There are different kinds of roofs such as metal roofs and flat roofing systems. Metal roofs and shingles both are viable alternatives to choose for your next roofing project, but there are distinct benefits, drawbacks, and differences to know of before you make the final choice.

Metal Roof and ShinglesDespite the fact that metal roofing is more complex to install than shingles, it is actually more common than what we would normally think. Let’s dive deeper into the benefits and drawbacks associated with both of these roofing materials.

Metal roof is an umbrella term for a variety of roofs which are made from many different kinds of metals. Some of the commonly used metals in the roofing industry are Galvalume coated steel, galvanized steel, stainless steel, aluminum, zinc, and copper.

Although you normally would not think to look at the roofing on a home, you’re likely to find some kind of metal roof in most houses or buildings. This kind of roofing is generally characterized by its high resistance, impermeability, and longevity.

On the other hand, shingles have been more of a traditional choice on many homes and businesses for the last century. They are everywhere and are basically a roof covering consisting of individual overlapping elements.

Asphalt, clay, slate, rubber, and wood are some of the common shingles types. The benefits of having shingles roof installed would definitely be its low upfront cost and ease of installation and access to materials.

Comparing Metal Roofs and Shingles

1. Weight

Metal roofing is very lightweight which makes it easier for the installers to handle and transport. Also, it doesn’t weigh down on the structure which preserves the integrity of the building.

On the other hand, shingles tend to be heavier than metal roofs. 100 square feet of shingles could weigh anywhere from 180 to 240 pounds. So, many types of metal roofs can even be installed over existing shingles with no harm to the roof structure whatsoever.

2. Lifespan

The biggest differences between metal roofing and shingles would have to be in terms of their life expectancies. Metal roofs generally outlive shingles even by decades. It’s because the integrity of metal roofs are not affected by heat and sun like shingles.

Shingles are not designed to withstand strong winds, debris, rain, snow, hail, molds, mildew, and algae growth as much as metal roofs are.

An old house with Shingles Roofing

3. One Time Cost

Metal roofs are more expensive than shingle roofings at the time of installment. The material itself costs higher, and the labor price and equipment needed to complete the job costs comparatively a larger sum too.

4. Long Term Cost

Although the one time cost of shingles is less compared to that of metal roofs, they are quite expensive on the long term basis. That is because one metal roof (one lasts more than half a decade) can easily outlast at least three shingle roofs.

5. Fire Resistance

Metal roofs are the most resistant to catching fire; they are typically Class A fire rated and noncombustible. This is really important in areas where wildfires are a common affair.
Although shingles made these days are Class A classified too, they contain asphalt; a semi-solid form of petroleum, which is a highly combustible material.

It would be dangerous in places prone to fire because if hot ashes and embers fall on these roofings, there is a high chance of fire being caught.

6. Energy Efficiency

Metal roofing is extremely energy efficient because they are typically made from recycled materials and are continuously recyclable. Especially in summer, they are effective in reducing energy consumption. But if installed incorrectly, the efficiency isn’t as high.

7. Eco-Friendly

Comparatively, metal roofing is more environmentally friendly than shingles. It is highly recyclable, meaning there is almost zero wastage.

Opposingly enough, shingles are rarely recycled because, despite the fact that they can actually be recycled, many contractors and consumers are unaware. Every year in the US, 11 million tons of asphalt shingles end up in landfills.

8. Maintenance

Metal roofs are absolutely low maintenance, especially if the roof was initially correctly installed as long as you don’t walk on them. However, shingles should continuously be checked for any signs of leakage, shingle granules, cracks and bald spots among others. But there is no problem walking on them.

9. Available Choices

Metal roofs come in a variety of shapes and sizes. These days they are even available in such looks that mimic shingles and other roofing systems. Additionally, they are available in virtually any color, from bright ones to earthen tones.

Shingles, on the other hand, are only available in dull colors because a shingle’s base material is saturated with asphalt and then granules made of a dark granite material are added for color, UV protection, and fire resistance. It’s harder for these granules to keep a lighter color.

10. Contractors and Laborers

Finding a qualified contractor or laborer to install metal roofs is pretty difficult because there are significantly fewer installers who are skilled at installing these. While shingles, being a ‘traditional’ roofing system, has an abundant number of installers. Metal roofs are more labor-intensive than shingles.

In conclusion, Metal Roofing is best for

  • Variety
  • Longevity
  • Resistance to elements
  • Energy efficiency
  • Resale value
  • Sealing and painting
  • Weight

And Shingle Roofing is best for

  • Appearance
  • Affordability
  • Labor costs
  • DIY
  • Uniformity with Neighborhood
  • Warranty coverage

While both materials are great options for residential roofing, one may be better suited for your needs.



I am Ila Adhikari from Chauni, Kathmandu. I’m currently pursuing my Bachelors Degree in Computer Engineering from Kathmandu Engineering College, Kathmandu. I’m also a fellow at Women Leaders in Technology. I enjoy reading, gardening and doing cool DIYs. I have worked as a tech content writer for eSatya, a blockchain initiative in Nepal in the past. At present, I’m working on a blockchain based research project. As time flies, I want to listen to my heart in doing what I love and continue learning new stuff.