Metal roofing has been slowly but surely increasing in popularity in the United States for years. When they first appeared on the market, metal roofs were hard to install, expensive, and less attractive than their asphalt shingle neighbors. However, metal roof systems have improved in the past several years, leading to increased consumer demand for all metal roofing types.
And this increased demand makes sense! Metal roofing has many benefits when compared to more traditional roofing materials, including:
- A long lifespan
- Minimal required maintenance year over year
- Strong fire and wind resistance
- Energy efficiency
- Resistance to pests and plant growth
- Highly customizability
With all these positives, what’s not to love? If you’re interested in switching to metal roofing on your next roof upgrade, take a look through our metal roofing guide below to help you choose the perfect material and style for your dream roof.
Metal Roofing Materials
While we often talk about “metal roofs” as if they’re all the same, consumers actually have many options when it comes to the roofing materials they’d like to buy. Of the several popular options on the market today, each has its own aesthetic, price point, and unique benefits.
Aluminum roofing is one of the most versatile metals out there, making it a very popular choice in the American roofing market.
This metal is incredibly lightweight and rust-resistant. This makes it a great option for areas with high levels of precipitation throughout the year and for areas near oceans and other bodies of salt water.
Aluminum is also fairly eco-friendly. Even though it takes quite a bit of energy to produce, aluminum roofing is often made from recycled metal, and once it’s time to replace your roof, you can often recycle the material again for repurposing.
If you live in a hail-prone area, take note: aluminum roofing has been known to dent more easily than other metals. Because aluminum is so flexible, it’s also prone to oil canning if not installed correctly. As the metal expands and contracts, it may distort, causing a wavy appearance on the metal panels.
Steel is a very strong metal and is particularly well-suited for use on roofs in cold climates. It keeps the warm air inside the building, reducing your need for insulation, and it doesn’t become brittle in the cold.
Steel is often used in combination with other metals to create various hybrid options. This gives homeowners the affordability of a steel roof with some of the more resilient properties of other kinds of metals.
For example, galvanized steel is a special type of steel that has a coating of zinc on the outside. This lends it some of the protective properties of zinc without the high cost of having a roof made completely of zinc.
Galvalume is another type of galvanized steel roofing. It’s a combination metal made of steel, aluminum, zinc, and silicone. It is low-cost and relatively easy to install.
Zinc is a softer metal than some of the other metals on this list, which means it’s easy to bend and shape to create whatever look you want for your roof. Right now, it’s much more commonly used in Europe than it is in the United States.
Zinc has many, many beneficial properties. It has an incredibly long lifespan (expect your zinc roof to last at least 100 years). It’s also naturally fire, mold, and mildew resistant and can be recycled at the end of its lifespan.
Zinc is also known for being self-healing; its naturally occurring protective coating helps it to withstand surface damage and heal scratches and other blemishes on its own.
The downside to zinc is that it’s incredibly expensive. In fact, it’s not uncommon to pay $10 per square foot of material.
If you thought zinc was expensive, watch out for copper. At around $11 per square foot of material, this type of roof is definitely an investment, and that doesn’t even account for labor or other supplies needed for roof replacement or repair.
It’s the highest-cost roofing material on our list, but it’s also considered by many to be the most beautiful. It starts off as a gorgeous reddish bronze, and as it ages, it develops a green patina. This makes it a popular option not only for roofing but also for auxiliary uses like gutters, downspouts, and more.
Like other metals on this list, copper will last for decades, if not a century. It’s also lightweight, fairly easy to install, and recyclable.
One attribute that makes copper stand out from the rest of the pack is that you can solder the joints of copper. While other metals come with an increased risk of water leaking at any joints or seams, you can effectively eliminate this risk by soldering a copper roof.
Metal Roofing Styles
In addition to the type of metal roofing you use, you also need to choose the style. Whether you prefer metal sheets or metal shingles, there are several options for you to choose from.
Have you ever wanted to see your roof get made from start to finish? With roll-form metal roofing, you can!
Your roofing company will bring roll-forming machines to the construction site and load them up with rolls of steel. The machine will create metal panels specific to the shape and size of your roof as well as your desired styling for the metal panels. Contractors will load the metal sheets directly from the roll-forming machine to the top of your roof.
This is where the metal is molded into shape to emulate the look of other types of roofing materials. Using this method, any metal can be made to look like asphalt shingles, wooden shakes, and slate or clay tile. If you want the weather resistance and lifespan of metal with the look of other roofing materials, this is the way to go.
There are several advantages to taking this approach. First, this metal is much more lightweight than the other materials. If your home or other building is unable to hold up the weight of stone or clay, metal can provide a safe and sustainable alternative while still helping you achieve a natural look for your roof.
Additionally, metal tends to be much cheaper than both slate and clay. Metal is more expensive than asphalt; however, it also has a much greater lifespan and lower upkeep needs than asphalt, so the extra cost is made up for in longevity and decreased maintenance costs.
Kynar coating is a great option if you want to preserve the shine of your new roof for years to come. It can be applied in a variety of colors and textures, so the sky’s the limit when it comes to the design of the Kynar coating. Used mostly with standing seam metal roofing, it provides extra weather resistance for your roof.
This is the most popular style of metal roofing, particularly for residential buildings.
One of the main attractions of standing seam roofs is their concealed fasteners. This makes it more attractive than metal roofs with exposed fastener panels, even though it also makes it more expensive and time-consuming to install. It also makes your roof incredibly weather resistant and protects the metal fasteners from coming loose or corroding more quickly than the rest of the roof.
Sometimes, you want the look of asphalt shingles or other traditional roofing materials without having to replace your roof every 10-20 years. This is where stone-coated metal roofing enters the scene.
Steel panels are coated in fine particles of stone. The metal underneath protects your home from damage for decades, while the stone coating makes it seem like your roof is made of asphalt shingles or slate tiles.
Corrugated metal roofing is most suited to industrial and agricultural contexts. Not only is it not a very attractive option for residential properties, but it also provides minimal insulation to the building.
The benefit of corrugated roofing is that it’s very, very strong. Often, the base is made of galvanized steel, and the corrugation increases the surface area of the roof. This adds an extra protective layer against the wind, rain, hail, and other elements your roof is likely to come up against over the course of a year.
Metal Roofing Finishes
In addition to the kinds of metals and styles of roofs discussed above, there are also a variety of roof finishes that you can choose from. These not only help prevent roof damage, but they can also enhance the beauty of your metal roof.
The stone and Kynar mentioned above are examples of the kinds of coatings you can apply to your metal roof. There are also many options for increasing the energy efficiency of your roof, decreasing its susceptibility to mold and mildew, and adjusting the color or glossiness of your roof.
Metal Roofing Types Explained
Now that you have an understanding of the most common metal roofing types available on the market today, it’s time to choose the right one for you! Consider your design preference, budget, and long-term goals, and you’ll be sure to make the best choice for you.
The performance of your roof will only be as good as the contractor who installed it. That’s why here at First American Roofing & Siding, all our work is built on a foundation of honesty, integrity, and professionalism. We go above and beyond to provide you with superior products and high levels of communication throughout the duration of your roofing project.
Ready to learn more? Contact us today to let us know about your upcoming needs!