Believe it or not, metal roofing has come into its own and is more in demand than you would think. With its rise in popularity, there are a myriad of roofing material choices available today. Most metal roofing manufacturers offer various metals as well as different metal roof styles and types. There are pros and cons with each metal and here is an overview of five (5) different ones, and what they have to offer.
There is no doubt that copper is a striking but expensive metal. It has its appeal for those who can afford it, but an entire copper roof is a rarity and any use of it is normally for accent purposes. Copper is a long lasting material as well and is often seen on historical structures that are well over a hundred years old. It is also seen on historical structures as well as steeples, domes and ceilings. In addition, copper is also attractive over different parts of a home or building such as, bay windows or dormers. Copper also works well as flashing when it’s combined with other types of metal roofs, though it doesn’t do well with aluminum and steel. Any close contact that copper has with a differing metal triggers an electrochemical process (galvanic action)that causes it to experience corrosion.
Copper does go through a transformation period that extends anywhere from eight to fifteen years. It takes on a patina sheen that acts as a barrier that adds increased durability to copper. Various types of copper in the form of shingles and other related roofing materials are available and can be found in the patina form or in a form where the patina comes on more slowly.
Pros of Copper
- extremely durable and lasting
- curb appeal
- solders and installs easily
Cons of Cooper
- streaking and runoff
- staining of other materials in proximity
- natural patina process takes time
Aluminum is an excellent choice in a metal roofing material for any area of the country. It’s particularly beneficial for homes in coastal regions, as it’s resistant to rust and salt corrosion. Besides being corrosion-resistant, aluminum is lightweight and energy-efficient, plus it’s available in different contours. It can resemble shingles, shakes, tiles, slate and standing seam. Aluminum roofing also comes in a number of colors, as it can be painted.
One problem with painted aluminum is its loss of luster over time, which diminishes the attractiveness of the metal. Another drawback with aluminum roofing is its cost. Aluminum can be expensive and falls between copper and steel as far as price is concerned. It has a thinner cut than steel so panels are not as thick and can be subject to the stress of severe wind and hurricanes.
Pros of Aluminum
- resistant to corrosion
- energy saving
- composed of recycled material
Cons of Aluminum
- less thick than other metals
- lacks resistance to strong winds and hail
Zinc is a good roofing material choice in spite of its not so familiar face in the marketplace. Though not as well known as a roofing material, zinc has made recent headway due to its eco-friendly nature. It’s recyclable and has a melting point that is lower than standard metals. Zinc requires a limited amount of energy in its production, and it has pliable qualities that allow for both commercial and residential applications.
An issue with this metal is the chalking effect, which happens when zinc ages. When zinc is not painted, it will appear almost blue-gray in color. As zinc is a soft metal, it will be vulnerable to wind storms, hail or debris. It is much like aluminum in those respects.
Pros of Zinc
- very durable (can last 100 years plus)
- eco-friendly choice
Cons of Zinc
- chalking effect
- installation difficulty
Steel is the hardest of all metals, and it is less expensive in comparison to copper, aluminum, and zinc. Steel has shown great strides as a roofing material and the latest improvements in paint systems have caused steel roofing to rank even higher. These newer paint processes allow for the imitation of the patina and luster that are found with copper and zinc, which gives steel a boost in the market.
There are two types of steel, which include:
Galvanized steel is the standard form for metal roofing material. It is made from carbon/iron steel along with a zinc coating that is metallic based. There is considerable protection with this type of coating as zinc is able to protect and repair through time, and extend the life of the steel. Galvanized steel structure and maintenance relies on the quality of zinc used. There are lesser grades available but they are not suitable for home roofing. It’s also not recommended for those who live in coastal areas as the salt air is extremely corrosive and will affect the life of galvanized steel.
Galvalume steel is also made from carbon/iron steel and has a coating of aluminum and zinc. This combination creates an enhanced aluminum. As aluminum resists and protects against corrosion, galvalume steel is made more durable and resistant to corrosion. Galvalume steel will, however, lose its self-protection over time and is susceptible to tiny cracks, particularly with its thinner zinc coating. Galvalume is found to be best for commercial roofing jobs as it provides smoother and more lustrous surface protection, but it can be subject to scratches and cuts.
Pros of Steel
- more budget-friendly
- often comes with warranties
- available in different looks
Cons of Steel
- shorter life in comparison to other metals
- susceptibility to rust without proper installation or use
- can be hard to work with
- must be cut using shearing action
A tin roof is comparable to and interchangeable with metal, galvanized steel, and steel roofing. It is a favorite choice of many homeowners and builders, in and outside of America. Tin is actually rather rare and not typically used for roofing. Like copper and zinc, tin is considered an element and was initially used in canning. It was later flattened out by do-it-yourself roofing enthusiasts in rural areas. They used it in this flattened form to make their own shingles when other materials were unavailable. Tin went by the wayside when aluminum was developed for container use, plus tin was no longer in use as a homemade building product.
Any mention of a tin roof today actually means a galvanized steel or aluminum roofing material. Tin has gone the way of the “tin can” and flattened roofs from several centuries ago, but the word itself still seems to have implication with do-it-yourself roofing. Any use of tin today is limited to scientific and technological aspects, so it is no longer in general use as a building or roofing material.
Metal roofing can be costly, and it has its positives and negatives. Once you weigh the advantages of any of them along with the costs you should be better able to make a choice that fits your budget and needs. You just need to find a good roofer experienced in metal roofing installation as well as know your logistics as to where the roof will be installed and what kind of forces and tensions your structure will be able to endure. If you have further questions concerning any of these five metals for roofing use, simply complete the online form and a representative will get back to you with the answers you need to decide whether metal roofing fits the bill for you and your current roofing needs.