metal roofing

scrynMarch 3, 2008

Hi, I am not sure where to put this questions. I wish there was a roofing forum! Anyways, I know some of you old house people have gotten metal roofing so I thought you could help me.

we have an c1850 farmhouse and are thinking about standing seam roofing. The owner of a metal roofing company said that he doesn't think we need a tear off. We have ceder shakes, maybe some metal roofing, and at least one layer of asphalt roofing. I think we have two layers of asphalt but can't prove it.

I thought there was a law in NY state saying that you can not have more than 2 layers of roofing. The owner of the company said there was not.

He thinks, because of the age of our house and the roof decks on old houses, that the metal roofing wouldn't add much weight and it would not be a problem.

We would LOVE to avoid a tear off if we can, however we want to do what is BEST also.

We do not see any bowing in our roof. What other sort of things would show that there is too much weight on the roof?

The roofing also ranged from 400 - 700 dollars a square, if anyone is curious.



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Call your town building inspector for a read on what's required by law regarding covering existing layers of roofing. And get a couple of other metal roof guys out to look at it so you have an idea from a non-legal point of view of what the best (and least expensive) practice is.

I'd also wonder if removing (at least) the cedar shakes would be best to avoid encapsulating an organic layer within the stack of roofing materials. It's easiest if the shakes are on top.

Also, I have noticed that a lot of so-called "standing seam" product isn't actually folded over/ crimped and soldered like it used to be. The industry seems to be morphing into what used to be called panel or sheet roofing.

When I was at a recent homeshow I looked at the metal roofing there and was highly amused that you can now get metal roofing styled in a variety of ways to look like a) ceramic tiles, b) asphalt shingles, c) cedar shakes or d)slate. And the most amusing one was metal roofing styled to look like asphalt shingle imitations of slate roofing. The salesman was a bit disconcerted when I ruled out all faux effects and really wanted plain old crimped and soldered material.

I'm planning to put a metal roof on our wing when we finally finish repairing from the storm. It's where our woodstove chimney exits and we like being able to have roof ladders up there and being able to move around more freely than you can do on slate for fear of cracking them. I'm going to take the remaining intact slates off the wing roof and have them installed on the main roof in the place of the ones the storm broke.

I'm glad to hear that metal roofing doesn't seem that expensive. I'd love to hear more about what you decide and how it goes.


    Bookmark   March 3, 2008 at 2:32PM
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I'm no expert, but I have a house from the same era & I've had a metal roof replaced. With that said, I can't imagine putting metal over a cedar shake roof (or anything else that isn't prefectly flat). Weight IMO is not the problem, but metal requires a flat substrate or it will get dents, bends, etc making it subject to damage/leaks. I would have it taken down to the decking.

I'd get a quote from another roofer - one who specializes in old buildings & metal roofs; I'd question if this person does.

You didn't say if you're going with copper or tin. Even though copper is more expensive, I think it's much cheaper in the long run because you don't have to paint it. Since the EPA removed lead from roof paint, it doesn't hold up & you need to paint every 2-3 years, not 10 years like it used to be.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2008 at 2:40PM
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I would NEVER put a metal roof over existing roofing, especially not wood shakes.

If you're worried about the added cost of the tear off, do it yourself if you're able to.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2008 at 3:49PM
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Actually I have done a lot of research and the metal roofing in our area is nearly always over asphalt. The roofer builds a "frame" of wood over the shingles so that there is an air gap between the shingles and metal roofing. The metal roofing can not actually touch the asphalt shingles because it reacts with the steel somehow and ruins it. I have seen a number of books and old house books that actually explain this method and do believe it is a suitable method. Actually a big reason why people are so attracted to metal roofing is the fact that you don't need a complete tearoff. Every house in my area (more than one company) had their metal roofing installed over asphalt using this method.

The man we talked to ONLY installs metal roofing. We do plan on talking to other metal roofing people though. We would be getting steel roofing, not copper or tin.

We believe there are ceder shakes as we can see something that looks like that from the attic. The ceder shakes (if actually there) are the oldest roofing then and are already covered by asphalt roofing.

We have done roofing on the lower roofs of our house, we can not do the roofing on the upper roofs because it is too dangerous for us (we do not have experience with roofs with a steep pitch). Also this roof is very large and it would take forever for us to do it alone.

The roofer actually did seem to have experience with older houses because when i mentioned the age of the house he correctly identified the roof deck and how the house was built. Which, I took as a good sign. Many contractors I talk to don't seem to have any idea about our house!

The newer standing seam roofs seem to only need to be repainted after about 30 years. I bet this depends on the area and weather though.

Molly, you are right. The material he showed us isn't soldered like it once was (i was a little dispointed with that) but it does have a "fold-over" that covers the nailed area. I do not believe this is crimped all the way. This is just one product that they had there though. When we have him come out there are a number of products we are interested in talking about. I will keep you updated.


    Bookmark   March 3, 2008 at 4:54PM
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OK, that would certainly be acceptable, but I still wouldn't put a framework like that over wood shakes.

There are a TON of metal roof types and materials these days.

Properly cared for a metal roof can last for 100 year or more.

The house I grew up in had a metal roof installed sometime in the 1920s. BIG house - 5,000 or so square feet floor space with a roof to match.

I was sad to see the last time I went through town that the new owners were apparently sold a bill of goods and were told that they needed a new roof.

Cleaning and tightening up any popped nails and making sure the valleys and flashing were in good condition before painting and you were good for another 5 to 10 years.

I can't even imagine what it cost, but given the varying profiles I bet that it probably took between 70 and 80 bundles.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2008 at 5:30PM
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I have metal roofs on my barn and workshed. Both are 20+ years old and we painted them with rustoleum last summer. They were installed by running furring strips every 2 feet right over the existing roof at right angles to how the roof panels are run. Shims were placed under the strips if the roof sagged anywhere to keep them level. There isn't a dent or sag or anything on the entire roof. Thats how its done in heavy snow load places like northern New England and it appears to be a tried and true method.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2008 at 9:47PM
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We have most of ours installed as of today and it looks pretty darned good. We got our metal from ABC through Modern Builders Supply and materials were just $158 a square, plus the flashing and clips and stuff and then of course, labor.

Still I just want to say that there's a good deal of variability in the pricing on metal roofs. I'm not at all convinced that the custom metal benders do a better job than a decent crew and a pre-fabricated metal roof. I'm also pretty sure that the maintenance is about nil a number of years (like 10 or maybe 20 years).

It's too early to tell you that I made a great purchase, but so far I'm into a pretty looking metal roof for about what I was bid for a shingle roof.

Here's the original post on the roof and there's a picture of what it looks like on the main blog page, I think.

We'll let you know how the final installation looks and performs.

One caveat: These things are slippery when wet. We got a call from the roofer saying that he'd come back when it was dry--"it's like ICE up there".

Here is a link that might be useful: RehabOrDie

    Bookmark   March 16, 2008 at 9:06AM
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Thank you for sharing your experience. I completely enjoyed perusing your blog. I am very familiar with your area and am currently renovating a house of similar age and needs (everything-all of them!) in the Butchertown area of Louisville.

I'd love to see additional photos of the finished "roof adventure".
Thank again- at this point your post has made me feel as though I have made some headway on my resource search for metal roofing in my area.


    Bookmark   June 16, 2008 at 6:03PM
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