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Posted by Caryn Colgan | Feb 23, 2010

Metal Roof Choices

Some metal roofing is heavier and some is lighter, and some rusts and some doesn't. Maintenance is also a factor.

Metals are an excellent roofing material because they are durable, have an indefinite lifespan and are fire- and wind-resistant. Because metal roofs are available in a variety of colors, materials and styles, they can be integrated into the design of any home.

The National Institute of Building Sciences claims that metal roofs reflect up to 70% of the sun's heat and help keep homes cooler in hot climates. Since metal can be easily recycled and does not require the destruction of trees, metal roofs are an excellent choice for homeowners who want to use green building materials.

Aluminum

Aluminum roof materials are a wise choice for coastal regions since aluminum resists rust and corrosion. Since it is lightweight, aluminum roofing can be used to replace shingles without structural modifications. Aluminum is flexible and malleable, which allows it to conform to imperfections on the roof. Additionally, intricate designs can be stamped into metal sheets for a completely custom look on the roof or accents. The tensile strength of aluminum is 22,000 psi. Estimate the cost at around $10.50 per square foot.

Steel

Galvalume steel is a superior roofing material because it is strong and resists corrosion. Steel roofing is often coated with either zinc (G90) or zinc/aluminum (AZ50) for extra long-term benefits. Galvalume is sold unfinished, aggregate-coated and painted. It has an indefinite lifetime and can be painted to maintain its beauty. It is lightweight and easy to install. The tensile strength of galvanized steel is 50,000 psi and has an estimated cost of around $9.40 per square foot.

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel is durable and maintenance-free. The material is also resistant to corrosion and won't stain surrounding surfaces. Its tensile strength exceeds 80,000 psi.

Terne Metal

Terne metals are produced by coating carbon steel, stainless steel and other metals with an alloy of zinc, tin and trace amounts of other elements to increase a metal's corrosion resistance by up to 10 times. It is lightweight and durable, but must be primed and painted. This metal roof option requires maintenance. Installers should use cleats rather than nails to install.

Zinc

Like other metals, zinc is maintenance-free and adaptable for many design styles. It never fades and is a non-corrosive, environmentally friendly product. Because it doesn't corrode, zinc is often used as a protective coating for steel and other metals.

Copper

Copper is considered to be a premium metal roofing material. As copper ages and oxidizes, its appearance changes from shiny copper to a green patina. Perfect for high-end homes located near saltwater, copper is not only beautiful, but resists corrosion and rust. According to Future Roof Systems, copper also is virtually maintenance free and wind- and earthquake-resistant.

Installers must use copper or copper alloy fasteners. The tensile strength of copper is 36,000 psi. Estimate the cost of copper shingles at $19 per square foot.

Since all metal offers similar benefits, the decision of which material to use is dependent on the property owner's budget and design taste. Roofing materials are available in sheets or shingles in a variety of designs to complement any home and to suit the needs of environmentally aware consumers.

Note: All costs for roofing comparisons used the calculator at New England Metal Roof and are intended to provide a rough estimate of the costs of the various metal roofing materials.

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