Metal Roof vs. Shingle Roof
October 2, 2016 1:52 PM   Subscribe

My roof has been leaking and now the verdict is in: it's time for a whole new roof on my somewhat hodgepodge mid 60s ranch style house. Should I replace the old shingles with new ones or go full metal?

The roofers (who have done a great job previously for 2 of my friends so I like and trust them) gave me an estimate for a new 30 year shingle roof and a folder full of color choices to pick from. I asked about a metal roof and they said it was doable but would be about another $1000 as there's a skylight that will have to be replaced. Is it worth it?

Metal roofs seem to be very trendy right now. I have to say I like the way they look and I like the idea that they're basically indestructible. Or I think they are - is that true? Are they really better than shingle roofs? And, most importantly, are they significantly hotter than shingle? I don't have central air and my house gets crazy hot in the summer as it is, so I don't want to do anything that might make that worse. I asked the roofers about a lighter colored shingle roof but they said it would make very little difference as the "attic" - it's a scary crawl space full of 70s era rock wool insulation - is vented at the ridge line. Or at least that's what I think they said. My rooferese is not fluent. I have a whole house attic fan which cools the house significantly as long as the temperature drops sufficiently at night.

Here is my house. It is built into a hill which slopes away, hence the house is much taller at the back than the front. There's a covered porch on the back that already has a tin roof over plywood. I am in Asheville NC. Any and all roof information is good, because I really don't know anything!
posted by mygothlaundry to Home & Garden (22 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I don't know about the general case, but I lived in a 120 year old house for a while, which had 20 or 30 years of deferred maintenance. And while the apparently original metal roof had a couple of leaky spots that needed tidying up, it was essentially sound. This in middle-west Illinois where torrential rain, vicious wind, and fairly extreme temperatures are not unknown.
posted by wotsac at 2:52 PM on October 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I did a lot of research on roofs recently. The metal ones ("stone coated steel") are indestructible, yeah, and fireproof. If I were in an area that had any danger of wildfire, that's what I'd get. However, most fires in my area start in the kitchen, and the steel ones turn out to NOT be great for firefighting efforts. They heat up to make it very hard to access interior fires from the roof. I went with composite shingle for this reason and it was also significantly cheaper.
posted by fingersandtoes at 3:13 PM on October 2, 2016

I'm working on a project now that includes repairs to what we think is the original 100 year old metal roof. There does seem to be variation in the quality of new metal roofs, though, and I'm not as confident about the kind you see on suburban strip malls.

You can get pretty light colored metal for roofs, more so than shingles. Solar reflectance is the measure of how much light the roof will reflect back to the sky instead of absorbing as heat to begin with, and emissivity I think measures how quickly absorbed heat will dissipate. You should be able to get those numbers for any roofing material made by a major manufacturer off their website.
posted by sepviva at 3:13 PM on October 2, 2016

If you can afford metal, you should get metal. It is the go-to material in Southeast Alaska, where it rains constantly. Make sure you have someone who knows how to install it and you will never have to think about it again.
posted by Foam Pants at 3:22 PM on October 2, 2016 [5 favorites]

Best answer: I'm concerned about the low price difference. Here in L.A. where we also need a whole new roof on a 60s-style ranch house we're being quoted 2x as much for metal. Do these guys know what they're doing with metal?
posted by BlahLaLa at 3:50 PM on October 2, 2016 [7 favorites]

My son and a friend just put a shingle roof on my house. The shingles are rated Energy Star, they're a very light gray and will supposedly reflect away more of the sun's heat than darker ones.
posted by mareli at 4:22 PM on October 2, 2016

metal worth every extra dollar what foam pants said
posted by patnok at 4:23 PM on October 2, 2016 [2 favorites]

I will only ever put a metal roof on anything I own.
posted by humboldt32 at 4:53 PM on October 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Metal roof done well is great, metal roof done poorly is a nightmare.
Part of the "low price difference" - which I noted as well, may be they are talking exposed fastener metal roofing. If so, that is a no-go for me.
Screws go through the metal into the deck. There is usually a little rubber washer on the screw, which, if the screw is put in straight, will seal it. For a while. Metal expands and contracts more per given temp difference than wood. The screws don't move, at least theoretically. They get shoved around by the metal sheet every day, the metal has to slot itself out or move the screw. If the screw starts wiggling, it will back out.
The other thing they may be thinking is putting the metal roof down without removing the shingles that are there now. You'll see those shingles telegraph through the metal sooner or later, meantime, the metal is sliding back and forth over the granules in the shingles, knocking the paint off the back. Paint on metal roofing is *really* thin. Metal roof manufacturers won't warrant such an installation.
The other option is concealed fastener metal roofing like standing seam, but you are most likely looking at more than double the cost of a shingle roof.
Shingle roofing can be patched, much harder to patch a metal roof.
Another option you can throw into the pot is PVC roofing with applied ribs. They'd need to put down some cover board first, which can be insulation board.
I'm about to do this on a school project as the original flashing is copper, which would be a problem with a steel metal roof. The flashing is though the brick into the wall cavity, and would be very difficult to replace with something else, like $150 a lineal foot difficult.
PVC is easy to patch, it is flexible, and can conform to weird conditions easily. It is all heat welded together into one big happy membrane. You's be looking at say 9.50/sq. ft., vs. 4.50 a square foot for shingles (Prices from my area of the country, the southeast).
A standing seam concealed fastener roof is going to be in the 8-10 a square foot range in my neck of the woods, complete tear off, complete underlayment of self adhering membrane over the deck, then the metal. Self adhering membrane is like ice and water shield, but a bit beefier. it might be more on a small project.
If you do decide to go metal, consider that it can be laid on battens, which will leave an air space underneath it, which can then be vented.
having said all that, we just put the energy star shingles on my friend's project house.
Breaking prices down a bit more, figure $1/SF to remove shingles, $1/sq. ft. for the peel and stick underlayment, then maybe 2.50/sq. ft. for shingles, or 6 to 8 for a good metal system.
posted by rudd135 at 4:55 PM on October 2, 2016 [5 favorites]

OK. Metal roofs are great for heavy hefty snow and are prominent in Vermont. My in-laws converter theirs over probably 8 years ago now. I remember the change well, because it made rainstorms a lot louder. Snow is quiet, and comes off the roof easily. Ice plinks up against it and comes off very easily. Regular hail hasn't affected it much, but I'd hate to see what heavy hail does to it, because it will dent.

I lived in SC for a few years and used to go up to Ashville NC a lot even in the winter. If I was to consider Ashville winters vs Ashville rain season, I'd rather not hear the plinky plinky plink for the 5/6 of the year where there is potential heavy rain.
posted by Nanukthedog at 5:09 PM on October 2, 2016

I replaced our concrete barrel tiled roof 12 years ago with a metal one. 3 bedroom 2 bath 1800 sq foot ranch style house. Have been happy ever since, no issues and it looks the same as the day it was installed. I don't notice any rain noise unless it's especially heavy. I have pretty thick insulation so maybe that's why I don't hear the rain? I will say that if you have gutters, get those replaced by larger / sturdier ones as the the metal roof sends the rain down like a crazy slip and slide. Summery: metal rules!
posted by HappyHippo at 5:23 PM on October 2, 2016

Cute house! I have a metal roof and I love it for its look and durability. The previous owners put it in and I'll be ever grateful. I've dealt with leaking in other parts of the house -- older additions of a skylight and a flat roof -- but not up top! If you can afford a metal roof and have it done right, I'm sure it'll be a worthy investment.
posted by smorgasbord at 6:02 PM on October 2, 2016

Yes, i will second (or third) the concerns about the minimal price difference between the shingle and metal roof quotes you got. I had the same experience as the other where the metal roof quote came in at least twice (or more) of the estimate of the architectural shingle roof.

I want to do metal roof on my house but I would probably go with the shingles and spend the extra money on insulation. That's probably why your house gets so hot. Since the shingles will be coming off, it will not be much extra work for them to put down some cellulose insulation when the ridge is off. That will probably be the easiest and simplest way to get insulation in your attice and along with air sealing your roof, will go a long way into making your house more energy efficient. Think cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.
posted by eatcake at 6:41 PM on October 2, 2016

Best answer: Just how long do you expect to be in your home? Higher life shingles are the best value. Especially if you can spend the extra 1k on something like rigid insulation or any other insulation the installers feel is appropriate in your particular construction.

Metal is a PITA if you ever need to make a repair and it will not help your heat issue.

Choose a shingle with high albedo (reflectivity) and you'll be fine.

An inexpensive metal roof is not the way to go. Water intrusion is evil on structures so ask your installer friends which offering has the highest warranty and fewest installation issues. I figure you're getting a nice quality shingle vs lower quality metal roof quote. As mentioned above, absolutely avoid exposed fastener metal roofs!
posted by mightshould at 7:04 PM on October 2, 2016

Metal if you can afford it. A standing seam metal roof has at least twice the life of a shingle roof, requires no maintanence, and is 100% recyclable when it does need replacement. Plus if you collect rain water the run off from a metal roof is cleaner. And IMO a metal roof looks better.

I've lived in three houses with metal roofs and the only time I've ever been able to here the rain is when I've been sitting near an open window. And even then it just adds some variation to the rain noise; it isn't so loud as to be deafening or objectionable.

However the price differential is wrong. You are either getting ripped off on the shingles or they aren't quoting an honest price on the metal. (Or maybe the roofers are quoting this for a winter job? One of the advantages of metal is it can be installed in cooler temps than shingles). Get a couple more quotes.
rudd135: "Shingle roofing can be patched, much harder to patch a metal roof. "

Metal roofs generally don't need patching. In the unlikely event a tree or something damages a panel you just replace the entire panel which while more expensive than patching a couple shingles is essentially as good as the original roof where as a shingle patch is always questionable.

Nanukthedog: "Regular hail hasn't affected it much, but I'd hate to see what heavy hail does to it, because it will dent."

A hail storm that dents a metal roof applied over a solid deck (what you would do on your house) heavily damages a shingle roof. So insurance claim either way. However a dented metal roof is still water tight; a hail damaged shingle roof isn't.
posted by Mitheral at 7:20 PM on October 2, 2016 [2 favorites]

The other thing they may be thinking is putting the metal roof down without removing the shingles that are there now.

As a volunteer firefighter I've seen the consequences of that kind of installation, and would strongly advise that nobody ever do that ever.

Wood - especially old, punky wood - bakes to a moisture content of approximately zero after a few years under metal roofing. It then lights very easily and burns incredibly hot.
posted by flabdablet at 9:58 PM on October 2, 2016

Best answer: First re-roofing we did composite three-tab shingles. We are not professionals, just dedicated homeowners with time and energy and the ability to ask questions at Lowes and Home Depot.
We stripped down to the plywood, replaced some, rolled out the tar paper and added caulk over any nail holes, then put down the shingles. Think like a drop of water and you'll do fine. It took several weeks to get it all done on a simple gable roof with cross-gabled garage and sun-room and a chimney.
Next re-roofing (different house) we went metal. It was quick, like putting together Lego blocks. Three weekend jobs with several relatives, and the local builders supply carried the screws and other supplies. They could have delivered, but we went direct to the factory with a flat-bed trailer.
If you do it yourself (or have someone else do it) get a long panel and cut off shorter pieces as needed, rather than short factory cuts. We have a can of exterior paint (Valspar) that we used to edge panels as we cut them with a small hand-held circular saw.
You must use gloves and safety goggles for this project, no exceptions.

Please, please, never get on the metal roof! It will be slick as glass.
Make sure roofers carry insurance.
Let someone else rivet in the fasteners after the panels are in place. We still went over the rivet holes with caulk as we worked.

We've done two houses, and have relatives that did two more. We will never do shingles again.
It's a 50-year Energy Star roof, which is noted for house insurance. Cosmetic dings are not insured, but as another poster said, if it dents metal, it goes right through singles.
We chose brown, but for heat I would suggest tan or beige and a good insulation in the attic. Do remove existing roofing down to the plywood and use "Ice and Water" self-adhesive roll on the bottom and side roof edges, then regular tar paper.
We used a ridge venting system, as the ridge cover lets out heat. There is a trick to this, so make sure the roofer has experience. Get estimates and look at those finished roofs.

Do the whole roof in one go, even the parts that are already metal. Then you can sit back and relax, and never worry about re-roofing under normal conditions.
posted by TrishaU at 11:25 PM on October 2, 2016 [2 favorites]

"... if it dents metal, it goes right through shingles." Oops.
We live in Oklahoma, the land that broke the Fugita tornado scale. We have not had problems with damage, heat or cold, but our attic is well-insulated.
Note the direction that the panels are installed. We start at the east and work west, at the south and work north. Wind and wind-driven rain are factors.
Good guttering and run-off control are a must. Rain absolutely pours off the roof valleys. Ice hangs in sheets as soon as the sun comes out crashes off the edges -- knock it gently down first.
posted by TrishaU at 11:39 PM on October 2, 2016

Best answer: We had our aging asphalt shingles replaced with a metal shingle-style Decra about half a decade ago. Many people visualize vertical panel/standing seam metal roofs when they think of the term "metal roof", but you can get shingle-style products, and these are not obviously metal to the untrained eye.

Despite looking like shingles, the Decra material is actually multiple shingle shapes stamped into large metal sheets, and the large metal sheets each interlock vertically as they are laid on the roof, making for an extremely robust and strong system, with little chance for water penetration.

The biggest concern is that installing a metal roof requires different techniques, so your local roofing crew might not be up to the task. Make sure your installers are certified and experienced with the material you end up selecting. I caught our installer making a number of small mistakes, which was kind of annoying.

The quote you received for $1000 more is disturbingly low. Ours was about two to three times more than the quotes we were getting for traditional asphalt shingle, depending on the specifics. However, I sleep well knowing that I'll probably be dead before the roof needs to be redone.
posted by jgreco at 1:28 AM on October 3, 2016

When the house gets re-roofed, shingles aren't really recycle-able. Steel is. If that matters to you, it's one more item to list.
posted by theora55 at 6:19 AM on October 3, 2016

Steel roof, no question. The only reason I'd consider a shingle roof is in a heavy snow load area where you need your roof to hold onto snow.

Sounds like with your vented attic, the roof reflectivity won't make much difference. That said, if you want reflective, get unpainted (galvanized) steel. The paint wears out before the roofing does on normal metal roofing, so it will last longer and it is very reflective. Plain galvanized/galvalume roofing will outlast 30-year shingles by many decades.

Nearly every house in my area uses exposed fastener metal roofing. No one uses the fancy stuff. The older houses just have nails through the roofing, without gaskets. It seems to work fine, so I wouldn't worry about this aspect unless you live somewhere where ice damming is a big issues and you have valleys that might be prone to it.
posted by ssg at 6:57 AM on October 3, 2016

Hi, I actually work for a company that roll forms sheet metal roofing, as well as selling roofing products. We're in Georgia, so the climate difference is minimal, but as for it being hotter, it's actually the opposite. The way sheeting is installed on risers, it allows basically a flow through area to the ridge cap providing better circulation.

You also will want to check with the state regarding energy saving discounts due to this factor, I know here you can get tax credits for energy efficiency, similar to adding insulation into the attic.

As for indestructibility, you'll want to make sure that you work with a contractor who is going to take care in installation. They ARE basically indestructible in regards to natural elements, such as sun, rain, sleet, snow, etc., but if they get a deep scratch from careless installation, or if a branch falls on the roof that can allow rust to begin, and would require the entire sheet to be replaced.

The other added bonus that many people buy it for, aside from aesthetics, is the sound of rain falling, it's widely regarded as a very calming sound, and can help lull you to sleep, but I suppose that varies between people.
posted by Monkeyswithguns at 12:50 PM on October 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

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