If you’re going to put a new roof on your home you may be fighting back and forth in your head about whether to put metal or asphalt shingles on your home. You’ve probably heard good and bad things about both depending on who you’ve talked to. Here are the main strengths and weaknesses that I’ve experienced with metal roofs.
Metal Roofing Strengths/Benefits
- Longevity – Since metal roofing is well…metal, it lasts practically forever. If you don’t want to mess with your roof ever again this seems like a very tempting benefit. It’s not quite that straight-forward, but the metal roofing itself will practically last forever.
- No Cleaning Needed – Metal roofing does not need cleaned. Since there are no crevices for dirt and debris to camp out in, the likelihood of moss growing on your roof is very slim. If you do have valleys you will get pine needle and leaf build up, but it won’t eat away at your roof as quickly (Though it’s still good to keep your roof clean)
- Snow Shedding – Problem with snow? Not with a metal roof! Because of it’s design and slippery surface, snow will slide right off of your home if you’ve got metal on it, so you won’t have to worry about shoveling snow off your roof when you go through a bad winter (like we sometimes get up here in the Northwest)
- No Blow-offs – Metal also will not have the same problems that some asphalt shingles roofs have with blow-offs. As long as it is fastened down well around the edges, wind cannot rip a shingle off and cause a leak like it can with a fiberglass shingle roof. Plus, you won’t have a problem with ice damming, since metal roofing is usually long sheets that span the whole length of the roof, there is nowhere for water to back up into.
- Looks – While this is more of a personal opinion, some people really like the look of a nice new metal roof. It’s rich color and predictable patterning give it a distinguished look apart from shingle.
Metal Roofing Weaknesses/Problems
Interestingly enough, some of the strengths of metal roofing are also weaknesses.
- Needed Maintenance – First off, let’s tackle the issue with metal lasting forever. Yes, the metal roofing will last forever, however any flashings, rubber boots around pipes, and even the screws will not. Rubber eventually will crack and breakdown in the sun, and need replaced. The screws in the roof, oddly enough, will begin to back out after several years. Then once that happens water will get in and deteriorate the wood, not allowing the screw to sink back down tight. This happens from the expansion/contraction of the metal as well as wind vibrating the sheets. This last problem with screws can be solved by lock-rib (also called standing seam) type metal roofing, which is a concealed fastener system. Metal roofing screws also have a rubber grommet that will wear out over time, and should be replaced before the life of the roof is over with, which can be quite expensive. So the metal roofing itself will last forever, but you still don’t have quite a maintenance free roof.
- Snow Shedding – Another weakness of metal roofing is that it sheds snow. ”But isn’t that a strength?” You ask. Well…yes and no. The problem is that you don’t know when or how much the snow will build up before it slides off. If you have children or small animals this could be VERY dangerous for them. A couple feet of snow sliding off your roof quickly can do a lot of damage to a small person/animal, heck even an adult! Not only that, but it can damage property as well, if you have a BBQ or a fence nearby it can completely take it out. Proper snow stops must also be in place to ensure pipes and other protrusions from the roof don’t get taken out by the sliding snow.
- Upfront Cost – Cost is also a factor. On average, metal roofs are more expensive than asphalt shingle roofs, especially when you upgrade to a lock-rib or standing seam type with concealed fasteners. That’s not to say there are different levels of asphalt shingles too, but as an average they tend to cost more.
- It’s Loud – If you have a metal roof and a bad rain or hail storm passes overhead, you will be barraged with noise. While some people like the pinging noise from rain hitting their metal roof, it can be very distracting depending on what you’re doing at the time.
Because of some of these risk factors I recommend metal roofing for a lake home or cabin that will be vacant for the winter. You won’t have to worry about driving up to your cabin in the spring and seeing that it collapsed! Just be sure to do the proper maintenance and you’ll be good to go. For most residential home applications in town, I highly recommend an asphalt fiberglass shingle roof to avoid the risks.