Category Archives: Materials

Corrugated Metal Vs. Standing Seam – Myth Busters

Who Invented the Original, Corrugated Iron / Steel Roofing Style?

Henry Robinson Palmer learned his civil engineering under Scotsman Thomas Telford, the greatest builder of roads, canals and bridges in the British Empire in the early 19th century.

Standing Seam Vertical Panels

In 1821 Palmer applied for a patent for a single elevated rail supported by pillars spaced ten feet apart that sported wheeled carriages hanging down from either side that would roll along the rail when pulled by a horse. Henry Robinson Palmer had invented the world’s first monorail.

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If you research Palmer’s life today, every source details the creation of the monorail. For most thumbnail sketches of Palmer’s life that is the end of the story, but Palmer himself did not concern himself much with the monorail after building the first one in 1825, about one mile long, in Cheshunt, a town twelve miles from London.

Two years later the 32-year old Palmer landed a job as resident engineer for the London Dock Company. It was his responsibility to construct the walls along the Thames River to keep the world’s busiest port humming.

The aging wooden docks were in constant need of upgrade. To keep up Palmer patented a lightweight metal building panel that was self-supporting due to a series of waves or folds molded into the sheets.

Palmer’s manufacturing process consisted of pushing his sheet metal across fluted rollers to create the ridges that gave the metal strength. He called this “corrugation”, from the Latin word for “wrinkled.” It remains a common method for manufacturing corrugated metal today.

Palmer erected the world’s first corrugated building on the Thames River docks in 1829 and he continued to patent improvements in the construction of arches and roofs.

It is ironic that today Henry Robinson Palmer is remembered for the invention of the monorail, which is rarely encountered outside of amusement parks, airports and a classic Simpsons episode. He is scarcely recognized for the development of corrugation, which became so ubiquitous in the 19th century for cheap shelter that most people – and historians – assumed it had been with us since antiquity.

Historical Significance of Corrugation

corrugated metal roof

Without corrugated metal there would have been no rapid development of the United States frontier, a less frantic California gold rush, much slower settling of farm land on the Great Plains and much harsher living conditions on the battlefield.

The strength to materials imparted by corrugation extended beyond the metal sop to other industries; it was critical to the development of the cardboard, for instance.

Metal Roof Construction

metal-roof-on-a-log-home

By stiffening the metal sheets, corrugation permits a greater span across a lighter framework, ideal for the balloon construction techniques that became widespread in the 19th century.

But metal for roofing has been used for centuries, although it was rare in early America. Thomas Jefferson was a metal roof fanboy and installed tin-plate iron on the roof of his beloved Monticello in rural Virginia.

A metal roof could be fabricated with shingles or a “standing seam,” a technique which involved folding the edges upwards and laying the sheets over one another. Fasteners would hide under the upraised ridge where the sheets interlocked, producing clean, aesthetically pleasing lines.

monticello roof

Metal Shingles Vs. Standing Seam Vs. Corrugated Metal Sheets

Steel Shingles Roof

While metal shingles are also available today and can be produced to mimic any material, standing seam and corrugation remain the two most common types of metal roofs. Let’s have a look at them side by side as you consider your upcoming remodeling project.

elegant standing seam metal roof By Gast Architects

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Materials

The earliest metals used in roofing were lead and copper. Both could last for centuries, which is fortunate since those metals are prohibitively expensive. Today, lead is most often found in roofing as a coating for steel and copper is mostly reserved for flashing or architectural details.

Tin and its close cousin terne, a lead-tin mixture that appears lackluster (hence its French name which translates as dull), were the most common metal roofing materials of the 19th century and are important in authentic historical renovations.

Zinc had a brief run of popularity in the early 1800s as a roofing material, but it became most critical to metal roofing in 1837 when French metallurgists coated iron and steel with zinc to invent galvanization and (mostly) rust-proof metal.

In the 21st century, galvanized steel is the go-to metal roofing material. It is the least expensive roofing material and can be coated in many ways for appearance. Corrugated metal can be fabricated from a G-60 steel that is thinner grade and less expensive.

Standard standing seam roofs can be made from G-90 grade steel, a higher-end Galvalume steel, or aluminum.

Galvanized steel is fabricated in a range from 9 gauge (0.1532 inches) to 32 gauge (0.0134 inches). Standing seam metal panels typically begin as rolls of 24-gauge steel (G-24) or the thicker 22-gauge (G-22) before ferrous metal coatings are hot-dipped.

Corrugated steel paneling can be formed from G-26 or G-29 steel, which makes its cost less expensive; standing seam roofs will never use steel thinner than 26-gauge.

standing-seam-panels

Even galvanized steel can corrode. Galvalume is a trademarked product from U.S. Steel that takes carbon steel and coats it with an aluminum-zinc alloy that performs like galvanized steel on steroids.

But even Galvalume will eventually lose the corrosion battle against the salt spray of ocean near the coastal regions. In such cases, aluminum is the metal of choice. Although more expensive than steel, initially, aluminum’s longer life expectancy helps level the eventual bottom lines.

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Tamko vs. Owens Corning Roofing Shingles: Cost, Pros & Cons, ROI 2019

Owens Corning and Tamko are two asphalt shingle manufacturers sharing the adage, “we’re second-best, so we try harder.” CertainTeed is the consensus leader for overall asphalt shingle quality.

GAF is the largest producer of shingles, and its products get high marks. Right behind those giants are Owens Corning, certainly one of the most recognizable names in roofing products, and Tamko (or TAMKO), a brand that has its fans, too.

The Bottom Line from the Beginning

The bottom line, which all the details in this guide lead to, is that the Owens Corning vs. Tamko comparison is about as even as it gets in the roofing products industry.

Owens Corning Roofing Shingles Display

Both get ratings in the “good” to “very good” range from roofing contractors who install them every day and from home inspectors who have seen their share of durable shingles and shingles that have failed before they should.

What it comes down to is the quality of the installation. You’ve got two above-average shingle brands that can deliver superior durability for 20+ years, fail in just a few years or perform somewhere in the middle.

What makes the difference is how well the installers do their job.

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More on the installation below. Along the way we’ll address where each brand has bragging rights. While OC and Tamko are close to equal in total score, each brand has strong and weak points.

OC vs. Tamko: Quality and Reliability

Quality is a product of the materials used and the production process. Here’s an overview of Owens Corning and Tamko shingle construction.

  • Owens Corning: OC makes three tiers of shingles in basic (Oakridge, Supreme), better (Duration, OC’s best-seller) and best (Devonshire, Woodmoor, Woodcrest, Berkshire) categories.
  • Tamko: This brand makes a very similar lineup with basic (Elite Glass-Seal), better (Heritage, Heritage Woodgate) and best (Heritage Premium, Heritage Vintage).

All shingles from Owens Corning and Tamko feature fiberglass mat bases saturated with asphalt and dressed with coated granules to resist the sun’s UV radiation. Each shingle is constructed with fused layers.

When installed, less than half of each shingle is exposed. The result is that 3-tab roofs (OC Supreme and Tamko Elite Glass-Seal 3-tab) have 2-3 layers of coverage at any given point on your roof.

All other shingles from both brands are architectural style shingles with 4-5 layers of coverage. The result are shingles with wind ratings of 60mph for 3-tab products and 110/130mph for all others.

The two brands have the same ratings in most ASTM materials and fire rating tests. Both are on par or superior to most other brands including CertainTeed and GAF.

Bad shingles are often the result of production rather than the materials used. The production processes for these brands are similar. The processes are slightly tweaked, even from run to run (runs of shingle batches).

When errors occur, a bad batch of shingles, such as layers that don’t properly fuse, are produced. What makes a brand worth considering is the consistency of the quality from run to run. Owens Corning and Tamko deliver good consistency.

Advantage—Tie: We’re not afraid to take sides, but there’s no clear winner here. These brands are rated about as equal as you will find in terms of quality and reliability, especially the two most-popular series, the Owens Corning Duration and Tamko Heritage.

Owens Corning vs. Tamko: Cost

Since these brands compete aggressively head to head, their prices are comparable across all products (and are very competitive with GAF, too).

Here is a breakdown of the shingle series and their costs from both brands:

Prices are per square, which is 100 square feet of coverage (and 3 or 4 bundles of shingles, so check product specs for the bundles-per-square).

3-tab shingles:

  • OC Supreme: $70-$85
  • Tamko Elite Glass-Seal: $72-$77

Average architectural/dimensional shingles:

  • OC Duration: $110-$120
  • Tamko Heritage: $84-$100

Best-selling architectural/dimensional shingles:

  • OC Duration Designer, STORM & COOL: $105-$135
  • Tamko Heritage Premium: $90-$105

Premium, architectural/dimensional shingles:

  • OC Devonshire, Woodmoor, Woodcrest, Berkshire: $175-$280
  • Tamko Heritage Woodgate, Heritage Vintage: $180-$205

Advantage – Tamko: As you can see, Tamko offers better value in each tier of products. It always makes sense to get written estimates on the specific roofing materials you’re considering, to get a direct comparison of cost.

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Tile Roof Cost and Pros & Cons – Clay Vs. Concrete Tile 2019

Tiles are mankind’s oldest manufactured roofing material, with the first use of clay tiles dating back to Ancient China. Throughout history, their durability made them the go-to choice for roofs in the Middle East, Europe and Asia.

clay-tile-roof

Today’s roofing authorities are reluctant to say exactly how long new tile roofs will last — they may last forever! 😉

Pricing Details

As with all roofing materials, but perhaps not so much as with tile, the upfront costs must be differentiated from the life-cycle costs. With the exception of some very high quality slate, clay tile is the most expensive roofing system you can get.

Count on a tile roof costing two times as much as a wood shake roof and four times more than asphalt shingles.

Depending on your region and the product you choose, expect to pay between $12.00 and $25.00 per square foot for a ceramic clay tile roof installed.

Concrete tiles are less expensive than clay, so they would be on the lower end of the above pricing range.

The color, style, and grade of the tile you choose, including its weight and thickness, is what will determine the actual cost of materials, while installation costs will vary, depending on your location.

Total Cost Installed

On average, a typical 2,000 square feet tile roof will cost between $25,000 and $45,000 to install, depending on the profile, roof difficulty, choice of material, and location.

Note: higher-end clay tiles can cost significantly more than low-end and mid-range tiles.

It’s not unheard of for a tile roof to cost as much as $50,000 installed, especially when you deal with a complex roof requiring a lot of tile cutting and additional labor.

Install Roof Shingles

$7,500
Average price
Install Metal Roof

$14,500
Average price
Install Flat Roof

$8,225
Average price

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Historic Context and Larger Picture — Old School Tiles and Modern Revival

In the United States, tile roofing techniques traveled across the ocean with the Dutch on the East Coast and the Spanish missionaries along the Gulf Coast and out West.

Tiles were formed with clay and fired to produce the familiar orange-ish colors. Minerals could be infused into the baking process to create a colored tile and glazes could also be added to the natural Terra Cotta to increase the variety of colors.

With the abundance of trees in northern America, wood roofing soon replaced tile as a favorite house covering. Tile would go in and out of favor, owing to the vagaries of architectural styles.

In the mid-1800s, when flat-roofed Italianate villas became a momentary rage, the demand for tile surged.

In the 1920s American architects introduced Revival styles in Mediterranean, Spanish Colonial, Italian Renaissance and Mission designs which kick-started the clamor for tile roofs once again.

Spanish style clay tile roof on a stucco home in Florida

Today, clay and concrete are the two most common types of tiles used to cover roofs.

Clay tiles were historically hand-formed until the 1870s when tile making machines were first invented. Large manufacturing plants were then established in areas rich in clay such as the Ohio River Valley, northern Georgia and western New York.

Did you know? Today, almost all roofing tiles are machine-made.

The technology to fabricate tiles from cement became available in the 20th century. The gray concrete was impregnated with iron oxides to do duty as imitation Terra Cotta tile, imitation slate and even imitation wood shakes.

Tiles can be extruded to form nearly any shape. They can be churned out flat, as with shingles that overlap and interlock on a roof. They can be the familiar barrel style which are laid in vertical rows of half-circles. They can be S-tiles that have concave and convex troughs that overlap across a rooftop.

No matter what shape tiles take, they are among the most decorative of all choices for roof coverings.

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