How to find cheap metal roofing sheets: 6 tips to save money

Image source: Metal Architecture

Jack Wisniewski

By Jack Wisniewski

January 12, 2022

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Metal is not the most affordable material in the roofing industry.

However, that doesn't mean you can't find metal roofing sheets for as cheap as $2.11 per square foot – and that's including pro installation.

That's just as affordable, if not cheaper, than asphalt shingles – famously the least expensive sloped roofing option.

By sticking to certain features, following best buying practices, and hiring the right contractor, you can minimize metal roofing costs.

Calculate the price of your new metal roof.

Read on as we dive into the six factors you should prioritize to keep metal roofing costs down.

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What is the cheapest metal roofing?

Corrugated steel and aluminum roofing typically cost the least out of all metal roofing options. You can slash roofing costs further by shopping for thinner, unfinished metal sheets.

Beyond the physical characteristics, buying in the off-season and hiring the right contractor can also reduce metal roof pricing.

Follow these 6 rules to lower metal roofing costs

1. Pick the right materials

Metal roofing substrate Typical cost per sq ft
Galvanized steel $1.50 - $6
Galvalume $0.75 - $2.00
Aluminum $7 - $8
Zinc $5 - $6
Copper $8 - $29.50

 

Stick to galvanized steel or galvalume if you need metal roofing sheets that are as cheap as possible.

When shopping for these substrates, keep an eye on their coating weights.

Galvanized and galvalume steel roof panels resist corrosion thanks to their protective zinc and aluminum-zinc alloy coatings.

To indicate the coating thickness, manufacturers use a number preceded by the letter "G". The larger the number, the heavier coating.

Although thinner coatings do not ward off rust as long as their thicker counterparts, they do cost less.

G60 galvanized steel, for instance, costs less than thicker-coated G90 steel with all other qualities of the two sheets being equal.

Stay away from pure zinc and copper sheets – notoriously more expensive metal roofing materials.

2. Choose sheets with exposed fasteners

By "exposed fasteners", we mean you can see the screws that bond the metal roofing panels together from the outside.

Sheets with exposed fasteners are substantially easier to manufacture and install than hidden-fastener alternatives like standing seam metal roofing.

Considering these benefits, you will end up paying less between materials and installation costs compared to hidden-fastener alternatives.

Unfortunately, you face a greater risk of encountering leaks with exposed-fastener metal roofing. In turn, these roofs require more care than low-maintenance standing seam materials because their unprotected screws directly face the elements.

As long as you ensure proper installation and routine roof maintenance, this shouldn't be an issue.

Exposed fastener metal roofs also look less sleek than standing seam metal roofs.

While this arguably detracts from aesthetics, we'll go out on a limb and assume that's the least of your worries if you're shopping for inexpensive types of metal roofing.

At least you have multiple styles to choose from. Popular metal sheet styles with exposed fasteners include R-Panels, crimped, and corrugated metal roofing.

If these options don't satisfy you, you may want to check out some metal shingle brands. They're typically less expensive than standing seam while offering more traditional roofing shingle styles.

3. Opt for thinner metal

A thinner sheet costs less because it requires fewer raw materials to manufacture.

Of course, they won't weather hail or wind storms as well as thicker sheets. That shouldn't spur much concern if you live in a mild climate.

When comparing metal sheet breadth, pay attention to gauge – a thickness measurement.

Perhaps counterintuitively, a higher gauge number means a decrease in thickness.

A 29 gauge sheet, for instance, will measure thinner and cost less than a 22 gauge sheet of the same metal, all else being equal.

4. Pick a cheaper metal finish

The “finish” refers to the final metal coating added to provide protection and color.

In most instances, the cheapest finish means no finish at all.

Bare metals often prove the most cost-effective because they skip the additional coating process during production.

What they provide in savings, they lack in custom color opportunities and resistance to scratches and corrosion.

We, therefore, advocate using a finished metal in most applications.

If you go the recommended route, most companies will offer a choice between SMP and PVDF coating formulations.

SMP is the cheaper option of the two. With SMP coatings, you will get more neutral, lighter colors to hide potential paint chalking and fade down the years. PVDF offers neutrals as well as more vibrant, premium colors.

On top of the finish type, you should also keep the color tone in mind.

Reflective metal roof surface

Energy-efficient, lighter colors reflect solar rays better than darker colors. With less of the sun’s energy penetrating through your roof, the interior stays cooler.

A more temperate building puts less demand on air conditioning, which helps reduce energy bills.

5. Buy during the winter

Ice and snow on a metal roof

Image source: Metal Construction News

If you can afford to wait, buy your metal roofing sheets during the winter as both manufacturers and installers see less business during the cold season.

Reduced demand on inventory and labor typically pressures vendors and contractors to reduce prices.

You don't even need to install during the winter. Just placing an order during the off-season for a project several months in advance can net you more favorable pricing than buying during the high-demand summer months.

6. Hire the right metal roof installer

Of course, installing yourself will save you the costs of hiring a professional roofing contractor.

It's not as DIY-friendly of a home improvement project as it might seem, however.

Installing a metal roofing system correctly requires more technical expertise, safety equipment, and time investment than a typical do-it-yourself project.

In most cases, the best installer rarely means the cheapest one.

That’s why we emphasize the importance of hiring a qualified installer.

How to find a metal roofing installer

You can find local metal roofing installers near-instantly with the help of Google.

For each company, check out their customer reviews to appraise their reputation.

Put together a shortlist of candidates that meet your expectations. Then, you should ask them these questions to verify their credentials, warranty coverage, and precisely what their services entail.

This article dives deeper into the roofer hiring process to help you achieve a balance of affordability and quality.

If you don't have the hours to invest in research, feel free to use our pre-screened roofing company database.

We rank roofers near you from average to elite based on our rigorous point scoring system to help you find the best roofers faster.

Recapping the cheapest metal roofing sheets

When shopping for metal roofing sheets, zero in on the following to minimize costs:

Materials Galvanized steel or galvalume
Style Corrugated, crimped, or R-Panels
Gauge Thinner
Paint None or SMP-finish
Time of year Winter
Installer Good reputation, warranties, insured

 

Bear in mind that few, if any, manufacturers provide enough customization where you can check off all of the boxes for your individual roofing project.

However, you can keep your costs down by striving for these features in your next metal roof.

Don't forget that RoofingCalculator has helped countless homeowners pinpoint new roof costs for their unique needs.

With help from our free online calculator and just a few clicks, you can find professional metal roofing installation estimates based on your roof and local pricing data.

Start your project planning by typing in your address.

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