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Until recently, metal roofs haven’t exactly coincided with urban style, uptown elegance, or villa comfort. What was once known for shed/barn roofing is now influencing contemporary designs, modern styles, and commercialism. Metal roofs—and their alloy—was once easily recognized by their familiar metallic pattern. However, metal roofs today are able to mimic clay, wood, stone, and even asphalt—completely transforming preconceived notions in metal roofing. Whether a Spanish-style home in California or a Victorian design in New England, metal roofs are now manufactured to fit every lifestyle.
In fact, according to a McGraw-Hill 2015 study, 750,000 residential homeowners have a metal roof—second only to asphalt. Many of these homeowners chose to install a metal roof over their existing asphalt shingles. They also concluded that 26% of metal roof homeowners stated their reason for investing in metal was longevity and durability. Going hand-in-hand with this, 22% said their reason for investing was the sheer strength of the metal.
Springtree Restoration offers metal roofing for both residential and commercial applications. Before we go into why metal roofs are worth it and lower in long-term cost, let’s go over the common types of metal roofs. Despite their vast array of shapes, colors, and designs, residential metal roofs are typically one (or a mix) of four metals: aluminum, copper, steel, and zinc.
When it comes to these metal roofs, a metallic coating isn’t required—but they do get painted. Because of their versatility, they’re a popular choice among homeowners. An aluminum roof can be up to 20% more expensive than a steel roof due to their extreme resistance to corrosion (especially by seawater). They are lighter than steel, and their strength-to-weight ratio is considerably higher than most metals. Additionally, aluminum stores much less heat than most metals—they become cool quickly after direct sunlight.
A copper roof typically isn’t painted or coated because it weathers without corroding. Additionally, they have a unique way of aging. A copper roof starts shiny and remains so until they gently darken with age—a uniquely beautiful process seen only with copper. Because of their extremely long-lasting strength, they’re often used for special features such as famous buildings, cathedrals, or hotels. Copper is very malleable, allowing for an array of different shapes and sizes. They’re affordable and cost less than most metal roofs.
Steel roofing panels are typically coated with either zinc or a mixture of aluminum and zinc. Of these two, the zinc/aluminum mixture lasts longer and is more resistant to weather damage. The coating itself comes in varying thickness, with fluctuating costs. Of course, the thicker the material, the longer-lasting it is.
Did you know that in Paris, France, 85% of residential roofs have zinc coating? Along with copper, zinc forms protective patina, which means they won’t rust or receive damage by natural weathering. However, zinc is versatile in the fact that it can take paint of any color—which, of course, will begin to fade with the patination process. A major benefit of a zinc roof is its self-healing capability: the patina layer of zinc reforms itself after impact, and virtually eliminates any blemishes or scratches over time. This—in addition to its durability—is why it’s among the most popular type of metal roof.
As alloy combinations vary among metal roofs, so do their installation pattern. There are three kinds of metal roofs: standing seam, corrugated, and r-panel. They vary in the way they’re installed, shaped, and fastened to the roof.
Standing seam metal roofs are long sheets of painted steel. They have uniform vertical seams with hidden fasteners that click into place when installed. They’re typically built on site, as their fastening qualities require precision. The metal itself comes in a large coil fashion, which is then built on the roof with a portable roof seamer. Out of all the metal roofs, standing seam metal roofs last the longest. They outlive the other two due to their fastening system along the seams—done on site. Their seams are never punctured—nor are they exposed to weather. Standing seam metal roofs come in a variety of colors, as homeowners can choose any paint color. Seven out of ten metal roof homeowners have a standing seam layout. They’re becoming increasingly common for modern and contemporary home designs. Their sleek, vertical seams offer a minimalist approach to high-profile subtlety.
A corrugated metal roof is perhaps the quintessential American panel—what is most commonly seen when driving by rural sheds, barns, and farms. For hundreds of years, they scattered throughout the hills of America. Their durability and long-lasting qualities are why they’re so commonly seen throughout the countryside, and why farmers often use this pattern. Additionally, the natural shape of a corrugated metal roof is a structural strength—an advantage over standing seam and r-panel metal roofs. The corrugation of the panels also helps to hide small blemishes or imperfections over time (such as hail dents). For these reasons, Americans will continue to choose corrugated metal roofs for their countryside for many years.
R-panel metal roofs are durable, low in cost, and conventional. They require low maintenance, and do not need a lot of time for installation. With labor and disposal costs down, the overall project investment is relatively affordable for this long-lasting roof. As with most roofs, r-panel roofs are compatible with any paint color to match any type of home design. They’re simplistic in nature and are very adaptable.
With just three ways of installing a metal roof, they are tried and true to guarantee up to a hundred years (or more) of long-lasting protection. Compared to asphalt shingles, metal roofs are a much smarter decision for their durability, strength, and eco-friendliness.
Most metal roofs last up to 100 years or more. After you purchase a metal roof, you won’t have to worry about roofing troubles for a long time (if ever). While they may seem more expensive at first, they actually save you money and offer a greater long-term investment. Asphalt shingles need replacing often due to their proneness to damage and weather, and can end up twice the cost compared to a one-time purchase of a metal roof.
Another benefit of a metal roof is their light weight. A lightweight roof is helpful for many reasons, including offering additional support for old structures. A light roof helps maintain the structure and overall integrity of any building. Contrary to popular belief, a lightweight roof doesn’t mean it’s weak or susceptible to damage. Despite being lightweight, a metal roof provides increased wind resistance compared to asphalt. Metal roofs usually use interlocking panels, which helps with deflection.
In fact, a metal roof is so light that it can sit directly over an existing roof (such as asphalt) without putting pressure on the building. This is quite common among metal roof homeowners. By doing this instead of throwing out the existing asphalt, no excess waste gets tossed—into a landfill.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, 20 billion pounds of asphalt shingles fill landfills every year. Due to their short life span, asphalt shingles need replacing every 15-20 years. Traditional asphalt shingles are a petroleum product and increase dependency on fossil fuels.
As homeowners turn to more environmentally friendly lifestyle options, as do their roofs. Metal roofing products consist of recycled material, and are often 100% recycled. In addition to other eco-friendly initiatives, metal roofs can be used to install solar panels, or collect rainwater.
Metal roofs have tremendous cooling capabilities. They do not trap heat, and therefore, keep your home cooler during the hot months. Meanwhile, asphalt gets incredibly hot and stores high amounts of heat. This makes them susceptible to premature damage.
Due to the insulating properties of metal roofs, homeowners see 40% less energy costs during the summer. Additionally, they see 15% lower energy costs during the winter, according to a 2008 study by Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
Finally, metal roofs come in a variety of shapes and colors. They are so versatile that virtually any residential or commercial style is compatible. In fact, with all of their additional benefits, they would increase the value of any property. While asphalt comes in only 15 to 20 different colors, metal roofs can be custom-made for any individual. Hundreds of styles, hues, and shades are at their disposal.
A metal roof not only saves you money in the long run, but better regulates the temperature inside the home (conserving energy). That, combined with its durability and vast array of designs is why a metal roof is worth it. If you invest, a metal roof rather than asphalt would prove to be of greater value in the long run.