It’s time to get a new roof on your home, and a metal roof is a great choice. If you plan on staying in your home for years, a metal roof is durable, low maintenance, energy efficient, eco-friendly and has a long lifespan. But just how long does a metal roof last?
Metal roofs are pricey compared to other roofing materials, so you want to be sure you will get the most for your money. Depending on the metal, you could get as much as 100 years out of your new roof.
- What is the Lifespan of a Metal Roof?
- Types of Metal Roofs
- What Factors Affect a Roof’s Longevity?
- What Makes a Metal Roof Last?
- FAQ About How Long a Metal Roof Lasts
What is the Lifespan of a Metal Roof?
One of the biggest benefits of metal roofs is the lengthy lifespan, or the number of years that a roof is expected to last. Metal roofs last two or three times longer than an asphalt shingle roof. Most metal roofs are expected to last at least half a century.
If your metal roof remains in good condition, you’ll have to replace it only about once during your lifetime, if you ever have to replace it. Each type of metal has a different life expectancy, but the average life expectancy for metal roofs ranges from 40 to 80 years.
Metal roof warranties vary, but most warranties last between 15 to 50 years.
Types of Metal Roofs
There are multiple types of metal roofing, and they come in different styles such as standing seam panels or they can be crafted to mimic shingles or clay tile.
Lifespan: Up to 50 years
Aluminum has a shorter life expectancy than other types of metal, although the lightweight metal still lasts several decades.
Aluminum is a great choice for coastal areas, as it is resistant to corrosive saltwater air. However, the softness of the malleable metal makes it prone to denting.
Lifespan: 50 to 100 years
As the longest-lasting metal roofing, copper is typically expected to last 100 years. Depending on the maintenance and weather conditions, some copper roofs may even last up to 200 years.
Over time, copper roofing systems develop a verdigris patina that protects the metal from moisture, rust, and corrosion. Thanks to the natural protective patina, copper roofing systems never need to be painted or recoated, and this protective patina prolongs the roof’s lifespan.
Although copper roofing lasts a long time, it is a soft metal prone to denting and scratching. It may not be the best choice for regions with frequent hailstorms.
Lifespan: 30 to 50 years
Corrugated metal is a roofing style with a repeating ridged pattern to give the metal panels extra structural strength. Corrugated roofing is very durable and can last up to half a century.
Lifespan: 20 to 70 years
R-panels are 36-inch metal panels held together by exposed fasteners. Their inexpensive prices make them a popular roofing choice among commercial and industrial properties.
Lifespan: 20 to 70 years
Screw-down panels are exposed fastener panels that are easy to install. They are one of the cheapest metals on the market.
However, because the fasteners are exposed to the outdoor elements this does wear down the screws over the life of the roof, so the screws have to be replaced about every 10 years.
Another downside is that screw-down panels don’t have room to contract and expand in extreme temperatures, which may break or loosen the screws.
Lifespan: 50 years
For owners who prefer a more traditional look, metal roofing can be created to mimic the appearance of asphalt shingles. Shingles can be made to resemble types and textures of other roofing materials, such as clay tile, slate, or wood shakes.
Lifespan: 30 to 50 years
The standing seam roofing style is known for its hidden fastener design. The hidden fasteners are protected from rough weather conditions and make the roof overall more durable. Additionally, having the fasteners hidden under the roof increases the curb appeal of the roof.
The seamless design makes standing seam roofs watertight and less likely to leak than styles with exposed fasteners. Although the fasteners need regular checkups, the standing seam design is overall low maintenance and works effectively to prevent oil canning.
Lifespan: 40 to 70 years
Steel, the strongest roofing metal, is most commonly used metal for residential and commercial buildings. With a general life expectancy of 40 to 70 years, steel isn’t quite as durable as certain other metal types, but it is still guaranteed to last a very long time.
Unfortunately, steel is prone to rust, so protective coatings must be applied every 20 years or so.
Lifespan: 50 to 75 years
Tin roofing is virtually never used anymore. Generally, when people use the term “tin roof,” they are referring to either steel or aluminum roofs.
However, a few buildings still have rare tin roofs. If you insist on having a tin roof applied to your home, you should know that tin roofs last around 50 years. Be aware that it may be difficult to purchase materials for a tin roof and to find a roofing contractor to install one.
Lifespan: 60 to 100 years
One neat thing about zinc is that it is a self-healing metal. Like copper, zinc develops a protective patina that has a self-repairing ability known as galvanic action.
While it can’t reseal major holes, zinc’s oxidation process corrects minor scratches or cracks. Due to this phenomenon, zinc roofing doesn’t require many repairs over its lifetime.
A downside of zinc roofing is its tendency to chalk, which causes white streaks that mar the roof. Protective coatings and paintings can be applied to prevent chalking. Additionally, regular cleaning and maintenance help prevent the roof from chalking.
What Factors Affect a Roof’s Longevity?
The first step to ensuring your roof lasts a long time starts with its installation. How well your roof is installed is critical to the life of your roof, and a poorly installed roof decreases the lifespan of your roof. Problems can arise with your roof, such as:
Some sources of poor installation problems include:
- Fasteners that are too tight or too loose
- Roofing underlayment
- Badly installed ventilation system
Take care of your roof: All roofs require maintenance, and it’s essential that you regularly check and make any needed repairs or remove debris.
Luckily, metal roofs are low maintenance. Metal roof maintenance usually entails:
- Unclogging gutters
- Removing debris
- Trimming away tree branches from the roof
- Inspecting for damage and corrosion
- Repairing rust spots
If you want your metal roof to last a long time, ensure that it is routinely and properly maintained and that you stay on top of repairs.
It is recommended that your roof be inspected once a year. Additionally, look out for damage and signs of wear on your roof throughout the year.
After every rough storm, you should inspect your roof for damage, unwanted debris, or ponding water.
Protecting your home from rough weather is a roof’s job, yet harsh weather conditions inevitably will take a toll.
Metal roofs are tough and hardy, and they are built to withstand difficult weather conditions:
- High-speed winds
- Frequent rain
- Rough storms
- Sun’s UV rays
If you live in an area that frequently experiences extreme weather conditions, your roof’s might not last as long. Rough weather conditions can damage your metal roof.
The type of climate you live in affects how long your roof will last. Metal roofs last longer in mild climates, whereas areas with extreme temperatures can decrease your roof’s lifespan.
Geographic location has a big impact on how long your roof will last, since storms wear down your roof over time. The type of weather and temperatures will impact how soon you might need a roof replacement.
Metal roofs shed snow easily, which makes them a good choice for snowy areas. The slick surface of metal makes it harder for snow to accumulate, which helps prevent cave-ins.
Metal roofs also have good insulation, which helps keep in heat in cold climates.
Metal roofs are popular in warm climates because their reflective properties combat heat absorption. They are cool roofs that keep homes cool in warm climates and help save money on air conditioning costs.
However, hot and arid climates dry out a roof and cause the paint finish to fade.
In extreme temperatures, metal roofs expand and contract as they heat and cool, which can cause an undesirable wavy appearance in a metal roof. This is known as oil canning. The movement of the expanding and contracting of the metal can sometimes pull fasteners loose.
Although hail dents metal roofs, metal roofs aren’t prone to being punctured by hail, which makes them a durable choice.
Aluminum and copper are soft metals that are more susceptible to denting, especially if the hail is golf-ball sized or larger. If you live in an area that receives frequent hail, you might want to consider installing a more durable metal roofing material such as steel.
If you live in a coastal area, you’ll need a metal roofing material that performs well in salty sea air. Otherwise, the salt corrodes the metal and your roof won’t last long. Aluminum and zinc are the best roofing materials for coastal homes.
Coatings of specialized metal finishes and waterproof membranes need to be applied to your seaside roof to protect it from being damaged by the salty sea air. Stainless steel fasteners work well as a prevention against saltwater corrosion.
If you live on the coast and have a metal roof, you should regularly rinse off salt from your roof to prevent salt corroding. Keeping a clean, salt-free roof helps extend your roof’s lifespan.
Foot traffic on your roof wears it down over time, so minimize people walking on your roof as much as possible.
Additionally, walking on a roof is dangerous and should be avoided. You risk falling whenever you go up on your roof. Instead, avoid taking risks and call a roofing professional to handle roof maintenance for you.
If you do choose to do a DIY roof repair or roof inspection, reduce wear and tear on your roof by wearing soft-soled shoes whenever you climb up on your roof. Shoes with hard soles are abrasive to a roof surface and can cause dents or scuffs.
A metal gauge measures the thickness of the roof. The lower the number of the gauge, the thicker the metal is. For example, a roof with a gauge of 24 is thicker than a roof with a gauge of 29.
There are four sizes of metal gauges for metal roofs:
What thickness a metal roof needs is situational and dependent on the location of the house, type of paint finish, and type of roofing style.
Thicker metals have better durability, so homes that experience extreme weather need a thicker gauge. Thicker gauges, such as 22 or 24, have many advantages:
- Lifespan of 50 years
- Last longer than thinner gauges
- Prevent denting
- Better equipped to handle structural stress of snow
- Slows rusting
- Slows aging
- Good wind resistance
- Quieter than higher gauges
On the flip side, while thick gauges provide more benefits, they also cost more than thinner metal gauges.
Homeowners often use 29 metal gauges because it is the least expensive gauge. Be cautious with choosing a 29 metal gauge for your roof, since the thinnest metal roofing gauge is susceptible to damage from snow, hail, and other harsh weather conditions. Higher gauges, such as 29, are best for mild, pleasant temperatures.
You may want to consult a roofing professional for advice on what size gauge is best for your roof.
A roof’s pitch is the angle of a roof’s slope. It plays a big role in the lifespan of your roof. Flat roofs are susceptible to ponding water and snow pile-ups, which lead to leaks and water damage.
Pitched roofs have steep slopes which enable water to flow effectively from the roofs.
Due to their slick surface, sloped metal roofs work great in snowy areas, as snow slides off easily.
In general, flat roofs are more susceptible to problems such as leaking and ponding water. A pitched roof is not likely to be damaged by such problems. Overall, a sloped roof is more likely to last longer than a pitched roof.
Paint finishes are great at protecting your roof, which is why you should choose a high-quality paint if you can afford the extra expense. Painting a metal roof extends its lifespan and protects your roof from:
- Extreme temperatures
- Pollution particles
- Rough weather
- Sun exposure
- Wear and tear
Using a good paint finish will reduce the repairs you need to make on your metal roof.
Polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) is the highest-quality metal roofing paint on the market. PVDF, commonly known as Kynar 500 or Hylar 5000, is long-lasting and weather-resistant. Although expensive, it lasts about 20 to 40 years before it needs recoating. It also retains bright colors for a long time, prolonging the lifespan of your roof.
Color of Metal Roof
Metal is highly customizable roofing material, with over 100 different colors to choose from. While all roofing colors inevitably fade over time due to the sun’s UV rays, some colors are more resistant to fading than others.
The colors that last longer and are less prone to fading are:
- Light colors. Whites, grays, and tans are all light colors that fade less quickly.
- Matte colors. Glossy paints fade more quickly than matte finishes.
- Colors with inorganic pigments. Colors with organic pigments fade faster than colors with inorganic pigments.
Organic pigments are natural pigments created from petroleum. They are bright, vivid colors such as reds and blues.
Inorganic pigments resemble dull earth tones such as browns, tans, beiges, and greens. They are made from oxides and minerals.
Dark colors absorb heat from the sun, which can result in decreasing a roof’s lifespan. Lighter colors reflect UV rays, which not only keep roofs cooler, it also prolongs their life. Heat absorption is not good for a roof.
Bright, vibrant colors, such as red, or black are especially prone to fading. If you have a brightly colored metal roof, fading will be more noticeable than for a lighter colored roof.
Strong and firm, a metal roof is a durable material that is impervious to pests burrowing in its surface or clawing their way through the material. Metal roofs are resistant to termites, squirrels, and other types of wildlife. Metal roofs are sealed tightly to thwart pests from infiltrating and damaging your property.
Metal roofing is highly resistant to vegetative growth, making it difficult for moss, algae, fungus, mildew, or mold to infest your roof. Other roofing materials, such as asphalt shingles, are more susceptible to moss growth and the damage that comes with it.
Quality materials always make a difference. The better your roofing metal, the more durable and long-lasting your roof will be. It’s not only the outer material that ensures the quality of your roof, you want all the components of your roof to have high-quality materials if possible:
- Roof decking
These roofing components need to match your metal roof in durability and be hardy, dependable materials.
What Makes a Metal Roof Last?
Metal roofs are incredibly durable. They contract and expand with the temperatures, adapting and changing with the heat.
To understand what makes a roof last, you must first understand what deteriorates and damages a roof. Many external sources cause harm to a roof:
- High winds
- Tree branches
- UV rays
- Poor installation
- Oil canning
- Dissimilar metals and materials
- Lack of maintenance
- Poor ventilation
If you want to make sure that your metal roof lasts a long time, make sure your roof is properly installed and maintained.
FAQ About How Long a Metal Roof Lasts
Metal roofs are low maintenance. They are impervious to moss, easily shed snow, and there is generally little to do for metal roofs except make sure that the gutters stay unclogged and your metal roof gets a yearly inspection.
It is a common myth that metal roofs attract lightning, but that is not true. Metal is merely a good conductor for electricity, but it does not attract lightning. In fact, metal’s fire resistance makes it a much safer roofing material for lightning storms than other types of roofing.
As long as the attic insulation and metal roofing system are properly installed, a metal roof should not be much noisier than any other type of roof. Lower metal gauges such as 22 or 24 are thicker and therefore help prevent noise.
A metal roof will not disrupt a good Wi-Fi connection. However, if you have a pre-existing weak Wi-Fi connection, it is possible that a metal roof could worsen the already weak connection.
Ready for a Roof That Lasts?
Metal roofs are one of the longest-lasting roofing materials available. They offer a lot of benefits to homeowners and are an excellent home improvement option.
If you are looking for a quality roof and ready to install a metal roof on your home, call a local roofing contractor.
Main Photo Credit: Pxhere