Choosing a roofing style for a new build or the renovation of an old build can be a real headache, given all of the choices there are. Metal roofing compounds this headache by representing a multitude of different options by itself, both in style and material. Fortunately, we’re here to lay out everything you need to know about metal roofing, so you can make an educated decision on whether metal roofing is right for you.
There are two main things to consider when talking about different choices of metal roofing—the style of roof and the material used. The style of the roof determines the profile of the panels or tiles used. The most expensive option is a standing seam roof, which is also generally considered to be the better-looking of the metal roofing options (taste is subjective, of course). There are also corrugated roofing panels, which feature a series of troughs and peaks that create additional strength and direct the flow of rainwater. Finally, there are metal tiles, which look like regular roof tiles but are made from metal. Where things can get a little more complicated is with the material used to make those tiles or panels.
Copper is perhaps the longest-lasting of the metal roofing options in terms of resistance to the general wear and tear you would expect a roof to face. It is also quite soft, which makes it easier to work and thus better suited for uncommonly shaped rooftops. This softness also translates to a quieter experience during things like rain, since the metal absorbs the impact more readily than a harder material. The main disadvantages of copper as a roofing material are its reaction to temperature swings and the cost. Copper expands and contracts with temperature changes more so than other roofing materials, which means the construction of the roof needs careful planning to compensate for this movement. It is also more expensive than different types of roofing. As with most things in life, you get what you pay for—copper roofing is costly for a reason.
Though it is not technically correct to say that aluminium doesn’t react to its environment, it is one of the most resistant to corrosion of the common metal roofing options. The truth is it reacts almost immediately, to the air around it, and that surface reaction protects the rest of the metal from further corrosion. It is for this reason that aluminium is favoured when choosing metal roofing for coastal properties, where salt corrosion is a real problem. Like copper, aluminium is more costly than most of its counterparts. This can lead to thinner panels being used in order to bring costs down, which in turn results in roofing that is more susceptible to damage from things like wind.
Zinc is typically favoured for commercial products and has perhaps the longest life expectancy of roofing metals to choose from. It also has a lower melting point than the alternatives, which means it requires less energy to make a panel of zinc roofing material, which in turn makes it better for the environment. The main downside to zinc is its tendency to “chalk” over if not painted. This means developing a powdery white patina over time. This can be cleaned to a degree, but the best option is usually to paint it before it has a chance to chalk over.
By far the most common metal used for metal roofing solutions, steel can come in a variety of flavours, each utilising a different method to protect the metal from corrosion. Galvanised steel sports a coating of zinc, whereas weathering steel is designed to allow the outer layer to rust, protecting the inner layers. Galvalume steel is similar to galvanised steel with the exception that it uses aluminium rather than zinc. The primary advantage of steel roofing over the alternatives is the lower costs and flexibility of use. It is for these reasons that steel has become by far the most commonly used metal for roofing. As a slight aside, steel roofing is also sometimes referred to as “tin”, however, this is just a bit of a hangover from times gone by. Real tin roofing has not been commonly used for over half a century.
Which Metal Roof Is Best?
The best metal roof for your property will often come down to individual circumstances. For example, copper roofing may be the best option for your building, but if you can’t afford copper roofing, it is by default, not the best option.
One of the main things to consider when choosing your metal roofing solution is the environment. Are you in a location that gets a lot of wind, meaning you will need a more substantial roofing solution? Do you get a lot of rain, suggesting that a softer material would be better so as to not drive you insane with the continual din that rain on a loud metal roof would cause? What about proximity to the coast? Salt corrosion is particularly effective on steel.
If you were to choose one “money is no object” metal roofing solution regardless of the circumstances, a standing seam copper or zinc roof would probably be your best bet. However, we would advise you to consider all the factors and pick something suited specifically to your situation. Get in touch with the experts at Brunswick Roofing Supplies for more details.