A new roofing product that would normally not be considered so green because of the materials and process used to make it, is expected to last hundreds of years. Not having to continually replace the roof, a most important part in protecting a home from the elements, makes this porcelain-dipped steel roofing product environmentally friendly.
It is made by exposing glass, a readily available material from quartz crystals, to extremely high temperatures at 1300 or more degrees. That does take a lot of energy but it is a once in many lifetimes process. The heated glass is melted onto individual steel tiles creating a finish with incomparable color density from any other process. It is unaffected by sun and other elements, will not fade or deteriorate, and looks like jewels. Its amazing feature is it lasts forever.
Older devotees of Mother Earth News may remember a 1981 article about a man who covered his 1,800-square-foot roof with aluminum shingles for only $60 as opposed to a traditional roof that would have cost a couple thousand back then. He chose aluminum because it lasts a lifetime, is fire and rust proof and lightweight for carrying up the ladder. It can also reduce heating and cooling costs but what he loved most about it was he salvaged it from “inexpensive, used printing plates.”
The man called around and located a small-job printer who had thousands of the plates that he sold for 10¢ each. He loaded 600 of the 2′ X 3′ 0.009″ thick plates with a sturdy, 1/8″ doubled-over edge in his truck, brought them home where he cut them with scissors into 4 sections. His nine-year-old daughter helped it was so easy. He made 40 shingles in 20 minutes until he had a total of 2,000. Read the website link for details on how he shaped and mounted them right over an asphalt roof. He wrote a booklet about it saying it had lasted many years by then, this is aluminum instead of porcelain-dipped steel, through heavy snows and 80 mph winds, and his heating and cooling bills were lower with that roof.
Metal roofs do have a significant recycled content. Concrete tile and asphalt shingles store and transfer heat; metal roofs absorb and dissipate heat quickly. Under the roof air flow helps prevent cold air transfer and reduces freeze winter thaw cycles. Steel does not burn, is lightweight and less apt to collapse from an internal fire, and is the most durable high-wind proof roofing material even to hurricane specifications because it is mechanically fastened to the structure versus adhesives of other roofs. It also is best in earthquakes. There are certified Energy Star finishes available.
Porcelain-dipped steel roofing is so new that there is not much information about it yet on the website, but keep checking with Metal Roof Network for more details. The company, based in Reno, Nevada, is a wholesale, direct-to-consumer distributor of metal roofing with a network of authorized contractors. They can recommend installers in the Greenville, South Carolina area, will do a free consultation and help finalize the roof specification. Download their free re-roofing booklet for “50 pages’ worth of Q&As, roof material comparisons, installer tips,” and post any questions in their blog section.
Watch the video about the qualities of porcelain-enameled steel that has been made into panels and columns for mostly commercial use internationally since the 1950s.