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Copper roofs have a distinctive appearance that is instantly eye-catching and recognizable. Copper does not rust, corrode, or break down like other roofing materials, so many buildings constructed around the world in the 1700s and 1800s still have their original copper roofs. This durability, combined with its beautiful appearance, makes copper roofing still sought after today.
This beautiful material runs between $11 and $14 a square foot or $110 to $140 a roofing square for materials only. The average 1,500-square-foot copper roof ranges between $25,500 and $30,000.
|Copper Roof Installation Costs|
|National average cost||$30,000|
Copper roofs are one of the most versatile roofing materials around. Copper can be rolled and cut into many different shapes, giving you tremendous options when it comes to designing and installing your new roof.
|Roofing style||Description||Average Cost|
Copper cut into shingles 1
May be installed straight or in a diamond pattern
|$9-$11 / sq.ft.|
18 x 24-inch copper sheets
Edges are folded over one another where they meet
|$11-$14 / sq.ft.|
14 - 18-inch wide pans
Fixed cleats hold pans together
|$11-$14 / sq.ft.|
Copper pans running
horizontally across the roof
Held by fixed cleats
|$11-$14 / sq.ft.|
|Long pan||Standing seam roof with 30-foot long cleats||$14-$16 / sq.ft.|
Copper pans running parallel to the roof slope
Wood battens, covered in copper, separate the pans
|$14-$16 / sq.ft.|
|Rolled roof||Sheet copper installed over the entirety of the roof, few seams||$14-$20 / sq.ft.|
Copper roofs can be installed in several ways. The first of which involves panels, and these can be installed using a horizontal seam, where the panels run parallel to the side of the house. There is also a flat seam application where 18 x 24-inch copper sheets are installed with the edges folded over one another where they meet. A third option is batten seam roofing where copper panels are installed parallel to the roof slope, and wood battens covered in copper separate the panels. Another option is a rolled roof that involves large copper sheets installed over the entire roof, with very few seams exposed. Material costs are between $11 - $20/sq. ft. with simpler styles, such as the horizontal or flat seam, costing less than a batten or rolled roof.
Standing seam copper roofing has a broad flat area called a pan that is between 14 - 18 inches wide. The fasteners are concealed, which protects against leaks, and the panels can expand and contract with the weather. A long pan is a form of standing seam application with 30-foot long cleats over the seams. Standing seam panels run $11 - 14/sq. ft., with long pan costing slightly more.
Copper shingles can be installed in a straight or diamond pattern. Diamond pattern shingles come in different angle sizes and dimensions, and the ones you choose will depend on the size and look of your roof. Copper shingles add character to the roof and can be molded onto gables, valleys, and other roof characteristics to create a distinguished look. Material costs are between $9 and $11/sq. ft.
Installation of a copper roof is extremely labor-intensive. In many cases, the copper is fashioned on-site to fit the needs of the roof rather than being purchased in ready-to-install pieces. For this reason, the installation costs of a copper roof can be high, often averaging around $6 a square foot or $600 a roofing square. This is approximately $9,000 for a 1,500-square-foot copper roof.
Copper roofs install similarly to other roofing materials of the same style. An underlayment 2 is put down over the roofing deck to help protect it and provide a surface for the roof to be installed over. Copper shingles are nailed into place with overlapping edges like asphalt or other, loose shingles. Standing seam, horizontal seam, and long pan copper roofs are laid out piece by piece, and then fastened along their top edges, which overlap one another to form a watertight seam 3.
Flat seam roofs are laid out side by side, and then the overlapping edges are folded onto one another and fastened into place.
In many cases with a copper roof, the pieces used are often formed on site. Meaning that while prefabricated pans and shingles are available, it is more common for rolled copper roofing to be purchased, then cut and shaped at the job site prior to being installed. This customization allows for a better fit and can adapt to gables, valleys, vent caps, and other intricacies on the roof. It is also one reason a copper roof is so expensive to install.
When properly installed, a copper roof can last hundreds of years, virtually maintenance-free. For reference, shingle roofs have a lifespan of about 40 years. Minor damage may occur from extreme weather or corrosive materials, but if they are addressed immediately, the roof will not need to be replaced.
Copper roofs naturally form a patina when exposed to the elements. This is not damaging to the materials, and it helps protect the roof from corrosion and adds to its charm. Exposure to rain or other elements in the atmosphere can be damaging. Rinse your roof with clean water, especially where the rain does not remove dust, grime, and bird droppings. Over time, fasteners may loosen, so it is a good idea to check them regularly. If a hailstorm or other harsh weather occurs, have the roof inspected by a professional and determine whether it can be repaired or will need replacing.
If you cannot decide between installing a copper roof or choosing another roofing material, here is a comparison that might help you:
May come in shingles or other roofing types
Lasts 30 - 50 years
Mostly standing seam
Lasts 50+ years
Comes in standing seam or tile
Heavy, may need reinforcement
Lasts 50+ years
Mostly standing seam
Lasts 100+ years
Living finish changes over time
Many styles to choose from
Lasts 100+ years
Copper roofs do not require as much prep work as other roofing types. While they can be installed over some existing roofing materials, this can only be done if the existing material is in good condition. If the existing material is broken, curling, or in disrepair, then it should be removed. Copper should only be installed over an existing roofing material if is in good condition, so any material currently on the roof must first be examined and possibly repaired or removed.
The roof deck should be examined as well. While copper roofs are lightweight and the deck will not need reinforcement, any rotting sections should be replaced, and any warped or sagging areas should be repaired. The deck needs to be completely dry, smooth, and flat before installation. So, any existing nailheads or other fasteners 4 that are standing up from the deck should either be more securely fastened or removed.
Copper has many positive attributes that make it an ideal roofing material. It is very lightweight, so it will not require a lot of reinforcement to your roof deck. It is also long-lasting because it will not degrade or corrode, so it can last for hundreds of years with little to no maintenance. In fact, a copper roof may be the last roof your home ever needs.
Copper can be recycled, and many copper roofs can be made of high recycled material content, making this an environmentally friendly roofing choice. Copper roofs come in many styles. And while they start out a bright, polished color, they eventually oxidize and take on a beautiful verdigris 5, blue/green finish that is striking.
Like all roofing materials, however, copper has drawbacks. It is one of the most expensive roofing materials available, costing far more than other metal or asphalt 6 roofs. Like other metal roofs, it can sometimes be loud during a rainfall, particularly if installed over open rafters. Copper tiles, which are among the least expensive type of copper roofing, are often soft and easily bent or dented during installation or a hail storm. While this will not impact the durability of the roof, it can take away from its appearance.
Copper roofs are designed to change color over time to a beautiful patina. However, if you want to preserve the shiny natural color, this can be done through chemical or natural means. A do-it-yourself and natural option is a mixture of lemon juice, white vinegar, and salt. Use this to clean the roof, and then rinse it thoroughly with clean water. You can do this often or as a precursor to a more permanent solution, which is to coat the roof with a clear polyurethane or lacquer. The cost to paint a roof is about $3 per square foot and lasts 5-10 years, depending on the manufacturer.
In most cases, the old roofing material needs to be removed before the copper roofing can be installed. Copper ideally needs a smooth, flat surface to be installed on. Old asphalt that is curling, broken, or rotting can mean that the roof deck is damaged. For this reason, it is best to remove the old roofing.
Roofing removal is around $1 - $2 per square foot, and this is usually factored into the total cost of the installation. Roofing over an existing roof will save you this amount.
While painting a copper roof is not necessary, some homeowners choose to paint accents. For the paint to stick properly, a primer and proper brushstrokes are required. Restoration of an old painted copper roof involves repairing the weak spots and applying a liquid copper paint to return the look to copper instead of the current paint color. Liquid copper paint costs $40 - $140 for a gallon. It is best to hire a professional to paint the roof and costs $900 on average.
While they are on the inside of your house, adding a copper ceiling can add a beautiful accent. Available in a variety of sizes and patterns, they are nailed to furring strips installed on the ceiling. While this is a DIY job, make sure you have a helper, make precise measurements, and use proper safety measures because the edges can be sharp. Cornices can be installed as well. A 2-foot square tile costs $13 - $24 each, plus furring strips for the installation. Copper cornice molding prices are $20 - $40 for a 4-foot section. If you hire a professional, costs run $550 - $800 for an average-size room.
It takes moisture to oxidize a roof. The more moisture in the air, the faster the copper will change colors. It can take 10 to 20 years to fully oxidize depending on the climate, but you can use chemicals to achieve the look faster.
In addition to being beautiful, copper roofs are extremely durable and long-lasting. When well-maintained, they can last over 100 years. They are also lightweight and low-maintenance.
Many architects choose to use copper roofs for their beauty, and the way they enhance the structure both visually and monetarily.
Yes, copper is one of the most expensive types of roofing. A 1,500-square-foot copper roof will cost around $30,000 on average.