Although asphalt shingles are by far the most famous shingles used in houses all over the country, a lot of people are starting to use other types of shingles. A good option for those whom want endurance and resistance is using metal shingles. In addition, metal shingles are better for avoiding development of algae or other organisms on roofs. However, the price can be a bit of a turn off for some, so it all depends on your personal needs.
Another disadvantage of metal shingles is the relatively increased difficulty for installing them. Ironically, while this can be a problem for the person who wants to install his or her own metal shingles, it usually is not for the person who does not, since they will be hiring a contractor to take care of the installation.
Some people argue that not all contractors install metal shingles, even if they install other types of shingles, like wood shingles, tile shingles, and asphalt shingles. That is true, but on the other hand, manufacturers of metal shingles will usually give customers a list of licensed contractors they work with. This is a very common practice among shingles manufacturers. So common in fact, that most of them will not guarantee their products unless they are installed by one of their licensed contractors. Thus, even if they are a bit more expensive, they are worth the price since it means that you can forget about problems with your metal shingles for the next 10 or 20 years.
Metal shingles are made of steel or aluminum, depending on the level of resistance and malleability desired. Steel is definitely more resistant and heavier, but aluminum is more malleable and lighter. However, the aim of all manufacturers is to make them look like more classical materials, like wood, tile and slate. At first, metal shingles only looked similar to shingles made out of the material they were imitating, but with production techniques getting better and better, they are becoming increasingly indistinguishable from the real thing. This allows home owners to give their house a classic look, with the resistance and safety of steel or aluminum, specially against fire. Most metal shingles are covered with a coat of paint and pressed in order to give them these shapes, but other techniques that are also commonly used are texturing the metal and giving granulated stone topcoats to the shingles.
Finally, metal shingles are manufactured both in panels and individual shingles. Installing the panels is easier, however, as said before, you should leave the installation to the contractor.