By Jim Donovan

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Are you thinking about having your roof replaced? Asphalt is one of the most popular materials but metal roofs are growing in popularity. In this week’s Angie’s List, Jim Donovan has a look at some things to consider if you’re thinking of installing a metal roof.

Metal roofs have been around for years but they’ve changed a lot over time.

“They come in different styles and colors. Some look like wood, slate tile, clay tile, even asphalt shingles,” said Angie’s List founder, Angie Hicks.

Keep in mind going with metal isn’t cheap. It will definitely cost more than an asphalt shingle roof.

“But if you’re planning to live in your home a long time, you’re likely to get a good return because a metal roof is going to come with a up to a 50 year warranty,” said Hicks.

If you are thinking of switching to a metal, it’s not always necessary to have the old roof material removed.

“The average weight of an asphalt shingle roof is about three pounds per square foot. We have systems that only weigh a half of a pound per square foot or up to one pound per square foot. So we are really a quarter to one-third of the weight of an asphalt shingle roof. In most cases, depending on the local codes, we can go right over the top of an existing asphalt shingle roof because we don’t have that added weight that they do,” said roofing contractor, Michael Burdine.

Pros & Cons of metal roofing:

Durable: A metal roof can last up to 50 years. An asphalt roof, for example, last 10 to 20 years.

Roofing costs: A metal roof is going to be more expensive in the short term than an asphalt roof, for example. Metal roofing products are available in different price ranges. Some materials can coast three times more than asphalt.

Longer installation: The average installation takes about 3 to 5 days because some product systems are interlocked and screwed into the structure. Metal roofs weigh less than asphalt shingles and some products can be installed over an existing asphalt shingle roof.

Variety of products: Metal roofing is available in a number of colors and styles. You can find products that look similar to common roofing materials such as asphalt, slate, tile and cedar shake.

Energy savings: Homeowners can cut their energy bills as much as 40 percent with metal because of its reflectivity – which decreases the amount of heat transferred into your home. A federal tax credit is available for metal roofs with appropriate pigmented coated that also meet Energy Star requirements. The tax credit does not include installation costs.

Weather-resistant: Some metal roofing products have been tested and proven to hold up to hail, ice, and heavy wind. There are also products that are fire-resistant.

Insurance savings: A metal roof might net you a discount on your homeowners’ insurance due to its storm-resistant properties. Talk to your insurance agent.

Low maintenance: A metal roof requires very little maintenance. You should inspect it twice a year. You can hose it down, but this should be tackled from the ground because metal can get slippery when wet.

Green roofing alternative: An estimated 20 billion pounds of asphalt shingles wind up in landfills each year so choosing a metal roof, which can come with a warranty of up to 50 years and can be recycled, can help reduce consumer waste.

Angie’s List tips for hiring a metal roofing company:

If you’re comparing a metal roof with other roofing materials, consider getting an energy audit and solicit multiple bids from roofing contractors, who can provide a cost-benefit analysis of various systems. Find which will fit your budget, net the most savings and achieve the look you desire.

Installation errors can lead to roof leaks. Talk with the roofing contractor about their experience with metal roofing materials. Do they specialize in metal roofs? How many metal roofs have they installed?

Check if the company is licensed. Some municipalities may have requirements so homeowner should check with local agencies before hiring.

Get at least three written estimates and make sure they’re for comparable work so you can make an apples-to-apples comparison.

Ask for proof or workers’ compensation and liability insurance. The company should be able to show you the certificates. If a contractor doesn’t have insurance, the homeowner is taking some of the liability if a worker becomes injured on the job site.

Your roofing contract should include cost, payment terms, start date/expected end date, job description, materials to be used with manufacturer’s name including length of warranty, and provisions for charge orders or extra. Be sure you understand all the details in your contract before signing.

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