Metal Roof Basics

Metal roofing is by far one of the greenest and longest lasting types of roofing materials. Professionally installed metal roofs will protect your home from rain, snow, high winds / hurricanes, ice dams, fires, hail, lightening, etc. No other type of roof will stand up to the power of nature as well as a metal roof. In addition to superior waterproofing and water-shedding properties, metal roofing also makes your home look beautiful, making it the envy of the neighborhood.

standing seam metal roof in northern California

A metal roof can improve the comfort of your home. The thermal properties of metal roofs will keep your attic space cooler in the summer, and a Cool Roof coating will further improve the reflectivity of your roof. During winter, a metal roof will help shed snow and and ice, acting as a natural barrier against ice dams formation.

Most of the snow accumulating on your roof will actually slide off the roof before it has a chance to freeze, but even if the melted snow does freeze along the eaves of the roof, the design of metal panels will prevent any melted water from traveling up and penetrating under the roof.

metal roof on a house

Basic Materials and System Types:

There are many types and styles of metal roofing, as well as many types of metal alloys used in manufacturing of metal coils from which products are made. Here, we list the most common and popular types of metal roofing, as well as a detailed overview of each metal roof material type:

Standing Seam – vertical metal roofing panels, installed over a solid roof deck or over space sheeting / battens. Standing seam metal roofs are available in architectural and structural profiles:

Standing Seam Metal Roof on a residence

Architectural Standing Seam – snap-lock or mechanical lock design with concealed fasteners. Uses 22-26 gauge steel, .032-.040 aluminum, 16 oz copper, Zinc or other premium metals. Painted standing seam uses Kynar 500 premium 7-layer baked on resin coating for metal panels.

  • Sheet Metal Panels with Exposed Fasteners – Corrugated and R-panels – usually lower gauge and quality steel (29 gauge G-60 galvanized steel – not as thick as G-90 26 gauge steel) panels, installed directly over roof deck or battens, without underlayment / vapor barrier, using roof-penetrating fasteners with neoprene / rubber washers or gaskets.

    Most common profiles include corrugated steel panels, R-panel, V5 crimp panel, etc. Exposed fastener metal roofing is typically painted with lower quality (as compared to Kynar 500) polyester or acrylic paint.

    Polyester paint finish will typically lasts 15-20 years, while the exposed fasteners will require resealing and re-tightening after about 10 to 15 years. — These systems are not very suitable for complicated / cut-up roofs, as their flashing details are not designed for multiple roof penetrations, valleys and pitch changes.

You can learn how to install a standing seam metal roof. – The guide covers preparing a roof deck and installing roofing underlayment, installing a starter strip, the first metal roof panel, field panels, doing sidewall flashing, valley flashing and installing hip / ridge cap. Contains standing seam installation videos.

Metal Shingles – Interlocking design metal panels installed in horizontal rows, over properly ventilated solid roof deck. Metal shingles roof is a true architectural metal roof – you can choose from many profiles of metal shingles that imitate natural slate, cedar shingles and shakes, concrete and clay tiles, asphalt shingles, etc.

metal shingles roofing

Compared to standing seam, metal shingles are usually less expensive to buy, and they also happen to cost less to install.

Metal shingles offer more flexibility for a roofing contractor, in terms of greater variety of readily available metal flashing details for virtually any type roof penetration or protrusion in the roof imaginable (skylights, chimneys, dormers, vents, pipes, etc.)

Metal shingles can also be installed on round-shaped towers, whereas standing seam cannot, unless a very expensive and sophisticated rolling equipment is used in manufacturing of custom designed sheet metal roofing panels.

Basic Pricing:

Metal roofing prices are something of a mystery for many homeowners, and can also vary greatly from region to region. Metal roofs are generally more expensive to install than a typical asphalt shingles roof – about two to three times more.

However, if you consider the lifetime cost of a metal roof vs. an asphalt shingles roof, you will see that on a per-year basis, a metal roof is actually about 25-30% less than asphalt shingles.

Simple math will show that an average asphalt shingles roof with a price tag of $7,500 and is like to last for 15 years, will cost $500 per year, on an annual basis. A metal roof costing $18,000 (approximately two and half times the cost of an asphalt shingles roof) installed on the same house and lasting for 50 years, will cost you only $360 per year, not to mention the ongoing energy savings, and curb appeal. 😉

If you also subtract all the future “would be” roof and interior repairs associated with the end of a life of a typical asphalt shingles roof – that time when your roof starts to leak, your ceilings, walls and carpets get ruined and you have to get up in the middle of the night to put up the buckets whenever it rains – a metal roof suddenly becomes far more appealing.

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