Shingles Vs. Steel

Reuben Miller

When you stop and think about the invaluable job a home’s roof does, you likely come to the conclusion that it is one of the most important construction components of your entire home. Despite the importance of our roofing system, aside from shielding it from potentially damaging falling objects, we seldom appreciate its value until there’s a problem.

These days when the time comes to build a home or replace the roof of an existing home, there is a great split of opinion when it comes to which materials are best. Architects and designers often favor form over function while homeowners and builders opt for what gets the job done in the most cost-effective manner, while maintaining a high level of functionality.

These days there are just a few roofing materials that dominate the industry, asphalt shingles and metal are the front runners. Those in the asphalt industry maintain that their products are easier to install, more affordable, and last up to 30 years. Asphalt has long been a traditional choice, as well.

In recent years however, metal roofs have made a huge comeback. The early tin roofs you might remember, were common on barns and sheds, as well as homes. They were known for their durability, and easy installation. At some point during the 1970s homeowners began to lean away from metal roofs to asphalt shingles.

These days however, the steel roof is back. According to the Metal Roofing Alliance, “Longevity is one of the top reasons consumers report choosing metal roofing for their homes. Metal roofing can last as long as 50 years or more, requiring very little maintenance and looking beautiful all the while.”

Weather conditions are another big consideration when selecting the right roof for your home. Many parts of the country are prone to wind and rain or snow and ice, which can wreak havoc on an asphalt roof. And depending on a home’s architectural style, one choice might simply be the better option from your particular aesthetic point of view.

We invite you to take a look at this list of some of pros and cons for both asphalt shingles and steel roofing materials.

Asphalt Shingles – The Pros

  • Initially, it’s a bit cheaper

  • Some builders like to use it because it is quicker for them to install as that’s primarily all they’ve worked with

  • When damage and wear occur, it can be fairly inexpensive to repair

  • There are numerous style and color options to suit every taste and budget

Asphalt Shingles – The Cons

  • It has been used so much that many new homeowners want something different

  • Harsh weather is its enemy, especially hail

  • Can trap moisture and promote the growth of moss, mildew, and algae

  • Even though a warranty may extend up to 30 years, other factors dictate how well the roof holds up, such as ventilation, climate, and routine upkeep

  • It is not considered environmentally sustainable. EPA studies show shingle waste makes up 8% of the total building-related waste stream.

Steel Roofing – The Pros

  • It is lightweight so prevents excessive pressure on a home’s framework

  • Very durable and last for decades-depending on which type of metal is chosen, some can last well over 50 years

  • Many metal roof manufacturers provide 50-year warranties

  • Certain grades of steel roofing are virtually fireproof

  • Because they offer such a high degree of protection from the elements, some insurance firms offer homeowners as much as 30 percent off their premiums when they opt for a metal roof.

  • There are numerous style and color options to suit every taste and budget

  • It is virtually maintenance free

  • They are deemed environmentally conscious due to their energy-efficiency and are also recyclable

Steel Roofing – The Cons

  • The initial cost is slightly higher than shingles

  • If not installed properly, it may expand and contract too much, which might hinder its effectiveness as a moisture barrier

  • Public misconceptions and skepticism about some metals rusting on coastal climates which can happen with some low-end steel roofing materials that are still on the market

The bottom line is this, homeowners must do their own research, discussing the pros and cons based on their climate, and buy the best roof with the best warranty that you can afford. Whatever you do, just don’t take the situation lightly; remember, your roof is one of the most critical components of your home.