Residential Metal Roofs
Written by: Stephanie Stevens
While metal roofing has been seen in commercial applications for years, it is only recently that it has become a common to see metal residential roofs.
Metal roofs have been around for hundreds of years (early versions were primarily of lead or copper), and were a popular residential roofing product in the latter half of the 1800's, problems with corrosion and the invention of the asphalt shingle caused the popularity of the residential metal roof to wane through most of the 20th century.
Improvements in manufacturing processes and coating materials technology have lead to a resurgence in metal roofing as an attractive alternative for residential applications. Long gone are the days when a metal roof was either galvanized steel or a rather lackluster red or green panel. These days metal roofs are available in a wide range of vibrant colors and many different styles.
Metal roofing is available in the standard vertical panels, but also in products that resemble slate or asphalt shingles, cedar shakes and terra cotta tiles. The most common metals used in residential roofing are steel and aluminum. Steel is the preferred product in most parts of the country, though aluminum is recommended for high salt environments. Though much less common, a copper roof provides an especially distinctive appearance.
It is not uncommon these days to see a residential roof that has been covered with agricultural panels. This is inadvisable, as even with the best of today's fasteners, this type of roofing is prone to leaks. Even small leaks in a roof can have disastrous results over time.
The one thing that the vast majority of residential metal roofing products have in common is that they are all hidden fastener systems. There are no places where fasteners have penetrated the roofing material that are exposed to the elements. This vastly improves the performance of the roof.
Metal roofing in it's various configurations can decrease cooling costs in sunny climates by up to 28%, can decrease insurance costs in certain states by up to 35%, and in places with especially harsh weather conditions can outlast most asphalt roofs by as much as 30 years.
Much of this was because modern high tech baked on coatings being used these days. In addition to their rich color selection, the coatings can reduce the amount of heat absorbed and retained by the roof. The slipperiness of the coated panel also sheds snow and ice with ease.
Residential metal roofs can also be designed with very high wind resistance and often come with a class A fire rating. While early on metal roofing was the beneficiary of the rise in price of standard asphalt roofing due to rapidly increasing oil prices, lately increases in the cost of raw materials have had a big impact on the price of metal roofing materials.
Installed prices for residential metal roofs are significantly higher than installed prices for standard asphalt roofing, but a price based purely on installed cost is misleading. The lifetime cost of a metal roof can be very competitive. It is common for the warranty period for a metal roofing installation to be 50 years. Given that in harsher climates the average life expectancy of an asphalt shingle roof is less than 17 years (sometimes as little as 10 years), and factoring potential savings in cooling and insurance costs, a residential metal roof can actually be quite competitive. In addition, the recovered cost of an installation - a common measure of the value of a home improvement - is much higher with metal roofing, over 90% in some cases.
The application of metal roofing is definitely not a project that should be undertaken by the average homeowner. The specialized accessory pieces needed to successfully weather proof a residential metal roof at places such as eaves and sidewalls, valleys, and protrusions like vents and skylights, require experienced installers. In addition the fastening systems are not typical, and misapplication could have disastrous consequences.
For performance, durability, and sheer beauty it is hard to improve on a properly installed metal residential roof.
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