If your current roof is giving you headaches (and maybe even a long list of expensive home repairs), it’s probably time to install or consider the pros and cons of metal roofing before you begin to patch and fix it. Or is it the hassle of the roof for your new home that is bothering you?
Whichever style of roof you choose, metal roofs can be an attractive option due to their longevity, minimal maintenance, and energy efficiency that will suit your home perfectly.
And material options include steel ( galvalume, galvanized, or weathering), aluminum, tin, copper, and zinc.
The product types are pre-formed panels, vertical seams, and granulated coated panels. Style options allow you to have a similar look to slate, tile, shingles, shakes, or vertical panels.
Do you even know that Rain on a Tin Roof can be so relaxing that you can find it on white noise machines and meditation apps?
But neither is it the only reason (or one of the top reasons!) for its popularity with homeowners today (the pros and cons of metal roofs will justify that).
A growing number of people are still installing metal roofs in new construction and roof replacement projects.
In fact, an estimate from McGraw-Hill Construction and Analytics shows that 750,000 US homeowners chose metal roofing for their residences in 2015.
This number represents an 11% share of the roofing market, second only to asphalt shingles. Surprisingly, one of the people’s biggest fears about metal roofs is unfounded: Metal roofs don’t attract lightning.
Metal Roofs Vs. Lighting
Fear of lightning striking is an imaginary problem. This misconception that metal roofs attract lightning is likely due to the fact that metal itself is known to be a good conductor of electricity, and therefore people decided to assume that a metal roof should attract lightning.
In reality, when lightning strikes, it seeks a path to the ground and will almost always strike any object higher up in the area that also has a direct path to the ground.
Your metal roof isn’t grounded, so the lighting doesn’t have to hit it. A metal roof in no way makes your home more vulnerable or susceptible to lightning strikes.
In addition to this, there are other pros and cons of metal roofs that are worth considering when making your decisions.
Read below a complete list of the pros and cons of metal roofs and why this building material has won over so many homeowners.
Weigh them carefully to see if you, too, can benefit from this reliable roofing overhead.
Pros and Cons of Metal Roof
Metal Roofs Are Durable and Last a Long Time
At the top of the list of metal roofing “pros” in this list of pros and cons of metal roof is the longevity of the material and why most homeowners should consider changing to a metal roof, whether it’s a re-roofing or a new construction project.
In fact, an expert survey claims that 26% of owners cited longevity as the main reason for investing in metal roofs, and a further 22% said they were influenced by its strength.
A properly installed quality metal roof will generally last as long as the house, with a life expectancy of 40 to 70 years and often a manufacturer’s warranty of 30 to 50 years. (In contrast, a traditional asphalt roof typically lasts 12 to 20 years.)
Metal Roofs Are Environmentally Friendly
For the eco-friendly cautious people, it is worthy to note that traditional asphalt shingles are petroleum products and, as such, increase reliance on fossil fuels.
Plus, they need to be replaced every 15 to 20 years, which means nearly 20 billion pounds of old asphalt shingles are sent to US landfills yearly, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
Metal roofs, on the other hand, have been considered to be a more sustainable alternative for a number of reasons.
For starters, they’re made from at least 25% recycled materials and are 100% recyclable. (Steel roofs can be recycled multiple times without losing strength!)
Metal roofs also provide an ideal platform for homeowners looking to engage in a variety of green initiatives, including solar panels and rainwater harvesting systems.
Finally, in some re-roofing projects, metal roofing is so light (about one-third the weight of asphalt) that it can be installed directly over the top asphalt shingles without overloading the roof’s structural support.
This strategic move saves effort and waste by tearing off the old roof and sending it to the landfill.
Metal Roofs Are More Energy Efficient
Due to its reflective properties, homeowners with a metal roof can save up to 25% on annual heating and cooling costs. The money spent on installing a metal roof can even be offset by savings on monthly heating and cooling costs.
Metal roofs reflect heat from solar radiation instead of absorbing it year-round. Still, especially on long summer days, they can reduce cooling costs by up to 25%, according to Metal Roofing Alliance.
Additionally, some metal roofs are coated with special reflective pigments to help also further minimize heat gain, keeping residents comfortable without having to overwork the air conditioner.
A metal roof over rigid foam can also be added for additional insulation. Many systems use dead air space to increase energy efficiency between the metal roof and the roof slab.
Metal Roof is Lightweight
Metal roofing weighs 1 to 3 pounds per square foot, depending on the thickness and profile of the material.
It is one of the lightest roofing materials, in comparison, such as slate or clay roofs, that require structural assessment before installation, while most metal roofs do not.
Since the metal roof is light, you can save on the design and construction of the supporting structure. In fact, if you’re building a new home or addition, you can often reduce the size or number of roof supports because a metal roof is light in weight.
Metal Roofs Can Be Stylish
Today, with advances in roofing materials, metal roofs are a far cry from the corrugated iron barns of the bucolic past; in fact, you can now choose from a range of different materials, from tin, zinc, aluminum, copper, or galvanized steel, in a dizzying variety of colors, finishes and even shapes.
Another of the pro in this list of pros and cons of metal roofs that will make you consider it as a “must install.” Its variety exceeds that of many other conventional asphalt shingles.
While asphalt can offer 15 to 20 color options, modern metal roofs come in over 100 different colors, including standard, premium, and custom tints.
Steel and aluminum, the two most common metals used in residential roofing, are designed to hold up well to paint finishes.
Seven out of 10 homeowners who live under metal roofs have designed theirs with traditional vertical ribbed panels or “standing seam” construction, but metal roofs aren’t without styling options either.
Lovers of more conventional profiles can opt for metal tiles that resemble wood shingles, slate or clay tiles, or any other design. These metals don’t have to show out like a sore thorn to do their job.
On the contrary, it can mimic almost any look using multi-coat factory finishes that ensure the look is not only beautiful but also durable.
Metal is Excellent for Shedding Snow and Rain
Metal roofs are virtually impervious to rain and snow due to how the sheets are joined and because the surfaces are hard and slippery. In addition, the dark shades of metal roofs heat up quickly in the sun, which promotes snowmelt.
Metal Roof is Quick to Install
Metal roofing materials are sold as large standing seam sheets or in multiple shingle sections 12 to 36 inches wide. Standing seams are typically 3 feet wide and 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, and 16 feet long. You can also get custom sizes.
And an experienced contractor is able to install them quickly. If your roof has been removed and a storm is brewing, shortening the installation process by a day or two can offer a crucial advantage.
Of course, there are also significant savings if you can make the roof installation easier and shorter.
The Metal Roof is Fire Resistance
Since metal roofing materials are non-flammable, as they generally have a fire rating of A (the most fire-resistant rating), flying sparks and embers will not ignite them.
Just keep in mind that part of the overall roof rating depends on the materials below the surface, which could also catch fire at high temperatures.
Most metal roofs installed over combustible materials, such as wood shingles, have a lower Class C rating for this reason.
A Metal Roof Can Be Installed on an Existing Roof
Another of the pro in this list of pros and cons of metal roof is that people might find them interesting.
Therefore, as long as the existing roof surface and the decking below are sound, flat, and rot-free, metal roofing can usually be installed over an old layer such as existing asphalt shingles.
Check local codes and manufacturer’s specifications before doing so, though. Of course, tearing off the old roof so you can start with a flat, solid covering certainly gives you a much cleaner starting point.
But having to leave the old roof in place also has the following advantages for instance:
- Reduces labor and transportation costs to remove the old roof
- It leaves an additional insulating barrier for greater energy efficiency
- Reduces debris and disturbances in your home and garden during the project
- Additional sound insulation for rain and hail
Despite the many pros in this list of “pros and cons of metal roofs,” let’s now talk about their con which can be an essential criterion of consideration.
For the most part, metal roofing manufacturers have improved their products to address or resolve many of these issues.
High Initial Cost
Well, you’ve come to the biggest drawback of metal roofing: “the initial cost!” The many years of service promised by a metal roof would definitely come at a high price.
This material can cost between $120 and $900 for 100 square feet (or one “square” of material), according to Home Advisor’s Roofing Cost Guide.
While this range is comparable in cost to other high-end roofing products, high-end metals cost up to 10 times the charge of asphalt shingles.
So not only are the materials priced high, but the installation labor is more expensive than what you would pay for other types of roofing due to the specialized training, knowledge, tools, and equipment involved.
However, that doesn’t mean owners won’t get their money back on their initial investment. As you may have to pay many times over to replace a conventional asphalt shingle roof over the life of your home, a high-quality metal roof will likely be the last roof your home will need. Just as the saying goes, “You will get what you will pay for.”
Metal Roofs Can Be Noisy
Though listed as a “con,” this particular drawback in this list of pros and cons of metal roof doesn’t need to be a given, and this is why.
Some people like the sound of rain hitting a metal roof. However, it could be a con, depending on your preferences at the end of the day.
If you’re concerned about rain on your metal roof, roofing professionals can install multiple layers of insulation and sheathing to minimize what you hear inside the house. (Even so, these layers will need to be factored into the total cost of the roof.)
Metal Roofs Can Be Dented
Although today’s metal roofs are designed to withstand decades of abuse from extreme weather conditions, including heavy snow and ice, sliding down the slippery metal slope instead of lingering and causing leaks, some metals will still be damaged by large hail or falling branches.
Depending on the type of roof, you may not even be able to walk on metal shingles without damaging them. Suppose these defects are more like a breach of contract issue.
In that case, you can rest assured that you can avoid them entirely by choosing suitable metal roofing shingles or metal roofing shakes or by choosing a roofing material that is guaranteed not to dent or a roof that has a pattern or a ribbed structure that gives it rigidity.
Always choose 24- or 26- gauge steel for maximum durability. Some types of metals are simply stronger than others.
Aluminum and copper, for example, are softer and, therefore, more prone to this type of damage than, say, steel.
Modifying Panels Can Be Challenging
Metal roofing materials installed in large sheets are more challenging to replace if damaged than individual shingles.
Also, if you’re remodeling or expanding your home 10 or 20 years from now, it can be difficult to match with existing metal.
Metal Expands and Contracts
If you live in an area with extreme and variable temperatures, it’s important to remember that a metal roof expands and contracts.
A Metal expands and contracts as it heats and cools, and this can cause the roof to be wavy in hot weather or loosen fasteners over time.
And this can only be a disadvantage if your panels are installed incorrectly. To solve this problem, most new metal roofing products have fastening systems that adapt to movement.
Be sure to use the correct fastening system that allows for easy expansion and contraction of the metal.
If you’ve come to this point of the pros and cons of metal roof, then you’re ready to take the next step toward buying. If your budget can afford the initial cost of a metal roof, then why not a metal roof still?
If you plan to stay in your home for a long time, a metal roof can prove to be a very solid investment. And that can also especially be true if you live in an area prone to storms or wildfires, and your home’s architecture lends itself to metal roofing.
Bottom line: A metal roof is a very durable, efficient, and lightweight option that professionals can install relatively quickly.