Zinc: The Dark Horse of Metal Roofing – Zinc Roof Costs, Pros & Con 2017

There are not many roofing materials that can match the longevity, durability, malleability, flexibility, resiliency, and cost-effectiveness of Zinc. Not even aluminum nor copper! Zinc roofs are known to last for hundreds of years, even in the most extreme environments. Truly unmatched durability, longevity, and classic beauty — that’s what Zinc roofing offers to a homeowner. At $12 to $15 per sq. ft. installed, it is the kind of value that is simply unmatched in all other roofing materials.

Zinc – Most Amazing Roofing Material You’ve Probably Never Heard of

In the US, the whole idea of using Zinc as a roofing material for a house sounds other worldly. Aluminum and Steel dominate residential metal roofing market, while asphalt shingles are by far the most popular overall roofing material. When you also factor in natural slate, clay tiles and cedar/wood roofing options, Zinc barely registers on most people’s radars. Though this trend is changing, slowly.

Did you know? 70% of residential roofs in Europe are covered with Zinc. In Paris, this number goes up to 85%.

via Metal Tech USA

Metal roofing is often chosen for its durability and longevity. All properly designed and correctly installed high-end metal roofs are likely to last at least 50 years. Yet, in order for that to hold true for Steel, for example, it must be coated with metallic finishes such as G-90 or Galvalume, along with high quality paint finishes such as Kynar 500. With Zinc, as well as copper, that is not the case.

Both Zinc and Copper form protective patina, meaning they will not rust nor be adversely impacted by weathering. Both of these metals benefit from aging, and their patina process. With Zinc, it starts out dark, as in dark gray / near black and then changes to a patina light gray or bluish color. Zinc can also be painted virtually any color, which serves as a sacrificial layer prior to the patination process.

Did you know? Thanks to Zinc’s naturally forming self-healing properties, it can provide years of virtually maintenance-free roof and building envelope protection

Zinc Standing Seam Roof with level changes on a House
via CraftCorp

What makes Zinc truly fascinating is its resiliency. All metal roofs, including Zinc, can be scratched. With Steel, scratches in its coating layer will expose the base material to the effects of oxidation and corrosion. With Zinc, it actually self-heals. You read that right, Zinc if scratched will self correct. The protective (patina) layer of Zinc is technically hydroxyl carbonate that will, over time, reform itself and thus eliminate blemishes or scratches. This is one, of a few reasons, why the market for Zinc will often sell pre-patinated Zinc roofing.

As you may have guessed, Zinc is extremely durable. When steel is “galvanized” it is really just adding a protective layer of Zinc to the Steel base to protect it from oxidation, as Steel is naturally corrosive, or will rust when exposed to salt, water, or moist environment over a long period of time. Galvanized and Galvalume Steel will forgo that aging for a couple of decades.

Like most metals, Zinc is insect-proof, fire resistant, and mildew / fungus-proof. Zinc also benefits from being non-toxic. Because of its low to non-existence toxicity level, soft zinc is marketed as replacement for flashing material for all roofs. Back in the day, the traditional material was lead, then steel, but soft zinc, offers virtually the same level of durability with no known toxicity impact.

Run-off water from Zinc is considered ‘clear’ or contaminant free, which most metals can’t readily claim. Thus, a zinc roof is a great option for homeowners interested in rain water collection.

Like many other metals, zinc is fully recyclable. Plus, it will reflect solar radiant heat, as most metals do to some degree, which prevents the unwanted transfer of heat from the roofing material into the attic space. Note: Asphalt shingles gain a lot of heat during the day and transfer much of it inside your home.

Moreover Zinc has even greater environmental value in that it takes less fuel to manufacture it, really to boil it and shape it into finished roofing product.

Did you know? Aluminum and steel use a good two to four times the energy in their production as compared to Zinc!

All this value would make you think it’s gotta be at least as expensive as Copper. Nope. Not necessarily.

Installation Costs and ROI for Zinc Roofing

Copper averages around $20+ per sq. ft. when installed as roofing. By far the most expensive metal material sold in the residential market. Steel can be had for as little as $6 to $10 per sq. ft. installed depending on the system. Aluminum installed can range from $7 to $12 per sq. ft. Zinc comes in at only a slightly higher price point $12 to $15 per sq. ft. installed.

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Metal Shingle Roofing Costs and Value in 2017

Installing a metal shingle roof on a residential home will cost, on average, between $8.00 and $10.00 per sq. ft. There are a number of factors that determine that cost, and we’ll explore them in this article. It’s perhaps most important to realize that of the three primary options for metal roofing (the others being Standing Seam and Corrugated Panels), Metal Shingle is in the middle of pack in terms of cost.

Understanding the Enormous Options of a Metal Shingle Roof

At first mention, metal shingles sound bland, or perhaps too risky of an option in an area where they would clearly be outside the norm (i.e. all your neighbors have asphalt shingle roofing). Yet, when researching metal shingles styles and options for residential homes, you might be surprised to pull up some images that look a lot like asphalt shingles. 😉 Why would that be? Because the reality of metal shingles in 2017, or in the last few years, is that these are really metal tiles that are intended to mimic just about all other possible roofing styles designed for sloped roofs.

Slate tiles, ceramic tiles, asphalt shingles, cedar shake and say redwood shingle are all materials that metal shingles can mimic. From the curbside view, it would be hard to tell the difference between the metal material and its usual counterpart. That’s how diverse the metal roofing industry has gotten. Add to this the idea that metal itself can have a pleasing appearance, as is the case with copper, zinc and painted aluminum and steel tiles. Gone are the days when metal shingles only have a silver/gray, metallic appearance.

Key Fact: There are really two basic types of metal shingles, or tiles: metal coated with metallic finish, often second coated with factory finished paint, and the second type which is often referred to as stone-coated metal tiles.

It’s the stone-coated variation that opens the door to having metal shingles that look nearly identical to asphalt shingles, because like asphalt shingles, they are coated with granules. So, it’s not just color, but texture that allows metal shingles to obtain a great diversity in product options. With texture as an additional option, slate, wood and ceramic are all possible appearances for metal roofing.

Then there is shape, which varies a bit by manufacturer, but for the most part are rectangular, or diamond shaped. Usually, installation relies on an interlocking system that makes for quicker installation and ability to hide fasteners. Some manufacturers still go the route of having panels of say 4 tiles (per panel) that are adhered to the roof deck. Panels are usually 4 feet long and are often installed over existing roofing (i.e. metal shingles can be installed on top of asphalt shingles).

Did you know? Interlocking tiles are now the 2nd most popular type of metal roofing for residential homes after standing seam.

The other consideration for shingle options is the material, or type of metal itself, but we’ll cover that in the next section.

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The Cost of a Standing Seam Metal Roof, Plus Pros & Cons 2017

Here in 2017, Standing Seam remains the premier choice for metal roofing. It is also the most expensive; around two to three times the cost of Corrugated Metal Panels (and asphalt shingles), and about 20% to 30% above Metal Shingles. Standing Seam offers unbeatable value that is hard to match in really all other roofing materials. So, let’s explore this in further detail:

Costs and Value Of Standing Seam

G-90 Galvanized Steel is the most popular or most-often used option for residential standing seam roofs. The “G” here refers to the amount of the zinc plating, as in .90oz per square foot. While technically, aluminum is more expensive than steel, the reality is the costs aren’t noticeably different when considering what is being sold to homeowners by quality contractors. If the materials were not coated and not finished with factory painting, then perhaps the higher cost of aluminum would be something of note. In the current market, they are virtually the same cost.

Cost of Materials and Important Nuances on Pre-Cut vs. Custom-Fabricated Metal Panels

The material itself will cost between $4.00 and $5.50 per sq. ft. for custom or made-to-order (custom fabricated) standing seam metal panels. If you just want to get some basic standing seam panels for your project, then Home Depot does offer some basic, pre-cut (not made to order) panels that are 8, 12 and 16 feet in length, available at about $1.75 per sq. ft. These are a snap-locking variety, which means they are easier to install than field-locked panels, but they do come in limited color choices. They are available as 26 gauge Galvanized steel, which does provide some good value. — Though, it does leave one important factor up in the air — who will install it? Also, in terms of metal quality and thickness a 26 or 24 gauge Galvalume steel would be a better and a longer lasting option compared to G-90 galvanized steel.

Total Cost of Standing Seam Installed by a Pro

A qualified contractor will likely have real metal samples, a brochure or catalog to show off all the possibilities for what’s available. They’ll provide all the information that backs up their work. And, if going with the national average, their prices will normally fall in the range of $9.00 to $12.00 per sq. ft. to install the system on a typical house.

At 150points, we plugged in the installation of Standing Seam on a 40 by 40 sq. ft. or 1,600 sq. ft. roof, using a licensed and insured contractor, and (in our zip code) the low price came to roughly $19,000, while the high end cost was $27,000. Sometimes roofers will reference the project by “squares” instead, which is 100 sq. ft. So, the 1,600 sq. ft. roof is the same as 16 squares. The cost doesn’t change, just the way the installer may reference it. Some contractors prefer to quote their rate per square, rather than per sq. ft.

How to Find a Trusted Metal Roofer

Depending on your location, it can be tough to find a specialist roofing contractor that installs Standing Seam, but even more challenging is finding a pro that does it well. Installation costs do take into account a number of factors, such as: how exactly will the panels be connected, what are some of the existing roof needs to address (i.e. attic insulation and ventilation, the tear off and disposal of the old roof, etc.), what are the options in terms of metals/alloys, colors and gauge or thickness of the material, whether the installer is properly insured, and whether or not any meaningful labor warranties are being offered.

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