Regional Review: Northeast United States

Call it the Northeast, New England or a part of the original 13 colonies. Either way, metal roofing may be more prevalent in the Northeast and recognized as a traditional roofing material here than any other part of the country.

Many buildings constructed in the 1700s and early 1800s, eventually recognized as historical, were originally topped with metal roofing. To maintain the historical integrity of these buildings, when the need to replace century-old metal roofing came about, metal was the only choice. And why wouldn’t it be the only choice — who wouldn’t be happy with the life cycle of the original roof?

“Metal roofing in the Northeast, predominantly, goes back to the way Paul Revere was installing it,” says Kevin Corcoran of Englert, Inc. “It’s the 1-inch or 1-1/2-inch mechanically seamed panels. And what determined the height is the metal. When using a more expensive metal, like copper, they’d go with the 1-inch standing seam to save money. If it was aluminum or steel, they’d use the 1-1/2-inch seam.”

Corcoran, who has worked the Northeast since 1983, says traditions vary from state to state. “In Maine, it’s the 1-1/2-inch double lock,” he says. “They roll form a 24-inch coil to get a 20-inch pan. In Vermont, it’s a 24-inch coil with a 21-inch pan because it’s a 1-inch standing seam.”

A unique detail to the Northeast is a hip or ridge installation with standing seam panels. Starting about 2-3 feet from the ridge, the installer will “flatten” the seam to the pan up to the ridge. Panels from one side are longer than the other and folded over the shorter panel. (See the SMACNA standing seam details for hip or ridges, pictured at the top of the page.) Corcoran says it’s a challenging detail, originally designed for use with more malleable metals and some installers won’t tackle it. Architects love it.

“In the Northeast, you’ll see some of the most beautiful mechanically seamed roofs anywhere,” Corcoran says. “You’ll swear they are snap-lock panels.”

Softer metals like copper and zinc were installed on many institutional buildings — schools, courthouses, churches, etc. Many of those roofs are still functioning today.

“The Northeast has always been our best market,” says Anne Schade, CSI, CDT, of Revere Copper. “And now, we’re seeing that some of the copper roofs installed more than 100 years ago within 500 miles, are coming back to us in the form of scrap, so that helps us with LEED.”

She says copper is going back on those roofs as well because of its durability and longevity.

“Colleges are looking to get the most out of everything they can, so it’s been a good market for us,” she says.
Schade says metal is the traditional material of choice in the Northeast. “And with prices balancing from where they were last summer, a lot of (copper) projects that were put on the back burner then are coming to the forefront now,” she says.

Copper and other natural metal roofing materials have always had a strong foothold in the Northeast, Schade says, because of its historical presence. Revere Copper was founded by the famous Revolutionary War hero, Paul Revere, in 1801.

“Historically copper, Kynar painted steel and Kynar painted aluminum double lock standing seam roofs have been popular throughout the Northeast,” says Gail Whitney-Karn, director of technical sales at RHEINZINK America. “More recently new product lines like terne-coated copper and terne-coated stainless have gained in popularity, as has the introduction of alloyed zinc, like RHEINZINK. Less common, though growing in popularity, are metal tiles of the same variety. The increasing popularity of zinc is due in large part to the growing awareness of environmental concerns.  RHEINZINK is a green manufacturer (ISO 14000) with a green product (ISO 14025).”

Whitney-Karn says RHEINZINK roofing products are most often specified and installed for educational buildings, particularly higher education. Also popular are installations for institutional and residential projects. “Our raingoods line has gained increasing popularity, with the residential projects in particular, as has the introduction of RHEINZINK’s soft zinc which is an eco-friendly alternative to lead and lead-coated products,” she says. “Also, our rain leader that offers the ability to capture and re-use rainwater has been hugely popular.”

Whitney-Karn says current applications are calling for environmentally friendly products like RHEINZINK’s alloyed zinc and pre-integrated solar panels in a double lock standing seam roof panel, as well as raingoods. “The kinds of projects on which RHEINZINK is used today are primarily institutional and educational or on any project where the owner is assessing the life-cycle costs of the building,” Whitney-Karn says. “As RHEINZINK is self-healing, it requires little to no maintenance. On a roof it can have a life expectancy of 80-100 years, depending on the amount of air pollution.  Due to its long life and low to no maintenance costs, RHEINZINK is a material that, over time, pays for itself.  Owners with long-term vision understand and appreciate this.”

Metal is a prominent roofing material of choice in the Northeast. It made sense when people started installing metal in the 1700s and it makes sense today.

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