Lets examine the pros and cons of composition asphalt shingles and steel (metal) roofs,
considering lifetime, roof durability, cost, protection from the elements, and fire resistance.
The First Defense Roof
A homes roof is arguably one of the homes most important component. After all, the roof protects
from the elements such as rain, snow, sleet, and hail. The two most common residential roofing materials
are composition shingles (or asphalt shingles), and steel composition (also known as a metal roof).
When the homeowner is installing the original roof on a new home or when the time has come to
replace the old roof, the homeowner needs to consider metal roofs VS shingle roofs. This article will
discuss the pros and cons of each.
A Metal Roof or a Composition Shingle Roof?
The homeowner can expect to pay about 30 percent more (average) for a metal roof compared to a
composition shingle roof. It all depends on the weather conditions, the time the homeowner
expects to stay in the home, and of course, whether the homeowners association will permit it.
Metal roof materials are available in many styles including stone coated metal which gives the classic villa style look. Shake shingle look is also available so you get the rustic look without the fire hazard. And of course the commercial style panels are on the market. Some materials are Energy Star rated.
Composition Shingle Roofs
Composition shingle roofs are the most popular kind because of their economy and the number of
options available. The composition shingle has a fiberglass mat core. The fiberglass gives the shingle
flexibility and provides some fire resistance.
The exterior of the composition shingle has a weather resistant asphalt coating embedded with
crushed rock. The lifetime of the composition shingle is 15 to 30 years.
The price of composition shingles varies widely depending on a number of factors. On the low end
of the price scale are the plain, flat shingles. For a more appealing appearance, many homeowners opt
for a slightly more expensive shingle; one that incorporates a three dimensional look.
One manufacturer calls this the shadow. Others call this model the
These composition shingles have more of a beefy look, reminiscent of the cedar shake shingles of old. Keep in mind that the thicker the shingle is the more radiant heat it retain; good in the winter, bad in the summer.
Selecting a Roofing Contractor
Generally, replacing a roof isnt a DIY project. So, its important to select a reputable
roofing contractor. Roofing and swimming pool installing seem to be two of the trades that attract
fly-by-night operators. Beware.
So dont be tempted to go with the company that put a 10% off coupon in the telephone book. To find
a reputable roofing contractor, I recommend a service such as
Go for the Curb Appeal and Energy Efficiency
Composition shingle roofs are susceptible to algae growth. This is the stain-looking light streak
seen on many roofs. Shingles with an anti-algae coating (usually using a copper composition) are more
expensive but worth it if curb appeal
is an issue.
The most popular attic venting systems today are ridge vents, which have largely replaced
Cooling can be further enhanced with
radiant barrier paint or radiant barrier foil
on the underside of the roof
Benefits of a Metal Roof
Steel roofs are a good choice for areas that experience high winds. They withstand far higher
mile per hour winds than composition shingles.
The metal roofing material only weighs approximately
one seventh what a shingle roof does, putting less stress on the houses structure.
Steel roofs are very fire resistant which is not only safer but may result in a lower insurance premium.
A brick house with a metal roof stands a better chance of surviving a fire coming from outside the
Roof longevity is a factor for the homeowner planning to stay in the home. Although a metal roof
costs more initially, in the long run its cheaper. Most metal roof manufacturers will give a
of around fifty years but some experts believe this is a conservative estimate.
Metal roofs need not look commercial. Other styles are available. Some look like conventional
shingles and others look like cedar shake shingles.
When it comes to choosing between a composition shingle roof or a metal roof, the homeowner
needs to weigh several factors. How long will she stay in the home?
Can she afford to spend the
additional amount to install a steel roof? When choosing, it must be kept in mind that the roof
protects the occupants and their possessions.
If you opt to upgrade to a metal roof, or even a more expensive grade of shingles, remember to re-evaluate and update your homeowners insurance policy to reflect the replacement cost.