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How Much Does a Copper Roof Cost?

Copper roofing is a mainstay in modern construction, sought after because of its durability and structural longevity. The material has existed for centuries and some of the world's most revered and finest buildings sport an exquisite copper roof. When adding a copper roof to a building or repairing an existing roof, there are three main types of material that could be used in installation or repair. Copper can be installed as pre-measured panels, cut shingles or riveted panels.

Copper rooftops are both attractive and strong. Unfortunately, the price of copper roofing has limited its prevalence to industrial buildings as opposed to residential housing. Overall, the practicability of copper roofing compensates for the inflated cost.

The Costs

  • Minimum Cost: $4 per square foot
  • Maximum Cost: $15 per square foot 

Copper roofing is notorious for being expensive, especially compared to more traditional roofing options. The average cost of asphalt shingles is only $1 per square foot. Wood shake roofing is slightly more expensive, but the cost of copper roofing can be as much as $15 per square foot. It's important to note that individual prices will vary depending on location and the world price of copper. Additionally, renovating an existing roof with copper finishing may not cost the same as building an entirely new roof as part of a larger building project. 

Buying the copper is not the only cost involved. Few contractors and roofers have the expertise needed install a copper roof properly. Because of this, specialists are needed and charge a premium for their expertise. The elevated cost of copper rooftops is the primary reason many builders opt for cheaper materials such as asphalt or wood. Unlike wood, copper roofing is built to last. There is no need for preservatives or replacement. One must consider copper's inherent durability when calculating the amortized cost. Despite its longevity, many homeowners are looking for a quick fix and so ignore the financial advantages of building a copper roof, especially when they plan on selling the house. Because of this, copper roofing has been limited to long-term projects and industrial buildings.


Copper roofing is manufactured from rolled copper sheets that are between 16 and 20 ounces. These sheets have a width of about 2 or 3 feet and can be pre-formed or molded into pans. Short pans can be up to 10 feet in length while long pans need to accommodate additional flexibility at the ends. The copper pans are constructed on smooth, 4-pound building paper with an underlayment that is at least 30 pounds. While these specifications are industry standards, other materials can be used for specific purposes.

Preparing a surface for copper roofing involves drying the deck and removing any loose screws or nail heads. The deck needs to be completely smooth, and any structural imperfections should be addressed before adding the underlayment. After preparing the deck, an underlayment approved by the National Roofing Contractors Association should be secured with washers and copper nails. The underlayment is critical because it's usually saturated with roofing felt that cushions the roof and provides weather protection for the deck. The roofing felt should be protected by a sheet of building paper to prevent the copper from bonding to the roof's deck.

Advantages & Disadvantages of Copper Roofing

The most obvious advantage of copper roofing is its durability. Wood shake roofing requires extensive upkeep that involves wood preservatives, fire retardant and insect repellents. Asphalt roofing is the cheapest and most popular roofing option on the market, but the asphalt needs to be redone and retouched every few years due to periodic wear and tear. Replacing tar paper and plywood are the most common maintenance issues involved with asphalt roofing. By contrast, copper roofing offers the following advantages: durability, minimal maintenance, lightweight, aesthetically pleasing and recycleable. 

Copper roofing is usually overlooked because of its cost. Copper can be between four and 15 times more expensive than traditional asphalt roofing, depending on the current price of copper. Because of this, cheaper roofing options look more attractive to potential home builders. However, it's important to note that the increased durability of copper adds to the rooftop's value. Industrial buildings utilizing copper roofing are popular because of its longevity and amortized cost. The copper roofing on industrial buildings can be sold to recycling companies after they are demolished to recoup some of the initial investment. The durability of copper roofing is the primary selling point as many copper rooftops have lasted centuries with minimal renovation or maintenance. Many contractors point out the advantages of copper roofing to new home builders but advise their clients that the elevated cost may not be practical if the home is intended for personal purposes. Homeowners that opt for copper roofing usually have more flexible budgets and plan on living in the particular home for a long time. Family homes that are passed on to younger generations usually utilize copper roofing for its durability. Overall, the benefits of copper roofing should be analyzed on an individual basis to fit the needs of a particular homeowner.

In conclusion, copper roofing is always a great choice for people who prefer longevity to overall cost. It is not uncommon for historical buildings that have lasted centuries to sport copper roofing finishes. Most families find that asphalt and wood shake roofing is much more financially feasible and opt for these cheaper options. Specialists are needed for installation, which also adds to its elevated cost. Additionally, the price of copper varies from year to year and may significantly affect the overall price of roofing. People who can't afford copper roofing opt for cheaper metal finishes. Either way, the decision to install copper roofing should be based on two primary factors: budget and durability. While durability is always appreciated, the budget of a specific building project is always the limiting factor when making decisions about roofing.

Last updated on May 23, 2016

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