Metal Roofing Buying Guide

How to buy metal roofing, with in-depth consumer reports on metal roof materials and types. Includes pros and cons to consider when buying metal roofs and how to hire a metal roof contractor.

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This diagram shows how a metal roof is built, including battens used for attachment and installation of a skylight and solar panel.HektoR /

This diagram shows how a metal roof is built, including sheathing, solid foam insulation, wooden battens used for attachment, metal roofing panels, and installation of a skylight and solar panel.


According to the National Roofing Contractors Association, the popularity of metal roofing products has increased dramatically over the past decade, a clear sign that homeowners and builders are growing more and more aware of this product’s benefits. 

In fact, during the last 20 years, a whole new genre of metal roofing materials has hit the market. These are a far cry from the corrugated “tin” barn roofs that leap to mind at the mention of metal. They are high-tech answers to the need for durable, fire-resistant, lightweight roofing that looks at home on a house.

Brightly colored standing-seam metal roof does a great job of shedding water and snow with very little maintenance required.LesPalenik /

Brightly colored standing-seam metal roof does a great job of shedding water and snow with very little maintenance required.

Metal roofs are favored for their fire-resistant qualities, longevity, and speed of installation—in most cases, by a qualified metal roofing contractor. They are also surprisingly lightweight and are great at reflecting heat from the sun, a characteristic that helps homeowners save energy on cooling bills and may even qualify for tax credits.

Of course, there are a few drawbacks, too. For more about these considerations, see Pros & Cons of Metal Roofing.

Metal roofing materials are made primarily from aluminum and steel, but other materials, such as copper and alloys, are also used but can be very expensive.

Steel and aluminum are by far the most common and sensible of available roofing materials because they are economical, hold paint finishes well (steel can be galvanized), and are durable. Aluminum is a relatively soft metal, so it is more prone to denting and damage and it is also more expensive than steel. On the flip side, aluminum won’t corrode the way steel can if the finish is compromised. For more about materials, see Metal Roofing Materials.

Choosing a Look for Metal Roofing

Metal panel roofing is a striking, sensible alternative for contemporary design. Photo: David Vandervort ArchitectsDavid Vandervort Architects

Metal panel roofing, applied in sheets, has raised ribs. Photo: David Vandervort Architects

When considering a metal roof, you’ll first want to determine the fundamental look you want it to have. Residential metal roofing comes in two basic forms that are very different in appearance: sheet-like panels and shingles. Within these two categories, there are many variations, colors, and patterns…more about that later.

Metal panel roofing. The most familiar pattern of panel-style metal roofing, “standing-seam roofing,” has raised ribs every 6 or 12 inches and is applied vertically on a roof and doesn’t attempt to look like anything other than what it is: metal roofing.  It has a decidedly commercial look that is favored by architects for its honest, clean, contemporary appearance; it is commonly used on homes ranging from mountain cabins to modern masterpieces but would look very out-of-place on a Colonial home.

HA Metal-Roofing---Install-or-Replace

Stone-coated steel roofing offers the look of shakes with the strength of metal. Photo: Gerard USAGerard USA

Stone-coated steel shingle roofing offers the look of shakes with the strength of metal.

Metal shingle-style roofing is quite different than sheet roofing. With this style, metal is formed into shapes that imitate Spanish tile, wood shakes, or slate. These shingles are typically given multiple-layer factory finishes that may include granulated-stone topcoats to complete the realistic effect.

For a much more detailed look at both types of metal roofing, see Standing Seam Sheet Metal Roofing and Metal Shingle Roofing.

In the articles listed below, you’ll find helpful information on the pros and cons of metal roofing, materials used for metal roofing, popular brands, how to choose a metal roofing contractor, and basic metal roofing repairs.


Pros & Cons of Metal Roofing
Types of Metal Roofing Materials
• Metal Roofing Repairs
• How to Hire a Metal Roofing Contractor

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Join the Conversation

  • Rod Herman

    Be very careful who you hire to install a metal roof! The 12-minute video at the following URL documents our disaster.

    • Architecture is Important

      It says the video is private.

  • it helps to know what the experts think, so thanks for the info

  • Kathy Dunn

    I had my metal roof done by someone who SAID he was an expert and was not. I have some issues with it. He put the screws in the flat parts of the roof instead of under the ribs. My question is can my roof leak because of this?

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