You could look it up — or just look up — and you'll see that shingles are king for roofs in Florida. • But when it comes time to put a new roof on your home, there are plenty of reasons to consider metal instead. • A metal roof can last 50 years — three to four times longer than an asphalt shingle roof. With the proper coating, it is more energy-efficient. And it stands up to strong winds, which is comforting if hurricane season means anything to you. • The downside is the up-front cost. Metal roofs can be a little — or a lot — more expensive than shingle roofs, depending on the company doing the job.
About a year ago, David Replogle Sr. needed to replace the roof on his South Tampa home. He called around and received bids of roughly $7,000 for a shingle roof and $9,000 (after some negotiating) for metal. He went for the metal and is thrilled, save for the ping of falling acorns.
"For $2,000 more, I would do it all over again for sure," Replogle said. "I'm certainly pleased with what they did and I'm never going to have to do it again. I plan to stay here forever. My sons would probably still live here."
Replogle said McInally & Sons metal roofing of Brandon laid the new roof on top of the old, effectively adding another layer of insulation.
"I had a tree fall in the back yard and (it) punched a hole in the house before I had the (metal) roof put on," Replogle said. "If that tree had fallen now, it wouldn't have punched a hole in it. It's so much stronger."
That strength is probably most appreciated during a storm. Steve Musha is a commercial estimator with Arry's Roofing Services of Tarpon Springs, which installs multiple types of roofs. He said a typical metal roof has a wind uplift rating of 150 mph, and it can go higher with site-specific engineering, while the typical shingle roof rates at 90 mph with a maximum of 120. Arry's installs both types of roofs.
The strength of metal is easily understood, but its energy efficiency is not. A roof made of metal seems like it would be hot, like the seat-belt buckle that sizzles after absorbing an hour or two of the summer sun.
"What people don't get is as soon as you sit down in front of that seat-belt buckle and put some shade to it, it cools down a lot faster than some other things that are out there, like your dashboard," Musha said.
Metal roofs also typically have light-colored coatings that deflect heat energy (an Energy Star requirement), and insulation boards fit easily between metal panels and the roof deck.
Most roofs are made of steel, but aluminum is used for any roof that will be installed within 1,500 feet of salt water, said Michael Faulkner, owner of roofing manufacturer Sunlast Metal in Palm City.
"Once a metal roof is installed, it stays," he said, pointing out that some of the metal roofs in the Keys are 100 years old. "When I was in the roofing business, I never replaced a metal roof; I replaced shingle roofs and tile roofs." As long as a metal roof is installed correctly, Faulkner said, "It is the last roof you will ever need."
Installation of a metal roof typically takes a couple of days longer than installing a shingle one would. A subjective downside to metal roofs is appearance. Some people prefer the look of tiles, shingles or cedar shakes.
Frank McKinney, president of SolarShield Metal Roofing, said metal roof manufacturers have addressed this concern by manufacturing metal that looks like a variety of other surfaces.
"If you love the way a shingle looks, they have metal to simulate that, a ceramic-coated steel or metal shingle," McKinney said. "If you like the look of a wood shake, they have metal to simulate wood shakes. They have it to look like barrel tile. They have metal to simulate slate. We have a panel to look like the Key West-style."
There is irony in designing metal to look like shingles. Eric Rice, a partner at Wilder Architecture of Ybor City, said his educated guess is that the three-tab shingle roof is a copy, too, having been designed to make a roof look like it is made of wood shakes or cedar or slate planks.
"The metal roof is more true to its material nature in that a standing-seam metal wasn't made or invented to look like anything else," Rice said. "Depending on your material, it's also recyclable."
Rice said metal roofs can do a lot more than shingle ones in terms of aesthetics, and have practical and financial benefits as well. Start with the fact that a metal roof has only a fraction of the seams that a shingle roof has, which limits the number of entry points for water to get inside.
"If your intent is to hold onto the building indefinitely, you probably want to go with the better product because you don't want to have to keep replacing the roof over and over again," Rice said. "Obviously, the biggest prohibitive factor is the (up-front) cost. It's just an expensive system, but it's a better system. You get what you pay for.
"I think metal roofs are cool."
Information from Times wires was used in this report. Lawrence Hollyfield is a freelance writer in Tampa. He can be reached at LH@excom1.com.