In the past, there used to be a name for a building on a residential property that was topped by a metal roof: shed. Or shack. Or mobile home.
However, that definition is not accurate in the 21st century. There are many single-family homes which sport a roof that is made not from shingles, wood, or clay tiles, but from steel, aluminum, copper, or other metals. At first glance, you wouldn’t even notice many of these metal-roofed homes thanks to the wide variety of styles and colors.
But is a metal roof right for your current (or next) home? Here is a closer look at the advantages and drawbacks of metal roofing:
Metal Roof Pros
The most attractive feature of a metal roof is its durability. Unlike shingle or composite roofing materials, properly-installed metal roofs are generally expected to last as long as the houses they protect. In fact, most metal roof warranties are for time periods of between twenty and fifty years.
Furthermore, the metal roofing material is constructed to better withstand a host of potential dangers. Obviously, it is resistant to fire; but its lack of porousness also enables a metal roof to shed moisture. This capability makes it impervious to rotting, mildew growth, and insect infestation – unlike shingle or wooden roofs. In addition, metal roofing won’t blow away in high winds like shingles or wood shakes might do.
Finally, metal roofing boasts a very high convenience factor. For instance, it seals out water more effectively than traditional roofs and facilitates snow runoff better as well. Also, metal roofs reflect the sun’s heat instead of absorbing it, which helps make the home more energy-efficient. The metal sheets are more lightweight than other roofing materials such as shingles, clay, or slate which can be as much as three or four times heavier. As a result, metal roofing is much easier to install, and these projects take less time to complete than those involving most other roof types.
Metal Roof Cons
Perhaps the biggest disadvantage of a metal roof is its upfront cost. Homeowners will generally pay between $5 and $15 per square foot for a metal roof, as compared to $2.50 to $4.50 per square foot for a standard asphalt shingle roof. Therefore, it will take many more years for the homeowner to recoup his or her investment.
Metal roofing may also be more prone to certain types of damage. Since metal expands and contracts, these roofs are equipped with fasteners to account for this movement; unfortunately, these fasteners can come loose as the result of expansion or contraction. And while most metal roofs aren’t very susceptible to scratches or chips, they can be dented by large hail, errant baseballs/golf balls, or other objects. (Steel roofs are more impervious to these hazards than are copper or aluminum.)
Finally, great care should be exercised when walking on a metal roof in order to prevent permanent damage. In fact, walking on these roofs is generally discouraged because of the increased potential for denting. And if a metal panel has to be replaced due to damage, the cost will be significantly higher than that associated with repairing a shingle roof section of similar size.
As with most exterior home improvements, there is no right or wrong answer when it comes to choosing a metal roof. Each homeowner must weigh the pluses and minuses and reach a decision that is best for him or her. When seeking information about a metal roof, it’s important to check with local building codes and municipality construction rules to see if they are allowed. Also, don’t rely solely on a metal roofing contractor to get unbiased information about the feasibility of this type of roofing for your home.
One thing’s for sure: metal roofs are no longer restricted to homes of subpar quality or a lower price point. It’s possible that one day there may be just as many homes with metal roofing as there are with shingles on top of them!
Written by Del Thebaud