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Compare Pros and Cons of Steel Roofing

Read This Buying Guide Before Installing a Steel Roof

Steel is one of two types of metal roofing (aluminum is the other). Steel is far less common as a roofing material than asphalt, wood or tile, but it has some distinct advantages. Perhaps the biggest perk is lifespan: A steel roof can last for generations.

Steel roofing is available in a variety of designs. There are tiles, shingles, shakes or vertical panels. Many of the styles mimic popular roofing materials such as slate or wood shake. Most metal roofing comes pre-painted, which creates a nice aesthetic and also adds reflective qualities that reduce your energy bills.

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Types of Steel Roofing

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.

Finally, steel roofing comes in various gauges, or thicknesses. The higher the number, the thicker the roof. The most common gauges are 24 and 26.

How Much Does Steel Roofing Cost?

Steel roofing is a premium product, so it comes with a higher price tag than most other roofing materials. The price depends on a number of factors, including the grade, whether the roof is painted or unpainted, local labor rates, roof pitch and roof height.

Steel shingles typically sell for about $2 to $6 per square foot, not including installation. Roofing materials are often sold by the square, or 100 square feet, so you’ll see prices labeled $200 to $600 per square.

Including installation, the total cost for steel roofing is often $500 to $1,000 per square. For a 1,500-square-foot roof, that works out to $7,500 to $15,000.

Metal Roof

Steel Roof Pros

  • Durability - Steel roofs have an extremely long life expectancy. Chances are, the roof will outlive you. Steel seals out water, withstands high winds and easily carries the weight of snow. It resists rot, mildew, fire and insect damage.
  • Lightweight - Steel is very lightweight. A steel roof usually weighs anywhere from 0.5 to 1.5 pounds per square foot. By contrast, asphalt shingles weigh more than 2 pounds per square foot, and tile weighs 7.5 pounds per square foot or more. Because they are light, steel roofs require less structural support.
  • Easy to install - Steel roofing is usually sold in sheets or multi-shingle sections that are easy to install. An experienced roofer can install a steel roof a day or two faster than with other materials.
  • Fewer pitch restrictions - Unlike other roofing materials, steel can be installed on a gradually pitched roof without fear of leaking.

Steel Roof Cons

  • Cost - Steel roofing is considered a premium material. Thus, it is more expensive than more common roofing materials. If you stay in the house for a long time, steel is worth the extra expense. If you sell in a few years, it is not.
  • Noise - Metal roofing can be noisier than other materials in the rain. Some people are bothered by the noise; others are not. However, keep in mind that a good installer can significantly reduce the noise with proper insulation.
  • Rusting - Steel roofs, as with all metal, are susceptible to rusting, despite the protective barrier designed to prevent it. Different types of steel have different levels of protection.
  • Denting - Steel can be dented or damaged by heavy hail.

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