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Metal Roofing Prices: Understanding the Cost of a Metal Roof

Base Materials - Types of Panels - Installation - Lifespan - Metal vs. Asphalt

How Much Does A Metal Roof Cost?

On average, you can expect to spend between $5-15 per square foot for an installed metal roof depending on a range of variables. Due to the wide range of materials, installation, profiles, and finishes, metal roofing can range dramatically in pricing. 

Currently, the pricing of metal panels continues to change almost weekly just like other building materials. The market is extremely volatile right now, making it hard to even estimate "general" prices without exact specifications. The following information is based around general prices and shouldn't be considered to be exact, as your project's specifications will drastically change the final amount needed to complete your project. 

The Cost of a Metal Roof

A roof is one of the most important components of any building. A metal roofing system is expected to provide a weather-tight seal against the elements, securing the internal areas of a structure. Until recently, the cost versus the performance of a roof were the primary factors in determining which type of roofing material to use. Recently, factors like aesthetic appeal and responsible building practices have been increasingly important in determining materials.

The following table highlights a number of (estimated) costs for completing a 1,500 sq.ft. metal roofing system. Installation costs will vary greatly by region and experience:

24ga. Standing Seam - PVDF $ 3.60 1500 $ 5,400
Roofing Trim (Complete) $ 6.50/lineal ft - $ 3,000
Exceptional Installation - - $ 8,000
Perf. Underlayment $ 0.50 1500 $ 750
    Total Cost $ 17,150


29ga. Exposed Fastener - SMP $ 1.08 1500 $ 1,620
Roofing Trim (Minimal) $4.90/lineal ft - $ 1,000
DIY Installation Tools - - $ 250
Underlayment $ 0.35 1500 $ 525
    Total Cost $ 3,650


Components of a Metal Roofing System

A metal roof has a number of components that go into completing the roofing system. The following are the different sections, starting from the top of the system, and working down towards the framing:

  1. Metal Panels – Most metal panels come with a range of paint systems, varying in longevity, which is rated in the chalk and fade of the paint system itself. While the paint systems have a lifetime that ranges from 35-55 years in most cases, the base steel underneath remains protected often for the lifetime of the building.
  2. Fastening Systems – The method by which the panel is fastened to the substrate below. In external fasteners (visible screws), this process occurs above the roofing panel. In most standing seam profiles, a hidden clip system is used to hold the panels in place. Often, these are tested and rated for extreme weather conditions.
  3. Underlayment – Often considered the most important element in protecting a roofing system from water penetration, underlayments can range widely based on performance ratings. Using a high quality underlayment should be a top consideration regardless of the roofing system you choose to go with.
  4. Substrate – Substrates are either solid (OSB, etc.), or sometimes are installed over open framing (steel or wood rafters). The substrate creates a fastening point for the panel to adhere to.
  5. Trim Pieces — To help your project look neat and finished, trim is a major component of your roof’s aesthetic. Trim helps bring a profile to life and can complement other materials on the building/home. Metal trim can be used to add subtle detail or texture in ways that other materials simply cannot. It also helps ensure moisture doesn’t seep in where the panels join together or meet at angles.
  6. Accessories — There many accessories that can be added to a metal roof to create the most dynamic and high-performing system possible. This can include closures, sealants, snow retention, pipe boots, etc.)


Cost Factors of Metal Roofing Panels

Metal roofing has a range of panel types to choose from, each with different coverage and pricing considerations:

  1. Standing Seam
  2. Corrugated
  3. Box Rib
  4. All Purpose (3’ Panels)

Depending on the type of panel you are looking to use, the price can range dramatically. As an example, a 1,500 sq.ft. roof would require a different number of panels, trim and fasteners dependent on the coverage area of the panel. While a hidden fastener standing seam panel might have a coverage width of 12”, an exposed fastener Tuff Rib panel has a coverage width of 36”, drastically reducing the number of panels needed to cover the surface of that roof.

Another factor to consider when understanding the cost of a metal panel system is the base materials available. It is important to remember that all metals are bought and sold as a commodity around the world, creating an ever-changing base price (similar to oil, silver or gold).

Metal roofing is commonly installed in the following materials, each with a different price based on current market values:

  1. Galvanized Steel $ - Bare steel hot-dipped in a zinc-aluminum alloy to create a protective layer.
  2. Galvalume Steel $ - Similar to Galvanized, but with a primarily aluminum coating that protects better against coastal environmental conditions.
  3. Aluminum $$$ - Better protection than steel as a bare product. Painted products use the same paint systems as steel panels.
  4. Zinc $$$$ - Incredibly resistant to corrosion, and with the lowest melting point of any metal panel system.Also the greenest roofing panel option.
  5. Copper $$$$ - Similar properties to zinc, some copper roofs have remained in use for over 300 years with minimal maintenance.


Additional Factors in Metal Roofing Prices

There are a few other factors to remember when pricing out a metal roof including panel gauges, finish quality and trim components.

Gauges (thickness) refers to the thickness of the steel itself, and can greatly affect the price of the metal panel. When looking at steel gauges, the lower the number is, the thicker the steel is. Standard gauges for steel products vary by region, but in general can be understood as the following:

  • 31 Gauge: Not recommended for building materials, used for DIY, hobby or craft projects.
  • 29 Gauge: Suitable for residential, agricultural and light industrial (pole barn, etc.).
  • 26 Gauge: Minimum recommended for standing seam roofing panels.
  • 24 Gauge: Performance-rated roofing panels are often tested in 24 gauge.
  • 22 Gauge: Suitable for bare products like corten steel (weathering steel roof).

In addition to gauges, choosing a paint system to match your needs will help determine your final pricing. There are (2) primary types of metal paint systems:

  1. SMP – Long lifespans, with a slightly lower price than PVDF paint systems because of the lighter gauge material it is applied to. SMP is the correct finish for that type of panel because it bonds well with the harder steel and is better for the roll forming process of these panels.
  2. PVDF – Considered a high performance paint system, often found in 24 gauge products and used in demanding residential and commercial projects.

The last factor to consider with a metal panel system is the trim pieces needed to completely protect the envelope. While the panel protect the majority of your roofs surface area, the trim protects the perimeter edge of the roof. Some examples of important trim pieces include:

  1. Ridge Cap – Runs along the peak of your roof ridge and can be vented to assist in internal temperature controls.
  2. Gable & Eave Trim – Assists in protecting against damage to framing from water, and helps protect against wind uplift in some designs.
  3. Valley Trim – Directs water flows off of your roof in vulnerable valleys along roof slope.


Metal Roofing Installation – DIY vs Professional Installation

Metal roofing can be done by DIYers or require professional installation depending on the type of panel being used. Certain panel types require a strong level of experience to adequately install, while panels like 3’ Tuff Rib or Nail Strip can be installed relatively easy by an enthusiastic homeowner with a basic understanding of building and construction. 

While installing a roofing system yourself may save up to 50% of the cost of a completed metal roof, a poor installation can result in terrible consequences. For this reason, installing a roof without professional assistance should be carefully considered before moving forward.

Panel types with easier installation include the following:

  • 3’ Tuff Rib
  • 3’ Delta Rib
  • 7/8” Corrugated
  • ¾” Corrugated
  • ½” Corrugated
  • 1” Nail Strip
  • 1.5” Nail Strip


Retrofitting – Installing Metal Roofing over an Existing Roof

In certain cases, it is more affordable and faster to install a new metal roof directly over an existing roof.  Often, this is done with old asphalt roofing, or with an older metal roof. Some panels are specifically designed to retrofit directly over older panel styles. In order to determine if this option is right for you, please contact a professional installer. Retrofits can save money, but require a strong understanding of installation knowledge and should not be attempted without first consulting with a professional.

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