Although three quarters of Canadian homes have asphalt shingle roofs, metal roofs are getting more popular for solid reasons. Even though metal costs about twice as much as shingles, people are willing to pay more for the long working life that metal offers. Metal is easily recyclable, light in weight, it goes up quickly and creates a completely different look than shingles. So let me show you the basics of metal roofing choice and installation, then you decide if it makes sense for the next (and probably last) roofing job your house will need.
Metal Roofing Basics
Roofing metal comes in plain and fancy profiles, with factory-finished colours or just bare, grey metal. You’ll find it in steel versions and aluminum alloy, but either way you can order sheets custom-cut to size for the length of your specific roof as measured from peak to eaves. Each piece of metal is fastened with special screws that have neoprene washers under their heads to keep water out, and a preformed cap sits on top to shed water from the ridge.
One unique feature of metal roofing is the option it offers for leveling old roofs that have grown wavy over the years. By shimming wood strapping more or less during installation, a skilled carpenter can make a wonky roof quite flat once the metal goes on.
DIY Metal Roofing
Are you planning to install metal roofing yourself ? One trick of the trade involves predrilling screw holes in the pile of roofing sheets as they come off the truck, making it easier to drive screws later on.
You’ll also find that a small pair of vise grip locking pliers offers a safe option for pulling long sheets of metal roofing up one at a time for installation. Adjust the jaws so they grip the thickness of one sheet firmly, with a length of cord tied to one end of the pliers. Have someone on the ground clip the pliers to one sheet, then lift the end up to the eaves. The person at the top can then pull the sheet up single-handedly with the cord, locking it down with a few screws at the top of the roof before the rest of the sheet gets anchored permanently in those predrilled screw holes.
On anything more than a basic roof you’ll have to cut sheets on angles where they meet valleys and angled peaks, and you’ve got two options to make this happen. Manual snips are only practical for small cuts, but a cordless circular saw with a carbide blade works surprisingly well for long, straight cuts. Just be sure to wear safety glasses and hearing protection. The process is loud.
If you’re building a workshop or utility building that calls for tough inside wall surfaces, metal roofing works much better than drywall. It goes up fast, there are no joints to finish, and there’s no painting because the material is factory finished. Metal walls are also highly fire resistant and much less likely than drywall to get scratched or damaged.
Metal Roofing Cautions
If your budget doesn’t allow for custom shimming of a wavy roof, then stay away from metal. It needs quite a flat roof surface for proper installation. You should also check out manufacturer warranties on finish life, too. There’s not much point in having a lifetime roof if the finish is ugly and faded after 15 or 20 years. Aging metal roofs can be repainted, but it will never be as good as a long-lasting, factory finish.
Attractive profiles, great colours and long-lasting performance are the reasons more Canadians are choosing metal roofing, and it’s easy to see why it all makes sense.