Deciding to install a metal roof is a lengthy and detailed process. Once you've made the leap of faith to choose metal as your source of roofing, you'll next have to determine which type of metal you want.
We're going to discuss the best types of metal roofing to help you understand the available options you have. And we'll also hook you up with a detailed guide that will cover everything you should consider when choosing the right metal roofing.
Types of Metal Roof Materials
Many homeowners think once they've decided to go with a metal roof, all that's left is to pick the color and authorize the payment. However, there's more to it than that.
The most significant consideration of installing a metal roof should be the metal itself. There are multiple types of metal. Each type has unique features, including color, strength, durability, and much more. These differences will play a massive role in your decision-making process. Now, let's see how they're different.
Price per square
Price per sq ft
100 to 150 lbs
150 to 200 lbs
100 to 150 lbs
Aluminum is the third most available metal found on the planet. It's predominately used for can drinks, but it's also useful for making roofing.
This type of metal has many benefits that make it a popular choice for roofing needs, especially in locations close to seas or coastlines. Since aluminum won't be damaged under assault by saltwater. And, it has a high resistance against harsh weather conditions. Neither rain nor sleet, hail, or high winds will affect an adequately installed aluminum roof.
Other advantages of aluminum roofing include:
Aluminum is an easily recyclable material, making it very eco-friendly. Over 95% of aluminum roofing consists of recycled materials. Any scraps left over from your install can go to a recycling plant. And once you decide to replace your metal roof with a new one, you can also recycle the old aluminum panels.
Aluminum is lightweight, making it easy to install over a shingled roof without adding too much excess weight to the roof's structure. Too much weight can cause structural issues, which can be costly to repair. Choosing to do an overlay is also cheaper than paying for a tear-off, which is when the roofers remove the shingles or old roof materials before installing the aluminum.
- Rust Resistant
Another valuable benefit of using aluminum for your source of roofing metal is that you won't ever deal with rust or corrosion. In locations where there are significant amounts of precipitation, you'll want a metal roof that won't discolor due to excess exposure to moisture.
- Reasonably priced
No matter your financial situation, no one wants to pay more for a product than it's worth. Compared to other metal roofing, aluminum falls in the middle of the price range between $200 and $575 a roofing square (100 square feet). The cost fluctuates by panel, finish, and thickness.
There are a few drawbacks that you should consider when debating on aluminum for your metal of roofing choice. These factors may or might not apply to you or affect your final decision.
- Can't go natural
Most roofing contractors will advise against choosing an aluminum roof in its natural silver or gray color, as these roofs will show signs of war and damage faster. You can overcome this by having a coat of resin applied to the roof or buy panels or coils that are already resin coated.
Aluminum is thinner, so it can be more susceptible to dents than other, thicker materials. You may want to consider this significant issue if there are trees or other potential objects that could fall onto your roof.
- Affected by temperatures
This type of metal expands and contracts in size with the weather changing, which can cause oil canning. It will also make more audible noise that may be disruptive to the residents of the home. And you may have to do more frequent maintenance to the fasteners to keep your roof securely in place.
Zinc is an ideal metal for long-term roofs due to its remarkable ability for long-lasting durability. More people are starting to choose zinc for its many benefits, making it more popular than ever.
Benefits of zinc roofing:
The most significant benefit of zinc is that this metal can remain usable and reliable between 60 and 100 years. Once you install a zinc roof on your home, you might not need to replace it during your lifetime!
Zinc is a naturally occurring metal extracted out of the ground. Even after going through the process of fabrication, zinc roofs contain very few traces of toxicity. You get peace of mind knowing that your roof isn't causing ground pollution or toxic run-offs. Even the production uses less energy since zinc doesn't have iron, making it non-ferrous.
- Saves on energy bills
Most metal roofs reflect the sun, reducing your heating and cooling bills. Zinc can help lower your costs further, either by uncoated or coated panels.
Zinc has a protective outer layer that prevents scratches, corrosion, and markings from debris, wind, wildlife, or other hazards. An additional neat feature is that the protective layer repairs the damage by itself over time when harm does happen.
- Reduced maintenance
After installing a zinc roof, there's little to no maintenance necessary during the roof's lifespan. Not only does that save you time but money too.
So at this point, you may be saying this is the roof for you. But hold your horses because we've got more.
Now, let's look at some downsides of this durable, long-lasting zinc roof.
- Hurts your wallet
The most significant drawback of zinc roofs is the dent they make in your bank account. Zinc roofing costs between $600 and $1,000 a square.
All metal roofs, including zinc, are subject to oil canning or a visible waviness of the metal.
Zinc roofs can experience corrosion on the bottom when the underside does not have the proper coating. This corrosion can lead to your metal becoming weakened.
- Requires specific ventilation
To ensure your zinc roof stays durable and lasts, you have to install the proper ventilation system, ensuring there are no issues under the bottom of the roof.
Galvanized roofs are a common commodity for inexpensive metal roofing. This type is a steel piece coated with a zinc layer to make it resistant to corrosion and extend life. When people refer to a metal roof, they typically refer to steel metal rather than the other options we've listed.
Let's look at the advantages of this option.
- Low maintenance
Galvanized steel roofs do not require much maintenance once installed. You will need to do routine cleanings to remove any debris, such as sticks, leaves, or fruits. These roofs also do well with annual cleaning, during which you should inspect the roof for any signs of damage.
Compared to the other materials on our list, galvanized metals are more affordable, just a ⅓ of the price of zinc and copper and 35% less than aluminum. You'll pay between $150 to $300 a roofing square.
Galvanized metal roofs can withstand frequent rainstorms, hail, ice, snow and even gain force winds with gusts up to 140 mph. They also have impact resistance and won't warp, crack, or chip.
- Fire and rot-resistant
Galvanized steel is a fantastic roofing solution if you live in an area that's prone to wildfires, as it has a Class A fire rating (the highest possible). And these roofs won't rot, mildew, or be victims to termites, rodents, wildlife, or insects.
Now, onto the drawbacks of galvanized steel.
- Vulnerable to corrosion
Despite having a zinc coating, galvanized steel can rust over time. If you live in a location prone to heavy moisture, you will do better with a non-corrosive metal like zinc, copper, or aluminum.
Another disadvantage of galvanized metal is that it's heavier. This issue may cause problems during installation if your roof already has existing roofing materials. This metal might not be the right choice if you're hoping to save money by doing an overlay of metal over shingles.
- Shorter lifespan
Although all metal roofs last longer than shingled roofs, galvanized metal has a shorter lifespan of 40 to 60 years, less than other metal types. You may have to replace your roof two to three times in the same timeframe as the lifespan of copper or zinc.
Another type of galvanization is Galvalume, a mixture of aluminum and zinc that forms a protective layer over the steel middle. This type of roofing has better durability and protection from the elements than galvanized steel, but it is more prone to scratches and scuffs.
Copper has been a roofing source for thousands of years, with some records dating back to 27 B.C., when Romans used copper for the roof of the Pantheon. Many homeowners today use copper panels, coils, or accents for their roofs.
Let's look at some of the biggest reasons why it is popular.
Like aluminum, copper is also a lightweight material, which won't put too much strain on your roof. This feature also makes it easier to install.
Copper is also energy-efficient, helping you cut down on the energy your house uses while reducing your heating and cooling bills.
Another significant feature is copper's longevity. Copper roofs can last over 100 years when properly installed. This material is also durable enough to withstand strong winds, heavy rains, or massive snowstorms, making it ideal for homes in locations with severe weather.
- Aesthetic appeal
Many people settle on copper roofs primarily due to the distinct look it gives your structure. This material starts a metallic red-brown that starts to patina (turn blue-green) over time. Patina occurs due to sun exposure and oxidation.
So what are the downsides of this delightfully visually stunning metal roof? We're glad you asked because we've got a few things to mention.
Because copper is not easy to find or extract from the earth, it is a more expensive product. You'll spend anywhere from $500 to $1,000 a roofing square to install a copper roof on your house.
- Weather changes
If not installed properly, you may experience issues with your copper roof due to the natural expansion and contraction that occurs when the weather changes.
Since there's no way to stop a copper roof from turning patina, you'll need to take the time to seriously consider if you could stand this discolored look on your home for decades.
- Stains due to run-off
Some copper roofs cause staining of the sides of your house due to run-off. Installing your roof with enough overhang so the water can't travel along the structure will reduce this issue.
What we refer to as tin is rolled steel with a coating of tin that's chemically bonded together for durability and crack-resistant. This metal roofing used to be hugely popular, but today, it's nearly obsolete.
Today, most people use the word tin to refer to metal roofing that's aluminum, galvanized steel, or some other metal type rather than the actual metal - tin.
The advantages of tin roofing are that it's easy to install and it's lightweight. However, these benefits have not been enough to make tin dependable enough to be still used today. You will not be able to buy tin roofing for your home.
How to Choose a Suitable Metal Material
Are you confused by the fact that Metal Roof has so many different materials? Which is best for you? Don't worry about it. In this section, we'll help you make sense of what shopping criteria to consider to help you make the right decision.
A significant factor to consider when debating between different metal roofings is your budget. As you can see from above, the pricing varies greatly, with some options being premium types with a hefty price tag.
To figure out your budget, you'll need to consider the size of your roof, the cost of the materials, and the installation price. Roofers charge by the square foot or by roofing square - 100 square feet.
Installation of a metal roof can cost between $3 and $6 a square foot, in addition to materials. The shape of your roofline and the complexity of the job may cause the price to increase. Labor can run between $65 and $85 an hour. In total, your final price, including professional installation, is typically two to three times the price of your materials.
Costs look like this:
- Aluminum - $200-$575sq ($2-$6 a sq ft)
- Zinc - $600-$1,000sq ($8-$111 a sq ft)
- Galvanized - $150-$350sq ($1.50-$3.50 a sq ft)
- Copper - $800-$1,500sq ($10-$13 a sq ft)
- Tin - N/A
- Galvalume - $75-$200sq ($7-$20 a sq ft)
Next, you'll want to think about your location. Because metal roofs last a long time, you'll want to find one that will have the necessary properties to withstand the environment.
For example, if you live near the coast where your home constantly gets battered by brittle saltwater, you wouldn't want to install galvanized metal, as it would suffer from corrosion. In these locations, you'd do best with aluminum, zinc, copper, or stainless steel. Galvalume is also excellent due to the zinc coating.
In places that experience severe weather conditions like tornadoes, hail storms, or hurricanes, you'll want to choose a thicker gauge metal that won't dent or rip due to hard impacts or high winds. While aluminum is ideal for heavy rainfall, it's a softer metal that will dent in hail, as will copper. Zinc, Galvalume, or galvanized steel would work better in these conditions.
Compared to other roofing types like shingles, slate, or tiles, all kinds of metal roofing are light. However, it is still essential to consider each metal's weight when debating between the different types.
Putting too much weight on your roof can compromise the integrity of the structure. You may have to tear off the new roof and make costly repairs to the frame. The individual weights of each metal we've discussed are:
- Aluminum - 50 to 70 pounds per square
- Copper - 150 - 200 pounds per square
- Galvanized metals - 100 to 150 pounds per square
- Galvalume - 100 to 150 pounds per square
You'll also want to consider the lifespan of each type of metal. Most metal roofs will last for decades, while other types are lifetime roofs, meaning you install them once. The longevity of each metal looks like this:
- Aluminum - 50 years
- Zinc - 80 to 100 years
- Copper - 60 to 100 years
- Galvalume - 50 to 60 years
- Galvanized - 50 years
The final consideration should be the maintenance of your roof. The best thing about metal roofs is that they have very few maintenance requirements.
It's a good idea to do annual cleanings and inspections of your roof to ensure everything is in working order. You should also remove any debris to prevent damage to the roof surface. Other maintenance needs are as followed:
- Aluminum - minimal maintenance
- Galvanized metal - minimal maintenance
- Galvunum - minimal maintenance
- Copper - spray down with a vinegar and water solution and scrub with a soft brush
- Zinc - no maintenance
Q: How to maintain a metal roof?
A: Maintaining a metal roof requires far less work than other roofing types. The most important thing to do is keep your roof free of any debris that can cause scratches, dents, or further damage. It’s also crucial to yearly exams to check for signs of damage, corrosion, or loosened fasteners.
Q: Does a metal roof affect insurance?
A: You can find multiple insurance discounts for metal roofing. However, many times your insurance premiums may go up to account that metal roofs cost more to install and repair.
Q: Do metal roofs require gutters?
A: Most metal roofs do not need gutters. But many people still use gutters to protect other areas of their homes. Materials like copper or zinc can stain materials during water run-off. Gutters can prevent these unsightly issues.