Why Steel Roofing?

Pole Barn Guru Blog

My grandparent’s lake cabin was nearly 75 years old when the cedar shake roof finally gave out in the 1980’s. With the quality of cedar shakes down and the price high (besides the dangers of a wooden roof in a forest) the solution became clear – painted steel. In the woods, the non-combustible feature alone made for a hands-down winner.

Over 25 years later the steel roofing is still doing the job. Also, in the years since, five of the immediate neighbors have reroofed, all except one of them with steel. The one with shingles, well they are going to be reroofing in the not too distant future!

Steel roofing has grown in popularity in the last few decades. It can be applied to virtually any surface, slope or roof style. Steel sheds snow, rain and windborne debris better than any other roofing material. Its light weight per square foot minimizes the structural costs to support and makes it relatively easy to work with. Aesthetically steel roofing offers the “designer look” along with function, beauty and long-term economy.

When I first became involved in the pole building industry over 30 years ago, factory pre-painted steel was yet somewhat of a novelty. Almost all steel roofing was bare galvanized. Paint colors were fairly limited to Red, White, Blue, Green, Gold, Beige and Brown. We’d order standard lengths of White steel in massive quantities, at a discount, offering White painted roofs at the same price as bare Galvanized. Nowadays, twenty or more colors are available.

Early painted steel was polyester. Kind of like my ’66 Chevelle SS, it faded from Dark Blue to Robin’s Egg Blue in a matter of a few short years. Paint systems with more durability and slower fade rates are now available, from Silicon Modified Polyesters (SMP) to Kynar.  I kind of think of Kynar as being as close to colored Teflon as you can get.

For practical purposes, under most atmospheric conditions, pre-painted steel will outlive the owner of the building!

Asphalt shingles may come with long warranty periods, but they are prorated against the original cost of the material and do not include any labor costs. Shingles are susceptible to damage in hail storms, especially at low temperatures.

Steel roofing will not rot, crack, split, warp, creep, curl, peel or erode. Tile roofing can break, and if so, how many people have kept a spare tile or tiles around and left them exposed to the weather so they will color fade the same? Wood shakes become waterlogged and the new building codes require them to be installed over asphalt impregnated paper (felt) which reduces their lifespan.

Reroofing? Steel roofing can be installed over most existing roofing without the need for structural modifications. This can eliminate costly tear-offs and disposals.

My grandpa Pete was a builder and owned a saw mill, my Dad and his five brothers were framing contractors. I was brought up with “wood is good”, but after three plus decades of using steel roofing, I am a convert!

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