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Metal Roof vs Shingles: Pros, Cons, & Differences

metal roof vs shingles

metal roof vs shingles

Metal and shingles are two of the most popular roofing material options available. They’re both designed to offer protection from the elements.

While shingles have long been the popular choice because they are cost-effective, reliable, and easy to care for, metal has increased in popularity itself. It will last for many years without suffering much damage and it comes in a host of different styles and designs.

But, when choosing a roofing material, there are a lot of decisions you have to make. Although looks are important, because the roof is a major part of the property and its position means that it is especially prominent, they are not the be-all and end-all of your decision.

Below, we take a look at everything including the cost of metal roof vs shingles, aesthetic options, and the maintenance and likely lifetime of each of these roofing materials, to help you choose the one that best fits your requirements and your home.

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Overview of Metal Roof

Metal roofing has long been a popular roofing option in certain circumstances, but this is usually meant for farms and industrial buildings. While metal roofing has proven expensive, design options have been limited, but it is a popular choice in challenging environments because it is tough and it will last for decades with a little careful maintenance. In recent years, the range of metals, the different looks, and the selection of colors has steadily increased, so it is not only a durable material but a potentially attractive roof, too.

metal roof
Image By: Pixabay

Metal Roofs Are Durable

You can expect a shingle roof to last approximately 30 years, and they have warranties to match that, usually between 15 and 30 years. Metal roofs come with warranties as long as 50 years and can last 70 years or more. They will withstand the sun, rain, frost, and rapidly changing weather conditions, which means that metal roofs are suitable for use on any building in any location.

Metal Is More Environmentally Friendly

The material used in roof construction is usually recycled metal. Once the roof does reach the end of its life, even if this is in 70 years, the material can be recycled and used again. This constant cycle of recycling means that metal is a very environmentally friendly roofing option. Shingles are petroleum-based, which means that their production depletes our fossil fuel reserves. They are not usually recycled, either, and they tend to be replaced every 20 years.

metal roofing
Image By: Pixabay

Design & Variety

Sheet metal and corrugated metal can have a very utilitarian look. It can make your house look like a farmyard barn, and it is this appearance that has put many potential buyers off this roofing material, as well as its high up-front cost. However, manufacturing processes attract lower costs and they can be used to create a much wider range of finishes and designs for a roof. If you don’t like the look of a steel roof, consider a copper roof. Some of the most readily available metal roof materials include:

  • Tin is cheap, malleable, and can be formed into almost any shape to meet the contours of your roof. It is not a common roofing material, anymore, so if you are looking for something exclusive or unique, it could fit the bill.
  • Steel is a lot more expensive, but it is also one of the most durable roofing materials. It won’t become damaged from expanding and contracting in changing weather conditions and you can choose from a good selection of finishes and colors.
  • Aluminum is a lightweight building material that falls between tin and steel in terms of cost. It does not corrode, is easily recycled, and it has become a viable option for a typical roof job.
  • Copper is an attractive metal. While some materials impress with a 70-year life, copper can outdo even this, and it should last for around 100 years on top of your building. It can also be recycled, like aluminum. However, it is expensive.
  • Zinc, like copper, is a natural metal. It can be recycled once it reaches the end of its current life, and it is easy to shape. However, its malleability is a negative as well as a positive factor because it can even become dented in heavy hail.


  • Very long lifetime
  • Resistant to the elements
  • Energy-efficient and environmentally friendly
  • Good range of materials and designs
  • Expensive
  • Prone to physical damage
  • More difficult to DIY

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Overview of Shingles

Shingles have been the roofing material of choice for generations. Shingles are made from a fiberglass core which is coated in ceramic or stone. They can resist the sun’s UV rays, as well as other environmental conditions, and their strength is such that they will not be easily physically damaged.

The popularity of shingles means that you may already have them on your roof. And, if you have, and one breaks, you will understand the benefit of being able to replace one or a handful of the shingles following any damage, rather than having to replace the whole roof.

shingle roofing
Image By: Pixabay

Architectural Shingles Are Stronger

Architectural shingles are made in the same way as standard shingles, and they have the same layers and coats as the standard models. However, they are thicker. They have a thicker shell to protect against the elements, and they have a tougher core to offer more strength and structural rigidity.

This means that they are a great choice if you want more durability than a standard shingle offers. This can be very beneficial if the roof regularly suffers damage or is prone to any kind of physical damage especially. Architectural shingles do cost more than standard shingles, but usually cost less than a metal roof.

Shingles Cost Less

A metal roof can cost four or five times as much as shingles. With that said, of course, a metal roof can last twice as long as a shingle roof, and it may suffer less weather damage, but you would have to save a lot of money on energy bills to make it financially beneficial to buy a metal roof. When it comes to maintenance costs, it usually costs less to keep, repair, and maintain shingles, too.

Shingles Are Better For DIY

One of the reasons that it is cheaper to maintain a shingle roof is that it is easier to DIY any repairs on this material. A professional can install this type of roof in one or two days. They may even be able to do so without having to remove an existing layer of shingles, which reduces the time it takes to complete the job, and the cost. Metal roofing requires a more specific set of skills. The same is true of repairs. With the right tools and a decent knowledge of roofing safety, you could probably make most of the repairs yourself.

close up shingle roof
Image By: Pixabay

There Is Still Greater Choice In Shingles Design

There is more choice when it comes to metal roof design than there was even five years ago, but the fact is that shingles are still available in more designs. They not only come in a variety of colors but they are designed to look like other materials and to have other designs and finishes. Whether you are looking for a Mediterranean or Colonial finish, you can find shingles to match.


  • Greater choice of design
  • Cheaper to install and repair
  • More DIYable
  • More resistant to physical damage
  • Need replacing more frequently
  • Stronger, architectural shingles do cost more

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Shingles have been the roofing material of choice for decades and while metal is growing in popularity, it is still second place to the reinforced shingles. However, there is a good range of designs and colors in both materials, and there are pros and cons to each.

Shingles do not last as long but they are cheaper and there is still a greater selection of designs available to choose from. Metal is very easy to recycle and can last 70 years or more. Choose the material that best fits your design, your requirements, and the kind of conditions that your roof has to endure every day.

Featured Image Credit: Pixabay


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