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Different Metal Roofing Materials – A PRO’s and CON’s guide


At Metal Deck we are Metal Roofing experts! We have been installing Metal Roofs and selling Metal Roofing Sheets for almost 20 years and have heard just about any question you could imagine.

We decided to write a helpful guide to explain the different materials that you can choose to have when you get a metal sheeted roof.

1. Copper – Extremely long-lasting, very soft with low melting temperature

2. Aluminum – Long-lasting, resistant to salt water corrosion

3. Zinc – Extremely long-lasting, resistant to corrosion and lowest melting point

4. Steel – Three variations: galvanized, galvalume, and weathering steel (corten)

Metal Roofing actually incorporates an entire range of products.  The term itself does not even explain whether you are speaking about a steel, aluminum, zinc, or copper roof.

Metal roofing can handle a huge range of requirements and design options. Depending on your location, the type of material will be the first step in deciding which material to choose.  While an aluminum roof is an excellent option for resisting rust in salty regions, it’s durability factor can be much lower than other options.

Copper Roofing – Pros & Cons

PROS – The original metal roof. Copper roofing has been used for centuries around the world and they are extremely long-lasting reaching life cycle times of up to 200+ years.  Copper roofs are 100% recyclable which is a massive pro and makes them ideal for Green Roof options. Copper is an extremely soft metal making it amongst the quietest types of metal roofing.

CONS – However, the softer nature of Copper Roofing also means that in hail prone regions it may be easily damaged. As a softer metal, hailstones will easily dent the Copper. Additionally another negative aspect of Copper is it’s tendency to expand and contract with swings in temperature. Although this can be controlled with the proper panel or shingle, it does need to carefully be considered when choosing who you are thinking of installing your metal roof! At Metal Deck you can rely on our expertise to install whatever roofing material you choose perfectly.

Aluminum Roofing – Pros & Cons

PROS – Aluminum roofing is incredibly strong and anti corrosive. Aluminum metal roofs are often recommended for use in coastal climates.  This is mainly due to aluminum’s resistance to salt corrosion compared to other types of metal roofs. Aluminum is often used with a painted coating as it’s natural patina over time is not thought of as aesthetically appealing.

CONS – Aluminum’s downside often comes down to cost. While it can offer a better protection against corrosion, it is also more expensive than comparable solutions that use aluminum as a coating. While Aluminum’s strength to weight ratio is higher than steel, the factor of cost often results in panels that are too thin for their surroundings. This can be a serious mistake and result in damage to the roofing material. At Metal Deck we always properly identifying the environmental Roof will face before recommending the right material.

Zinc Roofing – Pros & Cons

PROS – Zinc is an amazing metal, able to use its patina to heal its scratches over time and stay strong for over 100 years. The natural properties of Zinc make it a favourite for commercial projects due to Zincs ability to be easily formed and manipulated into amazing shapes.

Zinc could be considered the greenest metal available for roofing.  Zinc has a lower melting point than other roofing metals.  This lower melting point means that processing the Zinc for use as a building material requires up to a ¼ of the energy that it takes to process steel or copper.  Zinc is also 100% recyclable and available in most local markets, making it an extremely green material, even compared to Copper or Steel.

CONS – The main downside to Zinc is the chalking effect from an aesthetic point of view, and the price.  Zinc is not cheap. Also similar to Copper, Zinc requires expert installation to properly make use of its advantages as a building material.

Zinc, like most bare metals, does patina into a Blue/Grey appearance if left unpainted.  Along areas where water flows, this often leaves a chalk residue that many find unappealing.  Zinc is also a very soft metal, and can be easily damaged by hail or high winds depending on the panel or shingle design.

Steel Roofing – Pros & Cons

PROS – Steel is the most recycled material on the planet, making it an incredibly green building material to work with. When compared to other metals, steel is also the least expensive. While also being a commodity, steel is often priced at a much lower rate than Aluminum, Zinc or Copper. This makes steel both affordable and available at a greater amount than the other metals in this list.

There are (3) primary types of Steel Roofing: Galvanized, Galvalume, and Weathering Steel.

Galvanized Steel is actually created by using a layer of Zinc to protect an inner layer of steel from corrosion.  This coating helps extends the life of a steel panel and slow the corrosion process. Galvanized Steel is the most common form of Steel Roofing material.

Galvalume Steel is similar to Galvanized, but rather than using a primarily Zinc coating, Galvalume uses a combination of Aluminum and Zinc.  The Aluminum better protects against corrosion in certain environments than Galvanized, and also provides a smaller, smoother spangle for a more uniformed appearance. Because of its Aluminum qualities, Galvalume offers better surface protection than Galvanized, but is vulnerable to scratches or cut edges.

Weathering Steel is a form of steel that was originally designed for use in heavy steel industries like bridge construction.  An outer layer of steel is designed to intentionally rust, protecting the inner layer of steel.  In effect, Weathering steel roofing works similarly to Aluminum in the patina process, although unlike Aluminum, this process takes a longer period of time.  It is important to remember that Weathering Steel does intentionally rust, and is not designed to be used as a structural solution for steel roofing.  It is often used in accent roofs, or with the expressed understanding of the rusting process and the need for regular maintenance. 

The primary advantage of Steel Roofing is it’s flexibility of use and cost.  Because of the higher prices of other metals, Steel has been the primary solution for both commercial and residential projects. As a green solution, it is both easily accessible and highly recyclable. As options go, because it is amongst the hardest metal options, it can be used in most weather environments, and works well in hail and high winds.  It is a common sight in mountain regions with high snow volumes, and is a preferred solution in regions prone to hail.

And there you have it! A neat summary of the different types of roofing materials for you to choose for your home or business! We supply trusted Australian brands Roofing Materials like Colorbond® to ensure that you get the highest quality metal roof possible.

Metal Deck are based in Kirrawee and have installed and supplied metal roofing materials to the Sutherland Shire and Greater Sydney region for years. You can trust our expertise to help you find the best product that your home or business requires.

If you’ve got any questions don’t hesitate to give us a call!

For Metal Roofing Installation Services Call: (02) 9545 6100
For Metal Roofing Supplys Services Call: (02) 9545 4800