Metal roofing has been used in construction is the United States since Colonial times. A walk down any street with original 19th century dwellings will often reveal metal tops that are original to the structure: A testament to the durability of the material that is still true today.

While often referred to as a tin roof, and not to be confused with the corrugated metal roofs frequently seen on huts in the Islands, these Victorian products were mainly tin-plated steel. They were durable, water-tight and also very noisy especially during a hailstorm. Today the tin-plated steel roof is not nearly as popular as its contemporary counterparts. Metal shingles have become the mainstay of a metal roof and are gaining in popularity every year due to their ruggedness, long life and beauty.

Metal roofs are made from three different materials:

• Steel – An extremely durable product that is usually coated with zinc or a mixture of zinc and steel, and then finished in a color. Steel is relatively lightweight and available in every style and color shingle.

• Aluminum – Popular among environmentalists for its renewable and recyclable characteristics. Aluminum is also often galvanized and available in every style and color imaginable. It has great water and wind resistance and is the shingle of choice along the East Coast where hurricanes are a threat.

• Copper – Exceedingly beautiful and designed to last a lifetime but very costly. These roofs are seen mostly on government and public buildings – a testament to heartier budgetary times. Usually only used as accent roofing on residential homes like above a bay window and easily recognized by its classic green patina, copper will outlast the building it is applied to.

A metal roof can mimic wood, tile and asphalt. Its color pallet is virtually endless. It is available in shake, shingle, tile, and Roman styles. You may see the orange pipe roofs today in Miami or Southern California and presume they are heavy ceramic but many times they are lightweight metal with a stone painted finish. The major advantage is that these metal tiles do not need the same reinforcement as heavy ceramic tile half-pipe. You may also spot a rustic country home with staggered wooden shakes on top and never realize they are metal and will withstand winds that could peel wood shingles right off. The attributes of metal roofing products are many, from energy savings to beauty to longevity. With so many attributes, there is no question this product has gained popularity in recent years. Although the initial cost may be higher than a standard asphalt shingle roof, the investment pays off. Metal tops carry a 50 year warranty, compared with 15 years for asphalt shingle.

Metal roofing is here to stay and the reasons are obvious:

1. Longevity. They commonly last 30, 40 and even 50 years or more.

2. Durability. They can take punishing winds, driving rain, and hail without sustaining damage.

3. Fire resistant. They stop the spread of fire from house to house or brush to house.

4. Beauty. They are available in every imaginable color and style.

5. Energy efficiency. Metal roofs are available in cool colors and have inherent insulation properties. They can act as conductive heat dissipaters for the building.

When choosing metal roofing for your home, be sure to remove the guesswork by consulting a professional, experienced home improvement contractor. An expert can help you make the right choice that will last a lifetime.