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Durability, cost and style: A guide to metal and synthetic roofing

DECRA Metal vs Synthetic 2.24
February 29, 2024 at 6:00 p.m.

By Trevor Underwood, DECRA. 

Discover how metal roofing's strength and longevity compare to the versatility and aesthetic appeal of synthetic roofing materials. 

Roofing materials can be divided into two main categories: synthetic and composite. Synthetic roofing consists of materials fabricated from artificial compounds, such as rubber (EPDM) and plastic polymer, rather than natural substances like wood or clay.  

On the other hand, composite roofing includes a blend of various materials, potentially combining both synthetic and natural elements. While it's common to hear the terms synthetic and composite roofing used interchangeably, they are not identical. Although composite roofing falls under the synthetic category since it's man-made, not all synthetic materials qualify as composites, with some being crafted from only one type of substance. 

For example, asphalt shingles, which are made up of a mat (often fiberglass), asphalt and mineral granules, are a type of composite roofing material. They're not purely synthetic, as they include natural asphalt, but they're often grouped with synthetic roofing because they’re manufactured and do not consist solely of natural materials. 

Synthetic roofing materials are often considered by homeowners searching for the perfect blend of durability and aesthetic appeal. Yet, there's another contender that often comes into the picture when seeking a long-lasting and cost-effective residential roofing solution: metal roofing

In this article, we'll dive deeper into the specifics of synthetic roofing and metal roofing to help homeowners make an informed decision. Keep reading to learn: 

Metal roofing versus synthetic roofing: Which is more durable?   

As mentioned earlier, synthetic roofing involves materials like EPDM, an M-class rubber, which has excellent resistance to heat, UV radiation and weathering. 

However, even premium synthetic roofing materials need to be replaced as often as every 20 years. This shorter life expectancy can be attributed to lower tensile strength and greater thermal expansion, which cause increased stress over time.   

Metal roofing, on the other hand, can easily last for 70 years or longer. 

The high tensile strength of metal and its inherent resistance to various elements, such as wind, fire and hail, make it one of the best types of roofing when it comes to durability and longevity.  

Cost comparison of metal roofing versus synthetic roofing   

The initial cost, as well as the long-term costs of maintenance and potential replacement, are critical considerations. 

Metal roofing tends to have a higher upfront cost compared to synthetic roofing, but requires less maintenance and has a longer lifespan, making it more cost-effective in the long run. 

When comparing metal roofing to synthetic roofing in terms of return on investment (ROI), several factors can make metal roofing the more valuable option, including: 

  • Longevity: The lifespan of a metal roof is two to three times longer than synthetic roofing materials.   
  • Durability: Metal roofs are well-known as one of the strongest roofing materials on the market. 
  • Energy efficiency: Metal roofs are extremely energy efficient and reflect heat up and away from the home, which can reduce cooling costs by as much as 40%.   
  • Home value: Due to their durability, longevity and energy efficiency, metal roofs can increase the resale value of a home by up to 6%
  • Insurance benefits: The durability and longevity of metal roofing can reduce homeowners' insurance premiums by up to 35%

While synthetic roofs can also offer some of these benefits, the overall durability, lifespan and energy efficiency of metal roofing often make it a more cost-effective choice. 

Additionally, the strength and durability of metal roofing are often reflected in manufacturers’ warranties. It's common for metal roofing materials to come with warranties that last 50 years or longer. Premium metal roofing manufacturers even offer a Lifetime Limited Warranty on their products. 

The warranties for synthetic roofing materials can vary significantly based on the type of synthetic material used and the manufacturer. Synthetic roofing warranties can range from 20 to 50 years, however, as synthetic roofing is a relatively newer product compared to metal roofing, some warranties might be limited due to less historical data on long-term durability. 

Tip: A key consideration when comparing warranties is to look not just at the length of the warranty, but what it specifically covers, any maintenance conditions, and whether it's prorated or non-prorated. Also, keep in mind that the company needs to be in business for the warranty to be valid, so consider the manufacturer's reputation and the amount of time they’ve been in business.  

Aesthetic appeal: Comparing styles of synthetic roofing and metal roofing 

Both metal roofs and synthetic roofs can adapt to a wide range of architectural styles. 

Metal roofing comes in a wide variety of styles and colors. Different metals can also influence the aesthetic. For example, copper develops a patina over time, changing from a bright, shiny penny color to a distinctive green.  

Standing seam panels offer a modern, clean look with long, minimalistic lines. Corrugated panels, on the other hand, have a more industrial aesthetic.  

Stone-coated metal roofs are made from high-grade steel sheets that are coated with natural stone granules. The stone-coating process results in a metal roof that provides the same aesthetics of traditional roofing materials – such as asphalt shingles, clay tile and wood shakes.  

Synthetic roofing can come in a wide variety of colors, including options that mimic natural color variations in wood, slate or tile.    

There really isn’t a winner in this category since the decision between the two often comes down to your personal preference and the specific design of your home. 

Which is better: Synthetic roofing or metal roofing?  

In the end, every homeowner's situation is unique and it's important to consider all factors and consult with a professional roofing contractor. 

With that in mind, synthetic roofing is often ideal for homeowners who: 

Want durable materials with lower cost: While they may not last as long as metal roofs, high-quality synthetic roofs still offer impressive durability at a potentially lower price point. 

Live in moderate climate: Synthetic roofs are durable, but they might not be as resistant to severe weather conditions as metal roofs.   

Metal roofing is often the best type of roofing for homeowners who: 

Want a high ROI: While metal roofing can be more expensive upfront than other types of roofing, the longevity and low maintenance of metal roofs often make them cost-effective in the long run. 

Are eco-conscious: Metal roofs are one of the most environmentally-friendly types of roofing since they’re made from sustainable materials and can be completely recycled at the end of their life.   

Live in harsh weather conditions: Metal roofs have inherent strength and can endure everything from high winds to hail and: 

Ready to experience the DECRA difference? Experience the strength and style that only stone-coated metal roofing can provide by requesting a complimentary sample today

Original article source: DECRA Metal Roofing

Learn more about DECRA Metal Roofing in their Coffee Shop Directory or visit www.DECRA.com.

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