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Metal Roofing: What It Is, Pros & Cons, Cost, And More

Written by Carol J Alexander

Published on October 24, 2023

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Metal Roofing: What It Is, Pros & Cons, Cost, And More

Is a metal roof right for your home? Learn the costs, pros and cons, and more before choosing the right material for your next roofing project.

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If you need a new roof, you may wonder if a metal roof system suits your home. Metal roofs come in various types, styles, and price points, from galvanized steel to copper to aluminum. They require little roof maintenance, withstand high winds, and last for decades.

Before making up your mind about metal roofing, let's look at the cost of installing a metal roof, the various materials and types of metal roofing systems, and their pros and cons.

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What is a metal roof?

The majority of homes in the United States have asphalt shingle roofs, primarily due to affordability. But a few other roofing materials last longer, are more durable, and more attractive. Metal is one of them. In fact, according to Kyle Barr, Vice President of franchise operations at Storm Guard Roofing and Construction, a metal roof can actually outlive some homes.

Metal roofs are offered in multiple styles, from copper, steel, aluminum, and zinc. You can get a metal roof that resembles the style of a 100-year-old farmhouse or one that looks like typical asphalt shingles.

What is the average cost of a metal roof?

The average cost to install a metal roof is $13,607 to $43,761, depending on your location, the size of the roof, and the type of roofing materials you use.

Because home and roof sizes vary, and metal roofing includes various material and style options, the average cost of a metal roof includes a wide range. But, if you plan to stay in the home, Barr says the long-range cost could be less. "The value depends on how long someone plans to live in the home," he says.

The following factors come into play for most metal roofing estimates. Here, we look at each element individually to help you better budget.

  • Size of the home – The average roof is around 1,700 square feet. 

  • Style of the roof – A complex roof with multiple planes that include several hips and valleys will cost more to install.

  • Geographic location – Roofing costs vary by region of the country. Large metropolitan areas will incur higher charges than roofs in rural areas.

  • Type of metal – The cost of the roof will vary depending on the type of metal.

  • Style of roof system – Metal roofing sheets are less expensive than metal shingles.

  • Underlayment – The underlayment will add to the overall cost. Synthetic underlayment is more expensive than felt.

  • Coatings – Applying rust-preventative sealant or paint will add to the cost.

Styles of residential metal roofing

You can choose from various types of metal roofing to complement any architectural style or design. Manufacturers create roofing systems for farmhouse, colonial, and modern luxury homes by forming and fastening metal into different shapes and sizes. Because some metal shingle roofs closely resemble their asphalt counterparts, metal roofs can fit in any neighborhood. Here are the four most common metal roof styles used for residential construction.

Metal roofing panels

A contractor installing metal roofing panels on a roofMetal roofing panels have a flat, ribbed, or crimped profile. The type of metal dictates how the sheets are installed, but they're typically screwed down with exposed fasteners. Because the fasteners are exposed, they could loosen or corrode over time, making future roof repairs necessary. Exposed fastener panels are the lowest-cost option of metal roofing. The most expensive roofing sheets are formable flat sheets on domes and curved roofs.

Standing seam metal roof

A standing seam metal roof on a residential homeStanding-seam panels are assembled by overlapping the standing edges of metal pans and crimping them together. The fasteners are inside the folds, hiding them from exposure to the elements that cause corrosion. Also, the ribs created by overlapping the seams allow the panels to expand and contract as temperatures change, adding strength to this roof style.

Metal tiles/shingles

A metal tile roof on a residential homeImage source: Metal Roofing Media

You can purchase two variations of metal shingles. Loose metal shingles are individual shingles that are nailed to the roof deck. Interlocking metal shingles come in panels and are secured using a unique clip.

Loose metal shingles come in copper, zinc, and stone-coated metal. They typically carry a higher price tag than interlocking shingles.

From the ground, you may mistake interlocking metal shingles for asphalt due to a stone coating. Their fastener system resists high winds, making them a preferred choice in hurricane-prone areas.

Insulated panels

A graphic illustrating insulated panelsImage source: AWI Panels

Insulated roof panels come in multiple styles. But no matter which type you choose, you can expect it to have an insulating foam backing with a steel or aluminum cover. Combining the insulation with the metal reduces installation costs. The foam increases energy efficiency, thereby reducing heating and cooling costs.

Metal roofing materials

The most popular metal used for residential roofing is steel. Other options include aluminum, copper, and zinc. To help you choose the best roofing material for your home, here are brief descriptions of each one.

Aluminum

Aluminum roofing components can contain up to 95 percent recycled material, making them an environmentally friendly option. Aluminum reflects sunlight, is lightweight, and easy to install. Since it's less prone to corrosion and resistant to high winds, it's an ideal option for coastal climates. Aluminum roofs are available in panels or rolled sheets, standing seam, and shingles.

Copper

Copper roofing has been used for centuries, especially on prominent buildings like cathedrals, castles, and courthouses. It doesn’t rust or corrode and, lasting up to 100 years, has the longest lifespan of all the metal roofing options. But if untreated, the oxidation process creates a green-hued patina that some homeowners may not like. Copper's malleability suits most roof shapes, including domes and mansards. Though extremely durable, copper is expensive, which makes it seldom used on homes.

Steel

You have three options of steel roofing materials. The difference is how the steel is treated.

Galvalume

By dipping steel sheets in an aluminum and zinc alloy, manufacturers developed something called galvalume. The alloy prevents oxidation and corrosion that would otherwise happen to untreated steel. You can purchase galvalume as interlocking shingles, roofing panels, and standing seam. It is the most affordable metal roofing material.

Galvanized

Galvanized steel is coated with a zinc alloy. The more zinc in the coating, the more corrosion-resistant the metal. You can tell the amount of zinc in the coating by its G number, such as G100 or G60. A product labeled G100 will have one ounce of zinc per square foot of panel. A G60 label indicates 0.6 ounces of zinc.

Stainless

An alloy of iron, chromium, and other elements, stainless steel is found in more than cutlery and appliances. As a roofing material, it can withstand corrosion for 60 years or more. Stainless roofing comes in multiple styles, colors, and finishes to complement your home. It's also one of the most expensive options.

Zinc

Zinc is a natural element like copper and aluminum, and it's more popular for roofing in Europe than in the United States. Like copper, zinc oxidizes to form a patina that some homeowners may find unacceptable. However, it is eco-friendly and durable, self-sealing scratches caused by high winds and debris. 

Pros and cons of metal roofing

Pros
  • + Can last 50+ years
  • + Requires little maintenance
  • + It can be painted to match the home
  • + It comes in various materials, styles, and colors
  • + Withstands high winds and extreme temperatures
  • + Metal is 100% recyclable
  • + Fire resistant
  • + Manufacturing includes at least 25% recycled material
  • + More energy efficient, metal reflects heat
  • + Snow sheds easily from the roof
Cons
  • - More expensive than other options
  • - Some metals can rust where not adequately protected
  • - Depending on roof style, insulation, and home construction, you may be able to hear rain on the roof
  • - Light gauge sheet metal roofs can dent in heavy hail
  • - Walking on it should be avoided
  • - 90% of discarded asphalt shingles go to landfills

The benefits of metal roofing far outweigh the cons. First, metal roofing can last well over 50 years.  So, while it costs more than the average asphalt shingle roof, the lifetime value far outweighs the initial investment. Metal's reflective properties prevent the roof from absorbing up to 80 percent of the sun's energy. This results in energy savings because the attic stays cooler. Also, metal is more durable than asphalt shingles, eco-friendly, and requires little maintenance. Here is a list of the pros and cons of metal roofing so you can see for yourself.

Top brands in metal roofing

Need help determining what brand of metal roofing to buy? Here are a few top brands to choose from.

McElroy Metal

Employee-owned McElroy Metal creates galvanized or galvalume standing seam, exposed fastener panels, and specialty roofing panel products that resemble tiles or shingles. It offers various metal color options with the application of Kynar paint systems. McElroy also offers retrofit options that include flat-to-steep slope, metal-over-shingle, and metal-over-metal solutions.

Classic Metal Roofing

Classic Metal Roofing begins with up to 99 percent recycled aluminum to create metal shingles, shakes, tiles, slate-look, and premium standing seam roofing systems. They also have a universal standing seam product made of G90 galvanized steel. All its products are coated with a Kynar 500 or Hylar 5000 coating in various colors and textures.

ATAS International

With three locations nationwide, ATAS International manufactures standing seam, batten seam, shingles, tiles, through-fastened panels, and curved and tapered metal roof systems. ATAS products come in various materials, including steel, aluminum, and copper. Choose from multiple colors.

Englert

Specializing in standing seam roof systems, Englert utilizes Galvalume, aluminum, copper, and zinc. The panels are painted with two high-performing, environmentally-friendly fluoropolymer coats to resist the worst weather conditions. Options include 28 low-gloss colors.

Can I DIY a metal roof installation?

While you can technically DIY your metal roof installation, we advise against it. "Unless a homeowner has construction experience, it's a risky endeavor to DIY a metal roof because of the cost of the material," says Barr. The learning curve is pretty steep for someone who doesn't know their way around a roof. "A big mistake inexperienced people make is overtightening the fasteners," he says. This error can cause buckling and leaks. Also, the job requires special tools for cutting, bending, and folding metal sheets that the average person doesn't own. If you can afford to hire a professional roofing team, that's the best route.

How to find a metal roof installer

The best way to find any home improvement professional is to ask for recommendations from friends or neighbors. Has someone in your neighborhood gotten a new metal roof recently? Ask them who they used and if they are happy with the work. They'll let you know how well the contractor was to work with, if they completed the job on time, and if any issues would keep them from working with them again.

If you can't get recommendations from your network, let us match you with a trusted metal roofing contractor in your area.

Find a metal roofing contractor near you

Frequently asked questions

Unlike other roofing materials, some metal roofing systems withstand winds of 140 mph and higher. These wind speeds equal a Category 4 hurricane or F2 tornado. In addition, metal roofing protects a home against leaks during heavy rainfall and hail and fire damage.

It depends. While installing metal over shingles technically is possible, you'll need to see if your local building official allows it. There is no underlying damage to the roof deck, and the weight of all materials combined will not cause damage to your home.

Yes. In fact, metal roofing is preferred for solar panel installations for multiple reasons. Longevity that matches the life of the panels, weight, and special mounting techniques are just a few.

Yes. First, ensure the old finish is still well adhered. Then, power wash it with a TSP solution. Prime it before applying a top coat of paint designed specifically for metal roofs.

That depends on the type of metal roofing system, the amount of insulation, and the roof's construction.

Written by

Carol J Alexander Content Specialist and Subject Matter Expert

Carol J Alexander is a home remodeling industry expert for Fixr.com. For more than 15 years as a journalist and content marketer, her in-depth research, interviewing skills, and technical insight have ensured she provides the most accurate and current information on a given topic. Before joining the Fixr team, her personal clients included leaders in the building materials market like Behr Paint Company, CertainTeed, and Chicago Faucet, and national publications like This Old House and Real Homes.