A Real Lifetime Guarantee

Ready for your roof to outlive you? You might want to switch to a metal roofing material. While regular shingle roofs last between 12 and 17 years, a metal roof can last more than 50. Trying a copper or aluminum roof? Be prepared for your roof to achieve septuagenarian status -- these roofs can last more than 75 years [source: New England Metal Roof]!­

Metal Roofing Materials

Now you know that your new metal roof won't be corrugated tin­. There are five basic metals -- varying in longevity and price -- that are used for roofing.

  • Steel -- Steel is the most common metal roofing material. It's sturdy, and experts have spent a lot of time determining the best ways to protect it from rust. Manufactures generally use a zinc coating, a sealant and some heavy-duty paint to protect the material from the elements.
  • Stainless steel -- This option doesn't need the extra coatings that steel does because it's designed not to rust. However, because of its built-in anti-corroding properties, stainless steel is a pretty expensive metal roofing option. If you're interested in a stainless-steel roof without the cold, clinical look of steel, there are coatings that can make it look more natural.
  • Aluminum -- If you're looking for something lightweight that won't rust, aluminum could be your metal roofing material of choice. Like stainless steel, though, you'll need to coat it so that it looks more natural. This is the most popular option for residential metal roofing, so there is some concern about using this finite natural resource for roofing when other materials could be used.
  • Copper -- This option is becoming more and more popular, especially as an accent choice on houses and buildings, though you won't see a shiny penny for very long. Over time, copper will weather to a green color that you may notice on older buildings. Though copper can be very strikingly beautiful, whether as a new shiny reddish-gold or an oxidized blue-green patina, it's also very expensive.
  • Alloys -- You can use various different metal alloys for metal roofing materials, depending on what you're interested in. Maybe you need a lot of strength or want it to last for a long time. You can get differently formulated alloys to fit your needs. Though cost is determined by exactly what the alloy consists of, these can be an expensive metal roofing option [source: Vandervort].

Read on to find out what goes underneath those metal materials.