Installing Steel Roofing
A little more expensive but a lot longer lasting, steel roofing is an easy-to-install, attractive alternative to shingle or tile roofs.
Synopsis: This article takes the mystery out of installing snap-seam metal roofing. The author shows how to attach panels to the roof, install weather seals around roof vents and metal chimneys, and clean up cut ends at rakes and ridge vents.
During the dry season here in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, the forests become tinderboxes waiting for a wayward bolt of lightning or a spark from a lighted match. The resulting wildfires create a unique terror for local residents as the fires leave decimated acres of woodland as well as charred subdivisions in their wake.
So when Ben and Sandy Smith asked me to build a garage next to their house, the first thing that I pointed out was that trees had to be removed for safe clearance from fire danger. Ben responded, “The trees are staying. We’re going to build a fireproof garage witha steel roof.”
An argument for steel roofing
In addition to its fire resistance, metal roofing is long-lasting, lightweight, easy to install and easy to maintain. The metal roofing that I installed on Ben’s garage is guaranteed to last for the entire life of the building. Only the very best asphalt shingle carries such a warranty.
Asphalt shingles also degrade when exposed to sun, wind and carpenters’ feet. The painted finish on a metal roof will not break down from exposure to weather. And because metal roofing is one solid panel from eaves to peak and is screwed to the roof sheathing, it’s not likely to blow off in a gale as asphalt shingles often do.
The tile roofing common in these parts is resistant to fire as well as weather, but its rough surface can collect leaves and debris, especially in roof valleys. Removing debris from a tile roof is complicated by the fact that walking on the tiles can damage them. The maker of this steel roof assures us that it’s okay to walk on the roofing. Also, the smooth painted surface of steel roofing discourages debris from accumulating. And when properly installed, it’s just plain tough to be at the crisp, clean, colorful lines of a steel roof.
To give you an idea of how the cost of steel roofing stacks up, let’s compare the costs of three different types of roofing. In my area, asphalt-shingle roofs are by far the most common and upfront the most economical to install. A 25-year shingle roof costs about $140 per square ($80 for materials and $60 labor). Tile roofs are the most expensive, and although cost varies according to the choice of tile and the shape of the roof, an average tile roof costs about $500 per square ($1300 for materials and $200 labor).
Steel roofing falls somewhere in between those two choices. Roofing materials (roof panels and trim) cost around $200, and labor is generally around $150, or about $350 per square total for steel roofing. But when you consider the longevity of a steel roof over asphalt shingles, steel becomes the economical choice.
For more photos, drawings, and details, click the View PDF button below: