How to Choose Between Steel Metal and Asphalt Shingles


Your home’s roof is essential for both maintaining the building’s structure and protecting its contents. Whether you’re building a new home or embarking on a roof replacement, it’s essential to plan the project carefully to get the long-lasting results you’re looking for.

The first decision to make is which of the two most common roofing materials to use, asphalt shingles or a metal roof, which is usually steel but can also be tin, copper, or an alloy. Which one is right for you? Here’s what to consider when making your choice.

1) Initial Cost

For a low-cost roof replacement, there’s no competing with asphalt shingles. On average, installing a shingle roof costs less than half the price of a steel roof, as the basic materials are less expensive and quicker to install. Any reputable roofing contractor can fit an asphalt shingle roof, while steel requires more skill and experience, which therefore means a higher price point.

To get a solid idea of how much each option would cost for your home, check out our home renovation calculator for an accurate estimate in seconds.

2) Durability

The installation cost isn’t the only factor to consider when it comes to value. A metal roof can last for up to three times as long as shingles, and so in the long term, it often works out to be a more cost-effective choice.

The reasons for this are straightforward. As the temperature varies over the days, nights, and seasons, asphalt shingles will expand and contract, which causes slow wear and tear. Asphalt shingles also absorb small amounts of water, and if this freezes in winter it can cause cracks or splitting to build up over the years. Moreover, strong winds can often strip away shingles, leaving you with patches that will need replacement.

While metal, on the other hand, expands and contracts in the heat, the joints are designed to allow for this without wearing out. What’s more, steel roofs are completely unaffected by water or ice, adding even more to their durability. Lastly, metal roofs offer greater protection than asphalt in heavy storms, so if your area often has extreme weather, a metal or steel roof will usually last for many years longer before needing replacement.

3) Maintenance

Regular maintenance is essential to keep any roof in good condition, preventing leaks and slowing down any deterioration. With asphalt, individual minor repairs are usually inexpensive but will need doing more often than with more durable steel. Over the lifetime of a roof, asphalt’s maintenance costs will usually be higher than with metal.

4) Weight Considerations

If you live in an older home, heavier metal roofs might cause complications for the building’s structure. If you’re unsure, it’s wise to arrange an inspection by a qualified roofing contractor to confirm that your home can support the extra weight of steel compared to more traditional asphalt.

5) Appearance

In years gone by, asphalt shingles and metal roofs each had a distinctive look and choosing between them on appearance was largely a matter of taste. Today, the situation is very different. Both materials are available in a variety of finishes and can resemble slate, wood, or tiles depending on your preference.

However, when considering curb appeal, also consider which type of roof most of your neighbours have installed. You may not want a roof that looks radically different from everyone else’s and makes your home stand out, potentially reducing its curb appeal.

6) Energy Efficiency and Eco-Friendliness

If you live in a warmer climate, your roof can have a significant effect on your summer cooling costs. Asphalt shingles tend to soak up the sun, increasing the heat at the top of your home and putting extra strain on your HVAC system. By contrast, metal roofs reflect more of the sun’s rays, staying cooler, and reducing typical air conditioning costs. Once again, the higher initial expense of steel roofs is offset by their lower ongoing costs.

Metal roofs have another environmental advantage over asphalt ones. The basic material is often at least partly recycled, whereas asphalt is almost always freshly made from fossil fuel sources and then consigned to landfill at the end of the roof’s life. If sustainability is an important aspect for you, metal roofs are the clear winner.

Whichever material you choose, a roof replacement is one of the more extensive home improvement projects you can take on, and it’s vital to get it right. Our team of expert advisors can help every step of the way, from recommending trusted, reputable roofing contractors in your area to providing affordable financing options to stretch your budget further. Reach out today to get started on your roof replacement—we’re here to help!

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