For Florida homeowners, the standard roofing material is asphalt shingles. In fact, asphalt shingles claim about 80% of the market nationwide for roofing and re-roofing. That makes sense, as they’re economical, quick to install, and relatively durable. When it’s time for a new roof, however, many Florida homeowners are considering an upgrade to a metal roof. They’re more durable—especially in severe weather like hurricanes—and also cost more upfront. What’s the cost of a metal roof vs an asphalt shingle roof?
Choosing your Asphalt shingles
First, we have to look at the options. When you choose an asphalt shingle roof, you’ll have to choose between two main types: 3-tab and architectural shingles. You might think, “They’re nearly the same, so whatever.” But they’re actually quite distinct. A 3-tab shingle is the single cheapest roofing option that most homeowners will have. They tend to look pretty thin and cheap, too. And in Florida, this is probably a 10-year roof, at most. They will do the job for a while, especially if there’s a full tear off and proper underlayment done by a professional roofer.
But for a bit more money—and with roughly the same installation cost—architectural shingles are a better choice. A better value, too, we’d say. You’ll probably be looking at 50% more money when you choose the architectural shingles, but potentially twice the lifespan. That’s why we view them as a superior value.
Most asphalt shingles are actually manufactured from a sheet of fiberglass with asphalt for waterproofing and ceramic granules on top as a wear layer. That layer of ceramic granules on the top can make the roof a “cool roof“, (if you choose those shingles) which reflects more sunlight and heat away from the house. That keeps your home cooler and saves you money on the AC bill.
A 3-tab shingle is made of one layer of fiberglass mat. In contrast, architectural shingles use two layers laminated together. They’re more costly, sure, but more substantial and more durable. Most people find them to be more attractive, too. They offer a more “built-up” look and are designed to resemble wooden shingles or slate tiles. They feature more shadow lines and overall just look like a better product. In addition, 3-tab shingles can withstand wind speeds of only about 60 mph, while architectural shingles should be rated to 120 mph and up.
Let’s talk about installation for a moment, as installation will generally cost 2/3 of the total cost of a new roof. As asphalt shingles make up the majority of projects, most contractors are skilled at their installation. This is a huge factor, but just as important are the other components, such as underlayment, drip edge, and so on. It’s a package deal, and a mistake or laziness with one element can compromise the entire roof. For example, if a crew doesn’t use the proper number of nails per shingle—usually 4-6—you could see shingles flying off in high winds and the manufacturer denying your warranty. That’s a hassle. And costly.
That said, it should not be too challenging to connect with a competent and honest contractor for your new roof. Check out the Better Business Bureau, the contractor’s website, and best of all, their satisfied customers. A skilled roofing contractor will focus on customer satisfaction and their customers will vouch for them. Be sure to take a look at their finished projects, too. There’s no substitute for seeing a completed roof for yourself.
How Much Does An Asphalt Shingle Roof Cost?
Your roofing contractor will estimate their bid by the square, which is 100 square feet. You’ll see roofing materials labeled that way too. But the total bid is all that counts, and for that, the contractor has to consider myriad factors, such as the presence of solar panels, height of the home, roof slope and style, valleys and flashing, access for a forklift, space for a dumpster, and so on. In some locales, especially older cities, workers have to haul every single piece of old roofing out by hand, in buckets! Then it’s lowered to the ground and hauled by hand or wheeled to the street. So expensive and slow! Fortunately that’s not the norm here.
Check out this handy site for starting your research and getting an idea of material costs. You’ll see that going from the cheapest to most expensive shingles doubles the material cost. As of this writing, that’s about $80/square to $160/square. What do you get for the extra money? Buyer beware, as always, but you should get a better warranty, algicide, more colors, and so on. Remember to get a least a couple of bids so you can compare quotes. At present, asphalt shingle roofs will start at around $350/square installed.
Your Options for Metal Roofing
Any type of metal roofing is an upgrade over asphalt shingles, and it will cost more. You’ll find that you have more choices in metal roofing than in any other type of roof, and it may seem confusing. We’ll simplify it for you, so let’s get to it.
The most-common metal roofing type is steel roofing. This product comes in sheets in several different profiles, and in shingles. We can say that any high-quality, professionally installed steel roof is a 30+ year roof, with standing seam and shingles holding an edge over screw-down roofs.
Steel sheets are installed either with exposed screws—”screw down”—or with hidden screws. Many people think exposed screws have sort of an “industrial” or barn look and don’t like it. Also, many HOAs don’t allow this type of roof. Still, it’s a solid and durable roofing option that is resistant to wind, algae, and fire. You can expect this type of roof to last 20+ years easily, but don’t expect a warranty. In hurricane-prone areas, manufacturers typically won’t do it. You’ll need an add-on policy for that, so talk to your insurance agent. Cost for this type of roof can start as low as $550/square.
The next choice is a standing-seam steel roof, which features concealed fasteners. This is a premium roof and they look fantastic. The sheets are bent in such a way to overlap and snap together. It gives a very clean and tidy look, and also eliminates penetrations like the screws in a screw-down roof. A standing seam steel roof will be around $1000/ square, which includes installation.
Both of these products are available in multiple colors, with a time-tested paint that will look good for decades. The best roofing products use a product called Kynar 500, if you’d like to check it out.
Steel shingles are a very popular option, as well. They’re stamped to resemble cedar shakes, clay tiles, or slate tiles and often have a “stone-coated” finish that’s slightly rough. They use special brackets that attach to the roof deck and then lock into place. This is a very sturdy, aesthetic, and lightweight roof and will be around $750/square, installed.
Like steel, aluminum is available as sheets and as shingles. Aluminum is a much weaker material than steel, and it expands and contracts substantially more, which means the penetrations and flashing have to be totally dialed in. That said, aluminum does not rust and so is a smart choice for coastal areas. Sheet aluminum will run you about $750/square, installed, standing seam will be about $1200/square, installed, and aluminum shingles will be closer to $1000/square, installed. Also, you can choose the bare finish, which isn’t terribly good looking, or painted, which looks like a painted steel roof.
This is sort of a hybrid material with a very attractive price point. Galvalume is steel sheets that have an aluminum/zinc coating that is highly resistant to corrosion. You get the strength and stability of steel with the rust resistance of aluminum and zinc starting at $550/square, installed. The sheets come in the bare finish or painted, so you have several options to get the look you want.
Any professionally installed metal roof should last for 30+ years, but zinc (and copper) are at another level, with commensurate cost. Zinc comes in sheets and is usually installed as a standing seam roof. The surface develops a patina over time, which you either like or you don’t, but it takes decades to fully develop. This type of roof will start at about $1200/square installed.
With a cost/square over $2000, copper is pricey. It’s also a bold design statement, so is used in high-end homes, commercial projects, and especially in institutional projects. It starts out with that bright and shiny appearance, then develops the greenish patina called verdigris over time.
Your Last roof
If you’re planning to stay in your home for 10 years or more, and can afford a metal roof, our opinion is that it’s a no-brainer. But a high-quality asphalt shingle roof is more budget friendly. There are always tradeoffs, but do some research and let us know how we can help.
We’re Here When You Need Us
If you’d like to talk about replacing your roof, give us a call at 813-373-9088. Our team has more than 40 years of experience in roofing. You can also use this form and ask us, “what’s the cost to replace my roof?” and we will contact you.