Contractor's Guide: Types of Metal Roofing for Your Next Project
by Delta Metals on May 03, 2023
Although asphalt shingles have been the go-to roofing material for residential buildings for decades, more homeowners are beginning to opt for metal roofs. While asphalt roofing shingles need to be replaced every ten years or so, especially under extreme weather conditions, a metal roof can easily last 50 to 75 years with relatively little maintenance.
However, not all metal roofs are created equal. Different materials come at different price points and offer different benefits and drawbacks. Before selecting metal roofing for your next project, you must compare all the available options to ensure you choose the best fit.
What Type of Metal Roof Is Right for Your Client?
Metal must be lightweight, durable, and corrosion-resistant to function as a viable roofing material. In residential construction, aesthetics are also a significant concern. The metals most commonly used for roofing are aluminum, zinc, copper, and stainless steel.
Although aluminum is the third most abundant element on Earth, it's never found in nature in its metallic form. Because it is easy to get, aluminum is usually an affordable roofing option. Aluminum is also lightweight, durable, and resistant to rust and corrosion.
- Aluminum is resistant to corrosion.
- More than 90% of aluminum roofing is made from recycled materials.
- Aluminum roofing panels weigh about half a pound per square foot, making them easy for contractors to transport and install.
- Aluminum expands and contracts very quickly when temperatures change. If they are not installed correctly, or their thermal movement is restricted, the building may require additional maintenance over its lifetime.
- Aluminum is more malleable than steel, making it more likely to dent.
- Unpainted aluminum panels will oxidize and begin to look washed out and spotty as they age, decreasing the roof's aesthetic appeal.
Zinc is already a very common roofing material in Europe, gaining popularity in the US. Naturally a lustrous bluish-white, it is the fourth most popular metal used in consumer goods worldwide. Zinc is known for its long lifespan and protective outer layer.
- Zinc is naturally resistant to scratches and corrosion, and the outer layer is self-healing. This means that if something scratches a tin roof, it will correct itself over time.
- As a naturally occurring metal, zinc is non-toxic and won't pollute water or soil with run-off. Since it contains no iron, it also requires less energy to manufacture
- Zinc is one of the most expensive metal roofing options on the market. One 100-square-foot panel can cost over a thousand dollars.
- If zinc is improperly coated or ventilated on the underside, it can corrode and fail from the inside out.
- Zinc expands and contracts during heating and cooling even more dramatically than aluminum.
Humans have been using copper as a roofing material since Ancient Rome. It has a bright reddish-orange color that looks fantastic as a whole roof or accent. Copper is good for the environment, lightweight, and incredibly durable.
- Unlike most other roofing metals, copper can be soldered to create a weather-tight seal between gutter joints and roof or wall flashings.
- Copper looks beautiful both when it is newly installed and as it ages. Over time, copper will develop a bluish-green covering called patina (think of the Statue of Liberty.)
- Properly installed, copper roofing can last more than 100 years.
- Copper is costly, on par with zinc.
- Rain run-off from copper roofs can stain other materials, including brick, concrete, wood, cloth, and other metals.
- Copper does not react well to most of the other metals used in roofing. This can cause dissimilar metal corrosion.
- There is no way to predict when a roof will patina or the exact color it will turn when it does.
Steel is not a naturally occurring element. Instead, it is an alloy of iron, chromium, and other elements like carbon. Other metals and materials can also be added to create different properties. Steel is used in everything from handrails to appliances to cutlery, and it is becoming a popular option for residential roofs and is our metal of choice for roofs.
- Steel is incredibly durable and can last over 60 years.
- Steel can withstand extreme weather conditions. In warm weather, it reflects heat away from a building. In cold weather, it traps warm air without becoming brittle or cracking.
- Steel has an outstanding ROI for homeowners. Metal roofing can increase the value of a home or building between 1-6%.
- Steel roofing eliminates energy waste and results in lower energy consumption.
- Steel is the most recyclable roofing material
- Steel is not recommended for use on roofs that may experience large amounts of standing water, as standing water can act as an electrolyte and corrode the metal.
- Steel can corrode, which is why we recommend choosing a panel with a silicone-modified polyester coating.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Metal Roof
With any construction project, you need to consider how all the parts will contribute to the whole and your client's goals for their new home.
While there might be some flexibility in your client's budget, everyone has their financial limits. You need to select a material you can feasibly purchase to cover the entire roof without spending more than your client can afford.
Building or renovating a home is an investment for your clients, and like any investment, they want to get the highest return they can. The longer a roof lasts, the better the ROI for the homeowner. When selecting a roofing material, it is your job as a contractor to consider its durability and lifespan.
Homeownership costs are high enough, and your clients want to minimize it any way they can without compromising their dream home. While some roofing materials can absorb heat and make homes warmer in the summer, many metal roofing materials reflect light and heat. Hence, the interior temperature of the house stays consistent. As a result, homeowners use less air conditioning and save on their energy bills. In the winter, metal roofs help trap heat inside the home and reduce heating costs.
People want houses that are stylish as well as functional. Whether you are renovating an already-built home or building an entirely new residential property, aesthetics are likely a major concern for your clients. Selecting a roofing material that complements the other building materials and the house's overall style is important. You should also ensure that the materials have been properly treated or are suitable for the climate you are building in so that they will continue to look good for years.
A metal roof is a great addition to a home. With many options and benefits like energy efficiency, aesthetic appeal, and longevity, a metal roof will surely make your clients happy.
Get To The Job Site With Everything You Need
If your client wants to add a metal roof to their home, they have several options of materials and styles. Each metal roofing material has unique features and benefits that may be suitable for some types of projects and not others. Prepare for your next metal roofing project with our contractor check to ensure you don’t miss a beat.