Metal vs Shingles: The great debate

The most common question asked of me by a customer is which product is better for their roof; metal or shingles?  To answer that question I need to answer a series of other questions.  This will help determine what system is right for YOU.

1. Asthetics– What do you think looks good? Shingles have been the most common roof covering for decades.  However, in the last 10 years, many products have come out that offer the customer a wide range of profiles, colors, and material types. Men generally gravitate to the metal for the durability and resilience while women tend to like the shingle look because its more traditional and looks less commercial.  A contractor should present you with all the options available so you can make a good decision.

2. Budget– The cost is usually the most important factor a homeowner considers when choosing a roof system.  Depending on where you live, a metal roof can cost anywhere from 50% more than a base shingle system up to 2 times more.  However, metal roofs will often last 2-3 times longer than shingles. So not just the original cost should be taken in consideration but the the overall value.

3. How Long?     Another factor to consider is how long you plan to live in the house or your plans with the home long term. If you plan on selling or moving in less than 5 years it might not be worth the cost. But if you are going to be there longer, it might make sense.

A quality metal roof adds to the resale value of your home. According to one report, a metal roof will add back over half of the initial cost when it is time to sell. It stands to reason if two identical homes were for sale, and one of them had a metal roof, the home that would never need a new roof would sell for more money. Homeowners generally work hard to make their homes maintenance free and may be less inclined to buy a home that will require additional maintenance.

4. Snow and Ice–  Most people know that snow typically slides off of metal roofs but not from shingles. If you have a house thats hard to insulate or vent or you just cant get rid of the ice dams, sometimes metal can shed the snow and ice by gravity. But not always. If you have a lower pitch or multiple valleys and other details, the snow might hang up on it.

But on ranch houses, chalets, or other simple roofs, the snow slides off like a charm. This helps aleviate weight, ice dams, and worries.  But with the event of snow sliding off, it creates another issue. What will falling ice and snow damage?  Snow jacks and fences can help solve this problem.  They hold the snow, or can let it be released a little bit at a time.

5.  Shape of Roof- This effects the cost of a metal roof more than shingles. Details like valleys, dormers, chimneys, skylights, and hips slow down the labor and add to the cost due to the trims being an expensive part of metal roofs.

Metal roofs are becoming more and more popular, but they aren’t for everyone.  Be sure to ask your contractor what system will work for you.