- Metal roofing is the most durable, long-lasting option among modern roofing materials and the most cost-effective, out-performing every roofing material with the exception of slate shingles or a zinc and copper roof (both of which will cost a small fortune to install!).
- Standing seam metal roofing panels have been known to last 100 years or more, though we generally tell customers they can expect 50-70 years of good functionality before some maintenance may be required.
- Metal roofing panels are painted, and most manufacturers offer a 40-year or 50-year warranty on the paint alone – this means the underlying metal can last even longer, and these panels can then be repainted. The fasteners on ribbed panels – metal screws with water-proof washers – are the most common failure point after a few decades. Still, these can be replaced while the panels continue to do their job! As a result, standing seam metal roofs last even longer with virtually no maintenance.
In the wide world of roofing options, metal roof systems are a steadfast contender, boasting not only contemporary appeal but (more importantly to many homeowners) exceptional durability and longevity.
Like a suit of armor, a metal roof protects your home like just about any other roofing surface – but for far, far longer. Just how long can metal panels protect your home from the elements?
From environmental factors to best metal roof maintenance practices, let’s navigate the nuances to uncover the factors that contribute to metal roofing’s fantastic lifespan.
Metal Roof Life Expectancy by Type
We often tell prospective customers that their new metal roof will be the last roof they put on their home. That’s because of just how long they last, often providing true “generational” protection for homes – good for the next generation!
While metal roofing of all kinds will last for decades, it’s important to understand that metal roofing comes in two primary form factors that not only look different, but do have functional differences that can affect their lifespan:
- Standing seam metal roof panels
- Screw-down or traditional metal roof panels
Both standing seam metal roofs and traditional metal roofing panels (sometimes called ag panels or ribbed panels) have an average life expectancy of 50 years or more, but standing seam roofing will last longer with less maintenance.
In fact, almost every metal roof manufacturer provides a 40-year warranty on the paint on their metal roof panels (which is available in a wide variety of colors). This means that even when the paint begins to fade, it can be repainted and provide another 30-50 years of dependable protection for your home.
Here’s the difference between standing seam and traditional metal, and why it matters to the durability of the roof on your home:
Standing seam metal roofing relies on fasteners that are hidden beneath the surface of the metal panel. Installed correctly, and with no exposed fasteners, there are fewer points of potential failure or leakage in a standing seam panel, and the fasteners themselves are much less likely to rust or fail beneath the surface.
Standard ribbed panels or screw down metal roof, by contrast, relies on metal roof screws with a large flange and rubber washer that penetrate the roofing panel on “ribs” the run vertically the length of the panel on the roof. These screws, like the metal itself, are painted with a durable paint product to prevent rusting.
These screws, while designed to last for decades, can rust over time, and the rubber washer that prevents moisture from penetrating the screw hole can break down from constant sun exposure. After 30 years, these screws can begin to show signs of wear-and-tear, and some may need to be replaced with new screws and fresh rubber washers.
How long does a standing seam metal roof last?
A standing seam metal roof can last for 70 to 100 years (and more!) if cared for with a new coat of paint around year 40 or 50. This is a low-cost process compared to replacing the roof. At this time, your roofer will look for signs of rust or damage that should be addressed.
How long does a screw-down panel metal roof last?
Also called a farm panel, an ag (for agriculture) panel, or a ribbed panel, these common metal roofing materials go on quickly and offer fantastic durability compared to asphalt shingles and traditional asphalt shingle roofs.
These panels also usually come with a 35 or 40 year paint guarantee and can easily last even longer. They may require some additional maintenance around the same time that you need new paint to address any failed or weakened screws, which can come loose over time or see their rubber water-proof washer crack or degrade.
We recommend inspecting your metal roof every ten years or so to look for problems among exposed fasteners.
How long does a shingle roof last?
Asphalt shingle roof materials have improved over the years, and many now come with a 30-year or 45-year warranty, but they don’t compare to the durability of standing seam roofs or ribbed panels.
Over time, the “glue” that holds asphalt shingles breaks down due to constant UV exposure, leading to the material slowly bleeding away. Shingles are far more prone to damage from high winds, ice storms, and other inclement weather. If you’ve seen a shingle in your yard, you know what we mean. Ice can also “creep” under shingles, contributing to a shorter lifespan and earlier failures.
Metal roofing’s lifespan and extremely long lasting durability of 60 years or more simply can’t be beat.
Metal Thickness on Metal Roofing Explained
Not all metal roofing is the same, and different materials can offer greater protection.
Most metal roofing is made of painted steel that is between 22-gauge (the thickest) and 28-gauge (thinnest). Ask your roofer about the thickness of their metal roofing materials.
Additionally, great paint can make a critical difference. Good paint will last for more than 30 or 40 years.
Light-colored paints tend to reflect more sunlight, leading to greater energy efficiency, though many homeowners appreciate the look of the many colors available to match their home!
Another benefit of metal roofing, is that it’s environmentally friendly! Even after decades of use, the metal can still be recycled, and you’re keeping countless asphalt shingles out of the landfill.
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Don’t settle for ordinary – upgrade to extraordinary with a masterpiece that withstands the test of time. Connect with our roofing experts in Lancaster, PA to explore your metal roof options today.
Frequently Asked Questions About Metal Roofing Panels and Life Expectancy
What is oil canning?
Oil canning is a visible waviness that can develop in a metal panel. It’s common in light-gauge, cold-rolled flat metals of all kinds. While oil canning doesn’t look great, it generally doesn’t affect the function of the roof, nor does it compromise its integrity.
At Mountop Construction, we use specialized supports behind every metal panel to reduce the risk of oil canning! It’s one extra step that we take to keep your roof looking incredibly for years to come.
Is a metal roof better than shingles?
Hands-down, a metal roof will outperform shingles. And, there is a cost difference.
Are there known problems with metal roofs?
There are really no downsides to a metal roof! While prices can be slightly higher up front, most homeowners will recoup these costs simply due to the length of time that a metal roof will last.
What happens during a strong storm with a metal roof?
Metal roofs hold up incredibly well during extreme weather conditions! They will not be damaged by a lightning strike, high winds are unlikely to affect a properly installed metal roof, and ice will not penetrate beneath a metal roof installation.
One common misconception about metal roofing is that it can “conduct” electricity! This is untrue, and metal roofing is as safe as anything else in a lightning storm.
Can I put solar panels on a metal roof?
Absolutely! In fact, standing seam metal roofing is especially perfect for solar panels because solar panel installers can clip their brackets onto the standing seam rib – with no holes drilled in the roofing surface!
What do you do with old, uneven roofing?
Metal roofing can be particularly beautiful on older homes with traditional styling, and it’s perfectly fine to install on older buildings.
We often “pack out” the roofing surface to ensure a smooth, seamless finish that won’t risk buckling or bends due to “hollow” spaces underneath.