Aluminum Metal Roofs vs. Asphalt Shingles

There are many pages and blog posts on this Classic Metal Roofs website that contrast the merits of aluminum metal roofs versus asphalt shingle roofs – to the advantage of the former, of course. We do not claim to be unbiased on this matter! Below we lay out the pros and cons of each in succinct table display form, for those who just like to cut to the bottom line, or for those of you who are just starting to educate themselves on the subject.

Aluminum Metal Roof Asphalt Roofing System
Recyclable AluminumAluminum metal roofs are manufactured with up to 95% recycled post-consumer metals.   

LandfillThe National Association of Homebuilders Research Center has estimated that somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 BILLION pounds of asphalt shingles are thrown into American landfills every year.   

Aluminum roofs when properly installed need no maintenance service. It is a good idea to inspect the roof to make sure that no damage has occurred from falling or blown debris after a significant storm. This is common sense and should be done regardless of your roofing material. Asphalt shingle roofs need to be inspected on a regular basis. Damage can occur on several fronts. It is best to stay ahead of problems in order to minimize the cost of repairs.
Reflective Metal RoofThere is a reason that aluminum metal roofs are Energy-Star rated: They can keep a house significantly cooler in the summer. Tests have shown 25% savings in cooling costs when a house has an aluminum roof. In the winter, an aluminum roof will keep a house marginally warmer due to the reflectivity back into the house of heat that would otherwise escape.  Dark Asphalt RoofStandard asphalt shingles have no cooling- or heating-related advantages. The opposite is true. One can expect a large heat gain in the summer and no retention of heat in the winter.
Aluminum roofs are made to last. Hurricane-rated wind, ice, snow, hail, and sunshine will not affect a properly installed aluminum metal roof.  Asphalt shingle roofs are effectively manufactured to fail. “Planned obsolescence” is the key concept here. Usually, failures are in high wind, and when ice dams form and water infiltrates the home due to the inherently flawed design. Sun causes asphalt shingles to break down and cup. Hail is the number one destroyer of asphalt shingles in the United States.
Low Stress AluminumDepending on the style of the roof and the thickness of the aluminum, these roofs typically weigh between 50 and 75 pounds per 100 square feet of coverage. Asphalt IconDepending on the style and manufacturer of the shingles, asphalt roofs weigh between 240 and 400 pounds per 100 square feet of coverage.
Aluminum metal roofs are available in multiple shingle styles including a traditional shingle, a slate, a shake, and a Mediterranean barrel tile design. Standing seam in several widths is also a very popular choice among architects, homeowners, and builders. All are available in many colors and finishes.   

The product is available in very limited styles.  And colors? Black, brown, gray, and a few shades of each.  Not much choice here.
Aluminum Roof TypeAn aluminum roof can last over 100 years when properly installed. There are aluminum roofs still in service in the U.S. that are well over 100 years old. Asphalt Roof RepairAsphalt shingle roofs here in New England last an average of 15-20 years, based in location conditions.
Black streaks are a type of algae that live off the minerals in some types of asphalt shingles. Algae thrive in moist conditions, so it is most commonly found on shaded or north-facing roof slopes that do not get a lot of direct sunlight. There is no place for the algae to get a foothold on the aluminum to cause black streaks. Bug infestation is also a non-issue, as there is no place for the bugs to go because the roofs are interlocked together. And, it is impossible for squirrels to chew through a metal roof to gain access. Black streaks are everywhere on asphalt shingles. It is true that algae do not damage roofing, but it certainly looks bad. It attaches to the granules and indentation of the shingle roof. Asphalt shingles overlap each other on the roof, which holds moisture and attracts bugs. Squirrels love asphalt roofs; they can chew right through them and gain access to the house interior. 

High ROE AluminumWith all the advantages of aluminum as a roofing material, you would expect to pay more. They do have a substantially higher up-front price but the cost of ownership and return on investment over the roof’s lifetime cannot be beaten. The long-term cost is very low.  

Asphalt Roof MaintenanceIf you want a roof where the up-front price is cheap, then this is the way to go. But high long-term costs are what you get with asphalt, in the form of repair, maintenance, and – ultimately – replacement costs.   

Aluminum metal roofing is one of the best home improvement investments you can make to enhance the value of your home. Recent statistics here in New England assert that you can expect to recover 85% or more of your investment when the house is sold. Of course, then there are all the other benefits you reap every year that your house has an aluminum metal roof.  

No return on investment, just depreciation of investment. This type of roof is considered a liability and is often a point of negotiation for lowering the offering price at the time the house is resold.
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