The Truth About Roofs: Are Metal Shingles Cheaper than Asphalt Shingles?

Kenneth Wilson

In this guide, we'll cover everything you need to know about which one is the ideal shingle for your roof— metal or asphalt!

Everyone deserves a roof over their heads, and you deserve even better than that – you deserve the ideal roof. The only problem? Opinions are divided on which shingle supersedes all others: metallic or asphalt.

The initial impact of expensive installation fees can coerce customers on a budget to build with asphalt instead of metal. However, metallic shingles’ indestructible durability, energy efficiency, and environmental conservation cause their long-term benefits to outweigh their temporary drawbacks. How long one dwells under that roof ought to determine the decision between both options.

Whether you’re a short-term homeowner or a long-standing resident, picking the perfect roof comes with questions galore. Be assured: we have all the answers to assuage your concerns.

How Much Does a Metal Roof Cost?

Home improvement requires a hefty investment. While no two roofs are ever the same, it’s important to understand the basic cost of either potential material. The price of asphalt shingles in comparison to the price of metal shingles could make or break your decision.

Average Cost

It’s no contest: asphalt shingles are more affordable at first glance. According to Home Advisor, each asphalt shingle costs an average of $70 to $160 per square.

Compare that to the $120 to $900 per square price range of metallic shingles, and the winner here is clear. Don’t forget that metal roofing requires extra equipment to secure it. From screws to ridge caps, these minute additions can amount to a major expense.

Were that the only component to consider, asphalt would be the only worthwhile option. However, the materials are not all that matter. Installation is just as essential.

Installation Fees and Timelines

The labor requirements for implementing the materials you’ve chosen can rack up an unprecedented price tag. Along with the timeframe needed to complete a project of this magnitude, installation cannot be overlooked.

Asphalt shingles can be installed in one to two days, should everything proceed as planned. However, any previous shingles would need to be torn out and replaced before construction begins. It proves to be a nuisance at best and a nightmare at worst.

With metal shingles, there’s no need to undo any previous roofing. This material covers any other for no additional cost or inconvenience.

Dark Asphalt Shingles with Garret on the House

However, metal shingles can take up to a week to install. The specialized training required for every potential installer increases the project’s cost and timespan.

As with any outdoor activities, these timelines are at the discretion of events outside of human control. Unpredictable weather could delay one project for days, and an expansive or irregular roof shape could create unexpected roadblocks. Prepare for unanticipated expenses and postponements.

Even with their sole advantage, metal shingles can still seem like a luxury few could afford. Don’t be deceived by the immediate details. Foreseeing the future of these materials could cause us to change our tune.

How Long Do Shingles Last?

If you’re planning to pay a pretty penny for your roof, you expect the upkeep to last a lifetime. Unfortunately, nothing good lasts forever. But one of our options comes all too close to eternity.

The Lifespan of Metal and Asphalt Shingles

If you want a one-and-done deal, we have bad news to deliver. Asphalt shingles only last 15-30 years. Three decades away could seem impossibly far at first glance, but saving for that expense starts tomorrow. This installation would never stop soliciting funds from you.

Compare that to the lifespan of its counterpart, which can outlast any other material. Metal shingles can last up to 80 years with the proper care. Unlike asphalt, these shingles need only a single upfront payment from you before leaving you be.

When selecting a material, ask yourself: can you afford to always portion away from your paychecks? Or would you prefer to pay today and play tomorrow?

Metal Tiles on the Roof of the House

How Weather Conditions Affect Roofing

Father Time does not act alone in eroding your roofing. Mother Nature has her role to play in its continual degradation.

Asphalt shingles fall prey to the whims of the weather. An unfortunate tendency to draw and withhold water can lead to algae growth and other unwanted fungi.

Winter only exacerbates these water-based problems. Should any of the withheld liquid freeze, that new-made ice can crack the shingles themselves. That means more materials to pay for and less money to stow away.

On the other hand, metallic shingles keep the climate under control. Rain, sleet, and snow cannot penetrate its defenses. However, they’re not invincible – extreme conditions, such as high-speed hail, can still leave their mark.

Even should the unforeseen occur, these shingles will only incur a dent. Nicked shingles can be replaced with ease and without endangering the inhabitants they oversee.

Insurance Benefits of Metal Roofing

Once the roof has been set and sealed, there’s still the matter of ensuring its stability. Life throws curveballs at every angle – best be prepared if it lobs one overhead, too. There's one way to cover that cost: insurance.

Typically speaking, asphalt shingles are allotted a warranty that covers 25-30 years. While that’s nothing to underestimate, warranties for metal roofing begin at 30 years and can extend upwards of 50

Why the difference in duration? Because insurance companies are assured that the best asphalt cannot outlast the worst metal.

Despite metal’s seeming triumph, its benefits only behoove those who stay in one house for that long. Who cares about a warranty for a house you will soon move out of?

Should you choose to remain under one roof for the rest of your life, metallic shingles’ insurance outdoes any other. However, if relocation is likely, then either investment is ultimately moot. Take your timeline into account when contacting your insurance company.

Are Metal Shingles Energy Efficient?

With Americans spending $40 billion annually on air conditioning, electricity is one utility that ought to be allayed. You might not imagine that roofing could mitigate your utility bills, but the right material can make all the difference.

Ordinary asphalt shingles provide no benefit to your billing. While energy-efficient variants exist, they can cost upwards of $400 per square. With a cost like that, why not stick with its competitor?

According to the Oak Ridge National Librarymetal shingles can save homeowners up to 15% on heating in the winter. During the summer? It’s even better: your A/C bill could be reduced by up to 40%

How does this work? The reflective nature of metal shingles keeps the sun at bay in summer and the heat to stay in winter. This innovation earned them the Passive House Institute Certification for energy efficiency. 

Are Shingles Bad for the Environment?

Choosing your roofing doesn’t only impact your home. It impacts the entire planet that houses us. And that planet happens to need immense – and immediate – help.

Asphalt is at Fault

You might not recognize the effect asphalt shingles have on the environment, but it’s nowhere near minimal. Asphalt shingles are made out of petroleum which, when destroyed, release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. These gases continue to disrupt our worldwide climate and raise the already-precarious sea levels.

Utilizing petroleum also increases our dependence on fossil fuels overall and amplifies our reliance on oil mining. These contribute to the inescapable cycle of climate change.

Not only that but asphalt shingles cannot be recycled. Instead, they are clogging up landfills around our nation. The United States alone is reported to receive 20 billion pounds of old asphalt shingles every single year

While you might assume this poses no harm to humanity, landfills contribute to significant air pollution. That means you’re breathing less and breathing worse day by dirtying day. Not to mention, those shingles are sitting underground, undecaying, for years on end – and they’re contaminating the earth.

Metal is Healthy

Compare those consequences to the bonuses acquired when choosing metal shingles.

Shingles can be crafted out of a variety of different metals, with the most common being steel. All of these metals are 100% recyclable and are often repurposed in different governmental construction projects once they can no longer be used in homes.

No matter how long the shingles have lasted, this metal can be recycled an unlimited amount of times. Not once will it ever clog up one of our contaminating landfills, which creates less dependence on fossil fuels overall and allows for our environment to thrive better for longer.

Asphalt Shingles vs. Metal Roofing: Which is Better?

If you’re looking for a short-term investment, asphalt shingles will spare your wallet. However, the environmental impact and utility inefficiency could cause you to think twice about the universal sacrifice your choice brings.

Those looking to establish roots for their grandchildren to feel physically, environmentally, and financially safe will prioritize metal roofing. Yes, the initial expense can be immense. However, the long-term return on a momentary investment vastly outweighs the price you temporarily pay.

Between energy efficiency, environmental conservation, and natural durability, metal roofing may empty your account for a moment, but it will keep your estate - and its inhabitants - safe for a lifetime.

Kenneth Wilson
August 25, 2021
Contractor Tips, Cost Guides, Exterior, 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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