How about My Steel Building’s Roof? Do Style and Pitch Matter?

How about My Steel Building’s Roof? Do Style and Pitch Matter?

As you consider the design of your future prefabricated steel building, you might have some questions about what your roof will look like. And we understand—it’s a pretty important part of your structure. Of course, we at Matador Engineered Metal Buildings are big advocates for steel—it’s what we do, after all. Still, you may have some specific questions about the design and the advantages of a steel roof.

Here are some roof-related considerations to think about as you move forward with the planning process for your metal building.

What makes steel better as a roofing material?

Longevity: A metal roof will outlast an asphalt roof. You can expect to get 40 years or more out of your metal roof, whereas one made of asphalt might not even last for 20 years.

Safety: A roof made of steel is a safer roof, just as walls and support beams made of steel are safer than those made of other materials. They won’t get eaten and compromised by termites and other pests. And, despite what some people may believe, a metal roof will not attract lightning strikes. In fact, if a metal roof is struck by lightning, your building may be safer since metal roofs are noncombustible and therefore fire-resistant.

Eco-friendliness: By choosing a prefabricated steel building for your commercial or residential structure, you can feel good about your impact on the earth. It is estimated that each year in the United States, discarded roofing materials such as asphalt shingles add 20 billion pounds of waste to landfills. When you choose to purchase a building made of steel, not only are you opting for a roof with a longer life, you’re also picking one that is 100 percent recyclable.

What sort of pitch should my roof have?

The pitch or slope of your roof is an important aspect to consider when you create the design plans for your prefabricated steel building. As you likely remember from high school geometry, slope is rise over run, or a vertical change in relation to a horizontal change. Low-pitch roofs are generally those with a less than 3:12 ratio whereas high-pitch roofs are those with a greater than 3:12 ratio.

High-pitch roofs: If your building has a high-pitch roof, that also gives it a higher interior clearance. This, in turn, can give you more potential usable space inside your steel building. In addition, roofs with a higher pitch are less likely to retain standing water after heavy precipitation because of increased runoff. This is also why high-pitch roofs are preferable in regions that get a lot of snowfall. This type of roof is also less likely to need periodic cleaning as it isn’t as prone to collecting falling debris.

Low-pitch roofs: These are common in commercial buildings and industrial buildings. The advantage of having a roof with a lower pitch is that it requires fewer roofing panels and is therefore a more cost-effective option. Furthermore, you may save on energy costs if you heat or air condition your building, since there is less interior space that will need climate control.

You should base your decision about the pitch of your roof on what your building’s primary purpose will be and then consider the climate in the region where it will be located—for instance, how much snowfall do you generally receive in a season, and how long does it normally stick around before melting? Our engineering team can make recommendations to you during the design phase of your steel building experience.

Metal conducts heat, so won’t my building be hot inside because of its metal roof?

No, it won’t—not with the latest improvements in roofing technology! Thanks to advances in coatings and finishes, metal roofs can now qualify as “cool roofs.” If the temperature inside your building is a concern—and energy efficiency is everyone’s priority—we will be happy to work with you to design your roof to be reflective, ensuring that your building does not absorb the full heat that can come from the sun’s rays. Did you know that if you have a reflective roof that is light in color it can stay about 55 degrees (Fahrenheit) cooler than a roof that is dark in color? The lighter-colored roof does this by reflecting as much as 80 percent of the sunlight that hits it. Compare that to a darker roof that will only reflect 20 percent of the sun’s rays, and you will see the good news that a steel roof will bring to your comfort level (and your air conditioning bill)! In fact, the Heat Island Group at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found that installing a reflective roof can help a building owner save up to 40 percent in costs related to heating and cooling.

Remember that it’s also easy to insulate the roof of your metal building, making it an even more cost-effective choice. Our design engineers will be happy to discuss the best kind of insulation for you to use based on your region’s climate and your building’s primary purpose.

Additional benefits of a steel roof

Steel buildings give you so much freedom and flexibility to customize every aspect of your design—that definitely includes your roof! If you want to take advantage of natural light, we can work with you to make skylights a part of your roof design. You can save on lighting costs for your building, and also enjoy the aesthetic appeal that this feature will bring to your steel structure.

There are also different types of vents that we can design to meet your building’s needs. This is yet another effective way to control the climate inside your steel structure while also making your building unique and pleasing to the eye.

At Matador, our engineers are here to help you create the roof that will best suit your needs and make your building truly yours. Explore design possibilities with our interactive online design tool, or give us a call. If you don’t already know, you’ll soon see why steel is the best choice for you.