I Love Copper

IMG_0336, originally uploaded by Prince of Petworth.

I know folks have explained that copper gutters are used from time to time but can someone remind why a whole roof would be done in copper? I can’t remember if it is for more than aesthetics?  It definitely looks great though.

14 Comment

  • Assuming it’s more common in the South (like tin roofs), I think it’s to increase the reflectivity of the roof and therefore cool the structure.

  • I just got a copper roof. Copper rules for one huge reason – it lasts forever. it doesn’t rust. you don’t have to recoat it or repair it. once it’s there, it’s there.

    tin rusts. tin is evil.

  • Do these copper roofs oxidize and turn green?

  • Ray Swore: They do indeed oxidize and turn green after a short period of time. The green patina actually becomes the protective coating that makes copper roofs last forever. The downside is that they are VERY expensive to install. The only more expensive roof materials are probably tile and slate. And those can often be less expensive than copper, especially when historical accuracy is less of a concern.

  • Eric in Ledroit – absolutely correct, copper roofs have a life of about 50 years (no repairs and they have to be done right) I wanted one in my roof but it cost three times as much. They are not only durable but beautiful.

  • @JD – Actually, I believe that the copper absorbs a lot of heat, so it really doesn’t help with reflectivity as much as a white roof or a planted green roof. I’ve seen photos of New York city taken using an infra-red filter, such that objects that reflected infrared (heat) appeared white, and objects that absorbed heat looked black. Leaves on trees looked bright white (makes sense – they only absorb the wavelengths that they need to grow, and reflect the heat so they don’t dry out), while the copper roof of a nearby building was jet black. It was quite an eye-opener.

  • @Eric in Ledroit:
    Your WHAT?




    (And yeah, copper lasts and lasts and lasts…although it can be pretty expensive up front. As an added bonus, rain sounds awesome coming down on a copper roof.)

  • Ray Swore: my parents are in the process of getting new copper gutters; their current (original) gutters and downspouts are 62-years-old, and have a lovely green-blue streeked patina. Their roof contractor (who’s been in the biz for 50 years) said that the new copper will never get that same green-blue patina: they’ll just turn brown.

    If you have copper roofing or gutters, make sure that the downspouts don’t empty onto your grass or flowers, as the copper will kill whatever green is in its path.

    One last thing: if you have moss on your roof, and don’t like the look, but a strip of copper along the crest of the roof: when it rains, enough copper will be washed down to keep your roof moss-free.

  • Copper is on the passive end of the Galvanic Scale, so it is not likely to corrode. But any zinc, galvanized steel, or aluminum (which are on the active end of the Galvanic Scale) that is near copper will corrode through galvanic action. Corrosion is faster if dissimilar metals are in direct contact. Corrosion can even happen if the metals are in contact via a conductive medium like water. That’s why it’s important not to mix metals, especially fasteners.

  • saf

    Eric – I”m interested in talking to you about your new roof. Our metal roof is beginning to show its age, and I want to replace with metal, not that membrane junk.

  • Insane in the membrane!

  • I love copper too. I WILL have a copper backsplash someday.

  • POP, if you like copper roofs then you should head over and check out the new roof I saw them putting on the Corcoran Gallery of Art.

  • Never knew that about copper/water killing flora, interesting.

    I’ve heard that flat living/green roofs can last for 100 yrs they think (maybe optimistic, I know, but Rockefeller Center’s is about 50 yrs old and going strong.)

    The main reason I give this claim some credence, is A, there are multiple roofing layers (roof, rubber membrane, gravel, insulating soil, absorptive plant life.) Because of this, the actual roof material is insulated from the sun/high heat, a lot of oxygen, and hopefully moisture, running water and hale (the primary instigators of corrosion.) Requires framing/roof reinforcement occasionally though. Not sure what the longevity difference is between sloping and flat roofs.

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