Metal continues to be a trending material for home roofs. It offers great variety in style and colors. Styles can include paneling (the most popular option), tiles, shingles/slate, and shake. Whatever other materials can do in terms of style for a roof (i.e. wood shake or ceramic tiles), metal can mimic it. Here are a few reasons why metal is gaining in popularity:
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– the material is recyclable, thus inherently Eco-friendly
– metal tends to be higher in terms of energy efficiency, plus with cool roofs, it can emit UV energy away from a home
– color options up the wazoo
– metal is by nature fire resistant, properly installed metal roofs are fairly wind resistant, and it doesn’t break apart
– more durable than other materials (i.e. asphalt), yet lighter than the other options
– metal panels can be used for other purposes besides a roof
Like all things roofing, a professional contractor is your best bet for installation of metal roof. This article, however, is taking a different approach as we focus on products you can obtain through Home Depot and/or Lowe’s. A local carpenter or professional roofer may still be how the product gets installed, but depending on the home remodeling project and your needs, the DIY approach is within reach for many metal roofing applications.
There are a few caveats to consider if going through Home Depot or Lowe’s as the middlemen in purchasing products. Color options will be limited quite a bit. For the average consumer, metal tiles, metal shingles and metal shake are not readily attainable from these stores. With that in mind, we will focus on the metal panels that are offered and available, plus make note of the other materials needed for installation, all of which are available from these stores.
While metal roofing comes in a variety of metals, this article will stick mainly to steel as that is what the two retail outlets primarily offer. This may vary a bit by region as aluminum is a material known to handle ocean spray/saltwater better than steel. For most areas, galvanized steel is the primary offering for metal roofs. Galvanized steel does a few things, and one of those is making it easier to add coats of paint for further protection and increased aesthetic value.
When it comes to consumer purchasing metal sheets, stores like Lowe’s and Home Depot will offer a quality, durable product. Though less durable than what a pro would probably purchase from their wholesale suppliers. Steel thickness is measured traditionally with a gauge from 8 to 33, particularly for galvanized steel. The higher the gauge, the thinner (not thicker) the panel. Unless specially ordered, plan on Home Depot and Lowe’s to provide steel with gauges between 26 and 33, and most likely in range of 29 to 31.
Because the manufacturers that supply product to these stores will market products for residential home owners, we will spend a brief time on what else you might obtain from them directly. But our goal is to help you in product selection from the two stores, provide helpful tips in working with metal panels and convey (mid 2016) cost information to help with overall planning of your home remodeling projects.
Metal panels generally come in two types, with lots of sub-variations or styles. The traditional kind is exposed fastener application. This is the DIY approach that a non-professional can handle for installation. It can mimic the style of the other (modern) type, and can cost less. The trade-offs are that it will possibly last less time, though this depends on how well either type is installed, and is considered less wind resistant. The modern type is applied with concealed fasteners.
Concealed fasteners are what standing seam panels use. Concealed fasteners rely on interlocking of panels, via expert crimping. Where panels are intended to overlay, a crimping tool will join the two panels into a continuous, seamless unit. Think of how a metal food can has its lid secured so tightly, that it seamlessly seals in the contents.
Home Depot provides standing seam panels. But the majority of what is provided from the two stores is the exposed fastener variety of panels. Another significant difference between the two is that the interlocking panels allows the overall metal roof to naturally expand or contract depending on how heat naturally affects metal. High heat (hot days) will lead to slight expansion while cooler temps (winter days) lead to contraction in the metal. With exposed fasteners, the difference is slight, but enough so that over several years, the fasteners will be impacted, loosened, and thus breaking what was otherwise a solid seal. The metal material itself is likely good to go for another 30 years or more beyond this, but because of the exposed fastener system, it may need to be addressed by re-fastening all areas. Standing seam with its concealed fasteners, will generally last a solid 40 years, even up to 75 years, as the seals are not as impacted by the hot/cold cycles.
With exposed fastener panels we’ll focus on two sub-variations:
a) ribbed style and b) corrugated style. The ribbed style resembles standing seam, which has a flatter finish, and is considered a better design choice for a home.
b) The corrugated metal style is more of a constant rippled pattern, similar to how ceramic tiles appear on a rooftop. Corrugated metal panels are a popular or traditional design choice for sheds. Because exposed fasteners are easy enough for anyone to work with, they are not limited to roofs only. Many home exterior remodeling projects will make use of them in a variety of ways, such as a siding material. Do enough research on your own, and you’ll see home owners who’ve discovered interior uses for metal panels in ways that may be bold, but certainly can add character to any living space seeking a industrial appearance.
Our primary focus will be for roofs, but not just home roofs. For this article a roof means covering for a home, garage, patio/deck covering, shed, and/or other outbuilding. It’s helpful to understand parts of a roof (for a home) and if not already familiar with that, Lowe’s uses this web page to help with terms like sheathing, underlayment, valleys and flashing, to name a few.
Right Tools For The Job
When it comes to the right materials for the metal roof system, there’s essentially 3 components: the metal panels, fasteners and underlayment. In our next section(s), we’ll cover that as it is the main focus of this article. But to ensure those materials are installed correctly, there are some basic tools to have handy. Most installation guides for metal roofs, obtained from Home Depot or Lowe’s, will cite any or all of the following:
- Metal snips, or circular saw with metal blade — gotta cut panels to fit just right, and either of these are the tools for that
- Tape measure — what remodeling project doesn’t need a tape measure?
- Screw gun or pneumatic nailer – to handle fastener installation quickly, efficiently
- Hem bending tool – for working with standing seam panels
- Writing instrument that is not a graphite pencil. Pencils can scratch metal. Alternative recommendation is to use masking tape which peals right off.
- Safety gloves – are a must for handling metal panels. Edges are sharper than they appear in images online.
- Safety goggles – seriously, always better to be safe than sorry.
- Ladder – for obvious reasons. The sturdier, the better.
One of the metal roof manufacturers, Fabral, says the first tool is proper knowledge. Some may think this goes without saying, but the DIY approach assumes experience level is between beginner and intermediate. A very significant factor that we’ve already touched on is proper sealing of two adjoining panels. With standing seam, this takes experience and knowledge on how to bend, or crimp, the pieces to obtain the exact seal. With exposed fasteners, two panels will overlay along edges that are designed for this. Still, there is enough skill involved that the seal can be inefficient if not done right. While not mentioned in our list above, a sealing material may be good to have on hand if not sure how proper sealing between panels works. If nothing else, it offers a 2nd layer of seam protection.
Besides sealing, proper knowledge understands the size of the project. Say a roof is 400 square feet, and panels are each 4 ft by 10 feet. The beginner may think 10 panels will perfectly do it. The experienced installer will get 1 to 2 extra panels because counting on something going wrong or a need for just a little bit more, is proper planning. Unused panels that are not tarnished in any way can likely be returned/refunded if not needed in your project. Proper knowledge also relates to cutting/trimming metal, marking it without damaging it, and understanding slope or pitch. On many of the products available at the two stores a minimum pitch is required for installation, usually 3/12. And it goes without saying that a very steep slope is not something for the beginner to tackle, as even an experienced professional will consider it a challenge, but have confidence from previous experience.
Product Selection at Lowe’s
In our research, Lowe’s offers less options for metal roofing than Home Depot. It doesn’t appear to provide any standing seam panels, and the color availability is significantly less than what you’d find at Home Depot. With Lowe’s online, the information tends to vary by region, thus challenging, for us, to convey information that may not be accurate for all readers.
When it comes to exposed fastener metal roof systems, Lowe’s has a small amount of corrugated and ribbed style panels. They primarily carry two manufacturers, the popular Fabral brand and the steadfast Union Corrugating Company (established in the 1950’s). The product offerings from Lowe’s by these 2 metal roofing companies are nearly identical, and the quality is essentially the same. The gauge for their corrugated metal panels is around 31, and for the ribbed panels, it is 29, possibly as low as 26.
In our 2016 research, we found very little color options available through Lowe’s. Essentially the material is unfinished bare-metal or sold with a silver (natural metal, galvanized steel) finish. Some may prefer this as it allows you to apply (spray) a paint color of your choice, or leave as is, depending on the project. Be sure though when applying paint to metal paneling that you use more durable paints with ceramic pigments, if possible and anything that will aid in rust resistance.
We also found just 4 offerings of corrugated panels (2 from each brand) and 4 offerings of ribbed style panels (again 2 from each manufacturer). Panels generally come in a standard width, and then variation occurs with length of the panels. As the options are rather limited at Lowe’s, its easy enough to present the list we found available.
Corrugated metal panel selection:
Fabral Corrugated 2.16 ft. by 12 ft. Steel Roof Panel ($27.00/each)
Fabral Corrugated 2.16 ft. by 8 ft. Steel Roof Panel ($18.00/each)
Union Corrugating 2.33 ft. by 12 ft. Steel Roof Panel ($27.00/each)
Union Corrugating 2.33 ft. by 8 ft. Steel Roof Panel ($18.00/each)
Ribbed panel selection:
Union Corrugating 2.33 ft. x 12 ft. Ribbed Steel Roof Panel ($31.00/each)
Union Corrugating 2.33 ft. x 8 ft. Ribbed Steel Roof Panel ($21.00/each)
Fabral 5V Crimp 2.16 ft. x 12 ft. Ribbed Steel Roof Panel ($31.00/each)
Fabral 5V Crimp 2.16 ft. x 8 ft. Ribbed Steel Roof Panel ($21.00/each)
All of these options are essentially 2 feet in width, with the length alternating between 8 and 12 feet. The reason for the extra width listing is the overlay allowance, such that when say 4 panels are connected side-by-side, they will span 8 feet in width, with less than an inch on either side for overlay.
Lowe’s also offers a Union Corrugating brand ridge cap, or metal strip that is installed at a roof’s peak, so two slopes can have a more uniform appearance. At Lowe’s, these are generally unpainted metal pieces that are 6 feet long, 10 inches wide and cost $8.00.
We ought to note that all our price listings are rounded up to the nearest dollar amount, specified online at Lowe’s.
With corrugated panels, proper sealing between the two panels is very important. Here is where you’ll want to talk with store personnel to make sure you are getting the right product, but checking the installation guide for the materials before you buy is your best way to gain knowledge on proper installation.
Also with corrugated metal panels, Lowe’s makes it a point to say these panels are ideal for: garages, patio covers and utility buildings. Thus, not so ideal for residential roofing, but that is obviously up to the home owner. All Lowe’s corrugate panels are noted as not impact resistant. This means impact from heavy weather (i.e hail) or from person walking on it. Either could damage or dent the material. Not that this is probable, but is indication of what limitations the buyer may wish to place upon it, before making a buying decision. With corrugated panels, there is no warranty for the material, and the rationale there (our guess) is because the material is not premium, thus not intended to last say more than 20 years. It could last longer with proper installation and routine maintenance, but is essentially understood to be decent material at low cost, for secondary remodeling projects.
With ribbed panels, there is positive notation for impact resistance, but still no warranty on the material. Lowe’s also notes these roof types as perfect for garages, patio covers, and utility buildings. Yet, the 5V Crimp style is very similar in appearance to standing seam, and so an on-house installation is certainly within reason. Were the 29 gauge better (like 26 or lower), it would be easier to recommend for home installation.
Fasteners are easy to find (just search the Lowe’s site for “Roofing Screws”). Be sure whatever you choose has neoprene washers on it. The screw will bind the metal panel to the roofing structure and the washer will provide a solid seal for the hole you are making into your roof. Fasteners can be purchased in quantities ranging from 80 to 400. A bucket of 400 will cost $32.00 and is usually enough for most projects using exposed fastener paneling.
Underlayment is our final category for materials selection and Lowe’s has adequate options here. With metal roofs, the material needs to be moisture free, impervious to tearing and heat resistant. Felt underlayment is the traditional standard and fine for asphalt shingles. But felt is a poor choice for metal roofing. It’ll work, but because felt absorbs moisture, it is counter productive for metal. Synthetic underlayment is what we’d recommend. It’s nearly equal in cost to all felt coverings. The most durable felt material (#30, as it’s called) is about 8 cents per sq.ft. which is about the same price for the synthetic materials. Honestly, Home Depot is a little less than Lowe’s in this regard. Lowe’s offers polypropylene underlayment in as little as 150 sq.ft. (for $50) or as much as 1000 sq.ft. for ($95). They also offer a rubber underlayment and a product listed as Titanium underlayment (with material not specified), but both these options are considerably more expensive than the polypropylene which is sufficient for metal roofing.
Product Selection at Home Depot
Whereas our research shows Lowe’s having limited options (under 10) for metal roofing panels, Home Depot offers at least 25 options, and more when taking color into account. Home Depot carries 2 brands when it comes to metal roof paneling: again the popular Fabral brand as well as Metal Sales, which is the predominant offering from Home Depot. Metal Sales is a manufacturer that’s been in business roughly as long as Fabral, though not as well known.
If corrugated metal panels are what you are seeking, then Home Depot is not the place to shop. There is an asphalt corrugated offering, but that is outside the scope of our article. Home Depot carries mainly ribbed style paneling and some standing seam options. In other words, metal roofing for the home, as well as other possible exterior applications.
For their ribbed style panels, there are many options. The width is (exactly) 3 feet for all options, and the length varies from 3.5 feet up to 16 feet, with around seven lengths in all. With the Fabral brand, we found just 3 ribbed style offerings (3 different lengths) and all in an evergreen color. It’s the Metal Sales brand they carry, where the multiple options in length and color are found. And the available colors include:
*All of these color options are listed as ‘ship to store’ which means not necessarily in stock, but can be obtained at a Home Depot near you.
For their standing seam panels, all options are under the Fabral brand (none under Metal Sales). Each of these panels are 17 in. wide and lengths of 8, 12 or 16 feet. There are 5 color options:
*Again, all these panels are listed as ’ship to store.’
The standing seam panels are $20 (for 8 ft), $30 (for 12 ft) and $39 (for 16 ft). This steel is in the 26 specification for gauge making it the most durable of all offerings in our article thus far. The ribbed style panels, like their Lowe’s counterpart, are at the 29 gauge.
Pricing for ribbed style panels is better at Home Depot than what you’ll find at Lowe’s. Keep in mind, most if not all Home Depot panels include colors baked in, which will include a warranty of 25 to 45 years for the paint (to last before it fades or chalks). That right there is worth a few extra dollars per panel, and yet, it is actually lower than Lowe’s, comparatively.
A 3 by 8 ft. Fabral ribbed panel in evergreen costs $20, compared to the $21 for 2 x 8 ft. plain silver color from Lowe’s. The Metal Sales product that is also 3 by 8ft. ribbed panel costs more (at $25 per panel), but has 6 color options. The largest length, the 3 by 16 ft. ribbed panel (Metal Sales) costs $45, which is double the square footage, for under twice the cost, and again has 6 color options.
Plus Home Depot’s offerings of ridge caps, also Metal Sales products, will match each of these color options. These come in 10.5 ft lengths and are $21. Longer than the Lowe’s option, but more than twice the cost, though these are matching color in a way that Lowe’s doesn’t even address.
Roofing screws (fasteners) are comparable in price to Lowe’s. A quantity of 400 of the same type with neoprene washers is $32.00 (same as Lowe’s). Quantity options and brand offerings are a bit more broad at Home Depot than at Lowe’s but quality is essentially the same.
Underlayment is again our final category for materials selection and Home Depot has similarly adequate options. In case you skipped our Lowe’s section, we’ll repeat what we said before; with metal roofs, the material needs to be moisture free, tear resistant and heat resistant. Felt underlayment is the traditional standard and fine for asphalt shingles. But felt is a poor choice for metal roofing. It’ll work, but because felt absorbs moisture, it is counter productive for metal. Synthetic underlayment is what we’d recommend. It’s nearly equal in cost to all felt coverings. The most durable felt material (#30, as it’s called) is about 8 cents per sq.ft. which is about the same price for the synthetic materials. As noted before, Home Depot does better on cost here. A role of 1000 sq.ft. synthetic material is $85 for the GAF brand and $64 for the Grip-Rite brand at Home Depot. Other products and materials are listed (and more expensive), but these two offerings ought to be sufficient for most metal roofing installations.
Alternatives and Additional Considerations
We wish to quickly mention that both Home Depot and Lowe’s carry polycarbonate panels. This is a synthetic, durable plastic material that while not metal is a suitable alternative. Being a more transparent material, it is popular for greenhouse type structures. It has a distinct look and color that may be chosen for this reason alone.
All the manufacturers listed in this article (3 of them) provide metal roof systems for residential buyers (you, the homeowner). The links for each (above) are connecting directly to the relevant residential pages. Though being manufacturers, they generally do not sell directly to the public, instead going with authorized dealers or retail outlets (i.e. Home Depot and Lowe’s). On their web pages, there is information for connecting with authorized dealers as close to your zip code as the geographical search engine can find.
The important thing though is the web pages for these manufacturers shows that the retail stores are carrying a very limited selection of what each offers. Looking at the Metal Sales page, you’ll notice they have a number of concealed fastener metal roofing systems, though Home Depot (not to mention Lowe’s) carries none. Sticking with the Metal Sales product page (for residential), each panel is nicely presented, with pictorial measurements, available steel gauges, and a number of related resources (specification type sheets) to name a few things. Below their Product Finder is a link for “Colors and Finishes.” Again, Metal Sales was the only product line at both stores that has more than one color offering, and their main website shows at least 3 times the color options Home Depot carries for Metal Sales products.
With Fabral, the panel options aren’t anything to brag about on their residential page, but again their “Color” link shows they have 20 available standard colors. Plus they have a visualizer that allows you to see how a particular color will look on a roof. Not the only one of these online, but given that you may choose one of the more popular metal roofing manufacturer’s products from your local retail outlet, this is just an extra, helpful tool during the planning stages.
Union Corrugating Company has been in business the longest out of these three, and has far more offerings than Lowe’s carries, plus actually does provide color. If you went strictly by what Lowe’s offers, you’d possibly conclude that Union Corrugating doesn’t do standing seam, but our quick search finds Union Corrugating has more concealed fastener panel options than Fabral.
When it comes to color, this is a decision that you the homeowner can determine without all the technical jargon that comes with understanding other aspects of metal roof panels. It’s important to realize that manufacturers are baking colors onto the metal in a multi-step process that greatly enhances the overall quality of the metal panel. It’s less expensive to do coatings in a factory setting than it is for a professional to do it in the field. Color selection is a subject matter that can easily take up a full article. But basically, beyond what we’ve already touched on, you’ll want to give careful attention to coordinating color with other parts of the structure it is being applied to, contrasting it where that is appropriate and recognize that a properly installed metal roof on a home, with complete coloring, can greatly enhance curb appeal.
The DIY approach to installing a metal roof is certainly possible, more than perhaps ever before. We feel it is worthy to consider a professional contractor in terms of proper installation that will last a long time, but if your remodeling project is rather simple, like roofing for a shed, we hope we’ve provided enough information to let you know how Home Depot and Lowe’s can help from planning to completion of your project.