When you are considering roofing for your home, there’s a lot to think about – like materials, style, cost and installation. When weighing your options, metal roofing systems provide an alternative to traditional asphalt shingles. Here’s what to think through before you make your decision:
What are the benefits of metal roofing?
Longevity, energy efficiency and a lower environmental impact are just some of the benefits of choosing a metal roof.
Although the initial cost of a metal roof is more than traditional asphalt, so is its lifespan. Metal roofs can last 30 to 50 years longer than other roofing materials, saving you money in the long-term. ) Plus, cool-metal roofing uses a reflective solar coating designed to minimize heat buildup and reduce air conditioning costs. (Another money-saver!)
Every year, about 13.2 million tons of asphalt roofing shingle waste is generated across the United States; making metal an environmentally friendly option to consider. They are also 100% recyclable and are made with a minimum of 25% recycled material, depending on the type of metal.
What roofing material should I pick?
Metal roofs can be manufactured from a variety of metals and alloys including steel, aluminum, copper, zinc and terne (zinc-tin alloy).
- Steel: There are three variations of steel: galvanized, galvalume, and weathering steel (corten). Steel is one of the most common metal roof materials.One reason for its popularity is the varying color options, high strength, low weight and long-term durability. These can allow for a variety of looks to complement your home.
Compared to other metal, steel is typically less expensive. Depending upon the thickness, color, and quality of the desired panels, pricing could range anywhere from $75 to $250 per roofing square (100 square feet).
Steel roofs do have a downside, though. If your home is located along the coast and exposed to salt spray, you may want to rule out galvanized steel – it could corrode in such conditions.
- Aluminum: Aluminum is typically more expensive than steel, but also comes with more resistance. Aluminum sheet metal is very lightweight and easy for a contractor to form and install. Even though aluminum is a thinner and lighter material, it’s still very durable and can replicate the strength of much thicker metals.
One of the biggest selling points of an aluminum roof is the fact that it doesn’t have red rust and corrosion is generally minimal as it ages. Studies have even shown that aluminum can work great in coastal areas with high rainfall and seawater spray conditions. However, aluminum is typically a thinner material and therefore more prone to denting.
- Copper: Copper is long-lasting, known to last up to 100 years. It is very soft, which makes it a quieter option, think heavy rain downpour! However, copper is expensive and over time acquires a greenish patina. Some people find that attractive, but others don’t like the transitioning hues.
- Zinc: Zinc actually possesses its own outer protective layer, which prevents against corrosion, scratching and panel markings. If wind or another element were to scratch the surface of the zinc roof, the metal’s protective layer would actually fix and correct itself over time. Zinc roofs have been known to last anywhere from 60 to 100 years.
Are there different styles of metal panels?
Metal options come in two general styles: vertical panels and interlocking shingles. Both styles offer a range of colors to complement the style of your home. Metal roofs come in more than 100 colors, while standard shingles typically provide 15-20 color options. Vertical panels use metal-standing seams, while metal-stamped panels are meant to match the look of traditional roof materials.
Are metal roofs more expensive?
According to the Metal Roofing Alliance, you can expect your new roof to cost roughly two to three times what an asphalt shingle roof costs. Metal roofing installation is more expensive compared to other roofing systems, because it requires special training, knowledge, tools and equipment. Installation costs are impacted by complexity of the roof, things like slope and rooflines play a role in the overall installation cost.
Your metal choice can also affect the price. Copper is typically the most cost prohibitive, so it’s often used for architectural details/accents – think bay windows, porches, or low slope sections – instead of a whole roof.
Although the materials and installation of metal roofs are expensive, there are benefits to the price. They typically come with a longer warranty, 30 to 50 years, and need to be replaced less often. They even keep your home cooler.
Is metal roofing energy efficient?
According to the Metal Roofing Alliance, metal is one of the most energy efficient roofing materials available and can save your home up to 40%in energy savings. There are different finish options that can provide additional energy benefits. The basic, unpainted metal roof will reflect more solar radiation than an asphalt roof, which typically absorbs and holds heat. But, for homes in warmer climates, pre-painted or granular coated metal roofing systems not only reflect solar energy but also cool your home by re-emitting most of what solar radiation is absorbed.
How do you install a metal roof?
When considering a metal roof make sure you hire a contractor who is familiar with the material. One of the advantages of metal is that it's ultra-lightweight. In fact, metal is about half the weight of asphalt. It is possible to install a metal roof over an old roof, thus eliminating the extra cost and hassle associated with a tear-off. (If you go this route, be sure to consult a roofing contractor about your specific home.) Unlike many other roofing materials, a metal roof can easily be installed in the winter.
Are there maintenance considerations?
Good news: Metal roofs are resistant to things like mildew, insects and rot. But just because metal roofs last longer than asphalt shingles, that doesn’t mean they’re maintenance free.
Aluminum and copper are softer than steel, so therefore, they’re more likely to dent. You should try to keep tree limbs from rubbing against the metal, which can damage its finish. The same goes for your gutter, which can accumulate debris.
Also, be careful when mixing metal – some metals react when introduced to other metals. Talk to your contractor if you want to mix metals on different roof areas or when metals are adjacent to areas including gutters, fasteners, trim, and chimneys.
How to get the right insurance coverage for your roof
While it’s possible to save over a period of months or years to replace an old roof, sudden damage from something like a windstorm doesn’t give you that option. That’s why it’s so important to have the right homeowners insurance. (Learn more about protecting your home with homeowners insurance from ERIE.)
Replacing a roof is one of the most expensive home projects any homeowner will ever face. Depending on the size, material and slope of your roof, AngiesList.com reports that it usually costs between $4,900 and $14,100 to replace a roof.
At Erie Insurance, we understand how hard you work to make your house a home – and we’re here to protect it. Roof restoration options vary by policy; that’s why it’s important to understand what your homeowners insurance covers. Talking to an Erie Insurance agent can help you understand what coverage is right for you.
Get a homeowners insurance quote from a local Erie Insurance agent in your neighborhood.
This story was originally published in 2018. It was updated with new information on May 5, 2019.