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4 Things to Know Before You Have a Metal Roof Installed

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To many homeowners, a metal roof is the perfect solution to a number of housing woes that occur with standard asphalt shingles. Metal roofs last 50 years or more, they are less likely to leak, and they don't catch fire. Surely, this makes them an excellent option for everyone, right? Well, maybe.

While metal roofs are a great choice for most homes, they're not entirely flawless. Knowing these 4 facts will help you make a more informed decision as to whether a metal roof is, indeed, the best choice for your home.

Galvanized steel roofs may corrode when exposed to salt water.

If you live near the coast, this is an issue you need to be aware of. It does not mean that you should not get a metal roof, but it does mean aluminum is the better option. Aluminum roofing is more expensive than steel; it will cost between $5,100 and $16,500 to roof the average one-story ranch house in steel, whereas aluminum roofing for the same house will run between $15,300 and $24,200. If you live inland, either option is fine, but if you live by the coast, you really will want to spring for the aluminum because a galvanized steel roof will be pitted and ruined by the salty air and rain quite quickly.

Aluminum and steel are not the only metal roofing options available.

They are the most common because they are the most affordable and easiest to work with. However, if you'd like your home to have a truly unique look, having a copper roof installed is another option. Copper roofs can cost up to $39,600 to install on a basic ranch house, but the weathered, green patina they develop as they age is impossible to replicate with any other material. A copper roof will likely outlast the rest of your home, as copper has a longer lifespan than other metal roofing materials.

There are two sides to the fact that metal roofs are fireproof.

The fireproof qualities of metal roofs attract many customers, and indeed, your house will be less likely to start on fire with a metal roof. However, you should be aware that if a home with a metal roof does happen to catch on fire, putting that fire out can be difficult. Firefighters typically extinguish fires by drilling a hole in the roof and spraying water down into the home. This cannot be done if your home has a metal roof; water must be sprayed in from the sides, which is less efficient. Thus, fires in homes with metal roofs tend to be quite destructive.

Don't assume your home is fireproof because your roof is. Maintain a homeowner's insurance policy that will fully cover the replacement value of your home, just in case a fire breaks out.

Metal roofs can leak—if they're not installed properly.

It is a common belief that metal roofs are leak-proof. This is only partially true. If a roof is installed incorrectly, there may be gaps between the panels through which water can leak. Poor metal roof installations are quite common; there are a lot of roofing contractors who have little experience with metal roofs, but will tack them onto a home at the customer's request.

For this reason, it's essential to have your metal roof installed only by specialized metal roof contractors. Otherwise, you may end up having to pay to have a botched roofing job fixed and to repair water damage caused by leaks.

Metal roofs are a durable, low-maintenance roofing option. Armed with the information above, you should be equipped to decide which metal roof is the best suited to your needs.