Professional roofers can install a new metal roof on a home or commercial building when the old roof’s lifespan is over, the roof is leaking excessively or irreparably sagging, or the metal is cracked or damaged beyond repair. Metal roofs can also be installed as an upgrade during a remodel or when someone is building a new property.
The cost of a metal roof depends on several factors, including its size. Pros measure roofing materials by the "square." One square equals 100 square feet. Using the base square footage of a building’s floor plan doesn’t directly correlate to the roof size because roof pitch (steepness) and roof detail (eaves and dormers) add to the roof’s overall area. The pitch of a roof is determined by dividing its vertical rise by its horizontal span. From there, the area of a roof is calculated by multiplying the square footage of the roof (height x width) by the pitch (vertical rise/horizontal span). The roof area = height x width x pitch. According to Keith Blackstock at Blackstock Construction in Snellville, Georgia, the average three-bedroom home with a standard roof requires 24 to 30 squares of metal roofing material, including waste or overage material.
Blackstock of Blackstock Construction is a certified metal installer in the state of Georgia and a roofer by trade. He says in his region, a new metal roof is typically double the cost of an asphalt shingle roof. Traditional three-tab asphalt shingles start at $60 per square and standard metal roofs start at $120–$150 a square and go up from there. Here are some pricing examples from Blackstock Construction:
Standard metal roof: $120–$150 per square to start, including materials and labor
- A 30-square roof (a 3,000-square-foot roof) could cost $3,600–$4,500 for a typical three-bedroom home.
Snap-Loc metal roof: $200–$225 per square to start, including materials and labor.
- A 30-square roof could cost $6,000–$6,750.
Standing seam metal roof: $300 per square to start, including materials and labor.
- A 30-square roof could cost $9,000 or more.
Tuff-Rib metal roof: $250–$350 per square to start, including materials and labor.
- A 30-square roof could cost $7,500–$10,500.
Types of metal
Metal roofs are sturdy. Often a mix of recycled content and new material, they’re lighter than tile or asphalt. They are fire resistant and capable of withstanding extreme weather when properly installed. Here are the most common types of metal roofs on the market:
Aluminum. Aluminum is lightweight and does not corrode or rust, which is a great perk in rainy environments. However, it is soft compared with other metals and is more easily damaged or dented. In general, it is more expensive than steel.
Steel. Steel is often coated with aluminum or zinc (galvanized steel) to prevent corrosion. Without these coatings, steel will rust on its own. It’s typically less expensive than aluminum, copper or zinc. Stainless steel is another metal roofing choice, although it’s more expensive than aluminum coated steel.
Copper. Copper is often used for architectural metal roofing. Copper looks beautiful, ages well, doesn’t rust and has a long lifespan. However, it also costs more than standard metal roofs. Prices can start around $8 or $9 per square foot up to $15 per square foot for heavier gauge or specially finished copper shingles, according to the Metal Roof Network in Reno, Nevada. Labor is also typically more expensive for copper roofs because installation generally requires more skilled roofers. According to the Metal Building Manufacturers Association (MBMA), copper is typically used in 16- or 20-ounce per square foot thicknesses.
- Zinc. Zinc is a popular metal type for uniquely designed roofs because of its malleability. Its natural qualities enable it to weather well, and it doesn’t require factory coatings to protect against corrosion. Many pros say it does not fade, crack or chip. The cost of zinc materials is comparable to copper or stainless steel. The perks of a zinc roof—once you bypass the initial investment—are little to no maintenance and a long-lasting roof.
On average, metal roofing systems range from $1–$4 per square foot, according to the Metal Roof Network. But roofing requires more than just the metal panels or shingles. Most roof installations require insulation, roofing felt, underlayment, caulking, sealant, screws, nails and all the necessary roofing tools. For example, some types of metal roofs require premier screws, which are threaded to hold the metal roofing safely to the decking. If the roof is made with R panel roofing, it will require screws that start at 25 cents each. If a job needs 3,000 screws to secure the metal roof, that’s $750 in screws alone, but it’s worth the investment. Nails move and contract over time with the weather and eventually come loose. Screws keep a roof more safely secured. Also installation of an R panel or Tuff-rib metal roof requires neoprene washers. These visibly seamed metal roofs need neoprene or rubber washers because they won’t deteriorate with weather. The roofer’s contract should spell out the type of screws and washers to be used. Be sure to check on this to avoid the effects of lower-end materials—which could shorten a roof’s lifespan.
Although metal roofs typically cost more initially than asphalt, they have a longer lifespan, which saves money in the long run. They also have a few other perks:
Durable. Metal roofs are tough. Aluminum, steel, copper and other metals can stand up to the elements in a way that wood shingles or tile cannot. FEMA advises that when properly installed, metal roofing systems can stand hurricane strength winds of up to 90 miles per hour. A metal roof should survive most severe weather, including rain, wind, extreme heat and snow, when the correct techniques are used during installation.
Environmentally friendly. Some metal roofs are made of up to 95 percent recycled content. Depending on the manufacturer and what the metal roof is made of, it can be up to 100 percent recyclable when it’s finally time to replace.
Money-saving. Certain types of metal roofing materials have special, heat-reflecting finishes and low emissivity, which can decrease heating and cooling bills by 10 percent to 15 percent. McElroy Metal’s roofing panels in regal white are a highly rated energy-efficient roofing material, according to specifications of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star program. Used to build "cool roofs," these pocket-book and environmentally friendly materials save money in the long run by lowering bills.
Safe. Metal roofs are fire retardant. Many metal tiles or panels have been awarded a Class A fire rating. Installing a fire resistant underlayer on the roof provides further protection.
Insurance savings. Selecting impact-resistant metal shingles or panels and investing in highly rated fire-resistant metal materials can earn insurance discounts—thereby providing further savings each year.
- Tax credits. Metal roofs installed between Jan. 1, 2011 and Dec. 31, 2016, are eligible for up to $500 in tax credit if the materials used meet Energy Star requirements. Learn more about this tax incentive program.
The cost to install a metal roof varies based on the current cost of metal (prices can fluctuate greatly), a region’s labor costs, the quality of materials, the intricacy of the roof design and whether or not any damages need to be repaired prior to installation. The Metal Roof Network provides sample pricing for nationwide costs to use as a starting point for calculating roofing costs:
Entry-level metal roof package, including accessories: approximately $2 per square foot ($200 per square)
Mid-range metal roof package, including all accessories: $3–$5 per square foot ($300–$500 per square)
- High-end metal roof package—such as zinc or copper—and all accessories: $10–$15 per square foot ($1,000–$1,500 per square)
The Metal Roof Network also recommends budgeting about 5 percent to 7 percent of additional roofing materials for waste and overage. The organization also cites that the cost of labor can range from 50 cents per square foot ($50 per square) up to $15 per square foot ($1,500 per square) depending on the region, type of roof being installed and skill level required.
The pitch and design of the roof affect the cost overall cost of metal roof installation in two ways:
A steep roof pitch makes it more challenging and time-consuming for roofers to complete the job—thereby raising the labor cost for the overall job.
- Roof design can lower or increase the cost of a new metal roof, depending on how simple or elaborate it is.
Costs are greater the more penetrations, valleys, pipes, vents, chimneys, skylights and walls that a roof has. These elements require a lot of detail work and labor to make sure the new roof doesn’t leak. They also require additional flashing, screws and other materials, which increases the overall cost.
Installing over an existing roof
In most states, roofers install a new roof over an existing roof. However, code in most states requires that after two roofs have been installed one on top of another, all former roofing materials must be removed and a new roof then installed fresh to protect the integrity of a home’s structure. Be careful when hiring a contractor to replace an existing roof, says Blackstock of Blackstock Construction. "I’ve seen some crazy situations.One person paid $7,000 to have a new metal roof installed, but the contractors didn’t secure the metal panels to the home. Instead, they just secured them to the shingles of the original roof. The roof suffered some wind damage, and we went up there to check it out. When we picked up one metal panel, eight other panels came up with it." When metal panels are installed on top of shingles, condensation builds over time on the shingles and causes the metal to rust, so it will rust around the panel and it’s likely to come loose in a storm. That’s why Blackstock recommends taking the old roof off before installing a new metal roof. The cost of removing an old roof to prepare for installing a new roof, plus adding new decking, costs about $45–$75 per square, depending on the pitch of the roof. A professional roofer’s contract should specify all details of the project. Be sure that you clearly understand the warranty if there is one available so you can avoid problem situations.
Metal roof repairs
Depending on the type of roof system, the screws and materials required and the caliber of work the original roofers performed, the price of repairs can vary. The average price range for metal roof repairs is $350–$1,000, including materials and labor.
Metal roofs are available in many more styles and finishes than the traditional panel and vertically ribbed styles of the past. Some roofing material replicates wood shake and tile shingles; other materials have specialty patterns, such as diamond shapes or custom designs. Metal roofs also come in a wide array of colors and finishes, from textured to shiny to a weathered look. According to the Metal Roof Network, choosing a specialty color, pattern or finish may increase the cost of metal roof materials by 20 percent to 25 percent. Most metal panels or shingles can be finished in reflective, energy-efficient coatings or paint by the manufacturer, for an additional charge.
It’s wise to protect a new metal roof investment with a warranty. Two key warranties are generally available. One is the warranty provided by the materials manufacturer—for example, McElroy Metal’s regal white metal panel referenced earlier comes with a 40-year manufacturer's warranty against defects. The other warranty is that provided by the roofing contractor to cover any issues related to the installation. Note that not all contractors offer a warranty on installation. According to the National Roofing Contractors Association, industry standards for installation warranties range from one to three years, depending on the contractor.