Commercial Roofing Materials Part 5: Metal Roofing

Commercial Roofing Material - Metal RoofThere are several types of industrial and commercial roofing materials. In this 5 part series we will cover each of the following: EPDM, thermoplastic, built-up, modified bitumen, and metal. Each material has its own advantages and disadvantages and any of them can be the right choice depending on your building, climate, and budget. In this installment, we look at our final material: metal roofing.

What is a Metal Roof?

As early as the 1700s, builders were using tin on roofs. Though interest in metal roofing has fluctuated since then, in recent decades is come on stronger than ever. Metal roofs are a favorite covering for commercial, industrial, and institutional buildings for many decades. Generally they are made of interlocking metal panels placed vertically over the roof surface. These metal roofs are (surprise, surprise) made out of metal. Metal roofs are made from a variety of metals and alloys. Some of the materials used include galvanized steel, aluminum, copper, zinc, terne (zinc-tin alloy), and stainless steel.

Metal Roof Pros

Here are a few reasons metal roofs are in popular demand.

  • Low lifecycle costs
  • Conserves energy
  • Reduces facility air conditioning needs
  • Reduces facility lighting needs
  • High sustainability
  • Can improve property value on site
  • 20 to 40 year warranty is common
  • Do not require laying surface, can be applied directly to roof joists
  • Lightweight

In addition to these advantages, low slope metal roofs are usually airtight and extremely weather resistant. They are designed in such a way that water runs off very efficiently. These are the most common reasons roofers and building managers are attracted to metal roofing.

Metal Roof Cons

Of course, there are some drawbacks to metal roofs, such as:

  • May glare or appear very shiny
  • Expansion and contraction may limit effective water protection
  • Lower grade materials may corrode when exposed to coastal conditions
  • Can be expensive, depending on the metal

Which Metal Is Right?

When determining which metal is right to use, it is best to consult your local roofing contractor to make sure you are getting the absolutely best product for your specific situation. However here are a few guidelines to follow:

  • Galvanized steel is prone to corrode when exposed to moist salt spray (coastal locations)
  • Galvalume steel (coated in copper and zinc) lasts longer but is more expensive than galvanized
  • Steel is normally the lowest costing metal roof material, and therefore, most popular
  • Aluminum is a close second due to higher costs, but greater longevity
  • Copper is a wonderful metal which could last an eternity, however, it is prohibitively expensive
  • Expensive metals like copper and zinc are normally used tastefully for

Metal roofs offer several attractive benefits to the building manager, however, there are situations in which they are not the best choice. It is important to be well informed and researched before deciding which material to use.

When you are deciding what material to use for your commercial building you should consult with an experienced, licensed roofing contractor. All Weather Tite, of Marlborough MA, is a GAF Master Elite® certified roofing contractor, which guarantees that we are fully licensed, fully insured, have a proven reputation for quality, and are committed to ongoing professional training. Check out the commercial roofing section of our website or contact us to talk to our expert team. You can request a free estimate and we will be happy to explain your options regarding recoating your roof. Our expert services cover all aspects of roofing from new roofs to minor repairs.


Posted in Commercial Roofing.