Home » What is a metal roof?

steel roof on a house

Metal roof that resembles wood shake.

When you think of a metal roof, you probably think of the usual long sheets of silver metal with ribs running vertically on them, don't you? They look rather industrial or commercial, and they're nothing you'd want on your house.

That's changed.

Metal roofing has come a long way. Although you can still get that classic, silver sheet metal, today's metal roofing comes in all sorts of profiles, shapes, and colors. What's more, you can get it covered with granules, just like asphalt shingles, so they resemble shingles, wood shake or tile.

In this article:

What is a metal roof
Types of metal roofs
Metal roofing colors
Advantages and disadvantages of metal roofing
Metal roofing cost
Who should have a metal roof

What is a metal roof?

A metal roof is just that - a roof made of metal materials. Metal roofs are actually installed using metal sheets. These sheets can be either painted or coated with granules or stones. The size of each sheet depends upon the exact product you order. When we install a metal roof, we roll and cut our sheets to the exact length to minimize the number of seams. (the more seams there are, the more opportunities for water leaks)

Metal shingles, tile, and shake, however, come in a set length and width.

Metal roofs are split into three basic categories

1. Exposed Fastener

With exposed fastener metal roofs, you can see the screws that hold down the metal sheets, if you look closely. Metal shake and tile have exposed fasteners.

2. Concealed Fastener

On concealed fastener metal roofs, the screws used to secure the metal into place are hidden from sight. The fasteners on metal shingles can be either exposed or concealed.

3. Standing Seam

Standing seam metal roofs have noticeable seams that run the length of each metal sheet. Standing seam metal roofs have concealed fasteners.

Painted or Coated

Metal shingle, shake, and tile are stone-coated. Stone-coated resembles actual wood shake, asphalt shingles, or clay or cement tile.

Ribbed and corrugated metal roofs are painted.

Metal roof types and options

When I was a kid, the only metal roofing options were corrugated or ribbed, in silver, or red. Today, there are several profiles available and a myriad of colors to choose from.

You can still have corrugated or ribbed to choose from, but today, you also have these to consider:

Metal shingle

metal shingle roof

Image courtesy Boral Steel.

Metal shake

metal shake roof.

Image courtesy Boral Steel.

Metal tile

metal tile roof

Image courtesy Boral Steel.

Standing seam

roof with metal and shake

Metal colors

For corrugated or ribbed metal sheets, there are a wide variety of colors to choose from. Flatiron Steel, for example, one of our suppliers, has dozens of colors to choose from. They even have a color and pattern that resembles rust!

Advantages and disadvantages of a metal roof


wide variety of colors and shapes
resistant to weather, fire
doesn't rot
energy efficient
impact resistant
high-wind resistant
can be recycled
can come from recycled materials


prone to dents
paint can fade
can be noisy if not insulated properly

What's a metal roof cost?

To install a new metal roof, you're looking at around $9.50/sf. This does not include removing the old, worn out roof, if it's a roof replacement. This is more than twice the cost to install average asphalt shingles.

Who's it for?


If you live in an area that gets feet of snow in one snow storm, and if your roof's pitch is 3/12 or greater, you should seriously consider a standing seam metal roof due to its ability to quickly shed a lot of snow.


Because a metal roof often lasts longer than regular asphalt shingles, if you can afford a metal roof, you should consider it. A metal roof will cost at least twice as much as shingles, to install and maintain, however.


If you're looking for a different look from the common asphalt shingle, you might want to consider a metal roof. Today, from a distance, a metal roof can look like shingles, tile, or wood shake.

residential metal roof

From a distance, this roof looks like wood shake.


Metal roofing has evolved from what you might remember. Today, you have many metal roofing options that resemble more traditional residential roofing material, such as shingles, tile, and shake.

If you're researching your metal roofing options, don't forget to also consider your roof's pitch.