Tiny houses have seen a surge in popularity in recent years as more people look for affordable, eco-friendly, and minimalist living solutions. When building a tiny house, every square inch counts, so choosing the right roofing material is an important decision. Metal roofing has emerged as a leading option for tiny home construction thanks to its durability, longevity, and lightweight. However, metal roofs also come with some drawbacks to consider. This article will examine the key pros and cons of using metal roofing on a tiny house.
One of the biggest advantages of metal roofing is its exceptional durability and longevity. Unlike roofing materials like asphalt shingles or wood shakes, metal roofing is highly resistant to wear, fire, rot, hail, high winds, and other damage. With minimal maintenance, a high-quality metal roof can easily last over 50 years. Some metal roofs have been known to stand strong for 70+ years. This extreme durability offsets the higher initial installation cost of metal when compared to cheaper materials like asphalt. Over decades of use, a metal roof saves money.
Tiny houses need to make the most of every pound, so lightweight construction materials are preferred. Metal roofing is much lighter than most other roofing options. Aluminum roofing can be over 50% lighter than asphalt shingles. Steel roofing is 10% lighter. This reduced weight compared to slate, tile, or shingle roofing translates to less load stress on a tiny house. Lighter weight also makes tiny homes easier to transport since they don’t exceed road restrictions. Every pound matters when building and moving to a tiny home, so metal’s lightweight advantage is important.
Metal roofing comes in a wide array of styles, colors, and patterns beyond basic galvanized steel. Standing seam metal roofing is especially popular for tiny homes for its clean, narrow lines. However, metal shingles, tiles, shakes, and panels are also options. This allows homeowners to choose a metal roof visual that aligns with the overall tiny house aesthetic they want. Compared to more limited asphalt shingle or slate options, metal offers more visual customization. You can contact your nearest metal roof provider, like Madison metal roof replacement, so you can easily add a personal touch to your roofing.
Metal roofing allows for excellent rainwater runoff control due to its smooth, impervious surface. Rain or snow slides off metal roofing quickly and completely into gutters instead of absorbing into the roof. This prevents any leaks, moisture buildup, or rotting issues that can plague other roofing materials over time. Quick runoff also reduces the risk of ice dams forming on metal roofs in cold climates. Keeping moisture off a metal roof extends its lifetime
Basic metal roofing by itself does not offer insulation. However, when combined with insulation coatings like thermoplastic polyolefin (TPO) or elastomeric acrylic coatings, metal can boost a tiny home’s energy efficiency. The reflective nature of metal also improves energy performance. Reflective coatings allow metal roofs to reflect up to 85% of solar radiation away from the home in hot weather. This reduces heat transmission into the tiny house. In colder weather, heat inside the home can also be reflected back inward to reduce heat loss.
One of the annoyances of home ownership is regular roof maintenance like repairs, sealing, cleaning, or replacing roofing materials. Metal roofing eliminates most of these hassles. After installation, metal roofs require little routine maintenance other than occasional cleaning or inspection. They don’t need regular repairs, seals, paints, treatments, etc., as other roofing does. The set-it-and-forget-it quality of metal roofing is appealing to tiny homeowners who want a lasting, low-maintenance roof.
The biggest downside of metal roofing is its high initial cost. Buying the roofing material itself is comparable to or marginally more expensive than asphalt or slate. However, hiring a contractor to properly install metal roofing costs significantly more than roofers installing typical shingle or tile roofing. This is because extra skill and training are required for proper metal roof installation. The overall cost of installing a new metal roof can be 2 to 3 times more expensive upfront compared to other roofing options.
Rain, hail, and other weather events can create a loud, tin-sounding clanging noise on metal roofs. This may not bother some tiny house owners, but for those wanting a quieter environment, metal roofs can be disruptive. Adding extra insulation when installing the metal roof can help dampen noise. But some noise is inherent to metal roofs. Noise is less of an issue in standalone tiny homes but a larger consideration for tiny homes used as accessory dwelling units (ADUs) in cities.
Metal roofs need extra precautions in areas with snowy winters. They are slippery and allow snow and ice to slide off easily. This can create hazardous conditions around the tiny home from falling debris. Metal roofs require installing snow guards, fences, or snow rakes to control and direct falling snow off the roof safely. Ice dams from thawing and refreezing can also create problems. Keeping metal roofs slightly warmed with heating cables reduces ice buildup risks. However, snow management requires ongoing work in cold climates.
Installing metal roofing is not a DIY-friendly project for tiny house builders. The seams and angles of metal panels require special skill to install correctly. Improper installation can lead to fastener holes becoming leaks or panels coming loose in high winds. Tiny house owners should hire reputable metal roofing contractors rather than trying to cut costs by installing it themselves like they would an asphalt shingle roof. The potential for making an expensive mistake is high with do-it-yourself metal roofing.
Uninsulated metal roofing provides no buffer against external heat and cold. While the reflective nature of metal can reduce heat gain from sunlight, the actual roofing surface conducts heat easily if uninsulated. In summer, metal roofing can transfer heat down into the tiny home living space and make cooling the house difficult. Similarly, in winter, heat can conduct through the roofing and escape the home. Insulation coatings, as mentioned earlier, address these issues. But bare metal roofing does not slow heat transfer.
Exposed metal roofing also faces the risk of interior warm moisture condensing as it touches the cooler metal roof surface. This condensation buildup can lead to rusting or corrosion over time in bare steel roofing. Using corrosion-resistant metals like aluminum or applying protective coatings minimizes this issue. However, metal roofing can lead to moisture condensation and rust formation, which requires preventative maintenance and care. Tiny house owners also need to reduce interior humidity levels from cooking, showers, etc., to control condensation.
The lightweight design of metal roofing requires a strong underlying support system. Decking and sheathing need to provide enough structure for metal roofing weight and snow loads. Tiny house builders cannot install metal roofing directly on minimal rafters like they could with shingle roofing. Special purlins, battens, or other secondary supports may be needed to provide enough structure. This further adds cost to the metal roofing installation. The lightweight advantage of metal roofing does not apply to the supports and decking required underneath.
While metal roofing adds long-term value from its durability, it does not necessarily raise resale value immediately if selling a tiny home soon after building. Some home buyers dislike the look or sound of metal roofs and may view them as discounting tiny home resale value versus other, more typical roofing styles. However, environmental-minded or sustainability-focused buyers may pay a premium for metal roofing. Resale value depends on buyer perceptions. For long-term tiny homeowners, metal roof values rise over time as durability keeps costs down.
Metal roofing offers many benefits like durability, longevity, lightweight, and customization that make it an excellent choice for tiny house owners planning to stay in their home long-term. But drawbacks like higher upfront cost, more difficult DIY installation, and noise issues should also be carefully weighed, especially by tiny home builders planning to sell soon after completion. With proper insulation and contractor installation, metal roofing can maximize utility on a tiny house for decades. But tiny home builders should consider both the pros and cons before committing to metal as their tiny house roofing material.
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