Metal Roofing vs. Asphalt Shingles: Selecting the Right Roofing Material

If it’s time for a new roof, you might be wondering where to begin. Traditionally, most residential building roofs have been built with asphalt shingles. When you drive through your neighbourhood, you’ll likely see a lot of roofs with asphalt shingles! However, metal roofs are gaining popularity and you may have noticed metal roofs on both modern homes and on older homes as roofs are replaced. As more options in metal roofing become available, this roofing material is being considered by more and more homeowners, making your decision more difficult! Although it can seem overwhelming with the various options, the more variety just means you have more freedom to find the best option for your home. 

What’s the difference between metal roofing and asphalt?

Asphalt shingles offer an affordable roofing option, with a variety of colors and styles. Asphalt shingles provide good resistance against moisture and damage but can be susceptible to mold, leaks, and physical damage. 

Traditionally metal roofs were less common on residential homes, but more options in colors and styles have led to a growing popularity in metal roofs. With a wide variety of options available and the longevity and durability offered, it’s important to consider all your options for roofing material to determine what will work best for you.

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How does each stack up? Metal roofing vs. asphalt shingles

Appearance and customization

Metal roofs offer a large amount of variety for homeowners. Metal roofs can come in many different styles, including shingles, seam, wooden shake or tile, and can be painted almost any colour. The large amount of customization ensures that no matter your home’s style, you can ensure the metal roof will compliment it. However, it is important to look into any homeowner association or community standards that may dictate or restrict roofing materials or styles. Although you can compliment a metal roof with virtually any home, also consider that a metal roof may stand out against the majority of homes in your community with asphalt shingles. 

Asphalt shingles, however, will blend into your community and the homes around you. You can find variety in styles with asphalt shingles, with shingles designed to appear as tiles, shakes, or slate. Colour options are more limited with asphalt roofs, although many colours are available to you, they will often appear as dark or dull tones due to the granules in the shingle. 

Durability and longevity

Metal roofing provides excellent durability and moisture protection, and can last 60 years or more. Metal is also significantly lighter than asphalt shingles, placing less strain on the infrastructure of your home. 

Asphalt shingles are a great choice for roofing, but do offer less durability than metal roofs, typically lasting 15-20 years. More maintenance is required on asphalt shingle roofs, as shingles damage easier and require regular maintenance to prevent mold and mildew. 

In Alberta, it’s important to consider weather performance on your roofing material, as Edmonton and Calgary are prone to heavy snowfall, hail and wind. Metal roofing does provide better protection against strong winds, extreme cold, and sleet and hail, but may become dented in severe hail storms. 

Return on investment

Initially, metal roofs have a higher up-front cost. The materials are more expensive (about $125-$350 per 100 square feet), and installing a metal roof will likely cost more as well, as the installation is more difficult for metal roofs. However, in the long-run metal roofs are likely to cost you less than asphalt shingles due to a lower maintenance cost and higher lifespan of the roof. As mentioned above, the lifespan of a metal roof can be up to 60 years, with asphalt roofs lasting up to 20. In the lifespan of the metal roof, you would replace the asphalt shingles three times, making the initial cost of the metal roof seem much more reasonable! The return on investment when you sell your home is also larger with metal roofing, as the many benefits and long lifespan of the metal roof attract homebuyers. 

Asphalt shingles provide a much more economical roofing option in the short-term, at a third the cost of a metal roof (about $75-$200 per 100 square feet). It’s a big expense to replace your roof, and the lower cost of shingles appeals to many homeowners. In addition to a lower material cost, the cost of installation on asphalt shingles is also much lower, as the time required from professional roofers is much less. 

Through the lifespan of the roof, the cost of maintenance and repair for asphalt shingles is also much less than metal roofing, as individual shingles can be removed to address concerns, whereas the sections of metal roofing are all connected and can be difficult (and expensive) to repair or replace. The ability of shingled roofs to hold foot traffic also makes installation and repairs easier, as the roof can support roofers as they move around – roofers must take great care moving on metal roofs to not damage the roof. 

Environmental impact  

Metal roofs provide a more environmentally-friendly option, as the metal material is highly recyclable, so damaged or discarded sections can easily be recycled. Additionally, some coils and sheets are made up of recycled material – especially aluminum. Some asphalt shingles can be recycled, but unfortunately it is not the case for all materials and types of shingles. 

In addition to being the more environmentally-friendly alternative, metal roofs also offer higher energy efficiency for your home. Many coatings and finishes are ENERGY STAR® rated, helping insulate your home and reduce your utility bills. 

How to choose what’s best for your home?

With all the different pros and cons for each roofing type, how do you know what’s best for your home? Ask yourself these questions to get started:

  • What is my budget? Do I want to invest more at the beginning for a roof that will last longer, or have a smaller up-front cost? 
  • Do I live in an area with severe hail or other inclement weather?
  • How do I want my roof to look? Are there restrictions I have to follow in my community?
  • Is energy efficiency and environmental impact important to me?

Start your roofing installation with A. Clark Roofing and Siding in Edmonton or Calgary. Get a free estimate!

No matter what style of roofing you decide on, trust the professionals at A. Clark Roofing & Siding, with more than 60 years of experience installing Edmonton and Calgary roofs. We’re here to help answer your roofing questions and can provide quality installation and repair services for both types of roof. 

Contact us today at 780-465-7571 for a free quote and to get started on your new roofing project. 

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