Tin Roof Pros and Cons – What Metal Roofing is All About

A notion that installing a “tin” roof over your house may seem old fashioned, or be somehow associated with the unattractive tin roofs on industrial warehouses, could not be further from the truth when it comes to modern metal roofing. Tin metal roofs are one of the oldest, most reputable roofing systems in the world, boasting numerous advantages, that are as desirable today as they were centuries ago! In fact, modern tin (metal) roofing systems offer highly sophisticated and beautiful design options, superior strength, protection, and energy efficiency. For anyone looking to make a lifelong investment in their home, and get the most value for their money, a metal roof is an obvious choice.

Brief History of Tin Roofs

While today, metal roofs are often referred to as “tin roofs”, the reality is that no roofing product has ever been made of pure tin. In Europe metal roofs have been around for centuries, originating in ancient Rome, and were made out of copper, lead, and zinc. Metal roofing material was produced by heating and hand hammering the metal to a thin sheet. In the 17th century, tin was first used in Bohemia as a coating for rolled steel to prevent rust.

Just before 1800s, “tin” plates, or shingles began to be imported into the US from Wales, where, tin was mined. Since initially tin shingles were expensive, and imported, they were not used in residential construction. However, after the Civil War, tin roofs became more widely used on homes when tin became available as shingles that could be installed with nails.

Tin’s popularity continued to grow due to declining prices, which resulted from replacing pure tin coatings with 65:35 lead to tin alloys. This newly created dull finish became known as “terne” plate. Tin roofs were highly esteemed for their durability in inclement weather, fire resistance, and longevity.

Metals Used in Modern Roofing

Today, home and business owners can enjoy a wide variety of options when it comes to choosing a type of metal they would like to install on their roof. Tin is still available as a coating (combined with lead) on one of several soft metal options, such as steel. One of the most popular and economical metals is galvanized (G-90) steel, made of alloyed steel with a protective coating of zinc to prevent corrosion. A step up from steel, is aluminum, which naturally resists corrosion and tends to reflect heat better than steel. People who want the most durable and long lasting protection for their roof, can install a copper, or zinc roof. Both are premium metals that cost significantly more than others, but for the price, they offer great curb appeal, superior durability, and can easily last well over 100 years.

Advantages of Modern Metal Roofs

Versatile and Attractive

Taking a look at various profiles of modern metal roofs, it becomes clear that there is nothing outdated about them. In fact, contemporary metal roofs are ultra-modern, stylish and appealing. Discerning buyers will find a wide variety of designs, colors, and textures that will compliment any type of architecture. Also, metal roofing can be manufactured in traditional vertical/standing seam profiles, or can be made to resemble shingles, cedar shakes, slate, or clay tiles.

Durable and Maintenance Free

Metal roofing systems are highly valued for their durability. They are resistant to cracking, shrinking, warping, curling, splitting, flaking, peeling, breaking, and being damaged by termites. A metal roof provides superior protection in all types of climates, and is most resistant to freezing and thawing cycles, inclement weather, and natural disasters. It will keep your property safe from fire, hail, wind, heavy rains, snow, and iced dams.

This exceptional durability lends itself to a long, maintenance-free service life of at least 40-50 years. Given that your new metal roof is installed properly to begin with, you will not need to spend any extra money, time and energy on roof maintenance, and costly repairs that are common with asphalt shingle

Energy and Cost Efficient

While a metal roof initially costs more than other types of roofing systems, it is a highly cost-effective investment. Metal roof’s reflective properties allow home and building owners to save up to 40% in annual energy costs, depending on geographical location. A metal roof increases the resale value of a residential property, adding about $1.45 per square foot to a home’s overall value. Moreover, recognizing metal roof’s superior durability, many insurance companies give discounts of up to 35 % to homes with metal roofs.


For people looking for a “green” roofing material, metal is one of the most environmentally – friendly options. Metal roofs not only add to the home’s overall energy efficiency during their life time, they can also be recycled. Residential metal roofing systems are made from at least 30-60% recycled material. Moreover, being lightweight, metal shingle roofs can often be installed over an existing roof, omitting the need to tear-off and send the old roof as waste to a landfill.

Disadvantages of Metal Roofs

In comparison to other roofing materials, there are relatively few drawbacks to metal roofs. One of the main disadvantages of metal roofs is their relatively high upfront cost. For people who are not planning to stay in their home for decades, installing a metal roof may not be the most economical option, as they will not realize a quick return on their investment. Another drawback is that dark colors will tend to fade over time, so it is better go for lighter colors, which will not have this issue. Additionally, metal roofs tend to expand and contract more than other roofing materials during the thermal cycle. Properly installed metal roofs have built-in design features to counter this issue. Lastly, it is critical to take extra care when walking on a wet metal roof, as it will get very slippery.

Staff Writer ( 2014 August) Tin Roof Pros and Cons – What Metal Roofing is All About. Retrieved on August 2, 2014 from metalroof.info

The High Cost of White Roofs in the North

Summer is when new roofs are installed and old ones are redone, but contrary to news articles and experts touting the benefits of white reflective roofs, the fact is that my home city of Seattle and most northern cities in the U.S. waste millions in energy costs and precious natural resources by buying into the myth that white roofs are energy efficient regardless of climate zone.

White roofs have been migrating north for the past 10 years. There are mandates for their use in Chicago, New York and Philadelphia. I work for the leading manufacturer of both white and darker colored roofs, and we know that white roofs reduce cooling costs, which are beneficial in warmer, southern climates, but we also know the untold story is that they carry a significant heating penalty in cities like Seattle, where heating is utilized far more than cooling.

Those with a vested interest in white roofing have capitalized on perceptions created by the Department of Energy’s ENERGY STAR program and incomplete studies from sources such as Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and they have been able to launch a movement that not only is costly but also damaging to our environment.

Using a roof energy savings calculator developed by Oak Ridge National Laboratory and approved by Lawrence Berkeley, the EPA, DOE and California Energy Commission, I found that regardless of heat source, square footage or insulation level, reflective white residential roofs in Seattle waste natural resources and cost homeowners more money.

The same is true with Seattle’s commercial buildings. A relatively small 10,000-square-foot building with a white roof and an insulation level of R-20 would have an average cooling benefit of $61, but would have an average heating penalty of $498, for a net energy cost loss of $437 per year.

My home city is not alone. Dozens of northern cities that would get similar results using this roof energy savings calculator.

Proponents also claim that white roofs reduce global warming. But a study at Stanford University shows that white roofs may actually INCREASE, not decrease, the earth’s temperature. The study suggests that white roofs reflect heat upward into the atmosphere where it mixes with black and brown soot particles that retain heat and contribute to global warming. Another study from Arizona State University indicates widespread adoption of highly reflective cool roofs could negatively impact rainfall patterns across the United States.

Those northern cities that have adopted white roofing mandates, as well-intentioned as they may be, are beginning to get a black eye. Design professionals, roof consultants, contractors, facility managers and building scientists are getting increasingly concerned with mandates that limit their ability to choose the most energy-efficient roofing materials. They know it is a far more complex issue than just the roof’s color.

The good news is that there is a growing resentment regarding these top-down, one-size-fits-all government mandates. The EPA is on record urging us to remember that “the energy savings that can be achieved with white reflective roofing is highly dependent on facility design, insulation used, climatic conditions, building location, and building envelope efficiency.”

In the past year, three different national regulatory bodies voted down proposals to specify white reflective roofs in northern areas of the United States. And in my region, recent building guides in the Pacific Northwest show that white roof installation is not recommended to improve energy efficiency when retrofitting a roof.

So we are starting to expose the myth, but we must continue to research the issue and seek the facts to find balance and counter a movement that has built momentum over the last decade — and cost Seattle and other American cities untold dollars in unnecessary energy costs.

Soffel Charlie (2014 July 28) The High Cost of White Roofs in the North. Retrieved on August 1, 2014 from the HuffingtonPost.com