Metal Roof vs. Asphalt Shingle Roof: The Complete Guide

By HomeAdvisor

Updated January 20, 2021

What’s the Difference Between an Asphalt Shingle and Metal Roof?

Asphalt shingle roofing is a dominant material for residences. However, metal roofing is surging in popularity as more aesthetic options become available. Now, there are metal shingles and panels that imitate materials like slate, tile, wood shake and even asphalt.

It’s important to navigate the pros and cons of each material before you decide which to use because this is a significant and long-term investment. Below we compare the two side-by-side in categories such as cost, durability and return on investment.

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Metal Roofing Types

Metal is light, energy efficient and durable. It comes in a variety of formats and designs, including shingles, standing seam, wooden shake and tile. This makes it a versatile and appealing product.

Types of Metal Roofing
Metal About
Tin Roof
  • Inexpensive
  • Pliable and easy to shape
  • No longer a common roofing material
  • “Tin roofing” is often used to describe steel or aluminum
  • Expensive
  • One of the most durable
  • Withstands expansion/contraction
  • Many options for finishes
  • Moderately priced
  • Most sustainable and recyclable
  • No Corrosion
  • Expands/Contracts Easily
  • Expensive
  • Natural, recyclable material
  • Can be soldered
  • Life expectancy up to 100 years
  • Expensive
  • Natural, recyclable material
  • Soft and vulnerable to hail and impact
  • Pliable and easy to shape
  • Life expectancy up to 100 years
Seam Standing Metal
  • “Ribbed” appearance
  • Design allows for easy expansion and contraction
  • Can be made from steel, aluminum, copper or zinc

Asphalt Roofs

Asphalt shingles are the most popular roofing material. They are available in a variety of colors and textures, are low-cost and provide a traditional aesthetic.

Fiberglass core or matting, an asphalt coating and a ceramic or stone granule surface give this material its durability. The granules protect the shingles from climate conditions and UV rays.

Standard three-tab are the most common type of shingle, but laminated and architectural asphalt shingles are gaining popularity as they become more widely available.

Architectural Shingles

Architectural shingles, also known as “laminate” or “dimensional” shingles, are made up of the same elements as their traditional counterparts, but are heavier, thicker and more expensive.

They will last longer than three-tab products and have longer warranties. You’ll find them in a variety of colors and textures, some of which simulate wood and slate, and many homeowners are attracted to the “dimensional” effect of the mixed sizes of these shingles.

Consult with a pro when choosing a roof

Pros & Cons of Metal vs Asphalt Shingle Roofs

When it comes to these two materials, there are categories in which one or the other is clearly the best choice. But, there are also categories in which the choice comes down to preference.

The following guide addresses the advantages and disadvantages of metal roofing in general (rather than particular sub-types) versus three-tab asphalt shingles. This chart outlines the best options for major considerations and uses.

Which is Better: Metal or Shingle Roof?
Metal is best for… Asphalt shingles are best for…
Variety Appearance
Longevity Affordability
Durability Lower Labor Costs
Resistance to Elements DIYers
Painting and Sealing Uniformity with Neighborhood
Resale Value
Energy Efficiency



  • Enough variety to find a color and style that complements any home.
  • Products available that imitate other materials for a non-metal appearance.


  • Strikes an “agricultural” tone and can look “out of place” in suburban areas.


  • One of the most visually appealing options because there are enough color and texture options to find the style that complements your home.
  • More likely to be consistent with other houses in the area.


  • Dark tones due to the color of the surface granules.
  • Consistency with other homes may appear dull to some.

Most Visually Appealing: Asphalt



  • There is a significant amount of variety available, from the type of metal to the color and the format (tile, shingle, panel, ribbed).
  • Some products imitate wood and asphalt.


  • Unique style options come at a higher price point.


  • Come in a variety of colors
  • Options available that look like wood, such as cedar shake, and slate.
  • Several options for weight, pattern and size.


  • Most builders stick with standard colors, textures and shades because they are widely available and low-cost.

Most Options Available: Metal

Cost Comparison

Most roofing materials are priced by square (100 square feet) or by bundle (33.3 square feet). To see how these prices compare to those of alternatives like wood, clay and even solar, review our comprehensive guide to shingle roofing costs.


Averages $100-$200 per square. For an average ranch home roof of 2,000 square feet, that’s $2,000-$4,000 before installation.


Averages $60-$90 per square. For a 2,000 square foot roof, that’s $1,200-$1,800 before installation.

Most Affordable Matrial: Asphalt

Cheapest to Install

  • Metal roofs cost an average of $4,500 to $11,500 including installation and materials.
  • Labor itself averages $300 to $500 per square and $4,500-$7,500 for a 1,500 square foot roof.
  • Asphalt shingle roofing costs $2,000 to $10,000 for installation and materials.
  • Longer-lasting options tend to range higher, between $11,000 and $14,000.
  • Labor costs around $2-$3 per square foot, $200-$300 per square and $3,000-$4,500 for a 1,500 square foot roof.
Lowest Labor Cost: Asphalt

DIY Installation

Regardless of material, installing a roof is dangerous work that requires specific skills, tools and safety equipment. We do not suggest that any homeowner pursue this project on their own.


  • Many are light and easy to work with
  • Can often install without removing the old roofing.


  • Often calls for underlayment and plywood framing, which requires specific skills.
  • Some types are much heavier to work with.
  • It can cut the skin if handled improperly or without gloves.


  • Relatively easy to work with and install.


  • Could void product warranties.
  • May need to remove the old roofing, which adds time.

Easiest to DIY: Asphalt

Length of Life

You can get the longest life out of your roofing materials if you have them installed professionally and properly, you adhere to best roofing maintenance practices and you use the best materials for your climate and environment.

  • Metal: about 40-70 years.
  • Asphalt: around 15 to 20 years. Heavier or laminated products can last 25 to 30 years.
Longest Life Expectancy: Metal

Energy Efficiency


  • Extremely energy efficient.
  • Especially effective in reducing energy consumption in summer.
  • Typically made from recycled materials.
  • Continuously recyclable.


  • If installed incorrectly, efficiency will not be as high.


  • Absorbs heat and warms the home in the winter.


  • Heat absorption is a disadvantage in the summer time.
  • Products typically end up in landfills, are not recyclable and contain chemicals that are toxic.

Greenest Material: Metal

Durability & Weight


  • Extremely durable, lightweight and water resistant – some of the greatest benefits of metal roofing.
  • It’s durability contributes to long life expectancy and resistance to the elements.


  • Susceptible to denting from hail or fallen branches.


  • Their heavy weight (compared to some metals like aluminum) makes them less prone to uplift.


  • Less durable than metal, and can be heavier.
  • 100 square feet could weigh 200 to 500 pounds

Most Durable: Metal

Fire, Water & Hail Resistance


  • Resistant to weather, fire and climate conditions.
  • Does not rot.
  • Can be fortified against rust with a coating.
  • Seals out water and prevents water damage.


  • Prone to dents in hail storms, especially thinner varieties.


  • Many have high ratings for fire safety.
  • There are impact-resistant product options at a higher rate.


  • Standard varieties are vulnerable to weather and climate.
  • Can grow moss and algae.
  • Could incur damage from hail and UV rays.

Greatest Resistance: Metal

Painting or Sealing


  • Painting and coating are simple processes that keep the roof in good condition and protect it from the elements.
  • When unpainted or uncoated, it is vulnerable to rust and corrosion.
  • Professionally coating a metal roof costs $1-$2 per square foot.


  • A full paint job or repainting is a significant endeavor, and painting a metal roof costs between $1,100 and $3,700.
  • You will need to make this investment every few years, which adds to the cost of your investment over time.


  • These products benefit from sealing because it protects them from weather, leaks and sun exposure.
  • Pros can apply a sealant upon installation and use it to fix leaks in the future.


  • If your shingles need resealing, it is safest and most efficient to hire a professional.
  • Also, using a sealant to repair a leak is not a long-term fix and it may be more efficient to replace individual shingles.

Ideal for Painting/Sealing: Metal

ROI & Resale Value

In general, installing a new roof can add resale value and has consistently high returns on investment. According to Remodeling magazine’s 2018 Cost vs. Value Report, a midrange roofing replacement has a 68.4 percent ROI.


  • This material is energy efficient, long-lasting and weather resistant, all of which are draws for buyers.
  • It can raise resale value and have a high return on investment.


  • Resale value and ROI may not be as high if the style and color do not fit buyers’ tastes or the aesthetic of the area.


  • Architectural shingles will have a greater return than traditional ones.


  • Because this style is standard, it doesn’t have a larger impact on resale value or ROI beyond the benefit of a new roof.

Greatest Returns: Metal
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Metal and Asphalt versus Tile and Composite

Tile and composite are two other options to consider for this project. Composite is comparable to architectural asphalt shingles in price, where tile is comparable to metal. Tile is renewable and energy efficient like metal. Both will require less maintenance and last longer than asphalt. The below chart outlines how each compare in important areas of concern.

Pros and Cons of Tile and Composite Roofing
Material About
  • Tile roofing and installation cost $6,500-$17,500.
  • Over 50-year life expectancy
  • Low maintenance
  • Recyclable
  • Clay is a green material
  • Concrete is energy efficient
  • Expensive
  • Heavy
  • Susceptible to impact from hail or branches
  • Difficult installation
Composite (synthetic)
  • $5,000-$8,000 for installation and materials
  • Over 50-year life expectancy
  • Low maintenance
  • Lightweight
  • Resistant to elements
  • Doesn’t add value in way of natural materials
  • Can look synthetic
  • Hasn’t been on market long, so less proven benefits
Looking for a Roofing Pro?


Is Metal More Expensive Than Asphalt to Install on a Roof?

In most cases, metal roofing and installation is more expensive than asphalt. However, there are expensive architectural shingles that cost more than lower-cost metals like aluminum.

Can You Add Metal Roofing over Shingles?

You can usually install metal roofing over shingles because most types are lightweight, thin and pliable. However, it is best to consult with a professional as to your situation. You want to be sure that the roof and shingles are in suitable shape for the project.

Check with your local building department or county because they may require that you remove the shingles or have a thorough inspection before installing a new roof. For example, many building departments set a two-layer limit on residential roofing.

Is It Difficult to Replace Asphalt with Metal?

Replacing shingles with metal roofing is not necessarily difficult, but it will require labor and time. The removal itself could cost anywhere from $3 to $5 per square foot. However, you do have the option of leaving the shingles in place and installing the roofing over them if the roof is in good shape.

Need a Pro for your roofing project?


  1. Joe, June 18:

    Can you install a new metal roof over an old one

  2. Judy, August 13:

    A metal roof which is rusty will need what kind of service and paint?

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