Copper Roofing: Pros and Cons of Copper for Roofing

Copper roofing pros and cons

As the cost of oil rises, more and more homeowners are starting to look into roofing materials other than asphalt shingles. While asphalt shingles are the standard in many parts of the country – especially here in Michigan where the winters are cold and last a long time – they may gradually be replaced by more durable options.

Generally, homeowners have opted for asphalt because it is standard. Most roofing companies deal with asphalt most of the time, which means there is no added cost associated with specialty labor. Most people still think of those added costs when they consider types of roofing other than asphalt.

Copper does have a much higher materials cost, the initial installation is not easy, and requires different techniques and tools. In addition, the difference in cost between asphalt shingles and copper sheet roofing is significant, up to 4 times the cost.

The big difference is this: copper roofing will never need to be replaced if properly installed and maintained. This is unlike asphalt shingles, which usually have a maximum lifetime of 25-30 years.

Benefits of Copper Roofing

  1. Beauty
    When it comes to beauty, as well as durability, copper has virtually no equal in terms of building materials. It needs no coating because it does not tarnish or rust. It comes, as we all know, in a bright red-brown luster and adds a beautiful patina over time.

    Copper will go through several stages of gray or brown, eventually settling into a beautiful greenish blue color. The fascinating reason behind this is that copper is naturally anti-bacterial. Its molecular structure strips single-celled organisms of their energy, which helps create that rich patina.

  2. Durability
    You can’t say enough about the durability of copper. It is comparatively lightweight, strong, highly resistant to fire, hail, mildew, and high winds. There are many buildings throughout Europe and in the United States built in the 1700s that still have their original copper roofs. If that doesn’t speak to the durability of copper roofing, I don’t know what does.

  3. Green
    Copper is also one of the most environmentally friendly building materials out there. You won’t find copper in a landfill simply because scrap copper retains a high percent of its value if it’s in good condition. So if you ever need to replace a copper roof, you will get a lot of your materials cost back. It also may increase the energy efficiency of your home because it reflects the energy of the sun rather than absorbing it like asphalt.

Drawbacks of Copper Roofing Other than the Initial Expense

  • Copper roofing material comes in sheets 2-3’ wide and must be soldered on-site. It can be purchased in pre-made roofing pans or formed on-site as well. This is not necessarily a drawback unless there are few companies in your area who have the skills to install a copper roof properly.
  • One definite drawback worth noting is that noise can be an issue on copper if it’s installed over an open frame. It doesn’t buffer noise as well as softer material, so it needs buffer materials which are oil-based, like solid sheathing or an existing shingle roof.
  • Another potential problem, at least if you are uninitiated in metal roofing, is expansion and contraction in weather changes. It can cause fasteners to loosen and needs repair. As with any roofing material, proper maintenance is essential.
  • One last potential problem is that snow can tend to slide off a copper roof in winter, surprising or injuring those below. Snow guards can greatly reduce this problem, however.

Take Away

Copper roofing is lighter, durable, and unsurpassed in beauty. If you are weighing the pros and cons of installing a copper roof and reaping the benefits for the rest of the life of your home and live in Southeast Michigan, call us today!

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