Skip to main content

«  View All Posts

Roof Replacement | Asphalt Shingle Roof | Metal Roof

Asphalt Shingles vs. Metal: Which Roof is Right for You?

June 12th, 2020 | 8 min. read

Asphalt Shingles vs. Metal: Which Roof is Right for You?

Print/Save as PDF

Do you know your roof needs to be replaced? Are you trying to decide if you should stick with an asphalt roof or make the switch to a metal roof? You’re not alone. 

I get asked which is better all the time. The truth is, one isn’t better than the other. It all boils down to the look you want and (mostly) your budget. 

The team at Bill Ragan Roofing has been replacing asphalt and metal roofs in the Nashville areas since 1990. We know what it takes to maximize the life of your roof. That’s why we offer a lifetime warranty on our workmanship. 

To help you make the right decision for you, I came up with the 4 main points to compare the two types of roofs. But before we get to the comparisons, you need to know a little about each of them. 

What is an asphalt shingle roof?

The most common type of roof you see today is an asphalt roof. There are three types of asphalt shingles: 3-tab, dimensional, and luxury. 

3-tab asphalt shingles are exactly what they sounds like, 3-tabs.

3-tab asphalt shingle roof

Dimensional asphalt shingles give you a good looking random pattern or simulate the look of a wood shake roof.

dimensional asphalt shingle roof

Luxury or premium asphalt shingles are actually larger than the other asphalt shingles and are made to look like slate. 

premium or luxury asphalt roof

While 3-tab asphalt shingles used to dominate the market, dimensional asphalt shingles are the most common type installed on roofs today. Luxury style asphalt shingles are just as heavily marketed as dimensional but are almost double the price.  

What is metal roofing?

The second most common roof after asphalt is metal roofing. There are two types of metal roof systems: standing-seam and screw-down panels. 

A standing seam metal roof system is a series of metal panels that are locked together at the seams or seamed mechanically. This allows for the metal panels to expand and contract freely when the metal heats up. 

standing seam metal roof

A screw-down panel is just what it's called; it's screwed down. The screws are screwed through the metal panel which leaves no room for expansion and contraction. 

screw down panel metal roof

That’s why I would not recommend putting a screw-down panel over a heated space such as your home or office due to its lack of expansion capability.

To learn more about the two types of metal roofing, read this article on standing-seam vs. screw-down panels

Asphalt shingle roof vs. metal roofing: 4 key comparisons 

Now that you know a little about both types of roofs, you’re ready to learn how they match up on key factors such as cost, lifespan, and warranties. Continue reading to find out which one is right for you. 

1. The cost of an asphalt shingle roof vs. a metal roof  

A new roof is an investment. When investing in anything, especially a roof, you need to consider your budget. 

With that in mind, an asphalt roof is going to be more affordable than a metal roof. Metal panels already cost more than asphalt shingles, but a metal roof also requires more skill and labor to install. 

So, you can expect the metal roof to cost more than double the asphalt roof’s price when looking at your roofing estimate

For example, a two-story house, with a little complexity, good accessibility, and using dimensional asphalt shingles is going to cost $4.76 per square foot. You can expect a metal roof to be more than double that price per square foot.

Is an asphalt shingle roof or a metal roof right for you based on your budget?

If you’re on a tight budget, then you’re probably going to go with asphalt. But if you can afford a metal roof and want that look, get it installed and forget about it for the next 50 years. To learn more about what factors into the cost of a roof, check out this article on how much a new roof costs

2. Does an asphalt shingle roof or a metal roof last longer? 

The lifespan of a roof is how many years you can expect to get out of it. When your roof is properly installed and adequately ventilated, it’ll get as close as possible to the manufacturer’s specified lifespan. 

With that in mind, a metal roof is going to last longer than an asphalt roof. For example, a dimensional shingle roof has a lifespan of 30 years while a standing-seam metal roof has a lifespan of 50 years. 

Is the lifespan of an asphalt shingle roof or a metal roof right for your situation?

You already know that a metal roof is going to live longer than an asphalt roof. Be aware, for some this 20-year difference may not be a big deal. Especially if they’re not in their forever home. 

However, if you’re in your forever home and want to put a roof on and forget about it, a metal roof may be right for you. 

When investing in a quality roof, you expect to get the most out of it. Check out this article on how to get the most out of your roof replacement to truly maximize the life of your roof.  

3. Your warranty options for an asphalt shingle roof vs. a metal roof 

A warranty is in place to protect you and your roof from any future problems. You should have a couple of warranties on the materials and the contractor’s workmanship when you get a new roof. 

Be aware, the workmanship warranty will depend on the local roofing contractor you hire. However, the warranty you get on the materials vary. 

Asphalt shingles come out of the package with a warranty. For example, a dimensional asphalt shingle comes with a 30-year warranty. Be aware, this warranty is only on the materials and not the workmanship. 

However, if you use all of one manufacturer’s roofing components instead of mixing and matching from other companies, you can qualify to get the enhanced warranty. Once you register your roof with the manufacturer, the enhanced warranty covers your roof for the next 50 years. 

Metal roof panels don’t give you an opportunity to get an enhanced warranty. But they do come with a 30-year paint warranty that covers the protective coating on the metal panels. 

Which roof offers better warranties?

An asphalt roof comes with more warranties from a manufacturer. You’ll also have the opportunity to get the enhanced warranty. 

Be aware, a workmanship warranty is just as important as a warranty on the materials. To learn more about your warranty options, read this article on what roof warranties cover

4. Asphalt shingle roof maintenance vs. metal roof maintenance 

Roof maintenance is the periodical checking of all the vulnerable areas on a roof that could be susceptible to having a problem. Depending on the type of roof, whether it be residential or commercial, it will be annual, biannual, or quarterly maintenance. 

An asphalt roof needs to be maintained and inspected at least once a year. For example, your pipe boots and valleys need to be checked so you don’t end up with a costly leak. 

On the other hand, if you get a standing seam metal roof, it requires virtually no maintenance. That doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be inspected; this kind of maintenance is more to catch future problems. 

On the other hand, a screw-down panel metal roof needs more maintenance than a standing-seam. As time passes, the pressure caused by a lack of expansion and contraction of the metal will cause the holes in the washers to get wallowed out by the screws.

Which roof requires less maintenance?

Every roof needs some form of general maintenance, and some require more than others. With that in mind, a metal roof is going to need less maintenance than an asphalt roof.  

To learn more about what roof maintenance looks like, read this article on why roof maintenance is important

Is an asphalt shingle roof or a metal roof right for you?

An asphalt roof is going to be more cost-effective and you get great warranty options, but it has a shorter lifespan and needs more maintenance.

A metal roof system is going to be more expensive, but lives longer and requires less maintenance. However, I would only recommend a standing-seam metal roof over a heated space such as your home or office. 

Are you still struggling to make a decision? Do you just want to assure yourself that you're choosing the right roof? If this sounds like you, take our free Roof Type Quiz to help. 

Whether it’s asphalt or metal roofing, make sure you hire the right contractor 

Now you know how the two different types of roofs stack up to each other. Remember, one isn’t better than the other. 

If you like the way a metal roof looks and it fits your budget, go for it and get that peace of mind for the next 50 years. But no matter what, pick the roof that’s right for you and your situation. 

Remember, if you're still having trouble deciding between the two, check out our Roof Type Quiz to help. But if you've decided, you're ready to find a great roofing contractor.

The trouble is that there's so many out there. Wouldn't it be great to be able to spot one from all the options in your area?

That's why we developed a checklist of 16 questions to ask a local roofing contractor. It contains the questions every homeowner should ask potential contractors and the right answers you should get back to help you find a great one in your area. 

The team at Bill Ragan Roofing has been providing the residents of Nashville with high-quality asphalt and metal replacements since 1990. Our workmanship ensures you get the peace of mind you’re looking for. If you're local to Nashville, don't hesitate to contact us for your asphalt or metal roofing needs. 

Whether you're local or not, get your free Checklist of Questions to Ask a Roofing Contractor to help you find a contractor you can trust. 

checklist of questions to ask a roofing contractor

Table Of Contents

Related Articles