Metal Roofing

Roundtable on Metal Roofing

Metal Construction News asked three industry insiders for their perspectives on the metal roofing industry and their opinions on the issues facing this marketing segment now and in the future.

MCN: Why should a builder choose a metal roofing system over more “traditional” alternatives?

Mark Tender, National Sales Manager, Varco Pruden Buildings: There are many examples showing that in-place costs of metal roofing outperform the alternatives. Metal roofing cannot only outlast the alternatives by four to five times, but maintenance costs are lower. Reflective coatings can reflect up to 70 percent of solar energy and can provide 20 percent energy savings during summer months.

Robert Anderson, Metal Marketing Manager, Firestone Building Products: Traditional? Metal has been used as a roofing material for hundreds of years, so I would consider it very traditional.In steep slope roofing, the product with the greatest share of the market is asphalt shingles. Metal has some obvious advantage over this product, starting with metal’s extended service life. A metal roof will last decades and as a result, it will have a lower life cycle cost than an asphalt shingled-roof. Metal roofs are a much more sustainable choice as well. They start with a significant percentage of recycled content and at the end of a metal roof’s service life, the metal is completely recyclable.

Bo Hudson, President & CEO, Decra Roofing: I think over the years we’ve seen metal being formed into a lot of different shapes that can’t be achieved with other products—so aesthetics would obviously be one reason. The fact that metal roofing is very lightweight is also appealing, from a builder’s standpoint. It’s a Class A fire-rated material; has one of the highest wind warranties out there; has the highest impact resistance (Class 4); very little maintenance is required;and it has a low life cycle cost compared to some of the other products.

MCN: What are the current trends and innovations in metal roofing?

Tender: Paint manufacturers have focused on reflective coatings for nearly a decade, and in the last few years we have seen some real improvement in reflectivity and emissivity performance. The solar energy industry has also begun working closely with manufacturers,and we are seeing many more photovoltaic and solar panel applications incorporated with metal roof systems.

Anderson: Metal roofing is a mature product category, but there have been a few innovations recently. One of the most obvious innovations is the integration of photovoltaic systems into metal roofing. Metal roofing seems to be an ideal substrate for PV systems,whether the building owner chooses an adhered thin-film system or a crystalline system that is clamped onto the standing seams of a metal roof.

Coil-coating companies have also been innovating with a number of new “textured”and patterned finishes. These paint finishes can be used on traditional, proven metal roofing profiles, but they’re providing a fresh look.Lastly, there have been a number of innovations in the equipment that contractors can use to roll form panels on a job site. Some of these mobile rollforming machines now have very sophisticated computerized controls,along with angled notching and cutting.

Hudson: Some of the things we’ve done over the past few years is provide more profiles that can be installed ‘direct-to-deck’ with hidden fasteners, as opposed to putting the product on a batten system or having exposed fasteners on the roof itself. We now have four different profiles that you can put direct-to-deck versus the other methods that you typically see with stone-coated steel.

MCN: How do metal roofs fit into the green building movement?

Tender: Metal roofing provides a lighter weight roofing system that enables engineers to design lighter structures, using less material overall.

Anderson: The range of highly reflective, highly emissive coatings and finishes available today has earned metal recognition as a “cool roofing” product. The highly reflective attributes of metal roofing can translate into substantial energy cost savings by lowering building envelope cooling loads. In addition,metal roofing materials are manufactured using extensive amounts of recycled content, they’re 100 percent recyclable and have long life cycles with low maintenance requirements, making metal among the most sustainable roofing choices available today.

MCN: Where does the growth for metal roofing lie?

Anderson: I believe growth in metal roofing will happen across all market segments. Metal is already a significant roofing material in industrial, commercial, residential, agricultural and institutional building. With the increased attention that is being paid to using sustainable building materials, metal roofing’s share of each of these market segments is bound to increase on both new construction and re-roofing opportunities.

Hudson: From the commercial standpoint, as time progresses, builders are going to wise up and realize the advantages that steel has over a lot of the other products out there. Although, you look at 80 percent of the roofing market in the United States is actually residential re-roof, so the key is to make the homeowner comfortable with everything there is to know about metal roofing, and making the product easy to install for the roofing contractor.

If you can tell the story of metal and explain to the contractor that they can benefit in their effort to at least show metal to the end user. It sets them apart from their competitor.