The Pros and Cons of Metal Roofing: A Comprehensive Guide

When it comes to choosing the right roofing material for your home, the sheer number of options can be overwhelming. From traditional asphalt shingles to clay tiles, the list is extensive. Among these common roofing materials, metal roofing has been gaining significant attention. This blog post aims to shed light on metal roofs, discussing their types, pros, and cons, and answering some frequently asked questions to guide you through your decision-making process.

A house with beautiful metal roof.

What are Metal Roofings?

Metal roofs have been around for a long time but have recently surged in popularity. Traditionally found on industrial and commercial buildings, metal roofing is now a desirable option for residential structures as well. These metal roofing materials and systems primarily use metals such as aluminum, copper, or galvanized steel and come in different styles like standing seam metal roofs, metal shingles, and screw down metal roofs.

Why Choose Metal Roofs?

There are compelling reasons why metal roofing products are attracting more and more homeowners. These reasons range from longevity and durability to aesthetics and environmental sustainability. Unlike asphalt shingle roofs, which might require frequent maintenance or replacement, metal roofs promise long-term performance and minimal upkeep.

Types of Metal Roofing

Choosing a metal roof comes with its own set of decisions, most notably the type of metal roofing system that will best suit your needs and preferences. Each style has unique features that make it stand out, as well as specific advantages and disadvantages. Here are some of the most popular types of metal roofing:

  • Standing Seam Metal Roof
    Standing seam metal roofs are one of the most popular and highly recommended metal roofing options available today. These roofs feature long, vertical panels that run from the ridge to the eaves of the roof. One of the most notable features of standing seam metal roofs is the use of concealed fasteners, which not only add to the visual appeal but also enhance weather resistance. This style is known for its modern, clean lines and is particularly popular in contemporary architectural designs.

  • Screw Down Metal Roof
    Also known as exposed fastener systems, screw-down metal roofs are simpler in design and usually less expensive than other types of metal roofing. These roofs have screws that are visible and penetrate through the metal panels into the roof deck. Although generally easier and quicker to install, they do come with a significant downside: the exposed screws can become a maintenance issue over time. They may need re-tightening or replacing, and there’s a greater risk of water penetration.

  • Metal Shingles
    Metal shingles offer the aesthetic appeal of traditional shingles but with the durability and longevity of metal. They are often made to mimic the look of other types of roofing materials like asphalt shingles, wood shake, or even clay tiles. These shingles are stamped and coated with various designs and finishes, allowing homeowners to achieve a more traditional look without sacrificing durability.

  • Metal Tile Roofs
    For those who love the appearance of clay or concrete tiles but are wary of their weight and maintenance, metal tile roofs offer an excellent alternative. These are lightweight, often weighing less than traditional tile, but are designed to replicate the look of tile roofing.

  • Corrugated Metal Roofs
    Corrugated metal roofs are recognizable by their wavy pattern and are often used for barns, sheds, and other outbuildings. However, modern versions have adapted the traditional style to be more suitable for residential homes. Corrugated metal roofs are generally more affordable but offer fewer aesthetic options than other types.

  • Stone-Coated Steel Roofs
    This type of roof combines the durability of metal with the texture and appearance of stone. Stone-coated steel roofs use a layer of stone that is adhered to the metal surface, providing a more natural look. These roofs are highly durable and offer excellent weather resistance.

  • Copper Roofs
    Copper roofing is a premium option that offers a beautiful, distinctive look that ages gracefully into a blue-green patina over time. Although stunning, copper is a costly material, and installing a copper roof can be a significant investment.

  • Retro R System
    The Retro R system is a unique roofing solution that involves adding a metal roof over an existing one. It provides added insulation, and a refreshed appearance, and extends the lifespan of the existing roof by protecting it from direct exposure to the elements.

  • Roof Build-up
    Roof build-up, commonly referred to as BUR (Built-Up Roofing), consists of alternating layers of reinforcing fabric and bitumen, finished with a top layer of aggregate. It’s known for its durability and is particularly common in commercial buildings.

  • Roof Hugger System
    The Roof Hugger System is a specialized solution that allows for new metal roofs to be installed over old metal roofs without the need for tear-off. It’s an environmentally friendly option as it reduces waste and offers enhanced energy efficiency by creating an insulating air space between the old and new roofs.
Rain drops falling on metal roof.

Pros of Metal Roofs

Choosing a metal roof comes with a range of advantages that most homeowners find compelling. From longevity to energy efficiency, here are some of the significant pros of opting for a metal roofing system.

  • Longevity
    One of the most appealing attributes of metal roofs is their impressive lifespan. Unlike asphalt shingle roofs, which usually last around 20 to 30 years, metal roofs can endure for between 40 and 70 years depending on the type of metal used. This longevity makes them a smart choice for those who plan to stay in their homes for an extended period or those looking for a high return on investment when it comes to roof replacement.

  • Energy Efficiency
    In the quest for more eco-friendly and cost-effective homes, energy-efficient metal roofs are a huge plus. These roofs are excellent at reflecting the sun’s rays, thereby reducing the amount of heat absorbed by the building. This quality significantly lowers cooling costs during the hot months. Furthermore, specialized coatings can be applied to metal roofs to enhance their insulating properties, making them effective at conserving heat during winter. The net result is year-round energy savings, which can be a significant relief for homeowners concerned about their utility bills.

  • Fire Resistant
    Safety is a paramount concern for most homeowners, and metal roofs offer an inherent advantage in this area: they are fire-resistant. Unlike other common roofing materials that may be combustible, metals do not catch fire, making them an excellent choice for regions prone to wildfires or for homes with wood-burning stoves or fireplaces. This fire resistance can not only give you peace of mind but may also make you eligible for discounts on your homeowner’s insurance premiums.

  • Curb Appeal
    A home’s exterior is its first impression, and a metal roof can substantially enhance that impression. Available in a wide range of styles, from the contemporary lines of standing seam metal roofs to the traditional look of metal shingles that mimic asphalt or clay tiles, metal roofs offer aesthetic versatility. The myriad of available finishes and colors also allows you to tailor the roof to your home’s architectural style, boosting its curb appeal and, possibly, its resale value.

  • Weather Resistant

    Resilience against harsh weather conditions is another strong point of metal roofs. They are exceptionally durable and can withstand a variety of extreme conditions, such as heavy snowfall, hail storms, and high winds. The design of these roofs, especially those with interlocking panels like the standing seam metal roofs, helps to shed snow and rain efficiently, reducing the risk of leaks or water damage. The concealed fasteners in these systems also contribute to their high wind resistance, making them an ideal choice for areas prone to storms.

beautiful metal roof installed correctly.

Cons of Metal Roofs

Despite the many advantages of metal roofing, there are also some downsides to consider. Being informed about these potential drawbacks will help you make a well-rounded decision.

  • Initial Cost
    One of the most substantial barriers to choosing a metal roof is the initial cost. Installing a metal roofing system can be significantly more expensive than other common roofing materials like asphalt shingles. The high-quality materials, specialized labor, and sometimes more extended installation time all contribute to this increased cost. However, it’s essential to weigh this immediate financial outlay against the long-term benefits, such as durability and low maintenance, to determine if it’s a cost-effective choice in the long run.

  • Noise
    For some, the sound of rain tapping on a metal roof may be soothing, but for others, it can be a nuisance. Metal roofs are generally noisier than other roofing materials during heavy rain or hail storms. This issue can be mitigated with additional insulation or sound-deadening underlayment, but these solutions also come at an added cost. If noise is a significant concern for you, it’s essential to consider this when weighing your options.

  • Metal Roofs and Lightning
    A common myth surrounding metal roofs is that they are more likely to attract lightning strikes. While it’s true that metal is a good conductor of electricity, scientific evidence shows that metal roofs do not attract lightning any more than other types of roofing materials. However, the persistence of this myth can create unnecessary concerns for potential buyers. If you live in an area prone to lightning storms, it may be comforting to know that most metal roofs will, when struck, disperse the energy safely throughout the structure—thanks to their fire-resistant properties, a lightning strike on a metal roof is typically less dangerous than on other types of roofs.

  • Dents and Scratches
    While metal roofs are praised for their durability and weather resistance, they are not completely invulnerable. Large hailstones, falling tree branches, or even walking on the roof can lead to dents and scratches. Aluminum and copper, being softer metals, are more prone to this type of damage compared to harder metals like galvanized steel. Some styles and finishes can help mask minor physical blemishes, but significant dents may require panel replacement or repair.


Do metal roofs attract lightning?

No, metal roofs do not attract lightning more than other roofing materials. They are actually safer during a lightning storm due to their non-combustible nature.

Can you walk on a metal roof?

Yes, you can walk on a metal roof, but it should be done cautiously and with proper safety measures. Consult the manufacturer or installation team for specific guidelines.

How do metal roofs compare to asphalt shingle roofs in terms of cost?

Metal roofs have a higher upfront cost but offer greater longevity and lower maintenance, potentially saving you money in the long run. Asphalt shingles are cheaper initially but may require more frequent repairs or replacement.

What are the most popular metals used in roofing?

Galvanized steel, aluminum, and copper are the most commonly used metals for roofing. Each has its own set of pros and cons, ranging from cost to durability.

Are metal roofs noisy?

Metal roofs can be noisier during heavy rain or hail, but the noise can be mitigated with proper insulation. Some people even find the sound comforting.

Is a metal roof energy-efficient?

Yes, metal roofs are energy-efficient, reflecting sunlight and reducing heat absorption. Special coatings can further enhance these energy-saving properties.

How do metal roofs fare in extreme weather conditions?

Metal roofs are highly weather-resistant, capable of withstanding conditions like heavy snowfall, high winds, and hail. The design features, such as interlocking panels, contribute to their durability.

Can a metal roof be installed over an existing roof?

Installing a metal roof over an existing one is possible depending on local building codes and the condition of the current roof. However, removing the old material first is often recommended for optimal performance.

Do metal roofs require a lot of maintenance?

Metal roofs are low-maintenance, usually needing just occasional cleaning. They don’t suffer from issues like rot or warping, common to other roofing materials.

To sum it up, metal roofs have an array of benefits like durability, energy efficiency, and fire resistance that make them a worthy consideration for most homeowners. While they do come with some drawbacks like higher initial cost and the potential for noise, the pros often outweigh the cons for those looking for a long-lasting, low-maintenance solution.

Choose the type that best suits your needs, whether it’s a standing seam metal roof with its concealed fasteners or the more affordable screw down metal roof, and you’ll have a durable, aesthetically pleasing shelter for years to come. Additionally, selecting the right metal roofing company ensures expert installation and peace of mind for the lifespan of your roof.

Pacesetter Construction