By Bob Vila
If you think of metal roofing as being a serviceable covering for outbuildings like barns and tool sheds, you’re missing the full story. You’re equally mistaken if you’ve assumed the opposite — that metal roofs are found mainly on luxurious, new lodge-style homes. The reality is no other material is more capable of protecting a structure from wind, rain, hail and rot. And since metal roofing now comes in looks that imitate everything from slate to asphalt to clay tiles, it’s easy to understand why this material has become a popular option among today’s homeowners.
Residential metal roofing is generally made of steel, aluminum or copper. Rolls of 24- or 26-gauge steel sheets are given a metallic coating to prevent rust, followed by a baked-on paint finish. Aluminum sheets don’t require the metallic coating but do get painted. Copper, a natural metal product, is neither coated nor painted because it weathers without corroding. It is sometimes used for special features, such as the roof of a prominent bay window.
Steel roofing products are coated with either zinc (galvanized) or a mixture of aluminum and zinc (galvalume or zincalume). Of the two, galvalume offers longer service. The coatings are available in several thicknesses — the thicker the coating, the longer the service — and the higher the cost.
While its initial material cost is greater than that of asphalt or other standard roofing materials, the longevity of metal roofing is far superior, lasting two to three times longer than the typical nonmetal roof. According to the Metal Roofing Alliance, metal roofs are also more energy efficient, reflecting heat in the summer and insulating during the winter months. Most manufacturers stand behind their products by offering true lifetime warranties of 30 to 50 years. If you’re not sold yet, metal roofs can increase resale value and — because of their fire resistance — they’ve been known to lower insurance rates in some states such as Texas.
Frequent concerns for people unfamiliar with metal roofs are fear of rust, noise and denting, but care has been taken to engineer metal roofing to solve these potential issues. To set the record straight, here are some top metal roofing myths debunked:
- Myth: Metal roofs will increase the likelihood of a lightning strike
- Fact: Metal conducts electricity, but electricity is not drawn to it.
- Myth: Metal roofs are noisy in the rain.
- Fact: They may even be quieter than other roof types.
- Myth: Metal roofs are susceptible to damage by hail.
- Fact: While extremely large hailstones can dent a metal roof, normal hailstorms will not. With textured roofs, minor denting is not readily visible.
- Myth: You cannot walk on a metal roof.
- Fact: You can walk on a metal roof, but you have to know how to do it without causing damage. Check with the manufacturer of the product you choose.
- Myth: A metal roof will make your house colder in winter.
- Fact: Actually, a metal roof has no effect on the temperature of the typical vented attic in winter. It’s the insulation under (or on top of) the floor of your attic that keeps you warm.
Metal roofs come in a variety of designs, covering the gamut from traditional to lodge and Mediterranean-style homes. Another benefit: Some of these products can be installed over existing asphalt shingle roofs, so check with your contractor or architect about your options.
Bob Vila is the home improvement expert widely known as host of TV’s This Old House, Bob Vila’s Home Again, and Bob Vila. Today, Bob continues his mission to help people upgrade their homes and improve their lives with advice online at BobVila.com. His video-rich site offers a full range of fresh, authoritative content – practical tips, inspirational ideas, and more than 1,000 videos from Bob Vila television.
Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.