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Are Metal Roofs Really Loud in the Rain?

Oct 28, 2021

Although metal roofing is growing progressively more popular over time, it still is far from the most common roofing material. As such, certain misconceptions continue to prevail surrounding metal roofing systems. Not everyone has a clear idea of metal roofs and what they can provide to homeowners.

One common misconception about metal roofing is simple, yet it can lead many homeowners away from considering the material: They’re loud whenever anything hits the roof’s surface, including rain.

Many individuals believe this to be true because, to many people, it makes perfect sense but it’s far from the truth. If you’ve ever been inside an old barn during a rainstorm, you could probably hear the rainfall reverberating throughout the entire structure—loudly. However, there’s a big difference between a home and a barn.

Nonetheless, the simple slabs of metal used as roofing on barns are nothing like the modern metal roofing systems. So, if you’re getting a metal roof installed onto your home, it’s far more than just a single, thin sheet of metal. In fact, resistance to noise is one of the many factors contractors will consider as they install a brand-new metal roofing system.

Metal Roofing Installation and Noise: Then and Now

Again, many years ago, metal roofing installation was an entirely different process—and far less care was taken in noise prevention, if contractors addressed it, at all.

Let’s take a quick look back at the example from earlier regarding the old barn roof. Typically, these metal roofs were installed directly over the structure’s rafters. Then, they were secured and held in place using exposed fasteners. Overall, this setup was the perfect formula to cause intense reverberation or rattling as soon as rain struck the metal.

However, this is a highly outdated way to install metal roofs. Over the years, the procedure has been changed quite substantially—especially as metal roofing has become more popular with homeowners.

Metal roofing systems aren’t going to be any noisier in the rain than your standard asphalt roof. Although metal roofs used to be installed directly over the structure’s roofing surface, this is no longer the case. Instead, a strong sheathing is installed between your current roofing surface and your new metal roof. This additional layer can go a long way when it comes to reducing the sound of rain throughout your home—the same rule applies to hail and other debris striking your roof, as well.

If anything, metal roofing systems are considerably more equipped to handle loud noises during extreme weather conditions. Compared to having asphalt shingles installed over your home, for instance, a metal roof can be a great way to create a quieter home, no matter the weather.

How Metal Can Create and Reduce Noise

If we take a closer look, how do metal roofs actually reduce noise? What do the actual mechanics of this process look like? Here’s a quick overview.

First, let’s take an up-close look at why poorly installed metal roofing is so noisy in the first place. Think of a smooth slab of metal, and compare it to the surface of a drum; because this surface is both smooth and uncoated, it doesn’t have the means to shorten the reverberation of sound over time. Reverberation is a prolonged reflection of sound, and with greater reverberation comes a noisier experience for anyone inside the structure.

Thus, even after the rain or debris has struck the surface of the (poorly installed) metal roof, the sound will continue to be amplified throughout the building. This is because the resulting sound waves will be reflected across the roof’s smooth, hard surface up until the sound energy has entirely dissipated. Until then, the sound of the rain’s impact will continue its reverberation. In a similar vein, whenever two cymbals are crashed together, the noise will continue to reverberate for some time.

If you’d like to reduce noise, one goal could be to prevent sounds from coming into contact with flat, hard surfaces. With a thicker coating and an irregular surface texture, reverberation can more efficiently be disrupted, dampening the sound waves.

So, that’s precisely why uncoated metal roofs are far noisier than those that are properly coated. Whenever this coating is combined with a soundproofing underlayment, your new metal roofing system will be at its quietest state.

The Actual Volume of a Metal Roof

As we’ve already established, depending on how your metal roof is installed, its noisiness can vary tremendously. However, this doesn’t just apply to older metal roofs versus newer metal roofs—even among modern metal roofing systems, different volumes can be achieved. However, what does this level of volume actually look like?

It’s been determined that rain striking a metal roof if it’s built over open framing will be around 61 decibels. On the other hand, if that metal roof was installed over a solid roof deck (as most modern metal roofing systems are), then the sound of rain will only reach around 52 decibels. A standard asphalt shingle roof will create a sound that’s around 46 decibels.

Although this would still suggest that asphalt shingles are slightly quieter than metal roofs, this isn’t necessarily the case. Much of the time, brand-new metal roofs are going to be installed right on top of a layer of shingles—the home’s old roof. If you have both a solid deck and a high-quality underlayment, as well as insulated attic airspace, the sound can be reduced even further. But, again, it all depends on how your metal roof is installed, as well as the skills and knowledge of the contractor.

Busting the Noisy Metal Roofing Myth

In essence, although many homeowners believe that metal roofing systems are noisy during rainstorms, this isn’t truly the case. Given modern innovations in metal roof installation, these roofing systems can be around the same volume as standard asphalt shingles—or even quieter, depending on the installation process.

If you’re searching for a roof that’s durable and long-lasting, but were worried about noise, then metal roofing could still be the best material for your home.

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