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What Metals Are Used in Metal Roofing?

Metal roofing is one of the most preferred roofing materials for residential roofs. They come in a wide range of colors, are recyclable, lower energy costs, are durable against strong storms, and last over 50 years. They may cost a little more upfront but in the long run are worth the investment. You may be wondering what exactly we mean by “metal” roofs. There are different metals used in roofing and they have different qualities. The most used metals are Aluminum, Stainless Steel, Galvalume, Copper, and Zinc. Let’s discuss them here.

Aluminum

Aluminum is, by definition, a silver-white metallic chemical element that has high reflectivity and resistance to oxidation. It is the most abundant metal on Earth and is used in several everyday items from soda cans to kitchen appliances, cars, ships, buildings, and airplane parts. It’s a great material for roofing because it’s recyclable which lowers the cost and is good for the environment. Aluminum reflects sun rays away to help keep the house cooler and lowers your energy costs. It also resists oxidation so it won’t rust which is perfect for areas that receive a lot of rain or along the coast because it won’t corrode easily. Of all the roofing metals, the price range is in the middle. It’s a thinner metal than some of the others but is more abundant.

Image of raw aluminum material used for metal roofing

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel material for metal roofing

“Stainless Steel is a corrosive-resistant alloy of iron, chromium, and, in some cases, nickel and other metals.” It is commonly used in kitchen appliances, cookware, medical equipment, and surgical tools because it won’t rust, is easy to clean, and very durable in those environments. Stainless steel is a poor conductor of electricity so it’s used often in buildings, bridges, and airplanes but you won’t find many boats made of it. Stainless steel won’t rust in rain but it will rust around saltwater so we don’t recommend this material for coastal areas. Even though it’s as recyclable as aluminum, the price point is much higher. It’s a thicker metal, stronger, and can last up to 60 years or longer. It also won’t expand or contract in the summer and winter so you don’t have to worry about it cracking or warping.

Gavalume

Image of a sheet of metal roofing made from galvalume

Galvalume is a proprietary steel coating that consists of about 55% aluminum, 43.4% zinc and 1.6% silicon that is used on a steel base. Galvalume is often used in commercial buildings and roofs. It’s preferred in large building projects and roofs because it’s the least expensive metal to use but still possesses the strength of zinc and the oxidation resistance of aluminum due to it’s being coated in those metals. The price point is lower because it is also recyclable and friendly to the environment. Even though it is on the lower side of the price range it has a feature some of the other metals don’t have. It comes in a wide range of colors that you don’t see in aluminum or copper roofs. Galvalume roofing comes in neutral tones such as gray, tan, brown and black as well as vibrant shades of reds, greens, and blues. These specialty colors will not only make your house or business stand out from the others but can also match the exterior building color or compliment the environment. It can be prone to fading so make sure the paint used in the coating is made by Kynar or uses a silicone modified polyester system.

Copper

Copper is a transition metal that has been used for thousands of years even dating back to the 8th millennium BC. It was the first metal humans used in what we now call the Copper Age. The Copper Age took place between the mid-5th millennium BC and into the early 3rd millennium BC. They used copper to fabricate farming tools, jewelry, utensils, and edged weapons like knives and swords. Today we still use copper in jewelry, tools, electrical wiring, pipes, gutters, and roofs. Copper has been used as a roofing material since around 300 BC. In fact some of the oldest houses still standing in the U.S. have copper roofs. A copper roof can last over a 100 years if properly maintained. It is also the only roofing metal that can be soldered which means the flashings can be fused directly to the roof and have less cause for leaks. It helps keep the house cooler like other metal roofs but it isn’t as recyclable so that leads to a higher price. A copper roof is very expensive but worth it when you think about its extensive longevity and classic look. It starts off with a reddish-brown metallic appearance like a penny. Eventually due to oxidation it develops a patina and turns blue-green; for a patina reference think of the Statue of Liberty.

Image of raw copper material used in making copper metal roofing

Zinc

Raw zinc material used to make zinc metal roofing

Zinc roofs are popular in Europe and are steadily gaining popularity in the U.S. It has a lot in common with copper roofs such as longevity, low maintenance, energy saving, and a unique bluish patina. The patina is a result of oxidation and actually heals the roof by filling in any small scratches just like a copper roof’s patina. The price point is slightly lower than a copper roof but can last 80 to 100 years. Unlike copper, zinc is 100% recyclable and uses less resources and leaves a lower carbon footprint when producing it. Zinc also provides the same safety benefits as other metal roofs such as being extremely durable against strong storms, high winds, and fire. An added benefit to a zinc roof is that the runoff water from rain is considered contaminant free and great for rainwater collection.

Call Kresta Roofing today and schedule a date for a free quote on a new metal roof or repairs. We also provide a free roof inspection with pictures so you know what you’re really dealing with no guesswork involved.

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