How Long Does a Metal Roof Last: All Metal Roofing Compared

metal roof lg

Most landmark and historical buildings, such as churches and government offices, often have metal roofs. That is because metal roofs withstand the test of time and can outlive several generations. However, there are many types of metal roofs, and each varies in composition and life expectancy. So, how long do metal roofs last?

Metal roofs have a life expectancy of 50-70 years and are highly versatile. The durability of metals such as copper stretches to more than 200 years. Pure metals are coated with metal elements to form alloys to make them last longer.

Metal is a good material for roofing because it is challenging and is resistant to corrosion, fire, and perennial damage.

Let’s explore metal roofs further. Here’s everything I learned about metal roofs from decades of being a home inspector.

4 Different Types Of Metal Roofs (Detailed)

Metal roofs date back to the 18th Century but became more popular in the 19th Century. Over the years, metal roofs have undergone an intense industrial revolution.

Today, metal roofs offer various metal alloys crafted to bring out attractive styles and colors and customized into different sizes to meet customer needs.

Metal is flexible and can be conformed to take any shape you desire. This ability is known as malleability.

The first metal sheets to grace the market were corrugated to strengthen the roofing sheets.

Most metal roofing sheets today are fabricated to mimic other designs of roofing materials.

Some of the forms that metal roofing materials are styled into today are:

  • Standing-seam metal roofs
  • Metal shake roofs
  • Metal tile roofs
  • Metal-slated roofs

The standing seam roofs are a water-tight method in which roofing material is profiled with occasional bumps or ridges running down the roof. It is a design where metal roofs are constructed to help guide the rainwater to deter water and ice from pooling and leaking into the house.

Examples of seam metal roofs are V-ribs, Bead ribs, Striated, and Pencil ribs. The problem with seams is that they magnify the noise the metal roof makes when it’s raining.

The Metal Shakes Roof, tiled metal roof, and metal slated roofs inspire other forms and designs of roofing materials, such as wood shakes, asphalt shingles, and slate.

Any metal can be transformed into any roofing profile mainly for protective reasons or aesthetics.  

The different types of metal roofing sheets are:

  1. Copper
  2. Steel
  3. Aluminum
  4. Zinc

The unique thing about metal roofs is that they bear almost the same characteristics and just minor differences here and there to differentiate them.

The differences are what make a metal roof stand out from the rest. These characteristics are durability, weight, eco-friendliness, resistance, longevity, strength, and malleability.

Type of Metal RoofLife Expectancy
Copper200+ years
Steel40+ years
Aluminum50+ years
Zinc100+ years

1. Copper Metal Roofs

The copper alloy is a red-brown colored metal. Copper is famous for its qualities such as;

  • High durability and longevity
  • Light in weight
  • High corrosion resistance
  • Low maintenance
  • Lighting protection
  • Low conductor of heat
  • High malleability

Durability & Longevity

Durability is the ability of a metal to normal wear and tear plus the pressure brought about by the weather.

When metal is strong, it will last longer, and copper is known to be one of the most durable roofing materials available. Copper roofing presents value for money and will last for 150+ years. 

That is incredible.

That is why they bear copper metal roofs among the ancient buildings admired for their architectural designs. 

In cases where these buildings’ fabrics might have been repaired or renovated, their roofs have hardly been touched, and they remain as durable as ever.

When copper metal ages, what started as a red/orange-brown color seamlessly transforms into a greenish-bluish hue, and when it has fully served its purpose, copper is recycled. 

Light Weight

When a roofing material is light, it influences the thickness of other complementing roofing materials and minimizes the installation cost.

You will have spent less on roofing materials, and your home’s fabric will enjoy a light load experience.

High Corrosion Resistance

Copper, in its natural form, is not susceptible to corrosion. Copper is naturally coated in a red-brown protective film that remains intact all its life, and if it does get destroyed, it naturally recreates itself.

Low Maintenance

Because of their high durability and longevity, copper roofs require little maintenance. They resist violent winds, snow, and other destructive weather elements, including rot and molding.

Low maintenance means the high upfront price you pay during the construction of the building services the roof for many years to come. 

It is why architects and highly coveted homeowners respect copper roofs.

Lightning Protection

Reportedly, lightning kills more people than all other natural disasters combined. It is because of the material used in their living and working.

When lightning strikes a building, it’s because it is the highest point in the vicinity and possesses elements that help ground lightning to the ground.

Copper and all-metal roofs, in general, are not grounding, and the fear of lightning attached to them is false.

Low Conductor Of Heat

Most metal alloys are classified as electricity and heat conductors. For copper, the opposite reigns. It is an additional quality because, during hot seasons, the thermal expansion remains relatively low.

High Malleability

Because of its ability to conform and take different shapes, copper roofing sheets have been constructed and fabricated into different styles, e.g., seam, shake, shingles, and tiles.

Copper roofing is customized into panels with standard widths with notable seams, while others run continuously in long pieces of sheets covering the roof’s peak to the edge of the eaves.

2. Steel Metal Roofs

Steel is a form of iron and carbon. In roofing, there are two steel roofing products available:

  1. Stainless steel
  2. Galvanized steel

Stainless Steel 

It is one of the metals that provides roofing solutions because of chromium elements in steel. Chromium is one of the hardest and strongest metals known to man.

The qualities of stainless steel are as follows;

  1. Steel poses tensile strength.
  2. They are durable.
  3. They have an attractive, shiny appearance, reflecting off unnecessary light and keeping the home in good condition.
  4. They have a high resistance to both fire and corrosion.
  5. Low maintenance.

Galvanized Iron Sheets

These are steel roofs coated with iron to protect the metal from rusting. The process involves dipping the metal in a bath of hot molten iron.

Galvanized steel is the most used version of still, and they are applied on frameworks of large buildings, balconies, staircases, public furniture, and ladders.

3. Aluminum Metal Roofs

Aluminum is silvery-white in color and very light in weight. As it is mined in abundance, aluminum is equally applied in a wide range compared to other metal roofs.

Qualities of Aluminum

  • Safety
  • Malleable
  • Resistant to corrosion
  • Eco-friendly
  • Strong
  • Lightweight

Compared to steel, aluminum is highly corrosion-resistant; even salty seawater can’t break aluminum. It is also lighter than steel yet stronger. 

It comes in handy where high humidity is concerned as the quality of weighing less helps it store very little heat and lose it quickly.

Finally, because it is firm, loud banging sounds as the rain hits the roof’s surface are not witnessed as much because the sound is muffled, limiting it from penetrating through the roof. 

4. Zinc Roofing

Compared to other metals, zinc is expensive and can last more than 100 years. When processing zinc, the energy needed is less than that of different metals. We call this a lower melting point.

Among the qualities of zinc is the ability to conform to unique shapes and designs; hence, it presents the market with a wide range of aesthetic profiles.

When the 100+ years of a zinc roof stay in place, it is torn off and goes directly to the recycling industry, where it is brandished anew.

What Are The Disadvantages Of A Metal Roof?

Metal roofs are highly advantaged; from their ability to last 40 years and beyond to their natural resistance to fire and corrosion, they are the best roofing solutions.

But it would be false to say that metal roofs are not without disadvantages, but luckily, the disadvantages do not outweigh their advantages.

  1. The high cost of metal roofs
  2. Thermal expansion
  3. Noisy
  4. Low quality

The High Cost Of Metal Roofs

They say cheap is expensive, but the quality is also costly. But while the quality of the metal is expensive upfront, it stays put for so long and asks for very little to keep it in shape.

On the other hand, cheap is expensive because the price a more affordable roofing solution goes for gives you a sigh of relief but will surprisingly demand too much maintenance you wish you had not purchased it in the first place.

Metal roofs, be it steel, copper, aluminum, zinc, or tin, cost up to three times the price of other roofing materials. It makes it a perfect personal investment, especially for a house you mean to stay in for the long run and probably raise your kids.

Considering a roof replacement? Check out our Roofing Calculator: Estimate Roof Area, Materials, and Cost.

Thermal Expansion

Metals typically conduct heat. When temperatures heat the sky, metal roofs tend to expand and contract back when the temperatures normalize.

The danger of having a roofing material expand and contract is that the hole around the roofing nails stretches wide when the metal expands. It becomes a problem as the roof may start to leak.


When the rain pounds, the noise from the roof will depend on the rain hitting the roof; it could be soothing to some people and noisy to others.

But the noisy metal roof made when it rains could easily be solved by installing thicker decking and insulation to silence the sound completely.

Low Quality

The quality of the metal roofs depends on the gauge of the metal sheet. Some are graded low such that the metal has rusted and dented over five years, courtesy of the rain.

Such thin gauges have poor qualities. As such, you cannot install them on residential roofs as they age fast. Therefore, investing in quality metal gauges for your home is essential.

Is A Metal Roof Worth It?

A metal roof is worth the high prices at which they come in. Their buying prices are the only thing that keeps most people from investing in them.

But if you think about it, you will be compensated over the years as you will spend very little or forget about maintenance altogether, unlike buying a cheaper roofing product, and end up spending money year in and year out on repairs and maintenance.

Aside from durability, other characteristics of metal roofs will confirm to you that you made a good investment:

  1. Longevity
  2. Eco-friendly
  3. Malleable 


When a roofing material can withstand damage, its ability to last longer is guaranteed. The estimated number of years metals are deemed to last between 40 and 200 years.

It is an exciting and attractive quality for a roofing material, as roof replacement is not a fun fact activity. No one appreciates spending more on something that did not yield many results.


Metal is a natural product with no chemicals that could harm the ecosystem. 

After many years of use, the metal is ready to be discarded. It is not disposed of like other roofing materials but is recycled for reuse instead. It is a good thing as recycling cares for the environment.


Who would surely not appreciate a product that comes in different forms and gives you a choice of what pleases you?

The beauty of metal roofing sheets is that metal is a flexible material that bends or conforms to whatever shape you instruct.

Does Metal Roof Increase Home Value?

Metal roofs increase your home value. But to get the maximum benefit, it is better to install a metal roof on the house you plan on inhabiting for a long time.

According to a survey, most people are still hung onto the asphalt roofing material as the choice for new home roofing and roof replacement.

But asphalt lasts only 20-50 years, while metal roofs are beyond 100 years.

When a home is up for sale, an inspection is done, which quantifies the quality of the building at large.

Roofs that are new or appear new win the day because they guarantee the newness of a home where a buyer is assured that they will not be dealing with repairs anytime soon.

Metal roofs are considered premium roofing materials because of their durability and longevity.

For this reason, metal is listed to have a 60% chance of improving your home value. And as much as they may not have a new look, they may still outlast a new roof made of a different material.



Hubert Miles | Licensed Home Inspector, CMI, CPI

Hubert Miles is a licensed home inspector (RBI# 2556) with more than two decades of experience in inspection and construction. Since 2008, he has been serving South Carolina through his company, Patriot Home Inspections LLC. As a Certified Master Inspector, Hubert is dedicated to providing his expertise in home inspections, repairs, maintenance, and DIY projects.