Metal roofs are known for their durability and reliability. However, even the best roofing solutions tend to deteriorate in appearance, which could compromise their protective features.
To ensure your home, family, or business are safe from the environment, the roof should be maintained and inspected regularly. The roof inspector will examine the roof for signs of damage and recommend a roof restoration process, if needed.
If you agree it may be time to restore your metal roof, here is a complete guide on what to expect from the restoration project.
Metal roof types
The specifics of the roof restoration process depend greatly on the type of metal you have previously chosen for your roof. The different types of metal roofs require different restoration techniques and different applications.
Before proceeding with the details of roof restoration, let’s look into the most common types of metal roofs used throughout Australia. Knowing their strengths and weaknesses will aid in choosing the right restoration approach.
Colorbond is the most popular metal roof type in Australia. Designed specifically for the harsh Australian weather, Colorbond steel offers a strong and secure solution. It is built to withstand cold, heat, rain, wind, hail, and dust.
It is equally suitable for both bushfire-prone areas and areas with severe to very severe marine environments (less than 1km from the shore).
Aside from the outstanding performance, Colorbond also looks great when installed, being available in 14 contemporary and 8 classic colours. In other words, whatever the style of your home, there is surely a Colorbond option to match it.
Most of the available colours are also solar reflective because of the Thermatech® solar reflectance technology. The feature allows them to reflect the heat away from the building and allow for a more energy-efficient home. Eventually, this helps both your cooling costs and the environment.
While until recently Colorbond steel was a preferred choice for residential buildings, over the last years it is being used more and more for commercial purposes as well.
On the downside, Colorbond tends to be more expensive than alternative metal solutions. If you are willing to invest in the future of your residential or commercial building, however, Colorbond is a great roofing option.
Setting a new industry benchmark, next generation Zincalume Steel meets the growing demands of a changing built environment for durability, resilience and sustainability – BlueScope
Zincalume is another specially designed roofing material. It is a combination of zinc, aluminium, and silicon, made entirely of recycled materials. This makes it environmentally friendly and completely recyclable at the end of its lifespan.
The two main advantages of Zincalume are exceptional durability against the harsh Australian weather and advanced corrosion protection sealed into the coating system of the sheets. Zincalume roofing is also cost-effective, with its price being lower than the alternative steel roof products.
The disadvantages of the Zincalume sheets include reduced thermal efficiency, especially when compared to Colorbond roofing.
The aesthetic properties of Zincalume could also be considered a downside. While beautiful at first, the shiny new look of Zincalume roofs tends to dull over time. The roofing material is also available in a very limited number of colours. Still, the good news is that the coating system of the sheets allows them to be easily painted.
Keep in mind, however, that once you paint over the original coating, you would need to take care of the coating and may need to re-paint it every few years.
Zinc is another roofing material for those looking for an incredibly long lifespan, as well as a reduced need for repair, restoration, and replacement. It is commonly used in schools, residential, and commercial buildings.
On average, zinc will last up to 100 years in the right environment. When installed in a marine environment, however, its lifespan is estimated to be 60-80 years.
Zinc is well-known to be a strong and durable material. It is also very lightweight, which means it doesn’t apply too much pressure on the building structure.
If you want to form your roof into non-standard shapes, zinc would be a suitable option because it is naturally soft and easy to form. Keep in mind that any changes in the shape of the sheets would still require professional input. Otherwise, you risk damaging the sheets.
On the other hand, the underside of the metal sheets is prone to corrosion when exposed to moisture. To avoid such issues, the roofing should be designed carefully. Under the right conditions, the moisture will form a natural patina on the metal instead of corroding it.
Signs your roof needs restoration
A good metal roof would keep the building protected and would add value to the property. Since metal is prone to deterioration, eventually there comes time to invest a bit more to restore its “as-new” looks and features.
Depending on the amount of damage on your roof, there are three ways to do this:
- Roof repair — when the damage is only applied to a part of the roof and that part can be treated separately.
- Roof restoration — when your whole roof needs to be taken care of and the damage is not severe.
- Roof replacement — when there are severely damaged areas on most of the roof or it has outlived its recommended lifespan.
Because we are discussing roof restoration in this article, here are some common telltale signs your roof may need to be restored:
- Fungus and/or moss growth
- Faded or dull metal sheets
- Rusty roof sheets, downpipes, and/or gutters
- Rusty screws and/or loose nails
- Holes in the roof metal sheets
- Rotting woodwork at the roof edges
- Leaks and/or ceiling watermarks
- Loose and/or damaged metal sheets and flashings
- Reduced thermal control
All of these issues are a sign that your roof needs immediate attention. Failing to address them on time could lead to an increase of the damage and eventually, instead of repairing or restoring your roof, you may have to re-roof the whole building.
Metal roof restoration
People often consider that restoring a metal roof means to repaint it or reseal it. And while painting or applying a new coat of sealant is often done in roof restoration, this cannot summarise the process.
Many factors define the exact methods that need to be used to restore your roof:
- Type of damage
- Severity of the damage
- Roof material
- Roof steepness and height
- The design structure of the roof
The general metal roof restoration process
Restoring a roof is a pretty straightforward process. Of course, there are specifics that concern the different types of materials and designs. Still, all roof restoration projects can be fit into a general sequence.
Stage 1. Roof assessment
This is the point where you notice any signs of wear on your roof.
While you could try to inspect your roof yourself to be better prepared to answer the roofing company’s questions, keep in mind that this needs to be done with extreme caution:
- Always use safety equipment when you climb on your roof.
- Do not step on the weak parts of the roof, for example, seams.
While you’re out there, look for structural damage, rust, corrosion, and/or leaks.
However, if you don’t feel comfortable getting on your roof this is perfectly fine. Any roofing company that you consider hiring for restoring your roof will do the assessment for you. As part of the assessment, they should also prepare a detailed quote, including all fixes that need to be done as well as the associated costs.
Don’t hesitate to ask any questions you may have and request the quote in writing. Any reputable roofing company should gladly respond to your queries.
Stage 2. Roof preparation
To restore the roof properly, the area needs to be carefully prepared.
If you live in the Melbourne area and your roof is over 2 meters high, the first step into preparing your roof would be installing guard rails that are required by law in order to work on a roof.
Once this is done, the whole roof needs to be scoured. While removing dirt and debris is part of it, to be able to apply any coatings later you would need to have an impeccably clean surface. In case the roof has been previously painted, this also means removing any residual peeling paint or sealant.
To achieve this, professional roofing companies use pressure cleaning with tools that put out 3000psi and more. This is far more than the 1000-1500psi of domestic machines, so avoid pressure cleaning the roof yourself, at least not prior to a roof restoration project.
Aside from cleaning the roof, treating the surface under high pressure also removes rust stains, peeling or flaking old coatings, and allows a better adhesion of the new coat to be applied.
Stage 3. Restore the roof
As we already mentioned, the exact method of restoration would depend on the nature of the damage and the type of roof. Still, here are the most common steps in restoring a roof.
- Secure the metal sheets. The first step includes a detailed check on the roof. All loose sheets and flashings need to be secured. Rusted nails and screws are also to be replaced where needed.
- Remove any traces of rust. One of the most important tasks in restoring any metal roof is eliminating any sign of rust or corrosion. Any traces left on the roofing material will later lead to further oxidation and rusting. To remove the rust and keep it at bay, rust primers are applied on the clean surface. They ensure the metal is rust-proof and improve the later adhesion of the roofing membrane.
- Apply a roofing membrane. When all sheets and flashing are secured and rust is thoroughly removed from the roof, it is time to finalise the restoration project. To do so, first, a primer needs to be applied to the metal. It would prepare the surface and ensure better adhesion. After that, two coats of metal roof membrane need to be applied. The exact type of the membrane depends on the type of metal. Most membranes are also available in different colours to meet your style preferences.
Restoration specifics based on roof type
As we’ve already mentioned, the details involved in the roof restoration process depends highly on the type of roof that is to be restored. Here are some common tips on what to expect from the restoration of the different roof types.
Colorbond roof restoration
The most common issues with older Colorbond roofs (installed 15+ years ago) come from the rusty galvanised screws that have been commonly used at the time. Therefore, most restorations include removing all the old screws and replacing them with new Colorbond-compatible ones.
Another common point of restoration is the colour of the roof. While Colorbond roofs are extremely durable to the forces of nature, their vibrant colours naturally fade under the UV light. If your roof has started to look faded or dull, you may wish to restore its “as-new” look by applying a new coat of paint.
There is a common misconception that Colorbond roofs cannot be painted. This is not entirely true. In fact, Colorbond roofs are painted just as easily as other metal roofs.
The only difference is that you would need to use products developed specifically for Colorbond steel. If a regular store-bought roof paint is applied on a Colorbond roof, the result will be fading, cracking, and peeling paint sooner than you have expected.
Zincalume roof restoration
One of the greatest advantages of Zincalume roofing is its cost-effectiveness and affordable price to install. When it’s time for roof restoration, the project will likely not break the bank either.
Zincalume roofs are not known for their exceptional good looks. Still, they can be easily painted over.
To paint over a Zincalume roof, you would need to clean it carefully and allow it to dry. Once the surface is ready, the roof can be over-painted by applying two coats of quality water-based acrylic paint. While most high-quality water-based acrylics would do just fine, you should remember to always check the manufacturer recommendations:
- Does this paint require the application of primer prior to the coats of paint?
- Is this paint system suitable for collecting drinking water?
Old and aged Zincalume roofs may need a little more attention before painting. Any greasy deposits should be treated by using a suitable solvent, while old, loose or peeling coatings should be removed.
It is important to note that repainting the roof by yourself will void the warranty issued by the manufacturer. Should you decide to restore your Zincalume roof, turn to a licensed roofing company to be able to negotiate further warranties.
Flat roof restoration
Flat roofs are a popular option in Australia, however, they are prone to rusting and leaking since even a small amount of dirt may result in water building up. Because of this general disadvantage, when restoring a flat roof special attention needs to be paid to plumbing to allow for the smooth redirection of rainwater.
To comply with the plumbing regulations, the product used for flat roofs is mainly dependent on the pitch degree:
- One or two degrees — Klip Lok 700, Lokdek 680mm, or Speed Deck Ultra 700.
- Three or four degrees — Monoclad, Multiclad, or Trimdeck.
- Eight degrees or more — standard corrugated Colorbond steel.
All these products are designed to comply with the requirements of the Plumbing Board and are available in Colorbond and Zincalume.
Restoring a roof by yourself
Because of the seemingly easy steps to restore a roof, many homeowners decide to try to restore their metal roof on their own. Engaging in a DIY project, however, has some major risks that you need to consider.
- Professional roofers know how to stay safe and hold the necessary insurance for the job. If you don’t have the necessary safety equipment or just don’t feel confident with heights, you should watch from the ground.
- Roofing companies work with professional equipment to ensure great results. In some cases, like pressure cleaning, for example, a domestic machine just doesn’t have the necessary power. There is also the option to rent better equipment, but this would come at a price.
- Hiring professional roofers with experience is a guarantee for a job well done. Not only will they be able to complete the restoration much faster but it is far less likely that they’ll miss rust spots or loose flashing that could eventually cause you a lot of headaches and cost you money.
- Hiring a roofing company also means that you will receive both manufacturer and workmanship warranty for the job. This means you won’t have to worry about the roof for 10 more years.
- Some major roof restoration projects require a permit to be issued by the local authority. A roofing contractor, on the other hand, will deal with the documentation for you.
In essence, having a well-maintained roof in top condition is crucial when it comes to protecting your family or business. Leaks and mould may be not only unpleasant but dangerous as well.
If you notice any signs that your roof may need to be repaired or restored, a reputable roofing company is your best option to fix the issues on time.