A recent National Roofing Contractors Association member survey found that as many as 30 percent of new homes in the U.S. are being built now with architectural metal roofs. Metal roofing has becoming increasingly popular in residential use for many reasons.
For starters, when properly installed, a metal roof should last as long as the house, completely sealing out water, surviving high winds and easily shedding snow.
Metal has many other qualities as a roofing material, including being light weight compared to wood and tile roofing, as well as being more resistant to fire, mildew, insects. Warranties vary widely but most companies strongly back their products for from 20 to 50 years. And, in most cases a metal roof will be less expensive than tile roofing products.
And, when compared to tile roofing, which weighs 750 pounds per square (each 100 square feet of roof area) or concrete tile roofing, which weights up to 900 pounds per square, a metal roof is relatively lightweight, weighing between 50 and 150 pounds per square.
“We love installing metal roofs,” says Chip Johnson, a roofing contractor for over twenty years and regular contributor on roofing-articles.com, a website resource devoted to roofing materials and information. “A metal roof is so much lighter than tile or concrete, which means the roof rafters or trusses have far less weight to support. Johnson goes on to say that “Builders can save a lot on the cost of supporting the roof, so they more often spec a metal roof these days than they did 10 or 15 years ago.”
Metal roofing materials have also become more durable and attractive, thanks to the development of epoxy coatings, which can be embedded with stone chips to give metal roof panels the look of a stone or ceramic tile roof.
The metals most commonly used in manufacturing metal roofing materials include coated galvanized steel, stainless steel and aluminum. Copper or zinc alloys are also used, although these tend to be much more expensive roofing materials.
Some types of metal shingle systems can be applied over the top of an existing roof without the need to tear off the old roofing material or add additional structural support; a real benefit if cost is a major consideration for the homeowner needing to replace an aged roof.
Metal roofing materials are generally manufactured either in multi-shingle panels, which gives the appearance of individual shingles, or else in roll-forming standing seam panels, which gives the more traditional look of metal roofing found on mountain homes in many cases.
A good roofing contractor can install your metal roofing system very quickly, which is beneficial when an old roof needs to be stripped off; avoiding critical delays that may result in storm damage during a re-roofing project!
Most metal roofs get a Class A fire rating, since metals are noncombustible, meaning they are considered among the most fire-resistant roofing available on the market. The actual fire rating of your roof will depend on what materials are used under the roofing material, so if a new metal roof is installed over a wood shake or shingle roof, its fire resistance will be decreased. Many homeowners’ insurance companies offer a discount for having a metal roof with a fire rating of Class A.
“We use the structural standing seam systems when possible in new home construction because of the lower cost and quicker installation”, says Johnson. “But if the homeowner or builder wants the look of a shingle roof, we’ll go with the metal shingle panels. Either type of system works fine … the warranty will be comparable either way with the better manufacturers,” he says.
Metal reflects the radiant heat of direct sunlight and helps increase your home’s energy efficiency, despite the fact that metal itself has a low R-Value; most metal roofing systems use dead air space between the deck and the roofing panels to improve the roof’s insulating capacity.
Disadvantages of a metal roof include the need to hire an experienced roofing contractor; the specialized skills and tools required make installation of metal roofing products next to impossible for the typical do-it-yourself homeowner. Some environmentalists have also questioned the use of a relatively scarce resource for use as a home roofing material when asphalt and other composite materials are more plentiful and are well suited to use for roofing.
All in all, if you are building a new home or need to replace your home’s roof, you will definitely want to consider the benefits of metal roofing materials as an alternative to an asphalt, concrete or tile roof.