What are Aluminum Shingles?
Published: Oct. 26, 2018
Right behind standing seam metal roofs, aluminum interlocking shingles are the second most popular residential metal roofing system. Aluminum shingles are made with a stamping press following a three-step procedure. First, a metal coil is fed into the stamping press machine. Next, the design of the shingle is stamped out including the lock flanges. From there, the locks are completed in the manufacturing process, and the shingles are packaged for distribution. Additionally, most metal shingles have seven layers of baked-on premium paint and primer.
During installation, the majority of aluminum shingle roofs are installed from the bottom to the top where they are first attached to the drip-edge or starter trim. The aluminum shingles are secured to the roof with nails, built-in hems, or special clips.
History of Using Aluminum in Roofs
As one of the most durable building materials, metal has been used as a roofing product for millennia. For example, aluminum and alum compounds were used by the Ancient Egyptians to reinforce their roofing. Until recently though, metal was viewed as a roofing material used mostly by museums, historic palaces, or high-end homes. However, as landfills are inundated with cheap non-recyclable shingles, some property owners have turned to metal roofing as a more eco-friendly option. Additionally, aluminum and other metal shingles have become more affordable over the years, and their long lifespans are an attractive selling point for people looking to save on long-term costs for roofing replacement.
- Durability: Aluminum is incredibly fire resistant, wind resistant, and impact resistant. It will provide protection from external fire dangers to buildings, and it also doesn’t rot.
- Environmentally-friendly: Aluminum is recyclable, so it can be reused at the end of its lifespan. Other roofing materials like asphalt contribute to the overwhelming amount of waste in landfills. Furthermore, aluminum roofing shingles have reflective properties that reflect the sun’s rays. This can help reduce a home’s energy usage for cooling.
- Appearance: The overlapping design of aluminum roofing shingles can give them a more natural, staggered appearance.
- Lightweight: Aluminum roofing is lightweight compared to other roofing materials and therefore, puts less stress on the home.
- Lifespan: Because of their durability, metal roofs can last a long time. Many manufacturers of aluminum shingles or metal roofing will offer lifetime or 50-year warranties on their roofing
Aluminum’s Disadvantages as a Roofing Material
- High initial cost: Aluminum roofing shingles and metal roofing shingles, in general, have higher upfront costs than asphalt shingles. However, over time it’s possible for homeowners with metal roofs to save on roof replacement costs because of their durability.
- Noise: While some people enjoy the “sound of rain on a tin roof,” this noise can be irritating for others. Aluminum shingles are more likely to magnify the sound of rain hitting a metal roof.
- Hail: Although aluminum has good overall wind, fire, and impact ratings, it still has slightly more of a chance to be dented by large hail than other roofing materials.
Alternatives to Aluminum
- Standing seam metal roofing: As the most popular type of metal roofing, standing seam metal roofing is installed in continuous panels that run from the top of the roof to the eaves. Standing seams connect the adjacent panels. Standing seam metal roofing can be composed of aluminum, and therefore, maintains the same level of durability and recyclability as aluminum shingles. It’s just in a different form.
- Composite shingles: Some companies like DaVinci Roofscapes, EcoShake, and CertainTeed manufacture composite shingles that resemble slate or cedar shakes. An upside to these products that they share with aluminum shingles is their recyclability. Composite shingles, especially EcoShake’s, are often considered green because they’re both made with recyclable material and can be recycled at the end of their lifespan.
- Architectural shingles: Made of asphalt, architectural shingles are not recyclable. However, because of their layered design, they offer a level of durability similar to aluminum roofing.
Fire, Wind and Hail Resistance Ratings
Aluminum shingles have a Class A fire rating, and most metal roofing systems can withstand winds of up to 140mph. Additionally, most aluminum roofing products have Class 4 impact resistance, though aluminum has a slightly higher chance of being dented by large hailstones than other roofing materials.
Aluminum has reflective properties that repel heat or sunlight. Therefore, during the summer, aluminum shingles reflect the sun’s rays and help keep your house cool. During the winter, aluminum shingles reflect the heat from your house back into your house. These reflective properties reduce heating and cooling bills during the summer and winter months.
The cost of installed aluminum shingles starts at around $9.00 per square foot. In general, the initial cost of a metal roof is more expensive than a typical asphalt roof. However, metal roofs often have long lifespans and 50-year warranties that ensure lower maintenance costs. Regardless, the cost of aluminum roofing shingles depends on where you live and your chosen contractor, among many other variables. Therefore, the most accurate way to find the best value for your aluminum roofing system is to contact your local contractors for more information.