Although metal roofs are usually called “tin roofs”, they are actually made of several other types of metal. Some of the more common are steel, aluminum, copper, and tin-coated soft metals.
Here are the main type of metal used for roofing:
Tin. More accurately called terne, or terneplate. Any one of several soft metals treated with a coating of lead and tin. A tin roof that’s properly installed can last a good 40 to 50 years.
Galvanized Steel. This is a very inexpensive roofing material that will last 60 years or more if properly cared for. Galvanized steel is also highly rust-resistant. It’s made of alloyed steel, with a protective coating of zinc.
Aluminum. Has become increasingly popular, since it resists corrosion and requires little maintenance. Aluminum also reflects heat better than steel, thus keeping a house cooler during the summer. Aluminum roofs last about 35 years.
Copper. You won’t see copper being used for roofing much these days, even though it’s by far the longest-lasting of all roofing materials (many copper roofs have lasted hundreds of years and appear to have hundreds more left in them). Unfortunately, this material has become quite expensive and very difficult to find at all. This is mainly due to its value in electronics.
All metal roofs are incredibly durable. Most roofing metals resist damage from hail and falling tree limbs. And, since metal doesn’t burn, it’s also the best choice of roof for houses with stovepipes and chimneys. Metal is rated the very safest of all roofing materials. Some insurance companies offer significant discounts for homes with metal roofs.