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Aluminum vs. Steel vs. Galvalume: A  Comparison for Your Metal Roofing Needs

March , 2023 | 10 min. read

By Nicole Corson

2 story home with brown metal roof

Are you considering metal for your upcoming roof replacement, but unsure which type of metal material to choose? With the investment that comes with buying a new metal roof, you want to be sure you make the right choice. Right?

We get it. And with the options available, it can be overwhelming to decide between aluminum, steel, and galvalume. Each type of metal has unique properties that make it suitable for different applications.

At RoofCrafters, we've spent the past 30 years helping our clients make educated decisions about their roofing investments. And we understand the importance of choosing the best roofing material. We do our best to help our clients get the for their budget. Now we want to share that experience with you.

house on a lake with a standing seam metal roof

In this article, we'll explore the differences between aluminum, steel, and galvalume, and discuss the pros and cons of each material. We'll also cover the different applications for each type of metal. We'll provide guidance to help you decide which of the 3 metals is the best fit for your investment.

By the end of this article, you'll have a better understanding of aluminum, steel, and galvalume. And hopefully, you'll be better prepared to make a well-informed decision about your upcoming metal roofing project.

Let's dive in!

What is Aluminum and When Is It Best to Use?


Aluminum is a lightweight and corrosion-resistant metal. It's often used in construction(windows, doors, siding, roofing) and manufacturing(beer and coke cans!). It's a popular choice for metal roofing because of its durability and resistance to rust and corrosion. It's a great option for coastal areas

large home with red standing seam metal roof

Aluminum is best used in situations where weight is a concern, such as on lightweight or low-sloped roofs. It's also a top choice for coastal areas because of its resistance to salt corrosion. Additionally, because aluminum is a soft metal, it can be easily formed and shaped into various styles and designs.

At RoofCrafters, we recommend aluminum for homeowners who are looking for a durable and long-lasting metal. It's the best option for homeowners who want a painted metal roof and live in areas prone to salt corrosion. It's a more affordable option compared to other metal roofing materials, such as copper or zinc. Plus, aluminum is available in a variety of styles and colors, so it can complement any home's design.


  • Lightweight: Aluminum is one of the lightest metals used in roofing, making it a good choice for homes that can't support heavier materials.
  • Corrosion-resistant: Aluminum is resistant to corrosion and rust. It's ideal for coastal areas or regions with high humidity.
  • Fire-resistant: Aluminum has a high melting point and does not burn. Which means it can withstand high temperatures without catching fire. 
  • Energy efficiency: Aluminum has high reflectivity, which means that it reflects the sun's rays instead of absorbing them. This can help to keep your home cooler in the summer and reduce your energy bills.
  • Color options: There are many color options available with aluminum metal roofing. Compared to other types of roofing.
  • Long-lasting: Aluminum roofing can last up to 50+ years with minimal maintenance.
  • Low maintenance: Compared to other roofing materials, aluminum requires minimal maintenance over its lifespan. This will save you time and money in the long run.


  • More Expensive: Aluminum is more expensive than other roofing materials. Such as Steel or Galvalume metal and asphalt shingles.
  • Soft: Aluminum is a softer metal, which makes it more susceptible to denting from hail or falling tree limbs.
  • Noisy: The softness of aluminum can also make it louder during rain or hail storms compared to other roofing materials.



The exact cost will depend on a number of factors, including the size and complexity of your roof, your location, and the cost of labor in your area. On average, you can expect to pay between $13 and $19 per square foot for aluminum roofing installation. That's $39,000 to $57,000 for a home that is around 3000 square feet.

Image call to action, use the pricing calculator to estimate the cost of your roof replacement

What is Steel and When Is It Best to Use?


Steel is an incredibly strong and durable metal that has been used in construction for centuries. Steel roofing is a popular choice among homeowners due to its strength, resistance to the elements, and longevity. It's commonly used in commercial buildings, industrial facilities, and residential homes.

black metal roof on a beautiful home

Steel is best used in situations where durability and strength are important. It's an excellent choice for areas that experience extreme weather conditions, such as high winds, heavy rain, and hail. Steel roofing is also ideal for homes with flat or low-sloped roofs, as it doesn't crack or break under pressure.

We recommend steel for homeowners who want a cost-effective and low-maintenance painted metal. Steel roofing is only available painted. Like a car, it will rust without a paint finish. The good news is it's available in a wide variety of styles and colors. Also, you'll need to live at least 1500 feet away from the ocean. That's about a 10 min walk in case you're like me and don't get the feet thing! 


  • Durability: Steel roofing is strong. It's incredibly durable and can withstand harsh weather conditions, including high winds, heavy rain, and hail. 
  • Longevity: With proper installation and maintenance, steel roofing can last up to 50+ years. 
  • Range of gauges: Steel is available in a range of gauges. Including 22, 24, 26, and 29 gauges, allowing for greater flexibility in choosing the appropriate thickness for your home. (24 & 26 gauge are the most popular)
  • Fire-resistant: Steel roofing is fire-resistant. This will provide more safety and protection for your home. 
  • Color options: Steel comes in a wide range of colors and styles. You can easily find a design that complements the look of your home. Additionally, steel is often coated with a reflective finish that can help reduce energy costs. Reflecting sunlight and keeping your home cooler in the summer months.
  • Low maintenance: Steel roofing requires minimal maintenance and can be easily cleaned with a pressure washer or by hand. 


  • More expensive: Steel is more expensive than traditional roofing materials like asphalt shingles. It also can be prone to price fluctuations based on market conditions.
  • Heavy: Steel roofing is heavier than other roofing materials. This can cause an increase in labor costs because it's slower and more difficult to install. 
  • Susceptible to rust: If the steel roofing isn't properly coated(paint), it can be susceptible to rust and corrosion over time. 
  • Scratching and denting: Steel roofing can scratch and dent from hail, tree branches, or other debris. If this occurs it will rust, so scratches will need paint.



The cost of steel varies depending on many factors, including the square footage of your roof, the type of steel you choose, and your location. On average, you can expect to pay between $8 to $17 per square foot for steel roofing installation.

What is Galvalume and When Is It Best to Use?


Galvalume is a coated metal product that is made of steel and aluminum coating. It's known for its durability, strength, and resistance to rust and corrosion. Galvalume is a popular choice for metal roofing because it's affordable and lasts.

Galvalume standing seam metal roof

Galvalume is best used in situations where you need a metal roofing material that's both durable and cost-effective. It's also ideal for areas with extreme weather conditions or exposure to saltwater, as it's highly resistant to rust and corrosion. Galvalume does not come in a painted finish. It comes as a mill-finish product. Galvalume is great for homeowners who want a roof with a long lifespan that requires minimal maintenance.

We recommend Galvalume for homeowners who want a strong and reliable roofing material that is also affordable. If you don't want a painted finish and love the mill finish look, Galvalume is perfect. It's also a great option if you live in coastal areas or regions with extreme weather conditions. 


  • Affordable: Galvalume is a more affordable roofing material than other metal options, such as copper or zinc. 
  • Durable: Galvalume is durable and can last for up to 60 years with proper installation and maintenance. 
  • Weather Resistant: Galvalume is resistant to rust and corrosion. Making it ideal for areas with extreme weather conditions or exposure to saltwater. 
  • Low Maintenance: Galvalume requires minimal maintenance compared to other roofing materials.


  • Not Ideal for High Acidic Areas: Galvalume is highly resistant to rust and corrosion. Yet it's not suitable for areas with high levels of acidity, such as industrial or agricultural areas. 
  • One Color: Galvalume is not available in colors. Galvalume comes in a mill finish. 
  • Scratches: Galvalume can be prone to scratching during installation, which may affect the appearance of the roof.


The cost of Galvalume will depend on various factors, including the size and complexity of your roof, your location, and the cost of labor in your area. On average, you can expect to pay between $7 to $16 per square foot for Galvalume roofing installation. It's a more affordable option compared to other metal roofing materials, such as aluminum or steel.


Now that you've learned some of the pros, cons, and costs of aluminum, steel, and galvalume. By considering factors such as strength, durability, corrosion resistance, and costs. You can better decide on the right metal material for your roof replacement. With any roofing investment, you'll want to choose a material that'll provide long-lasting protection and value for your home. 

How to Ensure Proper Installation for Your Metal Roofing: The Importance of Choosing the Right Roofer


The quality of your metal roofing installation is just as important as the quality of the metal itself. Even if you choose the best metal an improper installation can reduce the lifespan and performance of your new roof. That's why it's crucial to work with an experienced and reputable metal roofing company. 

Metal installation is a specialized skill, it requires craftsmanship. A professional metal roofing installer has the expertise and knowledge to ensure that your new roof will perform as expected. Find a company that specializes in the installation of metal roofing. 

At RoofCrafters, we have over 30 years of experience in the metal roofing industry. We've installed countless metal roofs with exceptional results. We use only the highest-grade metal. Our team of skilled metal roofing professionals will ensure you get the highest quality installation. Ready to get started?

image call to action, schedule an inspection

We hope that you now have a better understanding of the most popular types of metal roofing materials available. It's important to get the right metal materials and skilled metal roof installers for your metal roofing project. We want you to get the greatest lifespan for your metal roof investment. Happy roofing!

Nicole Corson

At RoofCrafters, our mission is to provide job opportunities for others to thrive and grow while making a meaningful impact within our communities.