Zinc Roofing – A Twist On the Traditional Roofing Material

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Zinc Roofing – A Twist On the Traditional Roofing Material

Zinc Roofing – A Twist On the Traditional Roofing Material

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Are you considering building a new roof? If you are, chances are zinc roofs aren’t the first thing that falls into your mind. Still, maybe you should reconsider – not many roofing materials can be equal to the durability and versatility of the impressive zinc. And yes – this includes even copper and aluminum.

Zinc roofs likely sound like some modern solutions – but zinc has, in fact, been used for decades. However, it wasn’t until in the latest years that the numerous benefits of zinc roofing have started the conversation on whether this might be the best roof material.

We’ll see if these claims are true.

zinc roof


What Is Zinc Roofing?


Zinc roofing is made out of – you’ve guessed it, zinc. This zinc is gathered worldwide, but the main locations are Alaska, Canada, China, Peru, Australia, and the U.S. While zinc is used in many items you use every day, it is also used to create unique roofing materials, whether that be tiles or zinc panels.

Using zinc for roofing has been a practice for decades. The manufacturers take the raw material, process it into flat sheets, then supply it in the form of tiles or, much more often, in rolled (coiled) form.

Zinc roofing can be installed when you’re building your house, or it can be installed during a re-roof. If you’re changing your old shingle roof to a zinc roof, you’ll need to remove the old roofing material entirely. You might even have to replace an entire underlayment. However, what’s rather unique about zinc roofs is that you can install them over existing roofs.

Zinc roofs might not be for everybody. To help you determine whether zinc roofs are the right option for you, will get into the benefits and disadvantages of this rare roofing material.


Benefits of Zinc Roofing


There are many reasons why zinc roofs are better than most other roofing materials. If you’re someone that values quality above all, you’ll know how to appreciate it. In short, zinc is:


  • Long-lasting.
  • Easy to maintain

All of this gives it a huge advantage over some other, seemingly similar materials.

We’ll get into more details, so you can see what we mean by that.



Zinc roof panels are extremely durable. With proper care, they can last longer than your entire house! While we’ll talk more about why this is a good feature later, you can be certain that repairmen won’t be coming often to deal with roof damage.

The zinc roof’s durability is great for many reasons. Most notably, it will save you thousands on expensive roof repairs, as you’ll almost never be required to call someone to fix it.

At the same time, this makes it a rather healthy option. This is because zinc has insect-proof, fungus-proof, and fire-resistant properties. As such, it will make sure you don’t have much problems with mold, fungus, and mildew.


Zinc Protects Itself

Zinc will oxidize over time due to exposure to outside elements such as rain and snow. This process is similar to what happens to copper. As time goes on, you’ll notice a grayish protective layer forming on top of it. This protective layer is known as patina.

Patina keeps the rest of the material from damage. It keeps the roof safe from rust and other forms of issues that can occur due to weather. In fact, patina is one of the reasons behind the zinc roof’s durability.

While patina can be scratched, it will regenerate itself over time. This means that the zinc roof has a basically immortal shield over it.


Zinc Looks Good

Zinc is known for its highly attractive appearance. Believe it or not, the cause of this is the patina we’ve discussed.

While patina is considered bad for indoor elements, such as copper pipes that turn green, it can be highly desirable on roofs. After the patina is created, the zinc roof will get that vintage, stylish appearance.

New zinc roofs will be dark gray or black in color. However, as time goes by, they will turn to a light gray color or even blue! This makes it much more stylish than plain dark colors.

At the same time, patina is self-sustainable, unlike roofs that are painted. This is something that was already mentioned: if you scratch a patina, it will once again appear on that same spot after a while. Forget about expensive repainting processes – patina will, in a way, paint itself.


zinc roof example


Zinc Is Low Maintenance

All you need to do is put zinc on your roofing system, and you’re good to go. As it’s very durable and self-repaired, there’s really not much else that you have to do afterward. The patina repairs itself – which is why you won’t need to use aesthetic repairs.

The biggest challenge you’ll have is installing zinc roofing properly. In fact, you’re likely need a professional to help you with this. Once you’ve done this – there are really not many other things you’ll have to do. The roof will require little to no maintenance.


Zinc Can Be Installed Over Other Roofs

Unlike most other types of roofs, such as concrete or clay roofs, you can install zinc roofs on top of other roofs. This can make your life much easier, especially if you install it on top of another durable roof.

As you might’ve guessed, this is an excellent choice if you’re looking to save some money on the installation process. You don’t have to pay for getting rid of the existing roof. Instead, all you need to do is install the zinc roof and you’re done.


Zinc Is Eco-Friendly

Being sustainable and eco-friendly is very important, especially in modern times. Many people are turning toward modern solutions compared to old materials that take hundreds of years to decompose or increase waste production.

It is estimated that roofs take up about 8% of the entire construction and demolition waste. As the roof doesn’t have that much material in it compared to the rest of the house, it’s clear to see that the biggest part of it will end up as waste. This is why choosing an eco-friendly option should be very important.

Fortunately, zinc is an eco-friendly material. It is 90-95% recyclable, so once you no longer want to have it or if your house ends up demolished, the zinc can be used again. Not just that, but to get zinc you’ll need less fuel compared to some more popular options, such as asphalt shingles, for example.


What Are The Disadvantages of Zinc Roofs?


Of course, no material is perfect, and the same goes for zinc roofs. This material isn’t for everyone, and it isn’t suitable for each and every house. You need to do your research well and to know the details about your home’s construction to know whether zinc roofs are the right for you.

A good part of doing research is getting familiar with the disadvantages of a certain material. In the case of zinc, many disadvantages can be focused on these traits:

  • It’s expensive.
  • It requires professional installation.
  • Patina is variable.

If the bulletins don’t mean much to you, here are these disadvantages in more detail:


Zinc Roofs Are Expensive

While we’ll discuss zinc price later on, you need to be aware of this: Zinc roofs are expensive. In fact, their price can quite shock someone familiar about the price of standard roofing materials, such as asphalt or clay.

In fact, zinc roofs are even more expensive than some other costly options, such as concrete. The only type of roof that is more expensive is the roof made out of copper.

zinc 3


Zinc Requires Professional Installation

Proper installation is important for any type of roofing material or any other part of housing construction. However, it’s really essential for zinc roofs. Any mistake during zinc roof installation will result in severe problems later on.

A zinc roof isn’t something you should try to attempt on your own. It requires professional (and costly) installation for it to work properly. In fact, not even all professionals know how to properly install them! You need to contact a licensed construction expert who has experience in building zinc roofs.

If the zinc roof isn’t installed properly, you’re risking serious damage. For example, corrosion can occur if the backside of the panels is constantly exposed to rainwater. If the person who helped you build your zinc roof used a non-breathable synthetic underlayment, this can trap the moisture, causing mold or, after a while, even leaks.


Patina Is Highly Variable

We’ve mentioned all the reasons why you’d want patina on your zinc roof. In fact, many homeowners would like to own zinc roofs precisely because of the appearance patina gives them. Unfortunately, dealing with patina and zinc roofs can be tricky.

If you’ve decided to buy a zinc roof because of patina, we’ve got bad news. There is no way of knowing when your zinc roof will get it. Some people get patina on their roofs in just a few years. Others may have to wait for it for more than a decade!

How quickly a patina will appear mostly depends on the climate. If you happen to live in rainy areas or in states where it’s rather humid, the patina will appear more quickly. On the other hand, if you live in climates without many rainfalls, it might take up to 20 years for the patina to show up.

Not just that, but you can never be entirely certain what color your patina will come in. Sometimes it can be light grey, sometimes almost bright blue. There is really no way you can predict or influence this. As such, you might not end up with the color of patina you’re expecting.


How Long Does A Zinc Roof Last?


Zinc roofing has a very long lifespan. If installed properly, zinc roof can last up to 100 years! The least you can expect is 60 years. As you can see, chances are your roof might outlive you. If anything, a zinc roof will stay on the roof of your house until your next move or large renovation process.

If you don’t believe us, just look at the rooftops of Paris. Many buildings in Paris have had zinc roofs installed centuries ago. In fact, up to 80% of Parisian rooftops have zinc roofs – and most of them have existed since the mid-19th century.

We’ve already mentioned that the reason behind this longevity of zinc is patina. Without patina, it would probably last around 50 years. As you can see, patina increases the lifespan of zinc roofs almost two times!


Is A Zinc Roof Expensive?


Zinc is a pricey roof material. However, you need to consider that the only expense you’ll have is the cost of material and installation. Most of the time, your zinc roof won’t require any maintenance at all.

Here is how you can calculate the price of the zinc roof:


Material Costs

Zinc is expensive even when it comes to materials. On average, it costs anywhere between $4.50 and $8.50 per square foot. Overall, the prices go as follow:

  • Zinc tiles or shingles usually cost between $4.50 and $6.50.
  • Zinc standing seam costs between $6.00 ad $8.50.

If you look at roofing squares, that equal 100 square feet, you can expect to pay up to $850 per square for a zinc roof.

Most two-story homes have a roof that expands to 2,300 square feet, or 23 square roofs. As such, you can expect to pay between $10,000 and $20,000 for material only.

The roofing doesn’t require tiles and shingles only. There is also some additional material, such as flashing, underlayment materials, and appropriate fasteners, which will usually cost you up to $100 per square.


Labor Costs

On average, a professional construction worker will charge you between $5.50 and $9.50 per square foot ($550 – $950 per square). The exact price will depend on the complexity of your roof and the average price in your area.

Of course, the only way you can confirm the price of installation is to contact a local construction company and ask them for the price. This is just a general price overview, so you can know what to expect.


Total Costs

As you can see, the total price of the zinc roof installation will usually be between $12.00 and $18.00 In other words, this will cost you between $1,200 and $1,800 per square.

It’s important to note that any professional working on a roofing project will provide you with a list of the costs, and what will they cover. If they don’t, request it from them. This will save you from any hidden costs that might ed up on the bill.


Zinc Vs Copper Roof Strips


Zinc and copper roof strings are often compared due to the many similarities they have. Both have their pros and cons, and both can be a great choice – or a very bad one.

If you’re interested in the comparison between zinc and copper roofs, here’s what you can expect:

  • Zinc costs up to $8.50 per square foot, while copper can cost up to $15 per square foot, which is quite the difference.
  • Zinc is rather durable, but copper is the more durable of the two.
  • Both are resistant to mold, mildew, and typical corrosion.
  • Both create a patina.
  • Zinc has a more challenging installation, even though it can be installed on top of an existed roof. Copper can be installed on top of another roof, but this can be more challenging.
  • They have the same lifespan, as both can last for a century or even more.


Is Zinc Roof the Right for You?


If you’re considering investing in new roof construction, you’re probably researching zinc roofs and wondering whether this roof type is the right one for you. The answer to this can know only two people: You and your construction engineer.

Zinc roofs can be amazing if you’re looking for a durable roof that will last for so long that it might seem to be eternal. It requires little maintenance, and it will protect your home from mold and mildew, as well as from all weather conditions. Not just that, but it might increase the value of your home as it is so durable.

However, just like any other type of roof, a zinc roof might not be suitable for all houses and for all homeowners. This is an expensive investment. If you have to remove the existing roof in order to install a zinc one, the prices can skyrocket! Not everyone can afford this.

If the initial price doesn’t bother you and you’re looking for a roof that might even outlive you, a zinc roof can be an excellent choice.

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