Metal Roofing Types (Materials, Styles, Roofing Installation) Explained

Metal roofs are becoming a huge topic. We can talk about the material, the type of closure and sewing, and also the pattern. As for the material, you can choose from 4 common types of metal roofs. We will discuss the advantages and disadvantages, as well as the cost and the different models and styles of metal roofs.

Materials for metal roofs

The first decision you need to make when considering a metal roof is the choice of material.


Aluminum is a lightweight and durable choice for climates with high rainfall. Because it does not rust, your aluminum roof can literally last a lifetime. It can also be of any design and color. You can buy aluminum roof panels that are die-cut to look like shingles, wood shingles or some other pattern. In most cases, aluminum roofs are pre-painted and need to be repainted from time to time to maintain their appearance.

In terms of durability, an aluminum roof is very difficult to damage. If you take a die-cut model, the structure of the material will be even stronger, even though it is probably recycled material. Most aluminum roofs (90%) are made from recycled cans, making it a very environmentally friendly choice.

On average, an aluminum roof lasts 30 years or more without requiring major repairs or replacements. It costs an average of $3.15 per square foot to have it installed by your contractor or roofer. It is not the cheapest metal roof, but it is much more economical than something like copper or stainless steel.

The disadvantage of aluminum is that the surface scratches easily. This does not weaken the structural integrity of the roof, but may require more maintenance to keep it looking good. The thickness of aluminum roofs ranges from .019″ to .032″, depending on the model. Embossed steel sheet that looks like shingles, shingles or tiles is thinner than the traditional standing seam metal roof.

Galvalume steel

This type of metal roofing is covered with a mixture of aluminum and zinc. Zinc galvanizes or protects the steel. The word Galvalume is a combination of the words galvanized and aluminum. The aluminum coating makes this roof very rust resistant. It also makes it susceptible to scratches.

In general, you don’t want a galvanized steel roof with a lot of curves and folds. If you do, the aluminum roof coating will stretch and become too thin in the folds, meaning rust can develop in these areas. Galvalume is best kept flat so that the coating does not bend or crack.

You can cover your Galvalume roof with clear acrylic to make it airtight. Paint is also useful, and most homeowners paint their metal roof.

The thickness is generally about 024″ and the material is generally 35% recycled. Galvalem costs about $3 per square foot.

Galvanized Steel

Steel itself is very susceptible to rust. Therefore, it is preferable to cover it with something else. In the case of galvanized steel, manufacturers pour molten zinc on the steel and let it harden into the top layer. Zinc “galvanizes” or “protects” the steel from corrosion.

Galvanized steel is available in any model because zinc can retain its coating even when bent into shape. The life of a galvanized steel roof actually depends on the thickness of the zinc. G-90 grade is common, meaning the roof is covered with 0.90 ounces of zinc per square foot. This amount makes for a fairly thick layer of zinc. You should not buy one under it unless you have a way to cover your roof with zinc or another protective coating. Most galvanized roofs are also painted, both for appearance and for added protection.

Zinc and paint protect steel from rust, but not to the same extent as the aluminum-zinc mixture in galvanized roofs. So if you live in an area where it rains a lot (and especially if there is salt spray from the ocean), it’s probably best not to choose galvanized steel.

The thickness ranges from .014″ to .024″ depending on the thickness of the steel you choose. The recycled content is about 35% of galvanized steel roofing. For galvanized steel, you will pay about $3 per square foot.


A copper roof looks very unique and attractive. It is also quite expensive. In terms of price, steel is the cheapest and aluminum is in the middle. Because it is so expensive, most people do not use copper for their entire roof. They may use it for a skylight frame or other architectural elements.

Copper roofs can be purchased in a variety of styles, but usually in flat sheets. Copper can be colored naturally, but it is not dyed.

Although copper is generally not used for the entire roof, it is not recommended to use it in conjunction with other metal roofing materials. That’s because copper ages and develops a patina over time. This adds to the attractiveness and character of copper, but part of the process is that the color of copper fades and can discolor other metals. It also discolors tile and concrete. So, whatever material you use for your roof, make sure that water from copper ornaments on your roof is drained. You can install a special gutter system for this area to direct the water to the ground or flower bed where the paint will not stain.

In addition to the aesthetic appeal of the patina, this layer also helps to protect the copper. It usually takes 8 to 15 years to develop, but you can buy it pre-patinated to speed up the process. If you are in a coastal area, the salt in the air also helps to speed up the development.

Copper roofs can last for more than a hundred years. However, if you don’t want to pay for solid copper, you can also buy copper-clad steel or aluminum roofs. This will give you the same look for a much lower price. But it won’t last as long as real copper. Solid copper costs an average of $18 per square foot. That’s a lot more than $3.15 for aluminum or $3 for galvanized steel.

The thickness of copper roofs ranges from .016″ to .027″, depending on the model. Copper shingles are thinner than vertically laid sheets. As with steel roofs, the recycled content is about 35%.

Other metal roofing materials

The four types of metal roofs we covered above are the most common. You can buy them from any supplier in a variety of styles. However, if you are building a new home or building, you may want to ask your architect to order a custom metal roof.

Options include zinc, titanium, stainless steel and mandrel-coated steel. Thorn-coated steel has a matte finish, as opposed to a shiny finish like stainless steel, because it is coated with a mixture of zinc and tin. These roofs are more expensive because they are custom made by a metal fabricator rather than mass produced.

Metal roofs

What should you look for in your metal roof? Do you want it to look like traditional asphalt shingles or wood shingles? Do you want it to look like metal shingles? How about flat sheets with raised edges? You can have any style with a metal roof; just remember that some types of materials, such as Galvalume, do not maintain the integrity of the protective coating when converted to anything other than flat sheets.

Shingles, shingles and tiles

You can also hear it collectively referred to as a stamped metal roof. This is because the shape of the stamped metal creates a different appearance.

Asphalt shingles resemble the most common roofing style in America, the layered asphalt square. The shaken metal takes on the attractive appearance of irregular wood. Shingles resemble clay shingles. They are all very textured and elegant and add a lot of interest to your home.

The advantage of these metal styles is that the roof is more durable, watertight and requires less maintenance. It is also easier to install when repairs are not needed. Because metal roofs come in large sheets, a large area can be installed relatively quickly. Many homeowners who want the longevity of metal roofs choose one of these styles because they match the style of their neighbors’ homes.

Permanent seal

This is a traditional style of metal roofing. Roofing panels of this style are ideal for commercial buildings and barns. However, this is only due to the width of the panels. Of course, if you want to use this style for your home, you can choose a pattern with a panel width of 12 inches or less. This smaller spacing is better suited for a more compact structure such as a house.

Sheet steel roofs

These sheets are relatively flat, although they can be “folded” or rolled by hand. They are popular in rural and agricultural areas. If not painted, they give the impression of being historical.

It’s also the cheapest roofing style, and it comes in larger panels than the more “poured” types. Of all the styles, this is the easiest to install, as you simply attach the panels and attach your fasteners (nails or screws) with a washer.

Types of metal roof structures

In addition to the material and shape of the metal roof, you should also pay attention to the way you install it. This largely depends on how the panels are attached. The way they are placed will affect the final appearance of your roof and its ease of maintenance.

Open fasteners

Fasteners are usually just a screw or nail, although some brands of metal roofing require special fasteners.

An open frame is what you see above when it is retracted. The advantage of open mounts is that they are the easiest to install. Just install the metal roof panels and apply the fasteners. Unlike asphalt shingles, metal roofs have the advantage of using washers on the fasteners to reduce the chance of leaks through the mounting hole.

The use of visible fasteners gives metal roofs a more traditional look, especially with sheet metal roofs. However, if you are looking for a sophisticated, finished look, you may not want to see all the screw holes.

Concealed fasteners

This design is popular for standing seam and stamped roofs. Instead of putting in holes for nails or screws, attach the panels and cover the holes with the overlap of the next panel. Press the panels together and lock them to seal. They are slightly more difficult to install, but look much more professional.

Materials for metal roofs

So metal roofs should last longer than asphalt shingles, wood shingles, slate shingles, etc., but what needs to be done to make them last as long as advertised?

Wash the roof first. Once a season, you can go on your roof and wash off bird droppings, leaves, dust, salt, etc. with soapy water and a brush. You can also use a pressure washer to clean the roof with a jet of water and remove resistant materials. Do not use a scrubber. It is not necessary to scrape the roof.

If you are using a galvanized or electrogalvanized steel roof or any other type of coated metal roof, this coating is used to protect the metal from rust. Over time, however, this coating will fade and you will need to reapply the top coat. A roof with a thicker coating will last longer than a roof with a thinner coating, so it is wise to pay more for a thicker coating.

Of course, you do not apply a top coat of zinc or any other metal compound. Instead, you apply a layer of polymer, such as Kynar. You can hire a professional to renew your roof, or you can do it yourself if you have the time. It’s not complicated.

It’s the same with a painted roof. Even faster than the coating, the paint will be scratched, cracked or discolored, and you will have to repaint the roof. Metal roofs are not like vinyl siding that should never be repainted. When repainting a metal roof, use spray paint or a paint sprayer to get an even finish without brush marks. You may need to apply a primer first to help the paint adhere to the metal. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the type of paint used.

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Frequently asked questions

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