The longevity and maintenance of metal roofs: what to expect

UK Home Improvement

The Longevity And Maintenance Of Metal Roofs: What To Expect

Metal roofing has surged in popularity in recent years, offering a sleek, durable, and energy-efficient option for modern home structures. However, understanding what to expect in terms of lifespan and maintenance is crucial for making an informed decision.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the durability of metal roofs, the maintenance they require, and tips to ensure your roof remains in top condition for years to come.

The Durability And Longevity Of Metal Roofs

Metal roofs are renowned for their resilience and long-term performance. If they’re well-installed and properly maintained metal roof can last anywhere from 40 to 70 years. This is a stark contrast to the 15-20 year lifespan of traditional roofing materials.

However, it’s important to note that the lifespan of a metal roof is influenced by several factors, including material type, installation quality, and environmental conditions. Below is a deep dive into these elements.

Material Matters

Metal roofs are typically crafted from a variety of metals:

  • Steel: Often coated with zinc or a zinc-aluminium mixture to protect against rust. When properly maintained, steel roofs can last 40-70 years.
  • Aluminium: Naturally resistant to corrosion and is more suitable for coastal areas where salt spray is an issue. Aluminium can have a similar lifespan to steel when coated properly.
  • Copper: This can last even longer, sometimes over a century, due to its ability to form a protective patina.
  • Zinc: Also forms a patina, which can enable it to last for over 100 years under ideal conditions.

These materials are robust and can withstand a lot of what nature throws at them, contributing significantly to the longevity of the roof.

Installation Quality

The lifespan of a metal roof is also heavily reliant on the quality of the installation. With proper fastening and allowances for expansion and contraction, its integrity is maintained, and premature wear can be avoided.

Professional installation ensures that every seam, fastener, and flashing is optimally placed to reduce the risk of leaks and corrosion. So, whether you need a metal roofer in Madison, Manchester or anywhere in the UK, hiring professional services is crucial.

Environmental Factors

The environment where a metal roof is installed plays a pivotal role in its longevity.

  • Temperature Fluctuations: Metal roofs can expand and contract with temperature changes, which is why proper installation to accommodate movement is critical.
  • Harsh Weather: Metal roofs can resist damage from severe storms, hail, and wind when properly rated for such conditions.
  • Sun Exposure: UV rays can degrade the coating over time, but the underlying metal typically remains intact for decades.
  • Salt Spray: Coastal homes benefit from aluminium or properly coated metal roofs that resist salt corrosion.

Metal roofs are engineered for longevity. While the initial cost may be higher than some other roofing materials, the investment is often justified over the long term. 

Metal Roof Upkeep

While metal roofs are often marketed as ‘low maintenance,’ it’s important to understand what that entails. Here’s a look at the essential upkeep practices for keeping the material in top condition:

Regular Inspections

It’s recommended that you inspect your metal roof at least once a year and following any severe weather events. During these inspections, you should check for:

  • Signs of corrosion or rust, particularly at joints and edges
  • Loose, damaged, or missing fasteners, which are crucial in keeping the roof panels secure
  • Seams and edges to ensure that the sealants are still intact
  • Any movement in panels or structural supports
  • Accumulation of debris or organic material that can hold moisture against the roof
  • Damage from fallen branches or other impacts
  • Cleaning

Over time, leaves, branches, and other debris can accumulate on the roof. Here’s how to get rid of them:

  • Use a garden hose with moderate pressure to rinse off the roof. For safety and to prevent damage to the material, avoid using high-pressure power washers.
  • Apply a cleaning solution suitable for metal roofs to remove dirt, biological growth, or other substances. There are cleaners specifically designed for metal roofs that won’t damage the paint or protective coatings.
  • Soft-bristled brushes or brooms can help remove stubborn grime. Always scrub gently to avoid scratching the coating.
  • Preventing And Treating Rust

If you notice any spots of rust during your inspections, it’s important to address them quickly. Small rust spots can usually be treated by:

  • Sanding the rust off gently until you reach clean metal
  • Cleaning the area thoroughly to remove any metal particles or debris
  • Applying a metal primer designed to inhibit rust
  • Touching up with a matching metal roof paint to reseal the area
  • Checking And Tightening Fasteners

Metal roofs expand and contract with temperature changes, which can loosen fasteners over time.

During your inspections, check the fasteners for any signs of wear or rust. Tighten any loose screws and replace those that are damaged or corroded. Finally, ensure that the rubber washers often used with metal roofing screws are intact and not cracked or worn.

Sealing And Flashings

Sealants and flashings are integral to the water tightness of a metal roof. 

Inspecting the sealants around roof penetrations, edges, and flashings to ensure they’re not cracked or peeling. Another crucial step is reapplying sealant where necessary. Use products compatible with your roof and the original sealant. Also, ensure flashings are securely fastened and free from damage or corrosion.

Tree And Shrub Maintenance

To minimize damage from debris and reduce the chance of scratches on the roof surface, keep trees and shrubs trimmed back from the roof. Remove any overhanging branches that could potentially fall on the roof during a storm.

Professional Maintenance And Repairs

For certain tasks, such as repairing damaged panels or recoating older roofs, it’s wise to hire a professional. Apart from this, a qualified roofing contractor can also conduct thorough inspections, including identifying issues that may not be obvious to the untrained eye. In addition, they can safely perform repairs on high or steep roofs. Most importantly, they provide warranties for their work, giving you peace of mind.


Keep records of all inspections, maintenance, and repairs. This documentation can be invaluable for warranty purposes and can serve as a reference for future maintenance needs.

While these tasks require some effort and attention, the reward is a roof that can perform excellently for decades.


The longevity and maintenance of metal roofs are significant factors contributing to their growing appeal. By expecting upwards of 40 years of protection, investing in quality materials and professional installation, and adhering to a routine maintenance schedule, your metal roof can exceed its expected lifespan while offering unrivalled performance.

Metal roofing stands as a formidable guardian against the elements, securing your property’s topmost layer with strength and durability that endures.


By clicking "Accept All Cookies", you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyse site usage, assist in our marketing efforts, and for personalised advertising.

More Information Accept All Cookies