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Copper Roofing: Cost, Benefits, And Alternatives
Lauren Risotto

By: Lauren Risotto on May 29th, 2020

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Copper Roofing: Cost, Benefits, And Alternatives

Painted Rusted Roofing | Metal | Roofing | Homeowner Education | Copper

We can all agree that purchasing and installing a new roof is expensive, inconvenient, and stressful.

If you have to go through the hassle of roof replacement, why not pick a roof that will last you a lifetime? Actually, multiple lifetimes.

While the upfront cost of a copper roof is higher than any other roofing type, it can last for centuries, as long as it’s professionally installed and maintained.

Copper has been a reliable construction source throughout history, dating all the way back to Ancient Egypt. It’s been popular in roofing especially due to its many benefits including:

  • Low maintenance
  • Corrosion resistance
  • Durability
  • Lightweight
  • Prestigious appearance

In this article, we’ll discuss many aspects of copper roofing including:

  • How long it takes copper to patina
  • The pros and cons of a copper roof
  • How to clean a copper roof
  • Using solar panels with a copper roof
  • How a copper roof affects a home’s resale value
  • The cost of copper roofing
  • A metal roofing panel alternative that looks like copper

Copper roofing is arguably the most attractive of all metal roofing options, and is unique because of how it changes color overtime. The high sheen of new copper will eventually become a blue-green patina.

The Statue Of Liberty is the most famous example of copper that has gone through the patina process.

Copper Roof Patina

Copper naturally goes through a chemical change where it coats itself with a preservative that is known as patina.

Copper will patina differently based upon the climate in which the project is located. The color can change from copper to aqua green, blue green, or brown, etc. once it has gone through the patina process. The most famous example of this is the Statue Of Liberty.

While copper will patina eventually, the timeline of when it will happen is not completely predictable, and depends on a few different factors.

  • Exposure To Moisture: Copper will change color faster in areas that are humid and damp.
  • Exposure To Salt Air: The calcium in salt air helps with the chemical change in copper. Copper roofs that are close to the sea will patina quicker than in other environments, generally in under 10 years.
  • Acid Rain: Copper that is exposed to acid will age faster than copper that is in an alkaline climate.

If you are looking to expedite the process, patina finishes are sold to speed up the transformation.

If you want to control the look of the copper patina, have it arrived looking like it has a patina, and save a ton of money than we recommend that you look at panels that are NOT Copper. Instead, they are painted to look like copper.

Advantages Of Copper Roofing

  • Lifespan
  • Maintenance
  • Lightweight
  • Eco-friendly


Copper Roof Lifespan 

Copper is the roofing material with the longest lifespan. As we mentioned earlier, it can last for centuries if properly installed and cared for. 

Copper Roof Maintenance

Copper is a low maintenance roofing material. Copper will not rust, corrode, or mold. Cleaning a copper roof is optional but not necessary. We discuss how to properly clean a copper roof later in this article.

Your roof, regardless of the material, should have routine inspections to ensure there aren't any potential problems forming.

Copper Roofing Is Lightweight

Copper is a lightweight material. The advantage to this is that it puts less stress on the structure of your home.

Copper Is Eco-friendly

Copper roofs are good for the environment. They have an average recycled content of 75%.


Copper Roof Disadvantages

  • Expensive
  • No Warranty
  • Difficult Installation

Copper Roofs Are Expensive 

Arguably the biggest disadvantage of copper is that it is the most expensive roofing material on the market. We discuss the price of copper roofing later in this article.


Copper Roofs Have No Warranty

Copper roofing does not come with a warranty.


Copper Roof Installation

Fewer contractors are specialized in installation of copper roofs. There will be higher labor costs for a professional contractor with extensive copper roof installation experience.


How To Clean Copper Roofing

One of the many benefits of a copper roof is the lack of maintenance required. There is no need to clean a copper roof. The copper will not rot or mold due to its natural qualities that resist the growth of bacteria.

Natural rainwater is generally sufficient to wash away dirt. If you wish, you can lightly rinse off the roof occasionally to remove any excess dirt. However, any heavy pressure washing would not be a good idea, as it could interfere with the natural protective coating of the patina.

You can also make a cleaning solution from natural household products that will aid in cleaning your roof, while not being harsh on the copper.


Copper Roofs and Solar Panels

Solar panels are increasingly popular in residential homes due to the Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC), as well as other state and local rebates. Whether you already have solar panels or are considering purchasing them, you do not have to worry about there being any issues between your solar panels and your new copper roof.

Solar panels can be installed on copper roofs quite easily. Thin-film PV solar laminates do not require any penetrations to be made to the roof and are made to fit standard standing seam panels.

You need to be careful that you do NOT use dis-similar metals other than stainless steel when attaching the solar panels to the copper roofing.


Copper Roofing And Your Home’s Resale Value

If you’re investing in a copper roof, ideally you’ll be living in the home long enough to reap the benefits of it. However, if you have to move, your copper roof will increase your home’s resale value.

Beside its elegant appearance, a copper roof means that the new homeowner will not have to worry about replacing the roof, or really even maintaining it.

Copper Roofing Panels As An Accent

You don’t need to have your whole house covered in copper to get the elegant effect of copper roofing. Copper can be used as an accent, often used by homeowners on a small roof that covers the main entryway or a bay window.

Copper roofing as an accent.


Copper Roof Cost

The cost of copper fluctuates regularly. Copper roofing can cost between $13 to $25 per square foot for materials depending on if you choose a corrugated copper panel or a standing seam copper panel.

You can expect the total cost of installing a copper roof to be between $19 to $28 per square foot for a corrugated copper roof and $23 to $35 per square foot for a standing seam copper roof.


How To Get The Copper Look Without The Copper Price Tag

Copper roofs bring a lot of value for your money. They are durable, low maintenance, long lasting, and aesthetically appealing. However, if the cost of a copper roof is just too high for you, there is another way to get the look of copper for less money.

Metal Roofing Panels That Look Like Copper

Metal roofing panels that have been pre-painted to look like real corrugated copper is a money saving alternative to copper. Painted metal panels are 60% to 75% less expensive than actual copper panels.

Pre-Painted Metal That Looks Like Patina'd Copper Color Card

They come in different paint color finishes that reflect the various color stages of copper. There are different colors and shades of paint within the highs and lows of the corrugations. This creates depth and it creates a very realistic paint print. You can choose between colors such as the bright and shiny Copper Penny®, or the traditional blue-green patina appearance of Green Copper®.

Since these panels are not real corrugated copper, they will not patina and change color. The color finish you choose is the color you will have for the lifetime of the roof.

Copper Penny® Standing Seam

Copper Penny® Standing Seam


Green Copper® Standing Seam

Green Copper® Standing Seam

While there is no warranty on copper roofing, the painted metal panels include a standard limited paint warranty. The warranty varies between 20-30 years depending on which color you choose.

While these panels do not have as long of a lifespan as copper, painted metal panels have many similar benefits to copper panels. Both materials are durable, fire resistant, lightweight, and eco-friendly.


Should You Use Copper For Roofing?

Copper roofing is a smart choice in the long term. It is ideal for the customer who prefers longevity to overall cost. However, if you are price conscious and do not plan on being in your home for very long, copper roofing may not be the best choice.

If you’re looking for the copper aesthetic at a smaller price point, the metal roof that mimics the look of copper could be the right roofing solution for you.


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About Lauren Risotto

Lauren is the Content Manager at Western States Metal Roofing and provides insight on content creation and product promotions.