For many of the homeowners I speak to, the term “metal roof” conjures up images of rusty sheets of tin clinging perilously to a decaying barn. Not surprisingly, they can’t imagine why I’d recommend a metal roof or why any homeowner would seriously consider it.
Of course, the truth about modern metal roofing is actually quite different. First of all, while sheets of metal might make great barn roofing, it isn’t a good choice for homes.
The residential metal roofing I install is actually comprised of concrete-coated steel shingles or panels. They come in a range of styles and colors, many of which are indistinguishable from more common types of roofing, such as asphalt shingles, clay tiles, and even slate.
But that’s where the similarities end. Metal roofing has many advantages over other materials.
One Roof, Two Jobs
Every roof has two critical jobs: One is to keep the weather out, and most roofing products do a good job of this for as long as they last, provided they are installed properly to begin with. Another job, and one that’s becoming more important as energy costs rise, is to conserve energy in a home.
It’s the hot summer months that really distinguish one roofing material from another. Many conventional roofing materials lie flat on a roof and conduct the heat from the sun directly into the sheathing underneath and then ultimately into the attic where it can raise the temperature inside the house dramatically, causing your central air conditioning to work harder to keep the home comfortable.
Most metal shingles are shaped to provide an insulating space between the roofing material and the sheathing underneath. The difference in terms of your comfort and your utility bill are significant. It’s the same principle as the insulation air space inside of a double pane window. By creating a barrier between the outside and the inside, the impact that hot and cold weather have on your indoor climate is greatly reduced.
Green Roofing Materials
Another important advantage that metal roofing has over more traditional materials is that it’s less damaging to the environment. The most common roofing material – asphalt shingles – are petroleum based. So the production of these shingles contributes to the negative environmental impact of recovering and processing petroleum. Then, at the end of their useful life (somewhere around 17 years, on average) they end up in the landfill along with millions of tons of other worn-out asphalt shingles where it can take decades for them to biodegrade.
A steel roof, on the other hand, is likely to be the last roof you’re home will ever need, so they don’t contribute to landfill issues. And in the event that a steel roof does need to be removed, the steel can often be recycled.
Cost v. Value of Metal Roofing
You’ve probably already guessed that steel roofing costs more than some other popular roofing materials. That is, they cost more until you divide the original investment over the lifetime of the product. Remember, getting 17 years out of an asphalt shingle roof is a pretty good result. On the other hand, a metal roof can easily last as long as 50 years. That’s an almost three-to-one advantage for metal. So, which costs more – one steel roof or three asphalt roofs? Advantage: metal roofing.
Of course, there’s also the matter of durability. Asphalt shingles relatively susceptible to wind and hail damage. Steel roofing, on the other hand, can be rated for winds up to 130 mph. Additionally, the metal roofing brand we install has received the highest impact resistance rating available from Underwriter’s Laboratory.
All in all, there are many advantages, and very little downside, to installing metal roofing on a home you plan to stay in for awhile. Your roof is truly your first line of defense against the elements and outrageous utility bills. So why settle for less than the very best protection and performance that money can buy?