Metal Roof Types: Choosing the Best Type for Your Roofing Project

By Gabriel Callaway

May 24, 2022

The term "metal roof" usually covers a broad term– comprising different materials, styles, and sizes. Since there are various metal roofing options today, it can be challenging to determine the best metal roofing type for your home needs. (Related: The Pros & Cons of A Metal Roof In Portland)

We've rounded up the different metal roofs in this article so you know exactly which one would be best for your next roof replacement project.

4 Types of Metal Roofs: By Material

It's natural for many of us to picture a steel roof whenever we hear "metal roof." But in reality– there are a variety of materials this could refer to.

Depending on your property's location, you need to choose the best type of metal roof material that can handle its unique environmental conditions.

Copper Roof

This long-lasting metal roof material can last you over 200 years (and more). And the best part? Copper roofs can be fully recycled, so they're an excellent green roofing choice. But, it can be rather expensive with a similar price point to zinc roofs. You'll get what you pay for, though. Installing a copper roof will give you a fire-resistant roof, resistant to hail damage, mildew, and pest infestation.

The material is also incredibly lightweight. It won't add too much stress to your roof's structure. Due to its soft nature, copper may be easily damaged in hail-prone regions. Hailstones may easily dent this soft metal.

Aluminum Roofs

Long-lasting and saltwater corrosion-resistant, aluminum roofs are another durable metal roofing option. It offers a quick and easy installation with several advantages:

  • Longevity
  • Energy-efficient
  • Resistant to fire
  • And prevents pest activity

This relatively lightweight metal naturally resists rust, making it an ideal choice for many homeowners located near coasts. Aluminum is versatile and matches different home aesthetics and designs pretty well.

Zinc Roofs

Known to be highly long-lasting and corrosion-resistant, Zinc roofs are a durable metal roof option. Although, the material is not as popular among many homeowners today.

In the United States, Zinc roofs are still highly uncommon, unlike those in European homes. It is known to be an expensive metal roof material, but for a good reason– you can expect it to last for more than a century. (No kidding!) Additionally, it doesn't need rigorous maintenance after installation and helps you prevent the onset of mold, fungus, and mildew. So if you have the budget to invest in a reliable metal roof material, we recommend checking out zinc for your roofing project.

What's the catch? The chalking affects its aesthetic appeal. And, it will cost you quite a hefty sum as zinc material costs similar to copper.

Steel Roofs

There are three variations of "steel roofs" as we know them today. This includes the likes of galvanized, Galvalume, and weathering steel (Corten).

  • Galvanized Steel ─ This is the most common steel roofing material. It is created using a Zinc layer that protects the inner steel layer from corrosion damage. The coating extends the life expectancy of the steel panel and slows down the corrosion process.
  • Galvalume Steel ─ Like Galvanized steel, Galvalume steel uses a combination of Aluminum and Zinc for its primary coating. Aluminum improves the material's durability against corrosion in specific environments. It also gives a smaller, smoother spangle that looks more uniform. Galvalume has better surface protection than the other steel roof types with its Aluminum qualities, but it can be vulnerable to cut edges or visible scratches.
  • Weathering Steel ─ Lastly, weathering steel was initially designed for heavy steel industries such as bridge construction. It has an external steel layer that intentionally rusts to protect the inner layer of steel. Keep in mind that it is not designed as a structural solution for steel roofing.

Compared to other metal roofing types, steel material is considered the most cost-efficient choice. It is commonly priced at a lower rate than Aluminum, Copper, or Zinc.

5 Types of Metal Roofs: By Systems

Aside from metal roofing material, you may also choose from different metal roof systems such as Standing Seam, Shake-Inspired, Tile-Inspired, Slate-Inspired, and Corrugated. A standing seam metal roof remains the best choice for residential use, but let's look at the other options you may want to consider.

Standing Seam Metal Roofs

Thanks to its sleek appearance, longevity, and weather-proof construction, standing seam metal roofing is a crowd-favorite choice. It is considered a premium roofing option, so you will need to spend more, but it gives you several benefits you can't get with other metal roofing systems. Lastly, it's also customizable to match your unique preferences.

Shake-inspired Metal Roofs

Fortunately, you can now achieve the traditional appeal of wooden shakes with the many benefits of metal roofs with shake-inspired metal roofing panels. It offers a more classic aesthetic than the modern appearance of a standing seam metal roof.

Tile-inspired Metal Roofs

Tile roofs were previously composed only of natural materials such as clay or concrete. But today, you can have metal roofs that are inspired by the look of tile roofing, is considerably more durable, and has easier maintenance. Tile-inspired metal roofing is also notably more cost-effective than other metal roof types.

Slate-inspired Metal Roofs

Slate-inspired metal roofs allow you to achieve natural slate material's high-end, luxurious appearance. The best part? It won't add more weight that may only strain your home's structure.

Corrugated Metal Roofs

Corrugated metal roofs are known to be both aesthetically pleasant and durable. It is made from hot-dipped galvanized steel, cold-rolled afterward to achieve a grooved pattern on the panels. The process makes the material more durable and rust-resistant.

Ultimately, every metal roofing type (either by material or systems) presents its fair share of pros and cons. To ensure you choose the best metal material to use for your roofing needs, consider your situation and conditions, the location of your property, and your budget.

Although, it would still be best to contact local, experienced roofing contractors to ensure your project will be a success!

Frequently Asked Questions

Does a metal roof affect my homeowners insurance?

Metal is among the few roofing materials that may be purchased at a discounted price, thanks to its enhanced resistance to fire, termites, and other harmful insects. However, your premium is determined by a variety of variables.

Does the color of a metal roof fade with time?

High-performance polymers with excellent weathering properties are used to paint metal roofs. The settling of airborne contaminants may cause a slight change in color over time, but occasional rain or cleaning the roof with a garden hose (from the ground) should keep it looking new.

How long will my metal shingles last?

Metal roofs are well-known for their durability and longevity. Whether it's zinc, copper, aluminum, or steel, all significant types of metallic roofing materials may easily endure for decades. Most metal shingles come with a lifetime warranty. However, the duration of the coverage varies on the contractor. The overall value you can get out of a home metal roof is remarkable compared to asphalt shingles, which only last roughly two decades. Metallic rooftops can also be easily repaired for just ⅓  of the price of replacing them altogether.

Are metallic roofs environmentally friendly?

When metal roofs are for sale, they are partially recycled material. When you replace your metal roof, all of it is recyclable. Not only that, but metallic roofs retain their quality even after being recycled multiple times. Because of their unique structure, metal roofs are extremely valuable in significantly reducing annual household energy expenses. A four-inch strapping system is installed between the metal and the plywood on metallic roofs, providing excellent insulation against adverse weather conditions.

Gabriel Callaway

About the author

Before Boss Exteriors, Gabe had his first company Callaway Construction Company for about 8 years. He started out of necessity to provide for himself and his family. Being self-taught, he was running everything solo for a couple of years in the beginning, and was doing all sorts of services. From flipping homes and doing all kinds of interior remodelling and contractor work, he recently shifted gears completely and niched down mostly to roofing, which is what Boss Exteriors is now. Channeling all his experience in being a general contractor for almost 10 years, he's now funnelling his expertise into the mastery of roofing to give customers an even better service and experience.

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