Tag Archives: metal roofing

What is So Cool about Metal Roofing?

I believe that most people would agree with a notion that sensibly-applied environmental responsibility, and building in a sustainable and green way, can help preserve the environment, and make it better not just for us, but also for the future generations.

In the light of this concept, I would like to present and advocate a case for residential and light commercial metal roofing, which has become one of the fastest growing roofing products in America. So what, right? Well, since green theme is one of the topics covered in this blog, let me show you how modern metal roofing is relevant and useful from the ecological, environmental, and sustainable building practices points of view.

Green Building Manifesto

Before I cover the role and significance of green metal roofing in the US, I would like to share my version of green building concept:

When you combine science and technology with environmental awareness and ecological considerations, you can start building in sustainable way that is good for the people, environment and future generations. When sustainable building ideas and concepts reach the level of commercial integration, they can become truly powerful because these ideas are no longer just on paper, but rather at work affecting, and hopefully improving the world and the environment.

In the United States, we are witnessing this positive environmental building change in the roofing industry today. In the U.S., where most roofs are covered with asphalt shingles, metal roofing has emerged as a sustainable roofing product that is gaining popularity and market share every year. According to the National Association of Home builders Research Center, 20 billion pounds of asphalt shingles are dumped into U.S. landfills every year. Metal roofing is an ecologically safe building material containing anywhere from 25 to 95% of post consumer content (depending on the product manufacturer), and it is 100% recyclable at the end of its useful life.

Worldwide Perspective

Did you know that over 50% of all rooftops in Paris are Zinc Metal Roofs?

Zinc Roofing

You may find this surprising, I certainly did, but over 70 percents of residential buildings in Europe are covered with metal roofing. It is also interesting to note, that in Europe, zinc is the most commonly and widely used metal roofing material. The uncoated zinc roofing performs extremely well in the harshest climates, and can last nearly 100 years. In the U.S., Zinc and aluminum coated and Kynar painted steel is the most widely used metal roofing material. Zinc and aluminum coating coupled with high quality Kynar paint finish provides excellent protection against oxidation and corrosion. Kynar paint coating gives steel roofing solar reflective properties, which qualifies it as a cool roof.

Residential Standing Seam Metal Roof

Steel Roof Standing Seam

Energy star became an active participant assigning energy star ratings to cool-roof rated metal roofing products. Cool metal roofs reflect solar radiant heat, which reduces air conditioning load and can often result in energy savings of 30% and greater in warm seasons. The United States government stimulus package provides tax credits to homeowners who invest in a qualifying energy star rated metal roofing system.

Asphalt Shingle vs. Metal

Not to bash asphalt shingle roofing industry, but the quality of asphalt shingle roofs, an oil based product, has been steadily declining over the last few decades. Today, an average expected life span of the asphalt shingle roof is only 17 years. In hotter climates such as Florida and Texas the lifespan of an asphalt shingle roof may be as short as 10 years. Metal roof installed correctly can last for many decades providing energy savings and comfort for the building occupants.

Pros and cons of metal roofing

Most of today’s commercially available metal roofing systems feature great warranties and provide significant energy savings to the building owner. However, the initial cost of installing a metal roof is the biggest hurdle for the building owners. Metal roofing materials represent quality and cost more than its asphalt counter-parts. The cost of installing metal roofing is also higher because metal roofing requires professional installation and it takes longer to install than asphalt shingles.

Aside from the higher cost of initial investment, metal roofing provides many benefits over asphalt shingle roofs. Most modern metal roofs can withstand hurricane winds with speeds of 110 miles per hour and higher. Metal roofing provides excellent hail damage and fire protection. Insurance companies in some 20 states reduce homeowners insurance by as much as 35% for the homes protected with metal roofing.

Metal roofing systems such as standing-seam are solar roofing ready. Easy to adhere solar PV panels can be easily integrated with standing-seam roofs, which can help take the energy efficiency of your home to yet another level. Solar installation for a metal roof may well pay for itself in seven to ten years.


It seems that the status of metal roofing is still not quite clear. Some entities consider it as a green building material, while others do not. Like with any new idea or concept, it takes time to break in and be accepted into the mainstream. Especially given the threats that metal roofing imposes to the manufacturers of conventional asphalt shingle roofing materials. Either way, metal roofing is here to stay, and it has a strong commercial banking and demand that will perpetuate its growth in popularity. Regardless of status, facts will remain the facts: metal roofing is a sustainable, long lasting, ecologically and environmentally safe building material that can save our landfills from asphalt shingle deposits and improve the longevity and quality of residential, commercial, industrial, and institutional roofs.



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Metal Roofing vs Asphalt Shingles

Metal Roofing is one of the greenest building materials available on the market – it’s typically produced using as much as 90% recycled metal, and reflects up to 95% solar heat, thus reducing cooling costs. A properly installed metal roof can easily last a lifetime (50 years or more), and should not require any remedial repairs or maintenance. A metal roof also offers superior protection for your home, against rain, snow, and ice-dams, withstands hurricane-speed winds and makes your home look just awesome.

Asphalt roofing shingles on the other hand, are made with oil by-products, last an average of 15 years, and when they reach the end of life, you have to dispose of them into a landfill, which creates millions of tons of non-degradable waste every year. Asphalt shingles also absorb solar heat, and make your air-conditioner run on double time, and increase your energy bill.

Image of Standing seam metal roof

Benefits of metal roofing vs asphalt shingles:

As mentioned, metal roof will outlast asphalt shingles roof by at least 3 times, and can be fully recycled, if it is ever removed. Each metal roof will reduce landfill waste by an average of 4-6+ tons over its life span. That is 8000-12000+ lbs of oil-based waste, that will not go into the ground, for every new metal roof installed.

Here is the math:

One square of asphalt shingles weights roughly 250 lb. A typical ranch house roof is about 16 squares – that is 2 tons, or 4000 lbs. Excluding the roof tear-off during an installation of a metal roof, you would be installing and removing two more asphalt roofs over a lifespan of a typical metal roof – that is at least 8000 lbs. of roofing shingles that has to be disposed of, since you won’t leave it in your backyard.

Energy efficiency of a metal roof:

Typical metal roof reflects about 75-80% of solar heat, and can go to as high as 90% reflectivity. These cool metal roofs will reduce your energy (cooling) bill by 30-50%, saving you money and reducing CO2 and other green house gas emissions.

So why is it that as many as 90-95% of all new roof installations on residential homes, are done with asphalt shingles?

Main reason for such a huge difference in total installations of asphalt roofing shingles vs. metal roofs, is the cost of metal roofing. Metal roofing prices for an installed roof, are on average 2-3 times higher then asphalt shingles. There are several reasons for this.

  • Metal roofing materials cost anywhere from 2-4 times more then asphalt shingles, even after the recent roofing shingles price increase, that took place in 2011.
  • Installation of a metal roof in most cases requires complete removal of old roofing material, which increases the cost
  • There are very few trained and experienced metal roofing installers, compared to roofers who install asphalt shingles day in and day out.
  • Metal roof installation is rather complicated compared to that of asphalt shingles, and takes much longer to complete. For example, a 4-men crew can tear off and install a 12-15 squares asphalt shingles roof in one day. For a metal roof, it will take about 3 days
  • Metal roof installers get paid more, for their work, and it’s not easy to find qualified installers. Training a metal roofing installer takes time and is expensive.
  • Metal roofing contractors need to market their services. Competition is stiff, as they need to compete against much less expensive asphalt shingles, and this marketing / job acquisition cost is added to the price of a metal roof.
  • Most metal roofing contractors offer very long labor warranties, and thus need high profit margins to stay in business, and uphold their warranties.

Note: Word of mouth marketing does not really work for metal roofing contractors. Even if people who see your new metal roof and really like it, can rarely afford it, thus chances are they won’t be calling you. Therefore, metal roofing contractors need to rely on other marketing ways.

What can be done to increase widespread adoption of metal roofing?

Just like with solar panels, wind, geothermal and other green and renewable energy tech, it all comes down to prices. Prices go down as competition increases – thus we need more competition in the metal roofing market. More competition both in manufacturing base and installation / contractors count.

Although there are many sheet metal fabricators and manufacturers (www.metalroofmanufacturers.com) of metal roofs already, they are mostly small companies, and cannot meet the demand, if it goes up by even 50-75%. That would be a relatively small increase, compared to the total number of roof installations each year. Also, right now there are exclusive territories for some contractors, who install certain types of metal roofing, and other limitations set forth by the manufacturers, as well as very high material prices.

On the contractors side – some roofers may try to install a metal roof, but are likely to end up doing a bad job, without proper training, and never touch a metal roof again. Most others stay away from metal roofing all together, as they do not feel confident in their installation abilities, and do not want to deal with expensive repairs.

However with some training, which metal roof manufacturers provide free of charge, it is possible to learn proper techniques and be able to install. With this free training there will be more and more roofers who install metal roofing, popping up everywhere.

image of Metal Roofing Shingles

Another “good” thing is that oil prices WILL BE rising, which will make cost of asphalt shingles go up even more, thus making a metal roof look more and more attractive / competitive. This will also increase the use of fuel efficient cars, renewable energy and green building materials.

So the question and a call to you – the reader – what will your next roof be? Mine is a metal roof (red roof in the photo above).



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