Metal Roofing History, Systems, Benefits and Prices

Metal roofing has a long history dating as far back as Jerusalem in 970 BC. This roof was made of copper and was found on a temple. Hundreds of years later metal roofing made its way to Virgin Islands. Metal roofing offered the benefits of resistance against strong winds created by tropical hurricanes. Metal roofing also offered fire resistance, and the ability to hold up against earthquakes.

It was not until 1892, when Robert L. Merwin company opened in St. Croix that metal roofing became more widely available in the form of corrugated metal roofing panels. The company was able to produce the panels more efficiently and more cost effectively, thus making metal roofing an appealing and popular choice for roofing. In the twentieth century, steel, advances in automation, and improved manufacturing techniques, increased the sales of metal roofing many times fold. Metal roofs found their way on commercial structures, agricultural buildings, and shack homes in the south. Metal roofing did have its drawbacks though. It often required consistent maintenance to address leaks due to expansion and contraction of the metal, as well as applying coatings to reduce corrosion and rust. Another major drawback was that metal roofing could be very loud during rain and hail storms.

Modern Standing Seam Metal Roof
Modern Standing Seam Metal Roof

Fast forward to the late 20th and 21st century, and you will find that modern metal roofing systems offer incredible advances in manufacturing, coating processes, and economical feasibility. Today's residential metal roofing systems offer a plethora of styles and colors, and improved manufacturing techniques to virtually eliminate all the drawbacks associated with older metal roofing systems. Not surprisingly, modern residential and commercial metal roofs are gaining market popularity in every region of the United States.

Metal Coating System

One of the most incredible breakthroughs in metal roofing is the coating system. Many of the high-tech coatings now meet energy star ratings. In reviewing various metal roofing suppliers' fact sheets, the latest styles provide 20%-40% savings on home heating and cooling bills. Actual savings are dependent on many factors, including geographical area, heating and cooling systems in use, insulation properties of your home, etc. Most metal roofing systems come with the UL's highest rating relating to a fire resistance, meaning that a metal roof will not contribute to fire combustion.

Properly installed metal roofs offer wind resistance of 120 MPH, and can withstand hail of up to 2 inches without chipping, denting or cracking. For detailed information on roofing specifications, please contact your local metal roofing contractors. You may also contact your home insurance agent to inquire about potential discounts related to metal roofing for your homeowners policy.

Popular Metal Roofing Styles:

These are the four most common and popular metal roofing system designs in use today. Many of these designs come in different looks and styles that blend into existing styles based on geographical location, and to satisfy a wide range of personal tastes.

Metal Shingle Roofing

The metal shingle simulates the look of commonly used shingles on homes today. Within the shingle roof system, there are three categories; simulated asphalt, slate, and cedar shake. Metal shingle installation is similar to the installation of a normal shingle. These designs provide a similar appearance to the original products, manufactured on steel or aluminum panels. The metal shingle design give you more of the traditional roof look and are some of the most popular among homeowners. The shingle panels have a hidden fastener system, creating a clean look on the shingle. Manufacturing specification sheets require the minimum roof pitch for the style to be 3:12, and state the average service life is approximately 40 years.

Steel Shingles Metal Roof
Steel Shingles Metal Roof

Granule Coated Metal Shingles (architectural) Granule coated Shingles are acrylic granule chips embedded on 26 gauge steel. The shingle panel can only be installed on a solid substrate, meaning you need a plywood surface to attach the panels. Metal roofing manufacturers offer a wide variety of colors, including earth tones as well as traditional shingle colors. A less expensive version to the granule chip is the texture spray. The coating is sprayed the shingle panel to emulate the look of an asphalt shingle. Finally, the least expensive option is a basic smooth, color coated steel shingle. Metal Slate Roofing Metal Slate Roofing has the look and texture of its original counterpart. Slate panels use 26 gauge steel and comes in 40 wide panels designed to be installed on a solid substrate. To create this style of shingle each panel goes through a special stamping and epoxy coating system. The process gives each panel a special texture and a random color to match the look of slate. If the slate texture is appealing but the color of slate is not, you can choose other colors for this panel.

Shake Style Metal Shingles The shake panels are 40 5/8" wide x 8 5/8" in height. The panels are made from 29 gauge steel and designed to be installed on solid substrates. Shake panel colors come in simulated new and faded cedar, or you can choose gray tones if you want a slate type appearance.

Standing Seam Metal Roofing Standing seam roofing has invisible/concealed fasteners and interlocking panels, hiding the screws on each panel and trim. The screws are secured into a side lap (one the edge of a panel), which is then hidden by the rib of the next panel. The design allows for metal expansion and contraction while keeping it secure from rain and wind.

There are two types of standing seam metal roofing, the Standard and the Vertical. Each style offers a wide range of colors, with many being Energy Star rated.

Standard standing seam panels are made from 24 or 26 gauge steel. Each panel has a rib height of 1" and are 16 inches wide and require a solid substrate for installation. Manufacture specifications state that a 3:12 minimum pitch roof is required for proper water drainage.

The vertical Seam is made from 24 gauge steel and comes in 12, 16, and 18 wide panels. It has a rib height of 1-3/4", thus giving it the added strength to be installed on solid substrates as well as open framing. When using open-frame construction, the panel can accommodate up to 4 of insulation. The minimum roof pitch required for installation is 3:12.

Exposed Fastened Metal Roofing Panels

This is the least expensive style in the metal roofing family. These panels are fastened using 11/2" matching screws with neoprene washers. The fasteners are visible on the panels. The exposed fastened system was originally found in barns and buildings, but now have made their way on to the residence scene. These panels are 36 wide panels with 3/4 high ribs with 9 on center rib spacing. The panels are made from 26 or 29 gauge steel. Therefore, this system must be installed on a solid substrate. The panel requires a minimum pitch of 2 :12 making this style can work quite well for lower sloped roofs.

Tile Metal Panels

Tile metal roofs are designed to simulate clay and ceramic tiles. The three different styles currently produced are Spanish, Roman, and Mediterranean. These beautiful tile panels are made from 24 and 29 gauge steel. The panel widths are 30 to 50 and can be cut into any length up to 30'. The tile panel is the most expensive of all the metal roofing styles but is by far the most elegant looking. Warranties are in the 50 year range and come in a wide variety of colors.

Cost Comparisons

As I said in the beginning, metal roofing systems are more expensive than asphalt shingles. However, that only holds true when looking at the upfront cost. When considering the overall picture, metal roofing systems work out to be less expensive than asphalt shingles. There are also environmental benefits to using metal roofing systems.

Metal roofing systems are usually made up of at least 30%-50% recyclable materials, and are 100% recyclable at the end of their service lifespan. By using recycled materials, we can reduce the burden on our landfills as well as extending the life of our natural resources. Asphalt shingles are not recycled end up consuming our landfills. Asphalt shingles and tar paper are petroleum based products. With the cost of oil on the rise, the cost of producing asphalt shingles will continue to increase and close the gap between metal and asphalt roofing costs.

The average lifespan of asphalt shingles is 12 to 17 years. Reaching a full shingle life requires the right set of circumstances. It is imperative that you use high-quality shingles and proper installation with no corners being cut by your roofing contracting company. Extreme weather conditions often shorten the life of an asphalt shingle roof. Frequent temperature changes, hot sun, snow, sleet, and hail, are all contributors to premature failure of asphalt shingles.

Metal roofing systems have warranties anywhere from 30 to 50 years, and some offer a limited lifetime warranty. If we split the difference on the warranty, and call it 40 years, the asphalt roof would have to be replaced at least twice compared to just install-once-and-forget with a metal roofing system. Most Asphalt shingle roofs are not energy star rated. The black and dark shingles literally absorb the suns rays and trap heat in your home. Even installing the white granule shingles will absorb and trap heat due to the shingle material. Metal roofing systems reflect up to 65% of the sun's rays making it much cooler in the home. By your heating and cooling costs by 20%, the metal roofing system will deliver significant savings toward the initial purchase price. Another advantage to purchasing a metal roofing system is the potential energy savings tax credits. As of 2011 there are energy star tax credits available to homeowners. Contact your tax adviser for possible tax deductions.

On average, 70% of a typical homeowner's energy bill goes to heating and cooling. If the average monthly bill is $175 per month, that means $122.50 is heating and cooling. In the course of one year, heating and cooling costs $1470. Now multiply that over 40 years and your heating and cooling cost comes out to $58,800. Factoring the 20% cost savings of the metal roofing system, it will reduce your bill by $11,760. Saving over 11 thousand dollars will make up for any cost difference in your new metal roofing system.

How much can I expect to pay for a Metal Roof?

Just to give you a basic breakdown on metal roofing prices comparison, I am going to use a medium pitch, one hip with two dormers style roof, measuring 24'x36' with no tear off included. This is an extremely basic price structure between systems. Contact your local dealer for an accurate quote for your area.

If you look at just the upfront sticker price, metal roofing is much more expensive than asphalt shingles, but if you look at the total scenario, including potential tax deductions, at least double the longevity of asphalt, energy savings, and the increase in a value of your home, then a metal roof works out as being the least expensive residential roofing option over time.