Aluminum Roofing for my house ?

Old 06-25-05, 02:39 AM
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Aluminum Roofing for my house ?

I am an environmentally-conscientious person. More importantly, I don't want my cooling bill to "go through the roof"... I live in an area that typically hangs around 90-degrees for a couple months each year... and hits just over 100-degrees for a week or so.

I need to replace a 25-year-old shake roof. I was originally planning on going with a nice 50-year composite shingle. However, I will want this in either black or dark gray. After snooping-around the internet I found information on Solar Reflectance of roofing matterials. It appears that black asphalt (or comp) shingles is about the WORST thing you can put on your roof in terms of absorption of solar heat. This sort of shingle has a reflectance of only 4% to 5%. Also, at about 400 pounds per square, these will store-up a whole bunch of heat during the day and release this heat all during the night.

The solution?? Aluminum Roofing with newer "Hi-R" (or "high reflectance") coatings??? Apparently even the black ALUMINUM shingles have reflectance just over 20%, which is just as good (or better) than using PURE WHITE COMPOSITE shingles. Also: the aluminum shingles weigh in at only about 40 pounds per square, so they store up very little heat during the day.

I have seen a brochure and information online about aluminum covered roofs. They seem to look just like normal shake or tile. However, I can't seem to find ANY homes in my area that have this type of roof. This makes me wonder why. Is it too expensive? Maybe it is just "too new" ?


Does anyone have any recommendations or comments regarding the use of ALUMINUM ROOFING (with high reflectance coatings) for a home??? Has anyone ever heard of someone installing this sort of roofing as a DIY project?

-Mr Phyz
Old 06-25-05, 06:37 AM
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I've read about some of these aluminum coverings, although I've not yet seen even one around here. And my supplier, the largest roofing materials distributer in the country, does not offer any of them....around here anyway.

I''d be leary of them. Unless it can be proven unquestionably to be a sturdy system, standing up to foot traffic, occasional small-medium branch accidents, etc. I'd stay away from it.
I'd also want to see roofs which have been installed at least 5-10 years ago, and talk to the homeowners who have them.

New "groundbreaking/wonderfull" roof products come out every year, and I think most end up failing in short order...."short order" being 1-15 years.
Old 06-25-05, 07:19 PM
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Mr. Phyz

Aluminum roof have been around for years. However they have never been a big seller. Steel roofs are very common. Stronger etc. However, I think you may be looking too hard. Most three dimensional shingles only weight 250 to 256 labs per square. I have never seen a 400 lb sq for residential roofing, only for commercial roofing. It is possible you may be over spending on your roof. In other words, your roofing costs may be more then your ac costs. Most steel roofs carry a 50 year warranety. Are you going to be living in your home for 50 years ? Just some thoughts to think about.
Old 06-25-05, 10:58 PM
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Aluminum "cool roof"

E. Dodge, Thanks.
I also contacted someone who worked in construction for a while and he warned me about aluminum roofs that he has seen (a while ago). Things like large hail or branches could dent them and they would have to be replaced, unless you wanted to have a dented roof. However, that *was* older roofing. What I have seen now is "lifetime warranty" on these shingles. With a specific "lifetime warranty" for hail damage.... "Our products meet Underwriters Laboratory’s UL 2218 Impact Resistance Testing at Class IV, the most severe test." You are correct though... Cladding my home in an new, relatively untested roofing would make me nervous.

Jack, Thanks.
I live in a fairly nice, 25-year-old neighborhood. About half of the homes here have shake or shingle. (The other half have tile/clay, etc.) My home is "ranch style" that is very well suited to the look of thick shake. (Tiles would look goofy). What I have found so far, as the most "shake-like" composite shingles is from Owen's. They have two products... One has a 50-year warranty (350 pounds per square) and the other a lifetime warranty (450 pounds per square). I plan on living in this home for another 20 years and do not expect to "get back" my roofing investment during that time. However, when I sell my home, I DO expect to get a return on my investment. I am already going to have to invest quite a bit just to rip off the shake, lay down plywood decking, and add ventilation... after all of that, the cost of the actual shingles is a bit less overwhelming.

My big problem with composite... even if I go with 250-lb per square... is the heat absorption. About a third of my roof is "cathederal ceiling" with absolutely NO attic space above. The shingles will be a scant 8 inches from the inside of the house (the width of 2 x 6 rafters plus plywood decking). The old shake roof could breath and didn't absorb so much heat. I just can't help but think that I will be putting a thick, heavy, suffocating heat cap on my home... like living a foot below a black, asphalt roadway.

Aluminum -vs- Steel. I think the aluminum comes with lifetime warranty because you never have to worry about rust. Also, I believe the aluminum shingles are thicker and "ridged" to pass "impact resistance testing".

- MrPhyz
Old 06-28-05, 11:07 AM
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Hello, first I will give ya’ll a bit of my back round. I have been in the roofing industry for 14 years and currently working as a commercial roofing project manager.

Now, down to business.

The aluminum shingles you speak of do have a decent initial reflectivity rating. What they won’t tell you is that the rating will drop significantly as time progresses. It can drop as much as 50% the first year depending upon your area. The easiest explanation is they simply get dirty. Trees, dust, and air quality all add to the problem.

Secondly, that “lifetime warranty” isn’t worth the paper its written on. I have seen them fix a dime size hole in a shingle with a simply dab of caulk. Of course, this becomes a reoccurring leak and they come out and put another dab of caulk on it. Personally, when I call upon my warranty I want them to fix the problem, not to put a band-aid on it.

I would suggest that you chose a roof that is aesthetically appealing to you, but I would steer clear of those aluminum shingles. As a matter of fact, I would steer clear of ANY roof that offered a “lifetime” guarantee.

For energy savings, we have been using a new product that works EXTREMELY well. Its called Low-E insulation. Its ¼” thick and is designed to reflect radiant heat instead of absorbing it like your bat insulation does. It can be applied directly on a roof deck, but for best performance there should be about a ¼” air space built in. Building in airspace on a shingle roof is quite difficult, but it can also be installed to your rafters in the attic and it performs just as well. The cost is roughly 50 cents a SF.
Old 06-28-05, 11:43 AM
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I agree with Dodge and Casper,
Alum shakes have been around for over 20 years, and I have disposed of more than applied. They are very lightweight and easily damaged by wind or even walking on them.
The "lifetime" shingles that are being offered now are the exact same shingle that when introduced 15 years ago or more carried a 40 to 50 year rating. They only changed the wording on the label, nothing in the product. (SBS based asphalt shingles are the exception to this)

I would not be so concerned about the absorbtion or reflectance of the roofing applied as I would be about insulation and ventilation between the roofing and your ceiling.

The newest buzz word in the commercial roofing industry is "cool roofing", the residential market is attempting to "get on the bandwagon" if you will. It has major implications in the commercial market, not so much residential.
It all stems from the "urban heat island effect" that is well documented in major city centers, and some cities, have adopted code amendments that require new roofing to have a certain reflectivity and emissivity rating. This all pertains to commercial or low-slope roofing only.

However as stated, if you look closely they are all INITIAL ratings, and they will degrade rapidly.

I would spend my money on installing PROPER ventilation, and upgrading the insulation if needed. The combination of insulation and ventilation above ceiling level and below the roof is what keeps your energy efficency up to snuff....Remember heat rises!...the ground below the parking lot is nice and cool. The air above it is not.

Good Luck!

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