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Which Metal Roofing Material Has the Best Features for Boston Homes?

May 03, 2019

When Boston homeowners think of a metal roof, they might not realize it could consist of many different types of metals, each with unique features and benefits. There are 91 different metals on the periodic table. In addition, there are hundreds of thousands of metal alloys, or materials comprised of metal and non-metal elements. When choosing your metal roof, you must decide what type of metal is best for your home, setting, and individual tastes. Use this guide to evaluate the benefits and drawbacks of each type of metal roofing material during the purchasing process.

Galvalume-Coated Steel

Galvalume® steel is a sheet of steel with a coating of aluminum-zinc. Manufacturers dip each sheet of steel in a hot mixture of aluminum and zinc. The typical ratio is 55% aluminum to 45% zinc. Galvalume-coated steel combines the benefits of aluminum and zinc. The end product is a roofing system that resists corrosion and offers exceptional protection from the elements. Galvalume is a name the inventor, Bethlehem Steel, trademarked. However, people use it as a general term to describe hot-dipped steel roofing materials.

A galvalume steel sheet provides long-term resistance to weather conditions and corrosion. It also offers cut-edge protection that typical aluminum roofing systems lack. This means less rust along the edges of the roof. Galvalume steel has a smoother appearance compared to galvanized steel, although the two look similar. A galvalume steel roof might be the right choice for your home if you wish to invest in a sturdy, protective covering that will resist damage, corrosion, rust, fire, water, marine environments, and other elements.

Galvalume steel might not be appropriate for your home if the building contains concrete or mortar. These homes provide alkaline environments that can increase the corrosion rate of your galvalume steel roof. Galvanized steel will perform better if your Massachusetts home uses concrete or mortar. Galvalume steel is also not right for buildings that will house animals, as it can deteriorate under the corrosive agents of keeping animals. Speak to a roofer to find out if galvalume steel is the right material for your metal roof.

Galvanized Steel

Galvanized steel is steel coated with zinc oxide. The zinc oxide helps prevent corrosion, since it takes longer to rust than steel. Galvanized steel also has a more rustic look that many homeowners prefer to sleek and shiny regular steel. Galvanized steel is one of the most popular choices for metal roofs because it is strong, durable, and difficult to scratch. The zinc not only provides a protective coating, but it becomes part of the steel’s composition on a chemical level. This provides superior strength by combining both metals’ best properties.

Galvanized steel roofs are rust resistant and typically last more than 50 years in the average home environment. This is more than twice as long as the average 20-year lifespan of an asphalt shingle roof. It’s easy to see how strong galvanized steel is based on the thickness of the layer of zinc. Installing a galvanized steel roof can increase the durability, sustainability, and longevity of your roofing system.


Aluminum is a relatively recent type of roofing material. Aluminum is an element on the periodic table. It is a silver metal that’s light and durable. It is the second-must abundant metal in the Earth’s crust. Aluminum is easy to bend, mold, fold, and recycle. This makes it a highly versatile and functional material in construction. Its benefits in a roofing system include:

• Durability
• Corrosion resistance
• Low maintenance
• Reflects heat
• Easy to work with
• Fire-resistant
• Attractive look with coatings

Aluminum roofs don’t heat up in the sun like some other metal roofing materials. Instead, they reflect the sun’s rays away, providing a cooler home in hot environments. This can help homeowners save on energy bills, since it will cost less to cool the house in the summer. Furthermore, aluminum roofs require no maintenance, and can last about 35 years before needing replacement. This is longer than asphalt roofs, but shorter than other metal roofs.

An aluminum roof might be the right choice if you wish to support environmental sustainability. Nearly 95% of aluminum roofing systems consist of recycle materials. Recycled aluminum roofing is eco-friendly and can be reused in the future. You can make your recycle aluminum roof take on almost any look and style with special coatings to match the overall appearance of your home.

One of the downsides to aluminum roofing is the cost. A typical aluminum roof costs around $12,000 (about twice the price of a tin roof). The price of aluminum tends to stay about 20% higher than steel. This cost can vary, however, depending on the current price of aluminum, which fluctuates often. Furthermore, your Boston roof might not be suitable for an aluminum roofing system if it has a pitch of less than four in twelve inches.

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel is one of the strongest materials for your roof. Stainless steel roofing is highly resistant to many different corrosive agents, including weathering and rust. If you want superior durability and a longer roof lifespan, stainless steel might be a good choice. For example, if your home or commercial building will be exposed to the elements most of the year, stainless steel will hold up the best. Stainless steel is also easy to keep clean and to maintain.

Many homeowners choose stainless steel roofing for its appearance. It is clean, smooth, and often shiny, although matte roofs are available. You can enjoy a variety of different finishes when you choose a stainless steel roof. Aside from helping its physical appearance, the shininess of stainless steel makes the roof reflective. This can prevent the roof from conducting heat and conserve energy indoors. Stainless steel is also highly fire resistant – much higher than most other roofing materials.

The initial cost of a stainless steel roof can be higher than for other metal materials, but the life cost can be lower. The life cost takes into account installment and material costs, as well as operation, maintenance, degradation, and replacement expenses. The life cost for a stainless steel roof is significantly lower than a galvanized steel roof. If you want the most bang for your buck in the long run, stainless steel might be the right metal for your new Massachusetts roof.


Copper is a premium roofing material that initially costs more than other types of roofs. However, buyers get a range of function and fashion benefits that can make the price tag worthwhile. A copper roof can provide high returns on investment in the long term. It is one of the most elegant and unique roofing material options aesthetically. A shiny copper roof can draw the right kind of attention in your neighborhood. As the roof ages, it will continually change and take on new appeal. Natural copper is captivating over time, as the elements give it new shades of color. Eventually, the copper roof will develop a striking bluish hue.

Copper looks beautiful on a home, but that’s not the main reason people choose this roofing material. Copper roofs – when properly installed – are permanent. Even when the rest of the house needs replacement, a copper roof will stand strong. All over Europe, ancient copper roofs still remain intact after centuries of wear and tear. Copper can resist even the harshest elements, including snowstorms and frequent heavy rain. It is not flammable and will protect against flooding. You will never have to pay for roof replacement with a copper roof.

Copper is a lightweight metal. This puts less structural stress on your home than some heavier metal roof options. If you live in a region where it snows, a lightweight roof is important to prevent collapse. The lightweight material will also reduce your labor expenses. A copper roof requires less support than other metals, meaning less materials and work during installation. Copper is also a high-value metal that will retain its value even as scrap metal. It is 100% natural and recyclable. Most copper roofs come from about 75% recycled materials, so it is an ecofriendly choice as well.

Finally, copper roofs are virtually maintenance-free. Copper may change appearance over time, but it will never corrode or deteriorate. It does not even require coating or finishing for longevity. Thus, although a copper roof will cost you more initially, it will save you money in maintenance, repair, and replacement costs over time. For this reason, copper is one of the most popular metal roofing materials.


A zinc roof is durable, looks elegant, and is more cost effective than some other metal roof options. As a roofing material, zinc is durable and long lasting. Correctly installed zinc roofs can last at least 50 years. Like copper, zinc does not need a special coating or finish to last this long. It naturally resists the elements, unlike steel that requires coatings. Zinc does not rust, require maintenance, or wear down due to weathering. Zinc also benefits from aging, like copper. Zinc will start as a dark gray metal, then change to light gray or blue-silver over time. You can also paint zinc any color you desire.

Zinc will self correct if something scratches its surface. The protective patina of zinc consists of hydroxyl carbonate. This will reform itself if scratched or damaged. This will keep your roofing system looking nice and new for years. Zinc itself is very strong and extremely durable. You won’t need to worry about rain, moisture, or even saltwater exposure ruining your zinc roof. It’s also mildew resistant, fungus proof, insect-proof, and fire resistant.

If you’re interested in collecting rainwater, a zinc roof might be for you. Runoff water from zinc is contaminate free! A zinc roof is also good for the environment because it’s fully recyclable. It will also prevent unwanted heat transfer by reflecting solar heat. This can save energy inside the home and cut down on monthly utility bills. Finally, it takes less fuel to manufacture zinc roofing materials than other metal roofs. This gives it even better environmental value. Zinc shingles cost less than copper. On average, zinc shingles cost $5-$6 per square foot.

Coated Metals

Many metal roofing systems use coated metals. Paint coatings are electrostatically applied to the roofing metal, and then cured for a strong finish. Paint coatings add strength and durability to metal roofs, helping them last longer than the uncoated metal would alone. Many paint coats are resistant to heat, weather, rain, and chemicals. They can perform well in all environments without flaking or peeling. Most paint-coated metals come with 30-year warranties.

Paint coating is different from anodizing. Anodized aluminum also has a protective coating, but of aluminum oxide applied electrochemically. Anodizing is a long-lasting application for standing-seam metal roofs. The thicker the coating, the longer the roof will last. It is possible to dye anodized coatings many different colors, but they have a natural bronze tone. Anodized metal will never lose its coating.

Powder coating is like paint without the solvent. Powder paints contain colors within powdered resins. It is also applied electrostatically onto metal roofing materials. Powder coating can correct any flaws in the metal base, as well as make the metal more attractive and add to its durability. Compared to liquids, powder coatings generate less air pollution and are thus better for the environment. Adding metallic pigments to your powder coating can also add to the reflectivity of your roof for energy savings.

How to Choose the Right Metal Roofing Material for You

Steel, aluminum, zinc, copper, iron, tin…metal roofing systems can have many different materials. All offer superior strength and longevity compared to traditional asphalt roofs. Each, however, comes with unique pros and cons. The right choice for your home or commercial building will depend on your budget, the architecture and design of your home, and how much maintenance or repairs you wish to have in the future.

The roofing material you choose is just one of the many steps in purchasing a metal roof. Work with an experienced contractor for assistance during your home improvement project. A contractor can help you design the ideal metal roof for your building, and install it properly to make sure it will last as long as possible.

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