We’re asked about metal roofing pros and cons constantly, and for good reason because of the plentiful benefits it provides. However, “metal roof” refers to an entire category of roofing materials that are commonly grouped together due to their similarities and higher than average price point; this includes aluminum, copper, steel, and zinc.
Types of Metal Roofing
Metal is becoming a popular roof material because of its long lifespan and supreme durability under variable weather conditions. However, the metal roofing pros and cons differ by material.
Aluminum Roofing Pros and Cons
- Corrosion Resistant – Aluminum has a corrosion-resistant surface that protects the roof from air and oxygen through a natural layer of aluminum oxide. When exposed to the atmosphere, a near-microscopic layer of oxide forms to prevent the metal from rusting. This innate characteristic improves the material’s lifespan.
- Recyclable – Aluminum is recyclable, meaning that it’s also environmentally friendly and the “green” choice of the various metals one can choose for their roofing system.
- Fire Resistant – Aluminum has a high thermal conductivity, which allows it to sustain periods of significant heat easily. This helps to prevent fires and minimize the damage if one does occur.
- Lightweight – Aluminum has a very high strength to weight ratio, making it the perfect solution for a strong roof that doesn’t require extra reinforcements to be installed.
- Easy to Install – Because of its lightweight, the labor cost to install an aluminum roof is significantly lower than any other metal. If you feel so inclined, you might want to consider doing it yourself to save some money.
- High Reflectivity – Aluminum is highly reflective, which aids in proper heat management. In the summer, the rooftop and attic will be cooler because most of the visible and ultraviolet rays are reflected into the atmosphere. In the winter, that same reflective capability helps to maintain heat levels in the building.
- Energy Saving – With their naturally reflective properties, aluminum roof panels can lower your electricity bill by reducing your need for air conditioning and heat throughout the year.
- Expensive – Aluminum roofing averages $10 per square foot, installed. It’s certainly not the cheapest option available, especially when compared to something like asphalt tiling.
- Fading – Aluminum fades over time, becoming duller and losing its attractive shine. This typically isn’t a deal-breaker if you’ve got a flat roof though since no one sees it anyways.
- Noisy – Miami’s weather isn’t always ideal for an aluminum roof because it can be obnoxiously noisy. When rain and hail are pouring down, you can hear individual drops bounce off the rooftop.
- Denting – As a softer metal, aluminum dents easily. Whether it’s hard ice balls, heavy hail, or a sizable tree branch, expect to see some minor dents on the roof. If a tree strikes it, all bets are off – you’ll be repairing some of the surface.
Copper Roofing Pros and Cons
- Attractiveness – Copper is a good-looking metal roofing material that’s typically found on more expensive homes. Having a copper roof gives you serious curb appeal and automatically increases the resale value of your home because everyone knows how much it’s worth.
- Durability – Copper roofing is strong and can last more than 100 years with proper maintenance. Examples of copper roofs can be found across Europe, typically on churches.
- Fire Resistant – Copper has a thermal conductivity nearly twice that of aluminum, meaning that it conducts heat very well and can transfer heat away easily. This is a major benefit for roofing applications because it prevents combustion and the spread of fire.
- Recyclable – Much like aluminum, copper is a recyclable metal, making it a “green” choice. When it’s done being used, it can be repurposed instead of thrown in the trash.
- Lightweight – Copper can support heavy loads, but doesn’t weigh much, compared to materials like clay or concrete. As a result, no additional structural changes are needed to install it.
- Heat Management – Copper reflects most forms of light, preventing it from entering your home or business. Inside, copper insulates the building to maintain heating and cooling levels. Overall, the natural reflective properties of copper can reduce your energy bill because you’ll spend less money to heat and cool your home.
- Discoloration – While copper starts out with a beautiful reddish-orange color, exposure to certain salts can oxidize the metal alloy, giving it a greenish-blue hue. The new colored layer of verdigris that forms over the copper is unique but very hard to match if roof repairs are ever needed.
- Costly – Copper roofing averages $20 per square foot, fully installed. This is one of the most expensive roofing materials you can choose.
- Loud – If you’ve got a copper roof, some thunderstorms can sound like a barrage of rocks hitting the building. Because of this, many homeowners and business owners opt to install sound-proofing materials under the copper as a sound dampener.
- Denting – Copper is a soft, malleable metal that dents easily. While rain is not going to do anything, tree branches falling on the roof may cause dents.
Steel Roofing Pros and Cons
- Good-looking – Steel can be dipped in phosphate and then painted different colors.
- Fire Resistant – Steel is a non-combustible material, which aids in fire prevention. Because of that, installing steel typically lowers insurance rates on the building.
- Durability – A steel roof can last 50 years or more with regular maintenance.
- Potential Reflectivity* – The color of the steel affects the amount of reflectivity is has. Choosing a lighter colored steel will increase the reflectivity of sunlight. This prevents the attic or top floor from overheating, thus saving you money on your electrical bill.
- Potential Corrosion Resistance* – The same phosphate that allows steel to be painted a variety of colors is required to prevent corrosion; it’s a Zinc coating and the final product is called galvanized steel. Without it, oxidation is bound to occur, and you’ll see visible rust eventually.
- Recyclable – Steel is another “green” material because it can be re-purposed even after a lifetime of use; this is a socially responsible choice.
- Costly – Steel roofing isn’t cheap. You’ll pay about $10 per square foot, installed.
- Hard to Install – Unlike asphalt shingles, steel panels can be challenging to install without the help of a professional roofer. This isn’t a DIY project, mainly because of the weight of the materials and the likely need for structural reinforcements to handle the weight. Since it’s both frustrating and dangerous, it’s best to leave steel roof installation to certified experts.
- Limited Colors – Although the color of the steel can be changed, there aren’t many options to choose from. Beyond that, the color choice affects its reflectivity, so choose wisely.
- Limited Styles – Steel roofing doesn’t offer the greatest selection of styles. Your choice usually comes down to upright seams, corrugated ridges, or flat troughs.
Zinc Roofing Pros and Cons
- Beautiful – Zinc roofing comes in a variety of attractive colors, such as Onyx Black, Ocean Blue, Glacier Gray, and Sonoma Red. Over time, natural weathering patterns lighten the roof’s color through patination.
- Corrosion Resistant – Zinc is non-corrosive, which means that it will not rust.
- Durability – Zinc is a strong metal that can last hundreds of years nearly maintenance-free.
- Self-Healing – Zinc has a unique ability to repair itself because of its hydroxyl carbonate layer; it fixes minor imperfections automatically, which no other metal roofing material can do.
- Recyclability – Zinc can be reused repeatedly, making it yet another environmentally friendly roofing material.
- Expensive – To purchase the materials and install it, you’re looking at $15 per square foot on average.
- Variable Patination – The color-changing / patination process that zinc experiences doesn’t have a set timeline; it could take a year or 10 years to see the effect. If that’s an issue, ask the roofing company to use pre-patinated Zinc.
- Difficult to Install – Much like steel, we highly recommend having a professional contractor install Zinc roofing panels. Without the proper synthetic layer underneath the metal, Zinc can hold moisture and mold between itself and the deck. If that occurs, water can get into the building and deteriorate the roof deck.
As you can see, there are many pros and cons of metal roofing. While metal is a more expensive material, the increased protection it offers is often well-worth the price. Why risk a costly roof replacement when you can choose something stronger from the start.
How Much Does a Metal Roof Cost?
The cost of a metal roof considers the material and the total amount of labor required for installation. Unlike asphalt shingles, metal roofing requires a high degree of skill and precision to correctly install it.
Below are the primary factors affecting the cost:
- Metal roofing materials – Pricing varies based on your choice of aluminum, copper, steel, or zinc.
- Shingles or Standing Seam – Shingles are easier to install, while standing seems are tedious, requiring more time.
- Roof Style – The price of a flat roof will cost much less than one with multiple sloping hips, skylights, angles, sidewalls, and chimneys.
- Location – Miami is an expensive area, so the cost of labor for a roofing contractor will be higher than other places
- Company Size – On average, larger companies charge more money for roof installations because they have a greater ability to “cherry-pick” the customers they want, and they generally have higher overhead to account for.
Average Metal Roof Costs by Square Foot and Square
- Steel Shingle – $3.00 – $3.50 per square foot | $300 to $350 per square (100 feet). Installation – $7.50 per square foot.
- Stone-coated Steel Shingle – $3.50 – $4.25 per square foot | $350 – $425 per square (100 feet). Installation $10.00 per square foot.
- Steel Standing Seam – $4.00 – $4.50 per square foot | $400 – $450 per square (100 feet). Installation $10.00 per square foot.
- Aluminum Shingle – $3.75 – $5.50 per square foot | $375 – $550 per square (100 feet). Installation $9.00 per square foot.
- Aluminum Standing Seam – $5.00 per square foot | $500 per square (100 feet). Installation $11.00 per square foot.
- Copper – $12.00 – $14.00 per square foot | $1,200 – $1,400 per square (100 feet). Installation $20.00 per square foot.
- Zinc – $9.00 – $12.00 per square foot | $900 – $1,200 per square (100 feet). Installation $15.00 per square foot.
Bottom Line: The metal roof cost per square foot will always be higher than asphalt shingles because of the raw material and installation prices. However, the labor rate is the largest factor affecting the cost, so you can save money by asking each roofing contractor to breakdown their quote by material and labor. Then, get estimates from multiple companies and select the best one.
Residential Metal Roof Styles
Many homeowners have opted for metal roofing because of its amazing durability. Additionally, one of the biggest advantages of metal roofing, aside from protection, is that it can be custom-fabricated to create any look and feel you desire. There are 4 main residential metal roof styles – tile, shake, shingle, and slate.
Metal tile is a popular choice for Mediterranean roof styles. The rooftops typically contain multiple hips and the tile shape is either an “S” or a semi-circle to imitate the look of concrete or clay. Tile roofs can be made to look very rustic and are often found on Spanish-style homes. These homes often have Tuscan entry ways and a Stucco finish, which blends nicely with subtle, multi-colored roof tiles.
Metal shake roofs are designed to look like wood, allowing homeowners to create a unique appearance while maintaining the many benefits of metal. Shake roof systems often come with pre-formed flashings that work with any roof pitch. More expensive metal shake uses an open-valley to allow for optimal drainage.
Metal shingle roofs also look like wood but are much more modest in their appearance. The rectangular shingles have modular panels that are attached to the roof deck with clips. This is the most basic form of metal roofing.
Metal slate roofs are typically manufactured from aluminum and made to look like natural slate. The individual pieces interlock to form the roof-line. At half the cost of real slate, metal slate is a bargain. It comes in a wide variety of colors and is sometimes sprayed with a special Teflon coating to add to its already impressive water-resistance.