An In-Depth Look at Metal Roofing
by Eddie Garcia, territory sales manager, Roofmaster Products Company
(Editor’s Note: Eddie Garcia is territory sales manager for Roofmaster® Products Company for Southern California. With 44 years of roofing industry experience, he is known for his extensive product knowledge in equipment and tools for both commercial and residential roofing. As a product expert, Garcia helps roofing professionals and distributors find the right tools they need.)
Aside from great usage and acceptance, metal roofing hasn’t really changed much over the years. There is, however, new equipment and innovation that have allowed new styles, patterns, colors, and special design features. The full gamut of metal roofing is available prefabricated by manufacturers or by having your own forming machine right at the jobsite or at your shop. The latter option puts control of the job right where you want it, at the jobsite.
Let’s digress for a moment and look at the life of a metal roof. As a kid who grew up on a family farm in South Dakota, we used metal roofs on most of the out buildings because it cut construction costs and shortened the building process. In 1956, a hog house was built with radius trusses, 2 x 4s running horizontally, and a corrugated metal roof applied vertically. Later, the barn was covered with corrugated metal over existing wood shingles. In 1958, a machine shed was built, again with a metal roof. The hog house and the machine shed are both still in use today. The barn is long gone, but was replaced by giant metal grain storage bins. The other good news is I was 16 then, and I am still here.
On one of my trips through the mountain states, I was amazed at the number of metal roofs in the rural setting. The color of choice seemed to be a green standing seam roof. I really didn’t think much about it at the time, but the mobility of the standing seam machines certainly played a large part in this roofing choice. I won’t get into the numbers of what market share metal has, but it is sure to be a growing choice.
Metal roofing has some valuable marketing features, as well as being able to fit into the ideology of the 21st century marketplace. It has a great mix with ENERGY STAR®, Green Roof, California Title 24, and the Cool Roof Rating Council®. The metal roof can also boast that it is 100% recyclable and can be made from recycled materials. Like all roofing, the longevity depends on the craftsmanship of the installers, but having said that, a metal roof is surely a lifetime roof. Metal is also lightweight, making it ideal for retrofit applications.
The previously mentioned applications apply to mostly commercial or agricultural roofs. However, a booming market is the metal residential roof market. The industry has introduced many new styles in shingles and shakes that defy the eye to know they are metal. They come insulated, textured, are very durable, and have proven they can withstand the notorious Texas and Oklahoma hailstorms. Installation techniques and products, contrary to folklore, do not allow for the drumming effect to be magnified during inclement weather. They may be a little louder, but not to intolerable levels.
With craftsmanship come the tools of the trade. In the category of hand tools one would need folders, forming irons, multiple styles of hand tin snips, scribes, hammers and mallets, tongs, and pliers. If standing seam is involved, seam folders and edgers would be needed. Power tools that would be helpful are shears and seam closers of various types. Depending on the material, a solder-gun will be needed as well.
Safety on the jobsite will be the same as any roof application, including perimeter edge protection and personal fall protection appliances, as well as gloves, eye protection, and a hard hat. There are also specialty items for the metal roofing professional.
- Safety sandals with metal roof insert pads that fit over work boots. This allows for excellent footing while preventing scuffing of the roof.
- Standing seam roof clamps for attaching retractable life lines.
- A ridge-mounted rotating anchoring system for attaching up to three retractable life lines.
- Retractable life lines in 30’, 50’, and 65’ lengths.
Metal roofing, although a little more specialized than traditional roofing, is another material opportunity the roofing contractor should consider marketing. The commercial market will require a greater investment in tools and equipment, as well as installation skills. However, there will probably be fewer competitors. The residential metal market will offer an easier entry since installation methods are more traditional, and tools-of-the-trade are cheaper and simpler. Don’t shy away because it’s different. Look into it carefully as you would any new material and evaluate its benefits, profit opportunities, and compare it to you and your employees’ skill levels before embarking into this area.