Current Trend: Switching from Disposable Shingles to Permanent Metal Roofing

By Chan Cornett, Founder and Owner, Cornett Roofing Systems | | 11.27.23

In the 30 plus years of owning and managing Cornett Roofing Systems, I’ve seen many changes, innovations, and new products in the roofing industry, some good, some not so good. When considering current trends in the industry for this article, several thoughts came to mind. However, the biggest industry trend I am seeing in the U.S., particularly in the Midwest, is the gaining prominence of metal roofing on residential homes.

While it’s true that currently 80% of U.S. residential homes have asphalt shingles, this is not the case internationally. Depending where in the world you are, common roofing systems are made from metal, clay and concrete, natural slate, wood shake, and even vegetation for thatched roof assemblies. However, the U.S. market is slowly beginning to shift, with metal roofing being the fastest growing segment of residential roofing, according to the Metal Roofing Alliance1.

The popularity of asphalt shingles in the U.S. is the unfortunate result of American’s love of things that are cheap and easy to install. Classic roofing systems, like slate and clay tile, are cost-prohibitive for most in the U.S., while other systems are unsuitable for use due to climate limitations (for example, concrete tiles do not stand up to freeze/thaw cycles). However, over the past decade, metal roofing has gained popularity, due to its durability, the addition of more attractive styles and colors, and the decreased performance of asphalt shingles.

Asphalt Shingles vs Metal Roofing

When comparing shingles versus metal, it is important to note that there are significant quality differences between the roofing materials in each category. For example, a high-quality SBS rubber polymer shingle is far superior to a thin, cheap 3-tab low end version. Similarly, metal roofing comes in various gauge thicknesses, with different finishes and installation methods that greatly affect the final performance. However, for this article, we are comparing the general properties of each.

Asphalt shingles have advantages over metal roofing in some areas, most notably in the initial price. Metal roofing can be 2 to 3x the price of a shingle roof, which is a large investment for building owners to make. Shingle roofing is, in theory, easy and quick to install. However, mistakes in the nailing pattern, over/under driving the nails, and other installation errors are common. In addition, shingles are highly susceptible to hail and wind damage, with the average life span in the Midwest of only 12 to 15 years, versus 50+ years for some metal roofing systems.

By contrast, metal roofing offers maximum protection against hail and wind, able to withstand winds over 250 m.p.h. As insurance companies become more averse to replacing shingle roofs with hail damage, most offer substantial discounts for having a metal roof. An additional benefit of metal roofing is energy savings, as metal deflects the sun’s radiation much more efficiently than shingles. The annual and continuing cost savings on insurance and energy bills help offset the initial investment, making metal a more attractive option.

Finally, one of the biggest reasons for metal roofing’s rise in popularity is that they no longer look bland and boring! Metal roofing isn’t “barn like” anymore, steel can be stamped into panels that can resemble classic roofs, such as clay tile or wood shake, available in a wide array of colors and finishes. With so many homes built that look the same, metal roofing can greatly increase your curb appeal and give your home or business a distinct and unique appearance, while enjoying superior performance.

In conclusion, I believe the trend towards metal roofing will increase, as financial factors, such as the price of oil used to produce shingles, insurance concerns, and rebates for sustainable and recyclable building materials (metal is 100% recyclable) effect the market.

About the Author

Chan Cornett is the founder and owner of Cornett Roofing Systems, based in Franklin, Indiana.