Monthly Archives: February 2014

Steel and Aluminum—Two Great Metal Roofing Materials, Each Have Their “Strengths”

If you are a designer or builder considering a standing seam metal roof you may be asking the question what is the difference between aluminum and steel as a choice for the metal roof.

Commercial and residential metal roofing is primarily made of steel or aluminum. Both products are initially produced in giant rolls at a mill. All steel roofing has a protective barrier on both sides of the sheet called a metallic coating which protects against rusting. This is underneath and separate from any paint which imparts color to the product. There are two types of metallic coatings used: galvanized, which uses 100% Zinc in various thicknesses depending upon the product usage, and Galvalume, a mixture of aluminum and zinc. These metallic coatings “sacrifice” themselves to protect the iron in steel from oxidation when exposed to air and moisture. Zinc is a more “active” metal than iron so it oxidizes first and forms a protective barrier — zinc oxide, before the iron in the steel can become Ferric Oxide (rust). When zinc is combined with aluminum to form Galvalume there is even more protection in most circumstances.Metal roofing coil in various colors.

Steel residential roofing is made in thicknesses designated by gauge and is generally 24 to 26 gauge, with the higher gauge being thinner than the lower. These gauges are appropriate since most residential metal roofing applications are over a solid substrate. Aluminum residential metal roofing is designated by decimal thickness and ranges from .023 to .040 thickness.

Steel and aluminum both perform well as a metal roofing material. However, aluminum roofing, depending upon the exact product chosen, can run up to 20 percent higher in price compared to steel roofing. Continue reading

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