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Metal Roofing Costs – Benefits, Myths, and Pros & Cons in 2018

Metal roofing is a far superior, energy efficient and environmentally safe roofing alternative to conventional asphalt roofs. Naturally, most people who become exposed to the many great benefits that metal roofs have to offer, will consider installing metal roofing on their property. This rightfully brings up the question: how come not everybody has metal roofs on their homes?

Aside from the general lack of awareness and perpetuation of the old myths and untruths about metal roofs being noisy in the rain, not that good looking, and easily susceptible to corrosion, it is the fact that on average, a metal roof has a higher initial cost of investment compared to the ubiquitous asphalt shingles.

Generally speaking, metal roofing costs approximately double of what you would normally pay for asphalt shingles installation by a professional contractor in good standing, who has their licenses and insurances in check.

Standing Seam Metal Roof on a residence

Pricing Overview

Metal shingles, the basic kind of a metal roofing system, cost about $250 per square for galvanized steel shingles, $350 per square for aluminum shingles, and $1,100 per square for copper shingles.

Standing seam sheet metal roofing panels cost about $550 per square for the materials, plus trim (This does not include the cost of labor). Prices provided here include all the necessary trim and metal flashing.

Install Roof Shingles

$7,500
Average price
Install Metal Roof

$15,000
Average price
Install Flat Roof

$9,000
Average price

See costs in your area Start Here - Enter Your Zip Code

Note: If you are planning to take on the installation of a new metal roof by yourself, then be sure you understand the fundamental principles of installing the particular system that you choose.

Prices provided here are meant as a general guideline only, and will vary depending on your location, contractor, and the difficulty of your roof.

Steel Shingles

Steel shingle roofs cost around $800 per square for the materials and labor. Steel shingle roofs are protected by a layer of zinc and aluminum to prevent corrosion, which should give you about 50 years of service life under normal conditions.

red-metal-roofing-shingles

Aluminum Shingles

If you live near coastal area where the air contains a higher concentration of salt, you should choose aluminum as a metal roofing material, rather than steel. Installing aluminum shingles metal roofing will cost you about $1,000 per square for materials and labor.

Standing Seam

On the higher end of metal roofing products for residential homes you may choose to install standing seam, which will run you about $1,100 per square for materials and labor.

residential standing seam metal roof

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Metal vs. Shingles: How a Metal Roof Compares to Asphalt Shingles

Why should you even consider metal in the first place?

By far, one of the major problems with asphalt/composition roofing shingles is that asphalt is a petroleum based product, which means that it is inherently ecologically and environmentally-unfriendly choice. There is no easy and effective way to dispose off all the asphalt shingle roofs that require replacement every ten to twenty years, other than to tear off the old shingles, and send it into the landfill where it will be buried in the ground, and left there to decompose for many decades to come.

tamko-steel-shingles-roof

Install Roof Shingles

$7,500
Average price
Install Metal Roof

$15,000
Average price
Install Flat Roof

$9,000
Average price

See costs in your area Start Here - Enter Your Zip Code

Petroleum-based Products should be Eliminated as much as possible, not recycled.

One does not need to be a hardcore environmentalist to see how detrimental composition shingles roofing products are to the nature and the environment. So, the big question comes up, what is an environmentally friendly and practical alternative to an asphalt shingle roof? The answer is simple, for the last few decades metal roofing has been gaining market share and popularity as a green roofing material of choice.

Metal roofing can last much longer than an asphalt shingles, which only averages 10 to 20 years of service life. A metal roof, on the other hand, can last well over 35-50 years when properly installed. The key to a long lasting metal roof is a strict adherence to your system’s manufacturer installation guidelines.

red-metal-roofing-shingles

Metal vs. Shingles Installation Video:

Installing metal roofing correctly involves a thorough preparation of the roof deck, proper application of roofing underlayment, and a correct installation of a steel, aluminum, or copper shingles roofing system.

Whether you hire a professional installer, or choose to go do it yourself route, be sure to follow all the installation instructions thoroughly. This way your new metal roof will actually perform as it should, lasting for many decades, while providing energy savings, maintenance free roof protection, and a durable and long lasting beauty.

metal-shingles-roof-installation

Here are a few more reasons to consider a metal roof for your home:

Metal roofing is reliable and long lasting green building material, which means that you can earn green building credits for the installation of an energy efficient metal roof that is rated by a Cool-Roof rating council and Energy Star for its solar reflective properties.

A metal roof can also help lower your homeowner’s insurance by as much as 35%. Metal roofs are fire retardant, which means they do not support fire, which can be a significant factor if you live in a heavily wooded area. Metal roofs can withstand powerful storms and category four hurricane winds. This may be very helpful if you live in a hurricane prone area.

Metal roofs provide excellent protection in the cold climates. Coated with specialty coatings, metal roofs shed snow and ice, which may help you prevent ice dams from forming on your roof.

As far as aesthetics go, modern metal roofs may add a unique touch of style and either modern or traditional (depending on your choice of a system) architectural touch to your home. You can choose from a wide array of traditional metal shingles and shake profiles available in many beautiful colors, to the vertically-oriented lines of standing-seam panels that can easily be enhanced with roof-integrated PV solar panels. This combination will make your house not only energy efficient, but also capable of generating its own electricity from the ever-abundant solar energy.

Do not let the initially higher cost of metal to deter you from choosing this energy efficient, durable, and long lasting roofing option for your home. Remember that metal roofing will help you lower your cooling costs, appraise the value of your property, and provide many years of reliable and worry free service to you.

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How a Metal Roof is Manufactured

When you see that sparkling new metal roof up on your home, or a house you drive by, do you ever wonder how it was actually made and what goes into the process of manufacturing a metal roof?

standing-seam-metal-roof

A standing seam metal roof is the most popular of all metal roofing systems, in part because it can be roll-formed by roofing contractors on a job site, or in a sheet metal shop, to the exact specs provided by the contractor. In other words, you don’t need to “deal” with big manufacturers when getting a standing seam roof.

But lets take a step back and actually explore the manufacturing process of a metal roof, from the iron ore mine to your roof.

Roll-forming Standing Seam Panels

All standing seam metal roofs go through a roll-former – a machine that turns a metal coil into actual metal roofing panels. The roll former machines can be outfitted with different panel profiles, mechanized or manual shears, computer controller unit, portable or stationary platform / trailer, uncoilers, built-in 10,000 watts generator, and other upgrades, depending on the purposes of its use and how much you want to spend.

MetalMan Roll Forming Machine by Englert Inc. - Source www.englertinc.com
MetalMan Roll Forming Machine by Englert Inc.

The basic process of making standing seam panels involves feeding metal coil into a roll-former. – Once inside a roll-former,  the metal coil goes through a series of rolls, which make bends and curves. – Each successive roll makes more of a bend than a previous one. These rolls are made of hardened stainless steel for increased lifespan and durability. Some can bend a metal as thick as 22 gauge steel.

The rolls make up different standing seam profiles, such as Snap-Lock standing seam, Snap-Lock with a nailing strip (no clips required, when fastening these metal panels to the roof), Mechanical Lock Profile, R-Panel, V-5 Crimp panels, and many other exotic profiles.

A panel width can be manually set on each roll-forming machine, but typical widths are 12, 16 and 20″ wide panels. Panel width is actually dictated by a metal coil being used. For a 12″ wide panels you need a 16″ coil. The “extra” 4 inches are not shaved off inside a machine – they actually go into making the locks on each side of the panel.

The computer control unit takes care of the machine operation / speed, panel length, etc. A smart control unit with automatic shear, can pretty much automate your manufacturing process, by running the coil at specified speed and cutting it at specified length. For example you can program it to produce 10 panels at 28′ 3″ and 25 panels at 24′ 6″ and it will do just that – at required length, the machine stops, the automatic shear cuts off the panel, you pull it out and the next panel starts rolling out of the machine.

Sheet Metal Shop

Besides the actual metal panels, there is also a lot to manufacturing a metal roof that escapes the eye – namely, making all the accessories for a metal roof: the drip edge, rake / gable trim, valley pans, ridge cap, z-bar flashing, sidewall and head-wall flashing for roof to wall connection, chimney and skylight curb flashing, etc. All of these items require precision manufacturing and are absolutely necessary for any type of vertical panel metal roof.

All these metal roof flashing is made in a sheet metal shop, on highly sophisticated, computerized sheet metal brakes, which can also be programmed to increase the speed of making the most popular profiles of metal roof flashing.

The way that a computerized brake is different from a manual or a hand brake is that when using a manual brake you have to manually measure, mark and set up the depth for each bend to happen, and you have to do it on each side of the metal strip to be bent. While this is a viable option, it is very slow, labor intensive and not very precise.

The computerized or automatic sheet metal brake, which is a necessary attribute of any good sheet metal shop, has special “fingers” or stops that will let you insert a strip of metal only so deep inside the brake, and the hydraulic bender, will make the bent. These computerized brakes are very heavy duty and can easily bend metal that is 22 gauge or thicker. Even a 3/16″ thick metal (aluminum and steel) can be bent in a heavy duty industrial brake, but for metal roofing it is an overkill, as a typical thickness rarely exceeds 24 gauge metal in residential application and 22 gauge in commercial profiles.

Besides a sheet metal brake, a metal shop needs an automated hydraulic shear to cut strips of metal to the required width, so that a brake operator can quickly produce required components and not worry about having the pieces of metal cut.

Beside the shear, the break, and other smaller specialty tools, each sheet metal shop has some heavy duty racks, where the metal coils, sheets of metal and already produced flashing accessories are stored, and a fork-lift to load and unload all the coils and other heavy stuff. Shop workers cannot lift a typical 2,000 or 3,000 lb. metal coil on their own.

sheet metal shop

The bottom line is that running a metal roofing panels manufacturing facility is quite costly, and all work must be coordinated between the guys that make the panels and the sheet metal shop. Most of the time, to simplify things, the roll-forming machine is located in the shop, on the transportable trailer, and is only taken to a job-site when the job is far from the shop, and panels are too long to be transported by conventional means.

Often, metal roofing contractors who own a roll-forming machine, and manufacture their own standing seam panels, employ an independent sheet metal shop to produce their flashing and accessories, as running a fully equipped shop can be afforded only by bigger, commercial size roofing contractors.

Manufacturing Sheet Metal Coil

We will actually skip the process of converting iron ore into iron / steel, processing and purifying it, etc. Instead, we will start with manufacturers of sheet metal roofing coils, and what they do.

First of all, metal roofs can be made from steel, aluminum, zinc, copper, and even stainless steel. However, galvanized steel and aluminum are the most popular metals, and we will concentrate on these two.

There are about four or five large suppliers of metal roofing coil in steel, and two or three in aluminum, with smaller players picking up the slack.

sheet metal coil

All of these guys basically take a thick metal coil, and run it through rolling machines, to reduce the thickness to a required grade – usually 29, 26, 24 and 22 gauge in galvanized steel, and .032″ / .040″ in aluminum. The steel coil also undergoes a hot-dip galvanization process, where the coil runs through a pool of boiling galvanic mix of molten zinc (G-90 galvanization) or a mixture of zinc and aluminum (Galvalume). Once the coil is dipped in the hot galvanic metal, a thin galvanization layer is formed all around an otherwise highly corrosive steel.

Then the coil is run through an annealing machine, which is basically a hot furnace with cooling tubes and ammonia gas inside the chambers. Annealing softens the metal, which can then be easily rolled down to the required thickness. Aluminum coils do not require galvanization and just go through an annealer machine, before getting rolled down.

Applying Solar Reflective Paint (Kynar 500) is done once a metal coil has been galvanized and cleaned. The coil is then fed into a special “painting machine”, which is a series of separate units, each responsible for its own operation.

First, the coil is thoroughly cleaned and dried. Then it goes through a primer application chamber, where primer is applied to both sides of the coil. Then it goes through a baking chamber where the coil is dried at a high temperature, and primer is baked on. Then another primer and bake-on drying process happens for better, more even primer application.

Once the coil has been primed, and primer has cured in the “baking” chamber, it goes through the painting cycle, which is essentially the same as priming, only the main color is added to the coil in two layers on top. Usually a white coat is added to the underside of the coil, which once again goes through the baking / drying cycle.

Install Roof Shingles

$7,500
Average price
Install Metal Roof

$15,000
Average price
Install Flat Roof

$9,000
Average price

See costs in your area Start Here - Enter Your Zip Code

Manufacturers

Once the coil is painted, it gets shipped to various metal roofing manufacturers such as Englert, Fabral, PAC CLAD, etc. – These guys slit the coils to their standard widths and cut them into smaller coils – usually 1,000-3,000 lbs., instead of huge 10,000 lb. coils, which come from coil manufacturers.

These smaller coils are then either formed into different types of metal roofing panels or sold off to smaller sheet metal shops or contractors with roll-forming machines, who either install them, or resell them to metal roofing contractors.

The bottom line here is that most standing seam metal roofs are virtually the same product, as most of them use standard Snap-Lock or Mechanical Lock profiles (under different names of course), and the coil usually comes from the same three or four places. The difference is in price, warranty and manufacturer-specific custom panel profiles.

Other than that, as long as the coil comes from a household-name supplier, it does not matter who produced your metal roof. What really matters is the quality of installation.

Then again, I myself have seen aluminum metal shingles with chipping and peeling paint. On one roof made by a company out of Canada, each shingle had paint peeling off at exactly the same spot as others, which leads me to believe that the coil was not painted properly on one side. Another example is of another, smaller metal shingles “manufacturer” out of Canada, whose aluminum metal shingles would also lose paint, as it would easily come off when scratched with a finger nail. This manufacturer would not warranty the product, and stopped responding to the complaints of the homeowner.

The two examples above indicate that a proper warranty is still important and you want to have your metal roof come from a respectable company that will honor their warranty obligations. Just to give you peace of mind, these cases with paint defects are EXTREMELY rare, and most steel metal roofs (especially the cheaper 29 gauge. steel with acrylic paint) will rust before the paint comes off. That’s why it’s important to buy a premium product, if you want a premium service out of your metal roof.

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