The Different Types of Metal Roofing Materials for Your Home

By Gabriel Callaway

August 11, 2022

The popularity of metal roofs continues to rise – and for a good reason. This roofing material offers low maintenance, easy installation, and impressive durability.

So if you're considering a metal roofing installation, keep in mind that several metal roofing materials are available today. Now, there's no need to be overwhelmed. We've prepared this article so you can easily understand your options. (Related: Metal Roof Types: Choosing the Best Type for Your Roofing Project)

What Are the Different Types of Metal Roofing Materials?

Regarding the different types of metal roofs, remember that the term "metal" may refer to several materials – including aluminum, copper, steel, and zinc.

Each metal roofing material has its own pros and cons, especially in terms of appearance, cost, and longevity.

Aluminum Roofing

Aluminum roofs are notably lightweight, corrosion-resistant, and suitable for coastal environments. The lightness of this metal roofing material is one of its most distinctive features. Nonetheless, it is highly durable. It has a higher strength-to-weight ratio than other popular metal roofing types in the market. So, you can expect the same strength (or more) without using a heavier material that's difficult to work with. It also offers easy maintenance, impressive longevity, and different appearances.

Here's what you can expect in aluminum roofs:

  • Corrosion-resistant
  • Lightweight
  • Malleable

The downside is that some environmentalists do not recommend using aluminum roofs, as it requires tremendous energy in its production. But, if you're removing an old aluminum roof– it can still be recycled to breathe a new life into it.

Copper Roofing

Copper roofs are known to be very long-lasting. Over time, it also develops a protective layer that changes in color. But, it can be rather expensive. Copper roofs are easily distinguishable thanks to their striking, unique aesthetic. The copper changes color after a while, from looking like a brand new penny to a brown or blue/green patina. Note that this patina color will vary depending on the environmental conditions this roofing material is exposed.

Many homeowners choose a copper roof for its uniqueness. Since it develops natural variation in color over time, you'll have a roof that will stand out from the rest! Lastly, copper is known to outlast most other metal roofing materials. So, it can last up to 60 to 100 years more than its counterparts. You can count on a copper roof to stand the test of time.

Metal or Steel Roofing

Metal or steel roofs are considered the most common type of metal roofing available in different finishes. Generally, metal roofs are constructed from steel– a heavier material than aluminum. Some homeowners also refer to metal roofs as "steel roofing," made from different materials (such as alloy, iron, and other elements).

Steel gauge may impact its overall durability and performance. Fortunately, it is available in different gauges. Thin gauges are more cost-effective and are used for low-end corrugated and ribbed metal roofing panels. For many years, steel roofs were exclusively used on commercial buildings. But today, metal roofs are also a popular choice for residential construction.

Zinc Roofing

Zinc roofs also come at a cost (like copper), but it is known to be a long-lasting metal roofing material. It will also develop a patina that changes color over time. Zinc roofing can be linked to copper roofs, as it has a gorgeous appearance that develops a patina and changes color after some time.

Nowadays, zinc roofing panels are already pre-patinated or yet to develop a protective layer that changes the look of zinc. Zinc roofs are more common in Europe due to their high aesthetic appeal. In the United States, most homeowners opt to consider other metal roofing types that aren't as expensive.

Tin Roofing

Tin roofs are no longer used today. If anyone mentions "tin roofing," it mainly refers to steel roofing material. Though tin roofs are no longer used today, we'll include this metal roofing type in this list for reference.

The material has been used for roofing as early as the 70s and the 80s. It became a favorite metal roofing option due to its lightweight properties, making it easy to install. But due to the rise of aluminum material, the tin roofing option eventually started to decline in popularity. That said, a tin roof is rare to find nowadays. The next time someone mentions they're considering installing a tin roof– they are most likely referring to a metal or aluminum roof.

Final Thoughts

If you're confident with your metal roofing project due to its signature look, appeal, and easy maintenance– there's no need to be overwhelmed with all the options available!

Now that we've rounded up all the famous metal roofing material picks you can consider, you can start weighing its pros and cons to select the best one for your needs. It always pays to do your research ahead of time as a metal roof is one significant investment. (Related: The Pros & Cons of A Metal Roof In Portland)

Frequently Asked Questions

Does a metal roof cost more than a standard roofing material?

You should expect your new roof to cost around two to three times as much as an asphalt shingle roof because metal roofing is a high-end home product. A metal roof, however, costs about the same as tile or cedar shake roofing. It is likely for you to pay less for a metal roof if your current roof is slate.

How much longer will a metal roof last than asphalt or wood shingle?

A metal roof should last at least two to three times longer than a typical roof. In general, expect a metal roof to last 30 to 50 years or longer because they may usually be repainted rather than replaced. To put it into perspective, an asphalt roof typically lasts 12 to 20 years. Depending on your area's weather conditions and the roof's pitch, that lifespan may be shorter. Asphalt, made of oil-impregnated paper or fiberglass, starts to deteriorate as soon as it is exposed to normal weather conditions. However, a metal roof will never rot.

Are metal roofs environmentally friendly?

Yes! Metal better reflects solar radiation than other roofing materials, keeping your home cooler in the summer. Metal roofs are also the ideal base for installing solar panels if you're seeking different ways to lessen your reliance on energy.

Will metal roofing improve the appeal of my home?

There are several different panel profiles available for metal roofing. When using metal, a huge variety of design appearances can be achieved. You can also utilize low-profile panels or high slim rib panels to create eye-catching shadow lines and unique designs for your home.

How will a metal roof affect my property insurance?

One of the few kinds of roofing that can reduce your insurance costs is metal. Due to metal's resistance to fire, termites, and other pests, many insurers will give you a preferable rate if you have a metal roof.

Can metal roofing be installed over my existing roof?

Yes! Depending on the gauge, metal roofing weighs less than 1.6 pounds per square foot. In most cases, it won't overload already installed roofs. Usually, asphalt or fiberglass roofing can be installed directly over metal roofing. In some cases, the existing roof also provides additional insulation.

Will a metal roof make my home hotter?

No. Metal roofs can cool your home. Our premium metal roofs are coated with a reflective material that deflects solar heat away from your home. They lower the temperature in your attic and cut your energy costs by up to 20% annually. Metal roofing cools down your home while asphalt shingles make it hotter, especially in the summer.

Can I walk on a metal roof?

Yes, you can. A metal roof is durable and long-lasting and endures foot traffic better than a shingle roof. Just make sure to wear slip-resistant shoes if you decide to walk on your roof. Additionally, it's better to avoid going out on it if it's wet or icy and instead call a skilled professional for assessment.

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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