Types of Metals Used for Roofing

Different Types of Metal

Aluminum

About the time when Abraham Lincoln was President, Aluminum was twice the price of Gold even though it is the 3rd most common element in the earths crust. We’ve come a long way with smelting technology since then and now this material is an exceptional choice for a residential roof.

Aluminum is light weight, easy to work with, corrosion resistant, yet it is extremely strong and long lasting. It is such a great option that it can be crafted to mimic many traditional looks like shingle or slate and is also offered in prefinished colors. Aluminum has been used for over a century in architecture and still sits on the top of the Washington Monument today.

Todays Aluminum is also very eco-friendly as most alloys are comprised of 90%-95% recycled material; most of that is post-consumer-based content.

  • Advantages:
    • Resists corrosion
    • Lightweight
    • Variety of styles
    • Energy efficient
    • Eco-friendly
  • Disadvantages:
    • Higher cost compared to steel
  • Thickness:
    • Shingle, Shake, and Tile: 019” and 0.024”
    • Standing Seam and Heavy Tile: 0.032” and up
  • Weight:
    • Starts at 45 pounds per square foot
  • Recycled Content: 
    • 90-95% Recycled Content

Galvalume Steel

Galvalume steel material is a blend of carbon infused iron which is then coated via a hot-dip process with an alloy of aluminum/zinc/silicon. This produces a product that has a shiny metallic appearance. Galvalume is rust and corrosion resistant due to the plating, but it will inevitably succumb to rust over time. The weak points of this material are the cut edges which lose the protective plating and the susceptible nature of surface scratching. However, even with these attributes, it is a product that will hold up over other traditional roofing material but is not considered a “lifetime” selection. It is a material is best suited for larger, flatter applications; simple roofs with simple profiles.

  • Advantages: 
    • Resists corrosion
    • Cost-effective
  • Disadvantages: 
    • Prone to cracks and rust
    • Recommended for simple, flat profiles
    • Steel needs to be cut with shears rather than a saw
  • Thickness: 
    • 024” (24 gauge)
  • Weight: 
    • Between 100-150 pounds per 100 sq. ft
    • 35% Recycled Content

Galvanized Steel

Similar in many ways to Galvalume, Galvanized Steel is best suited for simple, flat roofs. When professionally installed it is a cost effective, longer term solution that is available in a variety of styles. It also comes in various degrees of thickness and plating depending on the building design and application.

When considering Galvanized Steel keep in mind the degree of zinc plating. G-90 is a most common thickness where “90” indicates 0.90 ounces of zinc applied to each square foot of base material. There are other options that use less zinc but these ar not recommended due to the decreased life span.

When used in a roofing material, zinc is known as a sacrificial surface. Zinc forms a galvanic bond with the steel and it will oxidize itself allowing the base material to stay rust free – thus the term “sacrificial”. So zinc provides two types of protection – increased material as a barrier and sacrificial to prolong the life of the steel. Because of this it is easy to see why “more zinc / more better!”. When painted, the total protection is further enhanced and you also benefit from improved appearance.

However, even with all of the benefits we do not recommend Galvanized Steel for homes near the coast line do to the affects of a harsh, salt environment.

Advantages:

  • Cost-effective
  • Customizable to achieve desired look

Disadvantages:

  • More difficult to install
  • Rust prone if not installed correctly
  • Doesn’t last as long as other metal options
  • Recommended for simple, flat profiles
  • Steel needs to be cut with shears rather than a saw.

Thickness:

    • Shake, slate, shingle, and tile profiles: 0.018” to 0.014” (26-28 gauge)
    • Standing seam profiles: 0.018” to 0.024” (24 to 26 gauge).

Weight:

    • Between 100-150 pounds per 100 sq. ft

35% Recycled Content

Copper is one of the most visually stunning of all metal options; everyone loves the look of copper. It is beautiful when new with its shiny medium red look and it goes through several stages of color change eventually resulting in the blue/green patina. In some applications it is also available with surface additives to either accelerate or delay the patina growth. Not only does the patina add to the look of the roof but it also serves as a protective barrier. And Copper retains all the oxidation resistant properties throughout the entire base metal. There are no coating materials to scratch through or remove when edges are cut.

One thing to be aware of is the migration of the patina during water runoff. With each rain, small amounts of the patina are carried by the water and will settle on any surface downstream.

One of the other main advantages of Copper is that it is very easy to work with. Copper is soft and malleable while still being extremely durable.

Copper can be a pricier option at time of installation due to the higher cost of the base metal itself, but Copper can easily last 100 years or longer. And the beauty of Copper increase with each passing year.

Advantages:

  • Visually stunning
  • Exceptionally long life
  • Easy to manipulate and custom tailor to specific roofs

Disadvantages:

  • Higher initial cost
  • Runoff from copper roofs can stain other surfaces
  • Vertical seam profiles: 0.022” to 0.027” (16 to 20 oz.)

Weight:

  • Between 100-150 pounds per 100 sq. ft.

35% Recycled Content

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