Choose the right metal roof for your home. This expert overview discusses and compares steel, aluminum, copper, and other metal roofing materials.
The word “metal” covers a lot of ground when it comes to metal roofing materials. Steel, stainless steel, aluminum, copper, and zinc alloys are all materials used for metal roofing. Each has different properties that affect durability, price, and appearance.
Conventional Metal Roofing Materials
By far, the most common materials used for metal roofs are steel and aluminum.
Steel, used for most metal roofing, is heavier and sturdier than aluminum. Manufacturers have settled on a number of durable coatings and finishes that protect steel from rust and corrosion. Steel is usually zinc-coated for corrosion protection and then sealed. A coating of epoxy primer offers adhesion and a baked-on acrylic top coating adds color and protection. Because sheet systems are designed for commercial applications, they generally are given highly durable paint finishes. One popular fluorocarbon coating used on many products is called Kynar.
Aluminum, extremely lightweight, is used for some residential metal roofing. It won’t rust, but it must be painted or coated for appearance. Coatings are similar to those used on steel. Aluminum is a very soft metal, so it dents and mars easily and isn’t nearly as rigid as steel. Environmentalists have expressed concerns about using this precious resource for purposes such as roofing.
High-End Metal Roofing Materials
Other forms of metal roofing are also available, but can be very expensive. They provide stunning roofs on high-end homes.
Copper metal roofing, rooted in centuries of use, will not rust, has no “finish” to scratch or peel, is soft enough to easily tool, and weathers naturally to a beautiful verdigris patina. Unfortunately, it’s extremely expensive.
Alloy roofing products are formulated for strength, graceful weathering, and durability. Cost depends on the specific material, but, as a group, they are pricey.
Stainless-steel roofing, a very expensive roofing material, won’t rust or corrode. Terne coating can give it a natural matte-gray finish.
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