Last updated on April 9th, 2021 at 01:29 pm

Metal Roofing vs. Asphalt, Wood or Clay

When you start shopping for a new roof, you’ll quickly realize there is a huge price range between the different materials. This is because all roofing materials can be categorized as either temporary or permanent.

Temporary roofs are designed to be serviced on a regular basis (usually annually to replace broken shingles) and replaced entirely every 12-17 years. Permanent roofs are designed not to be replaced for 40 years or longer after they are installed. They do require some maintenance but not on an annual basis.

Temporary roofing materials are less expensive upfront, but when you account for maintenance, repairs and energy savings…permanent roofing materials come out on top.

A roof is not something you can have installed and then forget. Every type of roofing material, temporary or permanent, does require some basic upkeep to perform at its best. Considering what it has to put up with here in Canada, you shouldn’t expect anything less!

What does change drastically from one roofing material to the next is the frequency and extent of maintenance that’s required. 

Permanent Roofing: Aluminum and Steel

Unlike temporary roofing materials which decrease in value as they age, metal roofs provide lasting benefits that start from the moment they’re installed and continue for 40-60 years on – including:

  • 4-Way Interlocking Tabs vs 3-Tab Shingles
    3-tab shingles that easily detach in high winds. 4-way interlocking panels have been uplift tested for hurricane-strength winds. 
  • Hidden Fasteners vs Exposed Fasteners
    Exposed fasteners that wear out, wallow and need replacement. Hidden fasteners are designed for long term maintenance-free performance. 
  • Direct-to-Deck Installation vs Battens and Strapping
    Installation directly to the roof deck eliminates the condensation issues that can occur with battens, helping to preserve the structural integrity of the attic.
  • Weatherproof Metal vs Leak-Prone Shingles
    As adhesive agents of roof shingles break down, the base mat is exposed to moisture and leaks begin to occur. Classic Metal Roofing uses concealed fasteners for beauty and optimal water resistance.
  • Increased Safety vs Combustible Roof Products
    Non-combustible roofing products (Class A, B, or C fire ratings) like Classic Metal Roofing Systems are eligible for preferred insurance rates. 
  • 40+ Year Warranty vs Pro-Rated Warranty
    Owing to the improved performance and lifespan, Classic Metal Roofing Systems come with a non-prorated, transferable 40+ year warranty that will not decrease over time. The warranty on asphalt shingles tends to be shorter, prorated, and generally does not cover natural wear and tear from weather (high winds, rain, hail, extreme heat or cold.)
  • Made In North America vs Imported from Overseas
    Roofing products manufactured in North America are built to CSA quality standards and designed to withstand our often-harsh Canadian climate. 

Temporary Roofing: Asphalt

Asphalt shingle is made of felt or fiberglass that is coated with tar and then covered with tiny stones that are literally glued onto the surface. Over time, the stones wear away, the shingles deteriorate, come apart, and the roof begins to leak.

Over the years, shingle manufacturers have made many attempts to bolster the quality of their products. They’ve changed up the content of the base mat, various binding agents and fillers. One of the more recent innovations is the architectural shingle: a heavier, laminated version of the traditional “3-tab” asphalt shingle. 

At the end of the day, however, standard asphalt shingles and architectural shingles both consist of small granules glued to a base mat. As the adhesive agents dry out and break down, moisture reaches the base mat. This moisture causes the base mat to deteriorate, and it gets even worse over time as granules start to wear away. Once the base mat is exposed to moisture, leaks will begin to occur as the shingles loosen, crack, and curl. Architectural shingles tend to last longer, but they will eventually succumb to the same problem. 

Asphalt singles have an average replacement lifespan of 8-12 years. In this timeframe Asphalt shingles:

  • Lose granules
  • Crack
  • Attract moss
  • Blow loose in the wind
  • Hold snow and decay
  • They even fall off their nails
  • Begin to curl
  • Are non-insulating
  • Are combustible
  • Are heavy in weight
  • Wood shingles curl and warp
  • Heavy tile products can be a hazard

Temporary Roofing: Wood

In general, wood roofs are made of cedar, pressure-treated pine, redwood, or cypress. The two main types of wooden roofing are shingles and shakes. Machine-made roofing shingles have smooth edges and are more consistent in size and shape than shakes, which are cut by hand.

Natural beauty and low cost make wooden shakes and shingles appealing to some homeowners. Wood roofing can be resistant to moisture and insects as well, depending on the type of wood that you use.

Wooden roofs also, on average, last five years longer than asphalt roofs.

However, a wood roof inevitably deteriorates over time and requires a tremendous amount of maintenance. Over time, decay accelerates, the roof becomes unsightly, and it eventually fails. The initial cost savings of choosing a wood roof will, in all likelihood, be outweighed by the expenses of long-term maintenance (not to mention the stress of a leaking roof!)

Temporary Roofing: Clay

Roofing tiles come in curved, flat, fluted, or interlocking styles. Nowadays, many tiled roofs are made of molded concrete instead of fired clay or terra cotta. 

However, concrete tile roofs have the same problems as their traditional counterparts, including water intrusion due to their porous make up. The roofing tiles become cracked by moisture seeping through the pores during the freeze/thaw cycle. Once the tile is cracked, water damage can occur before the homeowner realizes there’s a problem.

Clay roofing is best suited for hot climates with infrequent rain and above-freezing temperature year round. It simply isn’t made for life in Canada.