Metal Roof vs Asphalt Shingles

Whether you’re an owner looking to renovate, a customer looking to buy, or an architect planning a project, it’s no secret that there are a multitude of factors to consider when it comes to a house. One of the most important and most prominent factors to consider however is what kind of roof you ought to look for or install on a building. 

Traditionally, asphalt shingles have long been the standard, go-to roofing option in the United States, but increasingly they’ve faced more competition from metal roofing. Metal roofs can be made in a variety of materials (zinc, tin, aluminum, copper, or steel), but all metal roofs will tend to offer the same benefits and drawbacks when compared to asphalt shingling (the main difference between the various materials being price). 

This article will thoroughly explore all the factors one must keep in mind when deciding between Metal Roof vs Asphalt Shingles, and lay out the advantages and disadvantages of each choice. 

Pros of Metal Roofing

Low Maintenance 

Perhaps one of the greatest advantages of a metal roof is the fact that, once properly installed, they require almost no maintenance. Most roofing metals are highly resistant to damage, thanks to a protective patina that will self-heals minor scratches naturally over time. They are also antimicrobial, and won’t suffer from mold or algae, unlike asphalt shingles. 


Unsurprisingly, a metal roof is far more durable than a shingle one. While a shingle roof will generally need to be replaced every 25 years or so, a metal roof will generally last between 50 to 80. Apart from saving homeowners the cost and hassle of replacing a roof several times in their lifetime, longer-lasting products have a naturally positive effect on the environment, requiring less raw material and waste. 

Most kinds of metal roofs are also highly recyclable and can be melted down and reused once they reach the end of their natural lifespan. 

They Boost Home Value

Adding a feature to your home that’s durable and cost-saving in the long run is naturally a benefit to the building’s overall value.  This can increase the property’s value, and even potentially save on insurance, as some firms will offer lower rates to encourage a safe long-term investment. 

Cons of Metal Roofing

Limited Availability of Professionals

Although metal roofing is growing in popularity, it’s still distinctly in the minority compared to traditional shingles. This means that finding a reliable professional in your area with the expertise needed to install a metal roof can be challenging. 

Time and Labor Intensive

Similar to our last point, a metal roof requires specialized knowledge and tools to install, and because of this, is a more intensive process, requiring longer to install than shingles. 

Pros of Shingle Roofing


There can be no denying the benefit of being able to easily remove or replace broken or moldy tiles as needed. Even an informed non-professional can walk directly on their roof to do simple repairs on their own. 


Although a metal roof is a sound investment that will ultimately save money in the long run, the up-front cost of installing an asphalt shingle roof is objectively cheaper than metal. Sometimes, financial realities will demand the cheaper immediate fix of shingles. 


If finding a qualified, reliable professional to install a metal roof can be difficult, then naturally the opposite holds true for the single most common form of roofing in the nation. It will almost certainly never be hard to find a good professional at a reasonable price for shingle roofs. 

Cons of Shingle Roofing

High Maintenance 

Compared to a metal roof which can be “set and forget”, a shingle roof will need to be replaced sooner and will require regular maintenance. Whether it’s a hail storm, pests, algae, or just the passage of time, shingle roofs must be monitored and regularly kept in good condition. 

Environmentally Unsustainable

Unlike metal roofs which can be recycled at the end of their service life, asphalt shingles are a petroleum product, reliant on fossil fuels to be produced and very difficult (if not impossible) to recycle. 

Aesthetically Limited

Metal roofs, apart from being able to be designed in interesting and non-conventional forms, come in a variety of colors suitable for both historic and modernist looks. On the other hand, if you have seen one shingle roof, it could be said that you’ve seen them all. While singles are often aesthetically pleasing, they don’t exactly offer very much range or variety. 

Calling in the Experts

When it comes to architectural metal, there’s no more trustworthy and high quality name than MetalTech Global. As the nation’s premier fabricator and distributor of finished, coil, and sheet metal, we are home to the single largest stocking center for architectural zinc in the country. With decades of experience and an expansive portfolio of projects completed using our top-notch materials, we’re here to ensure that your next construction project is completed with only the best in expertise and service. Contact us today for a consultation on how we can help you reach your architectural goals.

maintaining zinc

It’s hardly a secret that one of the main benefits of a metal roof over traditional shingling is the increased durability and longevity that metal offers. What’s more, a metal roof will require much less maintenance than a shingle roof in order to outlast it by an order of decades. From protective patinas that guard against scratches and physical damage, to its antimicrobial nature that reduces or eliminates mold and algae, zinc is unquestionably the easiest to maintain roofing option available. 

However, “easiest to maintain” is distinctly not the same thing as “requiring no maintenance” – a zinc roof does require some upkeep and care from the homeowner in order for it to last its full natural service life of 80 years or longer. This article will walk through the necessary steps that should be taken by anyone and everyone who owns a building with a zinc roof. 

Basic Maintenance

No matter what, there are some basic steps that you should regularly follow to keep a zinc roof in good shape. The first and probably most regular step is to make sure that the roof is clear of organic matter – specifically taking the time to remove any leaves or grass that may be blown onto the roof, or any moss that may start to grow there. Keeping plant matter off your roof before it rots will help keep the roof unstained and in good shape. 

Beyond removing plant matter, it’s necessary to keep a regular eye on the structural integrity of several key elements of the roof:

  • Rainwater drains and gutters should be kept clear. Even if zinc doesn’t rust, avoiding a buildup of standing water is best practice for maintaining the integrity of the roof (for this reason flat gutters that encourage standing water should be avoided). 
  • Maintaining ventilation or air conditioning units that may be on the roof, ensuring that they’re in good working condition. Naturally, mechanical problems with any such units located on a roof can have negative side effects on the roof itself. 
  • Ensuring the integrity of all elements related to keeping the roof watertight, including fascia, drips, filets, junctions, etc. Naturally, keeping moisture on the outside of the zinc roof and not inside the building is a necessary step to prevent mildew and mold from forming in the space between the roof and the rest of the house. 


Because of its low-maintenance nature, regular exposure to simple rainwater will do most of the heavy lifting when it comes to keeping a zinc roof clean. However, even with regular rainfall it’s certainly possible to clean a zinc roof by hand, and is worth doing every once in a while. Hand-cleaning is obviously even more important if you live in an area with very little rainfall. 

Dirt and dust accumulation can be cleaned off with nothing more than a cotton rag and warm water. If a stronger or more thorough cleaning is needed however, the warm water can be replaced with soda water, alcohol, or a diluted solution of either dish soap or white vinegar with warm water. Generally speaking you should start with the mildest detergent possible, and slowly work your way up in intensity until the desired cleanliness is achieved. 

Important Considerations

Anytime you clean zinc it’s vital to always rub the metal in the direction of the grain. Additionally, to protect the zinc’s patina, you should never use a pressure washer, and should never use any cleaner containing ammonia, chlorine, or muriatic acid, which can have an adverse reaction when in contact with zinc. Lastly, you should always clean zinc with a cloth and never with a broom or vacuum to avoid damaging the finish.

Other Important Steps


If you notice a scratch on a zinc roof, the best course of action is to simply leave it alone. Zinc’s patina will naturally self-healing light surface damage over time. 

Using Adequate Gear

It must be noted that zinc will display fingerprints if it comes in contact with the oil naturally found in human skin. It’s advisable therefore to always wear gloves and long pants and sleeves when working on a zinc roof. 

Be Cautious and Careful!

The final thing to remember – until you’re experienced in cleaning zinc, it’s best to be cautious and be very sure of any steps you take before committing to any course of cleaning. For example, it’s smart to clean a small, out of sight area and leave it for 24 hours to observe how it affects the metal before performing the same cleaning on the rest of the roof. 

Of course, the safest option is to consult with zinc experts before committing to any course of action, such as the experts at MetalTech Global. As the nation’s largest distributor and fabricator of architectural zinc, there’s no name more reliable in the industry. With our own warehouses and manufacturing facilities we’re capable of producing custom zinc rolls and sheets, and shipping quickly and efficiently. If you are thinking of installing zinc roofing or paneling, don’t hesitate to contact us today!

Choice For Architects

From centuries-old roofs and decorative features in Europe, to ultra-modernist construction projects around the world, zinc has long held a reputation as a top-caliber architectural metal. Although its popularity has only begun to fully take off in the last few decades, zinc’s presence in global architecture is on the rise, and will only continue to trend upwards.

This increasing popularity is hardly surprising given all the attractive traits that zinc possesses. In order to fully explore why zinc is indeed the top choice for architects, this article will examine the metal’s most important benefits, as well as highlighting several case studies of already successful projects that have utilized zinc.

Why Choose Zinc?


Due to the patina that zinc naturally forms, the metal is extremely durable, able to last up to a century without needing to be replaced. Some of the earliest uses of architectural zinc can be found in roofs, statues, and decorative elements of buildings in European countries that were originally installed in the 18th century, and some modern roofs in these countries are more than 100 years old.

In addition, zinc requires very little maintenance. Its protective patina will “self-heal” minor scratches and damage by itself. The patina is also antimicrobial, rendering the metal resistant to mold and fungus. All in all, this makes zinc ideal for a vast array of different climates.


Zinc is one of the more ecologically friendly metal options – it’s the 24th most common metal found on Earth, is nearly infinitely recyclable, and requires less energy to smelt and process than aluminum, copper, or steel.


Lastly, zinc is flexible, both figuratively and literally. In roofing, it can be pitched anywhere between 5 and 90 degrees, and the low thickness of zinc sheet allows it to be curved or bent at nearly any angle, allowing zinc to be molded into almost any shape.

This means that zinc can not only be used for elaborate and ultra-modern roofs, it can also be used to envelop the entire outer structure of a building, able to accommodate complex, flowing designs and even able to display images via carefully perforated zinc sheets.

Noteworthy Architectural Zinc

Rather than further discuss zinc’s virtues in the abstract, we want to take the time to see specific examples of how zinc has specifically been leveraged in the real world to create designs that are both beautiful and highly practical.

Ga on Jai – Gwangmyeong, Korea

The zinc roof on the Ga on Jai house is a perfect demonstration of zinc’s flexibility – physically flexible as demonstrated by the flowing, cantilevered slopes of the roof’s structure, and aesthetically flexible as traditional design and modern sensibilities are united into a single, attractive structure. 

Here zinc is used to create a roof that creates an intimate, privacy-minded home that is also highly resistant to the rough weather that can occur in the area. 

Municipal Technical Centre – Rixheim, France

This municipal theater in France meets local architectural styles while still striking a unique and imposing profile in a rural area. It was constructed with sustainability in mind, the architect ultimately chose a single building rather than several close-by units in order to maximize efficiency. Unifying the whole structure under the distinctive zig-zag zinc roof allowed it to not only save on initial construction costs, but will continue to offer green benefits with much lower heating and maintenance costs. 

Godson Street – London, United Kingdom

The goal of the development at Godson Street was to create a mixed-use building able to hold both residential and commercial spaces while maintaining a unique visual identity to express stakeholder’s individuality. 

The outer zinc envelope comes in varying colors, presenting a face that is at once unique and eye-catching while still maintaining a refined, classy, modern look. The possibilities of the zinc envelope have been taken advantage of to create windows and lightwells in unusual, nontraditional shapes. 

Concert Hall – Ostrava, Czech Republic

Our final stop is an upcoming project still not completed – this incredible concert hall. Once again a thoroughly unique design is presented in the completely rounded edges of the outer structure – merged with large glass windows at either end, the building will offer both a unique social experience in its modern lobbies and a unique acoustic experience in its rounded concert hall. 

Making the Most of Zinc

As we’ve seen here, the possibilities for zinc in modern construction are already being deeply explored around the world, and there can be no doubt that this trend will only continue and increase as time goes on. However, none of these projects could have been realized without reliable, top-quality production and manufacturing of zinc sheet. 

Every architect knows that trusting in inferior products and services is ultimately a road to disaster, and that finding the most reliable providers is a key step to completing any project. That’s where MetalTech Global comes in. We are the nation’s largest stocking center of architectural zinc, and can offer our clients not only custom zinc fabrication, but years of experience and a host of satisfied past clients and projects. Contact us today to find out how we can bring your next project to life.