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Zinc Roofs: Costs, Benefits, Installation

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When it comes to roofing, there are the popular choices namely asphalt shingles, tiles (clay and concrete), metal, slate, copper, wood shingles and shake and more. Zinc roofs are normally not a part of the conversation simply because homeowners feel that the more popular choices are better. While this can be the case, there could be a chance that a zinc roof will work in your favor. You just have to know more about it so you can decide if it’s the right one for you.

You’re not doing yourself any favor by not considering all possible options. Read on to know more about it.

Cost of Zinc Roofs

zinc roof on commercial structure

There’s a common belief that it’s very expensive. While more expensive than more popular options, it has benefits and advantages that make it very cost-efficient. But first, let’s discuss the cost of zinc roofs.

For the purpose of this computation, we’re computing the cost of 2,300 square feet of zinc roofing which is typical of a common two-story home. This translates to 23 roofing squares because 100 square feet is equal to 1 roofing square.

  • Materials cost

The materials cost can be anywhere from $4.50 to $8 per square foot or $450 to $800 per roofing square. The lower end is for zinc tiles or shingles that cost $4.50 to $6 per square foot. On the other hand, zinc standing seam costs $6 to $8 per square foot.

  • Cost of labor

You should know by now that any type of roofing should be installed by a professional roofing contractor. This is to ensure the best and safest results. As you can probably imagine, it plays an important role in the safety of your household so you have to make sure that it’s installed properly. Besides, it’s a big investment so you have to make sure that it’s done right.

The cost of labor varies between $4.50 and $7 per square foot. This gives us a per roofing square cost of $450 to $700. The cost of labor will be depending on where you’re located. This is why it’s important that you ask for quotes from roofing companies near you. It will also depend on how complex the installation is going to be.

  • Additional installation materials

The contractor would use fasteners, underlayment, flashing and more. These will add up to about $1 per square foot or $100 per roofing square. So for this project, the total cost of additional installation materials can reach a total of $2,300.

  • Other expenses

You’d need the roofer to rip off the existing roofing if this is for a replacement project. That could cost up to $4,600. Waste materials have to be properly disposed and contractors generally charge around $900 for that. The proper building permit would have to be pulled and that could cost $450.

The total materials and labor cost is $28,750. Add the rest of the expenses and the cost of zinc roofing for a 2,300 square feet roof is projected to be at $37,000. Again, this is just an estimate. For a more specific quote, you should ask for itemized quotes from zinc roofing companies near you.

Factors Affecting the Cost of Roof Installation

While we’ve provided you with very specific numbers, you have to note that they’re just projections based on what we’ve collated from working with hundreds of contractors. While asking for quotes online can give you a better and more accurate figure, the final cost can still be lower or higher based on the final estimation by the contractor that can only be given once he has done the final checks and inspections.

This is because there are several factors affecting the cost of roof installation. Here are just some of them:

  • The total size of the roof

Needless to say, the cost will go higher as the roof gets bigger. Since more materials are needed to cover a bigger roof, the materials cost will be higher. So for a zinc roof that costs $4.50 to $8 per square foot, multiply that with the total square footage and that should be a good estimate for the total materials cost.

More time and effort will be exerted by laborers as well, so expect the labor cost to go higher as the size requirement gets bigger as well. The other costs (removal, additional materials, etc.) will go higher as well.

Of course, expect the cost to be lower as the size gets smaller.

  • How complex the installation is

It’s not as if it’s just going to be one straight section. There will be peaks and valleys and that can add to the complexity of the installation. These are areas where roof lines meet and these areas present a different challenge to make sure that installation will still be top-notch. This is why they require a highly-specialized skillset and equipment.

You’d also have to consider the pitch of your roofing. As your roof gets steeper, more safety precautions will be put in place by the installer because it’s more dangerous to work on it. This will add to the cost.

The installer will also consider how accessible your roof is. If it’s harder to access, it will add up to the cost. Also, can they drive their truck all the way to your house so they can deliver the materials, or do they have to haul them a few hundred meters more?

  • Your choice of material

The cost varies across the different materials. Asphalt shingles are the most affordable among the popular choices. Choose that and you can expect the total cost to be significantly lower as compared to zinc roofing. Wood, steel and aluminum shingles are more or less in the middle of the pack, with concrete and clay tiles being on the expensive end of the spectrum.

  • Add-ons

Don’t be too excited to add skylights and/or a chimney. While they will definitely add to the appeal, they will add to the cost significantly. The more add-ons, the higher the total cost.

  • Overhang

This is necessary for ice protection and to improve the roof’s overall strength and security. For these benefits, you can expect to pay a higher price.

  • Necessary repairs

Have you been neglecting your roofing structure? This is probably why your roof itself has damages that only a replacement can solve. However, the roof itself is just part of the structure. If there are repairs needed to be performed on the rest of the structure, you can expect the installer to bill you for them.

  • Roof removal

This is a necessary cost for a replacement. You’re not only paying for the installation. You’re also paying for the removal and disposal of the old roof.

Material and Labor Costs

The materials cost is at $4 per square foot at the minimum. That’s for zinc roofing shingles. Its attractive price point makes it a popular choice among homeowners. Add that to the fact that they look good and they offer cost-effectiveness.

The materials cost can go as high as $8 per square foot. This is for zinc roofing panels that start at $6 per square foot.

Professional installers would also require additional materials for an effective installation. The cost will start at $1 per square foot and can go as high as $5 per square foot depending on the complexity of the installation project.

Of course, these materials wouldn’t install themselves. You have to pay a professional to install them and they charge a professional fee to cover for the labor costs. You can expect this to be higher than other home installation or replacement projects because of the danger involved in roof installation. In addition, it requires a lot of time and effort.

You can expect to pay anywhere from $4 and $7 per square foot to cover for the labor costs. Here are the factors that will affect the rate:

  • Season

You can expect to pay more if you’re going to have roofing installed during peak season. That goes for just about any home improvement project there is. This is because contractors have the leverage here because a lot of homeowners have their projects done during this season. This means that contractors can choose projects so they can charge higher. Besides, this is when companies are working on limited resources because their equipment and manpower are already out there.

For roofing, peak season is usually during the late summer and even during early fall. You can expect a lot of competition for the best roofers during this season so if you can, wait until it’s off-season.

  • Where you’re located

Your location also plays a role in determining the labor costs. Can the contractor easily transport materials and personnel to your location? Is your home accessible? Do you live in an area where supplies and materials are affordable? How about the wages?

Whatever the case may be, it’s best to only deal with a local contractor. This can give you the best rate because out of town contractors would charge a higher rate and understandably so.

  • How big the project is

The bigger the project, the higher the labor cost. However, you also have to consider that both small and big projects require the contractor to set up and pack up. Generally speaking, the labor cost per square meter of a small project would seem to be higher. A lot of homeowners are surprised when they receive a higher-than-expected quote for a small project.

  • How good the contractor is

Good and experienced contractors have earned the right to charge higher. You’re basically paying for a contractor’s expertise so the more expert he is, the higher you’re expected to pay. Provided that you choose well, you can expect a good return on your investment because a good and experienced contractor will do a better job than a bad and inexperienced one.

You’re basically paying for results that you perceive to be better. Hiring an inexperienced contractor can lead to expensive damages and mistakes. Just hire a competent and experienced contractor so you can get your money’s worth.

  • How complex the project is

The contractor will do a series of inspections prior to providing you with a final quote. This is because they need to determine how complex the project is going to be. How steep is the roof? How many peaks and valleys are there? How dangerous is it going to be to work on the project?

The more complex the project, the higher the labor costs.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Zinc Roofs

Zinc, being a metal, presents a lot of advantages as a roofing material. This is why metal roofs are used by countless of homeowners around the world. It’s not perfect, though. No material is. This is why it’s important for you to know the advantages and disadvantages of zinc roofs so you can decide for yourself if it’s the right material for you or not.

Here are the advantages of zinc roofs:

  • It resists corrosion.

Obviously, corrosion is something that you have to concern yourself with. A corroded roof is not an effective roof because it can really affect its appearance. More importantly, it can lead to damages.

It’s good to know that zinc roofs are naturally corrosion-resistant.

  • It heals itself.

It’s the Wolverine of roofs. It will get scratched and will receive minor damages. The good thing about it is it has the capability to heal itself over time.

  • It doesn’t require a lot of maintenance.

Unless you have a lot of time and money, stay away from options that require a lot of maintenance. Do you really want to go up every couple of months? You’d want something that doesn’t require a lot of maintenance. It’s not really a set it and forget about it type of thing. You just need something that can do a great job protecting your household without you working on it every couple of months or so.

  • It can be installed effectively even with the presence of harsh elements.

With other materials, an installer would have to stop installation if there are harsh elements around. That’s not the case with this type of roofing. It can be installed effectively even with their presence. Of course, you still have to make sure that it’s installed by a competent professional.

  • It looks better than other metal roofing.

You’d want your roof to be aesthetically-appealing. That’s one of the advantages of this type of roofing. It helps that it can be shaped or curved as per your liking. This is why it’s a favorite of a lot of architects.

  • It’s an eco-friendly option.

Surprised? Yes, it’s actually an eco-friendly option especially when compared to other metal options. This is because it requires less energy in its production. In addition, it’s completely recyclable. When you decide to replace it in the future, you can easily recycle it. But really, recycling it isn’t a real concern because it will last a long time thanks to its durability. Pound for pound, it’s eco-friendly because whatever energy is used in its production is energy well-spent considering that it’s going to be used for a long time.

How long? Let’s just say that some manufacturers claim that it can last for over 100 years and they have the figures to back it up. That’s up to 4 times longer that steel or concrete tiles roofing.

  • It’s cheaper to transport.

You don’t have to worry about roofers charging you a lot of money for transportation. It’s very light so it can be easily transported. More panels can be loaded so fewer trips are necessary. The savings can be passed on to you.

  • It has low toxicity.

It’s in our home that we shouldn’t worry about toxicity, if any. This type has a runoff that’s considered to be non-toxic. It’s actually nature-friendly.

Again, it’s not perfect. It has one known disadvantage. There could be corrosion issues at its underside. This is dependent on how your roofing is designed. If it’s designed in such a way that it allows moist and warm air to go upwards from the framing, sheathing and insulation systems of your roofing, vapor may form and get trapped when the warmth of the air cools down.

In addition, the environment should allow for patina to form. If not, corrosion may happen.

These disadvantages are known by competent zinc roofers. This is why they have measures in place to avoid them. What they usually do is they recommend the use of panels that have a coating in their underside that serves as protection. They can also install a layer for drainage so that there is good ventilation.


If ever you’ll be in Paris, look up and there’s a good chance that you’ll see rolled zinc roofs. Here’s an interesting fact. Most of them were originally installed in the middle of the 19th century. You still see them today as if they were just installed a few years ago.

This is because it’s known to have a long lifespan. You can expect it to last at least 80 years. Maintain it well and it can easily breach the 100 year mark. Yes, it will outlast you.

Alternative Metal Roof Materials

Just in case you’re interested, here are alternative metal roof materials:

  • Copper

It’s so long-lasting that it’s simply described as a permanent solution. It’s a premium alternative so expect to pay more for it. Although, it will show in its elegance so if you’re after improved curb appeal, this is a good choice for you.

  • Aluminum

Just like most metal roofing alternative, aluminum is long-lasting. It’s also a good choice if you live in an area that has saltwater all around as it’s been known to withstand corrosion caused by it.

  • Steel

Modern steel roofing is known for its variations – corten, galvalume and galvanized. You’d get countless of varieties and styles out of these 3 variations which is why it’s popular among the modern homeowners.

The Use of Zinc Strips for Avoiding Moss on Roofs

You don’t need to have a zinc roof to benefit from this material. The use of zinc strips for avoiding moss on roofs is practiced by a lot of roofers even if the roofing is of a different material. What they do is they cut zinc flashing in strips and position them underneath the shingles. These strips will kill off the moss and the lichen.

Of course, it’s also a good idea to prevent or stop this issue from happening in the first place. Moss growth is often caused by tree branches that hang over the roof, causing moisture to build up. Make sure to have the trees pruned regularly.

Cost Per Square vs Other Materials

It’s not the cheapest, that’s for sure. The list of benefits and advantages above should have given you a good idea that it’s not the cheapest material out there.

The good news is it’s not the most expensive. The total cost (zinc roofing material, other materials needed for the installation and labor) can range anywhere from $10 to $20 per square foot. This means it can cost from $1,000 to $2,000 per square or per 100 square feet.

At this point, only clay tile is more expensive at $2,000 to $5,000 per square. Here are the other materials that are around the same price as zinc:

  • Aluminum (can go as high as $1,125)
  • Metal (can go as high as $1,000)
  • Tin (can go as high as $1,250)
  • Terracotta tiles, aluminum and copper (can go as high as $1,500)
  • Composition shingles (can go as high as $1,600)
  • Steel (can go as high as $1,150)
  • Galvanized metal (can go as high as $1,800)
  • Metal tile (can go as high as $1,000)

On the other hand, here are the more affordable options:

  • Rolled, membrane, fiberglass, synthetic slate and asphalt shingles (starts at $30 to $50)
  • Galvalume, and standing seam copper (starts at $72 to $100)
  • TPO, stone coated steel, slate shingle, rubber, modified bitumen, foam and torch down (starts at $160 to $300)

Some popular mid-range options are:

  • Steel shingle ($360 to $840)
  • Wood shingle ($378 to $500)
  • Wood shake ($500 to $800)
  • Cedar ($652 to $848)
  • Tile ($700 to $800)

Extending the Life of Metal Roofs

Metal roofs can last a really long time. Again, it’s been known to last a lifetime and even exceed your lifetime. However, you still have to do your part to extend its life. Just like all materials, it won’t reach its lifespan if you don’t care for it well.

Here are tips on extending the life of metal roofs:

  • Perform regular inspections.

Roofs are regularly exposed to the elements and sooner or later, there will be issues. It’s just a matter of when. You won’t really know for sure until it’s too late, except if you perform regular inspections.

By doing so, you’ll be able to spot minor issues and take care of them before they become bigger. You wouldn’t want to suddenly have a leaking roof due to an irreparable damage that will lead to an expensive replacement, would you?

  • Clean and clear the gutters.

Your gutters should remain clear and free from debris. Unfortunately, they will get clogged. If you don’t clear them, it can lead to ice dams forming. These dams can really damage metal roofs.

At the very least, it will prevent water from draining properly. It can also be a burden for your roofing structure to carry.

While you’re at it, make sure to clean and clear your roof as well.

  • Coat and recoat your roof regularly.

A good coating can prolong the lifespan of your roofing. It can help avoid leaks and even corrosion. When you’re doing your regular inspections, make sure to check if you need to recoat your roof.

The Importance of Hiring Licensed Contractors for Roofing Installation

You see the labor cost of licensed contractors and you’re probably thinking, maybe you should just hire an unlicensed contractor or a handyman? Don’t do that. Here are the important things that licensed contractors can provide you:

  • Industry knowledge

While you can make do with your neighborhood handymen for smaller tasks, you need a licensed roofing contractor to work on your roof. This is because his license serves as proof that he has the industry knowledge needed to pass and get licensed. This means that they know the best practices and if you do your homework further, you can find the one that actually performs them.

They know what works and what doesn’t. There’s no need for expensive trial and error processes. The work will get done right.

  • Security from illegal activities

A lot of money exchanges hands in this type of project so it follows that there are also a lot of scammers. Some unscrupulous individuals will ask for a lot of money upfront and will disappear with your money.

A license creates a paper trail and this is why criminals wouldn’t be bothered to get licensed. Licensed contractors know that if they do something illegal, it can be easily traced to them.

  • Contract

A contract serves as a protection for you and the contractor. The specific details will be included which will serve as your reference. Misunderstandings will be minimized, if any. You can also hold the roofer accountable as per what’s included in the contract.

  • Insurance

This is another layer of protection. What happens if a worker gets into an accident? If you hire an unlicensed contractor that doesn’t have insurance, you will be held liable. On the other hand, insurance is usually a requirement to getting licensed and that can free you from liability.

  • Credibility

Licensed contractors will stand by their work because they know that their credibility is at stake. They know that you can easily file a complaint against them and that can really affect their credibility. They want to build their reputation and they will do so by doing great work.

metal roof being installed

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