Is Tin Roofing the Right Fit for Your Home?

Tin roofing is a type of metal roof. It consists of a sheet of soft metal coated in a tinplate. Tin roofs are not as common today as they were 150 years ago. In the early 1900s, asphalt shingles entered the market, phasing tin out.

You can still purchase tin roofing, although it’s not as easy to find as corrugated metal, aluminum, and steel.

What Type of Metal is Tin?

Tin roofing

Even though tin is a type of metal roofing, not all metal roofs are tin. Most of today’s tin roofs contain a sheet of steel treated in a protective coating called terne or “tinplate.” Terne is a lead alloy consisting of lead and about 20% tin. 

What Do Tin Roofs Look Like?

It can be hard to distinguish a tin roof from other types of metal. Unpainted tin roofs are gray or white, but you can paint them any color. These roofs are common on old barns, farmhouses, and sheds – often looking like a thin metal sheet with an aged gray or white patina.

Pros and Cons of Tin Roofs

If you’re considering tin for your home or outbuilding, here’s a look at the pros and cons.


  • Long-lasting – A tin roof can last as long as aluminum, around 50 years.
  • Affordable – Tin roof comes in varying degrees of affordability – on the lower end, it’s more economical than comparable metals.
  • Look – An unpainted tin roof will age to a gray patina.
  • Paintable – You can paint tin or terne roofs any color.


  • Hard to find – Tin roofing products are much harder to find than steel or aluminum.
  • More expensive than asphalt shingles – If you’re looking for the best bang-for-the-buck, asphalt shingles are still the way to go.

How Much Does Tin Roofing Cost?

Roof metal sheets

The cost of tin roofs varies based on product and manufacturer. According to Forbes, expect to pay $300-$1,500 per sheet of tin roofing. One sheet contains 100 square feet. You’ll also need to account for labor, which averages $3,000 for residential roofing.

What Colors Does Tin Roofing Come In?

Tin roofing most often comes in a natural gray color. Left alone, the gray will age with time. But, you can paint tin roofs with oil-based paint or acrylic latex paint in any color you’d like.

Tin Roof vs. Asphalt Shingles: Which is the Better Buy?

Asphalt shingles reign dominate in terms of affordability. It costs $90 – $100 per square (100 square feet) of shingles, while tin roofing ranges from $300-$1,500 per square. Asphalt shingles are also easier to install.

When you look at longevity, tin roofs can last twice as long, sometimes even more.

Even when you factor in the lifespan of tin, asphalt shingles are less expensive. Asphalt shingles are the clear winner if you’re after a budget-friendly product. If you want a metal roof for its looks and character, tin is the better choice.

What’s the Difference Between Tin Roofing and Corrugated Metal?

Corrugated metal is steel with a wavy pattern. Corrugated roofing is inexpensive and one of the easiest types of metal to install. Tin roofing, on the other hand, is any soft metal with a terne coating. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)FAQ

How long does tin roofing last?

Tin roofs last, on average, 50 years. Factors that affect a roof’s lifespan include climate and upkeep.

How big are tin roofing sheets?

Tin roofing comes in many sizes. Standard widths are 26 and 36 inches, while lengths can span 8-12 feet.

Can a tin roof rust?

It’s not typical for a tin roof to rust, although it can tarnish. Rust can occur if the tin coating is scratched or wears off with time.

What kind of paint can you use on tin roofing?

If you want to paint your tin roof, you’ll need to use an oil-based alkyd or acrylic latex paint. No matter the choice, make sure the paint is for metal roofs. Depending on your chosen paint, you may need to add primer first.

Final Thoughts

If you’re considering a tin roof for your home or outbuilding, you’ll have a much harder time finding it than you would other types of metal. Today’s tin roofs are called terne roofs and contain a soft metal coated in a tinplate.

The most significant advantage to using tin for your roof is that it’s a long-lasting material that you can paint any color. But since this material is harder to find, you may pay a premium.