Let’s make it clear from the beginning: Metal roofs are a smarter idea than asphalt shingles in warm climates. But why? And why does it have to look so bad?

The reality today is that metal roofing isn’t like the corrugated tin people put on chicken coops and storage barns decades ago. Today’s metal roofing is available in many types, styles and colors. And since homes are being designed differently now, metal roofing often fits right in.

But surely all that metal makes a home hotter, doesn’t it?

Actually, asphalt shingles absorb more heat, and that heat doesn’t stop at the shingles. It absorbs into your home’s structure, contributing to an indoor increase in temperature of up to 20 to 25 degrees, according to studies. Metal roofing, however, reflects away much of the sun’s hot rays, leading to an energy savings that can reach 50 percent. That’s easy to prove by measuring the temperature of an asphalt roof verses a high-quality metal roof. The metal roof can be as much as 100 degrees cooler in the same conditions, according to research.

There’s another factor: Shingles weaken with sun exposure, curling and cracking, decreasing their effectiveness against sun, rain wind and other environmental forces and leading to early replacement. Metal doesn’t take in the heat as much, so it doesn’t degrade because of it. It can last the entire life of a home with little maintenance, reflecting away heat all that time.

But those who’ve experienced a tin roof in an outbuilding or makeshift structure know how hot it can get. That heat, however, isn’t absorbed and held for a long period of time as it is with asphalt shingles. Dark shingles release heat into buildings while reflective metal reflects much of it away.

Sources put the price of metal roofing at perhaps two or three times as much as shingle roofing, although that may be a bit exaggerated. Still, there are many savings in the long term. These include tax breaks in some cases, insurance discounts and better warranties. And since metal roofing is fireproof, doesn’t need much maintenance and can reduce your reliance on air conditioning, it’s an intelligent choice for a hot climate whether the air is dry or humid most of the time.

Here are a few factors to consider to get the best value in a warm climate from a metal roof:

Installation matters. Poor installation leads to less efficiency — and leaks too.
Value comes over time. Cost savings aren’t immediately, but long-term savings are substantial.
Metal is green. That is, it’s sustainable and fits many modern building code requirements.
There’s little waste. Metal roofing is made from recycled materials and can be easily reused and recycled.

The payoffs are great, don’t you think, for stylish roofing you’ll be proud to show off for years to come?