Noise of Rain on a Metal Roof

The sound of rain on an open frame metal roof is distinctive. This roofing material has a reputation for being noisy based on sound levels in barns, sheds and other secondary buildings. A professional installation by one of our roofing contractors on a primary structure involves several noise-dampening materials and measures, such as wood decking and a substrate or underlayment. Roofers who are trained and skilled at working with metal panels and shingles can significantly limit the amount of noise caused by rain or hail.

Find out more about the sound level of rain on different roofing materials and how dampening can reduce the level of noise involved with these types of roofs. We also compare the noise levels of metal roofs with other materials such as asphalt shingles, clay roofs and concrete roofs. All of this information can help you weigh the benefits of the different roofing materials available and help you decide on the best option for your home.

What Rain Sounds Like on Metal Roofs

Most people encounter this roofing material for the first time on a secondary structure that does not have sufficient decking, insulation or underlayment to muffle rain or hail noise. Wooden decking is not built into most barns or sheds, but it plays a critical role in supporting the roof and reducing noise. Other materials such as underlayment and insulation further reduce the amount of external noise that is perceptible in a finished interior space.

When metal roofs are installed on primary structures, several layers insulate the interior of the building from noise up on the surface of the roof. A study performed by the Acoustic Group at Luleå University of Technology in Sweden found that the sound of rain on metal roofing installed on open framing exceeded 60 decibels. Whereas rain on a metal roof over a solid roof deck generated only 52 decibels of noise, as compared to 46 decibels on a roof built with standard asphalt shingles.

The difference in sound levels between asphalt shingles and metal roofing that is properly installed on a primary structure is about 6 decibels. Most people cannot differentiate the loudness of sounds within a 5- to 8-decibel range. In short, an incompletely or improperly installed roof made of metal may permit noises to resonate and penetrate into a structure, but properly installed metal roofs should be almost as quiet as an asphalt shingle roof.

How to Reduce Rain Noise

There are several professional installation methods that may reduce the noise level of your roof. If you are concerned that your new roof will be noticeably louder than a roof with shingles or other materials, you should ask a contractor or installers about the following features:

Most Common Way to Reduce Rain Noise

The life cycle and noise factor with metal roofing has a lot to do with how well secured the metal sheets are. Because the sheets are so large and lightweight, wind can easily catch the panels in the wrong way and damage the metal. This can also result in some pretty unpleasant clanging on a windy day.

Second Most Common Way to Reduce Rain Noise

Many people enjoy the sound of rain on a roof, but if you don't, and wish to reduce the rain noise, you can do so by requesting your roofing contractor to use a glass fiber or wool blanket installed directly under the roof sheeting and pulled tight so that it is held hard against the underside of the sheeting. This has the effect of dampening the vibration and hence noise of rain. The blankets, which normally come in rolls and have a reflective foil bonded to one side, also have the added benefit of insulating against heat transfer through the roof sheeting into the ceiling cavity.

Third Most Common Way to Reduce Rain Noise

Installing insulation in your attic has the added benefit of reducing the sound transmitting through your roof.  Some professional installers will apply a spray foam to the underside of the wood sheeting, between the trusses.  This is not a DIY type of job. 

Any of these methods can help to make metal roofing materials such as aluminum, copper or steel as quiet as asphalt shingles. Our local roofing specialists should be aware of best practices for installing these materials in ways that limit noise.

Noise With Metal vs Other Roof Materials

Roofing that has been properly installed can produce a sound barrier that diffuses and reduces noise. The major factors involved are decking, underlayment, insulation and any other materials that can muffle exterior noise. The metal itself is likely to generate more noise than asphalt, clay or tile. Expert installation is essential if you want all of the benefits of metal roofs as well as a roofing material that is quiet in the rain and strong enough to withstand medium- to large-sized hail.

Asphalt shingles tend to be slightly quieter due to the composition of the roofing material as well as architectural shingle design, which features overlapping tabs that provide almost 40% more material along with sound insulation. If you are looking for the quietest roofing materials, you may want to consider shingles, clay or concrete tiles. Tiles can absorb and dampen noises independently of the layers underneath.

Comparing Roof Material Costs

When you are comparing roofing materials, you should also factor in durability, longevity and cost. In general, metal roofing materials are stronger and last longer. These materials also cost considerably more than asphalt shingles. The price of metal roofing usually ranges from about $7 up to $12 per square foot, depending on the type of metal you select. Corrugated steel panel roofs may cost as little as $1.50 to $5 per square foot but are more prone to rusting and leaking. Aluminum and steel shingles are more durable and resistant to corrosion. Other options include stone-coated steel shingles and tiles and standing seam metal roofs.

Keep in mind that a roof made of metal will almost certainly outlast an asphalt shingle roof and may remain intact over decades. During this time, it might be necessary to have other materials replaced at least once, if not several times. The longevity of these materials can offset the relatively high upfront metal roof cost. If you rely on professionals certified by metal roofing manufacturers or distributors, the cost of labor should be relatively low. This is particularly the case if the roofing materials can be installed over existing shingles. Metal roofs are not difficult to install, although these materials do require specialized techniques. 

Selecting the Right Roof Materials

Metal roofing is more durable, fire resistant and long lasting than asphalt roofing. Clay and concrete are also strong and safe roofing materials that you might want to consider if you like the look and having a quiet roof is your top priority. Metal roofs last longer than even the highest-quality asphalt shingle roofs. These roofs are also more resistant to major damage than almost any other material. The only real risk with this material is large hail, and this concern is most considerable for softer aluminum or copper roofs rather than steel roofs.

With steel roofing, the primary concern is the condition of the coating on the steel. If this wears down, corrosion or rust may start to form and prematurely undermine the condition of the roof. Regardless of which material or design you choose, you should plan on regular maintenance to prolong the life of a roof.

Be sure to ask any contractors you consult with about the expected noise level of a roof made of metal. Be sure to discuss roofing materials as well as all of the layers under the roof such as decking, underlayment and insulation. If the roof on your home currently has shingles, you should also determine whether these materials should be removed prior to installing a new roof. Depending on the building codes in your area, if may be possible to install metal roofing over shingles. This method of insulation can help to further reduce noise, though additional ventilation may be necessary.

You may also find it helpful to contact previous customers of contractors you are seriously considering to ask about the quality of the installation and continued maintenance from a service. Homeowners who have had a this type of roof for at least several years can also provide insight into which weather conditions are the noisiest and any modifications they have made to reduce noise.

At Billy.com, we connect customers with skilled contractors who can install the most durable and quiet roofing. Discover our contractors and roofing installers in your area who are trained and experienced. And remember that you can install solar panels on any roofing material. Get a free quote on solar panel installation by one of our solar panel installation companies. 

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