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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The Cost of Asphalt Shingle Roofs: Materials & Installation Costs 2017

The biggest bang for your buck. That’s what Asphalt Shingles on a roof can provide to you, the homeowner. It’s not the most durable material. Durability and longevity belongs to metal roofing and natural slate. For the value, though, Asphalt Shingles are hard to beat, especially when viewed through the prism of its low upfront cost and near-term home improvement ROI. An asphalt shingle roof can often be installed for under $10,000 on a small or mid-sized single family house. For a relatively modest upfront cost, you can expect to get at least 10 to 15 years of roof protection for your home.

A Wee Bit Of History

For a long time, slate tiles were the cream of the crop when it came to roofing a house or building. In the early 20th century, that changed. America went from using slate and cedar (wood) shakes and shingles as predominant materials for covering their homes, to what was at the time the newly unveiled asphalt shingles. The reason for this was two-fold; The new asphalt shingle was made to look very similar to the slate tile, but at a much more affordable cost. Like all things mass production, it allowed millions of homeowners to enjoy decent roof quality without the need to spend a whole lot of money on a roof. Yet, like many things associated with mass production and usage, it lead to a significant, and ongoing issue with the disposal of old asphalt shingles.

Understanding Asphalt Shingles Roofing Options

Back in the day, it used to be that asphalt roofing was rolled onto roofs. Cloth-like paper, with layer of asphalt, coated with stone granules. In the early 1900’s, the rolls were sliced into individual pieces. Add in the political pressure from the National Board of Fire Underwriters, who thought this material was much better for a home covering than the popular wood shakes alternative, and a monumental industry was born! 😉

3-Tab Shingles

Strip shingles, or what we call 3-tab today, used to be the standard for nearly half a century. They offer a single layer, uniform look for the roof. They are light-weight even in today’s market. But, they are considered cheap and less durable than the next step up, or what we call architectural shingles.

Architectural Shingles are thicker, heavier and offer far more variety than their predecessor. With 50% more weight than a 3-tab shingle, architectural shingles come at a higher cost. Though, the cost is easily justifiable with more durability, service lifespan and the idea that shapes of shingles can be different. Architectural shingles are also known as laminated or dimensional shingles, because there is an appearance of more depth to the roof than what 3-tab/strip shingles provide.

Many routinely refer to architectural as the premium product, but they are really middle of the road product.

Premium shingles can offer even more depth and variation. These are luxury shingles are known for their totally different look. Truly premium shingles are designed to be as durable and long lasting as possible. Here, multi-colored options exist, along with cool-roof asphalt shingles, and other cutting edge technological advancements.

To be clear, the architectural shingles are the predominant product in the asphalt shingle market today. The other two options are also being sold, and are quite popular in their own right. 3-tab makes for a great starter row on any type of asphalt shingle roof. Plus 3-tab is sufficient wherever economical considerations may outweigh quality, such as on some low-priority commercial buildings and value residential roofs. Premium shingles are deemed by many as too luxurious, but there are people willing to pay nearly twice the cost for a better designed, longer lasting roof, which the luxury shingles provide.

Another consideration which each of the three options has to do with how the product can perform during storm weather and strong wind uplift. Essentially, the cheaper the product the less wind it can withstand before the 3-tab tiles curl or are even blown off. This pertains directly to product warranty. Here’s a quick rundown:

  • 3-tab shingles are rated for 60 to 70 mph wind uplift, usually holding to a 20 to 30 year product warranty
  • Architectural shingles are rated for 110 to 130 mph winds, with 30 to 50 year warranties
  • Premium shingles are rated for up to 110 mph uplift, and usually come with limited lifetime warranty

For more visuals and info on the three variations of Asphalt Shingles, see this page from the IKO Roofing Manufacturer’s website.

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Synthetic Shake and Shingle Pricing Guide 2017 – Exterior Home Improvements

Synthetic shake and shingles are polymer-based material, or a combination of plastic and rubber. They are used on roofs where homeowners desire the classic look of wood or natural slate, with the added benefits from the synthetic blends. They are relatively new to the roofing market, first arriving in the early 1990’s. Their durability, environment friendly and affordability have all contributed to their rising success.

Square Footage Cost and Total Installation Charges

Composite shingles and fake slate cost virtually the same. Formation is done via a molding process to ensure it resembles wood or stone, as the case may be. The material is fairly light at about 1.25 pounds per tile, so essentially all roof types can handle such installation. The tiles can easily be cut on-site with a utility knife and are attached as simply as using a nail gun. An asphalt shingle roofer ought to have the skills to properly install synthetic shake and shingle roofing.

For installation on an average (2,300 sq.ft.), non-complex roof, it costs between $4.50 and $7.00 per sq.ft. With the averaged sized home, this totals to $10,350 to $16,100. If the existing roof needs to be torn off first, this can cost $2,250 to $3,500 more.

A complex roof with multiple roof angles, dormers, or greater pitch would add to labor charges. How much this adds depends on the contractor, the unique roof layout and other factors we’ll cover below.

Breaking Down Costs Into Specifics

With any home improvement project being handled by qualified professionals, it is in your best interest to get more than one quote, or preferably between three and seven. The quoted figures they give you will either be total installation charges (one price for everything) or they’ll ideally itemize each cost so you can better compare their rates to the competition. For the example below, we ballpark certain figures as particular items, like building permits and disposal fees vary by region.

Composite Shingle Roofing: 2,490 sq.ft. (23 roofing squares) = $13,100 (includes labor+material)
Tear Off Existing Roof: $2,500
Disposal fees: $900
Additional Materials: Flashing, fasteners, underlayment, etc. = $2,250
Building Permit: $350
Total Project Cost = $19,100

Factors That Contribute To Overall Cost

While material costs are roughly the same between composite shingles and fake slate, the material costs will be based on manufacturer and distributor pricing. Usually, roofing contractors purchase product at wholesale through established distributors. There are a number of manufacturers in the marketplace, and the popular ones are:

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