Metal Roofs vs. Asphalt Shingles: A Cost Comparison

Kenneth Wilson

In comparing a metal roof vs. shingles — it’s as simple as you get what you pay for. An asphalt shingle roof costs $16,200 to $24,000 for a 1,800 sq ft home. Meanwhile, it may cost up to an average of $35,600 for a steel metal roof of the same size. 

Asphalt shingles have long since been the standard in roofing projects thanks to their reliability, easy maintenance, and cost-effectiveness. However, metal roofs are also increasing in popularity with their longevity and a wide variety of styles. Both metal and shingle roofing materials are great choices– but one may be best suited to your needs more than the other.

That said, we’re here to give you a detailed comparison of metal roofs vs. asphalt shingles to make the right decision for your needs.

Metal vs. Shingle Roof Average Costs

Simply put, metal roofs will cost you more than standard shingles. Installing a metal roof ranges between $700 and $3,500 for a 100 sq ft area. Meanwhile, asphalt shingles only cost $120 to $250 for the same coverage.

The prices of metal panels are higher than asphalt shingles, and the installation process of a metal roof is also labor-intensive. Hence, the cost to install a metal roof can be double or triple what you’d pay for an asphalt shingle roof.

Cost Factors of a Metal Roof vs. Shingles

Several factors can affect the cost of installing a metal or shingle roof. Here are the most common ones you need to look out for:

  • Location of your property Some states may have higher prices for material costs, shipping, and taxes. Those living in the city may need to pay more for installation. The labor costs may also vary depending on where your property is located.
  • Design of the roof Complex room designs are more expensive as it requires more labor on your roof installer. It may also create more waste in the process. Your installer may charge you depending on the scope of the work and its estimated duration.
  • Disposal and stripping fees In some cases, you may need to remove your existing roof and dispose of it properly. This applies to old homes, mainly. If your home is relatively new with only one roof surface, then your new roof can be easily installed on top of it.
  • Labor costs The labor costs for this project will depend on the complexity of the job, risk factor, and estimated duration. Factors such as the installation type may also hike the costs.
  • Panel type Whether your roof panels are overlapping or interlocking will also influence the total pricing of your new roof project. Interlocking panels will cost you more on average, given its intricate production process.
  • Substrate Aside from the roof’s total size and labor rates, the type of metal roof material you want to use will also affect the project expenses. If you choose metal roofs, consider that different metal types have other price points, features, and life expectancy.
  • Underlayment When it comes to metal roofs, you will need to pay extra attention to your underlayment choice as it is integral to your roof’s well-being. The better quality your investment is, the better security you’ll have for your roof.
  • Coating or finish Your roofing finish goes beyond just providing you with aesthetic benefits. If anything, it also extends the life expectancy of the material. Homeowners on a budget may consider polyester-based finishes, although these coatings do not typically last long. Premium finishes such as PVDF formulas are resistant to fading and have longer lifespans, but it comes with a price.

Metal vs. Shingle Roof: A Comparison

Here’s a quick comparison of both roofing material and what to expect.

Metal Roofs are more Durable

You can expect metal roofs to withstand complicated weather conditions, and they have average lifespans of up to 40 to 70 years. Most metal roof purchases also come with a 30 to 50-year warranty. Meanwhile, shingles have a shorter lifespan as they are prone to cracking and algae/fungus growth. Depending on your region, these roofs typically have a 15 to 30-year warranty. (Related: 7 Types of Metal Roofs: Which One Is Right For Your Home?)

Shingle Roofs have Lower Upfront Costs

While a metal roof proves to be a more worthwhile investment, in the long run, you may need to shell out a hefty sum during the installation.

This ranges between $700 and $3,500 for a 100 sq ft area. Meanwhile, asphalt shingles only cost $120 to $250 for the same coverage. Note that installing metal roofs will also cost you more, given it’s an intricate and more labor-intensive job.

Here are some ways you can recoup the costs of a metal roof:

  • You’re less likely to need a replacement for your metal roof. As such, this will save you from spending on another roof replacement project in the long run.
  • Some insurance companies offer discounts to homes that have metal roofs.
  • You may be eligible for tax credits if you install a metal roof at home.
  • Metal roofs are highly energy-efficient. You can expect to save money on your monthly utility bills.

Metal Roofs are more Eco-friendly

In terms of sustainability, metal roofs are a better choice than asphalt shingles because they are composed of recycled materials, and they can also be recycled multiple times. Thanks to their reflective qualities, the metal roof becomes more energy-efficient. It can block heat transmission to the interior of your home. Adding specialized paint coating can reduce your cooling bills even more.

Meanwhile, asphalt shingles have to be replaced more often than metal roofs. (Related: Roof Replacement Cost & Consumer Guide) In an estimate, almost 20 billion pounds of used asphalt shingles are received by U.S landfills annually. Furthermore, asphalt shingles have an increased dependency on fossils because it is a petroleum-based product.

Asphalt Shingle Roofs have Easier Installation and Repair

Only essential tools and a little specialized knowledge are required for asphalt shingle-related work. It will take a day or two to install shingles, but in some cases, they can be installed over an existing layer.

On the other hand, it will typically require more specialized and skilled tradespeople to install metal roofing. It demands a more thorough job and leaves less room for error. This prevents a metal roof installation from being as quick as installing shingle.

In some cases, lightweight metal products may be installed right over an existing roof, given that it is in good condition. It simplifies the overall installation and removes the cost of ripping out the original roof.

Overall Verdict: Metal or Shingle Roof?

Both metal and asphalt shingles roofs present their unique set of advantages. Asphalt shingle roofs are more cost-effective, while metal roofing provides long-term value. Homeowners looking for a low-cost solution (without the need for a long-lasting roof) may settle with a shingle roof.

But if you want a decades-lasting roof, increased home curb appeal, less maintenance, lower utility bills, and an increased value of property, then a metal roof is a considerable investment to make!

Kenneth Wilson
March 13, 2022
Cost Guides, Roofing

Kenneth Wilson

Retired contractor. Currently residing in Southwest Florida. Now in semi-retirement, I write and manage this blog focused on helping home owners make savvy decisions when it comes to finding contractors and getting their projects done. I also operate remodeling design service for homeowners.

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