A Comparison of Metal Shingles vs. Asphalt Shingles for Roof Replacement

Choosing the right roofing material for your roof replacement is a critical decision for homeowners. The roof protects the home from the elements and significantly impacts its aesthetic appeal and overall value. Two popular roofing options are metal shingles and asphalt shingles. Each material has unique advantages and disadvantages, making it important for homeowners to understand their differences to make an informed choice.

Material Composition and Design

Understanding the materials and design of metal and asphalt shingles helps homeowners appreciate their functional and aesthetic qualities.

Metal Shingles

Metal shingles are made from various metals, including aluminum, steel, and copper. Aluminum shingles are lightweight and corrosion-resistant, making them suitable for coastal areas. Steel shingles, often coated with zinc (galvanized) or a mixture of zinc and aluminum (Galvalume), offer excellent durability and resistance to rust. While more expensive, copper shingles develop a beautiful patina over time, enhancing their aesthetic appeal.

Metal shingles come in various designs and finishes. They can mimic the appearance of traditional roofing materials like wood shakes, slate, or clay tiles, providing homeowners with a wide range of aesthetic options. The finishes can be smooth, textured, or patterned, and they often come with protective coatings that enhance their longevity and resistance to the elements.

Asphalt Shingles

Asphalt shingles comprise a fiberglass or organic mat base, coated with asphalt, and embedded with mineral granules. The fiberglass base provides strength and resistance to tearing, while the asphalt makes the shingles waterproof. The mineral granules protect the shingles from UV radiation and give them their color.

Asphalt shingles are available in various styles, including three-tab and architectural (dimensional) shingles. Three-tab shingles have a uniform appearance and are the most economical option. Architectural shingles have a thicker, multi-dimensional appearance, resembling wood shakes or slate tiles, and offer enhanced durability and aesthetic appeal.

Durability and Lifespan

Durability and lifespan are crucial when choosing a roofing material, as they directly impact the roof’s long-term performance and maintenance needs.

Metal Shingles

Metal shingles are renowned for their durability and long lifespan. Depending on material and environmental conditions, they can last 40 to 70 years or more. Metal shingles are highly resistant to severe weather conditions, including high winds, hail, and heavy snow. They are also non-combustible, providing excellent fire resistance. Additionally, metal shingles do not rot, warp, or crack, making them a low-maintenance option.

Asphalt Shingles

Asphalt shingles have a shorter lifespan than metal shingles, typically lasting 15 to 30 years. The longevity of asphalt shingles depends on the quality of the materials and the installation, as well as the environmental conditions. While asphalt shingles are resistant to wind and hail, they are more susceptible to damage from extreme weather conditions, such as severe winds and temperature fluctuations. Over time, asphalt shingles can crack, curl, and lose granules, requiring periodic maintenance and replacement.

Comparative Analysis

When comparing durability and lifespan, metal shingles have a clear advantage over asphalt shingles. Their superior resistance to weather elements and longer lifespan make them a more durable and cost-effective option in the long run.

Installation Process and Costs

The installation process and associated costs are important, affecting the overall expense and time required for a roofing project.

Metal Shingles

Installing metal shingles requires specialized skills and tools, making it more complex and labor-intensive than asphalt shingles. Metal shingles are installed like traditional shingles, but the precise alignment and securing of the metal panels require careful attention. The average installation cost for metal shingles ranges from $10,000 to $20,000 for a standard 2,000-square-foot roof, depending on the type of metal and the complexity of the roof design.

Asphalt Shingles

Asphalt shingles are easier and faster to install, making them a popular choice for DIY enthusiasts and professional roofers. The installation involves laying down the shingles in overlapping rows, starting from the bottom edge of the roof and working upward. The average installation cost for asphalt shingles ranges from $5,000 to $10,000 for a standard 2,000-square-foot roof, making them a more affordable option in terms of upfront costs.

Comparative Analysis

While asphalt shingles are more affordable and easier to install, metal shingles offer longer-term savings due to their durability and lower maintenance requirements. Homeowners should weigh the higher initial cost of metal shingles against their long-term benefits when deciding.

Maintenance Requirements

Regular maintenance is essential to prolong the lifespan of any roofing material and ensure its optimal performance.

Metal Shingles

Metal shingles require minimal maintenance. Periodic inspections are recommended to check for loose or damaged shingles and ensure the protective coatings are intact. Cleaning the roof to remove debris and prevent the accumulation of leaves and branches will help maintain its appearance and functionality. Metal shingles are less prone to issues such as moss and algae growth, which can be common with other roofing materials.

Asphalt Shingles

Asphalt shingles require frequent maintenance to address issues such as cracked, curled, or missing shingles. Regular inspections are necessary to check for signs of wear and tear, especially after severe weather events. Cleaning the roof to remove debris, moss, and algae is important to prevent damage and prolong the shingles’ lifespan. Additionally, asphalt shingles may need periodic resealing to maintain their waterproofing capabilities.

Comparative Analysis

Metal shingles have the advantage of requiring less frequent maintenance compared to asphalt shingles. This low-maintenance aspect, combined with their durability, makes metal shingles a more convenient and cost-effective for homeowners.

Aesthetic Appeal and Variety

A roof’s aesthetic appeal significantly impacts a home’s overall look, making it an important consideration for homeowners.

Metal Shingles

Metal shingles offer various aesthetic options, allowing homeowners to achieve various looks and styles. They can mimic the appearance of traditional materials like wood shakes, slate, and clay tiles, providing a versatile choice for different architectural styles. Metal shingles are available in numerous colors and finishes, from matte and textured to glossy and reflective, enabling homeowners to customize their roof’s appearance to match their preferences and the overall design of their home.

Asphalt Shingles

Asphalt shingles also provide a variety of styles and colors, making them a popular choice for homeowners seeking a specific look. Three-tab shingles offer a uniform and traditional appearance, while architectural shingles add depth and dimension to the roof, resembling more expensive materials like wood shakes or slate. The wide range of color options available for asphalt shingles allows homeowners to select shades that complement their home’s exterior and enhance its curb appeal.

Comparative Analysis

Both metal and asphalt shingles offer various aesthetic options, but metal shingles provide more versatility in terms of design and the ability to mimic other materials. Homeowners looking for a unique and customizable look may prefer metal shingles, while those seeking a traditional and cost-effective option may lean towards asphalt shingles.

Environmental Impact and Energy Efficiency

Roofing materials’ environmental impact and energy efficiency are becoming increasingly important for eco-conscious homeowners.

Metal Shingles

Metal shingles are an environmentally friendly roofing option. They are typically made from recycled materials and are fully recyclable at the end of their lifespan. Metal shingles are also highly energy-efficient, reflecting solar heat and reducing cooling costs in the summer. Some metal shingles come with cool roof coatings that enhance their reflective properties, improving energy efficiency and reducing the home’s carbon footprint.

Asphalt Shingles

Asphalt shingles have a higher environmental impact compared to metal shingles. The production process for asphalt shingles involves using petroleum-based products, which contributes to greenhouse gas emissions. Additionally, asphalt shingles are not easily recyclable and often end up in landfills at the end of their lifespan. However, some manufacturers are developing more sustainable asphalt shingles that incorporate recycled materials and offer better energy efficiency.

Comparative Analysis

Metal shingles have a clear advantage regarding environmental impact and energy efficiency. Their recyclability and reflective properties make them a more sustainable choice for homeowners looking to reduce their environmental footprint.

Cost Considerations

The roofing materials and installation cost is a major factor for homeowners, impacting the overall budget for a roofing project.

Metal Shingles

Metal shingles have a higher upfront cost compared to asphalt shingles. The average cost for materials and installation ranges from $10,000 to $20,000 for a standard 2,000-square-foot roof. However, the long-term financial implications of metal shingles can be favorable due to their durability, low maintenance requirements, and energy efficiency. Homeowners may see a return on investment through lower maintenance and repair costs, reduced energy bills, and potentially higher resale value.

Asphalt Shingles

Asphalt shingles are more affordable in terms of initial costs, with materials and installation averaging between $5,000 and $10,000 for a standard 2,000-square-foot roof. While the lower upfront cost is appealing, homeowners should consider the long-term costs associated with more frequent maintenance, potential repairs, and shorter lifespan. Over time, these factors can make asphalt shingles more expensive in the long run compared to metal shingles.

Comparative Analysis

While asphalt shingles offer a lower initial cost, metal shingles provide better long-term value due to their durability, low maintenance, and energy efficiency. Homeowners should weigh the upfront savings of asphalt shingles against the long-term benefits of metal shingles when deciding.


Choosing between metal and asphalt shingles involves considering various factors, including material composition, durability, installation costs, maintenance requirements, aesthetic appeal, environmental impact, and overall cost. Metal shingles offer superior durability, longer lifespan, and better energy efficiency, making them a more sustainable and cost-effective option in the long run. Asphalt shingles, on the other hand, provide a more affordable initial cost and a variety of styles and colors, making them a popular choice for many homeowners.

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