Updated Nov 9, 2022
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When most of us imagine building a home, we focus on the interior: the kitchen, layout, windows, bathrooms, and so on. We tend to get caught up in designing our dream homes, focusing on each feature we want to see inside the house. But what about the outside?
A home’s exterior is essential – not only does it showcase your design preferences, but it also functions to keep the weather out. The roof is an integral part of a home, and while homeowners might forget about it among the swirling pool of design choices, it can play a significant role in the design aspect of your home.
So, which type of metal roofing should you choose? This guide reviews the types of metal roofing (plus their pros, cons, and costs) to help you decide which option is best for your home, so continue reading to learn more.
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As the name implies, metal roofing is any type of roof composed of metal. Standard metal roofing materials include copper, aluminum, steel, zinc, and tin, which come in varying shapes and sizes (slate, corrugated, tile).
Metal roofing can last for decades, with many well-made metal roofs lasting anywhere from 50 to 80 years. The exact lifespan of a metal roof hinges on a few factors, like the metal type, installation quality, location (coastal regions may cause rust on certain roofing materials), and material quality.
Metal is a popular roofing material for its durability, longevity, low maintenance nature, and excellent return on investment.
Since metal roofing is more durable and lasts longer than many other roofing materials, it tends to be pricier. For example, if you compare it to the cost of asphalt shingles, a popular roofing material, you can expect to pay two or three times more for a metal roof. However, since metal is a durable and long-lasting roofing material, many individuals notice a considerable return on their upfront investment.
Of course, prices vary based on the particular material you choose. For instance, copper roofing is considerably more expensive than tin or steel in material cost and installation expenses. Generally, you should expect to pay more for a metal roof than many other roofing types.
Several factors can affect the total price of your new metal roof, as not every home is the same. Here are a few factors that can affect the cost of residential metal roofing:
Each metal roofing material has a unique set of pros and cons that are suited to different climates and geographies, which can help you decide on the best material for your project. Continue reading for an in-depth look at the benefits and drawbacks of different metal roofing systems.
Aluminum is a highly durable material ideal for various roofing projects. Given its resistance to corrosion and saltwater damage, aluminum is a popular material for beachfront and coastal roofing projects. Aluminum metal roofing panels are relatively inexpensive compared to other metal roofing options and are easy to work with, which keeps installation costs low.
However, its appearance doesn’t age well and dents pretty easily. It is susceptible to expansion and contraction, so wear and tear from this may require more maintenance. On average, these roofs will remain in workable condition for about 50 years.
Copper is a go-to material for many projects, including roofing. This material is characterized by its striking rosy amber coloring that deepens into a blueish-green or brown patina. The color change results from oxidation over time due to exposure to the elements.
Copper is exceptionally durable and can last up to a century, making it an excellent roofing material. It’s naturally corrosion-resistant and offers a unique, eye-catching appearance. However, copper roofing can be tricky to install and is expensive, so it isn’t particularly budget-friendly.
Corrugated metal roofing is another option for your next roofing project. This material is made with hot-dipped galvanized steel, which is then cold-rolled to create the final corrugated product. Manufacturers dip the steel in zinc for galvanization, then fold the sheets to make the corrugated ridges.
The manufacturing process aids in the material’s durability and longevity, as it aids in rust resistance. On top of that, the material’s ridged appearance creates an attractive finish for your home.
However, while corrugated metal roofs are durable and last for a while, they don’t last quite as long as other materials on this list. The quality often matches the lesser price for these panels, leading the roof susceptible to rust and leaks (without proper maintenance).
Metal tile roofing is an excellent way to achieve a similar look to traditional tiles (often made of clay, slate, and concrete) without the price or heft. The lightweight metal tiles create a classic appearance yet don’t strain your roof structure excessively or require additional support.
Although it’s pricier than other roofing materials, metal tile roofing is one of the least expensive metal roofing materials. It’s known for its resistance against wind, fire, rain, and hail, making it a solid choice for a new roof.
However, installing metal tile roofing is pricey and may be susceptible to corrosion.
Metal slate roofing is a type of roofing material designed to mimic the appearance of natural slate. Natural slate can be hefty, tricky to install, and pricey, so metal slate roofing is an excellent alternative.
The metal composition makes these roofs lightweight, so they don’t require additional support in the roof structure. On top of that, their lightweight nature makes them easier to install, so labor costs tend to be lower than with natural slate.
Standing seam metal roofs boast an attractive, ridged appearance and can last up to three times longer than an average non-metal roof. The seamed design creates texture on the roof, with ridges running down the length of each panel.
These roofs are trendy in the United States, so finding standing seam metal roofing materials is a straightforward task. You can find these roofing materials in a few types of metal, including aluminum, galvanized steel, zinc, copper, and galvalume steel.
Steel is another option for your new roof. The material is an alloy, meaning it consists of several elements, including steel. This material has been a go-to roofing material for commercial-scale projects for decades but is becoming a trending pick for residential homes.
Stainless steel is highly durable, lasts for decades, requires little maintenance, and is affordable.
Tin roofs consist of sheets of rolled steel coated in tin, which is chemically bonded to the steel via a plating process. Manufacturers heat the steel, then saturate it in tin, creating an interlocked bond between the two metals.
Although tin was the go-to roofing material for decades, it’s nearly obsolete today, as aluminum has taken its place. Today, it’s relatively rare to find a tin roof, as these were cycled out years ago.
Due to the manufacturing process, tin roofing is highly durable and resistant to cracks. The material is relatively inexpensive, making it a budget-friendly option.
Zinc roofing is the only metal on our list that rivals the cost of copper. Like copper, zinc is pricey and develops a patina with age. Generally, manufacturers sell zinc roofing pre-patinated, so the appearance already boasts the patina upon purchase.
Zinc can last up to a decade and doesn’t require much maintenance after installation, making it a solid choice for many roofing projects. In addition, it’s fire-resistant and prevents mold, mildew, and fungus growth.
Although zinc is widely popular in European countries, it’s less prevalent in the U.S. due to its high price. Because of this, zinc roofing isn’t widely available in the U.S., and finding it can be tricky.
As you browse for the perfect roofing material for your new home or replacement roof, it’s important to consider the cost. The budget is an essential part of a large project (like a roofing project), so considering the cost of the material you want is critical. The table below outlines the average price of the different types of metal roofing.
|Roofing Type||Average Installation Cost (for 1,700 square feet)||Installed Cost Per Square Foot|
|Aluminum||$15,000 to $28,000||$9 to $16.50|
|Copper||$35,700 to $68,000||$21 to $40|
|Corrugated metal||$9,000 to $21,000||$5 to $12|
|Metal tile||$17,000 to $31,000||$10 to $18|
|Metal slate||$9,000 to $21,000||$5 to $12|
|Standing seam||$17,000 to $29,000||$10 to $17|
|Steel||$17,000 to $27,000||$10 to $16|
|Tin||$17,000 to $31,000||$10 to $18|
|Zinc||$30,000 to $48,000||$18 to $28|
Aluminum is a solid mid-range option, coming in at $9 to $16.50 per square foot. To finish your roof with aluminum roofing, you can expect to pay between $15,000 and $28,000 (for a 1,700-square-foot home).
Copper roofing is a pricey option that isn’t an excellent choice for lower-budgeted projects. On average, installing a copper roof can cost anywhere from $20 and $48 per square foot. In total, a new copper roof can cost over $71,000 for a 1,700-square-foot-home!
Like metal slate roofing, corrugated metal roofing is pretty inexpensive. Pricing falls within the same range, at $5 to $12 per square foot for a corrugated metal roof. This translates to a final cost between $9,000 and $21,000.
Metal tile roofing is another mid-range option, costing $10 to $18 per square foot. To refinish or build a roof with metal tile roofing, you can expect to pay anywhere from $17,000 to $31,000.
Metal slate roofing is one of the cheaper options for metal roofing materials at $5 to $12 per square foot. A 1,700-square-foot roof finished with metal slate roofing costs between $9,000 and $21,000.
Standing seam metal roofing falls around mid-range in pricing for metal roofing materials. It costs between $10 and $17 per square foot for a final total between $17,000 and $29,000. Although it isn’t the most affordable, it’s a solid mid-range option.
Steel roofing is one of the more affordable options on this list, but it’s pricier than corrugated metal and metal slate. To install steel roofing, you can expect to pay anywhere from $10 to $16 per square foot for a final cost between $17,000 and $27,000.
As mentioned, zinc roofing is a pricey option for your project. In some cases, you might have trouble finding it in your area, especially if you reside in the U.S. On average, you can expect to pay between $18 and $28 for the material and installation. For a 1,700-square-foot house, this comes out to about $30,400 to $47,600.
Compared to many other non-metal roofing materials, metal roofing tends to be slightly more involved with the installation project. That said, many avid DIYers can complete the installation as an advanced DIY project without an issue.
Of course, some installations are trickier than others and can vary based on the material and style of roofing your choose. If you decide to install the roof as a DIY project, it’s best to have a few helpers and fall equipment in place.
You can always hire a roofing company to take the stress out of the equation, but expect to pay more for the project. The labor cost depends on the installation difficulty and the material you choose, as some materials are more complex to work with than others. Labor can tack on anywhere from $2.30 to $5.80 per square foot, although this might be higher for some materials.
The answer to this question depends on you and your situation. If you’re looking for a budget-friendly roofing material that will boost your curb appeal, metal roofing is likely not your best choice, as it tends to be pricier than most non-metal alternatives. However, the return on investment with these roofs is solid, as they last for decades and usually don’t require repair or replacement for up to 50 years. As such, they typically have longer warranties than traditional asphalt shingle roofs.
Your internet service provider will often install a satellite dish or cable to bring the service to your home. In these cases, a metal roof will not negatively impact your home’s WiFi signal.
However, a metal roof can impact your cell phone coverage if the signal in your area is already weak. If you live in an area with solid coverage, a metal roof should have little to no effect on your signal strength.
No, a metal roof should not make your house hotter. Metal roofs have a low thermal mass, so instead of absorbing light and heat, they reflect them. This translates to a cooler home in the summer heat, which helps increase energy efficiency and lower cooling costs.
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