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Pros and Cons of a Metal Roof – Is This Roofing Worth the Investment?

If you are building a new home or thinking about replacing your old one, you could be looking at quite a significant expense. Roofing plays a considerable role in protecting the entire house from damage and keeping the occupants safe from elements and wild animals.

Over the last decade, more homeowners are seeking out energy-efficient roofing solutions on top of considering the cost and aesthetics. According to Todd Miller, president of Isaiah Industries in Piqua, Ohio, the roofing business is the energy business. Thankfully, consumers are starting to notice that.

It is therefore no surprise that homeowners installing metal roofs as part of new construction and roof replacement projects are rapidly increasing. As of 2015, 750,000 US homeowners chose metal roofing for their homes, which is 11% share of the roofing market, only second to asphalt shingles.

Are you curious why metal roof popularity has grown so much in such a short time? Read on as we go through some of the benefits of metal roofing as well as a few of the drawbacks you can expect to see.

Metal Roof Benefits

  1. Longevity and Durability

The number one selling point of metal roofing is durability. In fact, according to a recent McGraw-Hill survey, 26% of homeowners who chose residential metal roofing cited longevity as their primary reason, while 22% said they chose metal because of its strength.

Properly installed metal roofing has a life expectancy of 50-70 years for steel and aluminum while copper and zinc can last over 100 years. This means the roof will last as long as the house, and most manufacturers give a 30-50-year warranty. Unlike asphalt and wood, metal roofing is not affected by mold, fungi and moisture that can cut the lifespan of the roof in half.

While you might need to inspect your roof annually just to make sure it’s in tip-top shape, metal roofing is made to withstand high winds of up to 140 miles per hour, shedding snow, hailstorms, fire, mildew and rot. Compared to asphalt shingles and wooden roofs that must be repaired and maintained regularly, metal roofing will not ask for a single cent from you after installation.

  1. Lightweight Materials

Most varieties of metal roofing weigh between 50 and 150 pounds per roofing square (100 square feet). This is extremely light if you compare it to asphalt shingles or concrete tiles which weigh 750 to 900 pounds per square. Because metal roofs are so light, you don’t need such a comprehensive supporting structure. This  also makes it okay to apply your new roof on top of an already existing roof, saving you both time and money.

  1. Energy Efficiency

Metal roofing passes as a cool roof because of its ability to reflect heat from the sun, instead of absorbing it. During the day when it’s scorching hot, the metal reflects the sun’s rays away, keeping your house cool, no matter how hot it is outside. 

Though metal in itself is low in insulation, you can have rigid-foam insulation under the roof or have dead air-space between the metal roof and the deck to minimize heat transfer, if any.

You can save some bucks since you don’t need to crank up the air conditioning during summer. The Metal Roofing Alliance estimates a 25% 

savings on cooling costs and this can be more if the roof is coated with a special reflective color.

But can’t you get the same reflectance if you paint other roofing materials white? Absolutely, but this white coating loses its initial reflectance by 25-40 percent in a year. Metal roofing retains over 95% of its natural 

reflectance throughout its life whether it’s painted or not.

Energy Efficiency
  1. Metal Roof Installation is Easy and Fast

Metal roofing comes in multiple sections of about 12 to 36 inch wide panels. A professional roofing company can install these in a day, saving you labor costs and other inconveniences. If there is a storm on the way and you want to safeguard your house, the contractor can have you sorted in less than 48 hours. The fact that you can install the roof on top of an existing one also makes installation super easy because you don’t have to tear down the old roof first.

  1. Maximum Shedding of Rain and Snow

Did you know that ice dams can cause a leak in your roof? Metal roofing is not just useful during the hot months; it also comes in handy during winter. When there is insufficient insulation under the roof, hot air rises from the house and gets trapped right under the roof deck. This heat warms up any ice or stagnant water on the roof and causes it to run down and refreeze along the cooler roof eaves. This refreezing is what we call an ice dam, and it can be a sneaky cause of leaking.

Metal roof panels interlock, making the surface smooth and slippery. This helps when it rains or snows because water and ice slide right off as soon as it happens, preventing the formation of ice dams. On the downside though, this slippery surface means if you try to walk on the roof, you are likely to slide off as well.

  1. Environmentally Friendly

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, 11 million tons of asphalt shingles get disposed of in landfills annually. This is an equivalent of 11 million barrels of oil spilled on the ground.

Fortunately for the world, at least 30% of what makes metal roofing is recyclable, and most metal roofs can be 100% recycled. This, and the fact that you only replace a metal roof once every 70 or so years, makes metal roofing very sustainable and good for the environment.

By using metal roofing, consumers are not only saving plants and animals from pollution but also saving on inappropriate use of natural resources such as petroleum and water. A metal roof provides the perfect platform to explore other eco-friendly activities such as harvesting rainwater and using solar power.

  1. Variety of Styles and Colors

Today’s metal roof varieties are a far cry from the rust-looking corrugated tin barns we had in the past. 

You can now choose from galvanized steel, zinc, copper and aluminum in a mind-blowing array of colors and shapes.

While asphalt shingles have 15-20 color choices, modern metal roofs come in over 100 different colors that hold really well, especially in steel and aluminum materials. Even though 7 out of 10 homeowners living under a metal roof use traditional vertical ribbed panels or standing seam, metal roofing is not short on style options. You can choose your roof to resemble other roofing options such as tiles, wood shakes, or any design you want.

metal roof Variety of Styles and Colors
  1. Safety

Another vital metal roof benefit is that it’s non-combustible. If you live in  areas susceptible to wildfires or lightning, a metal roof will not ignite into flames. Metal roofs have a class A fire rating, which is the highest level of fire-resistance to ensure your safety. While metal conducts electricity, it does not attract electric power, which is why lightning will hit a nearby tree instead of your metal roof.

The fire-resistance rating of a metal roof, however, can be undermined by the material underneath it. For example, if the roof is applied over wood shingles, any fire coming from inside can get detrimental quite fast. Firefighters will need to cut through the metal panels to put out the fire inside, which can be quite a challenging task, if they can even do it.

  1. Protection from Pests and Wild Animals

How do raccoons and rodents get in? If you guessed the roof, you are right. These sneaky pests use the spaces between your roof to get into the house and camp inside the attic during the day so they can terrorize you at night. Asphalt shingles and wooden roofs make this very easy because rodents can chew through the material or pry open the shingles. However, they can’t do this with a metal roof because the material is too hard and interlocked.

  1. Metal Roofing Stands Out

If you are someone who likes to blend-in with the rest, metal roofing may not be your thing as it’s still making its way to residential properties. Most homes still use asphalt shingles so a metal roof will stand out like a sore thumb. However, this is a big plus for many people who don’t want to conform.

Metal Roof Drawbacks

Metal roofing offers more than enough benefits, which puts it at the top of roofing options for commercial and residential use. However, like every good thing, it also has a few drawbacks that may or may not be deal-breakers.

  1. High Cost of Purchase and Installation

If you ask anybody why they chose asphalt shingles over metal, they will probably tell you the cost, and with good reason. The average cost of metal roofs is more than three times more expensive than other roofing materials starting at $265 to $600 per square for aluminum and steel. If you want better quality material like zinc or copper, be prepared to cough up $700-$900 per roofing square. This means a 1500 square feet house will cost you approximately $10,000 to roof.

If you compare the metal roof cost to asphalt shingles that cost $60-$90 per square, meaning $900 to $2000 for a 1500 square foot house, you can see the huge difference.

However, this cost is worth it if you plan to live in that house for a long time because you won’t have to incur any additional cost of roof repair, roof replacement, or maintenance. The fact that metal roofing reduces your energy bills by a large margin also counts in the long run. As if that wasn’t enough, homeowners with metal roofing get amazing insurance discounts and tax credits because of the durability and strength of the roof.

  1. Noise

If you don’t like the sound of rain hitting the roof while you are sleeping, a metal roof may not be your cup of tea. Rain or hail falling on metal can make for quite a noisy day. Thankfully, metal roofing companies know just what to do to solve this problem. The contractor will lay plywood and oriented strand boards under the roof to ensure the roof is reasonably quiet as well as sturdy in the wind. It’s also important to lay proper insulation under the roof to keep the noise at bay.

  1. Expansion and Contraction

Metallic material expands and contracts because of heat and cold. If done wrong, the roofing panels can make fasteners loosen due to this movement. Water will then slip in through the exposed spaces and cause problems. Professionals use resilient washers to seal around the screw heads and ensure there is room for expansion and contraction.

  1. Denting

If your car hits something even slightly, the metal dents. This also happens to metal roofs if hailstones or falling branches hit them. Some softer materials like copper and aluminum will even dent if you walk on the roof. This, however, only affects the aesthetic appearance of the roof and nothing structural. Alternatively, you can choose a metal roof that is strong and guaranteed not to dent, such as steel, if you anticipate falling branches, hailstorms, or the occasional walk on the roof.

  1. Difficult Modification

If one roof panel is damaged, replacing it can be quite tricky. The way those panels or shingles interlock make it almost impossible to remove one without taking out the entire row. If you decide to expand your home one day, it will be challenging to find the exact color to match what you have now.

Is metal roofing worth the investment or not?

Is metal roofing worth the investment or not?

It doesn’t take a genius to see that the benefits of metal roofing far outweigh those drawbacks.

The secret to enjoying a metal roof hassle-free for a long time is to use professional roofers with experience to do the work properly, like Direct Metal Roofing, Inc. A simple mistake like laying the panels wrong or leaving out a washer can cause some serious problems.

If you are building your forever home, sacrificing now to reap the benefits for the rest of your life seems like a reasonable option.

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