Steel Roofing Pros, Cons, and Prices

Steel Roofing Pros, Cons, and Prices

Steel Roofs vs. Other Types of Metal Roofing

Steel is just one type of metal roofing available for residential and commercial roof applications.  Others include aluminum, copper, zinc, tin and alloys of various metals. The most common metal roof installations use steel or aluminum.

There are three primary differences between steel and aluminum roofing:

  1. Steel roofing is heavier than aluminum
  2. Protective coatings are applied to steel to make it corrosion-resistant, while aluminum is naturally resistant to corrosion
  3. Steel roofing prices are less than aluminum

Both steel and aluminum roofing come in a wide variety of styles, colors and qualities. Top-quality aluminum and steel roofing offer 50-year to lifetime manufacturer’s warranties.

Stone-Coated Steel Roofing

Stone-coated steel roofing has roots dating back to the 1950s. Today, stone-coated steel roofing is available in a wide variety of styles, including metal shingles, tiles, shakes and slate. A few of the top manufacturers of stone-coated steel roofing includes Decra, Gerard, KBS and Metro.

This type of roofing material was originally coated with a thin layer of bitumen and tiny pieces of stone. The coating was shown to perform exceptionally well against weathering, rusting and varying climates. Today’s stone-coated steel products use advanced coatings that perform better than ever before. Many stone-coated roofing products feature lifetime warranties.

Galvanized Steel Roofing

Bare steel roofing is susceptible to corrosion and rusting. To avoid these problems, steel undergoes a galvanization process. During this process, a zinc coating is applied to the surface of the steel roofing. The zinc coating provides decades of protection against UV rays, corrosion, rusting and weathering. A G-90 galvanized steel roofing product refers to a zinc coating of 0.90 ounces per square foot of roofing material. For most roofing applications, no less than a G-90 coating is recommended.

Steel coated with a zinc/aluminum mixture is referred to as Galvalume steel. This type of steel roofing is susceptible to rusting/corrosion on scratched or damaged areas of the roof while galvanized steel offers better rust protection against surface scratches and damage. That said, Galvalume steel roofing is more corrosion-resistant overall. Galvalume steel roofing works best in simple roofing installations where material cuts and bends are at a minimum, such as standing seam roofs.

Galvalume steel roofing often comes prefabricated corrugated roof panels, although other styles are available. Other protective coatings can be applied to the galvanized steel roof material to add even more protection against the elements. Additionally, you can paint galvanized steel roofing white to increase its UV reflectability and lower its surface temperature.

Steel Roof Installation Over Existing Roofing

Steel Roofing Pros, Cons, and Prices

Steel roofs are, on average, lighter than shingle, shake, slate and concrete roofs. Because of its lightweight properties, steel roofs can often be installed directly over top of your existing roof. This can save you time, money and the hassle of having the old roof tore off.

When installing directly on top of the existing roof, the roofing contractor will typically attach battens securely to the existing roof and then install the steel roofing on top of the battens.

Roofs with extensive damage may need to be repaired before the new steel roofing is installed. In some cases, a complete tear off of the existing roof is a more cost-effective option.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Steel Roofing


  • Lightweight, can be installed over existing roof
  • Priced lower compared to aluminum roofing
  • Up to lifetime warranty
  • Wide variety of styles, colors and finishes available
  • Paintable
  • Class “A” fire resistant
  • Expected service life of 50-years or more
  • Easy maintenance


  • May be susceptible to denting from hail
  • More expensive than asphalt shingles
  • Moisture buildup (sweating) below roof surface is possible

Steel Roofing Warranties and Serviceable Life

Modern steel roofing products often carry 50-year to lifetime warranties depending upon the quality of the product. In addition to the manufacturer’s warranty on the product itself, metal roofing contractors may also include a workmanship warranty on the installation of the roof ranging from 5 to 20 years.

According to the Metal Roofing Alliance. a properly installed metal roof can last 50 years or longer. That’s two to four times longer than a traditional asphalt shingle roof. Metal roof repairs can be performed to extend the usable service life of the roof.

Steel Roofing Prices

The chart below depicts the average cost of steel roofing in several major U.S. cities. The total cost includes materials and installation on a 2,000 square foot roof (20 square). The exact price of your particular installation can vary depending upon your exact location, the type of steel roofing and complexity of the project.

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