Introducing the Metal Roof: Shingles are now Obsolete

dallas_burbsIf you’re in the United States and you look out your window in a typical neighborhood, you will notice asphalt shingle roofs as far as the eye can see.  There are a few regional differences, like clay tile roofs in California and Florida and flat roofs in the adobe-style houses of Santa Fe. But overall the Almighty Shingle dominates the marketplace. And this is a shame, because it is a pretty wasteful roofing material that causes a lot of unnecessary cost and headaches.

Flying in to Sydney a few years ago, I noticed that their suburbs looked completely different than ours. Every single roof was an attractive geometric expanse of detailed steel panels, often in bold colors. The Australians told me that these metal roofs save them a lot of energy, and last forever as well.

So during the short life of my house building company, I was pleased that the architect recommended I use metal roofs for the same reasons: They look cool, they can last a lifetime, and they keep out summer heat much better than shingles.

The only problem is that in my area, the costs were spectacular. I paid about $13,000 to have a local company install standing seam metal roofing on each of the two houses my company built, in contrast to the $4,000 that other builders were forking over for shingles on houses of similar size. I wondered about the price, but did not have time to find a better solution.

For my current house rebuilding project, the relaxed schedule and budget allows us to go All Experimental, All The Time. A welded steel load frame. A huge amount of high-solar-gain glass. Radiant heat. Spray foam insulation. And perhaps most exciting for me, installing my very own standing seam metal roof for the first time.

I have just finished installation of the bulk of this roof and put it through rainstorm test, and the whole experience has been a great one. So in case you ever want to consider such a roof for one of your own future homes, here’s a quick primer on why and how to do it.

Benefits of a Metal Roof


Here’s a house much fancier than mine, showing off its metal roof (image credit: Metal Sales Inc)

General Awesomeness and Durability: The biggest reason to choose metal is that it looks great and lasts forever. On top of that, it is more resistant to wind, fire, snow, hail, and rain. You actually get a discount on your annual insurance premiums in many areas if you have a metal instead of shingle roof.

Even in shingle-dominated areas, you’ll often see higher-end houses popping up with metal roofing. Once you do it, you’re done thinking about roofing forever. If you buy a house with a metal roof, these benefits pass on to you. This means the style has excellent resale value.

But note that all metal is not created equal. The rusty corrugated stuff that you see on old barns and chicken coops is in a different category than the architectural standing seam panels we use today. While even a corrugated steel roof can work well, the modern stuff is better in almost every way.

Weight and Environmental Impact: your typical 2000 square foot shingle roof weighs 5400 pounds and contains over 200 gallons of sticky black crude oil, soaked into its fiberglass mat and covered with ground stones. After only 15-25 years, all of this will need to be torn off, trucked away, and replaced with another layer of oil.

In contrast, a metal roof of equivalent size weighs only half as much (meaning you can design with lighter structural members), and requires less than half the fossil fuels to produce. On top of that, new steel is made from 50-100% recycled steel these days and is fully recyclable at the end of its life, which will be 200-300% longer than the life of shingles.

 Lower Air Conditioning Bills: Shingles reflect only 5-25% of the solar heat striking your roof. Steel can reflect 20-60% of it, depending on color. This keeps your attic (and in turn your house) much cooler, and also reduces the urban heat island effect and smog formation. In areas like Dallas and Houston where there is too much heat and too little fresh air, shingle roofs still dominate and the average cooling bill for a single house is over $1200 per year. Imagine the effect of a widespread switch to light colored metal roofs in areas like these.

But What Does All This Cost?

All this is much less expensive than I thought (in other words, I got ripped off when building those other houses back in the day). Shingle roofs cost at least $1.50 per square foot for the materials, and $1.50 for the installation. Metal is only a bit higher at roughly $2.20 per square foot, and from my own experience the installation takes about the same amount of work and skill level. So the overall installed cost should be only 25-35% higher if you hire it out, and you can build your own metal roof for less than you would pay a very competitive company to shingle it.

How to Get your Own Metal Roof

Although I installed my own (with the help of a few friends), you don’t have to do this to get the benefits. Understanding the components involved, and how easy the stuff is to install, will give you ammunition in selecting your own roofing company.

Understand the Terminology

Here’s the 3-D Sketchup model of my house, viewed from above. I have labeled the various parts, because you’ll need to know those when ordering a roof of your own or hiring a contractor.


Find a Supplier

Metal roofing components are extremely simple: Sheets of galvanized steel get rolled through a shaping machine, cut to length, and optionally painted. Some roofing companies buy their own shaping machines so they can buy rolls of plain galvanized steel and crank the stuff out right on the job site. But there are also manufacturing companies that do it. I went with Metal Sales Inca nationwide company that makes all sorts of exterior metal panels and sells through Home Depot’s special order department as well as other retailers.

Get a Quote

At the core of this learning experiment is just figuring out what to order. After much distillation, all I needed was a few different components in sufficient quantity:

  • Gutters (aka “box gutters”) to catch the water as it flows off each of my eaves
  • Valley Flashing, which is just a big slightly-bent strip of metal to put into each valley to catch water
  • Offset Flashing, to create a little hook along each eave and valley (you’ll see what this is for in a minute)
  • Metal Panels, to cover the whole roof
  • A panel hemming tool, to fold the downward end of each metal panel and hook it under the offset flashing
  • Z-closure Flashing, a little filler piece to fit into spaces and keep bugs out.
  • Rake Flashings, to cover each side edge of the roof
  • Peak Flashing, to cover the upward slope and give the whole thing a finished look.
  • Assorted screws, rivets, rubbery tape stuff, and clear silicone roofing caulk.

Let’s take a look at my quote from MSI, so you can see the details in action. Note that my 1500 square foot house has a 2100 square foot roof, because of the large overhangs.
bhc_quote-1I got this quote from a local building supply store called Budget Home Center – they sell MSI stuff at the same price at Home Depot, but the staff is far more knowledgeable and responsive. Even so, I ended up with a few unneeded parts: the “standard cleat” and “eave flashing” are not needed for my job. The total cost, including complimentary delivery right to my front yard, was about $4500 if you avoid ordering the unnecessary stuff. Not bad for a $13,000 roof!

How to Install your Metal Roof

Here I am doing the most time-consuming task: screwing down every panel, every 24". The line of screws is then hidden by the overlapping seam of the next panel, which locks in.

Here I am doing the most time-consuming task: screwing down every panel, every 24″. The line of screws is then hidden by the overlapping seam of the next panel, which locks into place beautifully.

In a nutshell, you screw and rivet down all the pieces from eave to peak, in the same order I listed them above. I won’t get into all the details, because they are covered well in this YouTube video from Metal Sales Inc itself. But suffice it to say that installation was a breeze. I have done quite a few shingle roofs in the past, and this operation was faster, tidier, and less tiring than shingling.

In the end, it will take us about 60 person-hours to do the whole thing, which should come in under $2000 if you figure labor at $30 per hour, or under $1.00 per square foot for my relatively simple roof. Add in a bit more complexity for the typical roof and some profit margin for your roofing company, and I would still think that installation cost should not be much higher than shingles.

Alternatively, if you figure that I saved $9,000 over hiring my previous metal roofing company, My friends and I “earned” $150 per hour for doing this pleasant and educational work. If you are a roofing contractor yourself, I’d recommend adding metal roofing to your portfolio. The lack of competition will provide better margins and a surplus of customers.

Here's the view looking upslope at my finished roof. I built in a chimney flashing to accomodate the future woodstove.

Here’s the view looking upslope at my finished roof. I built in a chimney flashing to accomodate the future woodstove.

And if you’re a current or future homeowner, I can’t rave enough about the huge step forward you can take once you learn about this superior alternative to shingles.


  • Rebecca March 24, 2014, 2:52 pm

    My husband has always touted the benefits of a metal roof, and I was picturing a corrugated tin roof that makes tons of noise when it rains. Glad to know he was on the right track.

    What impact does it have in snowy weather? Does the metal stay colder, making it more likely for ice dams?

    • Mr. Money Mustache March 24, 2014, 2:56 pm

      The rain or hail noise is pretty quiet even when you are outside, because the metal sits flat on the wooden deck beneath (no chance to resonate and make a racket). If you are inside and the roof is well-insulated, you can’t hear it at all.

      These roofs are actually much better in snow, because they are slippery: the slow slides off in most situations instead of being stuck through repeated thaw/freeze cycles of a typical winter week, greatly reducing the chance of forming ice dams.

      • Garrett March 24, 2014, 6:16 pm

        I live in an area with a lot of snow.

        Some people report that when the snow slides off the roof, the roofing screws occasionally have their heads ripped off. This can lead to leaks. In response, there are companies that are working on better fasteners for metal roofs in snow country. (There’s a company in my hometown of Truckee working on this but I gave up on finding them after 2 seconds of Googling).

        Additionally, it’s a good idea to be mindful of where your roof will be shedding. I’ve seen three feet of snow suddenly slide off a roof. I’d hate to have that much snow suddenly dumped on me or my car or in front of my front door. Some people install little metal pieces on their roof or small fences on the eaves to prevent these sudden slides.

        That said, metal roofs are very popular around here for all of the reasons MMM gave.

        • Greg March 25, 2014, 9:46 am

          Standing seam roofs’ fasteners are covered by the next panel, so no heads to rip off.

        • TLou March 29, 2014, 1:22 pm

          Be careful about using metal on a low pitch home with lots of snow. It broke my heart to replace metal with asphalt a few years ago but we had almost annual difficulties with damage to our roof/house come spring when tons of snow would shed at once. The last time it took our chimney with it, but each year our eaves would be bent down and need repair. We tried to have snow guards installed to rectify the problem but couldn’t find anyone willing and/or knowledgeable enough to attend to it as metal only seems to be used on utility sheds, here in Northern British Columbia. Being older, less capable than MMM and afraid of heights, the down side of trying to do it ourselves (ie death) led us to simply getting rid of it.

          • David Adams April 22, 2014, 10:42 pm

            In most cases, in areas where it snows, it’s best to design a roof that won’t shed the snow. You want to keep the snow in place using retention bars or clips. Packed snow and ice acts like a glacier when it moves around, and will rip your roof to shreds, whatever the material.
            Unless your roof is a single slab, and the snow can slide off without encountering any resistance, and land in a safe spot without breaking anything, you’re better off designing it to stay put.

        • Adam March 10, 2015, 12:18 am

          You may have asked for the wrong profile of standing seam installed on your roof. Also it may have neenninstalled improperly. You should be able to find a local roll former in your region and that person should provide you with a correct profile. In heavily snowed areas you should use a 1″ 3/4″ sure lock or a mechanical seam. Your roll former should have a brake available to bend all the trims you need for your home. They can also bend under flashing if you use a 1″ tropic lock. The under flashing acts as a hurricane tie and extra water proofing… Just takes a bit more material.

      • jet March 24, 2014, 7:23 pm

        As an Aussie I have spent a lot of time under metal roofs and can confirm that rain is very much louder when it hits one when compared to our clay tiled roofing which is our other ‘standard’ here.

        Metal roofing has the advantage of the possibility of withstanding high winds and attaining a high level cyclone rating.

        We of course still have clay tiles. I like the look of them but yes they require maintenance every 20 years or so.

        • Darren (Green Change) March 25, 2014, 3:51 pm

          Another Aussie here. Metal roofs are louder in the rain, but if you have good roof insulation the noise is greatly reduced. It’s not unpleasant, though.

          Aussie metal roofs are louder than US ones because we install on battens, so the roof acts like a drum – I believe in the US they install on a solid plywood deck, which doesn’t vibrate and echo as much.

        • Ozquoll March 26, 2014, 3:06 am

          I think the loudness of rain on a metal roof is one of the positives. That moment when the first few heavy drops hit the tin after weeks of heat and dust…it’s magic.
          And if you want to see the full potential of the great Aussie vernacular roofing material, type ‘Glenn Murcutt’ into the search engine of your choice. Cheers!

          • Mand April 15, 2014, 11:46 pm

            There’s nothing like that sound – to an Aussie, it’s the sound of home.

        • TunaFishTuesdays May 14, 2020, 4:58 pm

          I can’t vouch for or against the sound of rain on a HOUSE roof, as mine is asphalt shingles; but about three years ago I built a small (7’x6′) wood-fired sauna in my backyard, and on the advice of a friend put metal roofing on. Very easy to install and I absolutely LOVE the sound of the rain on it (there is insulation between the rafters). Magical. I will even sometimes haul out a sleeping bag and a 4″ thick sleeping pad to spend the night if there is going to be a good rain, just for the sound of it!

      • NV TeaCHER March 24, 2014, 8:34 pm

        My dad put one on our house and it is fabulous. The snow slides off like butter on a hot knife. Sure beats climbing up and shoveling it off in the middle of the winter.

      • Dook March 25, 2014, 12:24 pm

        My personal experience was that it was much louder. Our standing seam metal roof was installed over the old shingle roof, but still, that first Spring, it seemed SO LOUD! We adjusted quickly, though, and now I think it is a comforting, “homey” sound.

      • Charles Wieand April 23, 2014, 1:32 pm

        My dad has a metal roof and he get’s really poor cell reception inside.
        Have you experienced this or does it depend on the metal used?

        • Mr. Money Mustache April 23, 2014, 6:42 pm

          This would depend on the shape of your house and the path the cell signals take to get from the tower to your phone. In my new house, the walls have many windows and the roof is pretty flat – so the generally-horizontal cell signals never have to cross the metal. So cell reception is great.

          All this is irrelevant if you happen to use Republic Wireless as I do though, since your phone will route calls over your own Wifi network when you are at home.

        • Mathew January 25, 2017, 8:58 am

          Project Fi (Google) will also use wifi calling.

    • Samantha M. March 24, 2014, 3:05 pm

      Your comments about the noise of the rain on a metal roof made me laugh. That’s one of the things I miss most about moving from Australia to the US, the comforting sound of rain on corrugated iron roof.

      • Mr. Minsc March 24, 2014, 3:41 pm

        They are a long way from those old corrugated metal roofs we have at the farm. You know, the ones installed with those metal roofing nails which have begun to vibrate out. ;-) It’s safe to say we’ve gone up over the years to add screws.

    • CincyCat March 25, 2014, 11:01 am

      I wondered the same thing about the noise. We have two giant oak trees in our yard, and the acorns hitting our asphalt roof are noisy enough! I can’t imagine what it would sound like with metal…

      • Josh March 25, 2014, 11:10 pm


        At the cabin I go to, it has a metal roof and acorns from the oak trees are extremely loud as they crash into the roof. If you are in an outdoor setting and have trees within striking range of the roof, that could sway your opinion. The other benefits listed of having a metal roof are all accurate though.

        • Kenoryn April 1, 2014, 10:52 am

          For folks concerned about noise etc. – anyone know anything about these roofs? Made from 95% recycled materials. They have a lifetime warranty, or 50 year warranty if transferred.

    • Krishanu April 25, 2014, 11:44 am

      These metals roofs should be made mandatory in areas which receive good amount snowfall. My in-laws live in Duluth, MN, where they get 85 inches of snow a year, on average. Having lived in Duluth for over 30 years, last year they made the switch to metal roofs and couldn’t have been happier. The snow just slides off.

  • WilliamLipovsky March 24, 2014, 2:57 pm

    I completely agree with your position on steel roofing. We installed one on our historic barn 35 years ago. As I look out at it right now, the steel (and the barn) still looks brand new.

    I could never justify putting a new asphalt roof on every 15 years. The steel roof is the sole reason the 120-year-old barn is still standing tall.

    • Trish April 4, 2014, 3:57 pm

      we put a metal roof on our old barn too, and a matching one on our house – they are fabulous! I agree that there’s no way I could afford shingles on that barn. And it looks great, and since we did it we have noticed several more metal roofs in the area. Ours were ridiculously affordable, and I have always suspected that the poor guy miscalculated our bill. Our bedroom is right under the eaves, and I love the sound of the rain on the roof – it is muted, not like in a metal building with no decking or insulation.

  • Andrew March 24, 2014, 2:59 pm

    How well do metal roofs play with solar panels?

    • kiwimm March 24, 2014, 6:07 pm

      I am from New Zealand where metal roofs are the norm. Here, we can get a metal roof profile that is pre-built for amorphous (flexible) solar panel. These are bonded directly to the roof and there is conduits in the profile for the wires. This means that your panels do not stick out from the roof and instead the solar panels fit between the ridges of the metal roof. See more here: http://www.roofer.co.nz/index.php?category-solar-rib

      Alternatively, it is no problem to add traditional solar panels to a metal roof with a few brackets and weatherproofing.

      • John March 25, 2014, 12:15 am

        The stick-on laminate that kiwimm mentioned is an elegant solution, IMHO. No brackets required. But bear in mind that an amorphous panel has a lower efficiency rating than a crystalline one. If you are very concerned about maximizing your solar output, you will probably want to use a bracket like this: http://www.ecofastensolar.com/ASG-clamps.php to fasten high efficiency crystalline modules up there.

    • NG March 25, 2014, 6:26 am

      PV panels do just fine on a metal roof. I just put up a small barn with a corrugated metal roof for the primary purpose of locating my solar array. So far, so good. I also learned that with a standing seam roof the panel rails can be clipped right to the seams, but some codes require roof fasteners every 12″ instead of 24″ to account for the wind load. Also, there are some brand new thin film solar options where the PV film gets adhered to the roofing in long strips between the standing seams and you’d barely know it’s there.

    • Joel March 25, 2014, 6:59 am

      The PV array will last longer than the shingle roof, so repairing that roof will be more expensive and more of a pain because you have to remove the panels. Not a problem with metal roofs. I believe there is no problem with mounting hardware, either.

    • Stephane March 25, 2014, 11:40 am

      There are special mounting racks for metal roofs, and they make the job easier. And plus, now you have a roof that will last as long as your solar panel – with asphalt, you may need to have them all removed and put pack – expensive.
      Solar panels usually extend the life of a roof, because the elements don’t beat on it as hard – particularly the sun.

    • CVAND March 26, 2014, 8:25 am

      I have been anxiously awaiting to see how MMM weighs in on Solar Panels, perhaps looking at Solar City versus buying your own. With his very low energy needs it may not be worth the investment but he seems like an off of the grid kind of person.

    • Rebecca H March 26, 2014, 4:58 pm

      Hi Andrew,
      We put our metal roof up over 20 years ago, and put a full solar system up there about 5 years ago, it work perfectly. As an aside, if you choose a bigger solar system (that will produce more power than just covering your bill) ensure you choose a company that will let you have the money from excess power sold back to the grid credited to YOUR account, not just onto your energy account (as there would be no point, your bill is already paid) we get ours credited, and the system is slowly paying for itself. Of course, I’m in Australia though, so I’m not sure if you can sell back to the grid in the states.

  • Rachel March 24, 2014, 3:00 pm

    One of the downsides in some areas is that in winter they can heat and melt and cause sudden avalanches next to the house. I’m sure that a solution could be designed for, but I know homeowners in the NE sometimes stay with a shingles because they are stickier.
    I’d be interested to here if someone else had come up with a good solution, to prevent the sudden avalanches after a heavy snow. (My parents need to re-roof their house, and this is the reason they are hesitant about metal roofing on their 1904 house.)

    • Maria March 24, 2014, 6:09 pm

      We get lots of snow in Upper Michigan, and the snow will often all come down in one big avalanche. It makes a loud slam when it happens, and you have to shovel you entrances, but its not bad. Plus, then you don’t have to shovel your roof.

      We have a metal roof, but the pitch isn’t steep enough on one side of our house. This means that we have to shovel our metal roof, which has to be done carefully. But, if you have a steep enough pitch, metal roofs are the best for high snow areas.

      • Frugal Paragon March 25, 2014, 1:15 pm

        At least if you DO get one of those avalanches, it won’t take your roof off with it! We have a roof made with, I think, slate shingles (we do not own–we live on a boarding school campus). Those roofs are so bad for snow avalanches that some walkways are off-limits after a big snow!

        And last time it snowed and we got one of those avalanches out back, we noticed that some of the big slate shingles came right off with the snow as well as some other little roof doodads. Fortunately, this wasn’t our problem and we just had to notify Buildings and Grounds.

    • Garrett March 24, 2014, 6:20 pm

      A lot of people and businesses in my area install little metal tabs on their metal roofs or little fences on the eaves.

      Similar to this (I just Googled “metal roof snow guard”):

      • Derek P. March 25, 2014, 6:11 pm

        We install these type of metal tabs on all of our industrial metal buildings. They work awesome, and make a great support for mount cables for solar panels :)

    • MoneyAhoy March 25, 2014, 9:09 am

      You just need to install those little bracket things that stick up over the pedestrian areas to stop the avalanches from coming down all at once. If you look at many commercial buildings with a metal roof you will see what I’m talking about…

  • Ryan Finlay March 24, 2014, 3:01 pm

    Metal roofs are used by almost everyone in Hawaii because of durability and it’s the best way to collect rainwater for catchment tanks. Great post!

    • Weezy March 26, 2014, 10:09 am

      We have shingles on our house and I have been reluctant to collect rainwater runoff from the roof due to contamination. I don’t want to water my plants (aka food) with water containing tar, heavy metals, and fiberglass. A metal roof would solve that problem.

      • vytas April 10, 2014, 9:05 am

        I am not so worried about rainwater from shingle roof. All the neighbourhood cats prefer our bucket we regularly refill with rainwater, although they all have water bowls at home. Cats can’t be wrong! :)

  • Miss Growing Green March 24, 2014, 3:02 pm

    If we ever have the opportunity to replace an entire roof, we are definitely going with metal, for all the reasons you listed, plus more.

    There used to be a tax credit (expired in 2013) for 10% back on “appropriately pigmented” metal roofing installations, up to $500. Too bad it’s expired, but they may renew it in the future…

    Like you said, choosing a white/light-colored roof saves *so much* in energy usage… estimates I’ve heard say white roofs reflect up to 90% of sunlight (compared to black roofs at 20%), which can result in up to 40% energy savings in hot summer months. I bet if you factor that in, your new white roof probably cost you less than your traditional dark, asphalt roof.

    If you decide to install solar panels, the white roof will increase the efficiency of your panels tremendously- there is a substantial drop in efficiency as panels get hotter than “ideal” temps (around 78 degrees I think). Hot black rooftops can easily surpass 128 F in the summer, which really hurts panel efficiency

    Great choices Mr. MM!

  • Mr. Cash March 24, 2014, 3:06 pm

    This is awesome! I’ll definitely look into this once I get to that point. I just had a couple of questions for you. How is the noise level when it rains? How does it compare to shingles when it comes to hail damage? If someone already has shingles, do you think it is worth converting to a metal roof?

    Also, what do you think about Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs)?

  • feelingroovy March 24, 2014, 3:07 pm

    We put in a metal roof on our rental a few years ago.

    There is a local Amish-run company that installs them. They hire a local guy to drive them to the job site, then 8 or so Amish guys install it all in one day (while the driver sits in the truck all day).

    They do great work, we won’t have to deal with a new roof for 50 years, and it cost half what other roofers were quoting.

    I keep waiting for the roof on our house to need replacing….

    • Sean July 2, 2016, 1:08 pm

      Do you mind telling us who the Amish roofing folks were? I’m in / near Amish country, and looking to re-roof our house in the next year or two. I’d love to use the folks that you had do your roof. Thanks.

  • PatrickGSR94 March 24, 2014, 3:08 pm

    My architecture office, which is a renovated house and one of the first LEED Gold certified buildings in Mississippi, has a metal shingle “cool roof” product on it. It’s a Tamko MetalWorks product, made to look like slate tile. It works great along with the spray foam on the underside of the roof deck. It can be 100° outside and the attic is barely 80. There can be issues with snow and ice, though, where a layer of snow will sit on the roof and then suddenly slide off with a LOT of force! Sometimes it sounds like a freight train for a few seconds in the office.

    Note that not all metal roofs, even standing seam ones like this, are made equal. There are (cheaper) screw-down roofs which have all the fasteners exposed, with a little neoprene gasket under each screw head. That stuff is bad, as in my experience those washers wear away and the roof ends up leaking like crazy. Then there are also “true” standing seam roofs where the roof panels do not attach to the deck at all. Instead clips are screwed to the roof deck, and then each panel on each side of the clip attaches, and everything is hemmed together with a special power tool. Those are the best metal roofs, and of course also the most expensive.

    Additionally not all finishes are the same. Certain (cheaper) types of finishes, especially darker colors, can fade after a few years in the sun and start to get a chalky look. Lighter is better in most cases.

    I actually saw a segment on This Old House a few weeks ago where a facility did a hail test on metal and shingles roofs. The shingle roofs did quite poorly. But the surprising thing was that a metal roof installed over a previous asphalt shingle installation fared WORSE with regards to dents in the metal. The metal roof installed straight over the deck and underlayment had almost no visible dents.

    Another thing to watch out for on metal roofs is the “closure strips” that usually go underneath the lower edges of the roof panels to close off the gaps between the panel ribs and the supports below (or alternatively at the high side, between the panel pans and the flashing above). Sometimes these are made out of some type of foam or resilient material which can degrade over time. The roof just needs regular checking and maintenance to make sure this sort of thing is in good shape, and replace any deteriorated stuff as necessary.

  • Jacob March 24, 2014, 3:11 pm

    We just installed a shingle-roof on my MIL’s house last summer. In total, it was free labor and just some tool rentals. The total cost came out to about $3,500.

    But you’re completely right, as in about 10 years, we might be doing the same thing again (only putting the kids to work this next time around).

    If you can get lifetime roofing for another $1,500, though, this is an absolutely killer deal. And I agree, these roofs (rooves?) do look pretty awesome.

    My MIL is putting a metal roof on her A-frame Cabin, but that’s just par for the course up in the mountains. We’re not doing the install on this one, so it’s be interesting to see the cost on her little 800 sq. ft. cabin….

  • PatrickGSR94 March 24, 2014, 3:15 pm

    Also a question about the house design, why didn’t you make the slope of that left end roof a little higher so you didn’t have the weird flashing condition happening where the 2 roofs intersect?

    Also another interesting geographical note about roofing – where I am near Memphis and NW Mississippi, asphalt shingles are king for the residential world. But over in NE MS near Corinth and the like, there are LOTS of houses with metal roofing. I think it’s partly due to a metal roofing manufacturer located in that area. You can look on Google Maps in Corinth and just west on Hwy 72 and see a number of different roofs of various colors.

  • Brian Mummau March 24, 2014, 3:18 pm

    I have started using Corrugated Metal on my rental properties to replace shingles. I do the labor myself because the contractors charge way too much to install the metal when it is actually much less work. I could practically pull the sheet’s about 15 ‘ long by 3’ wide onto my roof alone. Had a helper for safety reasons. The valley on one of my buildings was a little tougher to manage and keep straight because the valley wasn’t straight. 100 year old building. That being said I am very happy with the results. And even though it is not standing seam I am confident I will not be replacing that roof in my lifetime.

  • Rob McIntyre March 24, 2014, 3:18 pm

    One caution about metal roofing….it can also be extremely slippery when wet (even when dry). As for snow, it does slide off easily…a little too easily. The first winter I had mine here in Ontario, the snow slid all at once taking out the railing of the deck, knocking the barbecue off the deck and smashing a picnic table. I have since installed a “snow guard”, essentially a triangular metal brace running the length of the roof, screwed to the roofing whose sole purpose is to keep the snow on the roof to avoid any future slow slides and potential personal injury/property damage. Otherwise the metal roof is fantastic!

    • Anemone March 27, 2014, 9:46 am

      My father installed a metal roof on the house (Ottawa) back in the 1980s. We were unable to use the front door in winter due to avalanches blocking access, and he had to replace the back deck the next summer because the one we had wasn’t strong enough to take the thumping. But other than that I think it worked well. He has since installed metal roofs at the cottage, too.

      But yeah, those avalanches are dangerous. They’ve killed people. Good thing you can get snow guards now.

  • Queen of Fifty Cents March 24, 2014, 3:21 pm

    Our 1957 MCM house has the original metal roof, still going strong. It’s had some patches and repairs over its lifetime but I expect it will be there when we sell this house someday. For the commenter who asked about the sound of rain…we live in Oregon, and the sound of rain on the roof is wonderful. We don’t get much hail though so can’t speak to that.

  • David C. March 24, 2014, 3:24 pm

    Thank you for the timely post. I am in the planning stages of a new roof on my place in NE Oklahoma. I have been intrigued by metal roofing for a few years and really want to give it a go. I live in an older neighborhood that thankfully has no HOA and very few covenants on structures. I need to visit with the city building inspector dude and get the straight scoop before I proceed much further. I like the idea of a lifetime roof, as I am considering downsizing in a few years (when my son moves out) and possibly turning the place into a rental property. That would be one less thing to worry about.

    • Daryl B March 27, 2014, 8:35 am

      Just like every other roof, a metal roof in our neighborhood that was on less than a year has been replaced (also in NE OKC) after a hail storm last year. So the things are not invulnerable. Something to consider with a metal roof is insurance coverage. With many policies there are insurance savings to be had, but generally cosmetic damage to a metal roof (due to hail damage, etc.) that does not compromise the performance of the roof is not covered. As I understand it, you can purchase a cosmetic damage waiver, but the cost of the waiver pretty much eats up the insurance savings associated with having a metal roof.

      • Erin Lucas April 1, 2014, 9:32 am

        I also live in OKC. The kind of hail storms we have here are unusual for the rest of the country. The house we live in has had its roof replaced two times in 3 years, most recently by us in 2012. My Landrover (a very well made car) was then destroyed by a hailstorm while we were driving on the interstate the following May 2013 and our roof, while it didn’t have to be replaced, had another $7000 insurance claim for damages. I have an entire tarp-nail-stake system to protect my garden from Oklahoma weather (it still gets destroyed some years). Metal roofs are probably fine anywhere else in the world but there is not much here that you can guarantee will outlast tornadoes and baseball sized hail.

  • jrkk March 24, 2014, 3:32 pm

    Here in northern Finland (near the arctic circle) metal roofs are pretty much the standard way to go. And have been for decades. Any other type and you’ll be spending your winter shoveling snow from your roof.

  • Mr. Minsc March 24, 2014, 3:36 pm

    It’s kinda funny. A few years ago I replaced the asphalt on my home with asphalt. For some reason I had a prejudice against steel roofs. They were “different”, I didn’t like the “look” of them. Oh how we humans stereotype inanimate objects. ;-) I’ve warmed up to them now, especially the standing seam roofs. Definitely would have hired a pro if I did metal on my current roof. Valleys plus old, not exactly straight farm house means it’s a job I wouldn’t want to tackle without any experience. Now, a good old fashioned 70’s bungalow would be clear sailing for me.

  • Sam March 24, 2014, 3:51 pm

    Any insight on how this compares to green roofing (plants on your roof)? Green roofing is an interesting idea but I’m not sure how practical it is compared to metal.

    • Eric March 25, 2014, 10:37 am

      I’m also interested in the metal roof vs. green roof analysis. Green roofs provide many of the benefits described in this article, and seem particularly well-suited to those of us with flat top roofs.

  • Tryin'tobefrugal March 24, 2014, 3:54 pm

    TO ANYONE STUCK IN A SNOOTY SUBDIVISION: My husband and I went against the lemming flow 4 years ago and put on a metal roof after an upteenth hailstorm. I was so disgusted with the asphalt roofs going to the landfill I insisted on metal, and sadly, paid probably $8m too much for it if MMM is correct. We were worried about ‘resale value’ and what our neighbors would say, so our metal roof has ceramic granules on top and looks like shingles. You can find these by googling metal roof looks like shingle. So being worried about the look of standing seam is no problem – tho like MMM I think standing seam is COOOL. Ours looks like shingle but performs like metal and has a lifetime guarantee. LIFETIME. WTHoly heck is going on with people putting all these asphalt roofs on again and again? When it hails, everybody else freaks out and I sleep on – secure in my roof. The difference in AC bills is dramatic because we picked a light color.

    What a freakin’ great article MMM!!!! VERY timely – and if a person lives in a big hail area, this should be a no-brainer.

    • Stephane March 25, 2014, 12:49 pm

      Problem with “Lifetime” is the company probably figures it won’t be around in 20 years. Still, it’s good.

    • Sphinx April 5, 2014, 11:35 am

      I have a metal roof on my 150 yr. old brick house in a small town in rural Ontario. It was installed in 2004. I bought this place when I took early retirement in 2003. I had a home inspection, and knew what was involved before I bought. I had a budget, and most of the other renovations have gone very well. I love old houses, with large porches, sun-rooms, firelplaces, and big gardens — all of which, this house has. I very much enjoy living here, and am near family. They like to come here and visit. I lead a simple, frugal, happy life.

      Back to the roof — although I like metal roofs in general, my experience was not the best. My roof does not leak, and stands up to heavy winds. It came through a terrible wind storm completely unscathed, when most of the houses with shingles in my neighbourhood had damage.The sound of the rain does not bother me at all. My problem is that I bought an expensive stone-coated metal roof from Duraloc. I justified the extra expense, thinking it would last 50 years, as per the warranty, ( company had been in business for 75 yrs. and I admired the roof they put on a home near my parents place, in another city –researched online, and found no complaints at the time — many now ! )and the stone coating looked beautiful, but was also supposed to guard against hail, and it prevented the snow from sliding off all at once. For 7 years I was happy, but did not know I had a problem. These roofs all had defective stone coating, which comes off, especially on the south side of the house, because the stones are translucent, and burn off in the sun. One is left with a roof with large brown patches that look like rust. This is the brown primer underneath. Duraloc was bought out by Allmet, in 2006, who did not take care of the warranty. That was supposed to be the old Duraloc, which became a numbered Ont. company, 2 years after I bought my roof. They went bankrupt, and now the 50 yr. warranties are worthless. No one seems to know what to do. The contractor who installed it, and sold it to me, did a good job installing it, and he is not liable. He suggested replacing the roof. I cannot afford that, and hope that some kind of metal paint will work, but so far I have not found much help. Everyone says it will not stay on, and it will be expensive. I wish I had never tried a new product which had not been properly tested in the market, but I was naive — never renovated an old house before, and in future would use the standing seam, baked on painted type of roof Mr. MM has installed on his home.

      Can anyone offer any suggestions ? I have talked with other people online who have this problem roof, and they either decided to cut their losses, and sell the house, or just let the stone come off, and look terrible. No one seems to have a good re-coating solution. Since my roof does not leak, I am living with an ugly roof at present. Eventually I think the silver galvanized metal will show, and need some kind of coating to protect it. My problem is compounded by the fact that I have a large roof on the house, and also had a carriage house/garage done too. It is not a small roof that is easy to replace. . I would appreciate any help. Thanks.

      • Mr. Money Mustache April 5, 2014, 10:07 pm

        I’d get some good metal paint that blends in with the colour of the stone coating, and spray out the patchy areas so they blend in better. If you can get it to look good initially (from a distance, at least), it will probably last for years. Also, in general it’s good to relax and not be too much of a perfectionist about the appearance of one’s house. I’m sure it is a great place nonetheless – enjoy it!

    • Liz January 16, 2016, 9:59 am

      Any chance you know what company made your metal roofing?

  • 5inatrailer1 March 24, 2014, 3:56 pm

    Hey thanks MMM! I always find it weird that the timing of your posts correlate to what I’m doing (Odyssey bearings, Patio Doors etc.)

    My quote came in at $13,500 – $12,000 for 4000′ of roof. I’d love to do it myself but 3 preschool kids dont play well on a 6/12 pitch!

    My supply and install quote was $26000! Also, I’m doing tons of other things myself anyway (paint, flooring, casing, doors) 60 man hours seems right (mine was 7 days of 4 guys at $50/hr- gotta love those boomtown wages.)

    PS I can’t believe someone hasn’t built a company of cheap skilled laborers from USA/ wherever and brought them here on a visa. It’s ridiculous paying guys here vs USA wages.

    • Blaze March 25, 2014, 9:34 am

      We’re in the Ottawa area, and replaced our shingles in 2011 and the cost of metal was the deciding factor. I’d have loved it but the quote of $33k for metal vs $18k for shingles decided it. We have an uber complicated roof (looks great but we sure pay for it). There are multiple valleys, a veranada with a gazebo at one end, and the flattest section of roof is 6/12 with several large sections 8/12. Yes the snow would come down like an avalanche and we could avoid the shovelling and the ice damming, but if we ever needed to go up there in the winter to deal with something (wildlife attempting through the soffits or down the chimney; antena for rural internet, etc) we’d likely also come sliding down from 40′ up. It’s nerve wracking to walk on the singles in summer with the steep angles we have. If the internet antenae went out in the winter, I think we’d just have to live without until spring.

  • Done by Forty March 24, 2014, 3:58 pm

    Great stuff, MMM! Do you know where the break-even point will be for your installation? For homeowners who are faced with the decision to re-shingle or to install a metal roof, that may be a key factor in deciding whether to make the switch (depending on how long you’re likely to be in the house).

  • Mrs. PoP March 24, 2014, 4:13 pm

    Actually, you might be surprised to know that the traditional Florida Cracker dwelling has a metal roof. They knew about keeping the heat out long ago down here.

    Since our house is similar in style to the Cracker, we’re planning on replacing the shingles on our house with metal when they kick the bucket in 10+ years.

  • Maverick March 24, 2014, 4:26 pm

    This is my only concern…massive class action of defective material:
    “The settlement covers Gentek Steel Siding manufactured from 1/1/91 to 3/15/13, where the surface finish on the siding has started to separate from the steel.

    The siding was sold under the following brand names: Alside, Gentek, Revere, Alcan, and Reynolds

    And it was sold under the following product names: SteelTek, SteelSide Steel, Driftwood Steel, Universal Steel, Saddlewood, Satinwood, Willow, Westwood, Aspen, Sequoia, Americut, Cedarwood, Supergard, Seamless, Reynolds Continuum, Reynolds Craftmark, and Penna-Finish.”

  • Momager March 24, 2014, 4:52 pm

    I love a metal roof! Our house was built in 1872 and it still has the original metal roof. They last for-freakin’-ever! We moved in about 9 years ago and it looks like the only maintenance done was someone painted it (it doesn’t look great so we plan on correcting it in the future). Any other future house we may have will definitely have a metal roof. Sure, it cuts down on utilities, but my favorite feature is the way rain sounds when it falls on a metal roof- so relaxing!

  • Vilx- March 24, 2014, 5:05 pm

    In my city there’s a regulation that if you have a metal roof, you also need to install a lightning rod. I don’t know how much danger there is (since this is not a countrywide rule), but I’d suggest looking into this as well (if you haven’t already).

  • process March 24, 2014, 5:24 pm

    I have to have a new roof put on my house this summer. The thought of having to hire someone makes my stomach churn. I hate the whole process: Trying to figure out who to call (by reading reviews, many of which include horror stories), leaving messages no one returns, trying to figure out if the prices I’m quoted are reasonable, hiring someone who may or may not show up, having work down that may or may not be ruinous… Why is it so difficult?! Why aren’t there reputable companies who charge reasonable prices? And if there are, how can I find them?! Write an article on that, please, MMM.

    • gerbil March 25, 2014, 8:56 pm

      @ processor160. If you are looking for a quality roofer, ask a gutter installer; he follows roofers around and sees their work close-up. In the same way if you need a sheetrocker ask a trim carpenter or a painter. If you need a trim carpenter ask a carpet layer…

    • tresho December 14, 2015, 1:34 pm

      When I was considering a metal roof 3 years ago, I noticed my town had almost none installed. I went up to the door of one that did have a recently installed metal roof & got an enthusiastic recommendation for the contractor who did it. That roof was already 2 years old when I asked. That was the contractor I hired, and it worked out OK.
      It would have done me little good to ask other installers in my area, since there were hardly any metal roofs installed on houses similar to mine within a 10 or 20 miles radius.

  • Scott March 24, 2014, 6:15 pm

    Reconsider the wood-burning stove, especially for Little MM’s sake:


    And if you reflexively object, read this before making your final decision:

    • Mr. Money Mustache March 24, 2014, 9:54 pm

      Oh man.. I can’t ignore that. On the positive side, I was going to get an epa-certified stove with catalytic converter (far lower smoke). If that is still too polluting after more research, I’ll do gas (chimney will still come in handy).

      As with all pollutants and toxins, you have to look up dosage and typical concentrations before deciding how carefully to avoid it.

      • Derek March 25, 2014, 8:13 am

        Your house would be perfect for a masonry heater. We have one. Adds thermal mass which is perfect for your passive solar design. The central location of your existing fireplace is perfect. If you DIY all of it expect 5-10K in cost. Another downside is you will probably not end up using your fancy PEX radiant heat floor system.

        PS – We love our standing seam roof. We have a steep roof without snow guards and occasionally the snow will bend the gutters a bit. Will probably install snow guards one day.

        • Jason March 25, 2014, 10:25 am

          I was going to suggest a masonry heater as well. They are very aesthetically pleasing, have minimal smoke due to a complete burn and can keep a modest home warm for up to 24 hours with as little as 2 hours of wood burning. That combined with a solar radiant heat floor and southern windows could reduce your heating to a pittance.

      • AW March 25, 2014, 1:14 pm

        Wood smoke also affects your neighbors and your neighbor’s children. It’s horrible to have wood smoke coming into your house from your neighbor’s wood stove. You can’t keep it out because air has no boundaries. Don’t wreck your neighbor’s lungs and their right to breathable air and enjoyment of their property with your wood smoke. EPA is updating the rules on residential wood stoves (17 years overdue!) so manufacturers have to make cleaner, less polluting wood stoves: http://www2.epa.gov/residential-wood-heaters/proposed-new-source-performance-standards-residential-wood-heaters But, less polluting is still polluting. Check into geothermal instead. Don’t burn!

        • Mr. Money Mustache March 25, 2014, 5:15 pm

          Fair enough, but we could reasonably substitute “car exhaust” and “don’t drive” into your paragraph as well, right?

          • rosaz March 26, 2014, 8:34 am

            We absolutely could. Which is why you so strongly urge us to all drop our clown car habits, right? :)

      • Franco March 25, 2014, 3:06 pm

        Woodstoves are very beneficial to my health in an indirect manner: I get lots of good exercise splitting and stacking wood. Few types of exercise are as satisfying to me…or my little son.

      • JimGWC March 25, 2014, 4:24 pm

        (Sigh). Amen MMM–“toxic” doesn’t always mean FREAK OUT. You’ve heard about the dangers of dihydrogen monoxide, right? Corrosive, asphyxiant, electrically conductive when impure, etc. See http://www.dhmo.org/msdsdhmo.html

        • Mr. Money Mustache March 25, 2014, 5:00 pm

          Yes, and even scarier than that, Dihydrogen Monoxide is occasionally filled with human-eating SHARKS!!

          • Michell March 28, 2014, 7:27 pm

            Aye…you could drown in that “toxic” substance…

        • Kenoryn April 1, 2014, 12:00 pm

          To be fair, in spite of being a material capable of displacing air and conducting electricity, even the MSDS here does not accuse dihydrogen monoxide of either acute or chronic toxicity, which is usually what one means when one says “toxic” (not that, for example, if you were to cover your face in that substance you would no longer be able to breathe – true of almost every substance other than air. ;) )

      • Julia March 26, 2014, 8:44 am

        Look into Rocket Mass Heaters, a low cost variation of masonry heaters that can by DIY’d by a handy person such as yourself. They have a secondary combustion chamber to burn up just about all the gasses coming from the wood and thus are both much more efficient and much cleaner than a traditional wood stove.

        People who switch from an older wood stove (typically in cabin or homestead situations) report using 1/10th to 1/5th the wood they previously used to keep themselves warm. This is a stove that runs on sticks rather than logs. You could probably heat your house with drops from the trees in the park, helping out the maintenance guys and keeping toasty warm in a power outage!

    • Sofie March 25, 2014, 12:04 am

    • Jon March 25, 2014, 7:25 am

      I have an EPA certified wood stove insert that we use to help heat our house. Rather than a catalytic converter, it uses secondary burn tubes to combust unburned smoke before it exits the flue.

      If you burn well-seasoned (dry) firewood, you get barely any smoke when starting the fire, and once the firebox is hot and the burn tubes (or catalyst) are going, all you see is vapor leaving the chimney, no visible smoke, and no smell.

      I feel okay burning wood, since, for one, the fuel is a renewable resource, that grows in my back yard, and only needs to be transported 100 feet by wheelbarrow, then split by hand.

      This last year I’ve supplemented using Bio Bricks, which are made about 30 miles away by compressing waste sawdust into blocks, which burn more efficiently even than well-seasoned firewood. And, even if you have to have wood delivered, it’s still coming from within 50 miles (at least in New England it kind of has to, by law), and isn’t coming from the middle east or offshore or from hydraulic fracturing.

      The flip side of course is that there are any number of people who don’t use well-seasoned wood (which burns inefficiently and creates smoke). Even old, ‘smoke-dragon’ wood stoves can burn very cleanly, as long as well-seasoned wood is used.

      So I think MMM’s plan to use a catalyst will work out fine, as long as he only burns dry wood. Doesn’t matter if it’s pine (which it most likely will be in Colorado), or oak or maple or whatever. Just has to be dry. That’s what these EPA stoves are made for.

    • BCR March 25, 2014, 9:10 am

      This may be a nice blog topic of its own some time. Indoor/household air pollution affects about 3B people and kills hundreds of thousands a year. It’s an area of active research which I oversee and there is currently no established safe dose for by-products from solid fuel combustion.

      But yes, humans can repair some amounts of DNA damage and some resulting disease will still not have an effect in an 80-90 year lifespan regarding cardiovascular disease or cancer. And yes, some stoves are lower risk than others. But given the much healthier profile (not perfect of course) for other fuel sources, some thought needs to be given to choosing solid fuel combustion, especially for vulnerable individuals like children.

      Again, a full topic of its own. Cheers!

    • Glenstache March 25, 2014, 11:27 am

      In Washington state it is illegal to install a new or used woodstove that does not meet the newer EPA guidelines. You must be able to provide the paperwork and documentation. As a person who is sensitive to woodsmoke, and can see the air quality impacts I think this is a great step in the right direction. But, it is also important to remember that woodstove efficiency is limited by the skill of the operator and requires diligent adjustment and feeding. Personally, I’ll never install one in my home.

    • Kenoryn April 1, 2014, 1:12 pm

      I’d like to know more about this too. I’m assuming risks in these articles are assessed based on aggregate average data for fireplaces, woodstoves, masonry heaters, etc., both old and new, with and without reburning gases or catalytic converters, using hardwood and softwood, dry and not so dry? What does a modern, high-efficiency airtight woodstove with cat converter/ reburning smoke and using seasoned hardwood look like as a health risk?

  • Rick March 24, 2014, 6:43 pm

    Another potential advantage over asphalt is that you can collect and treat rain water for home use by using a sand filter coupled with a UV light (might be some other steps, been awhile since I looked it up). If your area allows it, it could definitely be worth looking up.

    Of course different areas have different laws on this, and even if you didn’t use it for drinking water and your community allows collection, using rain water for yard and non potable uses (toilets etc) would add in some additional savings over time.

    • BetsyR March 26, 2014, 12:24 pm

      We’ve been living with a potable rainwater system like this for 7 years and love it. No problems, great water and little maintenance. And we’re in the middle of a Texas drought and haven’t run out of water. I’ll second the comment about metal roofs being superior for collecting rain. Ours is a Galvalume snap-lock. We also have PVs and yes, they have a special mounting system for metal roofs.

  • Justin March 24, 2014, 7:11 pm

    Nice, timely post. We are looking at replacing the asphalt roof within a year or two. I’ve been thinking of metal since the costs aren’t that much higher. We have occasional leaks caused by high winds (we are at the bottom of a valley with no trees to break the wind coming off the lake). I figure metal will be more durable and we won’t have any more blown off shingles.

  • Christine March 24, 2014, 7:23 pm

    I wanted to install a metal roof on my home, but was told by several contractors that my house is not a good candidate because it has a valley. We have very harsh winters and they said that the weight of the snow can tear it off or bend it. I did actually see this happen on a house that doesn’t even have a valley, so it is another thing to keep in mind.

  • Colin March 24, 2014, 7:26 pm

    Have you considered using a rocket mass heater instead of a wood stove?

    If your not familiar rocket mass heaters have the the advantage that they:

    *heat your home with 80% to 90% less wood
    *exhaust is nearly pure steam and CO2 (a little smoke at the beginning)
    *the heat from one fire can last for days
    *you can build one in a day and half
    *folks have built them spending less than $20

    This site has a good right up of the concept

  • Jeff March 24, 2014, 7:31 pm

    When I built our house 5 years ago I put on the standing seam/hidden fastener roof. I also got the energy rebate tax credit as it was rated energystar because it is reflective. At the time the steel roof was less than the price of shingling my roof twice. The key is starting the first sheet square to the eve. After that it is a snap, literally. If you are not square to the eve you will get a sawtooth looking eve. The most time consuming part for me was cutting the angle on each piece for my valleys.

    Since we planned on living here more than 25 years, I knew this was a no brainer. Now that we think of moving, it is a selling point in that it is low maintenance. Because of the low weight, and the fact that once the sun comes out and the snow slides off, I never raked snow off my roof. All my neighbors worry about the snow loads, especially this year.

    No worry about ice dams because the sheets are one piece eve to peak so the water cannot back up under anything.. The screw heads can’t be sheared off by snow or ice because they are underneath the sheets so the ice cannot catch on them to shear them.

    I don’t have snow jacks (the little pieces that hold the snow up or break apart the larger chunks. When the snow does come down, it comes down in sheets. If I were concerned it would be pretty easy to put the snow jacks on.

    MMM, you may also want to look into this: as for the comment about lightning rods, there might be merit there. I poo-pooed the idea, however, last summer my house was struck twice by lightning, burning up a lot of things in the house the first time (computer, all networking equipment, expensive ham radio equipment, garage door opener, and lots of other stuff). The second time it only took out the networking equipment that I had just replaced. I am now researching the lightning rod idea. I think all those old metal roofed barns and houses had lightning rods on them due to experience.

  • Fonzico March 24, 2014, 7:39 pm

    Just curious – if you’re in a place where you don’t use AC and are more concerned with reducing heating costs in the winter, is it worth going with a darker colour? Or is the loss of efficiency for possible solar panels offset by this?

    • SalmonSlayer March 24, 2014, 10:04 pm

      I was wondering this as well. Living in Minnesota it gets COLD here, but then our summers are miserably hot as well. I love having four seasons, don’t get me wrong, but I wonder if selecting a roof color for heating or cooling would be in my best interest.

    • Random person May 1, 2014, 9:52 pm

      Actually, for heating, zinc or black rust are some of the best choices because they absorb the light from the sun but don’t let as much of the heat out. That’s why metal things (like seat buckles) are so hot to touch in the sun. Look up selective surface for a more detailed explanation.

  • MDM March 24, 2014, 7:40 pm

    “So the overall installed cost should be only 25-35% higher if you hire it out”

    Sounds good. Even 50% higher would be fine. Problem is, everyone we talk to (Michigan) quotes ~400% the cost of shingles. And they make no apologies for it.

    We will be installing a new roof soon – just doesn’t appear that metal is at all cost competitive for us.

    • Greg March 27, 2014, 3:19 pm

      Same here. About a year ago I was set on a metal roof, but the prices were way higher (3X or more). And, one of the few companies (and the only highly-rated company) that actually did metal roofs told me they didn’t recommend it and to just get asphalt instead. So I just figured we’d get that, and then in 15 years get whatever awesome solar technology is available. And if not, at least I have more information now and probably more free time to do it myself at that point.

    • Mr. Money Mustache March 27, 2014, 5:48 pm

      Yeah, I feel your pain: the roofing companies in many areas (including my own) are still asking prices way out in space for this material.

      So for now, this information might be more useful for do-it-yourselfers. Unless you can find a good carpenter/handyman with some roofing experience who works hourly, and just show him this article, so you can do an end-run around the standard companies.

  • insourcelife March 24, 2014, 7:59 pm

    I think a nicely done metal roof looks better than shingles. It’s funny how everything old is new again. My grandma’s really old house in the country had a metal roof that never had to be replaced until the house was bought by someone else and torn down. She did have to paint it once in a while though – I guess new metal roofs don’t have to be painted?

    • William Lipovsky March 25, 2014, 2:15 pm

      Maintenance free!

    • Rosemary March 26, 2014, 6:09 am

      i don’t know about the types you get in the US, but here in Aus, corrugated steel rooves are either galvanised or powdercoated. My parents’ roof hasn’t been painted since they’ve lived there, over 35 years.

  • Elizabeth Johnson March 24, 2014, 8:14 pm

    I knew about the durability but not the energy savings. Wow! Thank you for putting this all in one neat spot to refer to.

  • Ari March 24, 2014, 9:01 pm

    The newer roofs here (Australia) have insulation already on the colourbond material, so you get sound and heat insulation with the roof – we can hear really loud rain in the house but it’s mostly from the plain metal verandah, not the house roof so much. And +1 for water collecting – all our drinking water comes from the roof.

    Also if you do replace a metal roof the sheets are reusable as well as recyclable – chicken/garden sheds, carports, compost bins. They hold up a lot better than old corrugated iron sheets.

  • Ana March 24, 2014, 11:05 pm

    This is a great post. One thing that I read about the metal roof is that it might be noisy when it rains, but luckily it does not rain much in CO. What about resistance to the hails? If it turns out to be easily dented, the roof would look as the car’s roof or hood after the hail. I’d like to hear if you get any sort of warranty with respect to this? What are the color choices and how does the color determine your cooling costs/savings?

  • Paula March 24, 2014, 11:25 pm

    My husband and I had a standing seam metal roof installed a couple of years ago and love it, so I can tell you a couple more compelling things in their favor:

    Metal roofs also cool off faster at night than do asphalt roofs, which makes a huge difference in how fast your house cools down on summer nights. This will be more important to you if you’re watching your electricity dollars and don’t air condition your house. We don’t and the new roof made a huge difference in our comfort.

    The other important thing about metal roofs (and the primary reason I wanted one) is that you can harvest rain water off a metal roof and use it in your food garden, or in a pinch, process it for drinking water. You can’t do either with water off an asphalt roof, which taints the water.

    And we’ve been through a couple of hail storms since then and haven’t had a problem with dents.

  • Alistair The Architect March 25, 2014, 3:28 am

    Can I ask what the insulation build-up on that is? in the UK there are 2 ways to do a metal roof, one is like you show with insulation below the rafters, then a ventilated cavity then the timber and metal deck. The other is that there is a metal linertray, insulation then the outer metal deck, this relies on some clever clips that mean there is very little thermal bridging and the inner liner acts as a vapour barrier meaning you dont need the venilated cavity. But this is certainly not a DIY product. (see systems like KALZIP)

    the main issue is that ventilated cavities are a pain to keep clear and when you go for very high levels of insulation the risk of interstitial condensation is high (because the outside is cold)

  • Jonas Blake March 25, 2014, 6:24 am

    Just a quick note to say that my wife and I just bought a house built in 1875 last February. We had to pretty much gut the house, replacing the wiring and plumbing, installing insulation and drywall, and completely redo the bathroom (thanks for the shower stall article, I followed your plan to make my new shower!).

    With all the work we had to do, one major component that was in perfect shape was… the metal roof! 139 years old, and in perfect shape. According to our excellent home inspector, (Benjamin Meredith, if you are in the Shenandoah Valley) raised-seam metal roofs don’t have an expiration date (30-year roof, 50-year roof, etc.) because the first ones that were put on and have been taken care of since are still around.

    So yeah, a huge second for the idea of getting a metal roof!

  • Joel March 25, 2014, 6:27 am

    If that big shed-style roof is facing anywhere east, west, or south you could pretty easily get enough solar panels to cover all your electricity use, especially with a mustachian-style consumption. As long as nothing is shading the roof, that is. If you get an estimate of how many watt-hours you use a year and the house’s orientation (and the roof pitch, and a rough idea of shading) we can estimate it.

    • Mr. Money Mustache March 25, 2014, 8:52 am

      Thanks Joel.. but it is a North-facing roof. I made it that way specifically so I could get lots of high windows on the South wall.

      No worries, though: we already use all renewable electricity from our power company, and the total monthly bill is in the $20 range. Someday I might put some solar panels into the landscape (awnings or onto the roof of the outbuilding), but that would be for science experiment fun rather than money saving.

      • Rob in Munich March 25, 2014, 2:18 pm

        Others have mentioned this before but no wonder you had no problems saving 70% of your salaries! your costs in many areas (like insurance) are way lower than many places! my electrical bill for example 200kWh a month is almost 700 a year

  • Chattanooga Cheapster March 25, 2014, 6:27 am

    Man, I wish you had posted this a couple years ago. My wife and I got a new roof after a massive hailstorm in TN. That would have been a great opportunity to pay out of pocket for the extra cost of a metal roof. I’ve since started noticing metal roofs, but this is the first I’ve heard of their benefits. Thanks for posting.

    Side note- my dad told me that once you replace your roof you start looking at everyone else’s roof. Super True.

    Side Question – How is it for walking around on? Will you have any trouble getting on the roof to clean gutters or work on flashing if needed?? You seem to be standing pretty comfortably in the picture, but I don’t see how you have any traction.

    • Franco March 25, 2014, 3:13 pm

      Metal roofs are certainly more slippery for walking on. I’ve installed several. But unless you have some reason to spend a lot of time on the roof, it’s a minor consideration. My 10/12 pitch metal roof is impossible to walk on. I had to use ladder hooks when installing it. But I don’t mind. I have only had to get on the roof once in the 5 years since installing it.

  • The Smaller Dollar March 25, 2014, 7:59 am

    You’ve convinced me to go the metal route when it’s time to re-roof my house. I had always wondered why metal wasn’t everywhere since it lasts forever and seeing how easy it was to install is giving me crazy thought’s of trying it myself!

    I need to replace my hot water heater here this summer – any thoughts on what way to go with that? There seem to be a million choices…

    • Mr. Money Mustache March 25, 2014, 8:50 am

      I think you should do a high-efficiency tankless water heater from gpconservation.com Check out the “discount for mustachians” box at the bottom of the following article: http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2014/02/16/the-radiant-heat-experiment/

      • The Smaller Dollar March 26, 2014, 7:49 pm

        I looked into the tankless water heaters and I think that’s just what I need. Appreciate it MMM!

      • Nathan April 23, 2014, 4:00 am

        Evaporated tube solar water heaters won’t really work with a tankless system. You are missing out on a huge potential source of energy savings, and inadvertently causing more stress on the grid.

        If you want some real savings get a heat pump water heater to help cool your house/attic in the summer, and then run it off your evacuated tubes in the winter.

  • Chris March 25, 2014, 8:14 am

    How would the metal roof compare to slate roofs? I live in the northeast and have a slate roof, the house is going on 100 years old.

    • moooooser March 26, 2014, 8:21 pm

      I live in a neighborhood of houses built 70-100 years ago, roughly ½ of which include a slate roof. Based on discussions with my neighbors, it seems like the quality of the slate varies dramatically, but virtually all require some regular upkeep (i.e. replace individual pieces when they’ve chipped too much or completely broken). After a really bad hail storm a few years back one of my neighbors had the insurance pay out OVER A HUNDRED GRAND to replace the entire slate roof! I say that was a complete waste of money, but I sure do like looking at it when we take our walks or bike rides :-)

      In my opinion, nothing beats slate from a purely aesthetic standpoint based on the large range of natural colors and patterns. I think the metal shingles made to look like slate will get close enough sooner rather than later though (just like ceramic tile made to look like natural stones have made huge strides over the last 1-2 decades), but they’re not quite there yet (at least the few that I’ve seen).

  • Michelle March 25, 2014, 8:15 am

    I have noticed newer style metal roofs (such as yours) appearing around New England. I love the look and I wondered if steel would do the job better than rubbing tar all over the top of my house. Thanks for the details!

    • Jessica w March 25, 2014, 9:33 am

      The rubbing tar all over a roof sound so sophisticated with our modern technology ;p

  • Jessica w March 25, 2014, 9:01 am

    Thanks for the amazing information!!!! The only issue if living in suburbia is some of the HOAs might be against it. Oh well, I guess it would just be time to petition when the current roof needs to be replaced. I always heard when looking for homes about how you want a home with a newer roof since they are so expensive to fix. Obviously a few $1000 is expensive,but not at all as much as I was thinking. I guess if you don’t have any savings the 4-5k seems like a ton.

    • Mr. Money Mustache March 25, 2014, 9:26 am

      True.. but if a person is not at the stage where $4-5k can be quickly raked together, they are definitely not ready for home ownership! At that level, you’re not even ready to move out of your parents’ basement to look for your first apartment.

      • Jessica w March 25, 2014, 9:34 am

        For sure, that is what always amazes me! Wait you don’t have an extra 1k and you bought a house with 0% down!?

  • Greg March 25, 2014, 9:54 am

    I love metal roofs. I installed one on my home 10 years ago, and it’s great. Dubious of the durability of the factory colors, I went with the plain galvanized look instead, which uses thicker base metal.

    For me the recycled content and recycleability is a definite plus.

    Although I installed and used D-ring safety harness points, I could walk up the roofing at a 10/12 pitch. It’s only slippery in the rain.

  • Joe March 25, 2014, 11:19 am

    That’s pretty awesome. I have never seen a metal roof in our area. Maybe I wasn’t looking hard enough. It sounds really great and I will keep it in mind when we build our dream home. :) Good stuff.

  • Glenstache March 25, 2014, 11:35 am

    I have a metal roof in an area where we get a fair amount of snow (building codes call for roofs that support 150 lbs/sqft). I love the way it sheds snow and that other than an occasional inspection, it is basically maintenance free. It is also worth noting that there are options for roof underlayment that outperform tar paper by a longshot. Tar paper will become brittle and flaky if left exposed for a very short time and does not survive foot traffic very well (like while you are installing the roof). The newer synthetic underlayments can survive 6 months of direct sun exposure with tons of foot traffic and remain water-tight. They are also easier and less toxic to install. The underlayment is the next line of defense if you do get a leak in that fancy metal roof, so you want it to still be up to snuff 30 years later.


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