Metal roofing has been used in the United States since the 18th century. Over the last 200 years, metal roofing continues to be a popular choice because it’s lightweight, durable, and naturally resistant to both pests and fire.

It’s easy to see why the metal roofing market has taken over the industry as one of the most popular roofing materials. Today’s modern metal roofing can match any style of home in nearly any climate from coast to coast.

4 Types of Metal Roof Materials

All metal roofs are not the same.

The type of material you choose makes a big difference in the appearance, longevity, and price of your roof.

The following information on each type of metal gives you the foundational knowledge to understand the differences in each one.

  • Copper – This is the oldest form of metal roofing. A well-installed copper metal roof can last up to 200+ years.
    • Pros – Copper is a beautiful option that is 100% recyclable, making it a great green option. It is also a soft metal, this makes it very quiet and able to absorb large impacts without puncture.
    • Cons – As one of the most expensive options, copper is outside of most standard roofing budgets. It is also prone to expansion and contraction due to weather changes and will easily dent from hail or debris.

A well-installed copper metal roof can last up to 200+ years.

  • Zinc – Zinc carries a lifespan of over 100 years and has the unique ability to be formed and molded into several shapes.
    • Pros – Zinc has a lower melting point which means that it requires less manufacturing energy and is 100% recyclable.
    • Cons – Similar to copper, zinc is also a soft metal that can be easily dented. It has a chalking effect as well.
    •  Also, it is both difficult and expensive to install.

Zinc carries a lifespan of over 100 years and has the unique ability to be formed and molded into several shapes.

  • Aluminum – Aluminum is a strong metal roofing that is typically painted to match the style of the home and surrounding areas.
    • Pros – Offers better protection against salt corrosion in coastal areas and has a higher strength-to-weight ratio than other metals.
    • Cons –  Strong aluminum can be an expensive option and the cheaper aluminum options alternatives are too thin and prone to damage.

Aluminum is a strong material that is typically painted to match the style of the home and surrounding areas

  • Steel – This is the only alloy in the metal roofing group. Made from iron and other elements, steel is currently one of the most common building materials used today.
    • Pros – Steel is the most popular option and therefore it is easy to find and relatively easy to install. It is 100% recyclable and the most budget-friendly option. Works great in high winds and won’t dent easily.
    • Cons – The manufacturing process is energy-intensive for steel, so it’s not necessarily a green material.

Made from iron and other elements, steel is currently one of the most common building materials used today.

Each of these materials has unique physical and chemical properties that make them ideal metals for roofing.

However, not all contractors can install all roofing materials, so be sure to hire only experienced contractors who have worked with the specific type of metal roof you’ve chosen.

Metal Roofing Installation

Installation of metal roofing can be done in three different ways. Each of these installation methods gives a different finished style to your roof.

  • Standing Seam – Standing seam panels are generally the highest standard of metal roof installation. This provides a more secure finished product and looks beautiful. The clips and fasteners used for installation are concealed and invisible to the naked eye, creating a built-in allowance for expansion and contraction of the metal panels. While this is more expensive, it also contributes to a longer lifespan of the roof. 

The clips and fasteners used for installation are concealed and invisible to the naked eye, creating a built-in allowance for expansion and contraction of the metal panels.

  • Exposed Fastener – Also known as a screw-down panel. In this panel style, the clips and fasteners are screwed in and visible on the top of the panel. This installation is less expensive, but not recommended for residential buildings.

In this panel style, the clips and fasteners are screwed in and visible on the top of the panel.

  • Hidden/Concealed Fastener – While the screws and nails used for installation are hidden, it is slightly different from a standing seam installation. The concealed fastener style interlocks rippled metal sheets that are overlapped and fastened directly to the roof sheathing using thousands of nails or screws. Although the fasteners are concealed, it doesn’t have the same cohesive look as a standing seam.

The concealed fastener style interlocks rippled metal sheets that are overlapped and fastened directly to the sheathing using thousands of nails or screws.

Metal Roofing Styles

Today’s metal roofing has come a long way to accommodate a wide range of styles. You can enjoy the benefits of metal roofing with a style that doesn’t even resemble metal.

  •  Shake –  Metal shake offers the fire and insect resistance property of metal roof materials with the look of warm and inviting cedar-shake roofing. This also provides a lower maintenance option when compared to authentic shake roofing.

Metal shake provides a lower maintenance option when compared to authentic shake roofing.

  • Shingles – Metal roofing can be manufactured to look like asphalt shingles. This is a great option if you live in an HOA that requires asphalt shingles, but you’re wanting a bit more protection. Metal shingles give homeowners the best of both worlds.

These shingles are a great option if you live in an HOA that requires asphalt shingles, but you’re wanting a bit more protection.

  • Tiles – Tile offers the aesthetically pleasing appearance of traditional ceramic tile roofing combined with all the superior advantages of metal roof materials.

Tile offers the aesthetically pleasing appearance of traditional ceramic tile roofing combined with all the superior advantages of metal roof materials.

  • Panels – Most common are roofing panels. These metal roof materials are produced in large sheets and trimmed to fit the shape and style of your roof.

These materials are produced in large sheets and trimmed to fit the shape and style of your roof.

  • Slate – This style gives you the luxury and beauty of traditional stone slate roofs, without the added weight of the stone, which can compromise your roof’s structure.

This style gives you the luxury and beauty of traditional stone slate roofs, without the added weight of the stone, which can compromise your roof’s structure.

Why People are Choosing Metal Roofs

It’s easy to see why so many homeowners are making the switch to metal roofing. The benefits that come with a metal roof are unmatched and nearly impossible to find in any other roofing material.

  • Longevity – Most homeowners will only have to install a metal roof once in their lifetime. Metal roofing is specially engineered by manufacturers to last longer than most roof materials. Metal roofs have a lifespan of 40-70+ years, while some copper roofs can last up to 200 years. Compare this with shingles that have an average life of 20 years.
  • Economical – The longevity of metal roofing also offers an economic benefit. Since metal roofs can last up to 70+ years, one metal roof can outlast three shingles roofs. This also means that it costs less in the long run.
  • Eco-Friendly – Metal roofing reduces our ecological footprint in two ways. First, metal roofs can be recycled at the end of their life instead of disposing of them in landfills. Second, some metal roofing materials like aluminum are manufactured from recycled material, using less energy in production.
  • Durability – Properly installed, metal roofing withstands a lot of external impact and natural forces, which include, but is not limited to, strong winds, storms, hail, mold, snow, and other debris. Metal roofs are also non-combustible making them ideal for mountain regions or areas prone to fire.
  • Maintenance – Compared to roof materials like shingles, well-installed metal roofing (especially a concealed fastener roof) requires little to zero maintenance throughout its lifespan.
  • Energy Efficiency – Metal roofing has very high emissivity. This means the roof doesn’t trap absorbed heat but gives it off easily. This feature, along with their high reflectivity (meaning that light rays hit them and reflect back) makes them extremely energy efficient. Most homeowners find that their new metal roofing reduces the energy cost of heating and cooling their homes.

Disadvantages of Metal Roofs

The following section highlights the disadvantages of metal roofing when compared to traditional roofing materials.

  • Costly – When it comes to metal vs asphalt, metal roofing is approximately twice the cost of asphalt shingles. Although it is more economical in the long run (because it will last much longer), the initial cost is high. Not everyone is willing and able to spend so much money on a roof.
  • Noisy – During heavy rain or hailstorm, the sound impact on metal roofing is usually louder than other roof types. The difference is often subtle, and many people find the sound of rainfall on their roof to be soothing, but it can be an annoyance for others.  Proper installation and extra attic insulation can reduce this problem.
  • Hail Impact – Large-sized hails cause a lot of problems for both asphalt shingles and metal roofing. The major difference is that the cosmetic impact of hail on metal roofing can be more noticeable. However, your insurance may be able to cover this.

Common Uses and Application of Metal Roofs

Metal roofing is now readily available for a wide range of applications including commercial, residential, and agricultural.

  • Commercial Buildings – Metal roofing is an attractive option for commercial & industrial buildings due to its strength and minimal maintenance requirements.
  • Residential Buildings – Homeowners are starting to rely on metal roofing for their homes mainly due to its longevity and economical value.
  • Agricultural Projects – Barns and agricultural buildings are arguably the oldest application of metal roofing and a tradition that continues today.

What Is the Cost of Metal Roofing?

The cost of metal roofing is anywhere from $9,545 to 44,819. On average homeowners can expect to spend $26,682.

What Affects the Cost of Metal Roofing?

Several factors will affect the final cost of a metal roof installation in your area.

  • Type of Metal – The type of metal you choose affects the raw costs of the materials required, and can affect the installation costs as well. Some metal types, like steel, are less expensive to find and easier to install whereas copper will increase costs.
    • Steel Cost: $3.35 to $4.50 per square foot
    • Aluminum Cost: $3.25 to $5.75 per square foot
    • Zinc Cost: $5.65 – $11.00 per square foot
    • Copper Cost: $14.00 to $22.00 per square foot

The type of metal you choose affects the raw costs of the materials required, and can affect the installation costs as well

  • Type of Installation – The homeowner chooses between standing seam, exposed fastener, and concealed fastener. Concealed Fastener is the most expensive because the fasteners are hidden from the elements and thus protected from damage.
  • Roof Size and Pitch – Very steep roofs make the job more dangerous and difficult. This means that roofers will need more safety gear and more time. Because time always equals money, the size and features of your roof make a difference in the overall cost.

Choosing Metal Roofing Materials

Whether you’re installing a roof on a newly-constructed home or outbuilding or replacing an existing roof on a commercial building, selecting the right roofing material is an important decision.

Metal roofing is a great option if you want an eco-friendly roof you can rely on with little to no maintenance for decades to come. Metal roofing provides the lifespan, durability, and elegance that you’re looking for. You need a roofing company you can trust.

Because there are fewer roofing contractors with the experience and training to install metal roofing, it’s important to hire an experienced contractor who has used the material you’re looking for. This is the best way to ensure a high-quality installation that you can rely on for (literally) the rest of your life. If you want to upgrade your home with metal roofing, give the experts at Invision a call today!