What Is a Roof Gauge?
Gauge is the thickness of the metal used for a roof. Metal roof panels are measured by gauge and are usually between 22 and 29. Each number represents a range of inches (0.0179 to 0.0217, for example) so two roofs may have the same gauge but slightly different thicknesses. Any difference is minimal in actual thickness but may have an effect on how sturdy the metal is. But be wary of basing a decision on roof gauge alone. Other factors are at play when it comes to metal roofing durability.
Gauges for Residential Buildings
The standard gauges for residential roofs are 22 through 29. 22 is the thickest gauge, while 29 is the thinnest. For reference, a can of soda is usually 37-gauge, while the thickness of the hood of a car is 20-gauge.
Minimum Recommended Gauge
Based on gauge alone a thicker metal will be more durable and is more resistant to weather events. A thicker gauge also requires less support from the building because it will remain structurally sound for longer. However, not every building requires such a thick gauge, so customers should take into account what their home actually needs. Plus, roofs aren’t as simple as selecting a gauge and installing the roof. There are plenty of additional features and factors which can create superior durability in a roof made of a lower gauge.
Keep in mind too, the thicker the metal, the more it costs. While thicker metal may save money in the long run by preventing long-term damage, it may not be necessary for certain locations. Thicker gauge typically helps with the amount of snow a roof can hold up, but we know that isn’t a huge concern here in Florida.
Many homeowners choose to install a 29-gauge roof with trim that is 26-gauge, which can be more cost-effective than a 22-gauge roof.
Benefits of Higher Gauges
The biggest benefit of having a higher gauge roof is that it is less expensive. 29-gauge metal is used on 90% of homes with metal roofs.
Benefits of Lower Gauges
Lower gauges of a roof are more expensive. But they’re also far more durable and more resistant to damage caused by weather if the competing higher gauged roof is without fasteners or hard steel.
Other Factors Affecting Metal Roof Durability
The type of metal used varies in price. Copper and zinc cost more than aluminum or steel. The life expectancy and durability of each type of metal can affect the price. Different types of metals also can use different measuring standards, which means that two different metals that are of the same gauge may not actually be the same actual thickness. Because thicker panels are more expensive, a metal that has a thicker measurement for the same gauge than another type of metal may cost more.
Hardness of the Steel
If you opt to use steel as your metal of choice, you’ll find that harder steels are more durable. Steel is measured using grades or units of tensile toughness. For example, a full hard grade 80 steel, or 80,000 psi minimum tensile strength is stronger than a grade 50 or 50,000 psi tensile strength.
This is a major factor in determining how tough a roof is. If a roof has a higher gauge but higher-grade steel then it can be more durable than lower gauge roofs.
Fasteners secure the roof membrane to the structural roof deck. This improves the durability of the roof overall. These can create a stronger roof despite a higher gauge if placed at specific intervals.
The reason that thicker panels are recommended for areas that have more extreme weather is that they’re less liable to be damaged by it. The thickness will help prevent dents and other cosmetic damage as well. However, this level of durability can also be achieved with higher gauges that are cheaper in cost, using fasteners and high-quality steel.
How Can I Tell What Gauge Roof Is Best for Me?
You have to determine what gauge you can afford, taking into account extreme weather and durability. Remember to take into consideration all factors of roof durability and not just gauge. The fewer repairs and replacements you have to pay for in the long run, the more money you save overall.
If you need help deciding what roof is best for your home contact a professional roofing company.