By the mid-1800s, mass-produced steel began covering ordinary homes and barns. Today, the metal roofing market has soared in popularity and nearly quadrupled in the last 20 years.
More homeowners than ever before are tossing out the asphalt shingles and opting for a premium metal roof. It’s easy to see why. A metal roof will last 50 years or more, boost a home’s resale value, and is basically maintenance-free.
Metal roofing is one of the best ways to keep your home cool and dry for decades to come.
Types of Metal Roofing
There are several different types of metal roofs. They all carry longevity, eco-friendliness, strength, and low maintenance but the installation, appearance, and cost can be vastly different based on the type of metal roof you choose.
- Exposed Fastener – An exposed fastener roof is one where you can see the fasteners on the roof, they are not hidden by seams or ribs. This is one of the most budget-friendly and popular styles of metal roofing systems.
- Standing Seam Systems – In a standing seam system, the fasteners are covered by a rib, or seam in the metal panel. This is a raised vertical seam that creates a very modern and elegant appearance.
- Metal Shingles and Tiles – Metal shingles provide all the benefits of metal roofing and the look of traditional asphalt shingles. The metal panels are embedded with stone granules and are installed with hidden fasteners.
- Hidden Fasteners – Other products and methods that hide or conceal the fasteners in metal roofs include panels joined together by interlocking seams or attached to the roof deck with pancake head fasteners.
- Stamped Metal Roof – Stamped metal shingles are small panels that have been stamped or pressed to resemble the look of shingles, shake, tile, and slate roofing.
Materials Used for Metal Roofs
There are four main types of metal most commonly used for metal roofing: aluminum, copper, zinc, and (historically) tin. Each one is unique with its own advantages and disadvantages.
- Aluminum Roofing – This is the most popular option, and for good reason. It has an extremely long life, doesn’t rust, and is resistant to corrosion. It is lightweight, making it easier to work with, and carries a reasonable installation cost.
- Copper Roofing – The original and oldest form of metal roofing is copper. This metal will likely outlast your own life and can be installed in any climate.
- Zinc Roofing – Zinc is a front-runner in metal roofing materials because of its versatility. It can be designed into different shapes and designs and is incredibly resistant to rust. It is also self-healing, which means it can actually recover from extreme damage over time.
- Tin Roofing – Tin roofing is rare today and not considered a viable option. While it once was the only type of metal roof on the market, and sometimes used by avid DIY-ers, our other roofing material options are much more viable than tin.
Some high-end metal roofing materials:
- Galvalume® Metal Roof– This is a combination of steel, aluminum, and zinc. By combining all three you get triple benefits of durability, longevity, and protection.
- Stainless Steel Metal Roof– Stainless steel is one of the strongest metals on the planet. It is resistant to corrosion for over 60 years. Additionally, it’s great in any climate because it does not expand or contract when the temperature fluctuates.
- Alloy Roofing Products – There are several different alloys created by companies looking for the next best formula. Alloys are metal combinations designed to balance strength, weathering, and durability.
- Corrugated Metal Panel Roofing – These are typically sold in sheets and simply screwed into the structure. This is a somewhat rudimentary material that works great for sheds, barns, and porches – but not for homes or structures.
- Metal Roof Shingles and Tiles – Typically, these are manufactured from either aluminum or coated steel that has been pressed and formed into tiles or shingle shapes.
Different Styles of Metal Roofs
Traditionally, metal roofs have been synonymous with barns or other agricultural structures. Today’s metal roof styles go way beyond the outdoor shed and provide a variety of unique and stunning applications.
- Curved Sheet Metal Roof – Curved or radius roofing panels offer a very unique approach to both modern and rustic designs, making them a top choice for designers and architects.
- R Panel Metal Roof – R Panels are an exposed fastener panel with a unique application. This high-performing metal roofing panels option with endless adaptability makes them a favorite.
- Rusted Metal Roof – If you’re looking for a more weathered look, you can actually get a pre-rusted metal roof, which uses an antiqued look to actually protect the metal itself.
- Galvanized Steel Roof – Galvanized steel is original steel with a protective zinc coating. This makes galvanized roofing one of the most durable options for both commercial and residential applications.
- Slate – When installed, the untrained eye can’t tell the difference between a slate roof and metal slate panels. These panels are just over four feet long with “split” edges to give the look of six separate slates.
- Victorian Shingle – Victorian shingles are sleek and elegant and carry the style of the Victorian era. They are clear-coated Galvalume-steel panels embossed to look like scalloped roofing.
- Diamond Shingle – Diamond shingles have a sleek metal texture but provide a more interesting look with 16-inch diamonds rather than horizontal or vertical panels. They can be painted to match the home and are installed with hidden fasteners.
- Tile – Tile roofing is beautiful and fragile. Metal brings durability and longevity to areas where tile roofing looks beautiful. Long panels carry the same thick profile, texture, and color of clay tile roofing.
- Shake – Wood roofing is beautiful but requires extensive maintenance and upkeep. Shake panels are actually aluminum panels that are painted to give the very realistic look of wood without the hassle of real wood roofing.
Common Paint Used on Metal Roof
Many metal roofs are actually painted to enhance their appearance and match the existing style.
- Polyvinylidene Fluoride (PVDF) – This type of paint is a chemical cousin to Teflon. While it is more pricey, it is more flexible meaning it is less likely to fracture. PVDF is fade-resistant, has high glass retention, and has greater film integrity. Kynar 500 or Hylar 5000 are two brands that are widely recognized for this type of paint.
- Silicone-Modified Polyester (SMP) – This is a mid-level price point option with mid-level performance. It contains 30% silicone which allows for better long-term gloss and fades resistance.
Benefits of a Metal Roof
Those who understand roofing, know that the benefits of metal roofs far outweigh the cost. As a professional roofing contractor, we’re here to explain why.
1. Metal Roofs are Durable and Long-Lasting
When comparing asphalt shingles vs a metal roof, traditional asphalt shingles will last between 10-20 years. A metal roof will last at least three times that long, easily over 50 years. This makes it a great choice for a home you’re planning to own for a long time.
Over its lifetime, metal is basically impenetrable. Metal roofs are impervious to fire, rot, insect damage, lightning, and storm damage.
2. Environmentally Friendly
Metal roofs are 100% recyclable, and new metal roofs are made from recycled material. This creates a zero-waste product that is environmentally friendly.
Metal roofs reflect solar radiant heat, which means that heat is not absorbed into your home, and you won’t need an AC repair to keep your home cool. This can reduce cooling costs by 10-25% and oftentimes even more.
4. Metal Roofs are Stylish
Today’s metal roofs are a far cry from corrugated tin barns. They come in an array of shapes, colors, styles, and finishes. They have significantly more variety than typical asphalt shingles to complement any style of home.
Metal is one of the most lightweight materials you can put on a roof, which protects the structural integrity of the building.
Tile weighs in at 750 pounds per square (an area equal to 100 square feet) or concrete can run up to 900 pounds per square. Metal roofs run from 50 to 150 pounds per square.
6. Speed & Ease of Roofing Installation
Most metal roofing materials come in multiple-shingle sections or in 12- to 36-inch-wide panels. An accomplished roofing contractor can quickly perform a metal roof installation which can add up to significant labor savings as well.
7. Fire Resistance
Metal roofs are 100% naturally fire-resistant. They will not spark or ignite into flames during a wildfire or lightning strike, both of which are possibilities with asphalt shingles.
8. Heat Conduction
In the hot summer months, metal reflects radiant heat from the sun, saving you energy on air conditioning during the day.
In addition, many systems utilize the dead-air space between the metal surface and roof deck to minimize heat transfer and increase energy efficiency.
9. Minimum Roof Pitch
Most asphalt or roof shingles can’t be used on a roof with a lower pitch than 3-in-12. Tile roofing requires an even steeper pitch.
However, metal roofing materials can be installed on gently pitched roofs or nearly flat roofs without leaking. Some standing-seam roofing can be used on 2-in-12 roof pitch or, in some cases, even as low as 1-in-12.
10. Maximum Shedding of Rain and Snow
If you live in an area with significant rain or snow, a metal roof is a perfect solution because they are practically impervious.
Because of the way the panels interlock, and because the surface is smooth and slippery, snow slides right off without any trouble.
11. House Fires
Metal roofs are fire-resistant and do a much better job and protecting your home from a house fire.
What a Metal Roof Will Cost You
The initial cost of a metal roofing material is higher than other materials, such as asphalt, slate, or tile.
Industry statistics estimate that the price of a metal roof is about twice the cost of an asphalt shingle roof. Of course, these prices may fluctuate based on additional factors, location, etc.
How to Estimate the Cost of Your New Metal Roof
The cost of your new metal roof is based on the thickness of the metal, the type of paint, and the size/shape/details in your roof.
The national average cost of installation per square foot is anywhere between $12.00 – $13.00 per square foot. For a 2000 square foot roof, the total cost would be $26,000.
How is Metal Roofing Priced?
Roofing is generally priced by square. A “roofing square” is not the same as a square foot, so when you get your pricing it’s important to clarify whether the quote is for square foot or a “square”.
Disadvantages of a Metal Roof
Weighing the pros and cons is important for any decision, especially one with a high price tag. It’s important to know both sides of the coin so you can make the best decisions for your home and family.
1. Metal Roofs are Expensive
No doubt, metal roofs are pricey. They are at least twice the cost of a typical asphalt roof (although they are cheaper than slate).
The materials are more expensive, and so is the labor for installation due to the specialized nature of metal roofs.
2. Can Be Dented
Although strong and impermeable to many vices, some metal roofing can be dented.
If you choose a metal that is thin or soft, like thin aluminum or copper, keep in mind these can be dented if walked on. It’s important to choose a strong metal in a thicker gauge.
3. Can Be Noisy
Rain on a metal roof can be noisy. Keep in mind that with proper installation, this noise is soft and faint, not clattering or loud. For most homeowners, it is soothing, like a natural white-noise machine that lulls you to sleep.
4. Marring and Care
Metal roofs actually require very little care or maintenance. There should be no reason to get on top of your roof once it’s installed. When you use licensed professionals, they are trained to care for the roof without marring the surface.
Any leaking from your metal roof only occurs if the installation is done incorrectly. If you use a reputable roofing contractor who is experienced specifically in metal roofing, you should not experience any problems with leaking.
6. Expansion and Contraction
Metal can expand or contract in extreme weather, but installers understand this and plan for it.
Expanding and contracting may be a problem if you DIY your way through a metal roof installation, but with the expertise of a professional roofing contractor, the expansion and contraction are accounted for and is not a problem.
Metal roofing is installed in large panels that can be more difficult to replace than individual shingles. However, because of the longevity of metal roofs, this is rarely a problem.
This is somewhat of a myth; lightning is no more dangerous to metal roofs than other roofing materials. In fact, if a metal roof is struck by lightning, the energy is dispersed, and the metal is fire-resistant.
9. Installation and Repair Usually Requires a Professional
Installing any type of roof should be done by someone with plenty of experience.
However, unlike most other roofing materials, metal roofing is a material that fewer roofers are trained and practiced at installing. It is important to find a professional with the experience and expertise to complete the job correctly.
6 Signs You Need a Metal Roof Repair
Professional metal roofs are incredibly durable and last longer than any other roofing material, but that doesn’t mean it’s perfect. There are still some instances where you may still require a metal roof repair.
These repairs are not a DIY job and should be handled by a metal roofing professional.
1. Punctures and Tears – The number one reason for punctures and tears in metal roofs is when people get on the roof who shouldn’t be on the roof.
Metal roofing professionals understand how to move on the roof without causing damage, this is why we don’t recommend getting on the roof yourself.
2. Loose Seams – If you get a loose screw, it can compromise the seam. If this happens, water can begin to seep in between and cause a leak. This problem can be remedied quickly without replacing full panels.
3. Blow-Offs – When you use a professional contractor, a blow-off isn’t an issue. However, they do happen in harsh climates with high winds. To prevent blow-offs, use a professional roofing contractor and have your roof inspected yearly.
4. Corrosion and Rust – When your roof is installed, it should be sealed with a non-corrosive agent. If this doesn’t happen, or it’s done poorly – your roof can be susceptible to corrosion and rust.
5. Deteriorating Sealant – This type of sealant is used around the seams and edges of your roof. While the roof itself will last 50 years or more, the sealant should be touched up every 20 years.
6. Worn Paint – Metal may last forever, but paint does not. Chipped or thinning paint can be unsightly and leave your roof susceptible to rust. Touching up the paint is an important part of roof maintenance.
Who Installs a Metal Roof?
Every metal roof needs to be installed by a professional roofing contractor, but not every roofer can install a metal roof. Here are a few things to look for when choosing someone to install your metal roof:
- Any installer should be accredited by a manufacturer training program.
- Look for a contractor who has had at least three years of experience installing metal roofs.
- Ask for photos of previous projects to get an idea of their experience level.
FAQs about Metal Roofs