The “Metals” in Metal Roofing 3: What is Galvalume Steel Roofing?

Second in our series about the metals, in metal roofing for North Carolina homes and commercial properties is Galvalume Steel. So, what is it?

Base carbon/iron steel coated with an alloy of aluminum and zinc is known as Galvalume Steel. When aluminum is added with zinc, both of the positive and negative attributes of aluminum are magnified. Because aluminum itself is a very corrosion-resistant metal, Galvalume steel is also very corrosion resistant, i.e. the aluminum/zinc alloy provides barrier protection, as opposed to galvanic. The negative aspect of aluminum in the alloy,though, is that galvalume doesn’t self-protect scratches or cut edges as well as galvanized steel does.

Galvalume steel is also more susceptible to a process known as “Tension Bend Staining.” When steel is formed into the various metal roofing profiles, the galvalume zinc/ aluminum and the galvanized zinc coatings are spread very thin over areas in the metal where there are deep folds or tight bends—so thin, in fact, that the coating has a tendency to form microscopic cracks. Because of galvanic action of zinc, galvanized steel is able to protect these scratches with little harm. With galvalume steel, however, the aluminum in the alloy somewhat neutralizes zinc’s galvanic properties and therefore the galvalume steel isn’t able to self-protect the cracks, or other scratches in general. Tension Bend Staining occurs when moisture or other corrosive elements permeate these cracks and facilitate rusting. The result is “stains” of rust in areas with folds and bends in the metal. Over time, this corrosion will spider its way under the metallic coating, causing further deterioration.

For this reason, galvalume steel is used most commonly in rather simple profiles, such as standing seam, because there isn’t quite as much bending in the metal. Because galvalume steel is more corrosion-resistant than galvanized, it is sometimes installed unpainted or with a low cost acrylic clear coat. While this is most often done in commercial applications, homeowners who like the bright, shiny metallic look have selected unpainted galvalume as well. Most galvalume, though, like galvanized, is painted for added durability and beauty.

Galvalume Steel Summary

  • Advantages: Very corrosion resistant, strong, relatively inexpensive (but often slightly more expensive than galvanized).
  • Disadvantages: Susceptible to tension bend staining, limited profile availability (mostly standing seam or simple shingle styles), must be cut with a shearing action rather than saw-cut.
  • Thicknesses: 24 gauge (.024″) is most common for standing seam systems Weight: Between 100 and 150 lbs. per square (100 sq. ft.). Recycled Content: Usually around 35%.

The information above comes from Isaiah Industries, parent company of Classic Metal Roofing Systems. If you’d like to learn more about metal roofing for your North Carolina home, we’re ready to help you discover more and answer your questions. McCarthy Metal Roofing Systems is your North Carolina metal roofing expert.