Metal roofing: Deep dive

August 20, 2021

KPI Roofing Metal Roofs

For hundreds of years, metal roofs have been dotting landscapes. While that used to be the case only in rural regions, metal roofs have been gaining popularity in urban and suburban areas. There are many reasons why that is happening. We’ll take a look at the pros and cons, popular metal roof materials, and how metal roofing is made.

Longevity and looks

Metal roofs are a tried and true option for protecting your home. Most come with a 30-year warranty, but they typically last at least 40 years, and have been known to last 70 years or longer, even with minimum maintenance. This longevity can result in up to a 35% discount on insurance premiums. Rustproof coatings can help keep them looking their best throughout that lifespan.

You can decide what look is best for you, from a variety of colors to a variety of styles, including those that mimic other materials. No matter what style of home you have, there is a metal roofing option that will complement it.

Durability and safety

Not only are metal roofs long lasting, but also durable. If installed correctly, they can sustain wind gusts of up to 140 mph, the equivalent of an F2 tornado. Metal roofs are not immune to hail damage, but they do hold up better than other options. They’re certainly better at preventing water damage, and they cannot rot or be damaged by termites. Snow and ice slide off metal roofs, so you don’t have to worry about damage from ice dams, but you do need to be mindful that snow avalanching off your roof could do damage in other ways.

Some worry about metal roofs being struck by lightning, but any electricity from a lightning strike is safely transferred to the ground below without harming inhabitants.

Energy efficient and environmentally friendly

Metal roofs reflect the sun’s ultraviolet and infrared light rays that contribute to roof surface radiant heat. Doing so reduces cooling costs by 10 to 25%.

Reducing energy benefits the environment, and so does reducing waste. Metal roofs contain 25 to 95% recycled content, and are 100% recyclable. Asphalt shingles, on the other hand, are almost always discarded, with up to 20 billion pounds ending up in landfills annually, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Metal roofs can be installed over asphalt shingles, which eliminates that waste.

Metal roofs can also be coupled with solar panels, rainwater harvesting systems, and/or photovoltaic systems, increasing the environmental benefit.

Return on investment

Many buyers appreciate the benefits of metal roofs. This can lead to a 1 to 6 percent increase in resale value. It is further estimated that you’ll recoup an average of 86 percent of your costs on a metal roof.

Sticker shock

That doesn’t necessarily make the upfront cost easier to swallow. Metal roofs are at least two to three times more expensive than asphalt shingles. However, they usually last at least two to three times as long.

What’s that noise?

It’s true that metal roofs can be noisier than other options during heavy rain or hail, but sheathing and insulation dull much of the noise. Some people find the noise soothing, as evidenced by popular YouTube videos.

Oh hail no!

While metal roofs hold up better than asphalt shingles, they can be damaged by large hail. Copper roofs are most susceptible to such damage.

The match game

Metal roofing can be difficult to replace if damaged, and it can be difficult matching the existing color when making repairs or adding on to an existing home.

Expansion and contraction

Metal roofing can expand and contract as it warms and cools. This can put pressure on fasteners, which have varying life spans.

Slippery when wet

Metal roofs can be slippery, especially when wet or covered with snow. Walking on metal roofs should be avoided when possible, but if there is a reason to be on a metal roof, special footwear should be worn to prevent injury and/or damage.

Quality installation is key

If metal roofs are not installed correctly, water can accumulate and cause serious damage. Improper installation can also lead to metal roofs failing at the seams.

Copper is king

Copper has been used for roofs for centuries, and has a life expectancy of 100-plus years. That longevity comes with a hefty price tag. Not only is copper the most expensive option, it is also most prone to hail damage.

A is for aluminum

Aluminum is also long lasting, and typically cheaper than copper, but more expensive than steel. Because of its cost, some opt for thinner sheets of aluminum, which are susceptible to hail damage.

Z is for zinc

Zinc can last 100-plus years but, like copper, is soft and vulnerable to hail damage. It is more environmentally friendly than other options, because it takes one-fourth as much energy to process it. You’re more likely to see a zinc roof on a commercial building than a home.

Tough as steel

Steel is the cheapest option, in part because it is easily attainable. It is also a green option, as steel is the most recycled material on earth. Most importantly, though, it holds up well to hail.

Galvanized steel is created by adding a layer of zinc, which protects from corrosion. It is the most popular option because it is the least expensive, durable, and withstands expansion and contraction. Other types of steel include galvalume, which is coated with a combination of zinc and aluminum; and weathering, which has an outer layer that intentionally rusts and requires maintenance.

What about tin?

Tin roofs were common years ago because tin is inexpensive and pliable, but tin has not withstood the test of time.

What’s your type?

Standing seam is the most common type of metal roof. It utilizes thicker gauge metal and requires less maintenance than alternatives, has been tested to high standards, has better warranties, and lasts at least 50 years.

Stamped metal shingles offer a lot of variety, as they can resemble asphalt shingles, shakes, tiles, and slate to provide a traditional look. Because of that, they cause less headaches with HOAs and city ordinances. But, they aren’t tested to the same standards as standing seam roofs and don’t have as appealing of warranties. They also can’t be used on low slopes, while standing seam roofing can.

How it’s made

Standing seam metal is made of metal coil that can be roll-formed by contractors on-site or in a metal shop to meet exact specifications. Rolls can be customized to make many different seam profiles.

Stamping presses are used to make metal shingles. The profile is stamped out first, then the locks. Most are painted with high quality primer and paint.

How to decide

Metal roofing is far superior to asphalt shingles when it comes to durability and longevity, but those benefits come at a cost. It is important to weigh the pros and cons. If you want to invest in your home for the long haul, metal roofing is your best bet. If upfront cost is your biggest consideration, you’ll need to look elsewhere.

No matter what you decide, KeyPrime is here to help. Visit keyprimeroofing.com or call 952-522-2106 for a free consultation.


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