Metal roofs are everywhere maybe because of it is a low-maintenance roofing option that can last decade. A metal roof is a roofing system featuring metal pieces or tiles exhibiting corrosion resistance, impermeability to water, and long life. It is a component of the building envelope. The metal pieces may be a covering on a structural, non-waterproof roof, or they could be self-supporting sheets.
The Pros of Having a Metal Roof
Home or building owners have a number of reasons to choose metal roofing over other materials, like asphalt shingles, tiles, or concrete. Metal roofing might be the best choice for them, but it is understandable that it’s not always the best material for every consumer. Here are the most common reasons people decide to choose metal roof.
Metal roofing is specifically engineered to last decades longer than any other roofing material. Many consumers ultimately decide to purchase a metal roof because it’ll be the last roof that they ever have to put on their home or business. Depending upon the type of metal material used, most metal roofs last 50+ years without any extreme signs of degradation or corrosion.
When compared to different materials like wood, concrete, plastic, or glass, metal easily stands out as the strongest and most durable. If properly installed, metal roofing is designed to withstand:
- Strong winds
- Rain and moisture
- UV exposure
- Mold, algae, mildew, etc.
- Rodents and other animals
Not to mention, metal roof materials are often Class A fire-rated and noncombustible, meaning the fire resistance is the highest grade possible. This proven durability against common roofing threats is one of the fundamental reasons metal roofing is so popular.
The level of upkeep needed to maintain a metal roof is generally minimal, especially if the roof was correctly installed. General upkeep would include looking for leaves, branches, and other debris that could get stuck on the roof and in the gutters around once a year and after strong storms. In the event that dirt or other stains do not come off with rain, there are methods to clean your metal roof. Also, a concealed fastener roof will generally have less upkeep than an exposed fastener metal roof.
There are a number of reasons that metal roofing is environmentally friendly. First, most metal is highly recyclable, meaning that any tear-off metal, old panels, or even manufactured excess scraps can be recycled and used in future products. These metal materials can either come as pre-consumer or post-consumer recycled content:
Pre-consumer recycled materials – Scrap content during the manufacturing stage that has been recycled for future use.
Post-consumer recycled materials – Excess materials that have already been in the possession of a consumer at one point in time and have been recycled for reuse.
Second, there are several metal roofing materials, including aluminum, that are made of already-recycled metal. In fact, nearly 95% of all aluminum roofing is made up of previously recycled materials.
Lower Cost in the Long-Term
It’s true: Metal roofs are more expensive upfront as a one-time cost versus the cost of asphalt shingles or tiles. However, as mentioned before, metal lasts decades (60 years in some cases), while asphalt shingles last anywhere from 15 to 20 years. One metal roof can easily outlast at least three asphalt shingle roofs.
Metal Surfaces Reflect Heat
Metal reflects radiant heat from the sun, minimizing midday heat gain. This reflective characteristic means you save energy needed for air conditioning during the day.
Regarding the insulation value of metal roofing in both heat and cold: Though the material itself is low in insulation R-value, metal roofing can be applied over foam insulation that has very high R-values. In addition, many systems utilize a dead-air space between the metal surface and roof deck beneath it to minimize heat transfer, increasing energy efficiency.
One of the best parts of owning a metal roof is the variety of warranty options made available by metal manufacturers and suppliers. Two of the most common are weather tight warranties (covers leaks in the roofing system) and paint warranties (covers certain levels of degradation of the paint system that coats the metal substrate). Warranties can vary quite a bit depending on your environment, the panel profile choice, the type of roofing material used, and the type of paint system on the coil.
The Cons of Having a Metal Roof
Though metal roofing offers many pluses, a few drawbacks are worthy of mention. For the most part, metal roofing manufacturers have improved their products to address or solve many of these concerns. Here are the lists:
Metal Roofing is Noisy
Yes, it will probably be noisier than living beneath a thick slate or tile roof in a heavy rainstorm or hailstorm. But the idea of noise being a problem may be more myth than reality. It depends on construction.
But noise can be controlled both by using quality materials that have structural barriers to minimize the drumming effect, by applying the metal over sound-deadening insulation and solid plywood sheathing, and—where possible—by having an attic between the roof and your rooms.
High Initial Cost
The biggest drawback of metal roofing: initial cost. Metal roofing costs about the same as other premium materials—from about $150 to $600 per square (100 square feet).
Because of the material’s long-term durability, the trick is that you ultimately save the difference (and more) if you stay in the house for a long time and you save on seasonal maintenance.
Metal Can Dent
If you think heavy hail would be a possibility in your area, choose a roof material that is guaranteed not to dent. Or choose metal roofing shingles, metal roofing shakes, or roofing that has a pattern or ribbed structure that gives it rigidity.
You Should Avoid Walking On Metal Roofs
Though you shouldn’t have to walk on a roof that doesn’t leak, there may be occasions when a plumber needs to check out a vent pipe or a chimney sweep needs access to the chimney flue. You have to be very careful when walking on most metal roofs—both to avoid damaging or denting the roofing and to keep from slipping off.
Modifying Panels Can Be Difficult
Metal roofing materials installed in large panels are more difficult to replace if damaged than individual shingles. Also, if you remodel or add on to your home 10 or 20 years from now, it may be difficult to match the material.
Installation Is Not Foolproof
Installing a metal roof should be done by someone with plenty of experience. Unlike an asphalt shingle roof, a wood shingle roof—or most other roofing materials—metal roofing is a material that fewer roofers are trained and practiced at installing. A metal roof must be installed correctly.
Metal Expands & Contracts
Metal expands and contracts as it warms and cools. This can cause the roof to have a wavy effect on hot days or, over time for fasteners to pull loose.
Difficult for Firefighters
Though metal roofs are good at guarding against a fire that approaches from outside a house, such as from flying sparks and embers, they are not ideal for fires that start inside a house. With a serious house fire, firemen may need to cut through the roof to put out the fire. This job can be much more difficult and take longer if the house is capped with a metal roof.
If you can afford the initial cost of metal roofing and you plan to stay in your home for a long time, metal can prove to be a very solid investment. Metal roofing is a very durable, effective, lightweight choice that is relatively quick to install by professionals.