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When it comes to replacing your roof, it pays to invest in the right roof ‒ not the cheapest roof. Architectural grade aluminum and steel roofing systems each stand head-and-shoulders above asphalt shingles in longevity, value, appearance, and energy efficiency.

Chances are, if you are on this page, you already understand the benefits of metal roofing systems over asphalt. But what you may not know is that not all metal roofs are the same. Understanding the differences between aluminum and steel roofing is key to choosing the best roofing system for your home!

Valley Metal Roofing offers a selection of high-quality steel roofing and aluminum roofing systems in a wide variety of colours and styles. The choice of either aluminum or steel roofing will depend on your specific needs, preferences, and budget.

The differences between the two are summarized in the table below; then, we’ll dive into a deeper look at the pros and cons of aluminum roofing vs. steel roofing.

Aluminum Roofing

Today, Aluminum is the gold standard for metal roofing products. It is recognized worldwide as the best combination of strength and low weight: that’s why space and air vehicles use aluminum components. Also, aluminum naturally forms a barrier against oxidation, which means that a Valley Metal Roofing Systems aluminum roof, Installed by Valley Metal Roofing factory trained installers, will never rust.

The environmental benefits of aluminum roofing are also something to feel good about. Valley Metal Roofing Systems aluminum roofing is made of up to 95% post-consumer recycled materials with a minimal carbon footprint. Special Kynar 500® or Hylar 5000 hI-R coating reflects radiant heat and cuts energy costs by up to 30%. Attic temperatures are reduced by up to 34% and “dead” airspace blocks heat transfer by conduction.

Many aluminum roofing systems are batten mounted because of their inferior design. In other words, the design of the product requires it to be installed on battens. Battens for roofing companies that use them, are not really a good thing though they try to spin it that way. Battens for them are a necessary evil. Valley Metal Roofing Systems Aluminum Roofing Systems are directly attached to the roof decking on and do not need problematic strapping or battens.

With a proven performance expectation of 50+ years, aluminum can be guaranteed to last the life of your home!

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What To Look For In Aluminum Roofing:

Not all aluminum roofing is created equal! At Valley Metal Roofing, we only work with MCA-certified premium quality aluminum roofing. Few metal roofing products have achieved MCA approval. If you’re in the market for an aluminum roofing system, we encourage you to look at the following features to ensure you’re getting a quality product.

  • Interlocking:Choose a steel roofing system with an interlocking design rather than overlapping panels, and concealed fasteners. Interlocking panels outperform overlapping panels in wind uplift testing and better protect against water and debris. Concealed fasteners allow for natural thermal movement and are permanently weathertight.

  • PVDF:Look for PVDF coatings. PVDF is known for incredible durability and colour fade resistance. It’s key to keeping your metal roof looking beautiful for decades to come!

  • Warranty:Read the warranty carefully! Doing your homework could end up saving you tens of thousands of dollars and a whole lot of headaches and disappointment.

Steel Roofing

High-quality steel roofing is a sound and realistic option for homeowners who want the benefits of metal roofing with a more economical upfront cost than that of aluminum. Although steel roofing has a shorter life than aluminum (lasting 40+ years to aluminum’s 50+), it still affords decades of durability, protection, energy efficiency and curb appeal.

Steel roofing is incredibly tough, weighing in at over 200 lbs. of protective power per square foot. Because of this, steel roofing is commonly installed using heavy-duty battens or strapping. Valley Metal Roofing, however, offer the Armadura Steel Roofing System which is installed directly to the roof deck without the need for problematic battens and strapping.

In either case, steel roofing is not a job for a handyman. Steel roof installation goes above and beyond the skills of a general roofing contractor and should be handled by roofers with experience installing metal roofing.

High-quality steel roofing systems are protected by a strong PVDF anti-rust coating; however, as a ferrous metal, steel cannot be guaranteed never to rust.

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Metal Roofing vs. Asphalt, Wood or Clay

When you start shopping for a new roof, you’ll quickly realize there is a huge price range between the different materials. This is because all roofing materials can be categorized as either temporary or permanent.

Temporary roofs are designed to be serviced on a regular basis (usually annually to replace broken shingles) and replaced entirely every 12-17 years. Permanent roofs are designed not to be replaced for 40 years or longer after they are installed. They do require some maintenance but not on an annual basis.

Temporary roofing materials are less expensive upfront, but when you account for maintenance, repairs and energy savings…permanent roofing materials come out on top.

A roof is not something you can have installed and then forget. Every type of roofing material, temporary or permanent, does require some basic upkeep to perform at its best. Considering what it has to put up with here in Canada, you shouldn’t expect anything less!

What does change drastically from one roofing material to the next is the frequency and extent of maintenance that’s required. 

Permanent Roofing: Aluminum and Steel

Unlike temporary roofing materials which decrease in value as they age, metal roofs provide lasting benefits that start from the moment they’re installed and continue for 40-60 years on – including:

  • 4-Way Interlocking Tabs vs 3-Tab Shingles
    3-tab shingles that easily detach in high winds. 4-way interlocking panels have been uplift tested for hurricane-strength winds. 

  • Hidden Fasteners vs Exposed Fasteners
    Exposed fasteners that wear out, wallow and need replacement. Hidden fasteners are designed for long term maintenance-free performance. 

  • Direct-to-Deck Installation vs Battens and Strapping
    Installation directly to the roof deck eliminates the condensation issues that can occur with battens, helping to preserve the structural integrity of the attic.

  • Weatherproof Metal vs Leak-Prone Shingles
    As adhesive agents of roof shingles break down, the base mat is exposed to moisture and leaks begin to occur. Valley Metal Roofing uses concealed fasteners for beauty and optimal water resistance.

  • Increased Safety vs Combustible Roof Products
    Non-combustible roofing products (Class A, B, or C fire ratings) like Valley Metal Roofing Systems are eligible for preferred insurance rates. 

  • 40+ Year Warranty vs Pro-Rated Warranty
    Owing to the improved performance and lifespan, Valley Metal Roofing Systems come with a non-prorated, transferable 40+ year warranty that will not decrease over time. The warranty on asphalt shingles tends to be shorter, prorated, and generally does not cover natural wear and tear from weather (high winds, rain, hail, extreme heat or cold.)

  • Made In North America vs Imported from Overseas
    Roofing products manufactured in North America are built to CSA quality standards and designed to withstand our often-harsh Canadian climate. 

Temporary Roofing: Asphalt

Asphalt shingle is made of felt or fiberglass that is coated with tar and then covered with tiny stones that are literally glued onto the surface. Over time, the stones wear away, the shingles deteriorate, come apart, and the roof begins to leak.

Over the years, shingle manufacturers have made many attempts to bolster the quality of their products. They’ve changed up the content of the base mat, various binding agents and fillers. One of the more recent innovations is the architectural shingle: a heavier, laminated version of the traditional “3-tab” asphalt shingle. 

At the end of the day, however, standard asphalt shingles and architectural shingles both consist of small granules glued to a base mat. As the adhesive agents dry out and break down, moisture reaches the base mat. This moisture causes the base mat to deteriorate, and it gets even worse over time as granules start to wear away. Once the base mat is exposed to moisture, leaks will begin to occur as the shingles loosen, crack, and curl. Architectural shingles tend to last longer, but they will eventually succumb to the same problem. 

Asphalt singles have an average replacement lifespan of 8-12 years. In this timeframe Asphalt shingles:

  • Lose granules

  • Crack

  • Attract moss

  • Blow loose in the wind

  • Hold snow and decay

  • They even fall off their nails

  • Begin to curl

  • Are non-insulating

  • Are combustible

  • Are heavy in weight

  • Wood shingles curl and warp

  • Heavy tile products can be a hazard

Temporary Roofing: Wood

In general, wood roofs are made of cedar, pressure-treated pine, redwood, or cypress. The two main types of wooden roofing are shingles and shakes. Machine-made roofing shingles have smooth edges and are more consistent in size and shape than shakes, which are cut by hand.

Natural beauty and low cost make wooden shakes and shingles appealing to some homeowners. Wood roofing can be resistant to moisture and insects as well, depending on the type of wood that you use.

Wooden roofs also, on average, last five years longer than asphalt roofs.

However, a wood roof inevitably deteriorates over time and requires a tremendous amount of maintenance. Over time, decay accelerates, the roof becomes unsightly, and it eventually fails. The initial cost savings of choosing a wood roof will, in all likelihood, be outweighed by the expenses of long-term maintenance (not to mention the stress of a leaking roof!)

Temporary Roofing: Clay

Roofing tiles come in curved, flat, fluted, or interlocking styles. Nowadays, many tiled roofs are made of molded concrete instead of fired clay or terra cotta. 

However, concrete tile roofs have the same problems as their traditional counterparts, including water intrusion due to their porous make up. The roofing tiles become cracked by moisture seeping through the pores during the freeze/thaw cycle. Once the tile is cracked, water damage can occur before the homeowner realizes there’s a problem.

Clay roofing is best suited for hot climates with infrequent rain and above-freezing temperature year round. It simply isn’t made for life in Canada.

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