Hi everyone, it’s Whatever Wednesdays again. If you’ve been following my blog you’ll know that I bought my first house about a year ago in 2016. I wanted to get Solar Panels (with an Update post) before the tax credit ran out in 2019. My timeline for getting the Solar Panels was pushed forward slightly because I had to get a new Roof. I opted for a Metal Roof. So this post is going to ponder “Should Metal Roofs be the Standard?”
Stock Photo from: Pexels
So why did you need to get a new roof?
When I bought my house in 2016, I knew the house was going to need some work in the next 5-10 years. Of these, the one that I knew was going to cost a significant amount of money to replace was going to be the roof. As fate would have it, during late March of that year we had a significant amount of rain/wind. In April we noticed a leak coming from the roof in the kitchen. Then there was another one in the garage. So we had a roofer which was recommended to us (by our realtor) come out and evaluate it.
The storms that happened blew a bunch of shingles off of my roof, which would explain the new leaks. It was a relatively new style shingle which was supposed to last forever (and was very expensive). Unfortunately, they didn’t last. There were class action lawsuits against the various makers who installed this kind of new shingle. However, those class-action lawsuits ended in 2012 or 2013 depending on the manufacturer. The prior home-owner either didn’t know about it or never had any problems.
My roofer said he had experience with this kind of shingle and that they can’t “fix it” because it doesn’t exist anymore. He recommended that I go through my home-owners insurance. Luckily, I had good home-owners insurance (through State Farm). Under normal circumstances they would just replace the shingles that were blown off the roof. However, because my particular shingle isn’t made anymore they would pay to replace the whole roof. I get the impression that many other home-owners insurance companies would not have have paid for it.
Lesson here: Don’t skimp on your home-owners insurance.
I was lucky because I went with the home-owners insurance company that my realtor recommended. She specifically told me that I should go with State Farm because of their wind coverage being very good. However, it was a good 10-20% more expensive than other companies, so I was slightly hesitant at the time. In retrospect, I’m glad I did.
You get what you pay for.
Ok, so now that my insurance had to pay to replace my roof, I had to decide with what kind of material I should go with. The money allotted to me for a replacement roof was decent amount, certainly enough to cover a high grade asphalt shingle roof or tile roof. However, it would not be able to cover the cost of a metal roof completely. After discussion with my wife and looking at our finances, I felt it was better pay the difference and get a metal roof.
So why a Metal Roof?
There are many advantages to a metal roof:
Longevity – metal roofs will last an average of 50 years (and up to 100 years!), whereas asphalt shingle roofs last 12-20 years
Durability – no shingles to break off/replace, the upkeep on a metal roof is very close to zero
Weight – asphalt shingles are very heavy 750 lbs/sq ft, tile even more so at at 900 lbs/sq ft — metal is 50-150 lbs/sq ft
Fire Resistance – metal is noncombustible, so it gets a Class A fire rating, whereas asphalt shingle gets a Class C rating (more info here)
Environmental – most of metal roofs can be recycled, whereas replacing an asphalt shingle roof usually goes to landfill
Cost – while costing more than an asphalt roof, since it lasts longer, it technically costs less overall
Wow… seems pretty good… why doesn’t everyone just buy a metal roof then?
In my opinion the three reasons are:
While I stated above that metal roofs technically cost less overall, that isn’t true for the majority of Americans. The reason for this is because the normal American family will move a few times. For example, you move into a house and it had an asphalt shingle roof put on about 10 years ago, so it has maybe 5-7 years left in its life. 5-7 years pass and you have to decide whether to reroof the house or not. You can either pay a certain cost for another asphalt shingle roof, or pay about double the cost for a metal roof.
You can see that most American families would opt for the first option. It is unlikely they will be in the house for 20+ more years to recoup the costs of having a metal roof. At least that’s how the home-owner sees it. Technically, having a metal roof does increase the value of your house, but most home-buyers do not see it that way.
As such, the extra up-front cost is a huge hurdle for many people.
In general people still think metal roofs are the same as they were back in the ’50s and ’60s, used for sheds and farmland. Something like this:
Stock Photo from: Pixabay
Of course, that isn’t the case anymore. Metal roofs come in a variety of types and colors, and I think they look pretty nice. I opted for the Standing Seam style (Vertical), because I was told this was the best material to install Solar Panels on. The grids for the Solar Panels clip onto the seams meaning that you only need to do one roof penetration (for the conduit). I think (and others) believe that having less penetrations in your roof decreases the likelihood for future problems/leaks.
To be honest, I was kind of worried about how my metal roof would come out, but I was pleasantly surprised by how clean it looks. After the solar panels went on, I was very happy with how everything looked. My wife was also very happy with how it looked “It makes our house look so much better!”
The roof is made out of metal, so people immediately jump to the idea that rain will cause a significant amount of sound. However, I think people are mistaking a metal roof for having nothing underneath it, like a little shed. Metal roofs are usually installed with solid sheathing attached to the underlayment, which helps reduce noise.
I was a little concerned about this as well, but I can say now that I don’t think the sound is that much louder. We get a lot of rain where I am and spend a lot of time in our living room and kitchen and we don’t really notice it. Additionally, my house only has 1 bedroom on the first floor, which my in-laws use and the noise doesn’t really bother them either.
All in all, I don’t think the noise is any higher than my old shingle roof. This is actually considered a “myth”.
If you live in an area which gets a lot of large hail, then you may opt against a metal roof, as they are prone to dents.
I see, so it “made sense” for you?
For me, the stars aligned in a way that it made sense for me to get a standing seam metal roof and get solar panels at the same time. Additionally, I don’t plan to sell this house pretty much ever. It’s a good house in a great community and I want it to stay in my family pretty much forever. Additionally, I was lucky in that I only had to a pay a little bit for the upfront cost of a metal roof because of how my home owners insurance worked out.
Anything else I should know?
This isn’t too important, but if you do opt for a Metal Roof, there is a phenomenon called “oil canning“. Basically, it’s when sheet metal warps over time because of slight differences in stress across the sheet metal. In order to help prevent this, it was recommended that I get striations or small ribs in my metal roof panels to help prevent oil-canning.
Here’s a nice little youtube video demonstrating striated panels versus flat.
To be honest, you can’t even see the striations from a normal distance.
So far, I’m happy with my metal roof (and solar panels). In my community of 62 houses, I think only 3 or 4 have metal roofs, while the majority of the other houses here have ceramic tile. My neighbor has that really nice looking Japanese tile. Some good examples here.
The Louis Vuitton store in Waikiki is also Japanese tile I think:
Unfortunately, the problem with this kind of roof is it is difficult to install solar panels on them because they are somewhat brittle.
What about Solar Roofs?
Ah yes, solar roofs, Elon Musk’s plan for the future.
It remains to be seen if he can really deliver it a price point that people can work with. However, I do understand that it makes sense to replace your roof and get solar at the same time in a nice neat little package. Also, he can sell them a Powerwall battery and a Tesla at the same time… right?
My prediction is you will see early adopters do this when it comes time to replace their asphalt shingle roofs. However, I don’t think it will be cost-efficient enough to deter a lot of people from just replacing their asphalt shingle roof with another one, unless he can provide a significant incentive for them to do so.
I think Metal Roofs will become more popular as solar panels become more popular and prices come down.
The major disadvantages are its up front cost (high) and perception of its aesthetic (shed).
It made sense for me.
Solar Roofs…? Maybe.
Agree? Disagree? Questions, Comments and Suggestions are welcome.
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