A Difficult Recovery Could Lead to a Promising Future for Metal Roofing
Photo courtesy of Butler
MCN conducted exclusive interviews with
Bill Hippard, president of the Metal Roofing Alliance and vice
president of sales for Precoat Metals; Butler Manufacturing's
National Roof Sales Manager Ray Heisey, PE, RCC, LEED AP; and Mike
Petersen, president of Petersen Aluminum Corp., to gather their
insights on the where the metal roofing market is right now, and
where it's going:
The health of the construction industry
may finally be at least going in the right direction. A recent
study from IHS Global Insight showed a steady but very modest
increase in construction spending. According to the study, however,
private nonresidential spending is still in decline, although the
pace is moderating, while additional spending on infrastructure,
which was behind the recent surge in public spending, is petering
What does this mean for the current
state of the metal roofing market?
"We're not hearing nearly the amount
of pessimism that we've heard the last 18 months to 2 years," said
Bill Hippard, president of the Metal Roofing Alliance, which aims
to educate consumers on the many benefits of metal roofing. Hippard
is also on the board of directors of the Metal Construction
Association, and vice president of sales for St. Louis-based
Precoat Metals, a leading supplier of coil coating services.
Hippard said people are starting to
feel more optimistic and the demand for metal roofing is coming
"The agricultural market has continued
to be fairly strong even during bad economic conditions," he said.
"The industrial and commercial side has slowed significantly and
the pre-engineered building market has really slowed in the last
couple of years."
At Kansas City, Mo.-based Butler Manufacturing, a
building-solutions company providing the design, manufacture and
marketing of metal building systems for commercial construction,
low-slope and steep-slope retrofits gained last year versus 2009
but did not recover to sales levels of previous years. While the
performance and life-cycle advantages of standing-seam metal roofs
are now widely recognized in the construction industry, the growth
remains influenced by resistance to the higher first-cost versus
Butler's National Roof Sales Manager Ray Heisey, PE, RCC, LEED
AP, had the following take on the condition of the metal roofing
market: "The market for metal roof systems has evolved not only in
the primary segments-new construction and retrofit roofing-but into
the sub-segments of low-slope and steep-slope (2:12-plus)
applications. The low-slope and steep-slope opportunities on new
projects remain down like the general building construction economy
but appear to be improving as owners seek to extend the life of
their current facilities or acquire existing vacant structures
needing upgrades rather than building new, and higher-cost,
Mike Petersen, president of Elk Grove Village, Ill.-based
Petersen Aluminum Corp., a manufacturer of high-quality
architectural metal products, sees the metal roofing market as
looking much the same as it did around this time last year. The
long-term trend is probably positive for the market, but there are
too many budget constraints in both the private and public sectors
to be completely optimistic about the year ahead.
"We are shipping orders. We're seeing a fair amount of military
work, we're seeing some government work depending on the region.
The Southwest is relatively strong," Petersen said. "I would call
the recovery patchy and regional."
Photo courtesy of Petersen Aluminum Corp.
Trends and Innovations
Hippard referred to cool roofs, photovoltaics (PVs) and
rainwater collection when talking about the emerging trends in
"The coil coaters and the people who make the metal roofing
products have all worked together to make the products heat
reflective and meet the Energy Star standards to keep the roofs
cool during summer months," he said. "Other materials can't provide
that kind of reflectivity. We're seeing more market share gains in
"Cool roof paints are continuing to be more popular. A number of
colors have very dark colors that qualify for a cool roof. You can
have a black roof that has the reflectivity to qualify."
When it comes to PV installations, metal is by far the most
stable platform, according to Hippard. The seams on a standing-seam
metal roof can be used to attach the PVs without making
penetrations into the roof. Newer PVs that are thin and pliable can
be placed between the seams.
There is also a tremendous amount of interest in rainwater
runoff and collection, Hippard continued. He said there is a
significant amount of research being done in these areas and that
metal roofing should be one of the best options because of its
resistance to mold and chemical residues.
Metal roofing also continues to be a growing option for projects
that previously used asphalt shingles and other conventional roof
options, according to Heisey.
"Color paint finishes, the ability to create different geometric
rooflines and elements, as well as inherently higher definition
standing-seam metal roofs instill curb appeal in many building
projects," Heisey said. "Beyond aesthetics, an owner can gain
proven energy efficiency and overall longevity. These combine as
primary factors in the decision to use a metal roof versus a
conventional roof on new construction.
"As a retrofit solution, standing-seam metal roofing also offers
the advantage of a lightweight method for reroofing over the top of
existing, deteriorated roofs with only minimal or no disruption of
the facility's ongoing operations and occupancy. Standing-seam
metal roofs also are more immune to temperature conditions that can
delay applications of built-up, membrane and coating systems."
Heisey said rooftop PV collection seems to be growing in
popularity and interest as a sustainable supplement to traditional
electric utility energy. However, the high initial cost of PV
influences long-term return on investment, as do regional climate
factors and varying financial incentives. Therefore, the growth of
PV's integration with standing-seam metal roofs, thus far, remains
Petersen agrees that while the interest in PV is there, aside
from some government-mandated work, there hasn't been a significant
amount of projects to come from it.
"In terms of the overarching trend, we've seen a bigger movement
toward solar reflective color trends," Petersen added.
Petersen has lingering concerns about the year ahead. As value
investors swoop in to buy up properties in foreclosure, the market
for new construction just isn't there.
"You've got a strip mall, for example," Petersen said. "Someone
picked it up off the street for 60 cents on the dollar. Why should
we be optimistic? They may decide a new metal awning would make
that strip mall more attractive. There's some potential for the
renovation side, but I'm not that optimistic on the new
construction side. I'm open to being pleasantly surprised."
Still, despite the current troubles, Petersen said metal roofing
has as great a position now as it ever has.
"It's a very easy product to sell," he said. "Just take a look
at any architectural magazine. You open a page to a picture of a
project with a metal roof, and by and large it's attractive
looking, stunning and good for [high quality] architecture."
Heisey sees slow, but steady growth due to the high cost of
metal roofs versus conventional construction, and Hippard said,
believe it or not, there are still people who aren't aware of the
benefits of metal roofing.
"I'm always surprised," Hippard said. "You would think everybody
would know all the great attributes of having a metal roof and you
sit down with architects, project managers, etc. and there is a
dearth of knowledge. There's still a long way to go, which is good.
There's a lot of opportunity."
For more information on metal roofing from our
contributors, visit the following websites:
Butler Manufacturing, www.butlermfg.com
Metal Roofing Alliance, www.metalroofing.com
Petersen Aluminum Corp., www.pac-clad.com
Precoat Metals, www.precoatmetals.com