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Metal Roofing vs Asphalt Shingles (Roofing Material Comparison)

Metal Roofing vs Asphalt Shingles (Roofing Material Comparison)

When you’re in the process of getting a new roof, you’ll start to understand how large of a project it actually is. Thankfully, if you get it done right, you won’t have to do it again for another couple of decades.

One of the earliest things you will be considering when going through the process, is what kind of material you’ll be putting on your roof. Most homeowners tend to think exclusively about asphalt shingles, given that most of their neighbors have them on their roofs as well. Asphalt shingles are the most popular roofing material in the country, after all.

While asphalt shingles have really had a stranglehold on the urban and suburban market because of their affordability, metal has been increasingly popular recently because of its modern look.

In this blog, we’re going to go over:

Let’s get started!

What is an Asphalt Shingle Roof?

As I mentioned earlier, asphalt shingles are the most commonly used roofing material in North America, in fact, it’s not even very close, as asphalt shingles protect about 80% of homes on the continent.

nice asphalt roof_WebP-1

The most driving factor behind this is the ease of installation, and their low price point compared to other roofing materials. Asphalt shingle roof replacements can cost anywhere between $8,000 and $20,000 for an average sized home. That’s still a lot of money, but compared to materials like standing seam metal, and slate tiles, it’s a bargain!


Asphalt shingles are made with three main materials: a fiberglass mat, asphalt, and a coating of granules. That fiberglass mat is sandwiched between two layers of asphalt, and a mixture of ceramic, metal, and rock granules coat the top layer. A sealant is applied to the bottom of the shingle, and then you’ve got an asphalt shingle!

That composite construction allows these shingles to have a solid lifespan for the price, depending on what kind of shingle you get. As a broad statement, we can say that asphalt shingles last between 15 and 30 years, but the lifespan of your asphalt roof will heavily depend upon which type of shingle you buy.

The three main types of asphalt shingles are: three-tab, architectural, and luxury.

Three-Tab Shingles_WebP-1

Three-tab shingles are the cheapest option, and also the least durable. They typically cost around $8,000 for a roof replacement, and will last about 15 years in normal conditions. You can identify them by their flatter, blockier look.

Once upon a time three-tabs were the most popular shingle in the country, especially for large scale builders. They’re still common today, but they have started to lose some favor as the price gap between them and architectural shingles continues to shrink.

Architectural shingles are the next jump up on the price scale, but not too much more. Most houses that we work on using architectural shingles go for around $9,000 to $14,000. They are a two-ply shingle, which increases their lifespan to 25-30 years, and also provides a more textured look than three-tab shingles.

The most expensive kind of asphalt shingle is a luxury shingle. They are a heavy, three-ply shingle that will usually last around 30 years in good conditions. They come at a luxury price, though, as one of these roof replacements will likely cost you around $20,000, or maybe even more.

What is a Metal Roof?

Metal Roof in Goldston_WebP-1

In many of the more rural areas of the country, and especially here in North Carolina, metal roofs are an incredibly popular option. Metal roofs traditionally require less maintenance than an asphalt shingle roof, so in areas where roofing companies are less abundant, this is really important.

One big difference is that metal roofs use longer panels that need to be cut to fit a roof, while asphalt shingles are smaller, and are only cut to fit in certain circumstances.

The two most common varieties of metal roofs are standing seam panels, and screw down panels.

Standing seams are considered the higher quality option, and are truthfully the only option for residential metal roofs. Screw-down panel roofs, on the other hand, are a great, more cost-effective option for buildings that aren’t heated, like a detached garage or a barn.

metal flat roof_WebP-1

We’ve gone in depth on these metal roofing options in our article on The Difference Between a Standing Seam and Screw-Down Panel Metal Roof. Essentially, it comes down to the construction of the roof’s ability to allow the metal to expand and contract as it heats and cools. Standing seams are designed with that movement in mind, while screw-down panels will need to be repaired and replaced quickly if they are installed over a heated space like a home.

Standing seam roofs, when installed correctly, can last all the way up to 50 years, potentially double of what you might get out of an architectural shingle roof. Also double, however, is the price, as a metal roof replacement can get up to twice the cost of an asphalt roof replacement.

Asphalt Shingles vs Metal Roofing

Now, let’s go category by category, and compare asphalt roofing shingles against metal roofing panels.


another asphalt shngle roof_WebP


When you’re comparing the costs of roofing your home with these two roofing materials, asphalt shingles are going to be the cheaper option. While screw-down panels may be competitively priced against asphalt shingles, they shouldn’t be used over heated spaces like your house, as they’ll open you up to some serious leaks.


Asphalt shingles come in at three different price points: $8k-$10k for three-tabs, $9k-$14k for architectural shingles, and $15k-$20k for luxury shingles. Standing seam metal roofs can get a good bit more expensive than that, usually around $25k-$40k.


Similarly to how the price section is absolutely in favor of asphalt shingles, standing seam metal roofs should always last longer than an asphalt roof, even if you have the most expensive shingles out there.metal roof in Fayetteville_WebP-2

Most standing seam roofs, when installed correctly, can survive around 50 years, which is significantly longer than even the best asphalt shingle roofs. This is because the metal has a coating that protects it from rust, and the system is designed so that all of the fasteners are hidden underneath the metal panels.

Asphalt shingles, again, have three different lifespans, with three-tabs lasting around 15 years, architectural shingles around 25-30 years, and luxury shingles surviving around 30 years.


Clogged Gutters_WebP-2

The roof maintenance category is a much closer competition than the other two. Regardless of what kind of roof you have, you will need to routinely clean off debris, and clean out your gutters.

On asphalt shingle roofs, especially three-tabs, you may need to have a small section of shingles replaced towards the end of the roof’s life, as the sealant may wear down, and wind may more easily blow up under the shingles.

Metal roofs will likely still require some repairs, and maintenance, but they won’t require attention as much as asphalt shingles will during their functional lifetime.

Want to learn more about metal roofing in Raleigh?

Though we covered the basics in this blog, there is still loads to learn about each of these roofing types! 

If you live in the Raleigh, North Carolina area, check out our blog on the Things You Should Know About Metal Roofing in Raleigh, NC!

On Tops Roofing has been replacing and repairing both metal and asphalt shingle roofs since 1991! If you’re looking for a roof replacement or repair in the NC Triangle area, we’ve got the experience to get the job done right!

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