Yesterday I took a closer look at a brilliant roofing solution for desert homeowners.

For over two centuries, metal roofs have been recognized for durability. European cathedrals and Bavarian castles have been built with tin and copper standing-seam variations since the early 1800s.

Despite the proven record, these roof systems have not been prevalent on central Arizona homes. Today, only 2.2% of single family homes listed in the Phoenix MLS feature metal roofing. The skyline here is instead canvassed by clay and concrete tiles, asphalt shingles and EPDM flat rubber roofing.

The Challenges

One of the reasons for the scarcity of architectural metal roofing in the Valley is the high cost. The second has been limited design choice. Both are quickly being resolved.

Traditionally, standing-seam metal roofs have been 2 to 3 times as expensive as a 20-year asphalt shingle installation. However, if you now couple the extended lifespan (50-70 years), increased energy savings, discounted insurance, and half-century manufacturer’s warranties in the roofing industry, the numbers begin to align.

It’s then just a matter of finding a more ornamental, less industrial, alternative to standing-seam metal roofing to suit a range of architectural styles. Companies like Gerard, Berridge Manufacturing, and Interlock have entered the arena to provide alluring decorative metal roofing options.

It was the Gerard Galvalume® product that I saw close up yesterday. The wood shake texture with baked-on ceramic granules was so credible, that I didn’t know that it was galvanized metal until I rapped my knuckles on it. The 5.38 lb. interlaced shingle panels are 45″ x 16.5″ and are treated with a zinc-aluminum alloy coating for endurance.

It is this convergence of cost-benefit and design that now makes metal roofing an increasingly popular option. Once you are settled on the upfront expense and can map out the long-term benefits, a metal roof emerges as a clear winner for several reasons.

The Benefits

When a roof lasts 50 years or more, chances are that you will only need one. Mike, the homeowner who walked me through the steps of his self-installed metal roofing project, is thrilled that he will never have to put another roof on his home. (He’s also one of only two people who I have met in my lifetime who have personally built their own homes.) The metal Gerard shingle in the photo above is installed on his Phoenix home. Mike selected the canyon shake configuration in the country blend color.

By comparison, the average lifespan of an asphalt shingle roof is 18-20 years. Some home inspectors will even trim a few years off that estimate. The unforgiving heat and direct sun in the Sonoran Desert can consume asphalt shingles. Clay and concrete tiles last longer, but the felt underlayment requires replacement every 20-25 years to prevent leaks.

Homeowners with metal roofs also can save up to 35% annually on hazard insurance premiums. Insurers provide the discounts because the product is nearly impenetrable to hail, water, fire and wind. Gerard asserts that its metal shingles are unfazed by 2.5″ hailstones.

Galvanized metal shingles don’t absorb heat from the sun to the same degree that clay and concrete tiles do. A roof that absorbs warmth will eventually radiate the heat into the house. This works against the HVAC system and makes utility costs harder to manage. With a metal roof, a cooler Arizona home comes with lower gas and electric bills. This is where the roof begins to pay back the homeowner.

Metal roofs like the Gerard stock are installed with 2×2 wood battens underneath to secure the shingle to the roof decking. The extra spacing under the shingle allows for outside air to draw up through vents behind the gutter. Rising air carries residual heat up and out through the ridge vent. Almost immediately after installation, Mike noticed that his upstairs level was cooler on hot Phoenix afternoons.

Other Options

If the wood shake style shingle is not an architectural match for your project, Gerard offers square, scalloped and a barrel vault shingle style that is virtually indistinguishable from clay tile. All feature Gerard’s 50-year limited lifetime warranty. The shingles are windproof to 120mph gusts and essentially fireproof against falling embers. For more technical specs on metal roofing, visit the Gerard website here.

Prefer to buy a home with a metal roof already installed? I have attached a list with photos below. Newest listing appear first.


Homes With Metal Roofs For Sale

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