How Green Is Metal Roofing?

by | Oct 13, 2021 | Roofing | 0 comments

Contrary to popular belief, the increasing popularity of sustainable living isn’t just a trend. The eco-friendly lifestyle is here to stay, partly due to its many practical benefits. For starters, improving your home’s energy-efficiency—a key part of sustainable living—can lower heating and cooling costs, not to mention improve indoor comfort. 

If you’re considering going green, it’s recommended that you start with your roof, your home’s first line of defense against the elements. There are several green roofing to choose from, but if you’re looking to maximize your returns on investment, metal roofing is arguably the best option. 

What makes metal roofing panels such a great eco-friendly roofing option? 

  • Metal’s energy-efficiency – A metal roofing system puts less strain on your HVAC system than a conventional roof because it reflects heat from the sun instead of absorbing it, cutting cooling costs by as much as 25%. 
  • Long lifespans and exceptional durability – Roofing debris comprise 40% of the construction debris that ends up in landfills. One way you can help reduce the total amount of landfill waste is to install a durable roofing system with a long lifespan like a metal roof, which has an average lifespan of 40 to 70 years. 
  • Recyclability – Even if it reaches the end of its lifespan, a metal roofing system will contribute zero construction waste because metal roofing panels are fully recyclable. 

Increasing Your Metal Roof’s Energy Efficiency 

Metal roofing has excellent energy efficiency, but there are several ways to increase its energy-efficiency. Here are some tips: 

  • Choose a light roof color – The closer a shade is to white on the color spectrum, the more heat it can reflect, and the lower the strain on your HVAC system. Keep in mind that in addition to being your home’s first line of defense against the elements, your roof also forms a large part of its curb appeal, which is why it’s important to make sure the color you choose complements the rest of your exterior. However, coordinating colors can be tricky. If you’re having a hard time picking a color for your metal roof, don’t hesitate to consult one of your local roofing specialists
  • Apply roof coatings – Sleek metal roofing panels are naturally reflective, which means they can handle heat better than other roofing materials. But for added protection against the elements, you can apply roof coatings, which help extend your roof’s lifespan and, in the long run, reduce the amount of construction debris that ends up in landfills. 

Choosing the Right Coating for Your Metal Roof

Not all roofing coatings can provide the same level of protection, which is why you need to take into account the challenges that come with your area’s climate. 

To help you choose the right type of roof coating, here’s an overview of the common types: 

  • Acrylic coatings – Acrylic coatings, which can be applied to a wide variety of roofing systems, provide added protection against ultraviolet rays. However, it’s not suitable for commercial roofing systems because of its vulnerability to ponding water, a common issue among flat roofs. 
  • Silicone coatings – For commercial roofing systems, silicone coatings would arguably be the best choice since they adhere easily to the surface of the roof membrane and have excellent resistance against UV and moisture damage. Keep in mind that silicone roof coatings will inevitably lose their reflectiveness over time. To ensure your roof is adequately protected against UV rays and leaks, roofing specialists need to reapply the coating occasionally. 
  • Polyurethane coatings – Polyurethane coatings provide added protection against impact damage and foot traffic.

Choosing the Right Type of Metal Roofing

Your roof won’t last long if it’s not suitable for your area’s climate. That’s why it’s important to choose a roofing material that will be able to withstand the local climate. Remember: There’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach in home improvement projects, and roof replacements are no exception. 

Here’s an overview of the metals commonly used in manufacturing roofing panels: 

  • Steel – There are several reasons why steel is the most popular metal roofing option. For starters, it’s the most affordable metal roofing option on the market. And since steel is widely recycled, it’s a cost-effective green roofing option. 

The Different Types of Steel: There are three types of steel used in roofing panels: galvanized steel (is coated with a layer of zinc to protect the roof from corrosion), galvalume steel (is, as the name suggests, made from zinc and aluminum and provides better surface protection than galvanized steel but is prone to scratches), and weathering steel (commonly used in heavy steel industries such as bridge construction but has since been used in accent roofs). 

  • Aluminum – Unlike steel, lightweight aluminum doesn’t need coatings because it’s naturally rust-resistant. However, since it’s a relatively soft metal, aluminum roofing isn’t as rigid as steel roofing. 
  • Stainless Steel – Another corrosion-resistant alternative to steel is stainless steel roofing. While it’s a bit on the pricey side, it’s worth the investment if you want a durable and rust-resistant roof. 
  • Zinc – When choosing a green roofing option, it’s also important to check the amount of energy that’s needed to manufacture a certain material. Compared to other roofing materials, zinc requires less energy to process. But this doesn’t affect its durability, zinc is exceptionally durable, with some zinc roofs lasting more than 100 years. And at the end of their lifespan, discarded zinc roofing panels generate zero waste because they’re fully recyclable. 
  • Copper – Copper has been used in roofing panels for hundreds of years because of its exceptionally long lifespan—copper roofing systems can last more than 200 years—and resistance to scratches and corrosion. However, the main reason why copper remained a popular roofing option is its aesthetic appeal. Unlike conventional roofing materials, copper doesn’t lose its aesthetic appeal as it ages. In fact, the opposite happens: it increases its aesthetic appeal as it ages. That’s because the weathering process produces a beautiful verdigris patina on the surface of copper. 

Important note: Keep in mind that the durability of your roof partly depends on the quality of the roofing material. That’s why if you’re not sure about the quality of certain roofing panels, it’s best to stick to reputable brands such as GAF® and Owens Corning®.  After all, there’s just no way of telling if off-brand roofing materials are up to standard. In most cases, off-brand roofing materials don’t last very long and end up generating more construction waste. Not to mention they cost homeowners more in the long run. 

The Other Essential Features of a Metal Roof 

While roofing panels are an important component of your metal roof, they’re not the only ones that play an important role. A metal roofing system should have: 

  • Adequate ventilation system – Ventilation and energy-efficiency always go hand in hand. According to the EPA, adequate roof ventilation can lower heating and cooling costs by as much as 40%. But without adequate ventilation, warm, humid air is trapped inside, increasing the strain on your HVAC system, not to mention its electricity consumption.
  • Self-cleaning valleys – Routine maintenance is essential to keeping your roof in good condition. Fortunately, there are several ways of reducing your roof’s maintenance needs. One of them is to install a clog-resistant, self-cleaning valley, which ensures water and debris that landed on top of your roof are diverted to the drains. 

One more thing: Regardless of how durable your roof is, it’s likely to have suffered damage after a hail storm or an extreme weather event. That’s why as a rule of thumb, you should schedule a roof inspection after a storm. The sooner storm or hail roof damage is repaired, the better. 

For more tips on improving your roof’s energy efficiency, consult a professional contractor. 

Atrium Roofing offers a wide range of professional roofing services, including roof replacement and hail roof damage repair services. To get a free estimate, call us at (210) 806-7171 or fill out this form

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