A steel roof is a lifetime investment, lasting 50 years or more if it’s a good one. Asphalt roofs typically last 20 to 30 years, depending on the installation and shingle quality. So, the investment might be worth it, except the range of choices makes shopping for a steel roofing system more complicated than you might think

If you want to install steel over asphalt, your best choice is to use a steel shingle system like the one shown instead of the more common (and more expensive) standing seam steel. In a standing seam roof, long, single panels run vertically all the way from the eave to the ridge. In contrast, steel shingles are small panels installed in horizontal rows much like other shingles

Better steel shingle systems, like the one shown, install over a framework of 2x2s. This framework has three big advantages. First, because of the fact that the frame is screwed directly to the rafters and the interlocked shingles are screwed to the frame, the roof can withstand winds of up to 120 mph without damage. Second, the frame creates a flat and straight surface even when the shingles are badly curled or the roof ridge is bowed

Finally, the frame creates a ventilation gap that helps prevent ice dams in the winter and cools the roof and the house in the summer. To vent the roof, holes are cut in the old roof (Detail 1) above the soffit, which pulls air through the soffit vents underneath. Cool outside air then travels under the shingles to the vented ridge (Detail 2), pulling out moisture and heat