Shingle Vs Metal Roof Costs: A Payback Guide

  • Metal roofing can last for 60+ years if properly cared for, while an asphalt shingle roof has a life expectancy of around 25-30 years. You can expect an asphalt roof to also require more maintenance during that time with a higher risk of damage, failures, or leaks.
  • You should expect to pay 30-50% more up front for a metal roof vs a shingle roof. Put another way, asphalt shingles can usually be installed for around 60-70% of the cost of metal roofing. Asphalt shingles are cheaper up-front.
  • With inflation ( installing a new asphalt shingle roof after 25 or 30 years will cost even more than today), we expect a metal roof to save many homeowners $15,000 or more over the course of a lifetime, with less maintenance, more peace of mind, greater beauty, and higher resale value for their home.
  • Our roof replacement customers usually cite peace of mind and elegance as their reasons for choosing a metal roof.

Cost of a Metal Roof Vs Shingles

Let’s start by pointing out the obvious: we’re metal roof installers, primarily installing standing seam metal roofs too, which are arguably the most durable roof you can put on your home today (read more on the benefits of standing seam here).

And while metal roofs typically cost more to install than shingles, the reasons are clear: better protection, a longer life, less maintenance, and enduring elegance in look and feel.

Putting that aside, we’ve taken a systematic approach in this article to explaining shingle vs metal roof costs. Let’s begin by talking about up-front costs and some basics.

Average Metal Roof Cost

In Central Pennsylvania, you can expect to pay about $9-10 per square foot for a new standing seam metal roof.

For a fairly basic 2,000 square foot roof, most homeowners can expect an average cost of around $18,000.

What’s A Metal Roof Made Of?

To make sure we’re all on the same page, understand that there are two primary styles or profiles of metal roofing: an “ag panel”, which is the ribbed look you see on many barns (or corrugated metal on older buildings), and standing seam. Both are generally made from painted steel, though there are other options available (see the FAQs below).
A standing seam metal roof

Metal Material Versus Labor Costs (60/40)

Metal roofing materials tend to make up a little over half of the cost of getting a metal roof, or about 60%, meaning that labor is about 40% of the total price for metal roofing.

Size of Roof and Complexity Affects Roof Costs

Size plays a major role in a new metal roofing project, but almost more important is the number of valleys and peaks. Two flat roof planes, as with many ranchers built in our area, is a much easier to install project than a home with multitudes of pitches, peaks, and angles. These hips and valleys will increase the cost of the installation because they require more time and closer attention to detail. (In fact, if you have a complex roof, make sure you work with an experienced metal roofing company to avoid potential issues in the future.)

Average Asphalt Shingle Roof Cost

For the same simple 2,000 square foot roof in Central Pennsylvania from our example above, you can probably expect a price for shingles of about $12,000, or around $6 per square foot.

What Are Shingles Made Of?

Asphalt shingles are generally made of a tough fiberglass base mat, waterproofing asphalt, and high-performance surface granules intended to reflect UV light and protect the waterproofing layer. These roughly 3-foot sections are overlapped dozens of time across the span of shingle roofs.
A shingle roof

Materials for a shingle roof cost considerably less than a metal roof, but installing asphalt roofing requires significantly more labor and time. You should expect asphalt shingle materials to make up about 40% of the total roofing cost, meaning labor is often 60% of the project price.

Shingles Material Versus Labor Costs (40/60)

That’s because shingles are smaller (about 3′ by 14 inches) and must be nailed down in succession in overlapping layers from the bottom up. It’s a time-consuming process. Metal panels, meanwhile, go on quite quickly and run in long lengths vertically.

Average Cost Will Rise By Size and Complexity

As with metal roofing, hips and valleys make asphalt roofs more complex to install, driving up time and labor costs for the project.

Metal Roof Warranties Versus Shingle Warranties

A great place to start in understanding the true cost and lifespan of a metal roof versus a shingle roof is with some knowledge of manufacturer warranties. Warranties aren’t bulletproof, but they can help you understand how MANUFACTURERS think about their own products!

Most asphalt roofs and shingles today will come with a 25- or 30-year manufacturer warranty. This means that product failures that can be specifically attributed to the material alone can result in replacement costs being covered by the manufacturer during that time. This is not the same as a workmanship guarantee, which comes from the roofing contractor.

Unfortunately, we’ve heard a lot of horror stories when it comes to shingle roof warranties. For example, many people don’t realize that shingle warranties often fall to just two years when the initial owner sells their home.

Our Experience With The Kynar® Paint System Metal Roofing Warranty

The roofing materials we rely on for standing seam metal include a 35-year paint warranty from the paint manufacturer, Kynar®. If the paint is found defective, the manufacturer pays for new materials and labor, and the warranty is fully transferable.

Importantly, this warranty is on the paint alone, meaning that the underlying protective steel remains intact even if the paint begins to come to the end of its useful life! Most metal roofs can then be repainted around years 30 to 40 if the paint has begun to flake or fade, completely restoring its usefulness for another 20+ years at a fraction of the cost of a totally new roof.

Metal Roof Vs Shingles Lifetime Scenario

Let’s look at an example of the total lifetime cost for someone considering a metal roof vs shingles, assuming that this homeowner plans to be in their beloved “forever” home from raising their young kids through retirement.

This farmhouse has a 2,500-square foot roof with four “planes” as the house is L-shaped – as many are in the Lancaster region! The existing roof is shingles.

New Shingle Roof Lifetime Cost: $46,000

Installation costs for this home with asphalt roof shingles will be about $15,000, most of which will be labor compared to roofing material.

At year 30, when the homeowner is 60, they will replace this asphalt roofing at a cost of $31,000 (this is with an average inflation rate of 2.5%).

New Metal Roof Lifetime Cost: $32,000

Installation costs for this new standing seam metal roof and installation will be $25,000, of which about 35-40% will be roofing materials.

This roof will need to be examined around year 25 primarily at seams and fastener-points. Good roofing contractors will check flashing where the roof meets a brick wall, for example, to ensure that adhesives are still in good shape, and to repair any fading or delaminating locations. They will also make sure that the hidden fasteners are still in good shape. This can be done for $1000 or less in future “inflation-adjusted” prices.

The roof will then need a new coat of paint around year 35 or 40, costing around $6,000.

So, Which Roof Do We Think Is Best?

When it comes to a metal roof vs shingles, we think most homeowners looking for longevity, peace of mind and curb appeal, should consider metal roofing.

Shingles and full metal roofs are usually compared on up-front cost, with an average cost increase of 30-50% for standing seam metal roofing. Material costs make up the majority of this price difference, and more labor is also a factor.

If you’re considering a roof replacement, and you like the look of standing seam, it’s a great option for those who plan to be in their home long-term, saving 30%+ over the course of a generation.

An Exercise: How Many Seams Are In a Shingle Roof?

We had some fun with this one, figuring out how many “seams” are in shingle roofs compared to metal. Every seam is a potential failure point.

A 10×10 shingled section with 63+ shingles will have “seams” or “overlaps” at every bottom edge and also 5” on each side of the shingle,  for 65+ potential points of water entry.

A 10×10 metal section will have 8 panels and thus 8 seams, with a 180-degree wrap at the drip edge.

This is a 90% reduction in risk and failure points for metal roofing!

Other Pros and Cons With Metal Roofing and Asphalt Shingles

Worries Versus No Worries

Confidence and peace of mind is a big part of why our customers choose standing seam metal roofing. As metal roofing contractors we love to ask our clients why they chose metal, and almost always we hear one of two things: “I don’t want to worry about my roof again” or “I love how it looks.”

Peace of mind and unrivaled durability is a big reason people choose metal roofing: it simply requires less headache and worry.

Looks, Curb Appeal, and Resale Value

Standing seam metal roofing is elegant, traditional, and classy. It can make old farmhouses look elegant and timeless, and it can make modern homes look luxurious.

We hear frequently from our customers they they wanted their new roof to be metal for this reason alone! Because of its beauty and durability, it also helps with resale value far more than shingle roofs.

Energy Costs

Metal roofing does a much better job than roof shingles of reflecting heat during the summer months. For this reason, a metal roof is much more energy efficient than shingle roofs, for a lower energy bill in the summer. While it’s hard to quantify this, metal roofs can be as much as 15% cooler in the heat – another reason they can be less expensive during their full lifetime.

Extreme Weather

A metal roof does a much better job of standing up to severe and extreme weather, and high winds compared to asphalt shingles.


Does a metal roof make your house colder in winter?

Metal roofing will improve energy efficiency in the summer but generally does not impact energy efficiency in the winter months.

Is a metal roof better and cheaper than shingles?

It’s certainly better (all things considered), but it will not be cheaper UP FRONT. Over the long-run, however, it will save money.

What other materials are available for residential roofing?

Roofing can also be made of copper, zinc, aluminum (these are all more expensive than steel metal roofing), clay tiles, slate, and even wood shakes. These all tend to be more expensive and specialized to install than shingles or standing seam. The type of material makes all the difference.

Do metal roofs leak more than shingles?

No. Because they have fewer seams and are much more durable, standing seam roofing installed correctly will have less risk of a leak. 

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