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Analyzing Paint Warranties For Metal Roofing And Siding
Lauren Risotto

By: Lauren Risotto on October 12th, 2020

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Analyzing Paint Warranties For Metal Roofing And Siding

Metal | Roofing | Metal Siding

When making a large purchase, you want your investment to be fully protected. If you’re purchasing a metal roof or metal siding for your home, then it’s completely understandable for your ears to perk up when you hear that the metal panels come with a paint warranty. However, like with any kind of contract, it’s important to pay attention to the fine print

You might have heard of misleading marketing tactics that are prevalent in the metal industry around warranties. Tricky wording can oftentimes lead homeowners to believe something is covered when in reality it isn’t. This is why we’ve made our warranties as straightforward and simple as possible. It’s also why we think it’s important to write this article to help you know what red flags to look out for when it comes to paint warranties.

It’s our goal to keep you aware and informed as you consider different metal manufacturers. After reading this article, you’ll have a greater knowledge of what paint warranties cover and what you need to look out for.

In this article, we are going to discuss paint warranties in terms of:

  • What a paint warranty covers
  • What a paint warranty does not cover
  • Warranty Length
  • SMP v. PVDF warranty
  • Registering your panels

What Does A Metal Roof Paint Warranty Cover?

  • Fading
  • Chalking
  • Film Adhesion: Peeling/ Cracking

Color Fading On Metal Roofing And Siding

Fading refers to color loss that occurs overtime. It happens because the chemicals in the paint’s resins and pigments start to break down.

Fading can result from factors including:

  • Chemicals in the atmosphere
  • Moisture
  • Pollution
  • UV rays

Metal Roof Paint Colors And Fading

When fading really starts to become apparent, the roof color will become a lighter, duller version of its original color. For this reason, fading is less obvious on lighter colors. For example, a white roof will show less signs of fading than a green roof.

Fading can also make a roof’s color look uneven, especially if one side of a roof gets more sun exposure than the other. The area with less sun exposure will look more vibrant while the other side will look more faded.

Sun Exposure On A Roof Affects Color Fading

How Is Fading Measured On A Metal Roof?

It’s important to keep in mind that your panels have to be faded to a certain degree to have your claim covered. Just because you think your roof looks slightly lighter doesn’t mean your claim is eligible.

Fade is measured on a metal panel using Hunter Lab’s Delta E (∆E) unit. Since everyone sees colors slightly differently, there is computer software that classifies color.

The software measures color based on the below values.

There are three scales: L, A, B

  • L = Measures lightness and darkness
  • A = Measures the amount of red or green present
  • B = Measures the amount of yellow or blue present

The Delta E unit is a mathematical computation of these three scales turned into one.

Each manufacturer has a different criteria for how many Hunter Delta E Units off the color has to be from its original color to be covered by the warranty.

Chalking On A Metal Roof

Chalking refers to the appearance of a powdery substance on the surface of a coating. You’ll notice chalking more on darker panels because the contrast between the dark paint color and the white chalk color makes it stand out. Even if you can’t really see the chalking, touching the roof’s surface would leave you with white, chalky residue on your hands if the issue was present.

Chalking is similar to fading in that it is also caused by the breakdown of resins. Sun exposure can also increase the rate of chalking. If one side of your roof gets more sun than the other, your roof can have some areas with heavy chalking and other areas that aren’t as affected.


How Is Chalking Measured On A Metal Roof?

The level of chalking is measured using a method in the ASTM-D4214 standard. A range of techniques are used along with photographic references to determine the level of chalking. The amount of chalking present is represented on a scale from 1-10, with 1 being the worst amount of chalking.

Each warranty will specify how much chalking is required in order to be covered by the warranty. For example, one warranty might say chalking in excess of a numerical rating of 7 will be covered, while a different warranty says chalking in excess of a numerical rating of 5 will be covered.


Film Adhesion: Peeling/ Cracking

Cracking, flaking or peeling, referred to in the warranty as “film adhesion” or “film integrity”, and covers and guarantees that the paint will adhere to the metal for a specified amount of time.

Oftentimes, this part of the warranty is covered for the longest amount of time. We will cover this in more detail in the misleading warranty lengths section.


How Is Film Adhesion Measured On A Metal Roof?

Film adhesion is measured using a method in the ASTM-3359 standard. The specific method used for the adhesion test depends on the thickness of the film.


What Is Not Covered By A Metal Roof Paint Warranty?

  • Fire Damage
  • Wind Damage
  • Improper Installation
  • Damage From Solar Panels
  • Exposure To Animal Waste
  • Proximity To The Ocean

The above list are examples of factors that will not be covered by a paint warranty. However, they may be able to be covered under a different warranty. For example, contractors often have workmanship warranties that will cover damage resulting from a poor installation. Make sure you ask about a workmanship warranty when choosing your metal roofing contractor.

As a point of reference, damage that is covered by a warranty usually results from factors such as:

  • UV rays
  • Salt Laden air
  • Extreme temperatures
  • Moisture (rain, snow, condensation etc.)

PVDF v. SMP Paint Warranty

The specifics of a paint warranty depend on what type of paint system is used: SMP or PVDF.

PVDF is the superior of the two paint systems and has extra resistance to fading and chalking. As a result, PVDF warranties generally cover these issues for a longer period of time than PVDF warranties.

PVDF warranties are notorious for the “40 year warranty” which only covers film adhesion for 40 years, but fading and chalking anywhere from 15-30 years generally. PVDF film adhesion is covered anywhere from 20-40 years.


Check out a sample of each type of paint warranty to compare the differences:

To learn all about the differences between these two paint systems, we recommend reading:

Best Paint For My Metal Roof Panels: SMP Paint v PVDF

How Long Is The Paint Warranty On A Metal Roof?

The warranty on a metal roof for paint is broken down by the three areas it covers: film adhesion, fading, and chalking. The time each element is covered varies based on the manufacturer. So to answer the question of how long a metal roof paint warranty lasts, it really does vary.

There is a lot of competition in the metal industry, and warranties have gone from being standard across the board to becoming more of a marketing pitch. Each manufacturer is trying to outdo the others by offering a longer, more eye catching warranty in hopes of setting their metal panels apart from the rest.

As we mentioned earlier at the beginning of the article, read the fine print. Generally the way a warranty is worded can be deceiving.

For example, metal panels might be advertised as coming with a “40 year warranty”. However, upon closer inspection you’ll find that only film adhesion is covered for 40 years, not fading or chalking.

Film adhesion is usually covered for the longest amount of time compared to fading and chalking.


Factors That Affect A Metal Panel Paint Warranty

  • Keeping Up With Required Maintenance
  • Not Using Mixed Metal
  • Warranty Does Not Cover Corrosion


Required Maintenance

Owners of metal roofing often confuse “low maintenance” with “no maintenance”. While metal is a low maintenance roofing material, there is some upkeep that needs to be done to metal, especially if you want your paint warranty to be valid.

Most warranties require that the roof is cleaned annually and that you have documentation to prove this. Besides keeping your warranty valid, a clean roof keeps your metal panels looking their best and functioning properly.


Mixed Metal Sourcing

Metal grades and paint systems sometimes are mixed and matched on a roof. For example, you may have a grade 80 metal on your roof but a grade 50 metal on your trim. Your roof panels and your trim might also have two different kinds of paint systems.

The trouble with mixed metal sourcing is that the metals weather differently, some faster than others. Whichever metal you choose to use should be consistent throughout your roof otherwise it can affect the validity of your warranty.


Warranty Does Not Cover Corrosion

A paint warranty covers only the paint on your panels. If you have any rusting or corrosion that is contributing to the adhesion or discoloring of your metal panels, the claim will not be covered because it is not a paint issue.


Does A Metal Panel Paint Warranty Have To Be Registered To Be Valid?

Whether or not a warranty has to be registered depends on the manufacturer who issues the warranty. Ask your manufacturer if they require that the warranty be registered. While not all manufacturers require it, registering a warranty is always a good idea for peace of mind.


Is A Metal Panel Paint Warranty Transferable?

This will vary depending upon the paint manufacturer. Generally, paint warranties are generally not transferable unless agreed to in writing. Therefore if you sell your house, the paint warranty will not be valid for the new homeowner.


What To Look For In A Warranty When Choosing Your Metal Panels

A warranty can offer extra peace of mind, but the truth is most warranties are put in place to protect the manufacturer, not the consumer. This is why it's so important to read the fine print and understand what is actually covered under a warranty and what is not.

When looking at a metal panel paint warranty, pay attention to:

  • How many years film adhesion is covered
  • How many years fading is covered
  • How many years chalking is covered
  • The level of fading needed to be covered (represented by a Delta E unit)
  • The amount of chalking needed to be covered (represented by a number 1-10)

Always ask your metal manufacturer if something seems unclear.

At Western States always want to be transparent with our customers which is why we have our paint warranties listed directly on our website. Warranties vary depending on the paint color so we recommend checking out our color cards also as we have hundreds of colors including specialty colors to choose from.

If there’s a color you want to see in person, request a free color chip.

Request a Free Color Sample

How To Choose A Metal Siding Color Guide

About Lauren Risotto

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