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Metal Roof vs. Shingles: Weigh the Pros and Cons

02 August 2022

Starting the process of roof replacement is a big step for any homeowner. Any major home improvement project is composed of many smaller decisions along the way- how will you get the work done? What’s the timeframe? What sorts of features do you need? For roofing, the place to start is material. Shingles and metal are the two most popular roof replacement materials, and each is useful in certain circumstances. If you find yourself asking, “which is better, a metal or shingle roof?” The following factors are important to consider when weighing the pros and cons of a metal roof vs. shingles.

High-level benefits of Metal Roofing

  • Available in multiple colors and designs
  • Able to withstand all seasons
  • Can last around 40-60 years 
  • One of the most energy-efficient roofing materials

Overall benefits of Shingle Roofing

  • Various colors and designs to enhance home curb appeal
  • Able to withstand all seasons, especially impact-resistant roofing shingles
  • Typically lasts between 15-30 years
  • Installation and repairs can be more affordable in comparison to metal roofing

Metal vs. Shingle Roofing: deciding between the two

Appearance of metal and shingle roofs

Metal roofing comes in many colors; however, specialty colors may be harder to match if you need a repair in several years. Metal roofing also requires repainting every few years, which adds to the cost if you want to maintain the way it looked when it was installed. 

There are two main options for metal roof appearance: stone coated steel, which imitates the look of shingles; and standing seam metal roofs, which come in sheets of flat, parallel panels. This roof style is likely the first design you think of when you imagine a metal roof- something that might be installed on a barn or shed. Metal roofing is commonly associated with agriculture because of these uses. 

This is also where metal roofing’s reputation for noise comes from. Without the same type of insulation and construction, as one would use on a modern home, metal roofs are loud when it rains.

Shingle roofing is the most common choice for homeowners for many reasons, but one of the top benefits is curb appeal. Look at any residential neighborhood and you’ll see that most homes are topped by a shingle roof. Matching shingles to a home’s design is easy with a variety of colors and styles. Since so many manufacturers offer shingles, it’s possible to find just about any design you want. 

If you’re hoping for a home that fits in with the neighborhood aesthetic and boosts your home’s curb appeal, asphalt shingles have the advantage in this area. 

Durability as it relates to weather conditions

In Ohio and Kentucky, we’re often subject to whiplash from Mother Nature. 90 degree heat and humidity can be followed in a flash by an intense thunderstorm, then all of a sudden it’s freezing. It’s important to have a roof that can withstand this region’s fickle weather. 

Both metal and shingle roofs are able to stand up to all seasons, especially if you go with the strongest materials for each style. Asphalt shingles have high ratings for fire safety, and many styles are impact-resistant. They can withstand hail, tree damage, and more if installed correctly. Unfortunately, if water goes where it shouldn’t, your shingle roof deck can be in danger of rotting.

One of the main benefits of a metal roof is durability, particularly because they do not rot and are extra resistant to climate conditions. However, they’re more prone to hail damage than asphalt, and they can rust.

Longevity and lifespan of metal and shingle roofs

Another factor to consider between metal vs. shingle roofing is longevity. Metal roofs commonly last around 40-60 years if you keep up with maintenance. Even when exposed to direct sunlight, metal won’t degrade the way shingles can.

Asphalt shingle roofing’s lifespan depends on which shingles you get and how they’re installed. They typically last between 15-30 years, but warranties for the best roofs guarantee longer timeframes.

Energy Efficiency

Energy efficiency is increasingly important, with rising utility costs and climate change contributing to homeowners’ concerns. Both metal roofing and shingles can be installed in a relatively energy-efficient way.

Having a metal roof tends to be more efficient because the material reflects heat off the home rather than absorbing it like shingles do. It’s historically also been more environmentally friendly than shingles because metal has long been recyclable.

Asphalt shingle designs have made strides in recent decades toward sustainability. For example, some companies are working to reduce unnecessary waste in both production and transportation. In addition, there are new shingle types that are recyclable. You might drive on an asphalt road that contains recycled shingles! 

Installation differences between a metal or shingle roof

There are cost differences between metal roofs and shingles, a key factor in both metal roofing and shingle roofing is how it’s installed. Improper installation of either of these products can wreck your investment and negate the benefits you carefully researched. 

Metal roofs are usually more expensive than asphalt shingle roofing up front. They require more specialized installation, so labor costs are higher. They also may require painting and other (paid) maintenance every few years, so keep that in mind when you’re considering your costs. 

Asphalt shingles cost less to begin with, but if you choose a lower-quality shingle, you will find yourself replacing it early. If something does go wrong, it’s easy to replace a few shingles yourself; although it’s always best to let a certified professional do it.

Helping you navigate whether a metal or shingle roof is best for your home

Both metal roofs and shingle roofs come with benefits and drawbacks. For our homeowners in southwest Ohio and northern Kentucky, we at LeafGuard® Gutters and Roofing of Cincinnati choose to work with GAF asphalt shingles for their balance of aesthetics and function. As a GAF-certified Master Elite roofing company, we know how to install shingle roofs to maximize longevity and durability. If you’re interested in exploring your options, contact us for a complimentary estimate.