Remodeling Handbook: Metal Roofing

Beautiful and durable, metal roofs can help you save energy and money over time.

Article by Lisa Scontras

Issue Date:  (Fri) March 4, 2011

Copper roofing  looks great on homes like this one, with distressed looks and natural-wood trim. Alumunim Shake Roofing custom-made this batten-seam copper roof with old-style, 24-ounce copper (heavier than most copper roofs on the market) for extra durability. 

Photo: David Croxford

Your roof does much more than just keep out the rain. Today’s roofing products keep living areas cooler and lessen the impact of your home’s environmental footprint while paying back big eco-dividends, especially when it comes to lowering your utility bill.

An emerging trend in roofing is the use of metal. Long known for its durability, strength and minimal maintenance requirements, a metal roof offers increased heat reflectivity, minimizing heat absorption and cooling costs. These new advances in metal roofs — specifically aluminum shake, steel and copper — are transforming the industry. 

Photos: David Croxford


Aluminum offers strength and longevity, all while maintaining lighter weight than traditional roofing products (meaning it requires little structural reinforcement). It’s also malleable, making it suitable for almost any roof shape, and is often both recyclable and made of recycled materials.

And if you’re worried about the industrial look of metal, don’t be. Aluminum Shake Roofing offers a metal roof that looks like wood shakes. The Country Manor Shake (pictured at right) is a wood-lookalike aluminum product that reflects 95 percent of all radiant heat, keeping your home cooler in warm weather.

“The idea was to achieve the look of cedar shake, yet not be susceptible to rot, termites or external fire,” says Fred Rehm, president and RME of Aluminum Shake Roofing. “Our Country Manor Shake Lifetime Roofing system is made from strong, lightweight aluminum, so it cannot burn or even support combustion, offering resistance to airborne sparks and embers.”

Aluminum Roofing Facts

Price*: On a new home where no roof prep is required, installed price for the Country Manor line is around $8 per square foot. For an average roof of 3,000 square feet, this amounts to around $24,000. This price includes underlayment, the Country Manor Shake Lifetime Roofing system and 100-percent coverage with FoamGuard free-floating EPS inserts.

Aluminum roofing can last 50-100 years or more, depending on various factors such as weather and maintenance.

The Country Manor Shake manufacturer’s warranty covers 100 percent of the cost of labor and materials to repair or replace the defective material for the homeowner’s lifetime (or for 40 years, if the property is transferred). The Kynar 500 finish is similar in chemical composition to Teflon and is fairly easy to maintain. What’s more, maintenance projects, such as termite tenting, painting, tree trimming and gutter installation, are also easier with these faux-wood shakes because the product is strong enough to walk on.

Style Considerations:
Aluminum Shake Roofing offers its Country Manor Shake line in a variety of colors to complement any home.

*The average roof area measures approximately one and a half times the size of the home’s footprint. Because each roof is different, actual costs may vary.


Photo: Courtesy of Macsteel

Steel roofing is an ideal choice for Hawaii because local roofs take a beating from the sun and the corrosive, salt-laden atmosphere, according to Macsteel president Mark Silva.

That’s because steel roofing is coated with either zinc or aluminum applied in a hot dip process similar to galvanizing, which provides superior corrosion protection.

Macsteel is the largest steel distributor in Hawaii, serving its local customers with a manufacturing plant on Oahu since 1959. “All Macsteel finishes are ENERGY STAR®-approved and solar-reflective, helping to reduce energy costs while keeping the home cooler,” Silva says.
“Macsteel’s industry-leading Ultra Cool Kynar 500 LEED-approved, heat-reflective roof coating has a proven track record in Hawaii of more than 30 years,” he continues. “We saw the benefits of this paint system early on, and now, it is standard on all our roofs, at no extra charge.”

Steel-roofing Facts:

Prices vary, but expect costs in the neighborhood of $2.75 per square foot for a through-fastened roof and $3.25 per square foot for a standing-seam roof.

20 years is average, with some lasting more than 30 years. Semiannual cleanings can greatly extend the life of the roof.

The Kynar 500 paint coating is a barrier between your roof and the elements, protecting against the harmful effects of UV radiation, chalking and fading.

Style Considerations:
Galvanized steel roofing is available in several finishes. It can be aggregate-coated, painted or have a milled or bare finish.


Photo: Courtesy of Hawaii Home Expo

Traditional copper roofing is also making a comeback. A copper roof offers one of the best life expectancies of any roofing material available today: 50 years or more, according to the National Association of Home Builders.

Hawaii Home Expo offers copper roofing from Revere Copper Products. Revere’s newest architectural copper has been pre-aged to a natural brown-bronze oxide patina, a great way to add instant curb appeal to your home. Other color options are also available.

“A copper roof will last a lifetime, which is an important consideration when costing out roofing options,” says Bruce Okimoto, owner of Hawaii Home Expo. “It is more expensive initially, but you won’t have to replace it every 20 years; it’s important to realize the long-term savings.”

Copper-Roofing Facts:

Price*: Ranges from $10 to $30 per square foot, depending on complexity of design and the current cost of copper.

Lifespan: Properly designed and installed, it is not uncommon to see 50- to 200-year-old copper roofs.

Durability: In marine environments, the copper will develop a blue/green patina (like the Statue of Liberty), which will not weaken the material. Properly designed and installed copper roofs require no maintenance.

Style Considerations: Copper’s versatility allows it to blend well with almost any style of home, including classic architecture, Asian and modern styles. It’s great for custom homes.

Metal Works for Energy Savings

If you’re ready to install metal roofing, there’s good news: it’s compatible with most quality solar and photovoltaic products. Here’s a sampling:

Photovoltaics and Solar Water-Heating Systems
The integration of solar systems — both hot water and photovoltaic — with standing-seam metal roof systems are increasing dramatically, according to Silva. Just remember: it’s worth the extra effort to find a good, reputable contractor for photovoltaic system installations on metal roofs, according to Darren Furumoto of Alternate Energy. That’s because special clips are used for securing the systems.
Macsteel’s MAC175 standing-seam roof system is a great example: the roof can be installed without the need for heavy framework and leak-causing holes. In fact, the MAC175 standing-seam roof system was recently chosen for the Kaupuni Village (read more about this in our Green Issue next month), a self-sustaining, incredibly green community in Pokai Bay (shown above).

Solar Fans
Solar fans are another “cool” roofing product, says Jeffrey Tong, sales director at Skylights of Hawaii. Solar fans can be installed on the roof, a gable or wall and are designed to pull hot air out of attic spaces.
“At Skylights of Hawaii, we offer solar fans to keep the home cooler and reduce energy consumption,” says Tong. “Solar fans can take out the hot air, allowing your air conditioner to cool a room in half the time.”

Need more covered space?

Skylights of Hawaii now offers an all-aluminum, high-performance carport with photovoltaic panels on top. Use it as a patio cover, carport or canopy, and help power your home in the process.

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