When it comes to large commercial roofs, several factors must be considered when choosing the best roofing materials for the building. Most of the time, regardless of the geographic area the building is located in, metal roofing is considered by experts to be the most reliable material available.
What makes metal roofing a better commercial roof?
Years of research, testing and real-world scenarios have uncovered features that allow metal roofing to outperform other materials when it comes to durability, value, safety and long useful life.
While metal roofing is a significant up-front investment, the material’s durability and longevity actually make it cost-effective over the life of the roof. What’s more, the reflectivity of a metal roofing system contributes greatly to the energy efficiency of the building and the economic benefits that go along with it. Some of the most significant of these benefits include increased property value and reduced energy costs.
Architects began using copper in the 3rd Century B.C. and the Romans used copper to cover the Pantheon in 27 B.C. Even before copper became a popular option, other metals including galvanized steel and color-coated steel were installed on buildings throughout the ancient world.
Benefits of Metal Commercial Roofing
A metal roof’s typical lifespan is 50–70 years, with some metal roofing lasting 100 years or more. This longevity makes metal easily one of the longest-lasting roofing materials available on the market today. In fact, a properly installed metal roof can last as long as the building; the copper roof of Germany’s St. Mary’s Cathedral in Hildesheim, installed in 1280, is still in place, and many Renaissance-era castles still boast their original metal roofs.
Buildings in areas that are prone to hail and high winds benefit significantly by installing metal roofing, as it greatly reduces the likelihood of damage from said weather events. Furthermore, metal roofing won’t suffer from cracking, chipping, splitting, rotting, warping or mold and algae growth - all things that other roofing materials are susceptible to. In fact, metal roofing is so durable that most manufacturers provide a minimum warranty of 30 years on the roofing material, with some offering warranties for up to 50 years.
Metal roofing uses its reflectivity and thermal emittance to help reduce the building’s energy load, saving a significant amount of money on monthly energy costs. When paired with above sheathing ventilation (ASV) and solar-reflective paint, the building’s energy efficiency can increase significantly. Typically, a metal roof can reduce summer cooling costs by 10–25%.
Roofing metal is made from recycled materials and is 100% recyclable at the end of its long useful life. Additionally, a metal roof is conducive to solar panel installation.
Quick, unobtrusive installation
Commercial property owners often assert that a complete tear-off and replacement is not feasible due to the interruptions it may cause to normal business operations. Fortunately, metal roofing is lightweight and can be installed right over the top of the existing roofing system without the need for a complete tear-off. This means that the new metal roofing system can provide metal’s longevity, weather resistance and energy efficiency with much less hassle than other roofing systems.
Since metal doesn’t ignite, it protects the building from outside fire hazards such as lightning or wildfires.
Metal roofing easily wicks away water, can absorb lightning and withstands hurricane-force winds. It also stands up to impact damage and in colder climates, snow can easily melt and slide away, reducing the added weight of accumulated snow and pooling water.
Although metal roofing is initially more expensive than PVC/TPO or built-up roofs (BUR), it’s ultimately easier to clean and maintain, saving on maintenance costs. Typically, metal roofing requires only an occasional task of removing any debris that may pose the risk of clogging roof drainage. As with any other roofing material, metal roofs should be inspected at least once a year by a roofing contractor to ensure that the roof is performing optimally and that there is no damage present.
Metal roofing can be easily adapted to nearly any preferred aesthetic by customizing the style, installation method and color of the roof coating. Additionally, metal roofing can mimic other types of traditional roofing materials, such as slate, clay, wood or asphalt while suffering none of the visible aging of those traditional materials.
Metal roofing’s popularity is attributed in large part to the wide range of options and customizations available. The types of metal available on the roofing market include:
- Aluminum (the most popular, as it is lightweight, typically lasts for a minimum of 30 years, resists corrosion and is very reflective)
- Aluminum, zinc and silicon-coated steel blend
- Copper (more expensive, but popular for its amazing length of useful life)
- Corrugated galvanized steel Metal panels of sheets (which can be treated by a painted-on anti-corrosive agent in any number of colors)
- Stainless steel
- Standing seam
In addition to having a wide range of choices when it comes to the type of metal roofing, there are many custom options available for a metal roof system, including:
Panel Substrate - Choices of substrate include steel, aluminum and copper, with steel being the least expensive and copper being the highest in price.
Panel Thickness - Commercial roofing panels range from 29 gauge to 22 gauge (medium weight).
Roofing System Fastener - There are 3 most common types of commercial metal roofing fasteners: Standing seam - interlocking panels requiring no penetrating fasteners Exposed fastener - Penetrating fasteners are visible after installation Concealed fastener - Penetrating fasteners are hidden after installation
Roof Appearance - Color, panel style, finish, accessories and more can create a custom appearance that blends nicely with the architecture or satisfies the building owner’s aesthetic preferences.
While metal roofing is an excellent cost- and energy-efficient choice, there are a few potential caveats to consider:
Higher initial cost - A commercial roof replacement is a significant expense in terms of both upfront cost and disruption to the business. However, metal roofs can typically be expected to last as long as the building itself, so you won’t have costly roof replacements to contend with in the future.
In other words, your investment will pay off. Metal’s long lifespan and low maintenance costs will actually help you save money in the long-term, and its energy efficiency will allow you to better manage your monthly heating and cooling costs. Properly installed, a metal roofing system will protect your commercial building from being damaged by water, wind, fire, and pests, reducing the potential for costly repairs in the future.
Repairs can be cumbersome due to large sheets - Large metal roofing sheets or panels are inherently more difficult to replace than individual shingles. However, there are several budget-friendly options when it comes to metal roof repair, including painting and metal roof coatings.
Not suitable for flat roofs - A metal roofing system is probably not right for you if your roof is completely flat. For flat roofs, a liquid- or heat-applied membrane is recommended. There are many options for flat roof membranes, and they can be just as reflective as metal roofing.