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Is Rust an Issue for My Metal Roof?

Mar 24, 2020

Many homeowners across the country have switched to metal roofs, and many others are considering doing the same due to the significant benefits this home upgrade offers. Metal roofs are not only more environmentally friendly than asphalt shingle roofs, but also last much longer, offer superior weather protection, and can even lead to substantial energy saving for some homeowners. While metal roofs offer many benefits that lead to fantastic long-term cost of ownership, they also come with some concerns for homeowners. One of the most common is rust.

While rust is a concern among metal roof owners and homeowners thinking of upgrading to metal roofs, it is not as much of a risk as many homeowners might assume. Rust is only a concern for certain metals, so choosing the right roofing material means never needing to worry about a new metal roof rusting.

Not All Metals Rust

If you have concerns about rust on your new metal roof, you don’t need to worry about this if you choose the right material. For example, aluminum will never rust, whereas steel is highly susceptible to rust. If you want to avoid rust entirely, aluminum is a great choice. Metal roof installation teams that work with steel roofing components typically use steel coated with zinc oxide, or galvanized steel. This creates a barrier that can help prevent the steel from rusting, but it will not last forever. Another common method is coating steel with corrosion-resistant aluminum alloy, or galvalume steel. Again, this offers substantial protection for the underlying steel, but it is not permanent protection against rusting.

Copper is another great option for a metal roof that will never rust. However, it will tarnish or corrode over time without proper upkeep. Ultimately, whatever type of metal roofing material you choose will require your attention and consistent upkeep to prevent rust, corrosion, and other types of damage that can compromise its performance.

Protective Coatings Offer Additional Protection

If you live in a very dry climate, then a galvanized steel roof can be a great investment that offers superior performance compared to an asphalt shingle roof. The galvanized protective coating on the steel panels will protect them against rusting and offer great long-term protection, but it’s worth remembering that any type of steel is vulnerable to rust over time. Virtually every type of metal roof panel will have a protective coating that not only prevents rusting, but also shields the metal roof from other types of damage.

A great option is stone-coated metal roof panels. By coating metal roof panels in natural stone, the roof gains increased durability and additional protection against moisture. Stone-coated metal is also a fantastic insulator, helping a home maintain energy efficiency and making it easier to maintain comfortable inside temperatures.

Location Can Play a Major Role in Rust Prevention

Rust forms on metals that contain iron when exposed to moisture. As the iron oxidizes, rust forms, and will eventually spread over the entire surface of the rusted material. If you live in a wet climate, such as a coastal region or an area that receives substantial precipitation throughout the year, you need to choose a rustproof metal for your new roof. Aluminum is a fantastic choice and the preferred metal roofing option for coastal and rainy areas. This is due to aluminum’s reactive qualities. Aluminum reacts very quickly to environmental changes, allowing it to essentially adapt to shifting weather conditions. For example, increased oxygen in the environment will cause the aluminum to generate a layer of aluminum oxide on its exterior, effectively shielding itself from moisture more effectively.

Every Metal Roofing Material Has Pros and Cons

While a homeowner may want to avoid rusting entirely, it’s important to remember that every type of metal roof material entails pros and cons. Copper is incredibly durable and can last 200 years with proper upkeep, but it is very expensive. Aluminum offers superior moisture protection, but it is not typically considered visually appealing and will require a painted coating. Zinc is easy to form and provides excellent durability, but it’s prone to chalking over time. Steel is affordable and versatile, but it will eventually rust. When you are deciding a material for your new metal roof, consider the fact that every option comes with benefits and drawbacks.

What to Do If You Spot Rust on Your Metal Roof

If you invested in a new metal roof and spot rust a few months or years later, there is no need to panic. Your roof is not ruined, but it does require professional attention. Contact the roofing team that installed the metal roof and let them know what you’ve found. In most cases, small patches of rust are easy to sand or grind off the roof. After removing the rust, the roofer can repaint or recoat the metal to protect it again. In the event that the rusting is significant, replacement may be necessary. An experienced metal roof installation team can recommend the most effective method of dealing with rust on your metal roof. Consistent visual inspections will allow you to spot rust as soon as possible, limiting the potential damage it might cause. However, it’s best to schedule professional inspections, as they will have the equipment to check your whole roof safely and can spot issues you might miss from the ground.

The Bottom Line About Rust on Your New Metal Roof


If you’ve chosen to invest in a new metal roof, you likely based your decision on metal roofs’ durability, reliability, and fantastic long-term cost of ownership. You don’t want rust to ruin your investment, so prevent this from ever happening by taking two very important steps when you decide to commit to a metal roof upgrade for your home: work with an experienced professional metal roof installation team, and choose a metal that won’t rust but will stand up to the climate in your area. An experienced roofer can help you determine the best options for where you live.

Metal roofs offer superior performance compared to asphalt shingle roofs, and they’re better for the environment. Most metal roofs require a fraction of the maintenance of an asphalt shingle roof and are customizable to suit virtually any taste. If you have reservations about rust on your metal roof, discuss your concerns in detail with an experienced roofer, so you can choose a metal roof that meets the performance and reliability standards you expect.


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