2022 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 roofs, many savvy homeowners are now considering steel sheet panels and stamped tiles as a viable alternative to asphalt. Hence, it is hardly a surprise that metal, 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 overall life-cycle cost, durability and longevity, superior energy efficiency, and sustainability.

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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.

Resistant to Extreme Weather

Steel is famous all over the world for its ability to stand up to severe weather conditions, and for good reason. Steel is specifically designed to withstand harsh climates and extreme temperature fluctuations. With a steel roof, your house will be safe and secure against hail, snow, wind, and fire, as steel roofs meet and exceed all local strict building codes.

Hail: Steel roofing is resistant to structural impact damage from hail. Steel roofs carry the highest possible Class 4 Hail Resistance rating, which means that they will not get punctured, chip or crack under direct impact of most hail stones. — That is what separates steel from other durable and long-lasting roofing materials such as natural slate and clay tile roofs that are more susceptible to the damage from impact by hail stones. Similarly, a steel roof will not be damaged by falling branches or any other small-to-medium sized objects or debris falling on it due to storm or heavy winds.

Did you know? Steel roofing comes in many shapes and sizes including simulated slate tiles made from double-stamped, heavy 24-gauge galvanized steel (G-90 steel) and stone-coated steel tiles that can be indistinguishable from terracotta clay tile roofs.

Stone Crest Slate – Steel shingles roof
Stone coated steel barrel vault tiles

Ice and Snow: One of the most persistent roofing problems in northern climates is related to ice and snow. A steel roof can be your ultimate solution, because it sheds heavy snow and ice much better than other types of conventional roofing.

Did you know? A steel roof with special coating can help prevent excessive snow build–up and eliminate the formation of ice dams, as well as alleviate the risk of a potential damage associated with the heavy snow and ice-buildup.

Wind: Your steel roof will never be damaged or blown off by strong wind. Steel roofs carry a Class 90 Wind Uplift rating and can withstand winds of up to 120 mph.

Fire: Steel is a non-combustible material and will not spread fire. Steel roofs carry the highest (Class A) Fire Resistance rating. Your steel roof will not be susceptible to windblown sparks, which are a common issue in areas with frequent wildfires.

Long-Lasting and Virtually Maintenance Free Service

Long service life is one of the best benefits of metal roofing, and one of the main reasons for its growing popularity among homeowners. A properly configured and installed steel roof can last at least fifty years, which means that most likely it will be the last roof you will need to install on your house.

What many homeowners love is that this long service life is also maintenance free. At most, you can periodically wash your steel roof to remove any debris. A steel roof’s maintenance – free service life provides a huge relief, as most roofing systems require a continuous investment of money and time for maintenance and repair.

The secret of steel’s long and maintenance – free service life is in the way steel roofing systems are manufactured. Before being painted, the base steel is either zinc-coated (galvanized steel) or is 55% aluminum – zinc alloy coated (Galvalume steel), which prevents rust and corrosion.

Moreover, steel roofing pre-finish and paint systems go through rigorous testing and are approved for exterior applications in all types of climates, successfully meeting the standards for weathering, fading, hardening, chipping, and chalking.

Abundance of Steel Roof Styles, Profiles, and Colors

Thanks to the cutting-edge technological advancements, modern steel roofs offer a multitude of styles and color choices that will satisfy any aesthetic preferences.

For homeowners who would like the look of the roof to enhance the contemporary style of their homes, styles, and profiles standing seam, vertical rib or corrugated steel, are a perfect match.

Homeowners looking for a more traditional look, can find a wide variety of styles in stone coated steel roofing profiles. Stone coated steel roofs are designed to replicate the looks of other roofing materials such as traditional composition shingles, cedar shake, clay tile, or slate, but without the many structural, maintenance and cost issues associated with many of the aforementioned roofing options.

Many prominent manufacturers also carry a wide array of standard and premium paint coatings for steel roofs include modified polyester, fluorocarbon (Kynar 500) and PVC (plastisol) coatings.

For the longest service life, it is important to consult your roofing contractor and choose the right coating that will be the best match for your home’s particular architecture and local climate. High-end Kynar 500 paint finishes are typically guaranteed to last for 30 years. If necessary, it is actually possible to repaint your steel roof to ensure many more decades of service.

Low Life-Cycle Cost if Steel vs. Asphalt Roofs

Steel Shingles Roof

One of the greatest benefits of steel roofing is its overall low life–cycle cost compared to asphalt shingles. Thanks to the superior durability and longevity of steel, quality residential steel roofs can last 50 years plus, compared to 15 or 25 years for asphalt shingles.

While the initial upfront cost of investment for a new steel roof can be two or three times higher than asphalt shingles, few homeowners appreciate that over the span of 30 to 50 years, it may be necessary to replace an asphalt roof a few times, especially in hail-prone areas, while the original high quality steel roof will typically last for 30 to 50 years, depending on the quality of installation.

Therefore, when the roofing cost is spread out over a long period of time, asphalt shingle roofs can often end up costing more than metal roofs.

For perspective, consider the fact that while you will pay for your steel roof only once and will never have to re-roof again, you will need to replace your asphalt shingles roof every 10-20 years. — This means a homeowner could be paying for a new asphalt shingles roof 2-3 times over the 30-to-50-year period.

Assuming the initial upfront cost of $12.50 per sq.ft. for a new hail-impact resistant steel roofing system like stone coated steel shingles or tiles from manufacturers like DECRA or Boral Steel, your total upfront cost would be approximately $25,000 for a typical 2,000 sq.ft. roof that can last for 50 years or longer.

Compare that to going with asphalt shingles and paying $5.50 per sq.ft. to install architectural shingles roof with the initial price tag of $11,000.

Now, if the asphalt roof were to last an average of 15 years (which would be a very generous amount of time for a hurricane prone and/or hail-prone area), in 31 years it would be necessary to replace the asphalt roof for a third time, for a total cumulative cost of $27,000. Factor in “missing out” on homeowner’s insurance discounts and energy savings, and it becomes pretty clear why steel is often considered as “Investment Grade” roofing.

Did you know? Some insurance company may provide up to 35% discount on your Homeowner’s Insurance policy for the installation of a stone coated steel roof (or a similarly-performing steel roof whether it be standing seam or steel tiles), especially in a hail-prone and/or storm-prone area. Check with your home insurance company to see what discounts might be available in your area.

Also, tack on the frequent maintenance and repairs that are often required by most conventional roofing systems like composition shingles and cedar shakes, and the total life-cycle cost of a steel roof can actually be less than composition shingle roofs.

Estimated Roof Costs (1,700 sq.ft.)
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A steel roof can help you realize even greater savings because of its energy-efficient properties. Steel roofs have reflective coatings and are therefore considered “cool roofs “, reflecting the sun’s UV rays back into the atmosphere.

A highly solar-reflective Kynar 500 coated (painted) or granular-coated steel roof can reflect up to 90% of the oncoming solar radiation. This keeps the inside of your home cooler during hot summer months. — This is an especially valuable feature for homes located in regions where it is very hot and sunny year-round.

A steel roof with CoolRoof rated solar reflective coatings with high SRI (Solar Reflectance Index) ratings could save you as much as 20% to 40% annually on your AC bills and enable you to live more sustainably, while also reducing the load and extending the lifespan of your Central AC equipment.

Helps the Environment

Homeowners that care about the environment and are looking for green construction materials, will be most satisfied with a steel roof. By far, steel is the real “green” choice in the residential construction industry, helping reduce pollution in several ways; first, steel is the most recyclable building material in the world. Consequently, your steel roof will typically contain between 30-95% of recycled steel content, depending on the manufacturer.

Unlike other roofing products such as asphalt shingles, manufacturing of steel is not dependent on the petroleum and oil industry, which means that by installing a steel roof you are contributing to lessening our nation’s dependence on foreign oil.

Steel’s reflective properties help mitigate the heat island effect in urban areas, lowering temperatures by as many as 12 degrees and helping keep the air free of smog and pollution. Lastly, because steel roofs are lightweight, you will most likely be able to install one right over the existing roof, meaning the old shingle roof will not end up in landfill, and hence will not contribute to the rapidly growing landfill waste problem in our country.

Increases the Value of Your Real Estate and Improves the Curb Appeal of Your Home

You can feel good about investing into a steel roof, because unlike most conventional roofing systems, it will increase the value of your home. In case you ever decide to sell your house, a steel roof will be an attractive selling point: buyers will give preference to a roof they know is long – lasting, durable, energy efficient and maintenance – free.

Independent studies confirm that a steel roof that was installed at a fair price and on the right house can actually increase the resale value of a home anywhere from 1-6% depending on the geographic location (provided you don’t overpay for a steel roof, in which case your ROI would not be as good).

Misconceptions and Myths

Some homeowners are cautious about installing a steel roof on their homes because of some common misconceptions. One of the most common and persistent myths is that steel roofing is noisy , especially when it rains. This is hardly ever the case.

Modern steel roofing is typically installed over plywood decking and roofing felt or over-top of the old (already existing) asphalt roof with purlins and/or breathable synthetic underlayment in between the old roof and the new steel roofing panels or tiles.

Consequently, any noise from rain, falling branches or any other objects is muted out by this layer of insulation, making the level of noise from a steel roof the same as you would hear with any other conventional roofing material.

Moreover, as with other traditional roofing options, insulating your attic will lead to additional noise reduction.

Another misconception is that a steel roof will attract lighting. Nothing can be further from the truth, as a steel roof does not attract lightning any more than other types of roofs. If the lighting does strike a steel roof, the metal surface of the roof will dissipate the electric charge, even if the roof is not grounded, which it doesn’t need to be, and most are not.

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