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Copper roofs, which have adorned the tops of buildings all over the world for centuries, have a long list of advantages. They are durable and lightweight, and you may have a weakness for that striking green patina that sets in after a few years. They stand tall against high winds and are even fire-resistant. Moreover, they can be measured to fit exactly over the roof, eliminating time-consuming and potentially wasteful cutting and trimming onsite.
There is, however, one disadvantage that generally trumps all the other pluses -- cost. The price of copper has remained high because of its general scarcity, which means that a solid copper roof will probably cost somewhere around $15 US Dollars (USD) a square foot. When compared to $1 USD a square foot for standard asphalt shingles, that green patina can lose its charm in a hurry. Copper shingles are an option, but even they cost four times as much as asphalt.
To counter this, the manufacturers and installers of copper roofs often refer to their product as "the least expensive roof option over time." In other words, they say, the initial financial jolt will be softened by the fact that the roof won't need to be replaced in 20 years, or even 120 years. Moreover, the reliable recyclability of copper has become a compelling "green" argument for its use on roofs.
This has given rise to a brisk copper roof trade in used materials. Often, a copper roof will outlast the structure it covers, and that roof is often purchased by salvage companies who will re-sell it to homebuilders or individuals. As with most roofing materials, the installation of a copper roof requires a certain degree of skill and training. Roof installers like copper, though, because it weighs much less than asphalt when in shingle form.
There are basically three ways of getting copper onto your roof -- as a pre-measured continuous covering; as a "standing seam" copper roof formed from smaller copper panels, and as shingles. Copper can also imitate tiles or slate. The green patina that develops on copper comes from copper carbonate and is known as "verdigris." The leading manufacturers of copper roofing in the U.S. are Zappone Manufacturing of Spokane, WA; Revere Copper Products of Rome, NY, and Absolute Steel of Tempe, AZ.
I don’t suppose copper roofing is ideal for everyone, but it certainly can be a great option for people who are looking at the big picture rather than initial cost.
It’s true that copper roofing materials cost more up front. It’s also true that you should be really selective about who you hire to install it. This is probably not your average ‘do it yourself’ project for the hubby to tackle on his weekend off.
However, these roofs last practically forever. It’s really all in what you want in the long run as to whether a copper roof is right for you.
I’ve seen copper roofs on all kinds of buildings – but I don’t think I’ve ever seen one on an actual home. If I have, I don't suppose I knew that was what I was looking at.
Is this very common, or is copper roof tiles something that only the rich and famous are doing?
I like the ‘green’ factor, although I will have to say that I also like the green in my pocket quite a bit. Rather, I like it staying in my pocket, and out of contractor's hands, for as long as possible!
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