We had a tree fall on the house recently. For the most part, it was only a glancing blow; however, a large section of the upper trunk broke off and penetrated the roof, giving my son an impromptu skylight. That roof had about 20 years on it and should have had 10 more years left, but, instead, this presented us with an opportunity.
For most of my life, I have lived in houses with BUR or “built-up roofs,” made of layers of heavy tar paper bonded together with liquid tar and then topped with white gravel for protection against the sun. Those roofs worked well — especially with low pitches — and lasted a very long time.
The trouble is, the gravel falls off constantly, filling gutters and cracks in patios and decks. It’s a huge pain. I have spent most of my adult life digging little white rocks out of the cracks between deck boards. When the opportunity came to rid myself of this lifelong cleanup task, I jumped at it. This was the second time I was putting a new roof on this house so I was through fooling around. The clarion call came and we answered — this time we’re going metal!
A Metal Roof
The longest-lasting roof is probably slate; you’ll probably be dead before you need to replace a slate roof. However, slate roofs take a lot of maintenance and you may have to search a few states to find a crew that can do one. Very close in longevity is the metal roof. Available in standing seam or the newer metal tiles, these type of roofs can last from 40 to 70 years and are much easier to fix when something goes wrong. You will still need to find an experienced metal roofer though. Metal roofs are not as simple as shingles or roll roofing; practice and patience are required for the installation. However, it will most likely be the last roof you’ll ever buy for your current home.
If done right, a metal roof is much stronger than other types of roofing material — and better-looking as well. Metal will shrug off hurricane force winds and torrents of rain. These type of roofs are also much better at resisting blazing sunlight, reflecting away a great deal of the heat and light of hot summer days. This can result in a 40 percent savings when it comes time to use the air conditioner. A properly installed metal roof will also save up to 15 percent in the winter as well, providing a better insulating layer than most other roofing materials. Although more expensive up front, the biggest cost benefit is that metal roofs outlast almost all other roofing so it will end up being a lot cheaper in the long run.
How They Do It
Modern metal roofing isn’t like anything that was used in the past. There is cheap, galvanized metal roofing used in other parts of the world, but that doesn’t hold a candle to the powder- or epoxy-coated steel roofing available today. It is lighter, stronger and far more energy-efficient, not to mention better-looking. As a “standing seam” metal roof is laid down, each piece is rolled into shape, much like seamless gutters, and cut to the precise length. The panel is then clipped to the under-surface of the roof to make sure it won’t lift in high winds and bad weather. Once all the panels are down, the seams are pressed together so forcefully that the painted surfaces actually bond together providing an airtight/weathertight seal. The panels are formed in a way to be much stronger structurally than simple painted roll steel. Each panel is made on the site with endless options for conforming to any roof style or customizing a new one. The panels can even be painted over later if the customer is looking for a new color.
Cleaner & Greener
One of the hidden benefits of a metal roof is that it won’t end up in a dump some day — it will be recycled. In fact, most metal roofing material is partly recycled. It’s the greenest roofing material available, in my opinion. It’s also handy to know that metal roofs will keep clean of leaves and other debris. The surface is so smooth, a gentle wind will remove most roof junk. If that doesn’t work, wait for rain to rinse your roof clean. We’ve heard several stories about rain being louder on a metal roof. If it is, we can’t hear it; however, we did include an extra layer of foam insulation under our new standing seam roof. That raised the “R-value” and may have quieted any rain noise.
You’ll probably never have to do your roof again and that’s a good feeling. You also won’t have to worry about leaks, and any falling limbs are going to have a much tougher time getting in.
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