By Shawn Zuver, editorial/content director
How much does metal roofing cost?
It’s a straightforward question and one that I’d imagine is asked hundreds, if not thousands, of times a day across the world. My standard response is “It depends”. Admittedly, this is a weak reply but, unfortunately, it’s really the best that I can initially offer despite having been involved in this industry since the mid-1980s. If you have a few minutes, I’ll try to explain.
I’ll start by saying that it’s possible to go to a lumberyard and pick up a very basic screw-down roof panel, with a light galvanized coating, for less than $1 per square foot. To verify this, about $65 per square (100 sq. ft.) was advertised in my local morning newspaper today. It’s not something that most of us would want to use on our homes or for most other roof applications, but the product does exist. You also need to consider that this is a price for the panel only—no fasteners (screws), underlayment or any of the other things that may be needed to complete the job. It also doesn’t include labor.
I’d also like to point out that the question of roof cost has different levels, depending on where you stand in the construction process. As a roofer, you may simply want to know the cost of the materials. As an architect, you may be looking for material cost plus labor. As a building owner or home owner, you might likely want to know an all-inclusive cost, from start to finish. Each participant has a different perspective and needs, when asking about roofing cost…and that’s before we throw in other variables.
I’d like to approach the question of roofing cost by assuming that we’re interested in an all-inclusive quote. With that in mind, here are just a few things to consider.
Metal roofing covers a wide range of substrate materials—such as steel, aluminum, zinc, copper, terne-coated stainless steel, Galvalume-coated steel and many others. You also need to factor in thickness (often referenced by gauge or weight) and any coating, such as paint finishes, if applicable. For example, painted galvanized is typically more expensive than bare galvanized, copper costs more than Galvalume-coated steel, zinc costs more than aluminum—in most cases this is because these metals are affected by commodity markets and inherent quality, as well as other forces of supply and demand.
The metal roofing profile will also affect cost. Standing seam and tile profiles can generally be expected to cost more than R-panel profiles which are often, though not exclusively, associated with agricultural and industrial use. There are also many other materials—trim, flashing, vents, roof curbs, standing seam roof clips, sealants, fasteners, etc.—that may be required, depending on the needs of each particular job. Materials that have been tested to higher standards, such as optimum wind uplift and corrosion resistance, should also have higher prices.
We can all appreciate that a straight roof line will be easier to handle than a conical dome or a roof with hips and valleys, and that very steep roofs will likely require more labor than something with a lower pitch. Because of this, it’s understandable that contractors would charge higher labor costs for complex projects.
As part of your new roof, you may need special design services, including engineering consulting. You might also need help in changing the roof lines for a reroof project. And if you’re reroofing, you may want to re-route some of your rooftop mechanical items, such as air conditioning units. All of these items can be addressed by professional metal roofing contractors, but you should expect that added services like these will add to the cost of your new roof.
What Does It All Mean?
In summary, there are a lot of factors that can affect the cost of metal roofing—and the same is true of asphalt shingles, wood shakes, clay tiles, membrane roofs or whatever other materials you’re considering. While it’s understandable that building owners and home owners would like to start by asking for price, it’s important to recognize that each roof project is different and will have its own unique material, labor and design requirements.
Answering The Question
So, let’s go back to the original question: How much does metal roofing cost? I’m aware of installed metal roof pricing that starts under a couple dollars per square foot for a very basic job, requiring no special materials or services, and using a lightweight screw-down panel with a light galvanized coating. From there it depends on which particular metal roofing product you’d like to use and the specific requirements of your project.
While I'd like to be able to offer a more definitive response, my best answer to the metal roofing price question is still "It depends". What I can say with certainty, though, is that properly-installed metal roofs have earned a great reputation for offering excellent life-cycle cost benefits over their lifetimes.
The surest way to find out the cost of metal roof, if you’re a home owner, is by talking to some experienced metal roofing contractors. The Metal Roofing Alliance has a find-a-contractor section that’s a great resource. Click here to get started.
For non-residential building owners, metal roofing suppliers can refer you to qualified installers in your area. Here’s a link to dozens of metal roofing suppliers in our Supplier Directory. The Directory is also an excellent reference tool for contractors and architects who’d like more product information.
If you’d like to read my column on metal building pricing, click here. To see my thoughts on metal wall panel costs, click here.