Putting a new roof on a home is a big investment.
Homeowners who want a roof that's really going to last might want to consider metal roofing.
It's available in a variety of styles and colors and can look like wood, slate or even asphalt shingles.
"What a lot of homeowners don't know is that metal roofs come in an assortment of colors," said Ryan Westfall, vice president of Westfall Roofing of Tampa. "You can get white, brown, black, and beige, gray -- any color you want, really. There is actually a very large color palette for metal roofs."
Angie's List, a leading provider of consumer reviews in the United States, asked highly rated roofing contractors how metal roofs compared to the popular asphalt shingle and other varieties.
"A growing trend in roofing is installing metal roofs, and the reason is they last twice as long as an asphalt shingle roof," said Angie Hicks, co-founder of Angie's List. "But remember, you're going to pay more. It's not unusual to pay two to three times as much."
The cost for metal roofing ranges from about $6 per square foot for a painted, steel covering to as high as $20 per square foot for a copper roof.
But one upside of metal roofing is it typically has a longer lifespan. Asphalt roofs usually need to be replaced every 15-20 years, but a properly installed metal roof can offer a 30- to 50-year lifespan.
"It's the most durable roof you can put on your house," Westfall said of the metal option. "It's also the most energy-efficient you can put on your house, and lastly it's the least maintenance that is required of any roofing in the industry.
"The only con to a metal roof is the cost," he said. "If you can afford a metal roof, it's the way to go. It will be the last roof you ever put on."
And putting that roof on is actually easier than laying down asphalt shingles, though it can take longer. Replacing panels is also quick and simple. Most metal roofing materials are formed into panels or sheets, which are laid on the roof structure and then fastened.
One thing to keep in mind with installing any roof is how dangerous of a job it can be.
"Insurance is really important when it comes to roofers because let's face it, they are on your roof, on ladders, and on your property," Hicks said. "You want to be sure your contractor has both general liability and worker's compensation insurance. Ask for proof of insurance and call and confirm that it's still valid. This is important because any contractor that won't show you this proof of insurance, you need to walk away from."
Another benefit to metal roofing is durability. Water won't damage metal in the same way it does asphalt. Standing seam metal roofs, one of many varieties, use screws and gaskets to secure the roof to the structure, and they're not exposed to the elements, which helps prevents leaking and damage during storms.
Along with weighing benefits and cost, it's important homeowners check with their homeowners associations and city regulations before installing a metal roof, Hicks said, because associations and local laws can limit residential installations of metal roofs.
Angie's List Tips: Hiring a contractor to install a metal roof
- Get multiple, written bids from reliable, local roofers. Ask them for a cost-benefit analysis of traditional roofs, as well as metal ones and then carefully evaluate that information to make the right choice for you.
- Make sure the roofer has plenty of experience working with metal roofs. A metal roof system is all interlocked and screwed down, as opposed to being nailed, and typically takes about twice the time to install.
- Roofing is a dangerous job and homeowners should ask for proof of insurance when hiring. If the contractor cannot provide this documentation, that's a red flag. Highly rated insurance agents on Angie's List recommend contractors hold at least one million dollars in both liability and worker's compensation insurance coverage. You can also ask to be added to the contractor's policy as "additional insured."
- As with any large purchase, weigh the pros and cons of a metal roof for your family's individual circumstances.
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