Metal roofing isn't new, but has taken a backseat to asphalt shingles in most areas of the United States. Still, homeowners should consider metal roofing if they want a roof that lasts for decades, requires little maintenance, weathers harsh storms and potentially saves on energy costs.
Here are answers to basic questions about metal roofing, compiled by our consumer research team:
What are the benefits? Metal roofing offers lasting protection from sun, wind, rain and snow. This type of roofing is especially popular in the South because of its durability. Harsh storms, including those that feature hail, can damage weaker roofing and allow water and moisture leaks, causing mold and damage to your roof, roof joints, attic space or ceiling.
What does it cost? A full metal roof can cost between $13,000 and $20,000. However, the price should be balanced against the fact that a maintained metal roof can last 40 to 60 years. In comparison, an asphalt roof lasts between 15 and 25 years.
Because metal roofs tend to hold up well against storms, some insurance companies offer home insurance discounts if you install one. Also, metal roofs are lighter than other options, causing less stress on your walls and rafters.
Will a metal roof affect resale value? Experts say a quality metal roof can add over half the initial cost back to the home when it's time to sell. Homebuyers may be attracted to a metal roof's lower maintenance and longer life.
How much maintenance does a metal roof require? Maintenance will depend on the type of metal. Experts say galvanized steel needs the most help, since it isn't naturally rust-resistant. This means you or a reputable contractor will need to climb on the roof from time to time to check for rust around screws and where the roof touches other metal, and examine the roof for pooled water.
Treated roof metals won't likely rust, but you should inspect their coatings for damage at least once every year. If you see significant chipping, get the roof resealed; if you see buckling panels, consider hiring a professional to replace the affected sections. Finally, if rust begins to spread, deal with it immediately. Rusted panels or shingles cannot be fixed.
Will a metal roof affect home temperature? A metal roof can dramatically reduce the amount of heat entering the home. Not all metal roofs are created equal. For example, an aluminum roof is the most energy efficient. Unlike steel, aluminum roofs have been tested to determine that they can reduce the amount of heat entering a home attic by as much as 34 percent. Energy-saving coatings are also available, which can further reduce heat gain. The net effect is that your home is cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.
Will a metal roof stop ice? No. A metal roof will not prevent ice from forming. Ice is a result of snow melting over a warm roof and then running into the cold eave edge and refreezing. The fix for ice dams is to eliminate the heat rising to the roof. This is accomplished by increasing attic ventilation, getting rid of heat sources, and increasing insulation to R-50.
Is a metal roof noisy? Highly rated roofing contractors say that if your nonmetal roof isn't noisy, a metal roof won't be, either. So if you crave the sound of rain on metal, you may be disappointed. You must have sheets of metal over open rafters for the metal to reverberate. Today's metal roof shingles or panels are usually fastened to an existing wood roof deck. This method of attachment reduces the ability of the roof to make sound.
Angie Hicks is the founder of Angie's List, the nation's most trusted resource for local consumer reviews on everything from home repair to health care. To find out more about Angie Hicks and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Web page at www.creators.com.