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Shingles v. Tin Roof | Which One is Better?

Updated: Feb 20

Getting a new roof is an expensive project, and the two biggest factors to consider are the total amount of money you want to spend on the project and how long you want the roof to last. There are many options available for the type, style, color and texture, and it can be extremely overwhelming. Researching the various materials, knowing what is important to you and how much you can afford will help you make the right decision.

Benefits of Asphalt Shingles

Asphalt shingles have been around for over a hundred years, and they are well known for their reliability, cost-effectiveness and for being relatively maintenance-free. Shingles are cheaper than metal roofing on the front end (normally less than half the price of a metal roof), which is appealing to many homeowners, especially if money is the deciding factor and you're willing to replace your roof within the next 15-20 years.

Shingles are easier and quicker to install. They are prepackaged, ready to be used and can be purchased locally in most big home supply stores. They can be walked on (or hold weight) once they have been secured to the roof and provide better traction for the installers.

Shingles are typically Class A fire-rated but contain asphalt, which is a combustible material. The granules added over the asphalt coating make the shingles a Class A fire rating by making it fire-resistant on the surface, but if a flame or fire reaches the asphalt coating, it is likely to combust and catch on fire.

Shingles can be properly recycled; yet, roughly 15-20 million tons of them end up in landfills every year in the U.S. The problem is that many contractors and consumers are either unaware of the fact, or don’t care that there is an environmentally friendly way to dispose of old shingles responsibly.

Shingles, especially the cheaper 3-tab ones, are damaged much easier than metal roofing, especially during extreme weather conditions such as: wind, hail, and snow. The heat from the sun is drawn to shingles because the dark colors absorb the warmth. That heat is held in and transfers inside the home like solar heat, which in turn, causes the air conditioner to work harder trying to balance the indoor temperature of your home, and meanwhile, it increasing your energy costs.

Other problems that might arise with shingles is that the granules added to produce the color of the shingles and protection can actually flake off of the coating and get stuck in gutters and pipes, and create a blockage problem, and/or mold and mildew could grow in places where excess moisture is unable to dry.

Shingles typically come with better warranties from both the manufacturer and the contractor, including: manufacturer error, material defect, algae growth, wind resistance, and contractor error. In some cases, insurance companies offer a discount on homeowners’ insurance once the new roof is installed. The cheaper 3-tab shingles should last from 10 to 15 years, whereas the architectural shingles should stay intact from 20 to 25 years.

Metal Roofing Pros and Cons

Metal roofing certainly requires more effort for installation because the panels have to be fitted together and connected using screws, which takes more time and precision than a nail gun. It also requires more work and skill on the part of the installer. Additionally, walking on or putting weight on the metal can dent it and in some cases, it can buckle under pressure.

As for longevity, a metal roof will outlast at least three shingled roofs, and those three shingled roofs would end up costing roughly $9,000 more than the one metal roof. A properly installed metal roof could last up to 60 years. So, if saving money in the long run seems like a better option for you, you should choose a metal roof, and it’s very likely that you’ll never have to replace it.

Your insurance company may also offer an additional discount for having a metal roof, and you could qualify for tax credits as well, if the roof is on your primary home. Metal roofs are energy efficient and can save you money on your heating and cooling costs. However, because a metal roof is more expensive, it will cost the insurance company more to replace it should anything happen to your roof. You should discuss these points with your insurance company prior to installing a new roof.

Metal comes in a variety of Energy-Star rated colors and finishes. One of its biggest selling points is that it comes in almost any color, ranging from bright, vivid color to earth tones. Because metal roofs last longer, a home with a metal roof may have a potentially higher property value and help your home sell faster and more easily, especially if the roof is in good condition and wouldn’t need to be replaced. Another plus is that upkeep on a metal roof is minimal, which is an additional selling point for potential buyers.

Additional Considerations

Some Homeowners' Associations (HOAs) do not allow metal roofing to be installed in their neighborhoods on a new or existing home. Common reasons are that metal looks too industrial and goes against the look of a neighborhood. If your property is located in a subdivision with a Homeowners' Association, discuss the rules and regulations with them before installing a new roof.

In comparison, metal and shingles are both viable options for your new roof. It comes down to what you prefer, what looks better with the style of your home, your Homeowners’ Association restrictions (if that applies to you), your budget and how often you want to replace your roof. Weigh all your options, and make your decision knowing you're going to have the roof you choose for an extended period of time.

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