Whether you notice them or not, metal roofs are everywhere. You probably wouldn’t normally think to look at the roofing material on a home, but if you take a drive down any road in any city, you’re likely to find at least one house or building donning a metal one.
But how much do you know about metal panels and roofing systems? Did you know that it often requires very little maintenance after it’s installed? Or that you can choose from a variety of looks and styles, like standing seam or stamped options?
Why Choose A Metal Roof?
Metal roofing is specifically engineered to last decades longer than any other roofing material. Actually, many consumers ultimately decide to purchase it because it’ll be the last roof that they ever have to put on their home or business. Depending upon the type of metal used, most metal roofs last 50+ years without any signs of degradation or corrosion.
When comparing different materials, like wood, concrete, metal, plastic, or glass, metal easily stands out as the strongest and most durable. If properly installed, metal roofing is designed to withstand:
- Strong winds
- Debris (leaves, sticks, etc.)
- Rodents and other animals
Not to mention, metal is a Class A fire-rated and noncombustible material, meaning its fire resistance is the highest grade possible.
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 twice a year and after strong storms. Also, a concealed fastener roof, like standing seam, will generally have less upkeep than an exposed fastener roof.
There are a number of reasons that metal roofing is environmentally friendly. First, most metals are 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 even some metal coils and sheets that are made of already-recycled metal. For example, nearly 95% of all aluminum roofing is made up of recycled materials. Third, many metals, like zinc and copper, are found in the environment or in the Earth’s crust, which means they can be naturally replenished and sustained over time.
One of the best parts of owning a metal roof is the variety of warranty options made available by the metal manufacturers or suppliers. Two of the most common are weather-tight warranties, which cover leaks in the roofing system, and paint warranties, which cover certain levels of degradation of the paint system that is applied to the metal substrate. Warranties can vary quite a bit depending on where you live, the climate the roof will be exposed to, the type of roofing material used, and the type of paint system used on the coil. Be sure to thoroughly read the warranty documents ahead of time and ask questions before you buy.
The table below represents a cost comparison between 60 years worth of both mid-range shingle roofing (three in total) and metal roofing (one in total). In this scenario, the mid-range cost for one architectural shingle roof is around $8,700 and the cost for one Galvalume® Standing Seam with Kynar 500®, a high-end paint system, roof is about $19,201. Even if the shingle roof lasted 20 years, you would need to pay for the shingle roof three times and the metal roof one time in a 60-year span, making metal a more economical choice.
Common Uses for Metal Roofing
One of the biggest reasons metal roofing is commonly chosen in commercial applications is due to its superior weather resistance to wind and water, especially in areas where hurricanes or other tropical weather is a concern. Even when the structure isn’t in a tropical location, metal roofing gives business and building owners the peace of mind that their roof is destined to last and not need constant upkeep. Common commercial uses include hospitals, schools, stores, hotels, government buildings, churches, and much more.
The residential market is booming as homeowners begin to realize that metal roofing will actually save them money in the long run. A lot of homeowners don’t think their roof is big enough to warrant paying for a metal system, but we are here to tell you that the size of your roof doesn’t matter. These systems can be used on something as small as a brick or stone mailbox.
Since metal panels begin as a coil or sheet, it has the ability to be formed and cut into many different shapes, sizes, and lengths. This variety, along with the durability, variety of colors, and eco-friendly qualities, gives architects many benefits to using metal roofing to create aesthetically pleasing structures.
Have you ever been inside of a warehouse, factory, or other industrial building where you look up and see the roof from inside? This is a good example of structural metal roofing, which is when metal panels are installed over open framing or on structures that span long lengths and are attached directly to the frame or purlins (additional support beams added to the roof frame).
Like structural applications, barns and other agricultural buildings are common uses for metal roofing. Agricultural structures traditionally use a lap seam profile, which is when the ends of the panels overlap each other and have sealant or exposed fasteners holding the two panels together.
Metal Roofing Types and Options
The popularity of metal roofing is often to due its versatility, variety of options, and ability to be customized for each individual structure, which includes color, shape, style, and much more.
Metal is a very broad term when it comes to roofing, especially because there are nearly 100 metals on the periodic table of elements. Some of the most commonly used metal materials used in the industry are:
- Galvalume coated steel
- Galvanized steel
- Stainless steel
Standing Seam – Standing seam metal roofing refers to metal panels interlocked together at the edges to form a seam, which stands vertically. A true standing seam system uses the concealed fastener method of installation, meaning the clips and fasteners are hidden beneath the surface and not visible to the naked eye. Standing seam roofing is considered the superior and the better-protected choice when compared to exposed fastener systems.
Exposed Fastener – Exposed fastener metal systems, considered the less expensive and more economical choice, are installed with the heads of the fasteners visible on the top of the panels. When an exposed fastener roof is installed, the fastener goes directly through the metal and into the roof deck. Exposed fasteners have classically been used in agricultural or industrial applications.
Stamped Profiles – If you like the look of shingles, shake, tiles, or more textured surfaces but still want the longevity, cost and durability metal offers, it’s possible with metal stamped profiles.
Metal Panel Seam Types
Snap-lock – Metal panels that have been carefully rollformed with specific panel profile edges that snap together and require no hand or mechanical seaming during installation. Snap-lock seams tend to be a little more popular in the roofing industry because they are engineered to defend against the elements while making installation a little easier on the contractor.
Mechanical Seam – Mechanically seamed panels are also rollformed with specific edges that line up with each other on the roof. Once the two edges are put together, a hand or mechanical seamer is used to bend the edges and lock the panels together.
Tee Panel – A type of standing seam where two panel edges come together and are connected at the top by a cap, which is then mechanically seamed in place to lock the panels together. Once the seaming is complete, the top of the standing seam is in the shape of a “T”.
Exposed Fastener Lap Seam – Exposed fastener lap seams are when the overlapping ends of the lap panels are fastened down to the deck from the top of the panel.
Metal Panel Rib Rollers
Rib rollers are the “patterns” or striations rollformed into a metal panel between the seams. These can be used to assist with the installation of the roof or just for curb appeal. Common rib rollers include:
Flat – No indents between the seams
Ribbed – Some shape or indentation between the seams
- V-Ribs – “V” shaped panel indents
- Bead – Longer, rectangular panel indents
- Pencil – Circular panel indents
Striated – Small consistent indentation lines in the panel (can help reduce oil canning)
Corrugated – Larger, constant waving of the metal panel
Clip relief – A stiffening rib adjacent to the seam that allows the space for a clip
The metal coil that is rollformed into metal roofing panels comes in many different thicknesses. Standing seam metal panels come in a variety of thicknesses (typically between 22 and 26 gauge) with the most common steel thickness being 24 gauge and aluminum between .032 and .040 inches. For face-fastened systems, 26 or 29 gauge materials are usually used.
Colors and Finishes
Having control over the color and overall look to your structure is one of the most appealing parts of choosing metal. Because of the overwhelming demand for both bright and earth tones on roofing systems, paint companies, like Sherwin-Williams or Valspar, created tested and proven paint systems that add style to a home’s exterior while still reducing chalking, fading, chipping, and other color degradation.