5 Types of Metal Roofing Materials - Pros & Cons (2022)

With so many different options on the market, it can be tricky to decide which types of metal roofs are best for your home or building. From classic copper to innovative steel, each type of metal roofing material has its own unique advantages. Let's explore the different types of metal roofing materials, as well as their pros and cons.

5 Types of Metal Roofing Materials - Pros & Cons (1)

5 Types of Metal Roofing Materials

1. Copper — Extremely long-lasting, very soft with low melting temperature

2. Aluminum — Long-lasting, resistant to salt water corrosion

(Video) 5 Types Of Metal Roofing Materials: Aluminum, Copper, Metal, Tin, Zinc. Pros, Cons & Cost

3. Zinc — Extremely long-lasting, resistant to corrosion and lowest melting point

4. Steel — Three variations: galvanized, galvalume, and weathering steel (Corten)

5. Tin — Often referring to steel, used prior to World War II. No longer commonly applied.

Metal roofing has often been called the “Cadillac of Roofing.” Depending on your opinion of that particular manufacturer, this comparison could be less than flattering. In reality, a metal roof doesn’t describe a specific product, rather an entire range of different products. The term itself does not even explain whether you are speaking about a steel roof, aluminum roof, zinc roof, or copper roof. Given metal roofing’s reputation for being able to handle a huge range of requirements and design options, a better comparison might be that metal roofing is the “Sport Utility Vehicle of Roofing.”

In this article, we will break down the differences in metal roofing material options, and the pros and cons of each material, profile, and source.

Types of Metal Roofs

When you hear the phrase “metal roof,” your thoughts likely go towards a steel roof, but the term encompasses a much larger variety of materials. Depending on your location and environment, the type of material will be a crucial first step in deciding which direction to go. While an aluminum roof is an excellent option for resisting rust in salty, coastal regions, it’s durability factor can be much lower than other materials. Steel, copper, and zinc metal roofing materials also have their own pros and cons.

Copper Roofing – Pros & Cons

Considered to be the grandfather of metal roofing, copper roofs have been used for centuries around the world. Copper is an extremely long-lasting metal that in ideal environments, can last well over 200+ years. Copper roofs are 100% recyclable too, making them wonderful green roof options.

5 Types of Metal Roofing Materials - Pros & Cons (2)

Copper is an extremely soft metal, which makes it among the quietest types of metal roofing. However, with modern installation practices, all metal roofing now recommends proper substrates and insulation that minimize noise from rain or hail at the same level. The softer nature of Copper Roofing also means that in hail prone regions, it may be easily damaged. As a softer metal, hailstones will easily dent the copper. While this lowers the aesthetic value, it also performs better than a harder metal that, with a large enough hailstone, will puncture rather than simply dent the roof.

(Video) Comparing Roofing Materials | Ask This Old House

If metal roofs are the SUVs of roofing, copper roofs are the Range Rovers of their class. This brings up an apparent downside to copper. Like the Range Rover, it is extremely expensive and depending on your needs, may be more than you need to get the job done. Another negative aspect of copper is its tendency to expand and contract with swings in temperatures. While this can be controlled with the proper panel or shingle, it does need to carefully be considered when choosing this metal.

Aluminum Roofing – Pros & Cons

If copper is the Range Rover of roofing, then Aluminum Roofing Materials are easily considered to be the Dune Buggy of roofing. Stay with us here. Take a Volkswagen Beetle, pull off the doors, the roof, and all unneeded features. Seal off the essentials to prevent salt spray, add a roll cage, and upgrade the suspension. Throw some nice sand tires on the thing and take it for a cruise along the beach… you now have the vehicle that best describes the strength and corrosive durability of an Aluminum roof.

Aluminum metal roofs are often highly recommended for use in coastal climates. This is mainly due to aluminum’s resistance to salt corrosion compared to other types of metal roofing materials. While the common perception of an aluminum roof is that it's not effected by corrosion, the reality is that its actually a highly active metal and almost instantly reacts to atmospheric conditions.

This rapid reaction is actually what protects it so well. The outer layer of aluminum roofing material reacts with the oxygen in the environment, creating a layer of aluminum oxide, which effectively seals the inner layers of the metal from any future corrosion. This process is similar to an A606 Weathering Steel process, but in a much faster time frame and with longer lasting protection. Aluminum roofs are often used with a painted coating as it’s natural patina over time is not typically thought of as aesthetically appealing.

Like copper, aluminum’s downside often comes down to cost. While it can offer a better protection against corrosion, it's also more expensive than comparable solutions that use aluminum as a coating. As a commodity, an aluminum roof's price range fluctuates depending on the market. Typically, the price for this metal lies somewhere in the middle between steel and copper. Due to its price, aluminum is often used in much thinner thicknesses than steel.

While aluminum roofing material’s strength-to-weight ratio is higher than steel, the factor of cost often results in panels that are too thin for their surroundings. In regions with high winds, hail, or strong environmental stresses, this can result in damage to the roofing material. Properly identifying the environmental strains that your aluminum roof will face will be crucial in choosing the right design.

Zinc Roofing – Pros & Cons

Who remembers the original Humvee? An extremely durable and dependable machine that could take you anywhere you needed to go, yet at a pretty price. This is Zinc in a nutshell.

Zinc is an amazing metal, able to use its patina to heal scratches over time, plus stay strong for over 100 years. The natural properties of Zinc make it a favorite for commercial projects due to its ability to be easily formed and manipulated into amazing shapes. While the chalking of Zinc over time is not considered an appealing aspect of the metal, it can be cleaned and controlled to an extent.

While the Humvee was not exactly a “green vehicle,” Zinc could be considered one of the greenest metals available for roofing. Zinc has a lower melting point than other roofing metals. This lower melting point means that processing the Zinc for use as a building material requires up to a ¼ of the energy that it takes to process steel or copper. Zinc is also 100% recyclable and available in most local markets, making it an extremely green material, even compared to Copper or Steel.

(Video) Architectural shingles vs Metal roofing: Which Roof is Best?

The main downside to Zinc is the chalking effect from an aesthetic point of view, and the price. Zinc is not cheap. In fact, Zinc often is comparable to Copper. Like Copper, Zinc also requires expert installation to properly make use of its advantages as a building material.

Zinc, like most bare metals, does patina into a blue/grey appearance if left unpainted. Along areas where water flows, this often leaves a chalk residue that many find unappealing. Zinc is also a very soft metal, and can be easily damaged by hail or high winds depending on the panel or shingle design.

Steel Roofing – Pros & Cons

Steel is an alloy, made from iron and other elements. Used in every aspect of building, steel roofing has often been one of the most common materials found on a commercial construction site, and is now often incorporated into residential builds. While the initial creation of steel can be an energy-intensive process compared to a metal like Zinc, the recyclability and availability of the metal alloy means that most of the steel we use today is made from recycled material rather than new. In fact, steel is the most recycled material on the planet, making it an incredibly green building material to work with.

5 Types of Metal Roofing Materials - Pros & Cons (3)

When compared to other metals, steel is also the least expensive. While also being a commodity, steel is often priced at a much lower rate than Aluminum, Zinc, or Copper. This makes steel both affordable and available at a greater amount compared to the other metals on this list.

There are three primary Steel Roof types: Galvanized, Galvalume, and Weathering Steel.

  • Galvanized Steel is actually created by using a layer of Zinc to protect an inner layer of steel from corrosion. This coating helps extends the life of a steel panel and slow the corrosion process. Galvanized Steel is the most common form of Steel Roofing material.
  • Galvalume Steel is similar to Galvanized, but rather than using a primarily Zinc coating, Galvalume uses a combination of Aluminum and Zinc. The Aluminum better protects against corrosion in certain environments compared to Galvanized, and also provides a smaller, smoother spangle for a more uniformed appearance. Due to its Aluminum qualities, Galvalume offers better surface protection than Galvanized, but is vulnerable to scratches or cut edges.
  • Weathering Steel is a form of steel that was originally designed for use in heavy steel industries like bridge construction. An outer layer of steel is designed to intentionally rust, protecting the inner layer of steel. In effect, Weathering steel roofing works similarly to Aluminum in the patina process, although unlike Aluminum, this process takes a longer period of time. It's important to remember that Weathering Steel does intentionally rust, and is not designed to be used as a structural solution for steel roofing. It is often used in accent roofs, or with the expressed understanding of the rusting process and the need for regular maintenance.

Steel Roofing has made huge advancements in the past 50 years and can now be used to mimic Copper, Zinc, and other more expensive metal roofing materials. This is done through paint systems that create a painted solution to match the natural patina of a Copper, Zinc, or even the Weathered Steel look. These solutions often carry long warranties and make ideal choices for remodels, restorations, and new builds.

Steel’s primary advantage over other materials in this list is it’s flexibility of use and cost. Because of the higher prices of other metals, Steel has been the primary solution for both commercial and residential projects, and that trend looks like it will continue in the future.

As a green solution, it is both easily accessible and highly recyclable. As options go, because it is among the hardest metal options, it can be used in most weather environments, and works well in hail and high winds. It's a common sight in mountain regions with high snow volumes, and is a preferred solution in regions prone to hail.

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Steel is a highly flexible option both commercially and as a residential metal roofing option. For its diverse range of uses, its availability and cost, and the durability it provides, Steel is the Jeep Wrangler of roofing options.

Tin Roofing – Pros & Cons

Tin Roofing is an often-requested item by enthusiasts around the United States and Canada. The term "tin roofing" is used interchangeably with metal roofing, steel roofing, or galvanized steel. In fact, tin is actually a rarely used type of metal for roofing. Tin itself is an element, like Copper or Zinc. Tin was introduced as a canning material, which was then adapted by rural DIYers who flattened out the material and used it as a shingle when other materials were not available.

When Aluminum became the standard for containers, which replaced tin roof sheets, so went the use of it as a DIY building material. In reality, when you hear reference of "tin roofing" in modern times, this is normally referring to either a galvanized steel or aluminum material rather than actual tin roof sheets.

For its DIY use in the 19th century, and its ability to remain a part of our vernacular long after it left, Tin Roofing could be fondly considered the Willy’s Jeep of roofing. While it still has many uses in science and technology, Tin is no longer generally used as a building material option and tin roof sheets have been virtually phased out.

Conclusion

While each of the five types of metal roofing materials have their advantages, in the end, the choice often comes down to cost. Copper can be aesthetically the most appealing of the metals, but also the most expensive. Zinc is the greenest of the materials due to its low melting point, but is also very expensive. Aluminum roofs offer a great solution in coastal regions, and is less expensive than Copper or Zinc. Steel is the most used of the materials, making it less expensive and affordable as a metal roofing option for homeowners as well as commercial builds. Tin had its day, but now often refers to galvanized steel when spoken about in terms of roofing.

Each of these metals has their advantages and weak points. Choosing the right metal to use for roofing comes down to the installer you choose, the location of your build, and the stresses and strains it will be put through. Make sure to always hire experienced roofing contractors who not only have worked with metal roofing, but the specific metal you choose to use on your next project.

Topics: Metal Roofing, Colors, Sustainability

5 Types of Metal Roofing Materials - Pros & Cons (4)

(Video) Standing Seam Metal Roofing Vs Corrugated Screw Down Metal Roof - Big Differences between the Two

Written by Steve Collins

A big fan of understanding how things work, and why they do what they do.

FAQs

What is the best metal to use for roofing? ›

Galvalume, aluminum, zinc, copper, and stainless steel are all great solutions for metal roofing needs. Knowing the common and unique aspects of a structure, residential or commercial, is the best place to start when choosing the best metal roofing material.

Which roofing material lasts the longest? ›

Roofing material that lasts the longest are concrete, clay or slate tiles. These materials significantly outperform other natural products like wood shakes or any manufactured roofing materials including asphalt shingles and metal roofing. Although these materials have a good lifespan, they are not as durable.

What is the strongest roofing material? ›

Corrugated galvanized steel is one of the strongest, most durable roofing materials, since it lasts longer, is more resistant to wind, and absorbs less heat than asphalt shingles.

What type of roofing is best? ›

Asphalt shingles remain far and away the most popular choice because they're relatively inexpensive and easy to install. In CR's roofing tests, we've found that some shingles perform better overall than others that cost more. And some provide a beautifully layered look or come in huge arrays of colors.

What color metal roof is best? ›

The best matches include black and red, as well as bare metal. Yellow buildings are beautiful and sunny, but the roof needs to contrast with the bright color. Muted shades are going to be the best bet here, so stick with things like black, brown, and gray. Blue is also a good option, but don't choose bright shades.

What roofing sheets are best? ›

Foam backed polycarbonate and clear polycarbonate roofing options are the most commonly used types of polycarbonate sheets. Foam-backed polycarbonate roof sheets are lightweight and durable. They are installed in industrial buildings, like warehouses, because of their longevity and strength.

Can you walk on metal roof? ›

While the answer is yes, you can walk on a metal roof, our team never recommends it. There are a lot of factors that come into play that deal with your own safety and protecting your roof from damages caused by walking around on it. However, we know that sometimes you have to in certain scenarios.

Do metal roofs attract lightning? ›

As mentioned earlier, metal roofs do not attract lightning. In fact, a metal roof can actually make a lightning strike much less dangerous.

What are the cons of metal? ›

Some other cons of metal components are: Longer post-fabrication finishing, such as deburring and painting. Harder to machine if emergency modifications are needed. More difficult to create complex pieces due to certain metal viscosities.

Are metal roofs noisy in rain? ›

This is one of the most frequently asked questions we hear from homeowners interested in metal roofing. We'll get right to the point–no, metal roofs are not loud in the rain. Preventing sounds from hitting hard, flat surfaces is key to noise reduction.

What is the disadvantage of using Aluminium roofing sheet? ›

Aluminium roofing sheets are much more expensive

Due to its durability compared to roofing materials such as tiles or asphalt shingles, it is also much more expensive to install. The way it is being setup can be different and hence require well-trained roofers.

What color roof lasts the longest? ›

Both light-colored and dark-colored shingles can last longer if given the necessary maintenance. The only thing tested and proven about light-colored shingles is that they help us keep the indoor temperature cooler in the hot summer season.

What is the most energy efficient roof? ›

Metal roofing is by far one of the best choices you can make for your roof in general. They're the most energy-efficient roof for residential installations, can last more than 50 years, and require very little maintenance. Metal roofs are very reflective, which is why they get so hot to the touch.

What is the longest lasting metal panel roof material? ›

Considered to be the grandfather of metal roofing, copper roofs have been used for centuries around the world. Copper is an extremely long-lasting metal that in ideal environments, can last well over 200+ years.

Do Metal Roofs leak more than shingles? ›

Do Metal Roofs Leak More Than Shingles? If installed incorrectly, metal roofs have the potential to leak more than shingles. However, if you find an experienced contractor who can install it correctly, metal roofs shed snow and ice to prevent moisture buildup.

What is the cheapest roof style? ›

The cheapest roof design is a roof with just hips, which are the sloping part, while the gable is the triangular bit on the end of the roof. A lot of subdivisions require a roof with hips and gables (rather than just a hip roof) so that is the most common form of roof construction.

What is the best roof for high winds? ›

Fiberglass shingles are a particularly good choice in high wind areas, as they are a strong product which is unlikely to come apart. Not only is it important to pick a good product like a quality fiberglass shingle, but you also need to be sure that those shingles are installed properly.

What are the 4 most popular types of residential roofing? ›

One of the biggest decisions you'll make is choosing the type of roofing material.
...
The 4 Most Popular Types of Roofing Materials for Residential...
  1. Asphalt shingles. ...
  2. Standing seam metal roofing. ...
  3. Synthetic (composite) shingles. ...
  4. Cedar shake shingles.
6 May 2022

What type of roof is most expensive? ›

The most expensive type of roofing material is slate.

For labor and materials, you can expect the cost of a slate roof to start around $15.00 per square foot and has the potential to get up to around $30.00 or more per square foot.

What color metal roof fades the least? ›

Lighter colors – tans, whites, and grays – fade far less than darker, more saturated colors. You can also invest in a protective coating that buffers the roof from mildew, moisture, and sun to combat fading.

Does a metal roof make your house hotter? ›

Do Metal Roofs Make Houses Hotter? Metal roofs do not make a house hotter than other types of roof materials. Because metal roofs have a low thermal mass, they reflect light and heat rather than absorbing it like asphalt shingles.

Do black metal roofs make house hotter? ›

So yes, a black metal roof will absorb more heat in the summer than a lighter color roof, but that shouldn't stop you from choosing the color that you want. There are always simple ways to counter the heat transfer with insulation and that same idea applies in the winter.

Do aluminum roofs rust? ›

Aluminum – Aluminum is highly resistant to rust and by coating steel with it, you'll have an added layer of protection to prevent the steel roof from rusting. This way, you'll have a long-lasting roof without worrying about any corrosion.

Which thickness roofing sheet is best? ›

35 to 0.40mm thickness is best for general walling projects and medium roofings like small or medium sized factories. 0.40 to 0.47mm thickness can be used for medium-to large roofing projects such as factories and buildings with high quality constructions.

What is the disadvantage in using iron roofing sheets? ›

One of the disadvantages of metal roofs is its cost. Metal roofs will cost twice or even three times the value of other roofing materials.

Do metal roofs affect WIFI signal? ›

If your internet service is provided by a cable service or satellite dish, a metal roof will not have any impact on your Wi-Fi signal within your home.

What is the lifespan of a metal roof? ›

The average metal roof will last between 40-70 years. Some materials, like copper roofing, will last even longer — with some copper roofs dating back over 100 years. There are also a number of factors that can increase the longevity of your roof, as well as decrease it.

Why don't more people use metal roofs? ›

While the initial cost of the fifty year roof may be a bit more, over time, the cost differential between metal and asphalt is about the same, plus there's not all the hassle of having to deal with 3-4 asphalt roofing jobs during the same period of time. Asphalt is more susceptible to the elements.

Is it OK to pressure wash a metal roof? ›

Many homeowners ask, “Can you power wash a metal roof?” and the answer is yes you can, but we don't recommend it. Mainly because a power washer can dent a metal roof if its used to spray the roof too closely.

Do metal roofs affect cell phones? ›

Many people ask if a metal roof could be the cause of their poor cell phone reception at home. Well, the short answer is no, it isn't! There is no evidence that a metal roof disrupts the signal for your phone any more than another material.

Do metal roofs leak? ›

That being said metal roofs aren't indestructible and they can leak. Here are 5 common reasons even properly installed metal roofs can leak. Roofing screws are responsible for the majority of leaks on metal roofs. Metal roofing screws seal water out by compressing a rubber washer at the base of the screw head.

Should a metal roof be grounded? ›

The short answer is no, a metal roof does not need to be grounded. In most cases, you will not incur additional risk if you don't ground it. Metal does conduct electricity. But when dealing with a full roof, a lightning strike would ground out through the structure, causing no more harm than non-metal roofs would.

Do metal roofs need gutters? ›

Strictly speaking, metal roofs do not require gutters because metal roofs themselves are resistant to the damage gutters are designed to prevent. However, gutters do play a significant role in protecting other parts of your property.

Can you put metal roofing over old shingles? ›

In almost every case, the answer is yes, you can lay down a new metal roof over an existing shingle roof. This is one of the many reasons metal roofs keep growing in popularity – their installation doesn't require completely tearing off the existing roof, which is a time-consuming and expensive job.

What are the 4 most popular types of residential roofing? ›

One of the biggest decisions you'll make is choosing the type of roofing material.
...
The 4 Most Popular Types of Roofing Materials for Residential...
  1. Asphalt shingles. ...
  2. Standing seam metal roofing. ...
  3. Synthetic (composite) shingles. ...
  4. Cedar shake shingles.
6 May 2022

Which type of roofing is best? ›

Relatively lightweight, inexpensive, and easy to install, asphalt shingles are the best choice for most houses. They come in sheets that are layered on a roof to give the illusion of more expensive single shingles, such as cedar and slate, that are installed one shingle at a time.

What type of roof is most expensive? ›

The most expensive type of roofing material is slate.

For labor and materials, you can expect the cost of a slate roof to start around $15.00 per square foot and has the potential to get up to around $30.00 or more per square foot.

What are the 3 most common roofing tiles? ›

The most common materials used in metal roof tiles are copper, aluminum, zinc and steel. Of these materials, steel and aluminum are the most popular.

What are the 3 main types of roofs? ›

3 Roof Types and Their Ideal Roofing Materials
  • Bonnet Roofs. The main feature of this roof is its twin slopes, which incline at different angles. ...
  • Gable Roofs. These are also known as peaked roofs, which you can easily recognize through their triangular outlines. ...
  • Flat Roofs. ...
  • Get in Touch With Us.
17 Dec 2015

What type of roof is the cheapest? ›

Asphalt Shingles

Asphalt is the cheapest of all roofing materials in the market and will last you between 15 to 30 years. This is the best option for homeowners facing budgetary constraints. It is also widely available and comes in a variety of colors.

Do Metal Roofs leak more than shingles? ›

Do Metal Roofs Leak More Than Shingles? If installed incorrectly, metal roofs have the potential to leak more than shingles. However, if you find an experienced contractor who can install it correctly, metal roofs shed snow and ice to prevent moisture buildup.

What is the easiest roof to install? ›

Most homeowners in the U.S. choose asphalt shingles because they are of the easiest to find, most affordable and versatile types of roofing.

What is the most energy efficient roof? ›

Metal roofing is by far one of the best choices you can make for your roof in general. They're the most energy-efficient roof for residential installations, can last more than 50 years, and require very little maintenance. Metal roofs are very reflective, which is why they get so hot to the touch.

What is the most expensive metal roofing? ›

Not only is copper roofing extremely durable and lightweight, but it's one of the most attractive options for metal roof tiles. However, it's among the most expensive roofing materials, costing $14 to $25 per square foot.

What is a lifetime roof? ›

With a lifetime warranty, your roof investment is protected in the long term and you get peace of mind for decades to come. You also learned that it's recommended to hire a roofing contractor that offers a lifetime warranty.

What is the strongest roof tile? ›

Concrete Tile Roofing

With a lifespan of around 50 years, energy-efficient qualities, and with the ability to withstand fire, rot, and insects, it is an incredibly durable roofing option.

Which brand roof tiles is best? ›

Tapco is the best ceramic roof tile manufacturer in India. The Tapco roof tiles are stronger roof tiles as compared to many other roof tile brands in India. The quality of the raw materials and the best manufacturing processes are making it stronger.

What is the best colour for roof tiles? ›

Colour Scheme
House Siding ColorBest Matching Roof Colors
RedSteel Grey(black), dark gray, Red Coffee, Teracotta, Red & Black, Antique Red
WhiteAll colours, Red / Dark shades will match more
GraySteel Grey(black), dark gray, Galaxy, Blue grey Jasper, Pista green, white
3 more rows

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