The Roofing Resource Blog

Overview of Metal Roofing for Commercial Buildings

Tue, Feb 10, 2015 @ 07:00 AM | Perry

Metal roofing systems are by far the most popular form of roofing on commercial buildings. Metal roofs in one fashion or another have been around since biblical times, but did not become the dominant system until about forty or fifty years ago when new materials made metal roofing systems more economical.

The most popular materials used in modern buildings include:

  • Corrugated galvanized steel
  • Blend of zinc, aluminum and silicon-coated steel
  • Standing Seam Metal – a rolled product sold in various widths
  • Metal Sheets – painted or stone coated
  • Stainless steel – for extra harsh conditions
  • Copper – still a popular alternative for spires, flashings and gutters on commercial buildings, copper has definitely stood the test of time as a roofing material
  • Aluminum – the most popular modern roofing system, aluminum typically lasts for at least 30 years, is lightweight, resists corrosion, and has a high level of reflectivity.

History of Metal Roofing Systems

Architects began using copper in the 3rd Century B.C. and the Romans used copper to cover the Pantheon in 27 B.C.  Even before copper became a popular option, other metals including galvanized steel and color coated steel were installed on buildings throughout the ancient world.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Metal Roofing Systems

Metal roofing is very durable. The copper roof of St. Mary’s Cathedral in Hildesheim, installed in 1280 A.D. Still survives and many roofs on Renaissance era castles are still in place. The materials are recyclable and when color coated can be very attractive compared to shingles.

Although more expensive than asphalt and build up roofs (BUR), metal roofs are easier to clean and maintain their appearance over time. Manufacturers of metal roofing systems pre-coat the metal with almost any color imaginable.

Later, when the roof shows signs of aging, metal roof coatings can extend the life of the roof and the building.

Like all metals, the metals used in roofing systems can rust and corrode over time and may cause interference for radio and cellular reception.

Metal Roof Repair

Whether a metal roofing system is new or has been in use for many years, there are many inexpensive options for metal roof repair including painting and metal roof coatings.


Building owners and facilities managers should regularly inspect for damage and clean commercial roof at least once per year.

Cleaning Strategies for Metal Roofs

Steam cleaning and pressure washing are the best ways to clean metal roofs. Depending on the life of the roof and the amount of wear and tear it receives, it is a good idea to use one of these techniques annually. Cleaning maximizes solar resistance and improves the appearance of the roof. It also extends the life of the roof.

Metal Roof Coatings Extend the Life of Metal Rood Systems

Most metal roofs have factory-applied coatings that degrade over time. As the metal roof ages, it is advisable to consider metal roof coatings to extend the life of the roof.

There are many options available for metal roof coatings including waterborne acrylic, solvent-borne aluminum, rubberized aluminum, solvent-borne styrene-ethylene butylene styrene (SBS), polyurethane and more. There are also urethane and polyurethane coatings available that provide more strength than other types of coatings.

Metal roofing systems are the most popular option for covering commercial buildings and offer many advantages over other options including durability and appearance. They are subject or rust and corrosion so regular inspection and maintenance is warranted. Metal roof repair and metal roof coatings help maintain the life of the roof, the building, and the contents of the building.