6 Myths and Facts About Metal Roofs

Stacy Sare Cohen
Written by Stacy Sare Cohen
Reviewed by Ami Feller
Updated August 2, 2022
Beige house with new metal roof
Photo: photosbysuzi / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images

Settle the metal roof debate with these fact-checks

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Metal roofs are like the sports cars of roofing—they feature a streamlined aesthetic, offer high performance, and can last for decades. Plus, metal roofs deliver a higher resale value than other roofing options like asphalt shingles. But when doing your research, you may run into claims that metal roofs aren’t worth the cost. To shed some light on whether a metal roof increases home value, we’re verifying the facts and debunking the myths to answer your most pressing questions about metal roofs.

Types of Metal Roofs

Metal roofs come in a variety of color and design options for installation. Since they’re highly durable, many manufacturers guarantee warranties for as long as you own your house––and some will transfer the warranty to the next owner when you sell. Metal roofs hold up for 40 to 70 years, but copper has been known to last longer. These are the most common types of metal roofs:

  • Aluminum roofs: Highly durable, fire-resistant, and energy-efficient, aluminum metal roofs keep you cool indoors even when it’s hot outside. Designed to resist saltwater corrosion, they are well-suited for seaside and coastal region homes. You can purchase aluminum roofing in an array of styles, including tiles, shakes, shingles, slates, and standing seam-vertical panels.

  • Galvalume steel roofs: Galvalume’s steel coating consists of aluminum, zinc, and a dab of silicon, which provides staying power that holds up for 40 years. This lightweight roofing material offers energy efficiency and resists corrosion. But being constructed of 50% aluminum makes the roof susceptible to dents and scratches. The plus is the roof won’t show signs of wear for 20 to 30 years––making it last twice as long as galvanized steel. 

  • Galvanized steel roofs: Galvanized steel roofs are designed with a layer of zinc that shields the inner steel layer from corrosion. Their chemical makeup prolongs the life of the steel panels and helps to prevents rust—though corrosion can still happen with galvanized roofs. Another downside: The roof will begin to show signs of wear within 10 to 20 years (that’s 50% sooner than galvalume steel roofs). Although once popular, galvanized roofs have become less common than their metal counterparts.

  • Standing seam metal roofs: Offering excellent longevity, these roofs can last three times longer than asphalt shingles. They’re engineered with vertical panels and interlocking seams that provide extra protection against fire, hail, and heavy snow. Standing seam roofs come in coated aluminum, galvanized steel, galvalume steel, zinc, and copper. With standing seam metal roofs, the fasteners are hidden from sight.

  • Screw-down metal roofs: On screw down metal roofs, the fasteners are exposed; due to weathering, the rubber gaskets on the fastener will corrode over time and need to be replaced. Exposed fasteners need to be swapped out every 15-25 years—the steeper the roof, the better water will shed, and the longer the fasteners will last. Like standing-seam metal roofs, screw-down roofs are available in all metal roofing materials.

  • Copper roofs: It’s not uncommon for copper roofs to last over 100 years because of their highly resilient metal properties. They tend to oxidize after 20 years, so if you don’t admire the appearance of a natural aging patina—though many homeowners do—ask your roofing contractor to apply an anti-oxidation coating to keep your roof looking shiny and new.

  • Painted metal roofs: A popular new trend is painted metal roofs. The paint most often used on metal roofs is by the brand Kynar and is designed to last 30 to 45 years. Adding paint to a metal roof allows homeowners to personalize the look of their home while also increasing the durability of the metal.

Fact: Metal Is a Sustainable Roofing Material

Roofing has drawn particular interest as more homeowners explore green home improvement and building projects. Metal roofs offer a sustainable roofing option due to the following benefits:

  • Roofing panels are made from 100% recyclable aluminum, zinc, and copper.

  • Refuse materials don’t end up in landfills like asphalt shingles, which are made with crude oil.

  • Cool roof technology is designed to reflect sunlight, absorb less heat than standard roofs, and utilize metal roofs.

  • Metal roofs can be built over existing roofs, which avoids additional waste.

  • Metal roofs have a lifespan of 40 years or more.

Fiction: Metal Roofs Are Prone to Rust

Some types of metal roofs, like steel, may be more likely to rust over time. However, metal roofs no longer rust like in days past because of advancements in roofing technology and fabrication. Metal roofing manufacturers now make metal roofs with zinc coatings, galvalume steel, and aluminum materials that stand up to rust and corrosion, as well as decay.

Fact: Metal Roofs May Require a Larger Up-Front Cost

Worker installing new metal roof
Photo: Oranat Taesuwan / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images

The longevity and other benefits of metal roofs come at a higher upfront cost ranging between $5,300 and $14,700, but they can last up to five times as long as asphalt. 

A metal roof for average-sized home costs around $10,000, but costs also depend on a variety of factors, including:

  • The thickness of the roof (roofers recommend 24 to 26 gauge metal)

  • The type of metal used

  • The cost of labor

  • The pitch and height of the roof

When it comes to longevity, copper roofs are the crème de la crème of metal roofs, costing more than other metal roofs (averaging $30,000 to $53,000), but they can last up to 100 years. For steel roofs, expect to pay between $50 to $150 per square foot.

Fiction: Metal Roofs Experience More Leaks Than Shingles

You may have heard that metal roofs leak more frequently than asphalt roofing due to holes in fasteners. Although fasteners in roof panels contain holes, the sealants (and wooden boards beneath them) stop water from getting past the roof. A properly installed metal roof shouldn’t leak anymore than a shingled roof. 

Fiction: Metal Roofs Are Hotter Than Asphalt Roofs

While any roof’s surface can heat up in direct sunshine, metal roofing is highly reflective. This means the sunlight bounces right off your roof without transmitting additional heat into your home. In contrast, dark asphalt shingles absorb heat, sending heat straight into the attic.

Fact: Metals Roofs Are Energy Efficient

Metal roofs—especially metal standing seam metal roofs—promote energy conservation in homes and are considered cool roofing. Cool roofs can reduce energy costs by 40% due to their cool paint pigment coating’s reflective properties.

Cool roofs offer additional benefits, including:

  • Lowering the temperature on the roof

  • Increasing solar reflectance

  • Reducing the need to rely on air conditioning

  • Rebate offers from $0.20 to $0.30 per square foot for some U.S. homes (check your city or state for rebates)

  • Possible tax incentives for certain types of roofs

Are Metal Roofs a Good Investment?

Qualities like energy efficiency, longevity, sustainability, and fire resistance make metal roofs favorable for new homebuyers and homeowners considering home improvement projects. Plus, if you have a class 4 impact-resistant metal roof, insurance companies may discount your premiums.

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