Metal Roof vs Shingles – If you were to ask a sampling of production builders what is the best roofing material on the market, they’re likely to tell you asphalt. The average residential architect, on the other hand, would probably say metal is the real deal.
On average, you can expect to pay between $5.50 and $12.00 per square foot of metal roofing installed. Granted, this is a pretty wide pricing range, but, you can expect a metal shingle roof to average between $7.00 to $10.00 per square foot installed, while a standing seam metal roof will cost between $9.00 to $12.00 per square foot installed.
Now, assuming the average cost of $10.00 per square foot of metal roofing installed on an average-sized roof, it will cost about $17,000 to install approximately 17 squares or 1,700 square feet of metal roofing on a typical house.
The low-end cost for steel shingles installed over-top of the existing roof would be around $14,500 for the same roof, while the high-end cost of aluminum standing seam would be about $19,500 for a comparable roof.
If you opt for a less-costly option such as corrugated or ribbed steel roof, your cost will likely fall within $3.00 to $6.00 per square foot installed, depending on the metal thickness (gauges for steel or mils for aluminum) and the quality of paint finish (acrylic vs. Kynar 500 or Hylar 5000) for the system being installed, as well as your home’s geographic location.
The roof is arguably the most important surface in a home, perhaps even more essential than the exterior walls. As the most exposed plane, the roof has a mammoth task.
It’s under constant assault from the sun and rain, and, if leaky, could result in thousands of dollars worth of direct repair as well as ancillary damage. Still, a roof is one of those things that many consumers don’t think about until there is a blizzard, hail storm, or rainstorm.
So what accounts for the discrepancy in material tastes? That builders, architects, and home buyers have opposing views of roofing material is telling, but their preferences speak to individual agendas as much as it speaks to the materials.
Most home buyers, for example, care mostly about price and don’t care as much about material as long as the roof functions properly and for the foreseeable future.
Production builders care about looks and function, too, but affordability is top of mind. And architects want a roof to function well, but they are concerned that it be aesthetically pleasing.
Naturally, the asphalt industry says its product is the best roofing you can buy. “Asphalt roofing is easy to find, easy to install, and easy to maintain,” the Washington, D.C.-based Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association says. “It’s also incredibly easy on the eye. And let’s not forget, it’s easy on the wallet, too!”
Indeed, asphalt is easy to install and produces a decent-looking roof, but most architects and builders say the product is popular mainly because it’s economical.
Depending on the product line, shingles come with warranties lasting anywhere from 20 to 30 years, though builders in the field say the numbers are often shorter depending on the location of the country and maintenance.
The asphalt roofing industry makes a good case for its product being No. 1 because its product is No. 1. Industry estimates claim four out of five roofs are covered with asphalt, though if you drive around most subdivisions—new or established—that number seems woefully low.
Asphalt’s market share notwithstanding, the metal people say their product is much better. According to the Metal Roofing Alliance in Belfair, Wash., “Longevity is one of the top reasons consumers report choosing metal roofing for their homes.”
The group says “metal roofing can last as long as 50 years or more, requiring very little maintenance and looking beautiful all the while.”
When HUD’s Partnership for Advancing Technology in Housing launched the Concept Home program some years ago, the group’s mission was to use the best available materials, products, and technology for the homes it builds.
The group settled on metal roofing for its subsequent homes in Omaha, Neb., and Charleston, S.C., because of the looks and the longevity—benefits that architects often cite as their reason for choosing the material. They are mesmerized by the crisp, contemporary look; that it lasts forever is gravy.
But longevity and good looks come with a very high price, one that turns off even ardent admirers of metal. “I use asphalt on all my projects,” says Texas-based builder Robert Aiken. “Metal is a better roof, but it costs three times as much.”
So where does that leave you? The tradeoffs are not so simple. Both materials are versatile, offering a variety of looks. But is it enough to specify an asphalt roof that should last 20 years or more?
Or is it worth it to pay three times as much for metal that could outlive the homeowner and the house? Considering how long the average home buyer stays in a house, the answer may be simple.
When it comes to residential metal roofing, you are not only paying more for a higher quality material than asphalt shingle, but you are also paying for a more costly, professional installation that requires specialized skills, expertise, and equipment.
Keep in mind that there are a number of factors that may influence your final price for a new metal roof. These include the type of metal and the roof style you choose, your geographic location, and the overall complexity of your particular roof.
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