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Demand for metal roofs is growing

If you ask professional roofers whether metal roofing is a new technology, they’ll point to the century-old barns with pristine roofs, dotting the country landscape. It may not be new, but modern metal roofing that can mimic natural slate, cedar shingles or Terra cotta tiles is a far cry from those old tin toppers.

“The asphalt shingles that are the lion’s share of the North American roofing market date back to the 1940s, so naturally homeowners are looking for newer products that will last longer and look better,” says Todd Miller, president of Ohio-based Kassel and Irons, based out of Piqua, OH. The company’s KasselWood, made in the U.S., resembles cedar shakes. It comes in panels that measure a little less than 3’ by 1’, made to look like a single row of shingles or tiles, with tabs for nails along one edge. 

Look natural 

“It’s a big trend right now that people are having more natural facades exposed such as timber and natural rock. Now you have options; you don’t only have that asphalt shingle look,” says Matthew Burns, marketing coordinator for RVP Roofing Systems Inc., which distributes and installs the Armadura Metal Roof system, manufactured by Nahanni Steel Products Inc. of Brampton, Ont. Armadura is made from coated, galvanized steel that is pressed to look like natural slate.

Steel roofs do cost more: two to three times the prices of asphalt shingles. But most are guaranteed to last for 50 years, and may last much longer. Shingles will be replaced three to five times, or more, within the lifespan of one steel roof. For a family that intends to stay in one home for the long term, they make good financial sense. They may be less appealing to someone looking to sell soon, although they do increase appraisal value. 

Efficient and dry 

Energy efficiency is another great quality. “A lot of these roofs have reflective pigments,” says Miller. “They reflect radiant heat, which can save air conditioning.” 

Steel roofs also keep houses very dry. “With this technology, we fix the problem with moisture inside your attic and inside your home,” says Nicola Zaloga, managing director of Zim Group in Mississauga, Ont. He points out that moisture inside the walls drastically reduces the effectiveness of insulation and promotes mould growth; properly vented, a steel roof keeps the walls dry and diminishes the risk of ice damming. 

Zim Group uses a European roll-formed material that sandwiches layers of steel, aluminum and phosphate between decorative outer coatings. These roofs look like traditional Dutch or Mediterranean clay tiles, and come in a range of standard colours. Zaloga says these types of roofs are everywhere in Europe, but not yet common in North America. 

But interest is rising. “Over the past 20 years, for sure there’s been a much better acceptance of it,” says Burns. The best part? A metal roof floats the real possibility that you might never need another new roof again.

-by Lily Slain