METAL Roof Or Shingled Roof

Which is the Best Choice for Your Tiny Home?

There are many options that either professional Tiny House Builders or the DIY Portion of Tiny House Builders encounter daily during their builds. Most work from pre-drawn plans with exact measurements and steps to be taken. Others purchase Tiny Home Kits or “shells”, were the end user finishes out the build. Either way, there are always options to consider and one of those options is roofing.

A Tiny House is tiny, and a lot of fuss can be made on which roofing material to use.

We all see these wonderful colored metal roofs on so many of the tiny homes that most of us tiny home dwellers think that is the only way to finish out your build. Well. is it?

Discussing the options that both the conventional tar shingle style of roofing and the metal sheeting style is something that you really don’t hear too often. So, let’s look at some of the basic differences between the two.

Conventional tar shingles are what most people think of when you hear someone say “Yup, that wind did some damage. Might be time for a new roof”. Or you see a whole crew climbing around someone’s house in the middle of summer and think “Those poor souls, it is so hot outside”.

This is how the conventional “big house” roofing is done. Yes, it can be labor intensive, heavier, hotter, and sometimes even dangerous while climbing around on the roof with a nail gun. However, it is the least expensive to use.

tiny house with metal roof

There are many options of shingles to choose from

and we already know of the good old fashioned tar sided shingles that most of us are familiar with. However, there are many other varieties to choose from that you may not have heard of. For example: solar shingles, these are mini solar panels that look and act like regular roof shingles.

Then you have shingles made from split wood called a “cedar shake shingle roof”. Very popular many years ago and give a very rustic appearance to the roof, the only downfall is that these types of roofs are not very fire resistant. Now with innovation comes change and there have been many changes in roofing particularly in the shingle industry.

Yes, you still have the traditional tar backed shingle from yesterday, you can still get original wooden shake shingles, along with solar shingles and many others to choose from. Almost all come with a 25 year or even a lifetime warranty which is good, but which is better for your tiny home?

The choices can become nerve wracking and even argumentative on the cost and effectiveness of using traditional roofing material.

Even the tiny house dwellers need to keep weight in mind during the final construction phase of your home.

The roofs are indeed small, don’t take up a whole lot of space, serve multiple purposes such as a solar panel array, an open deck and even an astronomy observatory.

However, traditional shingles do indeed add a lot of extra weight to your home. Now if your’ on the go with your tiny home on wheels, or simply move it around every now and then, that’s when weight might become an issue.

The benefits of using traditional shingles include lower cost, easy to find and replace, more DIY friendly, can add more insulation benefits, color and style choices, any local handyman/woman can replace them, don’t need expensive equipment to install or replace, fast, easy and effective.

When you saw your first tiny home it most likely had a metal-colored roof and that right there really made the house look so well built, that’s because it was.

tiny house with metal roof

Metal roofing systems and styles have come a long way from the corrugated roofing metal slabs of yesterday.

Yes, corrugated roofing material is still widely available today and used more than you would think. It is the style and methods of modern metal roofing which sets these roofing systems apart from the traditional style shingle roof.

There are two basic styles of metal roofing systems, one being corrugated roofing panels held in place with bolts and sealing washers otherwise known in the roofing industry as exposed fasteners. This type of roofing system has been used worldwide for decades and have stood the test of time.

Offered in many different sizes, colors, layouts, and forms you will have a vast selection to choose from. Some even resemble old fashioned slate style roofing, cedar shake style shingles, stone, clay tile and the selection seems endless at times.

As far as price goes this style of roofing system depends largely on the type of corrugated panels you choose to use, and these can vary widely. However, this system is in fact more expensive than traditional shingles and a little bit cheaper than the other types of metal roofing systems.

tiny house with metal roof

The only true downside to using this style of system is the exposed fasteners.

With metal roof systems the panels expand with heat and contract with the cold, always moving, always flexing and always needing some type of maintenance after about 8 to 10 years. I know that sounds like nothing to worry about, 8 years for general maintenance in the exposed fasteners.

It is the hidden part of slow leaks, warping panels, exposed fasteners getting sheared off when the metal panels expand and contract. That is the biggest issue of all, expanding and contraction of these panels make for a not so worry-free warranty.

Another item to consider when choosing a metal roofing system is the gauge of the metal being used, that is the thickness of the panels.

Most corrugated panels are either 28 gauge or 29 gauge. These are a thinner panel that will more than likely not hold up foot traffic when you need to get up on your roof.

They are mostly fastened to wooden studs that are placed in a certain pattern on the roof to allow for better and even fastener placement. This allows for weak spots between panels and can easily be dented by walking or installing solar panels.

The other more widely used and the best bang for the buck are the roofing systems that use a seamless panel with hidden fasteners or hardware. These types of systems use an interlocking panel over panel design which is attached to hidden fasteners underneath the panels, no exposed hardware to contend with.

They do not overlap like corrugated panels do, they simply lock into each other and stay put.

These systems are attached directly to the roofing exterior without the use of wooden studs. They are made from either 24 gauge or 26-gauge steel which is stronger than the thinner 28- and 29-gauge panels. Like the other corrugated panels, they come in a wide of shapes, sizes, colors and length.

tiny house with metal roof

Seamless panels are indeed seamless where corrugated panels are not.

They offer no water intrusion areas unlike corrugated panels with exposed fasteners and overlapping panels. Seamless panels are made to interlock with each other on the edges, the connecting panels and drain areas.

These panels are made from a single flat piece of steel which allows for a better adhesive paint system to be applied prior to being cut and bent into shape.

Most seamless systems are made on site from one very large roll of flattened steel, extruded thru a shaping tool, cut to a pre-determined length, edges bent to allow for interlocking positions, all done on site by the contractor. A very different approach from corrugated panels and gutters.

This type of roofing system is superior to all others and the price reflects it as well because most contractors charge a premium price for this style. One contractor has been quoted as saying after their roofing system is installed, “Thank you so much for using our services. I Hope to never hear from you again because this roof will outlast us all”.

There are a lot of considerations when choosing a metal style roofing system.

One very important item is the “Solar Reflective Index” which is designed to help the buyer choose which color and style of metal roofing suits their needs in the area they live in.

Another item to consider is the wind, snow and hail resistance of the panels you choose. Which ones work the best in adverse conditions and will offer the best quality purchase for you.

Solar panel installation is another very important item to consider.

With corrugated panels you will have to use exposed fasteners again to install your solar panels. This offers more chances for water intrusion, metal expansion and contraction movement causing problems with the attaching hardware and the fact that these corrugated panels might not stand up to foot traffic as the solar panels are being installed.

With seamless panels you have a patented attachment system that allows for no extra holes to drilled into the roof allowing for no water intrusion, easier placement, removal and install extremely simple and the roof panels are a thicker gauge steel so they will indeed stand up to foot traffic as the solar panels are being installed.

tiny house with metal roof

Most metal roofing contractors belong to the Metal Roofing Alliance

(otherwise known as MRA), which is professional standards guide and resource for professionals involved in the fabrication and installation of metal roofing systems.

Based out of Longview, WA. this very thought-provoking company helps guide the DIY Builder and homeowners through the many different styles, questions and products of the metal roofing industry.

You can reach them online. They offer many digital based guides for the homeowner to look through. Featured articles, different styles and companies, design options and so much more.

So, when it comes time to choose your roofing material, you now have a bit more knowledge than you had before and a great resource and guide application that is packed with so much good stuff.

Make your tiny home all it can be with a better roof. Tiny On!

Written by Jeffrey Walters for the Tiny House Magazine. Subscribe and get more articles like this.

The post METAL Roof Or Shingled Roof first appeared on Tiny House Blog.

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