By Debbie Brucks
You’ve seen steel roofs on barns, but how often have you seen them on residential property? It’s very likely you’ll be seeing them a whole lot more around the country. With wildfires, hurricanes, hail and other extreme conditions damaging houses, an increasing number of homeowners are taking advantage of the benefits of metal roofing.
Steel roof installations have more than doubled in the last five years and will continue to grow 15 percent per year, according to the Metal Roofing Alliance (MRA). There is no material more capable of protecting a home from destructive weather conditions.
Benefits of Metal Roofing
A metal roof will last at least two to three times longer than an asphalt roof, or 40 to 60 years. In the warm, humid Southern states, metal is virtually immune to the unsightly mildew stains that often form on asphalt shingles. Properly installed, a metal roof won’t leak or rust and can withstand wind gusts up to 140 miles per hour.
Shane Scott, a real-estate entrepreneur from LaGrange, Georgia, renovates and resells older homes. He installed a metal roof for his own home in 2000 and was so pleased with it he’s purchased metal roofs for all the homes he’s refurbished since then.
“When buyers are considering a home, they’re always concerned about the condition of the roof,” notes Scott. “With metal, they know they won’t need to do anything to it for at least 50 years. With an asphalt roof, they’ll need to replace it within 15 to 20 years.”
Most metal roof systems have passed UL 2218 Impact Resistance testing at its most severe level, Class IV. As a result, homeowners in hail-prone states who choose metal roofing may be eligible for discounts on their insurance premiums.
Ed Parker, a retired homeowner from Sharpsburg, Georgia agrees. “We’ve gone through two or three asphalt roofs on our home over the years and they discolor and rip off during wind storms, or leak due to hail storms,” Parker said. “Metal is much more durable.”
The National Association of Homebuilders Research Center estimates that 20 billion pounds of asphalt roofing is taken to landfills every year. Metal’s longevity removes the need for frequent roof replacements. Better still, it can be laid over the current roof, eliminating the costs of shingle removal and land-fill fees. If a metal roof is ever removed, it can be recycled.
Steel is the best choice for “green” buildings, where the goal is to reduce or eliminate chemical substances, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI). Unlike wooden shakes or some other traditional materials, steel is not vulnerable to insects, mold or rot. Therefore, it does not require the application of insecticides or other hazardous chemicals.
Time-tested metal roofs save energy and reduce your cooling costs by as much as 40 percent, depending on location, says the MRA. The advent of new reflective paints with energy-saving properties has revolutionized the residential roofing industry.
While asphalt and cedar shingles absorb heat, the new cool pigment technology can reflect up to 85 percent of the sun’s radiant energy. Now, even dark colors achieve the “cool” attributes. An Energy Star roof can stay up to 100 degrees cooler on its surface than other roofs, so less heat is transferred into the building.
Wilmer Dykes, a homeowner from Cochran, Georgia, noticed a decrease in his energy bill of at least 25 percent after installing his metal roof. Dykes believes keeping his old roof on his home helped save energy. “By building the new metal roof over it, we created an air pocket between the two roofs, giving us an added layer of insulation,” he said.
A metal roof won’t crack, curl, split, rot or lose impact resistance with age. The only maintenance recommended for a metal roof is an annual inspection, clearing the roof of accumulated leaves or other debris and checking roof top ancillaries and air conditioners to ensure that they are properly drained and supported.
§Tax and Insurance Savings
The U.S. Energy Policy Act of 2005 allows for a tax credit for homeowners who install qualified energy-efficient improvements to an existing home, including metal roofs that meet the Energy Star program requirements.
For some, a stigma still remains from the old, ugly metal barn roofs. However, a host of new colors, finishes and profiles has drastically improved the look over the last 10 years.
Don Smith, another homeowner from Cochran, said that aesthetics was one of the most important factors in his decision to purchase a metal roof. “I had seen steel roofs in the high-end subdivisions and really liked the look,” he said. “Now, strangers stop in my driveway and ask me questions about my roof because they like the look of it too.
Casey Paulk, owner of Paulk Landscaping serving central Georgia, agrees. “In my business, I see a ton of homes, so I’m always comparing, contrasting and making mental notes,” he said. “When I built my new home, I did a lot of research. I decided to go with a metal roof primarily for the aesthetics – I love the way metal looks.”
Be Wary of Your Warranty
Finding a warranty that offers complete protection is harder than most consumers realize, says Clay Smith, owner of Mid-GA Steel and Supply, headquartered in Grantville, Georgia. “There is no way to tell if two metals lying side by side have any difference in quality,” he said. “Unscrupulous manufacturers can make 25-year warranty claims for cheap metal that actually has just a five year life before fading.”
Because of this risk, it’s important to find a manufacturer that puts its steel vendors’ coil numbers on their warranties, which connects the buyer with the vendor and the exact metal purchased. “This will ensure that the warranty will be fully honored throughout its duration,” Smith said. “Without the coil number on your warranty, you have no protection, regardless of what your warranty might imply.”
A Long-Term Investment
Often one of the barriers to purchasing a metal roof is the cost, which is two to three times that of a shingle roof. However, buyers who realize a metal roof is a one-time investment versus an ongoing, life-long expense understand the considerable value it offers.
Asphalt roofs typically need to be replaced approximately every 15 years due to deterioration. Conversely, a metal roof is a permanent, extremely low-maintenance roof. “Although the up-front costs are considerably more than an asphalt roof, over the long term the durability of a metal roof makes it well worth it,” said Mr. Paulk.
The Final Solution
The rapid increase in the number of metal roofs nationwide will likely continue to intensify, as consumers better understand the durability and both the short and long-term savings metal roofs offer. Add to that the beauty of metal roofs seen in their own neighborhoods, and it’s easy to understand the surge in growth. The market is ripe; as baby boomers pay off their homes and settle into retirement, they are looking for a roof solution that lasts a lifetime.
Debbie Brucks is a freelance writer living in Peachtree City, GA. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information, go to http://www.energystar.gov