The Difference Between Metal and Asphalt Shingle Roofs

The pros and cons of the two most popular types of roofs.

Published December 10, 2021

There’s a debate between what’s better, an asphalt shingle roof or metal roof? The truth is, it’s not much of a debate. Both types of roofs have their advantages and disadvantages. There are also many differences between the two that may make one type of roof better suited for your home than the other.


The popularity contest: Asphalt shingle roofs versus metal roofs

An asphalt shingle roof is the most common type of roof according to the Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association (ARMA); approximately 80% of homes in the United States are roofed with this popular choice. Other options include metal roofing, as well as clay tile, concrete tile, slate, or a cedar shake roof.

Coming in a second (albeit distant), are metal roofs; however, the popularity of metal as a roofing option is growing. According to the Metal Roof Alliance (MRA), the number of new homes constructed with a metal roof doubled from 4% in 2018 to 8% in 2019. And, for homeowners repairing or remodeling their existing roof in 2019, market share for metal roofing was 12%.


Why are asphalt shingle roofs so popular over metal roofs?

While both types of roofs have their benefits, there’s no denying that asphalt shingles outdo metal roofs in one important category: initial cost. Compared to the other roofing options available to homeowners, asphalt shingles are the most affordable.

Even the MRA admits as much:

“You can expect your new [metal] roof to cost roughly two to three times what an asphalt shingle roof costs. However, a metal roof is comparable in price to tile roofing or cedar shake roofing. If you currently have a slate roof, you can expect your metal roof to cost less.”

Why do so many Americans choose a metal roof when it costs two to three times what an asphalt shingle roof costs? Longevity. The average lifespan of an asphalt roof is 15 to 20 years while the average lifespan for a metal roof is 50 or more years.

It could be argued the cost of an asphalt shingle roof is about the same as a metal roof when you factor in the frequency with which shingles need to be replaced.


The pros and cons of an asphalt shingle roof

Decisions are usually not solely made on cost alone, and the advantages and disadvantages of asphalt shingles are varied which may impact your purchase decision.

  • Cost: Asphalt shingles are the most cost-effective roofing option upfront.
  • Lifespan: You can generally expect shingles to last between 15 and 20 years.
  • Maintenance: An annual inspection is important since shingles may wear unevenly due to the elements. If shingles come loose, or are curled or cracked, a homeowner may be able to do a spot replacement of the affected shingles without having to replace the whole roof. It’s best to keep your roof (and gutters) clear of debris and branches.
  • Environmental considerations: Shingles can be recycled, although facilities are not available everywhere. Recycled shingles are often used to pave roads, parking lots and driveways.
  • Energy efficiency: According to ARMA, there are some ENERGY STAR® certified shingle options. If you choose this type of certified efficient shingle, it would mean the shingles meet the efficiency guidelines set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
  • Fire and wind protections: Shingles have varying fire ratings, depending on the type you buy. A shingle can carry a Class A, B or C fire rating, with Class A providing the greatest fire resistance. Also, some shingles may be labeled as wind resistant.


The pros and cons of a metal roof

While installing a new metal roof could mean you’ll never have to re-roof your home again, there are other considerations that may influence which type of roof you choose to install.

  • Cost: A metal roof is at least double the cost of going with an asphalt shingle roof.
  • Lifespan: Probably the best benefit of a metal roof is its life expectancy. You can expect a metal roof to last 50 or more years.
  • Maintenance: There is generally little maintenance required for a metal roof. They can be cleaned, if desired, with a mild soap solution but generally rain will suffice in keeping the roof clean. And like shingles, it’s best to keep your roof free of debris or branches.
  • Environmental considerations: A metal roof is partly made up of recycled materials; the MRA estimates this to be about 28%. The roof is also fully recyclable once it nears its end of life expectancy.
  • Energy efficiency: According to MRA, metal is one of the most energy efficient roofing materials available and there are some ENERGY STAR® rated options available. MRA says that the savings from a metal roof could be as much as 40% in energy costs.
  • Fire and wind protections: Metal roofing only comes in one rating, a Class A rating which offers the greatest fire resistance available. A metal roof is also wind resistant.


Ready to re-roof your home? Hire a Local Home Pro professional

What’s overhead matters especially when it comes to the roof of your home. Whether you go with the popular asphalt shingle roof or the long-lasting metal roof, you can get a free, no obligation quote from a local expert today.

Share this article

Get started with Local Home Pro now

Book a free in-home Roofing consultation.

Recommended Articles

The information, views, materials, and opinions contained in this article are for general informational purposes only, are not intended to constitute commercial, legal or other professional advice, and should not be relied on or treated as a substitute for specific advice relevant to particular circumstances.

Home Improvement Call Center Corp. and its affiliates (collectively “HI3C”) makes no warranties, representations or undertakings about any of the content of this article (including, without limitation, any as to the quality, accuracy, completeness or fitness for any particular purpose of such content), or any content of any other article referred to or accessed by hyperlinks through this article. Although we make reasonable efforts to update the information regularly, HI3C makes no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether expressed or implied, that the content on our site is accurate, complete or up-to-date.