2021 Steel Roof Costs, Pros & Cons – Steel Roofs vs. Asphalt Shingles

For many decades, composition shingle roofs have been the overwhelmingly popular choice for new roof installations and re-roofing applications.

However, thanks to the rapidly growing consumer awareness of all the benefits of modern residential metal roofing, many savvy homeowners are now considering steel sheet panels and stamped tiles as a viable alternative to asphalt shingle roofs. Hence, it is hardly a surprise that metal, which is by and large steel, has become the fastest growing segment in the residential roofing market.

Why Steel Roofs?

Many homeowners concerned with aesthetic appeal are often positively impressed with the wide variety of contemporary styles, profiles, and vibrant colors available in modern steel roofing. Other benefits that help make steel roofs stand out among other roofing products, include low life-cycle cost, superior energy efficiency, and sustainability.

New Shingle Roof

$7,500
Average price
New Metal Roof

$14,500
Average price
New Flat Roof

$8,225
Average price

See costs in your area Enter Your Zip Code

For anyone who wants their roof to be an asset for years to come, rather than it being a constant source of problems, steel roofing can be a wise choice.

Steel is Exceptionally Strong and Durable

Steel is one of the strongest, most durable building materials, which is why it is so widely used in commercial and industrial construction. Your home can benefit from superior durability of steel in several different ways; The inherent material properties of steel make it highly resistant to cracking, warping, curling, or peeling — all of these are common problems associated with asphalt shingles.

Did you know? A steel roof will not be susceptible to rot, decay, discoloration, mold growth or termite infestation. The superior durability of steel will free you from the expensive and time consuming maintenance and repair issues that are often a necessary part of owning most other types of roofing systems.

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Best Roofing Materials for Homes 2021: Material Costs, Plus Pros & Cons

This comprehensive guide to roofing materials is all the research you’ll need to evaluate the top choices for residential re-roofing and new construction projects in 2021.

What to Expect: In this guide, we’ll cover the following most common roofing options: asphalt shingles, cedar wood shingles and shakes, metal shingles and standing seam metal roofs, concrete, clay, and fiber-cement tiles, natural and faux slate, and BiPV solar tile options.

Traditional PV solar panels on a new asphalt shingle roof

For each residential roofing material, we cover the following topics:

  • An overview including how the roofing is made
  • Pros and cons including maintenance, repair, durability, options, home styles they work with and more
  • Cost for materials and installation
  • Choosing your roofing material: The “bottom line” summaries of each type
  • How to save money on a new roof

Types and Styles of Roofing Materials

The most common roofing options presented below cover more than 95 percent of all residential roofs in the United States, so unless you’ve got something unusual in mind like BiPV solar tiles – oh, wait, we’ve included those – or a vegetative green roof, the options you’re considering are likely discussed below.

1. Asphalt/Fiberglass Composition Shingles
2. Wood Shingles and Shakes
3. Metal Roofing
4. Concrete and Clay Roof Tiles
5. Natural and Synthetic Composite Slate Tiles
6. BiPV Solar Shingles and Tiles
7. Low-sloped and Flat Roof Options

Asphalt/Fiberglass Composition Shingles

More than 75 percent of all single-family homes in the US are roofed with asphalt shingles, though that number is slowly shrinking thanks to the more energy-efficient and durable metal roofing.

Asphalt (composition) shingles dominate the market because they are affordable, offer a variety of attractive options, and do a good job protecting homes from the nature’s elements.

There are two main types of asphalt shingles:

  • Fiberglass shingles start with a fiberglass mesh mat that is covered in asphalt and topped with granules that provide color and reflect some of the sunlight. Shingles made with fiberglass are lightweight and resist tearing.
  • Organic asphalt shingles begin with paper, often recycled, that is saturated in asphalt and covered with granules. The shingles are heavier and harder to work with than fiberglass, but they generally offer better stability in high winds. Although you can still see them on many roofs, organic shingles have been mostly phased out or discontinued over the course of last decade. Why? Manufactures have stopped making organic shingles due to their tendency to dry out, become less-waterproof and more prone to excess moisture absorption.

Pros and Cons of Asphalt Shingles

The reasons to choose asphalt shingles are:

  • Fiberglass shingles offer good fire protection
  • Look good on most any style home
  • Shingles are often the most affordable roofing option, especially in good/better ranges
  • The best asphalt shingles are a 30-year roof solution installed on homes located in moderate climates
  • The cheapest 3-tab shingles are an affordable way to dress up a home before putting on the market
  • Broad selection of colors and styles including affordable three-tab and architectural shingles that mimic shakes and slate
  • DIY asphalt shingle installation is possible for those with good skills, experience, and equipment
  • No support beyond standard roof sheathing is required for shingles
  • 3-tab shingles are rated for 60-70 MPH wind uplift, while standard architectural shingles are rated for 110 MPH winds; high-wind shingles are rated for 130 MPH
  • High-impact shingles such as the ones manufactured by GAF should be used for heavily wooded locations and areas where large hail is possible
  • Some shingle repairs are easy and cost-effective

A few words of caution about asphalt shingles:

  • The lifetime cost of shingles is higher than metal, tile, or slate, because composition shingles must be replaced more frequently
  • Cheaper or low-cost asphalt shingles last as little as 10-15 years in hot, sunny climates
  • Rapid temperature changes can cause asphalt shingles to crack
  • A poorly vented attic will trap heat and significantly shorten asphalt shingle lifespan by cupping or cracking them
  • While the asphalt shingle industry boasts that its products can be recycled for paving, few recycling facilities take asphalt shingles, and they are among the least eco-friendly roofing options
  • After a second layer of shingles needs replacing, all layers must be torn off the roof, creating extra expense and a lot of potential landfill waste
  • Mold or algae can be a problem on shingles in shady areas, unless treated with anti-algae/anti-stain treatments
  • Organic/felt shingles are heavy; getting them to the roof in bundles can be a challenge
New Shingle Roof

$7,500
Average price
New Metal Roof

$14,500
Average price
New Flat Roof

$8,225
Average price

See costs in your area Enter Your Zip Code

Wood Shingles and Shakes

Wood delivers a natural dose of beauty to any roof. Cedar, redwood, cypress and pressure-treated pine shingles and shakes are available.

How are wood shingles and shakes different?

  • Wood shingles are machine-cut and feature cleaner edges and a smooth surface to produce a more uniform appearance.
  • Wood shakes are hand-cut from blocks of wood, so have a more rustic appearance. They’re thicker too, so slightly more expensive than wood shingles.

Pros and Cons

The advantages of wood shingles and shakes are:

  • Wood has natural beauty that ranges from rustic shakes to handsome, neat shingles
  • Cedar and redwood contain oils that make them naturally resistant to moisture and insects
  • Treated wood shingles have a Class A fire rating
  • They can last 5 to 10 years longer than asphalt, which makes them competitively priced with asphalt over their lifespan
  • Wood has an insulation value twice that of asphalt shingles (but your home’s insulation levels are far more important than the R-value of the roofing)
  • Many shakes and shingles are made from salvaged trees – those that have fallen over from age or toppled by storm
  • Wood is recyclable into wood chips, mulch, or compost
  • They enhance a range of architectural styles including Tudor, Victorian, Cape Cod, bungalow and cabin/cottage

Keep these potential disadvantages in mind:

  • Non-treated materials have a Class C fire rating, but wood can cedar shingles and shakes are also available as a more-costly treated option
  • Wood roofing is prohibited in some areas prone to wildfire, so be sure to check with your building department first
  • Untreated wood shakes and shingles are high maintenance – they need to be cleaned consistently to prevent the growth of algae or moss, and debris needs to be cleared to allow the wood to breathe
  • While DIY installation is possible if you have good experience, faults in the installation can lead to quick deterioration of the roof which often includes serious leaks
  • Staining of the shingles and shakes might occur as natural factors cause tannins to be released from the wood
  • While wood is quite durable, but repairs will be expensive if they are required

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The Ultimate Guide to Getting a New Roof in 2021 – Homeowner’s Guide

A new roof is a costly investment with practical and aesthetic implications – the roof is your home’s most important protection against rain, snow, and nature’s elements. The roof can also significantly impact the appeal of your home in the eyes of potential buyers.

GAF Timberline HD Shingles Roof

This guide will help you make an informed decision when it comes to re-roofing, whether it’s adding a new layer of roofing to the existing roof, or tearing off and replacing the old roof.

Seven Signs You Need a New Roof

Here are the indicators that your roof should be re-shingled or replaced to maintain your home’s defense against the elements:

  • Shingles are visibly worn: Are there so many of the colored granules gone that your roof looks like it has bald spots? While the shingles might still be keeping moisture out, a lack of reflective granules allows excess heat into your home, raising the temperature inside your house and increasing your air conditioning costs. Furthermore, once exposed, the underlying asphalt will soon dry out and crack, and then your roof will be susceptible to leaks.

  • Shingles are cupped and curled:

    Curled-up old shingles

    This issue looks bad, but more importantly, it means wind-driven water and moisture can easily get under the shingles and into your roof deck where it might cause leaks and rot.

  • Shingles are cracked: The cracked areas aren’t keeping moisture off the deck, and the risk of leaks goes way up.

    Cracks or thermal splitting in asphalt shingles
    via Structure Tech

  • Your neighbors are getting new roofs: This is more than “keeping up with the Joneses.” When homes built about the same time as yours are being re-roofed, your roof is probably about due.

  • You’ve experienced multiple leaks: Your roof is an entire structure, not just the shingles. Deck paper, flashing, moisture barrier in valleys, starter shingles, vent stack boots and other components are part of an entire roofing system. As the roof ages and several of its components or locations fail, the roof should be replaced.

  • The roof has experienced major damage:

    hail damaged roof shingles

    If more than about 35% of the roof is going to need a repair due to wind or hail damage, then the most cost-effective decision might be to replace it altogether.

    Repair is costlier on a per square foot basis because it is more time-consuming to integrate new shingles into the existing roof “here and there” than to install them over the entire roof. Plus, a mix of old shingles and new just won’t look very good.

  • Your roof looks bad: Cosmetics and aesthetics do matter to homeowners and potential buyers. If your roof is worn, has algae staining that won’t clean up or has patches of moss on it, boosting its appearance with a new layer of shingles will make a very nice difference.

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If none of these reasons to get a new roof apply, then you’re probably done here! If you’re not sure about your roof’s condition, hiring a home inspector or roofing contractor to inspect it can be a preventative measure before a roof failure and the extensive and expensive damage it can cause.

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