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Metal Roofs - Average Costs, Pros & Cons, and Types

Should I Install a Metal Roof? A Complete Buyer's Guide

Metal roofs are not all that common, primarily due to the price. But there’s a good reason metal roofing is more expensive than asphalt: It can last three times as long. Asphalt might last 15 to 20 years, while metal could very well outlive you.

Most metal roofs range in price from $500 to $1,000 per square installed. A square is equal to 100 square feet. So for a house that needs 25 squares, which is fairly average, budget $12,500 to $25,000. We’ll get into more detail about cost later on in this guide, but first some basic information about metal roofing.

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About Metal Roofing

Metal roofing typically lasts about 40 to 60 years. It can withstand extreme weather and harsh conditions, including high wind, heavy snow, hail - even wildfires. It is one of the strongest and most durable roofing materials you can buy.

Some people are scared off by the idea of metal - they imagine the roof will look severe, industrial, even ugly. However, most modern residential metal roofing is designed to mimic the look of other roofing materials, including asphalt shingles, slate roofing, cedar shake or clay tile. Many colors, styles and designs are available.

Types of Metal Roofing

Steel and aluminum are the two most common types of metal roofs, but other options include copper, zinc, titanium and stainless steel.

Steel roofing has a protective coating that protects it from rusting. There are two types of coatings: galvanized, made of 100 percent zinc, and galvalume, a mixture of zinc and aluminum. The galvalume coating offers more protection in most cases, but it is typically more expensive, too.

Both galvanized and galvalume steel roofing are available in a variety of grades. Galvanized steel is available in G-40, G-60 and G-90, with higher numbers indicating better quality. For homes, most experts recommend G-90. Galvalume is available in AZ-50 or AZ-55, both of which are roughly equivalent to G-90.

Aluminum roofing, which is preferable to steel for homes near the ocean because it stands up better to heavy-salt environments, does not require a metallic coating. It tends to be slightly more expensive.

Metal Roof

Metal Roofing Installation

There are two types of fastening systems used for metal roofs: exposed and concealed (often called standing seam). Exposed fastener systems cost less and are easier to install, but many people consider them less attractive. It’s a good idea to look at pictures of both before making your decision - the difference may or may not matter to you.

All metal roofs require an underlayment for extra protection. Some roofers use asphalt-saturated felt, while others user newer synthetic products. The cost of the underlayment should always be included in the price you are quoted.

Finally, all metal roofs need to be on a solid sheathing to eliminate excess noise. Sheathing options include plywood and oriented strand board (OSB). With this added layer of protection, a metal roof will be no louder in rain, hail or other inclement weather than an asphalt roof.

Cost of Metal Roofing

Metal roofing costs at least twice as much as asphalt - sometimes three times as much. It is relatively close in price to cedar shake or tile roofing, but it lasts much longer.

  • A steel roof with exposed seams might cost $500 to $700 per square, which works out to $12,500 to $17,500 for a roof that needs 25 squares.
  • A standing-seam steel roof is likely to cost $700 to $1,000 per square, or $17,500 to $25,000 for 25 squares. Aluminum roofs fall in the same general price range.
  • Metals such as copper and zinc can go for $1,000 to $1,500 per square.

Tear off and disposal of your old roofing - even if it’s not metal - usually costs $100 to $150 per square. Budget on the low end of that range for removal of a single layer and the higher end for multiple layers. Heavier roofing materials will be more expensive to remove than lighter ones.

Extras such as an ice and water protection membrane or replacement of plywood decking cost about $50 to $100 per square foot. City or town permits can run several hundred dollars.

Energy Savings

Another major perk to metal roofing is its energy efficiency. Unpainted metal roofs and pre-painted metal roofs in light colors reflect the sun’s heat away from your home, reducing energy bills, particularly in warm climates. In studies, metal roofing has been shown to retain its reflective qualities longer than other roofing materials.

To make sure you’re getting an energy efficient roof, look for one that is Energy Star rated. Installing Energy Star-rated metal roofing may also qualify you for a tax credit worth 10 percent of the cost of your new roof, up to $500.

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