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Long popular with commercial builders, the metal roofing market expanded to residential homeowners in recent years, making it a $3.3 billion industry in North America in 2017, with a projected value this year of $4 billion, industry research shows. The demand for metal roofing material is expected to rise 2.7% per year through 2023, based on its unique appearance, weather resistance, and effect on lowering energy bills.
Metal roofs have yet to make a huge impression among HomeLight’s top agents: 78% of those surveyed for our Q3 2019 Top Agent Insights Report recommend asphalt shingles when clients need to replace a roof.
However, 21% of the 435 agents that HomeLight surveyed say they have seen more homeowners choosing metal roofs because of their energy-efficiency and longer life span: about 40 to 80 years, compared with 20 to 50 years for asphalt or composite shingles.
With top agents estimating that roof replacement in general recoups 94% of your investment at resale, it’s worth investigating whether a metal roof will increase home value more than other materials. Let’s check out the pros and cons to help you decide what’s right for your home.
Metal roofs: What do they look like and how can you spot one?
Metal roofs come in a wide range of styles. They can resemble the rough texture and finish of wood shakes or rustic wood shingles, the ripples of Mediterranean clay tiles, and the look of architectural shingles (yes, those traditionally made from asphalt or composite).
Adam Greer, a top real estate agent in the Columbus, Georgia, area, says that architectural shingle roofs are more popular than metal roofs in his area. But he has sold homes with metal roofs and as he notes “it’s just a product that lasts longer.”
One of the most recognizable styles of metal roofing is the standing seam metal roof, where strips of metal panels interlock along vertical seams. (Imagine corduroy fabric with really wide ridges). You might have seen this style of roof on a restaurant, shopping center, or agricultural building, says Classic Metal Roofing Systems of Piqua, Ohio, a division of Isaiah Industries, Inc., and a manufacturer of metal roofing products since 1980.
For residential buildings, this style of roofing has narrower panels (about 12 inches wide) and comes in an array of colors (from neutral buckskin, browns, white, and grays to terracotta red, forest green, and slate) for a clean, contemporary look, this manufacturer says.
You don’t have just one choice of metal, either. The most common types of metal roofing include:
- Steel (usually galvanized with corrosion-resistant coating of zinc or zinc-aluminum)
- Stainless steel (often the material for those corrugated metal panels)
How much will a metal roof increase your home’s value?
Because metal is considered a premium roofing material, it can conceivably increase your home’s value and boost your asking price, especially if it has a comprehensive warranty. For instance, Classic Metal Roofing Systems has a 40-year warranty from the date of installation, which transfers to the home’s new owners at no cost each time the home is sold.
You likely won’t recoup the entire expense, however. According to Remodeling magazine’s Cost vs. Value 2020 report, a metal roof replacement has an average 61% return on investment nationwide.
What’s the metal-roof difference?
Metal roofs have a number of advantages, notably durability. The International Association of Certified Home Inspectors says that metal roofing typically lasts two to three times longer than wood or asphalt shingles.
How much longer? DryHome Roofing Inc., a roofing contractor in Sterling, Virginia, that’s certified by the Better Business Bureau, listed how long various roofing materials tend to last, barring high winds and other weather conditions that can damage any roof:
- Slate or tile: roughly 100 years
- Metal: about 40 to 80 years
- Architectural asphalt shingles: about 30 years
- Cedar shake: about 30 years
- Fiber cement: about 25 years
- Asphalt or composite shingles: about 20 to 50 years, depending on premium brand
Some other perks of metal roofs include:
- Low to no maintenance: If properly installed, a metal roof won’t fade, rust, crack, or rot, according to the Metal Roofing Alliance (MRA), a national trade association of roofing contractors and dealers.
- Better protection against high winds, hail, heavy snow, and wildfires: Metal roofing can withstand gusts of up to 140 miles per hour and “sheds” precipitation quickly, which protects the roof’s structural integrity. It also resists catching fire from any airborne embers or sparks.
- Energy savings: A painted metal roof or one covered in a cool reflective coating can reflect solar energy and reduce your air conditioning bills, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. One estimate notes that some metal roofs can save up to 25% in energy costs compared to a roof of dark asphalt shingles. (Don’t expect as much a reduction in heating costs, though; your home’s insulation and any air leaks around windows and doors have a greater impact on heating bills, say the experts at the online business directory Angie’s List.)
- Versatility: A metal roof often can be installed over your current roof, reducing shingle waste. Metal roofs on average also are 50% lighter than asphalt shingle roofs and 75% lighter than concrete tile or slate, the MRA says, so there tends not to be an issue about whether a structure can support this material’s weight.
Are there any drawbacks to having a metal roof?
- Longer installation time: Elite Construction, a licensed and insured building and restoration contractor in Denver, Colorado, estimates that a five-person crew can install 35 to 40 square feet of a steel sheet roof in three to four days, about twice as long as installing asphalt shingles but about half as long as installing concrete tile. Installation can take a bit longer depending on the size of your home and the roof’s architecture, as well as how the panels interlock.
- Noise: Although some roofers say that a metal roof isn’t noisy as long as it’s installed on top of a solid deck, it can have more of a “rumble” than people expect, although not as loud as, say, rain hitting a skylight.
- Price: This is the biggest hurdle for homeowners. Expect to pay about twice as much as you would to replace an asphalt shingle roof, but a price comparable to tile. That said, some homeowners insurance policies, such as those with State Farm, offer discounts on premiums in certain states for qualifying metal roofs overlaid onto existing roofs. Ask your insurance agent for more information.
How much does a metal roof cost to install?
Metal roofing ranges from about $3.25 to $22 per square foot, with aluminum and standing seam metal roofing toward the lower end and copper at the high end, according to Modernize, a network of home improvement contractors. By comparison, asphalt shingles run about $1 to $4.25 per square foot.
The national average cost of a metal roof is about $16,500, according to the MRA. More specifically, installing steel shingles on a 2,000-square-foot roof costs about $15,000 to $25,000, Modernize says. For a standing seam metal roof of the same size, you’ll pay about $23,000 to $30,000; a copper roof costs about $23,000 to $48,000.
Compare that with installing a 2,000-square-foot asphalt roof, which costs about $12,400 to $16,000. A concrete tile roof about the same size costs about $20,000 to $42,000 to install, and a clay tile roof costs about $24,000 to $50,000.
Your homeowners insurance policy might cover some of the cost if you’re replacing the roof because of any recent damage, such shingles torn off in high winds or hail, or a tree falling on part of the roof.
So, should I replace my roof with a metal one?
That depends on how long you plan to live in your current home. Because of the cost and durability, Greer says he thinks people will opt for a metal roof if they’re planning to stay there for a long time.
If you’re planning on selling your home, a home inspector or a roof inspector may find issues with the structure, materials, and workmanship of the roof that beg for a replacement. Metal might not be your first choice, though.
“Metal roofs cost more,” Greer says. “If [sellers] have to put on a new roof, it’s not like they’re going to go with the most expensive option. … Even if a seller is trying to add value, you’re not going to see them step up and add that type of product to a home they’re planning on leaving.”
Sometimes a seller will have an emotional attachment to a house and put more money into renovations than necessary to leave it for buyers in the best possible condition, “but that’s uncommon,” he adds.
If you’re curious about whether a metal roof will increase your home’s value, talk with a roofing professional and a real estate agent. Both can give you advice about your roof’s current material and condition and offer insights as to any impact a metal roof could have on your prospective asking price.
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