Metal Roofing Pros and Cons: Here’s What to Know

Allie Ogletree
Written by Allie Ogletree
Reviewed by Ami Feller
Updated September 21, 2022
A residential metal roofing
Photo: dbrus / Adobe Stock

Highlights

  • Metal roofs are made of copper, steel, tin, or aluminum.

  • Metal roofing comes in sheets or shingles.

  • Well-installed metal roofing can last up to 70 years.

  • Metal roofs are energy-efficient and recyclable.

  • Metal roofing costs around $10,700 on average.

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Whether your old roof has kicked the bucket or you’re looking for a new, more contemporary style for your rooftop, replacing your roof is a huge investment. To make the best decision for your home, you’ll want to turn over every rock and compare your options. With this in mind, here’s what to know about metal roofing pros and cons.

What Is Metal Roofing?

Metal roofing is a type of roofing that contains metal materials of your choosing. These roofs come in panels or sheets that are either laid or fastened onto your roof structure. The most common roofing materials include:

  • Copper: A durable and fully recyclable material that offers protection from corrosion and lightning. It’s among the most expensive roofing materials.

  • Galvanized Steel: A copper alternative that uses a zinc coating and heavy-duty paint to limit corrosion and rust. It’s more budget-friendly than copper but is still susceptible to corrosion if it’s not properly coated.

  • Stainless Steel: A completely rust-free option, but it comes at a higher cost than galvanized steel.

  • Aluminum: A budget-friendly lightweight, weather-resistant, corrosion-resistant metal, but it tends to dent easily.

There are also some newer alloys on the market that combine steel, aluminum, and zinc to form more durable and corrosion-resistant options, including Zincalume.

Metal Roofing Pros and Cons

Metal roofing may just be the roofing material of your dreams, but it all depends on your lifestyle, personal preferences, budget, and the type of metal you choose. With this in mind, here are the pros and cons of metal roofing.

Advantages of Metal Roofing

Metal roofing has much to offer when deciding between metal roofing and other types of roofing materials. Below are some of the biggest reasons to install a metal roof on your home:

1. Long Lifespan

Metal roofing is an excellent investment for your home. A properly installed metal roof can last for up to 70 years. The only exception is that screw-down metal roofs with exposed fasteners need replacing around every 15 to 20 years.

2. Solid Warranty

Many manufacturer warranties for metal roofs come with a warranty of anywhere from 30 to 50 years, which exceeds the expected lifespan of a traditional asphalt shingle roofing system entirely. Traditional asphalt shingles last around 20 to 50 years.

3. Durability

Metal roofing’s unique durability can withstand fire, salty sea air, extreme temperatures, and gusts of wind up to 140 miles per hour. Rust-proof coatings also prevent corrosion and cracking. If your metal roof does experience wear, you can always repaint it instead of doing a full replacement, which may even increase your home’s resale value.

4. Environmentally Friendly

Metal roofs are one of the most sustainable roofing materials available. At least 25% of the materials in a metal roof are recycled materials, and the roof is 100% recyclable when it’s time to replace the roofing materials. 

5. Energy Efficient

Metal roofs tend to cost more than traditional asphalt shingles, but you’ll likely recoup those costs thanks to savings on the cost of cooling your home. This is because metal roofing is coated to reflect radiant heat instead of absorbing it, minimizing heat gain and reducing energy costs by as much as 40% in warmer climates, according to the Metal Roofing Alliance. This cooling effect can even help reduce urban heat islands by decreasing the amount of overall heat being absorbed by surface areas.

While it might seem like metal roofing would only be beneficial in warmer climates, metal roofing can be just as effective at insulation as a traditional asphalt roof in colder climates.

6. Variety of Styles

The first thing that might come to mind when you think of a metal roof might be a rustic barn setting, but metal roofing is very versatile. You can choose between metal sheets or shingles—that latter can even resemble wood shakes, slate or clay tiles, or other materials of your choice. 

The wide range of different metal materials come in an even wider array of colors, shapes, and finishes, giving metal roofs much more style potential for residential applications than asphalt shingles. Commonly used metal roofing materials like steel and aluminum are designed to hold paint finishes well. 

7. Curb Appeal

Let’s face it: there’s just something about a metal roof that looks modern, stylish, and attractive. And, if you’re hoping to sell your home, a metal roof will definitely boost your home’s curb appeal. 

Potential homebuyers will be drawn to the low-maintenance and durability that a metal roof provides. The beauty of a metal roof is also key to its value. Not only does metal provide a modern look, but it can also easily be repainted to suit any homebuyer’s tastes.

Disadvantages of Metal Roofing

Metal standing seam roof
Photo: U. J. Alexander / Adobe Stock

Even with all their benefits, metal roofs have a few downsides worth considering. Here’s what you need to know before you purchase a metal roof.

1. High Costs

One of the biggest reasons some homeowners hesitate to switch from asphalt to metal roofing is the cost of metal roofing. Pricing varies by region, but on average you can expect to pay between $5,700 and $16,100 or an average of $10,700 for a full metal roof. This is significantly more than the cost of an asphalt shingle roof, which ranges from $5,000 and $12,000 on average. 

2. Prone to Denting

While metal roofing can withstand extreme weather conditions of all kinds, some metal roofs are susceptible to denting from large hail or falling branches. If you opt for a softer type of metal roofing—like copper or aluminum—you might not even be able to walk on it without causing damage. 

3. Noisy

Some homeowners love the sound of rain falling on a metal roof, but if you’re not one of those people, you’ll find owning a metal roof to be a noisy experience. If you’re still sold on a metal roof, however, you can invest in extra layers of sheathing or insulation to help minimize external sounds.

4. Hard to Repair

Though it’s challenging to actually damage a metal roof, it can happen. And if it does happen, you’ll find it’s significantly harder to repair a metal sheet than it is metal shingles or asphalt shingles. The reason for this is that metal roofing expands and contracts, and a patched spot might expand and contract at a different rate than the original metal material, causing costly leaks. 

You might also end up paying more to repair your metal roof. A metal roof repair costs around $1,700 on average, which is almost double the cost of repairing asphalt shingles.

5. Potential Corrosion Risk

Poorly coated metal roofing can corrode underneath the panels, leading to rust and even a collapsed roofing system. Saltwater is especially damaging to galvanized steel and other metals that contain iron, making it a poor choice for rooftops. Aluminum, stainless steel, and copper rooftops are less likely to rust.

Are Metal Roofs Better for Your Home?

If you’re still unsure if you want metal roofing for your next roof replacement project, consider whether you’re comfortable with the higher upfront cost of metal roofing compared to other roofing options. The long-term savings don’t make sense for every homeowner, especially if you don’t plan on remaining in your home for many years or have a tight budget.

For homeowners who have a local homeowners’ association (HOA), it’s also worth checking restrictions before you make your final decision. You may not be allowed to use certain roofing materials, like metal. 

No matter which type of roof you choose, an experienced roofing contractor near you can make a difference. A metal roof will provide you with protection from weather and fire, but if installed improperly, it may not function how you’d expect and can even cost you big time in water damage.

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