Your roof is not equivalent to the socks and underwear you buy at Kmart when the airline loses your luggage. You don’t just scan the shelves for the cheapest option and with a shrug say, “These will hold me over.” How bad can the cheapest socks be? They’ll get the job done. Why splurge on expensive socks when you already have a perfect set sitting in your luggage back in College Station that, sadly, didn’t quite make the trek with you?
Your roof is not pharmacy-brand Tylenol or generic saran wrap. The cheaper option will not do the exact same job. As hard as it is to swallow, sometimes, it pays to pay a little bit more. Sometimes when your sock gets a hole, you can’t just relax knowing you’ve got multiple backups waiting for you at home.
Buying a roof, instead, is like buying a car. There are expensive, low-maintenance, fuel-efficient cars that may cost a bit more in the long run, but will save you money at the pump and at the mechanic. There are middle-of-the-road used cars, with good mileage and a former owner who took good care of it. There are stylized, vintage investments that look awesome and will require a lot of cash to get the car up and running, but will sell for more than you paid for it once you’re done. And then there are money-pits that sell on Craigslist for mere pennies, but that need major repairs every-other-month and are basically a ticking time bomb sucking your wallet dry.
As we all know, the price you pay at the dealership is not the only cost you’ll have to bear. Roofs are no different. That being said, roofs are also expensive. Cost is often what homeowners consider first for any home-repair or maintenance. Roofing companies know this and therefore play with pricing to make you choose their product. What seems like a good deal may actually be a bad one. That small print written in invisible ink that you can’t see? We’re here to help reveal it.
What do homeowners need to consider first when looking at roof costs?
Easy—they must understand that the cost of their roof is not a one-time cost. You don’t write the check and then relax knowing you’re set for the next four or five decades. You will, inevitably, encounter maintenance costs. What you pay initially will affect what you pay in repair costs down-the-line.
“For example, corrugated steel shingles are the cheapest metal option, which may be tempting, but they are a relatively thin shingle and they’re installed with screws that need be retightened and often come loose and cause leaks .”
Asphalt-shingle roofs are the cheapest option available, and for that reason, they are the most widely chosen by homeowners. But an asphalt roof needs to be replaced 2-4 times as often as a metal roof. Yes, it’s true that metal is more expensive, but it also lasts longer. They require much less maintenance and have a life-span of fifty years or more, making them a much more cost-efficient choice. Not only will a metal roof last longer, but you can save 60% in installation and maintenance costs within that life-span (https://www.unioncorrugating.com/faq.html). It’s also worth noting that most warranties are only manufacturer warranties, which means they’ll only reimburse you for manufacturer defects. If a storm rolls in and damages you’re roof, you’ll have to pay for the cost to repair. Why is metal better in this case? Because metal is much more durable than traditional asphalt shingles and will withstand the storm better. Yes, it’s true that it’s often cheaper to repair asphalt shingles, but if metal shingles break less often, you won’t need as frequent repairs anyway.
I know what you might be thinking—it’s great that metal roofs last that long, but what if I don’t plan on being in my current house for long? What if I just need something to hold me over for a year or two? A metal roof is still worth the investment in this case because a good chunk of what you pay for the roof can be recouped at resale. In southern states, homeowners saw 87.4% of the costs recouped on their metal roofs when they were ready to sell (https://www.metalroofing.com/residential-metal-roofing/benefits/). This is not the case for asphalt shingle roofs since they require more frequent repair.
If you’re still not sold, if you’re still thinking you don’t drive that much anyway and the craigslist jalopy you can snag for $162 seems like a risk you’re willing to take, there’s another factor to consider– energy costs. Metal roofs are reflective; asphalt roofs are dark and absorbent. If you remember your 5th grade science class experiment– what’s cooler wearing a black shirt and standing in the sun, or wearing a white shirt and standing in the sun?–you know that the reflective metal roof is going to stay much cooler. And as we all know, when that Texas heat beams down in August, you’ll be hoarding every ounce of air-conditioned air you can get. A metal roof could save you 40% on your energy bills in the summer.
As a homeowner looking to purchase a new roof, it’s imperative that you do your research. Even after you’ve decided on metal, you have to decide on what kind of metal tiles, and there are some that are worth the added price and some that aren’t. For example, corrugated steel shingles are the cheapest metal option, which may be tempting, but they are a relatively thin shingle and they’re installed with screws that need be retightened and often come loose and cause leaks (https://www.roofcalc.org/metal-roofing-prices/). You can’t be swayed by what looks like a great deal—you’ll get what you pay for. Mom’s advice never fails; if it’s too good to be true, then it probably is.
It’s true, the roof research process can be a bit daunting. Throw a few phrases into Google about roof prices, and you’ll quickly see discrepancies in reported costs (https://www.homeadvisor.com/cost/roofing/#price). All roofers have access to the same materials, so these shouldn’t fluctuate too much. What you end up paying for is the quality of service. If you see a price that’s too good to be true, you can rest assured that the craftsmanship won’t be as good as those cheap socks you lost either. This is not a gamble you want to risk. You could be paying 2-3 times more for services to repair poor craftsmanship when you could’ve paid more to have it done correctly the first time. You’re not just paying for materials, you’re paying for skill and reliability. It’s true, generic saran wrap will cover that sliced watermelon in your fridge just fine, but would you use it to protect and transport your 5-time ribbon-winning Blueberry-Peach pie to the county fair? Probably not – you would bring your A-game.
Invest in metal and you’ll reap the benefits with the pie prize money. Ten years from now, when you’re not sitting under a leaky roof dripping water on the stack of repair bills next to you, you’ll be a happy you paid a bit more initially for quality metal roofing.