You construct roof coverings with an amazing array of materials. One of the most remarkable is at least a part of virtually every roofing system you install every day: metal. 

Aluminum, lead, zinc, stainless, copper and steel make their way onto the roof as fasteners, flashings, edgings, hatches, vents, expansion joints, drains and even as the roof covering itself. It’s safe to say that metal is a key component for the roofing industry.

Metal, as a construction material in general, is strong, long-lasting, weatherproof, versatile, attractive, expensive and inexpensive. Wait — what were those last two? How can a material be both costly and cheap? Let me explain.

First, the expensive vs. inexpensive reference isn’t the difference between galvanized steel and zinc or copper. Also, I’m not referring to just any use of metal, but specifically metal as a roof covering. And to further simplify, I’m only going to address the “king” of metals used in roofing: steel.

I was reminded recently of the fact that metal roofing is treasured as one of the high-end roofing products as I drove past the Georgia Governor’s Mansion in Atlanta. It’s a mansion, indeed, and the metal roof is architecturally appropriate in a way that many other roofing materials simply couldn’t match.

Most folks don’t live in mansions, but everyone needs a good roof over their heads. In the past, metal was unable to yield the proper look demanded of modest to upper-end subdivision housing, but metal roofing products are now available to match virtually any look required.

Many consumers long for a metal roof but are unwilling to pay the upfront cost to own one. While often more costly than some other steep-slope roofing options, metal roofing may be found less expensive when the entire service life of the roof covering is taken into account. So, how do you sell metal roofing when your world is all about installing asphalt-based shingles?

My friend, Greg, would offer a top-end product, such as stone-coated metal shakes or tile, as the “best” category of a good, better, best presentation. While he found that most folks bought from the middle, sometimes the owner wanted the best no matter what. The beauty of this was the “better” product he offered was often what many of his competitors were selling as “best,” so he ended up selling more of the upper-range shingle product and seldom sold from the “good” category.

So, metal roofing is expensive, if only in the upfront sense of the proposition. Well, not always.

Outside our borders in many underdeveloped or developing parts of the world, metal roofing is the choice of the masses. Part of the reason for this is there simply aren’t many, if any, more choices in some places. In a simple structure, metal roofing does a great job of providing a barrier against wind, rain and the sun at a modest cost.

If you’re a roofing contractor, residential or commercial, I hope you have a metal roofing product or group of products to offer your clients. They may surprise you with their interest in metal roofing — one of the most expensive and least expensive roofs you may offer.