Residential metal roofing is becoming increasingly popular with homeowners. Its reputation as a durable, environmentally friendly, and energy-efficient option has made it the preferred choice for consumers wanting to escape the cost and inconvenience of frequent shingle replacement.
Because your metal roof is built to last several decades, deciding which is best for your home can be challenging.
Today, there are many different metal roofing materials, styles, and colors to choose from, and it can feel overwhelming to know where to start.
This metal roofing guide gives you an overview of metal roofing so you can better understand your options. You’ll learn about the different materials used to make metal roofs, how long each one is expected to last, the different styles and colors that are available, price considerations, and the pros and cons of metal roofs overall.
By the time you’ve finished reading, you should feel more confident in choosing the right residential metal roof for your home.
In this article:
- What Is a Metal Roof?
- What Are the Different Types of Metal Roofs?
- Metal Roofing Styles
- What Do Metal Roofs Cost?
- What Are the Pros and Cons of Metal Roofing?
- How Do You Maintain a Metal Roof?
- Final Thoughts
- Frequently Asked Questions
What Is a Metal Roof?
Whereas traditional roofs are made of asphalt shingles, metal roofs are made of different types of metal.
There are a few key differences between shingles and metal roofs. Shingles typically come in sheets, stacks, or rolls, whereas metal roofing usually comes in large, flat sheets or smaller, individually-stamped panels.
Shingles are made of various materials, though the most commonly sold in the U.S. is a fiberglass-based asphalt shingle. Metal roofing comes in different materials too, including steel, copper, zinc, and aluminum.
Shingles are nailed onto wood-frame roofing structures, whereas metal sheets are held to the roof frame with interlocking seams and/or fasteners.
Generally, asphalt shingles are less expensive than metal roofs, but they tend to be less durable and have shorter lifespans. They typically must be replaced every 15-20 years, though some can last longer with proper maintenance.
Metal roofs can cost more upfront but ultimately save you money by lasting much longer—for about 50 years—and can add value to your home.
Metal roofs are also more energy efficient because they can better reflect the sunlight in the summer, keeping the home cool. Finally, metal roofing panels are often recyclable, while most asphalt shingles are not, making metal roofing a more environmentally friendly choice.
If the weather is a concern, Erie Home’s metal roofs can withstand hurricane-force winds up to 120 miles per hour. Our metal roofs also have a Class 4 hail impact resistance rating and a Class A fire rating.
Metal roofs come in different materials and styles. Your choice will affect your roof’s longevity, appearance, and cost.
The type of metal a metal roof is made of can affect its appearance, longevity, installation, and maintenance requirements. In today’s market, you have four basic choices.
One of the most commonly used materials for metal roofing today, steel is both durable and affordable. It’s sold in various gauges, and while thinner gauges are less expensive, they may not last as long as thicker options.
Thinner gauges also come in corrugated and ribbed metal roofing panels to increase strength.
Within this category are different subsets of steel:
- Galvanized steel has a zinc coating to help extend durability and protect the steel from corrosion. It comes in three common levels of zinc protection: G40, G60, and G90. The higher the number, the thicker the zinc coating.
- Galvalume steel is made of a combination of zinc, steel, and aluminum. It has some of the best characteristics of each metal, which makes it one of the most popular metal roof materials today. It resists corrosion more effectively than galvanized steel, and it’s also one of the least expensive metal roof options.
- Stainless steel is the sturdiest type of steel used for metal roofs, which works well in extreme weather conditions. It can withstand corrosion for longer and comes in a variety of finishes and colors. Perhaps not surprisingly, it is the most expensive type of steel metal roof.
Erie Home metal roofs are constructed of stone-coated shingles designed to look like asphalt shingles, clay tile, or wood shake. With professional installation by a trusted roofing contractor with proven experience like Erie Home, a steel metal roof lasts for around 50 years. Erie Home has been in business for nearly 50 years, serving more than 400,000 happy customers, evidenced by our A+ rating at the Better Business Bureau and a 4.6 score out of over 16,500 reviews.
We’re so confident in the quality of our work that we back our metal roofs with a 50-year lifetime limited warranty that goes beyond the manufacturer’s warranty. It’s also transferable, meaning that should you sell your home, the new owner can benefit from this robust warranty coverage, as well, which is an excellent selling point and adds significant value to your home.
Aluminum is lightweight and malleable, making it easy to work with and install. It won’t rust or corrode and is often used in coastal areas, as it’s better at resisting corrosion from the sea salt spray. When it does corrode, it doesn’t rust but rather forms a hard oxide film that actually provides additional protection.
Aluminum is highly recyclable but is in the mid to high price point for material costs. It is more prone to denting when compared to steel, and usually has fewer color options. It also expands and contracts about twice as much as a steel roof, which means installers need to give it more room.
Lastly, it’s typically painted to help cover the metal color changes that occur over time.
Zinc roofing is popular in Europe, but it’s only recently gaining ground in the U.S. As one of the most environmentally friendly options—it requires relatively little energy to process and is 100 percent recyclable—it’s also very long-lasting, from 60 to 100 years or more.
Zinc is highly corrosion-resistant. As it ages, it develops a surface patina that helps seal in areas of damage, extending the life of the roof. It is also a soft metal and can be easily shaped into different profiles.
However, zinc is expensive, and needs an underside coating to prevent corrosion underneath the panels. It also requires adequate ventilation and room to expand and contract during heating and cooling cycles.
And while some appreciate the blue-gray patina that zinc develops over time, others may not enjoy that color. It’s also possible for a chalky residue to develop where water runs off the roof, which may be considered unattractive.
Copper, the longest-lasting metal material, can create a striking appearance. It begins with a reddish bronze hue and then, as it ages, develops a green patina. It works well in various climates and is lightweight and malleable. Though not as recyclable as zinc, it can be recycled and reused as long as it’s still in good condition.
However, copper is often the most expensive option, as the metal is less abundant than the other options. It needs room to expand and contract and doesn’t interact well with other metal products, which can limit the engineering options for installation.
Like zinc, copper develops a patina that some people love but others won’t like as much. Plus, there’s no way to tell exactly what color will develop over time. Sometimes it turns a rich green, but other times it maintains a dark bronze look.
Finally, copper run-off can stain siding, brick, concrete, and other metals, but proper installation can help prevent this problem.
Metal roofing comes in a variety of styles and designs that contribute to the stability and durability of the roof, as well as the aesthetics of a home. Below are some of the most popular styles available today.
You may be familiar with the word corrugated, which refers to something shaped in wavy folds. This is how corrugated metal roofing is shaped—into a wavy pattern that helps create stronger metal sheets.
Most corrugated roofs are made of aluminum, though some are also made of steel or copper. Lastly, it might also be worth noting that corrugated roofs have exposed fasteners.
Standing seam roofs are made of flat and vertical sheets that interlock to achieve a sleek and streamlined appearance, with no exposed fasteners. The sheets are typically made of steel but may also be made of aluminum or copper that requires little maintenance and is very long-lasting
This is also a steel metal roof, but the panels are coated with stone granules so they look the same as conventional roofing materials like asphalt shingles, clay tile, and wood shake. They provide all the benefits of a metal roof without compromising traditional style.
The stone coating can also increase the ability of the roof to reflect the sun, boosting energy efficiency. And unlike other metal roofs that can be noisy when it rains, stone-coated roofs have a sound-absorbing cushion.
Erie Home’s stone-coated steel metal roofs are built to withstand severe weather conditions, including hail and winds up to 120 mph. The material starts as a steel panel that is then stamped into a dramatic shingle, tile, or shake design.
It is then coated with an aluminum-zinc alloy and bonded to stone granules that offer a protective coating while presenting an attractive appearance.
If you’re looking for a more traditional look, you may also want to consider these options:
- Metal Shingle: The metal is pre-formed into shingles that look like asphalt shingles but last longer.
- Metal Shake: A premium alternative to wood shake, these mimic the look of wood but are more durable and longer lasting.
- Metal Tile: Standard tile roofs can be costly and heavy. Metal tile creates the look of stone tile with the lightness and longevity of steel.
- Metal Slate: If you like the look of slate but don’t like the cost, you can choose metal slate, which is made to mimic the real thing but costs and weighs less.
What Do Metal Roofs Cost?
A metal roof will cost you more upfront than a traditional shingle roof, but you’ll avoid the more frequent roof replacements that asphalt shingles require, so it’s actually an economical choice when considering the full lifecycle of a roof.
Erie Home also offers convenient financing to cover the cost of your metal roof. In fact, 80% of our customers finance their new Erie Home roofs. You’ll want to consider the prices of different styles and materials when making your decision, so we’ve given you a general breakdown below.
It makes sense that the bigger your house is, the more your metal roof will cost. The slope and complexity matter too. If you can easily walk up and over your roof, you’ll pay less for it than if you have a steep roof that is more hazardous to work on.
Different types of materials and styles have different costs you’ll want to evaluate. Copper, for instance, is the longest-lasting material, but it’s also the most expensive. Corrugated steel panels are the least expensive, but they may not fit your design plans.
Zinc may be a good mid-range option; it can last up to 100 years, but the patina is hard to predict and can sometimes take decades to appear.
Stone-coated steel shingles are a versatile option as they come in a variety of colors and styles to enhance your home’s curb appeal and add to the value of your home. You can expect a stone-coated steel metal roof to last for 50 years or more.
Where you live will affect the cost of materials and hourly labor rates. Some states also have laws regarding materials and installation, which can also affect your bottom line.
Other details such as whether you need a new underlayment (the material under the roof) or the type of trim and finish you use can affect the final cost of your new metal roof.
Besides the factors discussed above, you’ll want to ask yourself whether your old roof will need to be removed. Some roof installers will perform a “roof-over,” placing the new metal roof over an existing roof, which saves time, labor, and disposal fees. If there is underlying damage that can’t be repaired, the old roof will need to be removed.
However, roof-overs can cause problems such as:
- The two layers of roofing materials may be too much weight for the roof bed.
- Asphalt shingles can grate against the metal panels, removing the protective galvanized coating—increasing the likelihood of rust or corrosion.
- The pattern of the underlying shingles will eventually be visible on the metal roof.
The best metal roofers, such as Erie Home, recommend removing all existing roofing materials to expose the roof bed before installing a new metal roof. This eliminates the possibility of the existing roof damaging the new metal roof or interfering with its performance.
It also allows for proper underlayment installation. Metal roofing installers can advise you on their recommendations and how they may impact the cost when giving you a quote.
Some other costs that may be involved include:
- Labor: Roofing contractors charge per square foot to install a metal roof.
- Underlayment: Metal roofing underlayment is usually included in the initial quote.
- Rafters: Rafter replacement, while not always needed, can be an unexpected expense.
- Roof venting: Proper ventilation can prevent your roof from being damaged by trapped heat in the attic.
- Permits: Most roofing estimates include permit fees, which range from $150 to $500.
- Inspection: Roofers may require an inspection of the current roof before installation, which can often involve an additional charge.
At Erie Home, we offer end-to-end service, starting with a free inspection that not only covers the roof but also includes the attic. This allows us to check for rotted decking and other issues we can incorporate into the quote to resolve all potential roofing issues at the time of installation.
We’ll create a 3D representation that allows you to simulate different roof styles and choose the one that best suits your home and your budget. This is also used to calculate the square footage, meaning less waste, which is more environmentally friendly. Additionally, it results in a more accurate quote and the peace of mind of knowing there are no hidden surprises.
What Are the Pros and Cons of Metal Roofing?
As you’re considering installing a metal roof, it may help to review the following pros and cons.
Metal roofs last much longer than traditional roofs, which is the most common reason consumers choose this option. A properly installed metal roof lasts about 50 years or more and often comes with a 30- to 50-year manufacturer’s warranty.
A metal roof from Erie Home goes one step further. Our metal roofs are backed by a 50-Year, Limited Lifetime transferable warranty that covers any manufacturing or installation defects and includes discoloration, rust, high winds, and hail. And because it’s transferable should you decide to sell your home, it can also add significant value to your home.
Traditional asphalt shingles are made from petroleum and therefore increase our dependency on fossil fuels. They are not recyclable and must be replaced every 15-20 years, which adds a lot of waste to landfills.
Metal roofs are a more sustainable option as they are typically recyclable and don’t need to be replaced as often as asphalt roofs.
Metal roofs are better than traditional asphalt shingles at reflecting the sun’s heat. This makes them more energy efficient in the summer and in warmer climates. According to the Metal Roofing Alliance, a metal roof can save your home up to 40 percent in energy costs.
Metal roofing is one of the lightest of all roofing materials. If you’re building a new home, this can help you save on the engineering and the building of the supporting structure.
Metal roofs today are much more stylish and attractive than they used to be. With all the options available, you can find one that will greatly improve the appearance of your home.
Because metal materials are noncombustible, they will resist fire from outside sources. A metal roof from Erie Home comes with a Class A fire rating, giving it full protection against everything from flying embers and sparks to wildfires.
Because metal roofs are so durable and energy-efficient, they can add to the overall value of your home.
Metal roofs can cost more upfront than traditional asphalt shingle roofs. This can make them cost-prohibitive for some, but Erie Home offers convenient financing to put a new metal roof within your reach.
Some metal roofs can be noisy when it rains, but extra layers of sheathing or insulation underneath can minimize this effect. Fortunately, a stone-coated steel option from Erie Home is typically as quiet as traditional roofing options.
Metal roofing materials naturally expand and contract, depending on the surrounding temperature. Installers will take this into account, but exposed and concealed fasteners have varying lifespans. Depending on your climate, they may also degrade or become dislodged over time and require repair.
Softer metal roofing materials, such as aluminum and copper, may dent in a bad hailstorm or if a tree branch falls on the roof. In areas where these events are more likely, choose a stronger metal material or go with stone-coated metal roofing, which is less likely to dent.
Metal roofs may be more slippery to walk on than traditional shingle roofs, and can be a little more dangerous if you need to get on the roof to perform repairs. Another benefit of a stone-coated metal roof is that it can provide a little more grip.
How Do You Maintain a Metal Roof?
Though metal roofs require much less maintenance than traditional shingle roofs, performing annual maintenance can keep them looking their best while extending their lifespan.
Follow these steps to keep your metal roof in good shape:
- Clean: About once a year, hire a professional to clean your roof or do it yourself. (Take the proper safety precautions if you opt for the DIY route.) You can use simple soap and water to wipe off the panels, then rinse with water.
- Gutters and Drains: Clean these out when needed, depending on the built-up debris. Cleaning these twice a year (spring and fall) is usually best.
- Clear: Snow and ice can damage your roof over time. Metal roofs encourage the snow to slide off, but after a bad storm, it may be wise to sweep the snow off using a long-handled broom or brush.
- Trim: Keep nearby tree branches from scratching your roof’s surface by trimming them when necessary.
- Inspect: About once a year, inspect your roof for damage. Check for scuffs, scratches, fading, or flaking, and repair these as needed. If your roof has valleys, check those for any built-up debris. Look for loose or separating panel seams and corrosion. If your roof is leaking, be sure to get it repaired right away.
Your roof is an investment, and replacing it is one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make. That’s why it’s a good idea to choose established and respected professionals to do the job right the first time.
With nearly 50 years of experience, over 400,000 customers, an A+ rating on the Better Business Bureau, a score of 4.6 out of more than 16,500 reviews, and a transferable Limited Lifetime Warranty, you can trust our professional installers at Erie Home. We can even help with financing. Contact us for a free inspection and quote, or call us today at 1-800-862-6400 to learn more.
Frequently Asked Questions
The most common gauges for metal roofing are 22, 24, 26, and 29. The most popular of these are 24 and 26.
While it’s true that a standing seam or corrugated metal roof can be noisy during heavy rain or a hail storm, Erie Home uses stone-coated steel shingles that are as quiet as traditional asphalt shingles.
A steel roof is a metal roof, but not all metal roofs are steel. Metal roofs can also be made of other materials, including copper, zinc, and aluminum.
Shingles can have a lower upfront cost for the materials and installation. A metal roof, however, will last longer and will not require replacement as soon as a shingle roof does.
Some home insurance companies will provide reduced rates for metal roofs, particularly if you live in an area where the weather is likely to damage a traditional roof. Check with your homeowner’s insurance company for more information.