Metal Roof

I've always wanted to install a metal roof on the Mill Creek NetZero Home. The installation is almost complete now, and I'm very pleased with the sharp look of the roof. Style wasn't our main motivation for choosing to go with metal though.


Durability is our primary reason for wanting the roof - the most important component of the house  - to be  metal.

Metal roofs are reputed to last fifty years and more. In fact, I am confident that this roof will outlive me. I believe that economic resources of all kinds will be much scarcer in the years to come, with that scarcity increasing every year. So it makes sense for us to invest in a super-durable roof now, when there is relative abundance. In the future, it will be much more difficult to acquire the resources (economic or otherwise) to put a new roof on the home.


We intend to use collected rainwater as the primary means by which to water our garden, so another consideration for choosing a metal roof is the rainwater that will wash off of it. Asphalt roofs are made from petroleum products that leach chemicals throughout much of their lifespan - who wants to pour rainbow-coloured water on their organic tomatoes?

The possibility also exists that we will need to harvest drinking water off of the roof someday. The water washing off of the metal roof will be squeaky clean, and we'll be confident about drinking it or eating the vegetables that have been watered with it.


Metal roofs with recycled content (which ours has) qualify for LEED points (LEED is a certification program for green buildings). However, I have my doubts about whether a metal roof is a clear-cut winner over an asphalt one.

Metal is very energy-intensive to manufacture. Plus, it is imported from somewhere other than Edmonton. Asphalt shingles, on the other hand, are made right here, from a local product (yes, we Edmontonians, for better or for worse, can claim oil as "local").  Plus, asphalt shingles are much more durable than they used to be - they can come with 35-50 year warranties.

Overall, given the durability and recyclability of a metal roof, I think that it narrowly beats an asphalt roof for "greenility". That fact, combined with the clean water washing off of it and the financial security that comes with such a long-lasting roof, made a metal roof an obvious choice for the Mill Creek NetZero Home.

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I was wondering who did your metal roof?

We did it ourselves. the quotes we got were outrageous, but maybe that will change now that the boom has busted.

May I ask which roofing supplier you used and what type of panels you installed? We live in Edmonton and wish to install a metal roof, for the reasons you mentioned, but are still getting huge quotes. Your roof looks beautiful. I'm inpired to think that you did it yourself.

I too am wondering who your supplier was. I need to replace my roof this year, and am hoping to do it myself.

The metal roof came from Lenmak Exterior Innovations Inc.

Sorry that took so long - I had to dig up the receipt.

Thanks for the info on the roof. I too liked yours and will check this supplier out. I see your logic on the metal roof. We all likely use and throw away this amount of metal in other parts of our lives with cars etc.

Was this type of roof any better or easier in any other way, say for installing the solar panels or arranging other roof penetrations? Seems that it would take more effort to get used to installing and cutting metal, compared with asphalt?

I agree with what you say about outrageous estimates, incl. for a roof.

We attached the PV modules directly to the roof using "unistrut" attachments. However, I don't know if we had an advantage over an asphalt roof because this one is the only solar installation that I've been involved with.

The effort for cutting and measuring seemed more significant than for an asphalt roof.

Thanks for all the great info on this site... specifically the metal roofing supplier mentioned above. I checked them out, and ran across a company called Interlock Industries that works with those funky metal roof styles that look like shakes, and tiles and such. I called their 1-800 number to talk with someone about options and prices but got an answering service... they wanted my name and phone number and postal code and address and maybe my firstborn if I had kept giving them all the info they asked for. I declined to give any more personal info, and they said they couldn't fulfill my request to speak with anyone about the subject without that info - so we ended the call.

Funny thing, I just came across this article from other unhappy customers - I guess instinct does count for a lot:

Lenmak Exterior has been quite helpful, but I have to either do the roof myself (with the help of our second-year apprentice carpenter son), or likely pay an exorbitant fee for an installer. I count myself as one of the more handy guys in the world, so I hope it doesn't leak.

Ps. it's just on a square gable-pitch garage, so it shouldn't be too complicated.

Thanks again,

- Corey

I too am only moderately handy, but managed to build a 'get-a-away' cabin myself. I installed a steel roof (snap and lock??) on a simple straight line 11-12 pitch roof. Although it looks good and is wonderfully functional, I did learn several things that might help other diy installers.

I obtained most if not all of the accessory trims and ridgecap material from Lenmark. They were able to custom build any trim size / configuration I needed. When you run into a specific 'fitting' problem, a specially built piece can make a huge difference in application ease and speed.

Things to watch for:
-Order the panel lengths so you ensure 1-1/2 to 2 inch drip line at the eve (depending on the style of eaves trough - to ensure water falls INTO the eaves trough). The panel length should also leave a gap of 1-2 inches at the ridgecap (for ventilation and/or metal expansion). Make sure you account for the width of the ridgecap and that it will properly cover the gap. The caution is to ensure you don't leave yourself short.
-Snow will slide off a steeper pitch, but will catch in the eaves trough and 'back up' sufficiently to create a blockage. It occurs when light show slides without much velocity and simply fills the eaves trough. Placing the eaves trough a bit lower (further down from the drip edge) MAY allow snow to slide off without catching the eaves trough blockage. If you intend to place ‘slide blockers’ (I don’t know the proper term), this issue becomes redundant.
-Some trim pieces (gable end caps) will leave cavities just big enough for bats to crawl into. If you want to avoid the associated problems, plug all access holes with expanded wire mesh or similar material.
-I planned carefully to avoid roof intrusions, so I only had a chimney to work around. It was a tough fit, and I'd recommend careful planning for such roof openings BEFORE you start. Know what materials you need and how to make pieces fit.

Perhaps to put your mind at ease, the roof went on fast, was not very complicated (exceptions noted) and I get great comfort from knowing I'll never have to do it again.


I am the owner of Tabib Roofing in Edmonton. I have been roofing with my crew for over 15 years. I have many years expeience in metal roofing. I have my own standing seem roofing machine. I offer very competitive prices for complete jobs, and I also supply Edmonton and surrounding areas with standing seem metal roofing panels for do it yourselfers. My roofing machine is mobile (in a trailer) so I can run any color roofing panels on site. I can be reached anytime @ 780 240-2848

Conrad, A steel roof is a very good green choice, However, there are a few things to consider.
You mentioned water running off your roof would be very clean and you might consider drinking it. Bird deposits on the roof should be a concern.
When I bought my old house 25 years ago, it had a steel roof. The pitch, at the front was about 8/12. At the rear of the house, this slope met a shed roof with a 3/12 pitch.
In 1998, during the Ice Storm which hit Eastern Ontario, about 5 inches of ice bonded to the steel. Over the next month, about 10 inches of snow accumulated on top of this layer. In mid February, we had a mild spell. One day, I came home to find that the ice had slid off the front roof. The whole sheet had released at once. It hit the ground about ten feet from the drip line. If someone had been walking up the front steps or on the sidewalk, the sheet of ice would have caused serious injury or death. If anyone is considering a steel roof, be aware of the danger of falling ice on stir ways, pathways and driveways.
I notice that your roof has ice guards. These can help prevent falling ice, but can also hold the ice and cause ice damming.
At the rear of the house, the sliding ice stopped on the low slope roof. We eventually had ice damming which caused water to drip through the ceiling in numerous locations. Ice does not slide well on a roof with a slope of 4/12 or less.
Another issue with steel roofing is that if the ice slides off as a panel, it can rip off the eaves trough. If you have a slow melt, the ice slips down gradually, curling into the eaves trough. The weigh pulls the gutters off. I replaced my troughs twice in 15 years and reattached them a couple of other times.
A few years ago, when I renovated the house, I changed the roof line to eliminate the change of slope at the rear. I also removed all the steel and replaced it with 30 year shingles. I installed Ice and Water shield under the first nine feet of shingles and used 15 Lb tar paper under the rest of the roof. The multiple layers of protection will reduce the possibilities of leaks.
I used light coloured shingles to reduce the heat absorption. This keeps the attic cooler (slightly) in the summer.
As you noted, asphalt shingles are not green, but they have some advantages. Unfortunately, sometimes we do have to compromise principles for other practicalities. Jim

Wow, very interesting Jim. I think that we probably have less of the sorts of problems that you describe in Edmonton because we less of the "in between" weather that caused the ice storms as there is down east.

Still, I had never considered any of the issues that you brought up here.


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