There are a lot of reasons to consider a metal roof over other roofing materials. Metal roofs are long-lasting and less likely to need frequent repairs and maintenance. They're also energy efficient and attractive. However, just deciding that you want a metal roof is only the first step. You also have to decide which metal material you want to use for your roof. The most common choices are steel, aluminum, and copper, and they each have their own pros and cons. Take a closer look at each of these materials to decide which is best for your home.
Most of the time, when homeowners think of metal roofs, steel is the material they're thinking of. Steel is the most commonly used metal roofing material. Part of the reason for that is because steel is the least expensive metal roofing material. Steel shingles start at $3.99 to $7.50 a square foot, compared to $7 to $9 a square foot for aluminum and $11 to $12 a square foot for copper.
However, price isn't the only benefit of steel roofing material. Steel is fire-resistant, even without the underlayment that most roofs need to obtain a Class-A fire rating. The material can also withstand strong winds, making it an ideal choice for homeowners who live in tornado or hurricane-prone locations. Steel is also thick and heavy enough to resist dents and dings from hail or falling debris. On the downside, steel needs periodic coatings to prevent the material from rusting.
Aluminum is the most energy efficient form of metal roof. That's because it's the thinnest and lightest of the metals used for roofing, so it stores the least amount of heat and cools off quickly. Therefore, aluminum is a great choice in a hot climate, because it won't trap heat and force you to spend more money and energy cooling down your home.
Unlike steel, aluminum won't rust and doesn't necessarily need a protective coating. However, aluminum becomes increasingly less attractive as it ages and weathers, so most homeowners prefer an aluminum roof with a painted finish. While the materials for an aluminum roof cost more than the materials for a steel roof, you may actually save some time and money on the installation of the roof. Aluminum is malleable and easy to work with, which makes for an easier installation. One drawback of aluminum is that it is susceptible to dents and damage from falling objects and thus requires more roofing repairs.
Copper is hands-down the most expensive option, but if you're looking to increase your home's overall value, then it's a great choice. Copper gives your home curb appeal. It's an aesthetically pleasing material that has no need of paint finishings or coatings. Copper changes colors as it ages, but the greenish blue verdigris that develops over copper is usually considered an attractive asset, not a flaw, so there's no need to take any steps to prevent or reverse this color change. In fact, once installed, a copper roof is essentially maintenance-free.
Copper is an environmentally friendly material as well. It's all natural, and copper is a very commonly recycled metal, which means that it's perfectly possible to have your roof made primarily out of recycled materials. And if you ever decide to remove the roof, you can ensure that that material gets recycled rather than winding up in a landfill. Copper is also the least resonant of the commonly-used metal roofing materials, which means that it will be less noisy during a storm than steel or aluminum. The only major drawback of copper is that it can expand and contract with changing temperatures. For this reason, it's essential to use a roofing contractor that is experienced in working with copper to install your metal roof. A good roof design takes expansion and contraction into account and compensates for it.
If you're tired of repairing roofing tiles or shingles and you're interested in a new metal roof, talk to a roofing contractor about your options. Your contractor can help you decide whether steel, aluminum, or copper is best to meet your home's needs.