When it comes to selecting a roofing material for your home, the options can be overwhelming. Among the multitude of choices available, two stand out for their popularity and durability – metal and asphalt shingles. But when it comes to metal roof vs asphalt shingles, the differences couldn’t be more different.
There are many different types of residential roofing options available to homeowners today. From slate to cedar shake to architectural shingles, the look of a home can be changed almost overnight with a new roof. Still, the most popular roofing in North America is still the traditional 3-tab, asphalt shingle.
Does that mean it’s better? Not necessarily–but it is more convenient. There are a lot of reasons for this, including familiarity, availability, and cost. People go with what they know, and those asphalt shingles with coarse granules have been around for a long time.
Metal roofs for residential homes have been around for decades, too. But for the most part, this type of roofing has been used primarily on sheds, commercial facilities, and other larger buildings. And while you can find examples of it through the years, using metal roofing for homes is a relatively new idea.
Metal Roof vs Asphalt Shingles
Metal roofing and asphalt shingles are two popular choices for residential and commercial roofing, and they have distinct differences in terms of material, lifespan, cost, and maintenance. Here are the key differences between metal roofing and asphalt shingles:
- Energy Efficiency
Different types of metal roofing can be made to look like slate or cedar wood shake as well as offering several kinds of metal profiles. The color palette for metal roofing starts out at 250 colors, although custom colors are available. Metal roofing can be tied into any gutter system and designed to match any architecture.
Traditional roofings pretty much look the same now as they did when they first came on the scene. Although there are different colors and profiles, asphalt shingles are still pretty recognizable. And while it looks fine on almost any home design, it certainly won’t give the home a “wow” factor.
Ease of Installation
In many ways, metal roofing is more versatile than asphalt shingles. However, the installation of the two different roofing materials couldn’t be more different. Metal roofing installation is a much different process than traditional shingles, which means there aren’t as many roofing contractors available to work with the material.
This isn’t to say metal roofing installation is difficult–it’s just that asphalt shingles are easier to install. There is just a specific way to do it and not every roofer has experience with proper installation of a metal roof. This means finding a roofer to install asphalt shingles is much easier than metal. It’s also easier to find replacement shingles in case of repair.
However, depending on the shape of your existing roof, you may be able to install a metal roof over the top. Worried about the weight of that extra roofing? At 42 pounds per 100 square feet, metal roofing is easily the lightest roofing material on the market per square foot.
Speaking of repair, the longevity between metal roofs vs shingles is no contest at all. You can only get 15-20 years out of traditional composite shingles, that’s about the limit. In the Pacific Northwest, our roofs take a beating from true four-season weather. Rain, wind, snow, ice, and sun really put materials to the test.
That’s true of shingles, cedar shakes, slate, and others. Metal roofing, however, is made to last a century. Of course, no roofing material is going to stand up to a tree getting blown over on it. But metal roofing will stand up to most debris that falls on the roof and can have coatings that will prevent it from fading, rotting, or rusting.
Metal Roof vs Asphalt Shingles: Maintenance
Metal roofing also stands up to the moss, algae, and lichen that is so prevalent with standard shingles. On a shingle roof, moss will keep water in place during the rainy season, allowing that water to seep in between the shingle and into the underlayment. If it freezes, it could lift the shingle, allowing more water in.
With metal roofing, there’s nowhere for the moss to get a foothold. That means the next rain that comes will more than likely wash away any spores that managed to get up there in the first place. For this reason, a metal roof requires much less maintenance than a standard roof.
To clean a metal roof it can be as easy as getting a garden house and rinsing everything down. With an asphalt shingle roof, you’ll need to get on the roof and sweep away the moss or algae. This can actually damage the material, removing the granules that help protect the shingles.
Shingles are also more prone to being bent, ripped, or blown off the roof, so you’ll need to make sure those get replaced as soon as possible. Metal roofing, on the other hand, is made to withstand winds of 120 to 165 miles per hour.
Fewer replacements, fewer repairs, and less roof maintenance make for pretty easy upkeep. You may need to remove leaves, twigs, and other debris from the roof. But the roof itself will remain in pristine shape.
When comparing the pros and cons of different materials, a major consideration is going to be roofing costs (although it shouldn’t be the only consideration). Although decking and underlayment will pencil out the same, the upfront costs of an asphalt shingle roof will initially be much cheaper than a metal roofing system.
In the long term, the cost-effectiveness and bottom line get to be a little closer. Especially when you think about how much it will cost when the asphalt roof needs to be replaced in 10-15 years from now. Because while you’re replacing those asphalt shingles in 10-15 years, and then in another 10-15 years, metal roofing will still be in place. Not sure if you will be in your home for decades? A metal roof will still increase the value of your home and generate a positive return on your investment.
Yes, metal roofing is more expensive than shingles, but they last much longer. Replacing a shingle is more manageable than metal roofing, but shingles need to be repaired or replaced at a much higher rate. It costs less to install an asphalt roof, but you won’t need to re-roof or replace a metal roof for a century.
Metal roofing is also more energy-efficient than traditional shingles. Aluminum actually reflects heat instead of absorbing it, which could save you up to 30 percent in energy costs. Because it is an Energy-Star rated material, you may also receive tax credits. They are also made largely from recycled material, which also helps the environment.
Metal roofs are a great choice for those looking to reduce energy costs in hot climates. Thanks to their highly reflective properties, they are able to reflect sunlight and keep homes much cooler than asphalt shingles. In contrast, asphalt shingles have lower reflectivity and can retain more heat, potentially contributing to higher energy bills in warm weather.
As we’ve mentioned a few times before, composite or asphalt shingles will last around 15-20 years while metal roofing will last as long as you own the home. And as long as the next people own the home, too. Mountaintop Metal Roofing offers a lifetime warranty on all of its products that can be transferred to the next homeowners.
Although fires aren’t as common in the Pacific Northwest, they seem to be more commonplace than before. Metal roofing offers much better fire resistance than asphalt shingles. Metal is a non-combustible material, meaning it does not burn. This means that metal roofs can withstand severe fire exposure and are less likely to contribute to the spread of a fire.
Asphalt shingles, on the other hand, are made with a combination of organic or fiberglass mat and asphalt. While they do have some fire-resistant properties due to the presence of mineral granules on the surface, their fire rating can vary. Traditional three-tab asphalt shingles usually have a Class C fire rating, which is the lowest fire resistance rating for roofing materials, while architectural or dimensional asphalt shingles may have a higher fire rating.
When it comes to fire safety, metal roofing generally offers better protection against fire hazards than most asphalt shingle options. However, keep in mind that other factors, such as the overall fire-resistant construction of your property and its surroundings, also play a significant role in fire safety.
Metal Roof vs Asphalt Shingle: It’s No Contest
In the short term, traditional shingles will be much cheaper. But if this is your forever home, you want to increase the value of your home, or you want to give your home a unique, sophisticated look, metal roofing will be well worth the up-front cost. Metal roofing lasts much longer than an asphalt roof, needs less maintenance, and will look great for decades.
Have more questions about the benefits of aluminum roofing, reach out to Mountaintop Metal Roofing today. We have been working with metal roofing for 20 years, from Eugene to Longview, giving homeowners peace of mind that they won’t have to worry about their roofs anymore.