Is a Metal Roof Cheaper Than Shingles? (2022 Expert Guide)

Metal roof panels and shingles are efficient covers that reduce the roof’s load. But are they relatively easy on the pockets too? Hang in here, and we’ll compare the installation, repair, and labor costs to pick a roof covering on budget.

Key Takeaways

  • Galvanized metal roofs are cheaper than most wooden or metal shingles. But copper and standing seam metal panels are more expensive than conventional shingles.
  • Metal roofs are more cost-effective in the long run. But they incur more charges on rust treatments and repairs.
  • Shingle roofs cost more on materials and less on labor. So, they are more profitable for high-pitched roofs and extreme climates.
  • The total roofing cost depends on the material, labor, energy efficiency, and repair. So, jump onto our detailed guide and know it all!

How Much Does a Metal Roof Cost?

Red Metallic Roofing

Standard Steel or Aluminum panels cost about $3 – 5 per square foot or about $9000 – 14000 for smaller shed roofs. But standing seam or galvanized panels are more expensive and cost $6 – 8 per square foot.

Additionally, metal roofs cost $2 – 5 per foot for the roof trim and $0.2 – 1 per foot for the underlay installation. So, the metal roof cost ranges from $6 – 18 per square foot, which is more affordable than different roof shingles.

Here’s a quick reference to the costs of different metal panels:

Panel TypeAluminumCopperGalvanized SteelStanding Seam SteelTinZinc
Cost (per square foot)$4 – 5$20 – 25$3.25 – 3.75$4 – 4.5$3.5 – 12$6 – 8

Use aluminum or steel panels and lubricate them with oil or anti-rust solutions to save costly repairs.

Factors Affecting the Cost of a Metal Roof

Metal roof cost not only changes with the material but also depends on the thickness, labor charges and repairs for each. So, let’s discuss all these factors in detail and summarise the costs for your metal roof.

1. Labor charges

Metal roofs need a lot of labor to dispose of the old roofing, screw the heavy panels, and polish all the odd angles. So, you might need to pay a labor charge of $40 – 80 per hour for smaller roofs and $7-14 per square foot for larger roofs.

2. Roof Size

Larger or steeper roofs increase the surface area of installation and cost about $2000 – 3000 more than standard, double-sloped residential roofs. Moreover, prices are relatively higher, at $15000 – 16000 for multi-layer metal roofs too!

3. Roofing Style

Corrugated or standing seam roof style panels cost $2000 – 3000 more than conventional metal roofs. Similarly, gable, hip, and skillion roofs cost $10,000 – 14,000, whereas simple shed or pitched metal roofs are affordable and cost $9000 – 10000.

4. Weather Treatment

Metal roofs need additional rust and anti-fungal treatment to save them from water damage and pests. Thus, you might need some expensive spraying solutions and extra labor to coat the panels. So, expect a hike of $1500 – 2000 in the overall cost.

5. Repairing Cost

Metal roofs are prone to leaking, denting, and rusting. So, you might incur additional charges of $500 – 1000 for reglazing and coating them periodically.

Now, let’s look at the total cost of metal roof installation:

Panel TypeAluminumCopperGalvanized SteelStanding Seam SteelTinZinc
Total Cost$12,000 – 14,000$36,000 – 68,000$11,000 – 25,000$15,000 – 31,000$12,000 – 40,000$15,000 – 34,000

You can use DIY solutions and cleansers like bleach, neem oil or vinegar to scrub off all the rust and fungus without professional help.

How Much Do Roof Shingles Cost?

Roof Shingles

Traditional wooden or metal shingles are inexpensive and cost $4 – 5 per square foot or about $12000 – 15000 for the complete roof. In contrast, raw stone or clay shingles are pricey and cost $9 – 10 per square foot.

Moreover, you’ll also need $3 – 4 for the sealants, underlayments, and bitumen waterproofing under each shingle. Plus, you must add some fillers to seal their gaps and prevent leaks. So, shingles are relatively expensive and cost about $7 – 14 per square foot.

You can compare the costs of different roof shingles here:

Shingle TypeCompositeCopperMetalWoodConcreteAsphaltSlate
Cost (per square foot)$4 – 5$25 – 30$4 – 5$3.5 – 4$6 – 12$5 – 6$10 – 20

Use lightweight, single-ply shingles and add waterproofing treatment for cheaper installation and longevity.

Factors Affecting the Cost of a Shingle Roof

Shingle roof cost differs with the material, roof design, and style. Not only this, but even different roof pitches drastically alter the installation and labor cost. And here are some more factors to consider:

1. Labor charges

Shingles are quite lightweight and easy to install. So, they don’t incur heavy labor charges and cost only about $1 – 1.5 per square foot. So, you might need to spend $1500 – 2000 for the entire roof.

2. Roof Pitch

Generally, lower pitches of 2:12 or 3:12 are favorable for shingles and don’t need additional charges for the labor. However, heavier 6:12 or 7:12 pitches incur extra wages of $1000 – 2000 for the safety equipment and fillers. Jump to our guide on roof pitches to know more!

3. Overhang

Shingles aren’t completely flushed along the roof line but have a slight overhang around canopies, porches, and decks. Thus, this increases the total surface area and costs by $500 – 600.

4. Underlay

Shingles aren’t directly screwed to the roof rafters but have a bitumen or waterproofing layer to seal the gaps and reduce leaks. So, you’ll need about $2.5 – 3 per square foot for placing the bitumen layer and screwing it.

Now, let’s compile the total cost of shingle roofs:

Shingle TypeCompositeCopperMetalWoodConcreteAsphaltSlate
Total Cost$15,000 – 45,000$35,000 – 40,000$9,000 – 15,000$18,000 – 25,000$20,000 – 25,000$15,000 – 20,000$22,000 – 37,000

Skip the waterproofing and add moisture-absorbent spray foam insulation or cellulose to reduce the underlay charges in garages and decks.

Miscellaneous Cost Considerations

Repairing a Metal Roof

Standing seam metal roofs have a higher upfront cost but might be more cost-effective in temperate climates and snowy areas. Similarly, wooden or asphalt shingles cost less but might need some repairs with rain.

So, let’s compare these factors and pick the right roof for each:

1. Lifespan

Metal roofs have a high upfront cost but last for about 70 – 80 years with proper maintenance and treatment. So, it costs only about $300 – 400 per year and is relatively cheaper than shingle roofs.

In contrast, shingles last only for about 15-20 years. So, even the cheapest shingles have an average cost of $1000 per year and aren’t cost-effective in the long run.

2. Repair Costs

Metal roofs are prone to denting, cracking, and warping in extreme conditions. They require periodic maintenance and reglazing to retain their shine. So, they have higher repair costs than shingles and might not suit extreme climates.

But shingles need a cheaper sealant and filler for weather control and have low repair costs in unfavorable weather.

3. Energy Costs

Metal roofs are highly reflective. So, they keep the house warmer in winter and cooler in summer. So, if insulated properly, they might reduce your air conditioning bills by $500 – 700.

On the other hand, shingles are wider and have a lot of gaps that let in cool air and disrupt the temperature inside. So, they won’t save on energy and will need a roof vent for better weather control.

4. Resale Value

Standard seam or galvanized metal roofs increase the resale value by 4-5% and are more cost-effective than conventional roofing shingles. But, shingles raise the resale value by 1-2% and might not be that cost-intensive in the long run.

Here are a few more points to compare metal and shingle roofs:

ParameterMetal RoofsShingle Roofs
Labor Cost$40 – 80 per hour$1 – 1.5 per square foot
Maintenance Cost$500 – 1000$500 – 700
Energy Savings$500 – 700Not Applicable
Insulation Cost$0.5 – 3 per square foot$1 – 3 per square foot
Weather Treatment $1500 – 2000$100 – 200
Replacement Cost$8000 – 16000$7000 – 10000
Average Cost Per Year$300 – 400$1000 – 3000

Examples of Popular Roofing Options Within Your Budget

Shingle roofing options

We aren’t new to the tight roofing budgets and lower estimations in urban scenarios. So, we have compiled all the popular metal and shingle roofing options to help you pick one within your budget.

Average CostMetal Roof OptionsShingle Roof Options
Under $5000Basic Metal or Alloyed SteelAluminum, Stainless Steel
$5000 – 10,000Stainless Steel, Galvanized Steel or TinAluminum or Single-ply Composite
$10,000 – 15,000Standing Seam PanelsWood, Concrete or Asphalt
Above $20,000Copper, Lead, ZincSlate, Copper

Tips to Reduce the Maintenance Costs of Metal Roofs

  • Use heavier iron fasteners and sealants to reduce leaks and moisture percolation along the roof line.
  • Always clean the fallen leaves and debris to save the metal from scratching and dullness.
  • Use leaf guards and clean the storm gutters periodically to protect the roofs from water damage and hail.
  • Remove all the heavy snow, or add sufficient roof insulation to reduce warping and deforming.

Tips to Reduce the Maintenance Costs of Shingle Roofs

  • Inspect the shingles for cracks or discoloration and replace broken shingles immediately.
  • Wash the shingles with vinegar or dish soap to reduce algae and mildew.
  • Use roofing cement or glass wool fillers to seal all the gaps between the shingles and save them from leaking.
  • Pick a trowel and clean all the extra dirt and debris from the shingle overhangs for better water runoff.
  • Coat the shingle apex with enamel or wax for better moisture and weathering resistance.

What Is the Cheapest Roofing Material?

Standard steel roofs are the cheapest and cost only about $3 – 4 per square foot. So, you can install the whole roof for under $5000 and then just spend $500 more for reglazing.

Which Is the Most Cost-Effective Roof?

Slate tiles are highly cost effective and last for 70-100 years without much maintenance. So, they cost an average of $220 – 300 per year. Similarly, standing seam, zinc, and tin roofs are affordable and cost an average of $300 per year.

Which Is Better – Shingles or Metal?

Metal roofs have better durability, energy-saving, and heat control in warmer climates. But shingles are the best to save the roof from hail, rain, and snow without heavy repairs.

Standard metal roofs are cheaper than most shingles and offer more cost-effectiveness and energy savings in the long run. In contrast, they aren’t favorable in extreme climates and might cost high repairs due to water damage and rust. So, you must insulate them properly.

Or, you can add some roof flashing to divert water and save the metal roofs from warping. So, don’t forget to check our guide on ‘different types of roof flashings’ to know it all!