt Shingle Roof Cons
- Durability – An asphalt roof won’t last nearly as long. Most will last 15-30 years at best, significantly less than the 25- to 100-year lifespan for metal roofs.
- Prone to damage – Asphalt shingles aren’t as strong, so you may lose a few in high winds. Asphalt singles are also susceptible to algae growth and bug infestation.