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5 Metal Roofing Material Types – Advantages and Disadvantages

With so many choices available, determining which metal roof is ideal for your house or business may be difficult. From traditional copper to cutting-edge steel, each kind of metal roofing material offers distinct benefits. Let’s look at the many kinds of metal roofing materials and their benefits and drawbacks.

5 Types of Metal Roofing Materials

  1. Copper — Extremely long-lasting, extremely soft, and with a low melting point
  2. Aluminum — Long-lasting, salt-water corrosion-resistant
  3. Zinc — Extremely long-lasting, corrosion-resistant, and with the lowest melting point
  4. Steel — Three variations: galvanized, galvalume, and weathering steel 
  5. Tin — Before World War II, steel was often utilized. This term is no longer widely used.

Types of Metal Roofing Materials

When you hear the word “metal roof,” you probably think of a steel roof, but the term refers to a far broader range of materials. The material will be an important initial step in choosing which way to take, depending on your region and climate. While an aluminum roof is a great choice for preventing corrosion in salty, coastal areas, its durability may be much lower than other materials. Steel, copper, and zinc metal roofing materials all have advantages and disadvantages.

Copper Roofing – Advantages and Disadvantages

Copper roofs, known as metal roofing “grandfather,” have been used throughout the world for millennia. Copper is an exceptionally durable metal that may endure for far over 200 years in optimal conditions. Copper roofs are also 100 percent recyclable, making them excellent green roof choices.

Copper is one of the most silent metal roofs, and it is a very soft metal. While reducing its attractive value, it exceeds a harder metal and pierces the roof with a sufficient hailstone instead of denting it. The softer nature of copper roofing also means that in hail-prone regions, it is easily damaged. Hailstones damage copper easily since it’s a softer metal. However, all-metal towers now need adequate foundations and isolations in contemporary building procedures, which decrease noise from rain or grass at the same level.

Aluminum Roofing – Advantages and Disadvantages

Aluminum metal roofs are often suggested for usage in coastal environments. This is mostly due to aluminum’s superior resistance to salt corrosion compared to other metal roofing materials. While the popular impression of an aluminum roof is that it is impervious to corrosion, the truth is that it is a highly active metal that responds very immediately to climatic conditions.

The exterior layer of aluminum roofing material interacts with the oxygen in the atmosphere, forming a coating of aluminum oxide that effectively protects the metal’s interior layers against further corrosion. This quick response is what preserves it so effectively. This technique is comparable to A606 Weathering Steel; however, it is quick and provides longer-lasting protection. Aluminum roofs are often utilized with a painted covering since their natural patina over time is not seen as visually pleasing.

Aluminum, like copper, has a cost disadvantage. While it may provide greater corrosion protection, it is also more costly than similar systems that utilize aluminum as a coating. As a commodity, the price of an aluminum roof varies depending on the market. Typically, the price of this metal falls midway between steel and copper. Because of its low cost, aluminum is often utilized in considerably thinner thicknesses than steel.

While aluminum roofing material has a better strength-to-weight ratio than steel, the cost issue often results in excessively thin panels for their surroundings. This may cause damage to the roofing material in areas with severe winds, hail, or other environmental pressures. Identifying the environmental stresses that your aluminum roof will encounter is critical in selecting the appropriate design.

Zinc Roofing – Advantages and Disadvantages

Zinc is an incredible metal that can utilize its patina to repair scratches over time while remaining robust for over 100 years. The inherent features of Zinc make it a preferred option for commercial projects due to its ability to be modelled easily and carved in outstanding shapes. Although zinc is not a desired characteristic of the metal over time, it may be cleansed and controlled to some extent.

Zinc is also 100% recyclable and widely accessible in most local marketplaces, making it an environmentally friendly material compared to copper or steel.

The major disadvantages of zinc are the chalking effect and the expense. Zinc is not inexpensive. Zinc is often compared to copper. Zinc, like copper, requires professional installation to exploit its benefits as a construction element fully.

If left untreated, zinc, like other exposed metals, will patina into a blue/grey look. This frequently creates a chalk residue in places where water runs, which many people find unattractive. Zinc is also a relatively soft metal that may be readily destroyed by hail or strong winds depending on the panel or shingle design.

Steel Roofing – Advantages and Disadvantages


Steel is an iron and other metal metal metal alloy. Steel roofing is one of the most common materials on a business site and is increasingly incorporated in residential constructions. While the original production of steel may be an energy-intensive operation compared to a metal such as zinc, the metal alloy’s recyclability and availability mean that most of the steel we use today is produced from recycled material rather than new. Steel is the most recyclable material globally, making it a very green construction material to work with.

The least expensive metal in comparison to other metals is steel. Although also a commodity, Steel is often priced considerably cheaper than aluminum, zinc, or copper. Steel is, therefore, both cheaper and more widely accessible than the other metals on this list.

There are three primary Steel Roof types: Galvanized, Galvalume, and Weathering Steel.

  • The most prevalent kind of steel roofing material is galvanized steel. Galvanized steel is made by coating an inner layer of steel with zinc to protect it against corrosion—this coating aids in extending the life of a steel panel and slowing the corrosion process.
  • Galvalume Steel is comparable to galvanized steel, but instead of a zinc-only coating, Galvalume utilizes a mix of aluminum and zinc. Although it is susceptible to scratches or cut edges, Galvalume provides greater surface protection than galvanized due to its aluminum properties. Compared to galvanized, aluminum offers greater corrosion resistance in some conditions and a smaller, smoother spangle for a more unified look.
  • Weathering steel is a kind of steel developed for usage in heavy steel sectors such as bridge-building. An exterior layer of steel is deliberately rusted to protect the inside layer of steel. Weathering steel roofing works similarly to aluminum in the patina process, but unlike aluminum, this process takes longer. It is critical to note that Weathering Steel rusts on purpose and is not intended to be utilized as a structural solution for steel roofing. It is often utilized as a decorative roof or explicit awareness of the rusting process and the necessity for regular maintenance.

Steel roofing has had a long journey over the last 50 years and can now imitate copper, zinc, and other costly metal roofing materials. Steel roofing has had a long journey over the last 50 years and can now imitate copper, zinc, and other costly metal roofing materials. This is accomplished via paint techniques that provide a painted solution that mimics the natural patina of a Copper, Zinc, or Weathered Steel appearance. These solutions are often backed by lengthy warranties and are excellent for remodels, restorations, and new construction.

Steel’s main advantage over the other materials on this list is its versatility and low cost. Steel has been the main option for both commercial and residential constructions due to the higher costs of alternative metals, and this trend seems to be continuing in the future.

It is both readily available and highly recyclable as a green option. Because it is one of the toughest metal choices, it can be utilized in most weather conditions and performs well in hail and strong winds. It’s a frequent sight in mountain regions with a lot of snow, and it’s a good option in hail-prone areas.

Tin Roofing – Advantages and Disadvantages

Tin Roofing is a popular item among enthusiasts in the United States and Canada. The terms “tin roofing,” “metal roofing,” “steel roofing,” and “galvanized steel” are all used interchangeably. Tin, in reality, is a seldom utilized kind of metal for roofing. Tin, like copper and zinc, is an element. Tin was developed as a canning material, subsequently modified by rural do-it-yourselfers who flattened it out and utilized it as a shingle when other materials were unavailable.

As a DIY construction material, aluminum’s usage faded as it became the norm for containers, supplanting tin roof sheets. When the term “tin roofing” is used nowadays, it usually refers to galvanized steel or aluminum material rather than genuine tin roof sheets.


While each of the five types of metal roofing materials offers advantages, the cost is usually the decisive issue. Copper is metal’s most aesthetically pleasant but the most expensive. The lowest melting point and the most expensive make zinc the most ecologically friendly substance. Zinc is the most environmentally friendly material owing to its low melting point, but it is also the most costly. Aluminum roofs are an excellent option in coastal areas since they are less costly than copper or zinc. Steel is the most utilized material, making it less costly and more accessible as a metal roofing choice for homes and commercial buildings. Tin had its day, but it is now more often associated with galvanized steel when it comes to roofing.

Each of these metals has benefits and disadvantages. The appropriate metal to choose for roofing is determined by the installer you select, the location of your construction, and the loads and strains it will be subjected to. Always select experienced roofing contractors that have dealt with metal roofing and the particular metal you want to utilize on your next job.