I’ve got to admit that I hadn’t seen (or didn’t know that I had seen) a metal roof on a house until I visited the land development where my wife and I bought our retirement property. A couple of the homes already built there were log cabins, both with green vertical panel metal roofs. I have to admit as well that the roofs aroused my curiosity since it was my intention to build a log cabin. They were definitely eye catching. My home ownership experience had included only asphalt shingles so it was time to do a little research.
I learned that, as usual, there was a price/benefit trade off between composition shingles made of fiberglass, asphalt and crushed rock and metal shingles. In addition to the cost of the metal, a breathable underlayment should be applied to the roofing deck to prevent moisture from accumulating under the metal. Metal roofs are definitely more expensive but provide the following benefits.
Longevity – Metal resists cracking, shrinking, erosion and exposure to weather extremes. Primer and finish paint are baked onto metal. While the composition shingle roof may last 15-30 years, metal roof warranties will cover up to 50 years with a longer true expected life. My experience (in the Northeast) with asphalt shingles has been 20 years at best.
Fireproof – Metal roofing is non combustable. \
Energy Efficient – Metal reflects sunlight rejecting 80-90 percent of the heat.
Sheds Snow and Ice
Metal options include steel, stainless steel, copper, zinc titanium. High performance coating options are polyesters, silicone modified polyesters and Kynar, a polyvinylidene floride.
Metal roofs also are manufactured in a number of different styles. While I saw only the vertical panel style, metal is available in the following forms.
Shingle slate – Resembles asphalt roofing
Tile – Resembles clay, ceramic or concrete tile
Shake – resembles wood shakes
Vertical panel - easy to fabricate on the job site, have interlocking seams
Don’t forget that the quality of your roof depends on the quality of instalation. Make sure you're installer has done plenty of metal roofs. Check for satisfied customers. Don't choose the right roof but the wrong contractor.
Having seen only one metal roof style, I will be searching for homes with the other styles before choosing one for pricing. Then I will be doing a cost/benefit analysis before deciding between metal and asphalt for my log cabin. My wife and I both have life expectancies that are definitely much shorter than that of a new metal roof. Will my children want to keep the cabin after we’re gone? Our research will continue.