constructed in Florida. The state’s subtropical to tropical climate gives Florida a unique combination of high humidity, high temperature, and strong, salt-laden winds that can be especially unforgiving to roofs.
Of course, we haven’t even considered the fact that Florida is the state that, on average, takes on the most number of hurricanes in the continental United States every year. It is for this and other reasons that most new homeowners and home builders should take the choice of roofing material for their home very seriously.
Of the many roofing materials available to us, metal appears to be the most popular for durability. But how durable is it, really, and what sort of considerations do we need to factor in before we make our decision? We’ll be answering all of these questions in the following paragraphs.
The Short Answer
Well, let’s get this out of the way for now: accounting for most variations in terms of design and construction quality, maintenance, and the weather conditions it has to take on, a metal roof should last between 20 and 50 years on a typical house in Florida.
As you can probably tell, there is a huge amount of variation in our estimate, so let us now explain why with the longer (and more accurate) answer.
The Long Answer
The longevity of any given roof, metal or otherwise, greatly depends on the various factors that surround not just its construction but also its usage. The longevity estimate we’ve given above is just that—an estimate—precisely because there are so many variables that dictate how long a roof will last.
For instance, there can be metal roofs that will last well beyond the 50 years we’ve listed above. Likewise, even a freshly installed roof on a new (or otherwise renovated) home could fail before it reaches our minimum estimate of 20 years because it got hit by a hurricane.
So what factors actually go into the lifespan of your metal roof? Let’s break it down.
How your home’s roof is constructed is an important factor in how long it will eventually last. After all, there are many types of roofs available, with some better than others. For the sake of brevity, we will talk about two main types of metal roofing: corrugated and standing seam.
Corrugated roofs are the simpler of the two types, and consist of metal panels with curved ribs along their length at specific intervals. Installing a corrugated roof simply involves overlapping the panels and fastening them with sealed screws.
Meanwhile, standing seam roofs are trickier to install, as the vertical edges of the panels (the ‘standing seams’) have to be interlocked with adjacent panels. They are then secured together with fasteners and clips.
Generally speaking, standing seam roofs are the more durable of the two types we’ve discussed here. The reason for this is found in the design of the roofing panels, which not only locks the panels together more securely but also hides the fastening screws and panels away from the elements.
Of course, there is a catch—standing seam roofs can cost twice as much to install over corrugated roofs if not more, again owing to the more difficult installation method as well as the more complex design of the roofing panels which adds to the cost.
While cheaper, the exposed fasteners of a corrugated roof will mean that they are vulnerable to wind, rain, and corrosion. The added vulnerability of the fasteners will mean that they have to be inspected on a more frequent basis. That being said, standing seam roofs are not exempt from maintenance, as we will explain later.
Where your home is located can also greatly affect the lifespan of your metal roof. We have already touched on the reason behind this earlier in the article—but to recap, the location of your home can change the general climate it’s in, allowing it to last longer by being physically away from inclement weather.
Now, Florida is a bit of an oddball when it comes to climate in the United States. With a tropical climate in the southern regions and a subtropical one towards the north, parts of the state receive slightly different rain and wind conditions throughout the year.
Knowing this, one would want to have their Floridian home built a bit further north and inland, where salt spray from the state’s long beaches won’t be able to reach.
But of course, the most important factor that contributes to the lifespan of any metal roof is its maintenance. Proper and regular upkeep of the roof will allow you to identify and fix any problems before they get any worse—something you don’t want to have happen to a critical house structure.
There are quite a few things you can do to maintain the condition of your home’s metal roof, starting out with regular cleaning of the gutters and the roof surface itself every few months. While the gutters are made to collect debris, they can get clogged over time.
If they do get clogged with leaves, dirt, and other things, the gutters will eventually fail to properly drain out water from the roof, which can then pool water in certain spots. And in the humidity of Florida, pooling leads to mold growth and is a breeding ground for mosquitoes.
Some more long-term maintenance involves inspecting the fasteners on your roof. As your roof ages and weathers over time, the fasteners sealing your roof into one unit can loosen, which compromises your roof’s ability to block out water leaks and air drafts.
You will want to enlist the help of a professional to take a look at the condition of your roof’s fasteners. Their expertise will allow them to find problem spots like loose or broken fasteners and fix them on the spot.
Obviously, you don’t need to have your roof checked very often—once every 2 to 5 years is fine. However, special circumstances like after a hurricane is probably a good time to get an inspection done, as the winds will have made the roof more vulnerable to future damage.