How Long Should a Metal Roof Last?

Ask a Roofer | June 21, 2023  | By: John Esh

Red metal roof

Metal roofing has entered the mainstream and is an excellent choice for pretty much any home. But we have observed a lot of confusion and doubts regarding metal roofs. This article will help you understand the longevity and advantages of metal roofing, as well as the disadvantages. 

We hope to provide you with the information necessary to help you decide which type of metal roof your house needs. 

Why should you go for a metal roof? 

  • Metal is a highly durable material. It can withstand fire, mildew, insects, and rots, thus making it an excellent choice for protecting your home. 
  • Metal roofs are lighter than asphalt and other roof types. Metal roofs weigh 1.4 pounds per square foot on average as opposed to 2-4 pounds per square foot of asphalt. 
  • Metal roofs will make your home more energy efficient. Depending on the color of metal chosen, the difference in reduced energy consumption for air conditioning can be quite noticeable. The metal reflects solar energy better than other roofs. The metal reflects away most solar radiant heat, limiting the amount of heat that can be absorbed and transferred into the living space. 
  • Metal roofs do not attract fungus and moss like their asphalt and wood counterparts.
  • Metal roofs will typically last 70 to 100+ years, depending on the material used.
  • Metal roofs can withstand harsh weather conditions better than most other roof types. 
  • Metal roofs are environmentally friendly. Regular asphalt shingles use petroleum products and depend on fossil fuels to create the final product. Such is not the case with metal roofs.
  • Most companies warrant their products a minimum of 40 years, some for lifetime.

Are there any disadvantages of a metal roof? 

    Like any other product on the market, metal roofs also have a few disadvantages. 

    • Metal roofs can be costly when compared to some other roof materials. Compared to asphalt shingles, you’ll typically see an investment of 1.5-2.5 times what an asphalt shingle roof would cost. However, with the energy savings, increased curb appeal, and lifetime of 2-3 times that of shingles, this cost is recuperated. 
    • Additionally, if you have to remodel or change a section of the roof, it may be hard to match the color, or the paneling may no longer be available to purchase. Inconsistency of color match is a genuine concern. 
    • If a repair is required or you decide to do a home extension years later after the roof is installed, it may be challenging to find an exact match to the metal. 

    As you can probably see, the positives of metal roofs far outweigh the negatives.

    Are there any myths that should be put to rest? 

    • Metal Roofs Attract Lightning. 

    You may be wondering if metal roofs attract lightning. The simple answer is No. In fact, a metal roof may make a lightning strike less dangerous. The exact location and conditions of a lightning strike seems to be more a factor of topography and the individual storm movements. When lightning is ready to strike, it will do so regardless of whether or not there’s a metal roof nearby. Lightning seeks the path of least resistance to the ground. Because metal is a highly conductive material, a metal roof may actually help the lightning “find” the ground quicker than other types of roof materials which are combustible and not as conductive. 

    Many people think that because Lightning Rods are metal, they get struck more. The reason Lightning Rods are used is because they are connected to a cable which runs into the ground. Lightning strikes the rods not necessarily because they are metal, but because they provide the quickest way to the ground. 

    • If it’s metal, it must rust. Right? 

    Wrong. Modern metal roofs can easily last several years without rusting or corroding. A special alloy coating is applied to the metal roofs to protect against rust and withstand heat. 

    • It heats up the house. 

    Wrong, again. Contrary to popular belief, metal roofing DOES NOT make your rooms hot. Metals naturally reflect direct sunlight, and much of the heat is dispersed rather than absorbed. As a matter of fact, metal roofs keep homes cooler than regular roofs, such as asphalt roofs. 

    • But they aren’t pretty. 

    If that were the case, celebrities wouldn’t have used them on their villas and mansions. Zinc and copper roofs are some of the most exquisite roofing options that scream of value and affluence. 

    What are the four major types of metal roofs? 

    Metal roofs come in a range of different materials. Each one caters to different houses as well as different purposes. These are the five major metal roofs that you should know about. 

    1. Steel roof. One of the most sought-after metal roofing options. It’s durable, affordable and available in different colors and styles. Steel roofs also require minimum maintenance and suit most types of homes. 
    2. Aluminum Roof. Aluminum is lighter than steel but offers excellent durability. Aluminum roofs are an inexpensive option that also provides high versatility. Aluminum roofs are easier to install than steel roofs and look more expensive than steel roofs. 
    3. Copper Roof. This is a highly popular choice among homeowners who want their homes to look rustic. Oxidized copper, in particular, is one of the bestselling copper roofs and turns green over time. Houses with copper roofs look stunning. They look even better as copper roofs age and oxidize. Copper roofs are extremely long-lasting and can withstand harsh weather conditions. 
    4. Zinc Roof. Zinc roofs share a lot of qualities with copper roofs. They look stunning and are also resistant to rust and corrosion. The only difference is in the changes in their

    appearance over time. Where copper roofs turn a shade of green, zinc roofs turn either blue or grey. Zinc roofs are durable, easy to install, require negligible maintenance, and look amazing. 

    How long does a metal roof last? 

    Now let’s compare the longevity of different types of metal roofs. 

    • Steel roofs last about 40 to 50 years. 
    • Aluminum roof lasts about 40 to 60 years. 
    • Copper roofs last around 80 to 100 years. 
    • Zinc roofs last about 60 to 100 years. 

    How to Maintain a Metal Roof 

    Do metal roofs require maintenance? Be sure to inspect your metal roof at least once a year to ensure that you catch any problems early on to make sure it looks its absolute best. Here are some tips to ensure you keep your roof in tip-top condition. 

    1. Remove any debris that may accumulate 
    2. Trim branches around your home that are touching the metal. They will rub against the panels and could lead to premature rust forming. 
    3. Inspect the roof for any damages 
    4. Check for corrosion 
    5. Repair any rust spots 

    Ensure your roof is installed by a professional. It isn’t easy to install and should not be done by just anyone! Ensure you do your research and find a reputable company with lots of experience. Investigate the company, search for reviews, and ask lots of questions! Make sure you do your due diligence. 

    But what about the color? Will it last? 

    You may be wondering how long the color will last on a metal roof. That special alloy coating that makes the metals roof rust-resistant? The same coating also protects color. 

    The color is extremely durable and protected against sun exposure, oxygen, humidity, extreme temperatures, and even pollution. Of course, some colors may last longer than others, so you may want to choose a color that will last for years to come. 

    For example, lighter colors such as tan, grey, or white are an excellent choice as they will fade less than darker colors such as navy or black. Be sure to research the color you are interested in and look into the finish (matte or glossy) to see how long it will last. 

    Anything else you should be aware of? 

    • Get your metal roofs from only a trusted and reputable supplier. 
    • Proceed with caution during rains when you head up the roof. Metal roofs are incredibly slippery when wet, so keep this in mind if you plan to head up on your roof to investigate.

    Final Thoughts 

    A properly installed metal roof can last a lifetime with little-to-no maintenance. Metal roofing keeps the building cooler, and improves the image of the building dramatically. Given these factors, the return on investment of a good metal roof is high.

        Pennsylvania Home Improvement Contractor License (HIC) # PA124258