Metal Roof vs Shingles: Which Is Better?

A well-maintained roof is essential for a warm, dry home. However, there are so many choices that it can be overwhelming when it comes time to select which is best, a metal roof vs shingles. Comparing the two types of roofing is often the easiest way to determine which is better for your home.

Asphalt shingles are less expensive and easier to install and replace. Metal roofing is more expensive but will last much longer, making it cheaper overall. Shingles make up about 80% of roofing finishes in the U.S.A. However, metal roofing is more durable, longer lasting, and more resistant to fire, solar heat, hail, winds, rain, and snow.

In this article, we’ll discuss steel and asphalt shingles, their pros and cons, and compare key factors. We’ll explain how both types respond to hot climates and are more likely to leak. We’ll look at applying metal over shingles and what problems this can create. Plus, we’ll identify if a metal roof will increase a home’s value, if it affects Wi-Fi, and whether it attracts lightning. Our aim is to assist you in determining which type of roofing, metal roofing vs asphalt shingles, is better for your home.

Metal Roof vs Shingles: Key Points

Choosing between metal roofing and asphalt shingles may come down to a matter of budget and aesthetics. However, although those are important priorities, they don’t address the true differences between the two types of roof protection. In the table below, we compare metal roofing and asphalt shingles based on common features to make the selection more than just a matter of looks and money.

Metal RoofAsphalt Shingles Roof
DurabilityHighly durableModerately durable
Lifespan50 to 100+ years10 to 25+ years
Energy SavingGood energy efficiencyPoor energy efficiency
CondensationDue to airspaces in the profile, condensation isn’t an issue except with standing or vertical seam roofingIf the attic is properly vented, condensation isn’t an issue
InstallationRequires more skill, but is DIYer friendlyRequires less skill and is DIYer friendly
Fire ResistanceClass A fire rating and resistant to external firesFlammable even with Class A rated fire resistance for 1 to 2 hours
WarrantyManufacturers offer 30 to 50-year or lifetime warranties for color and weather tightness, plus installers often offer 2 to 5-year warrantiesManufacturers offer 10 to 25-year prorated warranties against product defects with a few being longer, but most only have a 5 to 10-year wind warranty regardless of the shingle quality or type
NoiseWith proper insulation as quiet as asphalt shingles – the less insulation though, the noisier the roofQuieter with or without insulation
MaintenanceLess maintenance but more difficult to repairmore maintenance but easier to repair
WeightAluminum 0.69 pounds, copper 1.1 to 1.25 pounds, and steel 1.13 to 2.9 pounds per square foot depending on gauge or thickness and profile3-tab or strip shingle 1.95 pounds, architectural or dimensional 3.05 pounds, and premium 4.25 pounds per square foot
Cost$0.75 to $25.00 a square foot depending on the type, metal, style, and color, or $5.00 to $30.00 per square foot installed$0.80 to $2.50 a square foot depending on the type, style, and color, or $3.50 to $8.00 per square foot installed

Metal Roof

Metal Roof

Metal roofing is available in a wide variety of colors, styles, profiles, shapes, and finishes. Although steel alloys are the most common metal, aluminum, copper, and zinc are also frequent choices. Metal is impermeable and highly resistant to moisture, fire, and insects, and it’s long-lasting. All important factors when using them as roofing to protect the whole building, not just the roof.

Metal roof finishes are engineered and manufactured to last for 50-plus years. They come in long sheets, smaller panels, interlocking shingles, tiles, and other profiles. It can look like slate, asphalt shingles, cedar shakes, and Mediterranean clay tile, all while offering better protection than those they mimic. Corrugated metal roofing is the most common and has a symmetrical wave pattern. Standing seam roofing is more expensive and has interlocking seams which are stronger and more durable.

There are different ways used to fasten metal roofing that are also used to identify various types of roofing. There are exposed fastener roofing, hidden fastener roofing, and stamped roofing. Each with its own set of benefits. Hidden fasteners mean better protection against erosion and fastener damage but also cost more. Exposed screws mean they are visible and can be damaged by sliding ice and snow, but are less expensive and easier to repair.

Stamped and stone-coated roofing looks like other roofing materials and may have either hidden or exposed fasteners. Since it looks like other materials, it commonly has more seams than larger sheets or panels, so greater potential for moisture seepage. Plus, they are often more expensive too.

The more affordable metal roofing is typically galvanized steel which will last between 40 and 60 years or more. Aluminum is lighter than steel, more malleable, slightly more expensive, and can last as long as the house it’s protecting. Copper and zinc roofing are even more expensive but longer lasting. Metal roofing is very durable and even recyclable.

Pros and Cons of Metal Roofs

Pros and Cons of Metal Roofs

Metal roofing is an excellent option for roofing with many color choices, profiles, and styles, and although more expensive than some asphalt options, it has a longer lifespan.


  • Light-weight
  • Low maintenance
  • Wide selection of colors, styles, and looks
  • Can improve energy efficiency in summer or winter
  • Can imitate wood, asphalt, tile, slate, and other materials
  • Interlocking or overlapping to improve weather seal
  • Often made of recycled metals and is recyclable
  • Can last 50 to 75 years or more
  • Rot and flame-resistant
  • Extremely durable
  • Recyclable
  • Edges can be sharp
  • More expensive than asphalt
  • Large sheets or panels are awkward
  • Large panels are difficult to handle
  • Some metals corrode if damaged
  • Discoloration with aging

Asphalt Shingles Roof

Asphalt Shingles Roof

Asphalt shingles are the most commonly used roof covering in the United States and Canada. They’re easy to install, relatively inexpensive, and readily available. Plus, they come in rolls, sheets, strips, or bundles in a variety of colors, profiles, and weights.

Asphalt shingles are often referred to as composition or composite shingles. They first came into use in the 1890s as a more decorative and durable alternative to tarpaper. They are typically made of layers of petroleum asphalt, paper or cellulose, and/or fiberglass reinforcement matting, and are finished with colored granules of stone. Fiberglass-reinforced shingles first appeared in the 1960s and are known as fiberglass shingles or simply as asphalt shingles.

Shingles are often categorized as strip, 3-tab, dimensional, architectural, luxury, and premium shingles. Plus, there are specialty shingles. Strip shingles are lightweight and inexpensive narrow strips or rolls of single-layer composite asphalt with a flat profile. 3-tab shingles are a form of strip shingle that has been cut to look like 3 individual pieces or tabs.

Dimensional and architectural shingles have 2 or more asphalt layers for a thicker multi-dimensional look. They may look like 3-tab shingles, cedar shakes, or slate, or even have irregular tab lengths and widths for creative diversity. Since they are thicker, they also provide an improved barrier against moisture and carry a better warranty.

Luxury shingles are thicker and heavier and have greater appearance and color choices. They also mimic shakes and slate much more closely, as well as other profiles. The shingles are of higher quality and improve the protective barrier, but also are more expensive. Premium shingles are the top-grade shingle and offer the best protection, have the best shingle warranty, and are the most expensive.

In addition to asphalt or composition shingles, synthetic composite shingles joined the market in the 1990s. The layers are made of different synthetic rubber and plastic polymers and recycled materials. There are also polymer-modified asphalt shingles that blend elements of both asphalt and synthetic shingles.

Some shingles have special designations such as AR and IR. AR means the shingles are algae-resistant and aren’t supposed to develop black streaks or other algae growth indicators. IR means the shingles are impact-resistant and are Class 4 UL-certified, which is the best rating available for impact resistance.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Asphalt Shingles

Advantages and Disadvantages of Asphalt Shingles

Asphalt shingles, like most everything, are available in different qualities and price points. The quality affects the cost, design, and color choices, as well as the lifespan and effectiveness of the shingle.


  • Absorb heat for improved winter energy efficiency
  • Good selection of colors, shapes, and textures
  • Easy to replacement of damaged shingles
  • Provides a traditional look and uniformity
  • Some may last 40 to 50 years
  • Can look like wood shakes
  • Effective weather barrier
  • Inhibit noise penetration
  • Commonly available
  • Budget-friendly
  • Easy to install
  • DIY friendly
  • Lightweight
  • Versatile


  • Increase cooling costs
  • Most last 7 to 15 years
  • DIY can void warranties
  • Vulnerable to wind and heat
  • Granular color pieces fall off
  • Only recyclable in some areas
  • Oil based so environmentally unfriendly
  • Limited color options at lower price points

What is the Difference Between Metal Roofs and Shingles?


Difference Between Shingles and Metal Roofs

The roof of a building protects the whole structure and your investment from environmental issues. The better it is protected, the longer the roof and structure will last. So, a look at the differences between metal roofing and asphalt shingles is the best way to determine which is best for your roof.


Asphalt shingles can have different shaped edges and colors to please most palettes. They can mimic the terra cotta look of Mediterranean tiles, the scalloped look of Victorian homes, or the cedar shakes of Cape Cod but in a flatter profile. However, they typically have the more common look of slate.

Metal roofing has just as many shapes and looks as asphalt shingles, but in 3-D profiles, plus it offers a wider variety of color options. Whether galvanized steel, tin, aluminum, copper, zinc, or a blend of metals, metal roofing no longer offers just an industrial or rustic barnyard look. It too can mimic shingles, tiles, slate, and shake roofing, plus other profiles.


Asphalt shingles commonly wear and degrade more quickly than metal roofing, so need to be repaired or replaced more frequently. Even shingles rated for 25 years or more seldom last that long. Metal roofing provides better protection against the elements and will last 50 to 75 years or more. However, coastal regions that experience moist salt-borne winds tend to use non-ferrous metal roofing to prevent corrosion.

Metal roofing will also withstand strong winds, snow, hail, rain, and fire better than asphalt shingles. Additionally, metal stands up to UV exposure, mold, and mildew better, as well as rodents and other critters.


The climate commonly determines the life span of most roofing. Those that experience two seasons versus those that run the gamut of four seasons will often demonstrate different longevity.

There are both asphalt shingles and metal roofing that can last 50 or more years. However, typical low-cost 3-tab shingles usually last 10 to 15 years or less while the least expensive metal roofing will last 30 to 50 years or longer. More expensive roofing options typically have a longer life span provided they are installed correctly and properly maintained.

Energy Saving

Metal roofing often has reflective coatings which help them stay cooler in hot cycles, thus reducing the heat transfer and helping to reduce cooling costs. Unfortunately, that doesn’t help much during cold seasons.

Asphalt shingles tend to absorb heat and transfer it into the attic or building, thus making cooling more expensive during hot seasons. However, during cold seasons the heat transfer can be beneficial, but since the shingles tend to hold snow better, the heat transfer is limited. Overall, though, metal roofing tends to improve energy efficiency by 10% to 40% depending on seasonal variables.

Color Options

The color of a roof often depends upon the building’s color, architectural style, and location. Some roof coloring looks better with certain siding or brick colors or house styles, and some colors attract less heat than others. Many homeowners and builders use certain colors to boost curb appeal or to better blend with the surroundings. So, the greater the color selection of roofing material, the better.

Asphalt shingles typically use different colors of granules for coloring. Less expensive shingles commonly have limited color selections while architectural and premium shingles use greater blends of colors to create a more dimensional look and greater curb appeal. Additionally, darker colors hide stains better than lighter colors, and also absorb more heat, so are more widely used in cold or wet climates than lighter colors.

Different manufacturers offer a couple of dozen color choices, often with creative names, but usually in six main hues – light browns, dark browns, gray to black, blues, greens, and off-white. Plus, some offer specialty colors.

Metal roofing, like asphalt shingles, also comes in a variety of colors but with a much broader palate selection of 100 or more colors. Plus, the colors typically are more solid, so have greater ‘pop’, which can either have positive or negative curb appeal.

Different colors and coatings absorb or reflect solar energy and often have a solar reflectivity (SR) rating, emissivity (E) rating, or solar reflective index (SRI) rating. Darker colors tend to be lower on the scales than lighter colors.


Depending on where you reside, the selection of roofing options may be limited, especially if you only rely on local suppliers. Most retailers carry a limited range of products from select suppliers, but some will special order others in. However, with the use of the internet, it is possible to access a much greater selection of colors, styles, and materials, that can be shipped to a local supplier, your home, or your building site.

I was recently involved in a build in the middle of nowhere, and the owner had the roofing delivered from a manufacturer several hundred miles away. The additional delivery charge amounted to $1.50 per mile – which was actually less than the closest big box store was charging for a shorter distance!


Metal roofing and asphalt shingles can both be susceptible to condensation if the home isn’t properly vented, sealed, and insulated. Condensation from the living space can collect in the attic and cause mold, mildew, and rot. In most situations where moisture escapes through the roof decking to the underside of the roofing, the moisture will drain out and cause little or no damage.

The exception is standing or vertical seam steel roofing where the metal is in direct contact with the roof decking. This means there is little if any air gap to allow moisture to escape. If that is a possibility, use a quality underlay that is highly breathable.


Metal roofing is usually more challenging to install and requires more costly tools to cut, plus the edges are sharp! Setting and driving fasteners into metal roofing is also more difficult and time-consuming than driving shingle nails. However, hex-head screws used for metal roofing are easier to back out if placement needs to be adjusted or to carry out repairs.

Large sheets of metal roofing can be difficult to lift and maneuver, whereas a bundle of shingles can be opened so you only carry what you can manage. Metal shingles can actually weigh less than asphalt shingles for the same coverage, but cutting metal takes longer to do than cutting asphalt.


When looking at warranties make sure to review those from the manufacturer and from the installer or contractor. Many manufacturers offer prorated or limited warranties, so the older the roofing, the less the coverage, or they only replace those that need to be.

Most pros offer a 1 to 5-year warranty on issues related to installation, such as leaks around valleys and skylights. Unfortunately, many also have clauses addressing acts of nature that exclude damage to shingles or some leaks. However, most insurance companies offer coverage for those situations.

Metal roofing is commonly warranted for 30 to 50 years, although there are some that even offer a lifetime warranty. Plus, some metal roofing manufacturers’ warranties are transferable to future owners. Many metal roofing manufacturers offer weathertight warranties against leaks, and color-fast or paint warranties against fading or discoloration. Installer’s or contractor’s warranties should be good for 2 to 5 years, the longer the better.

Asphalt shingle warranties range from 10 to 25 years and typically only cover shingle failure. To determine if it’s their fault, the company usually tests several damaged shingles to determine if it was a manufacturing issue – if it isn’t a fault in the shingle manufacture, they don’t cover it.

If the shingles are faulty, they commonly cover 100% of the shingle cost in the first 5 years, not the repair costs. Plus, they typically only replace faulty shingles. So, if any discoloration or fading has occurred, the replaced shingles will be noticeable. Look for a warranty that provides the best coverage for the longest time.


Metal roofing traditionally has been noisier during rain and hail storms than asphalt shingles. However, with greater insulation values in the ceiling, the noise is much more muted and similar to the noise produced on asphalt shingle roofs.

Fire Resistance

Both metal roofing and asphalt shingles are Class A fire rated. Firefighters prefer shingles, either asphalt or metal, over sheet metal if a house has an internal fire. It is easier to break through the roof deck and direct water at a fire. However, if the fire is external to the house, they prefer metal over asphalt as it is more resistant to fire. Most non-metal shingles have a 1 to 2-hour fire resistance, so are more worrisome if the fire is external.

Snow Retention

The slope of a roof typically affects snow retention, as does the finish of the roofing. Metal roofing commonly has a smoother finish than shingles and will shed snow easier than asphalt shingles.

HOA Restrictions

Most HOAs require adherence to a set of roofing colors, styles, and materials in an effort to maintain or improve the property values of their community members. Many prefer uniformity and have a specific list from which to choose, with some prohibiting metal roofing and others against asphalt shingles. So, before building or replacing existing roofing, check the HOA guidelines for any restrictions.


Maintenance is the key to improving the longevity and protection offered by a roofing material. Asphalt shingles typically require more maintenance, though, than metal roofing. They can clip, flip, curl, and disintegrate depending on climatic conditions and are more likely to grow moss, algae, or fungi, so, will require cleaning, repair, and replacing.

A visual check and repair yearly for loose or missing fasteners and to remove debris is typically the limit of steel roof maintenance. However, flashing and sealing around any vents, pipes, skylights, chimneys, and valleys on all roof types should be inspected yearly for cracking, shrinkage, and wear, and repaired or replaced if necessary.


Sheet metal roofing usually weighs more than individual asphalt shingles and is more unwieldy to maneuver. However, a square foot of metal roofing typically weighs half as much as the same size of asphalt shingle. So, it is much lighter on the roof structure. A 3-tab or strip shingle weighs about 1.95 pounds, architectural or dimensional 3.05 pounds, and premium about 4.25 pounds. Aluminum weighs approximately 0.69 pounds per square foot, copper 1.1 to 1.25 pounds, and steel roofing between 1.13 to 2.9 depending on gauge or thickness and profile.


Cost is often the tipping point for many buyers, especially if they don’t plan to own the home for an extended period. The cost of asphalt shingles depends on where you live and which type you want, and whether you hire a pro or DIY. The same applies to metal roofing. Additionally, the cost of valleys, ridges, and flashing around openings in the roof deck increases the cost as they are weak areas in the protection offered by any roofing.

3-Tab shingles are the most common and among the least expensive roofing option, and range from $0.80 to $1.50 a square foot. Architectural shingles often run from $1.00 to $1.75 a square foot, and designer or premium shingles are between $1.50 and $2.50 a square foot. Special starter shingles cost $0.35 to $2.25 per linear foot and hip/ridge shingles $1.50 to $4.25 per linear foot.

The cost of metal roofing can vary from $0.75 to $30.00 a square foot depending on the type of metal, style, profile, and color. Galvalume ranges from $0.75 to $2.50 a square foot, galvanized steel $2.00 to $3.50, and aluminum sheets $2.00 to $6.00.

Aluminum shingles run from $5.00 to $7.00 a square foot, standing steel seam roofing $4.00 to $6.00, and stone-coated steel $3.50 to $4.50. If you want more exotic roofing, expect to pay $6.00 to $9.00 a square foot for zinc, $10.00 to $16.00 for stainless steel, $4.00 to $12.00 for tin, and $15.00 to $25.00 for copper.

Other costs to take into account for asphalt and metal roofing include sealants, adhesives, fasteners, ice guard, vents, and different types or qualities of protective underlayment or membranes between the roof deck and roofing. Removing old roofing or strapping over it also adds to the cost.

Hiring the pros can easily double, triple, or quadruple the cost per square foot, while DIY saves money, but can void any warranties. The roof deck is typically larger than the structure, so if calculating it yourself, make sure to measure accurately.

A simple way to look at the real cost is to calculate the initial cost plus the life cycle cost and maintenance costs. A 3-tab roof may cost $5000 while a steel roof with exposed fasteners on the same roof $12,000. If you’re lucky, the 3-tab shingles will last 10 to 15 years while the steel will last 40 to 60 years, or longer.

Most roofs can carry two layers of shingles before they need to be removed, which adds to the lifecycle costs. That means replacing the asphalt shingles 3 to 6 times compared to the steel roofing. So, in the life span of a house, a metal roof will cost less.

Metal Roof vs Shingles: Pros and Cons

Metal Roof Installation

The type of roofing may be a matter of budget and aesthetics or the dictate of an HOA, but it’s still important to look at the pros and cons. Metal roofing is lighter, more durable, and will last 50 to 75 years or longer. So, although it is more expensive initially, its cost over its life span is less. Plus, it can save you 10% to 40% on your cooling bills, decrease insurance costs, and improve resale values.

On the other hand, asphalt shingles are cheaper to purchase, install, and easier to effect repairs on, and they offer marginally better energy saving during cold seasons – according to studies by the US Department of Energy.

Metal Roof vs Shingles in Hot Climate

When comparing metal roofing to asphalt shingles it is important to take seasonal or climatic variables into account. Hot climates or seasons can have an enormous impact on utility costs, and the lifespan of different roofing materials, as can roofing color – dark colors attract more heat than lighter colors.

It is important to note, too, that the amount of insulation in the home should be considered. Overall, metal roofing outperforms asphalt shingles in durability, heat reflection, and energy savings.

Asphalt shingles, especially darker colors, absorb large amounts of heat which is transferred into the structure below. It can raise the inside temperature by as much as 25°F or more, especially in uninsulated spaces. Thus, making it more costly to keep a home cool. Additionally, solar heat can increase deterioration and cause shingles to crack and curl, making them more susceptible to wind, rain, and snow damage.

Metal roofing tends to reflect the sun’s heat and remains much cooler than asphalt shingles in the same environment. Its reflective quality makes it easier and less expensive to cool a building, potentially saving 10% to 40% on utility bills. They are also more resistant to fire too. Some metal roofing is coated with reflective paint, making them even more energy efficient.

Do Metal Roofs Leak More Than Shingles?

Proper installation and maintenance are key to preventing any roofing material from leaking. A metal roof will shed rain, snow, and condensation better and last longer than asphalt shingles. Plus, it will resist wind and extreme weather conditions better too. Since asphalt shingles are less durable, they are more likely to leak than a properly installed and maintained metal roof.

Metal Roof Over Shingles Problems

It is fairly common to install a replacement layer of asphalt shingles over a worn layer, but after that, both must be removed and replaced. It is, however, also possible to install metal roofing over a single layer of existing shingles. Unfortunately, either practice means that the roof deck, the wood under the shingles, can’t be properly inspected and repaired if necessary.

If the roof deck is damaged, the additional weight of new roofing over the existing shingles could cause it to bend, bow, or fail. Metal roofing is lighter than asphalt shingles per square foot, so if it’s too heavy then any other material would be too much for the roof deck. Another problem is ensuring that the underlayment is properly installed which is more difficult over an existing layer of shingles and can lead to it failing.

Venting is another potential problem. Most shingle roofs use roof deck vents near the ridge while many metal roofs use ridge vents and caps. That means tearing off the old vents, patching the holes, removing the ridge shingles, and cutting open the ridge before installing metal ridge caps and vents. If you’re going to have to dispose of some old shingles, it’s better to remove them all.

Old worn asphalt shingles under a layer of new metal roofing will make it more difficult to carry out repairs in the future. Plus, old shingles may retain moisture which won’t be able to escape through the metal. The trapped moisture can damage the roof decking or cause mold and mildew growth in the attic.

It is also important to note that the old roofing material was failing, so why leave it underneath a new roofing material to fester and cause problems? It’s done its job, remove it, check and repair the roof decking, and install the new metal roofing properly so it will last its full lifespan.

Do Metal Roofs Attract Lightning?

Lightening has a tendency to strike tall objects or those that offer the best path to its destination. There has been extensive research into lightning strikes on roofs, and metal is no more attractive than asphalt, slate, tile, cedar shakes, or other materials.

However, metal is a conductor, so should a bolt strike a metal roof, it tends to dilute the lightning’s energy. Plus, metal isn’t combustible, so it is less likely to burst into flame with a strike. Additionally, the use of lightning rods connected to metal ground rods, usually with copper wire, provides a direct path for lightning energy to follow. A metal roof is typically grounded too, further protecting your home.

Can Metal Roofing Be Installed Over Asphalt Shingles?

It is common practice to install a new layer of shingles over an existing layer. Since metal roofing is lighter than asphalt shingles, it too can be installed over existing shingles. This means the asphalt shingles don’t have to be removed or disposed of. Thus, generating savings in both removal and disposal, and also accelerating the installation of the new roof.

Does Metal Roof Increase Home Value?

Metal roofing is more expensive than asphalt shingles and so is deemed more desirable by many buyers, so it will increase the value of a home. The value obviously depends on the style, quality, and to some extent the color, but the return is typically around 70% of the investment. Metal roofing is also more durable, fire resistant, longer lasting and often carries a transferable warranty, all of which contribute to it improving a home’s value.

Does a Metal Roof Affect WiFi?

Metal and electronics can affect WiFi signals if they block the incoming or outgoing signal. However, metal roofing is unlikely to interfere with wireless signals. Consider that many industrial, office and commercial buildings are clad in metal roofing and walls, and their WiFi works.

Additionally, if your signal is transmitted into the structure from cable or a satellite dish to a modem and router, then the roof has no effect. So, if you’re experiencing WiFi interruptions, it is likely something other than the roof.

Is a Metal Roof Better Than Shingles?

Metal roofing is more expensive than asphalt shingles but will last longer, so in the life span of the house, it typically offers the better return for the money. Metal roofing is more durable and boasts better resistance to fire, wind, snow, hail, and rain than asphalt shingles. It is also recyclable and improves resale values too. Plus, it reflects solar heat whereas shingles absorb it.

Thus, making metal roofing also more energy efficient for home cooling. However, asphalt shingles are less expensive initially and easier to install or repair. Shingles are also much more common, so from an aesthetic perspective, they usually blend better in residential areas.

Hopefully, you have a better understanding of the differences between asphalt shingles and metal roofing and feel better prepared to select the best roofing for your home.

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