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Beyond Tradition: Stone-Coated Steel Is Gaining Recognition

There are many choices for roofing materials in today's market. Deciding on the best option requires consideration of the materials' characteristics in relation to the scope of the project or the desire of the homeowner. Weight, durability, cost, effectiveness against fire, required maintenance and installation methods need to be considered before choosing the product. One alternative to traditional roofing products that i gaining recognition is stone-coated steel. The "idea" for stone coating steel for roofing was first developed in New Zealand in 1957. Since then, the product has been used worldwide and is manufactured by various companies. As a substrate, steel provides the perfect medium for pressing panels to resemble various conventional materials: asphalt shingles, clay tiles, concret tiles and wood shakes.


Panel systems are not like standing seaming that they are not installed vertically; panel are smaller, interlocking and install horizontally. Furthermore, the panels can be painted orstone coated; they are preformed and come in a specified length. Granular-coated panels, or stone-coated steel, offer a finish that is typically warranted for 50 years or more. Unlike paint, the granules are subject to limited fading and require little to no maintenance over the life of the roof.


Stone-coated steel is beginning to make some very high-profile appearances. In 2005, NextGen Home chose a stone-coated steel roof for its "Safe and Sound" project home. The focus of the home was to feature storm-resistant building products that met Miami-Dade County approval. Not only is the interlocking design beneficial to the integrity of a roof during a storm, or even an earthquake, but the horizontal fastening method provides additional strength to the panel system as a whole. For one of the panels to come off, the head of the fastener would have to be sheared off. The interlocking panels and horizontal fastening method have prompted stone-coated steel roofing manufacturers to offer a 120-mph wind warranty. The most recent 2008 NextGen Home, the "Ultimate Value" home, chose a stone-coated profile that emulated a traditional clay tile. Clay or concrete tile can weigh up to of 800 pounds (360 kg) per square. Products made of steel weigh between 125 to 160 pounds (56 to 72 kg) per square and place less stress on the structure, and they do not break when walked on.


Metal roofing is becoming the choice of architects, builders and homeowners that are concerned with sustainable design, or "green" building. Depending on the method of production, the steel used to make roofing products will have 25 to 35 percent recycled content, if not more. The product is recyclable at the end of its useful life and will, in turn, be used to make yet another steel product, thereby reducing the burden on raw materials. Incorporating a steel roof into the design of your home or building-especially in a remodel or reroof-is also good for landfills. Because a stone-coated steel roof can be installed over existing materials, many old materials are diverted from valuable landfill space.


Case in point: the Capuchin Franciscan Friars. When they needed to select a new roof for their facility, the St. Anthony Retreat Center, they turned to a stone-coated steel product. Built in 1919, and located in Marathon, Wis., the center had a failing fiber cement roof. Made of asbestos, the fi ber cement tile is a now known health hazard when removed. The original plan was to remove the asbestos and replace it with asphalt shingles. Asbestos removal is not only time intensive but expensive. When quoted, the removal, handling and dumping of the asbestos shingles negated the cost savings of the asphalt shingle product and installation. It became apparent that the asbestos tile would have to stay. Because the fiber cement tiles were heavy-500 pounds (225 kg) per square-any additional weight added to the roof structure had to be minimal. Stone-coated steel was chosen because it is lightweight and could be laid on the existing fiber cement roof, thereby diverting the asbestos from a landfill.


Energy efficiency is another area where stone-coated steel is gaining recognition. Most stone-coated steel profi les are installed on a batten and/or counter batten system. This type of system creates airspace between the roof deck and the roofing material. A recent study out of Oak Ridge National Laboratories, Oak Ridge, Tenn., found that this airspace aids in airflow and helps pull heated air away from the attic and subsequently out of the conditioned space in summer conditions. Less heated air in the attic moving into the conditioned space equates to less stress on the HVAC system and lower energy consumption.

Stone-coated steel makes an excellent choice for any project. Whether it is chosen as a design solution or to meet a performance requirement, stone-coated steel is versatile enough to meet any challenge. Steel is a Class A rated material and will not burn. Many manufacturers of stone-coated steel roofs offer 50-year warranties and include wind and hail penetration warranties.

Meredith England, MS, CSI, LEED AP, is market specialist for DECRA Roofing Systems, Corona, Calif. Leading the environmental initiative at DECRA Roofing Systems, England has over12 years of experience in the building products industry, seven of those in roofing. Her focus is working with architects and builders to specify DECRA roofing systems on commercial and residential projects.