Design & DIY

Cottage Q&A: Should we consider a metal roof?

Close up of a textured metal roof on a house By martyweil/Shutterstock

We have a three-season cottage with a cathedral ceiling. It will soon be time to replace our asphalt shingles. Should we consider a metal roof?—John, via email

Metal—strong, lightweight, low maintenance, long lasting, and weather resistant—is absolutely worth considering. Just do your research before you pull the trigger on this upgrade. “Metal roofing is great, but it comes with a warning,” says Jim Watson of J. Watson Roofing Consulting on Vancouver Island. “Don’t go there without a proper assessment first.”

No surprises here: “If a metal roof is installed incorrectly, the chances of it failing are much higher,” says Max Guerra, the general manager of New Steel Roofers in Hamilton, Ont. That’s an extra-hard kick in the pants if you’ve just spent thousands of dollars on something that was supposed to last 50 years or more.

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Get a reputable roof contractor with expertise in metal. “It’s a specialized area of installation,” says Curtis Sinclair, a Calgary-based national senior project manager with General Roofing Systems Canada. And architectural standing-seam roofing, which he says is common for cottages, “is a particularly specialized category.”

According to both Watson and Sinclair, one potential issue with metal roofs is condensation buildup. “They tend to sweat from underneath,” says Sinclair. No bigs, if you plan around that with proper ventilation. Sinclair recommends this general calculation: one square foot of ventilation per 300 sq. ft. of roof. Also, Guerra says that a synthetic, breathable vapour barrier over the entire roof can help prevent condensation damage to the decking.

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