Steel Roofing Shingles

Published: Oct. 12, 2018

How are Steel Shingles Made?

Steel is the fastest growing material in the roofing industry. Originally, metal roofs were manufactured using galvanized steel. A sheet of steel was coated with zinc and then rolled into corrugated sheets. Sometimes aluminum, zinc and silicon-coated steel were blended together to form a metal roofing product. Rolls of various widths called standing seam metal roofing are also available. The material is seamed together through a specialized roof seaming machine to seal the joints and protect the metal from water. Steel shingles are often made from zinc or aluminum-coated steel that has an acrylic gel coating. These are available in rolls and individual shingles.

History of Steel Shingles

Galvanization of sheet metals was a process used in the 1830s that revolutionized the way metal was being used. Galvanization included coating metals like steel or iron with a protective layer of zinc. This process protected metals from rusting. The first galvanized steel roof was used in North America in 1857. It soon became popular due to its low weight, low cost as well as durability. Many Victorian sheet metal roof shingles and tiles can still be found in good condition today.

Advantages of Steel Shingles

  • Longevity: Steel roofs can last anywhere between 40 to 70 years.
  • Durability: Steel is galvanized to protect the metal from corrosion and make it durable and long-lasting. Steel roofs do not corrode or crack easily and hence remain maintenance free for a long time.
  • Safety: Steel is fire-resistant and offers reliability and protection in the case of a fire or lightning strike. It also works well in resisting moisture and hence lowers the risk of mold and mildew.
  • Energy-Efficient: A metal roof is effective at reflecting solar heat making it an energy-efficient investment. Not only does it lower the energy bills but also saves on maintenance costs. Steel shingles are overlapped to create air pockets on the surface of the roof and provide an extra layer of insulation during the winter.
  • Environmental Friendly: Besides saving energy, steel is one of the most widely recycled materials available. The steel can easily be recycled and reused once the roof reaches the end of its life.

Disadvantages of Steel Shingles

  • Affordability: While a steel roof is durable and may never need to be replaced, steel roofing can cost up to three times or more than other roofing materials.
  • Thermal Expansion and Contraction: Large panelled metal roofs can expand and contract in accordance to changes in the temperature. This may also cause the metal to bend or shift.
  • Proper Installation: For a steel roof to provide optimal performance, it needs to be installed by a professional contractor. A properly installed steel roof can prevent future damages like corrosion and thermal expansion and contraction.
  • Noise: In the event of heavy rain or a hailstorm, a steel roof can be very noisy. However, one can add an extra layer of insulation during the installation of the roof to prevent noise in the future.
  • Repair Considerations: While a properly installed steel roof can last a very long time, repairs can sometimes be a problem as it may be difficult to find an exact matching steel shingle to replace.

Alternatives to Steel Shingles

Built Up Roofs:

Also known as BUR, built-up roofs have been around much longer than metal roofs. The roof is made of alternating layers. One of the layers is mainly tar. On top, gravel is usually laid in the tar making the roof aesthetically pleasing and providing an extra layer of insulation as well as added durability.

Asphalt Composition Shingles:

Asphalt shingles are generally made of fiberglass or organic felt and are widely used for roofs in North America. These shingles work well for waterproofing and re-roofing applications. Asphalt shingles popular are due to their affordability. They are also available in different colors and are a good investment for curb appeal.

Single Ply Roofs:

Single-ply roofs are a reliable and cost-friendly option for commercial roofs. They can be easily installed without the need for specialized equipment. There are different types of single-ply roofs, the most common ones include PVC, TPO, EPDM and modified bitumen. These materials also offer good solar reflectance and keep energy bills low.

Fire, Rain and Wind

The International Building Code recognizes steel construction as non-combustible, therefore, provided the roof has been installed properly, there is no worry of a steel roof catching on fire. Steel roofs are effective at sealing out moisture that can be caused by rain, thereby preventing mold and mildew problems. A steel roof can also withstand winds gusts up to 120 mph. Steel roofs are very durable and offer high resistant to hail. Hail cannot penetrate a metal roof.

Solar Reflectance

Metals reflect solar heat and therefore a steel shingle roofs prove to be an energy-efficient investment. It works effectively in protecting the roof from harmful UV rays. Since the air conditioner does not need to work hard, metal roofs can reduce the cooling costs by 10-25% in the summer. It is important to note that lighter colored steel roofs will offer better solar reflectance than a darker colored steel roof.


Installation of a metal shingle roof will cost between $8 to $10 per square foot on average for a new residential home. For one square foot installation, steel shingles even have prices starting as low as $6.