They’re calling it the “Miracle House on Maui” — the two-story, nearly century-old wooden home nestled between the Pacific Ocean coastline and historic Front Street.
Once a picturesque piece of paradise, the entire coastline — including the historic community of Lahaina — now looks like a charred wasteland, ravaged by an unprecedented and horrifically deadly wildfire that seemingly spread in an instant last August.
None of the man-made structures within a three-block radius of the home withstood the overwhelming flames and intense heat that engulfed this corner of the island for an entire night. Yet, there it stands, with its still-white outer walls and overly conspicuous red metal roof.
While overtly grateful for their luck — and heartbroken for their neighbors’ misfortune — owners Trip and Dora Millikin didn’t hesitate to credit their metal roof for playing a role. They told NPR they removed five layers of asphalt shingles from the roof during renovations completed just last year. That foresight and desire to trim down large vegetation nearby prevented the spread of flames from large embers that proved so catastrophic everywhere else.
It’s not the first time we’ve seen metal roofs heralded for surviving extreme weather. Roofing Contractor reported on similar stories emerging from Hurricanes Ian in 2022; Ida in 2021; and Michael in 2018. The last of which, where a Panama City home with a metal roof survived 155-mph winds and downed trees, inspired the Metal Roofing Alliance’s annual ‘Survivor Awards’ campaign.
Nor will it be the last.
Metal, used for decades in commercial and industrial roofing, continues to climb roofing’s revenue tree in residential settings. The MRA reports that from 1998-2022, the percentage of homeowners replacing traditional shingle roofs with metal increased by 15%.
Roofing contractors are taking notice as well. In both the commercial and residential markets, metal roofing trailed only single-ply in terms of systems used by contractors that responded to RC’s 2023 State of the Industry annual survey. Metal was also second in revenue generation, and accounted for 15% of all revenue among majority-residential roofing contractors submitting the survey.
Bone Dry Roofing President, and RC contributor, Gene Judd recently told us he’s seeing requests for metal roofs increase in popularity, particularly in storm-battered Florida. Across 17 residential branches, he said the company used to receive around five to six calls a year from homeowners interested in installing a metal roof. Now, they receive five to six calls a week, per market, with interest.
People are learning about their longer life spans, more modern looks, advances in coatings and color schemes, and overall resiliency. Stories like the “miracle house on Maui” are helping singe that into consumers’ consciousness.
A lot still needs to play out for metal to truly penetrate single-ply’s dominance in the marketplace. For starters, insurers and policymakers continue to make changes that influence everything from lead generation to product selection; tariffs and raw material shortages, similar to what the industry experienced post-COVID-19, could also change circumstances quickly.
But metal may be making its best argument yet as a desirable roofing alternative to the norm, and it’s letting extreme weather events do all the talking.