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The Best Business Choices for Metal Roofing

Three groups are needed to expand the metal roofing market

Howard Chuck

In life, as in business, there are constant choices to be made to determine the best path to significant existence. In the case of how metal roofing choices are made, there are three distinct groups of individuals and companies that are necessary for the metal roofing market to expand and flourish.

They are:

  • 1.Building owners
  • 2.Contractors
  • 3.Manufacturers

Metal roofs for industrial, institutional, government and education facilities have been around since the early 1930s. They provide permanent weather protection for a building envelope either by a structure spanning between structural supports or merely weatherproofing application over a solid deck. To satisfy the specific needs and budgets for a multitude of building applications, there are varying rib profiles and attachment methods as well as metal coatings to choose from.

In addition to these choices, the base materials themselves come from different materials such as carbon steel, aluminum, zinc and copper. With all of these choices, all parties involved with choosing, designing, supplying and installing a metal roof must first obtain the facts about each of the variables that will make up their specific roof assembly. That information is readily available, and an experienced design professional can gather the requirements needing to be met for a particular roof and match the best combination of materials, coatings and design at the lowest life cycle costing. When the process is undertaken and the metal roof is properly designed and installed, the result will be the right roof for the building, which can be depended upon for the lifetime of the building.

Let’s look at the three entities listed above and discuss how they can be successful in the metal roofing choice.

Building Owners

Building owners are responsible to make many choices when building a new building or reroofing/ remodeling an existing building. With the life expectancy of any building projected to be at least 50 to 60 years, the exterior envelope components, comprised of the roof and walls, should be expected to possess the lowest life cycle cost during that time period. In the case of a Galvalumecoated carbon steel roof panel—with or without paint—the panel will last well over 60 years based on a recent study performed by Metal Construction Association titled, “New Study Verifies Steel Roofs Can Last As Long As The Buildings They Cover: Typically 60 Years Or More.”

Using the results from this study to project the cost of a metal roof over a 60-year period and compare it to the total cost of any other roofing materials for that same period of time, the metal roof is approximately a third below the cost of other types of roofs.


Contractors are also responsible for choosing a roofing material that will satisfy their customers/ owner’s needs, and will provide the best value, longevity and sustainability available. As demonstrated above concerning the building owner’s choice-making process, the metal roof is the one that meets the demands of a specific building over the life of that building.

The contractor who has, or will acquire, the knowledge, tools and trained work force to provide and install such a product will find themselves in a very exclusive group of contractors. This will allow for less competition from unqualified contractors and higher margins as well as fewer worries and lingering costs associated with call backs. All that will yield higher net margins for projects completed.


Manufacturers are responsible to determine what products they can supply to contractors that will yield them the highest margins and least liability after the sale. Again, metal roofing checks both of these boxes. Metal roofs have been designed and produced for well over 85 years, with improvements to the coatings, attachments, sealants and installation continuing to make them the most water repellent and structurally sound choice for building owners and contractors.

Manufacturers need to provide not only a precisely produced product, but also aid the contractor in the form of sales support, engineering, estimating and proper installation instructions. Too many times these soft items get overlooked, and contractors end up having to make buying decisions solely on price. Adding value to the product in the form of quality assistance should not be overlooked and will provide the manufacturer with greater overall margins. To attract contractor buyers, manufacturers need to provide a quality product and the contractor can depend on the manufacturer for more than a good price.

A metal roof is the right choice for most buildings, providing the lowest life cycle cost and the most dependable weather protection. The building owner will have a maintenance- and repair-free roof, and spend a third less over the life of the building. The contractor will enjoy providing an installed product that will look good, provide protection for his customers and be a consistent source of profitability for the company. And, as the market grows, the manufacturer will enjoy added profits also. It is a true win/win/win for all.

Note: Chuck Howard will expand on this topic in a seminar at METALCON 2018 in Charlotte, N.C. The seminar, “Why Metal Roofing,” will be conducted on both Wednesday, Oct. 18 and Thursday, Oct. 19.

Chuck Howard, PE, Metal Roof Consultants, Cary, N.C., is a member of the Metal Construction Hall of Fame, a frequent contributor and speaker on metal roofing issues, and has been a leader in the metal roofing industry for more than 40 years.