No. 747

A few weeks ago I was driving down the road that leads to our home and I noticed that one of our neighbors was having a beautiful blue metal roof installed on his place. It looked great. I was probably more aware and interested in what was taking place than most of the other people driving down this same road, because we installed a red metal roof when we built this place almost 20 years ago. Other than having to go back and put some silicone on the screw heads to keep them from working loose, it has worked out great, and we are confident that the savings in energy costs has been sizable. The reason for the costs savings is that the traditional composition shingles, made from asphalt, traps heat, while a metal roof reflects the sun’s rays.
When you see school buses around town, painted with a white top, you can understand why. White metal is cooler than dark metal. It’s just that simple. However, in most residential neighborhoods, your neighbors would run you out of town if you installed a white metal roof. As the saying goes, “It would stick out like a sore thumb.” However, there is a solution. It’s to install a highly reflective “cool” colored metal roof that looks just like a traditional roof, one that provides some year-round relief from high energy costs. Please understand that I have nothing personally to gain here from recommending one kind of roof over another, but because a roof over our heads is something we all have to have, it’s just smart to know that we have some choices and some options.
Again, to reduce year-round energy costs, the answer is to install a darker colored, yet highly reflective, metal roof. Tests conducted by the independent Oak Ridge National Laboratories (ORNL) indicate that a cool metal roof can save a homeowner up to 25 percent in cooling costs compared to a dark-gray asphalt shingle. But you may say, “How about in the winter time?” In areas with cold winters, above-sheathing is the key to achieving year-round benefits. New ORNL research shows that additional savings are possible if metal roofs are installed with an air-ventilation gap above the sheathing. The cool roof and air gap save energy in the summer, and the air space cuts heat loss in the winter.
Not to swamp you with too many details, but ORNL’s field tests have shown that the combination of venting and increased reflectance can reduce the heat penetrating the roof deck by about 45 percent for stone-coated metal roofs compared to an asphalt shingle roof in certain climates. Ongoing research with standing-seam cool-colored metal roofs is showing similar results. Bill Hippard, president of the non-profit Metal Roofing Alliance says, “Some ideas are better in theory than in practice. The old concern of ‘not in my back yard’ is hard to overcome when consumers are making home improvement choices. Metal roofing provides the perfect solution – it’s good for the environment, saves money and preserves the home’s beauty.”
The Metal Roofing Alliance (MRA) was formed to answer homeowners’ questions about residential metal roofing, including their energy benefits and environmental impact. For more information, visit their Web site: We all have to make choices, and a metal roof is not for everyone, but it should be an option when building a new home or replacing an existing roof. From my own personal experience, I have never seen anyone tearing off a metal roof and replacing it with composition shingles. I have seen many composition shingle roofs being replaced every 10 to 15 years.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)