Metal Roofing Materials Guide

Just 10 years ago, metal roofs were considered something of a rarity, or a farm-type roof, or “only for frigid north”, etc. Now, they can be found everywhere, ranging from unique design modern buildings, to typical residential homes. Today, they represent about 10% of all residential roofs installed. Because of the lifetime nature of metal, you can only expect this number to grow, as these roofs steadily continue to take market-share away from asphalt shingles.

Metal is one of the longest lasting roofing materials. At the same time, it offers unsurpassed beauty and weatherproofing in climates, ranging from tropical south to frigid north. A properly installed, quality metal roof should last a minimum of 50 years, while providing superior weather protection for your home or building.

A metal roof will make your home stand out from the boring identity crisis of houses in a typical residential neighborhood. You can choose from a wide variety of different styles and metals, to get exactly the look you are looking for.

Your choices range from very popular standing seam panels, to metal shingles that resemble natural slate, concrete flat tile and cedar shingles, to stone coated steel roofs that look like Spanish tile, or architectural asphalt shingles, to metal shake that resembles heavy hand-split cedar shake, and everything in between.

image of Residential standing seam metal roof

As far as metal choices, you can have a typical steel roof installed, or if you live along the coast, you can get aluminum. If you feel fancy, get a copper or a zinc roof, and observe the natural weathering of these unique metals.

Cost of Materials and Installation

Metal roofs, although beautiful, come at a premium initial cost. A typical new metal roof will cost you about 3 times more than asphalt shingles, properly installed by a reputable, licensed and insured contractor. However, this is merely a ballpark figure, as all metal roofs are different. Your cost will depend on the type of metal you are using, the style you chose, and many other details unique to your roof – for example, valleys, dormers, hips, skylights and chimneys, etc. All these things will equally drive up the price for either asphalt shingles or a metal roof, so the difference in total cost might not be as big.

Just as an example, in New England, you can expect to see the following prices (these should include a tear off of 1-layer of asphalt shingles, and synthetic underlayment – all other things are priced separately). All prices are given for installation and materials by a professional metal roofing contractor:

  • A steel standing seam metal roof will cost you about $1000-1200 per roofing square (100 sq. ft.). Expect to pay about $100 more per square for aluminum standing seam.
  • A metal shingles roof will cost about $900 per square for steel shingles and $975 for aluminum metal shingles.
  • A stone-coated steel roof such as Decra or Gerard will cost about $1100 per square.
  • Copper or zinc standing seam metal roof will run anywhere between $1750 and $2200+ per square, depending on total roof size and other details.

These are very approximate prices. We recommend you use our metal roofing calculator to get a more accurate estimate, based on your details and scope of work. For more information, check out our metal roofing prices guide.

Metal Roofing Styles

The most popular style of metal roofing is standing seam, also called a vertical panel roof. It by far exceeds the installations of other types of metal roofs, because it is prefered by many home and business owners.

Standing seam is installed using concealed fasteners, making the roof virtually impenetrable by water. It is an excellent choice when it comes to ice dam prevention, as it sheds water and snow, and does not allow water to travel upward and under the roofing panels. Standing seam panels are typically made of Galvalume steel (24 or 26 gauge) or aluminum (.032″ or .040″ thickness). A quality standing seam roof will have a Kynar 500 metal paint coating, vs acrylic paint used on exposed fasteners corrugated steel roofs.

DIY Standing Seam Installation Guide:

We recently published a 3-part metal roof installation guide – check it out.

Metal Shingles

Metal shingles is another very popular architectural style of metal roofs, and offer more flexibility in terms of installation, compared to standing seam. Because the roofing materials cost less, the overall installation cost of metal shingles is about 25% less than standing seam.

Metal shingles are small metal panels, typically offering interlocking design, where each shingle is connected to six others surrounding it and is nailed to the roof deck with clips and nails. Interlocking design of metal shingles offers superb protection against wind blow-off, rain, wind-driven water and ice-dams. It will usually last just as long as any standing seam metal roof, while offering a variety of architectural design styles (natural slate, cedar shingle / shake, tiles, etc.), many color options, including premium colors, such as weathered copper/zinc and driftwood multicolor paints.

In terms of installation, metal shingles are much easier to install when it comes to roof penetration flashing, such as skylight / chimney flashing, as a flat design and lack of vertical ribs, eliminates the need to use “z-bar” flashing, minimizing installation errors, speeding up the process, and in the end reducing the overall cost. Metal shingles are also much more forgiving to roof imperfections and are easier to install when there are multiple pitch changes. Learn more about benefits of metal roofing shingles, and different types / profiles, and metals used to manufacture them.

Other types of metal roofing materials include corrugated steel, various types of stone-coated metal, and premium (often field / custom made) zinc and copper roofs. All these materials are not used as commonly as standing seam and metal shingles, but still offer superior weather protection and a long service life.

Additional Information:

Standing seam metal roof calculator – estimates quantity and sizes of standing seam panels, gable and eave trim, Z-flashing, ridge and hip caps, for gable and hip roof types.

Metal roofing vs asphalt shingles cost comparison – learn why metal roofs are seemingly more expensive than asphalt roofing shingles, but in reality are more economical in the not so long run.

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