A new roof is one of the biggest purchases homeowners make. Asphalt shingles are the popular choice in many parts of the country, but they may not always be the best option.
While an asphalt roof costs less initially, metal roofs last longer – by at least three decades. Asphalt also requires more maintenance, is prone to algae growth, and can easily crack when struck by hail or tree limbs.
Metal roofs are often called “lifetime roofs” because of their extraordinary durability. Depending on the material (and proper installation), a metal roof can last more than 50 years without showing signs of corrosion or degradation. Nearly impervious to extreme climate conditions, metal roofs won’t warp or rust and come with lengthy warranties. Other than needing a debris check a couple of times a year or after a storm, a metal roof involves little to no maintenance.
Metal also transcends asphalt in its impact on the environment.
“Approximately 20 billion pounds of asphalt shingles are dumped into U.S. landfills every year,” according to the Metal Roofing Alliance. “While asphalt shingles can be recycled, the material contains carcinogenic compounds which are considered environmentally toxic and perpetuates our dependence on fossil fuels.”
Good For The Environment — And Your Wallet
Unlike asphalt, metal is nearly 100 percent recyclable. Made with 25 percent to 95 percent recycled material, it is one of the most sustainable building materials on the market.
Metal roof products are more energy efficient too. Their ability to reflect and re-emit solar radiation keeps homes cooler in the summer. When the majority of the sun’s rays are reflected away from the home, both home and attic stay at a more even temperature year-round, which also contributes to warmer interiors in winter.
The finishes are the key to a roof’s energy performance. Even unpainted metal roofs reflect more solar radiation than heat-absorbing asphalt.
Granular-coated or pre-painted metal roofing systems are ideal for hot, sunny climates and can help homeowners save up to 40 percent on their cooling costs.
Similarly, a finish known as cool-metal roofing uses a reflective coating with cool paint pigments to lower the roof’s surface temperature and increase solar reflectance. Many such systems are ENERGY-STAR® certified and may be eligible for tax incentives.
“Cool-metal roofing can achieve reflectance values of more than 70 percent and emittance values as high as 90 percent,” according to the Metal Construction Association.
“An Oak Ridge National Lab study showed painted metal roofs maintain 95 percent of their reflectance value over time.”
In cooler parts of the country, a highly reflective and highly emissive painted or granular-coated metal works well. Installed with the appropriate underlying materials, the finish prevents heat loss during the night and contributes to warmer attic air space.
A Variety Of Looks
In addition to an of assortment colors, metal roof components come in an array of styles. In addition to residential standing seam and metal shingles, metal roofing can mimic the look of asphalt shingles, slate, clay tiles and cedar shake.
Two of the most popular materials are aluminum and steel.
- Aluminum roofing superbly maintains its colorfastness, which is especially imperative on steep-slope roofs because of their high visibility. Aluminum also will not corrode in saltwater or marine environments the way zinc-aluminum coated steel (Galvalume) roofs will.
- Steel accounts for nearly 80 percent of the metal roofing market, according to the Steel Recycling Institute. It features tremendous snow-shedding ability, which makes it a great asset in high-precipitation climates such as the Northeast, while its light weight and non-combustibility are attractive in seismic areas such as the West Coast.
Most metal roofs carry a Class A fire-resistant rating, the highest possible. Because metal is inherently noncombustible, it is highly beneficial in areas prone to wildfires.
The Sound Choice
Many homeowners think a metal roof will be noisy during rainstorms, but attic insulation absorbs most of the sound no matter what type of roof you have.
Overall, metal roofing offers benefits that outshine asphalt shingles, including increased durability, unbeatable recyclability and excellent energy efficiency. Metal’s versatility also allows it to perform well in both hot and cold climates. Best of all, metal is manufactured to last a lifetime.
Ready to invest in a metal roof? Check out Gulf Coast Supply & Manufacturing’s Proof My Roof Color Visualizer, which lets users experiment with various styles and colors.