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Galvalume vs. Aluminum Roofing: Which Should I Choose?

September , 2023 | 7 min. read

By Anthony Marzbanian

large estate with metal roof

When it comes to selecting the ideal metal roofing material, the decision often narrows down to Galvalume and aluminum. These two options have gained traction and popularity due to their unique characteristics and benefits, each catering to different project requirements. Galvalume, a steel-based material coated with a blend of aluminum and zinc, offers durability and affordability.

On the other hand, aluminum, known for its lightweight and corrosion-resistant properties, presents a compelling alternative. RoofCrafters has worked with both of these fantastic materials for over 3 decades, and while we think that they’re both marvelous metals, you should be the judge when it comes to choosing the best option for your next roofing project.  

Wow, it sure would be great if I could read a comparison article right about now. Well, my friend, you’re in luck! In just a few short moments, you’ll learn exactly what Galvalume and aluminum roofing are, some scenarios in which you should choose either metal (or neither), and your next steps when choosing between Galvalume and aluminum roofing. So, let’s get started, shall we? 

What Is Galvalume Roofing?


2 story home with a galvalume metal roof

Galvalume roofing is a type of roofing material made from a special combination of metals. It's known for its durability and strength, making it a popular choice for protecting buildings from the elements. To create Galvalume roofing, manufacturers start with a base sheet of cold-rolled steel. This steel sheet is then coated with a mixture of aluminum and zinc through a process called hot-dipping. The steel sheet is continuously dipped into the aluminum-zinc alloy until it's covered with a specific coating composition. This coating typically comprises around 55% aluminum, 43.4% zinc, and 1.6% silicone.

Here’s a selection of some of the most common applications that use Galvalume:

  • Architectural Projects: This includes a wide range of applications, both in commercial and residential settings.
  • Commercial Buildings: Galvalume roofing is found in places like schools, hotels, factories, retail stores, and more.
  • Residential Projects: It's used for single-family homes, and multi-family housing like apartments, and condos.
  • Structural and Industrial Uses: Galvalume roofing is chosen for warehouses, factories, storage facilities, and similar structures.
  • Agricultural Buildings: It's used in non-animal confinement structures like barns and other agricultural buildings.
  • Miscellaneous Uses: Galvalume roofing finds its way into many other things like accent roofs, pavilions, mailboxes, solar trays, and pre-fabricated flashings.

What Is Aluminum Roofing?


beige stucco home with cultured stone and burgundy standing seam metal roof

Aluminum roofing refers to roofing materials that are made primarily from, drum roll please, aluminum,  which is a lightweight and corrosion-resistant metal. Aluminum roofing is known for its durability, low maintenance requirements, and suitability for various types of buildings and environments. Aluminum roofing materials can come in different forms, such as sheets, shingles, tiles, or panels, and they can be used for both residential and commercial structures. Due to its lightweight nature, aluminum roofing is often chosen for structures where weight is a concern or where the existing structure may not support heavier roofing materials.

Aluminum roofing is best suited for structures such as:

  • Buildings Near the Coast: This category includes hotels, resorts, condominiums, homes, boathouses, and more.
  • Business Establishments: This group covers hospitals, schools, stores, government buildings, and similar structures.
  • Housing Projects: This category involves single-family homes, multi-family housing like condos, and more.
  • Various Architectural Structures: This encompasses commercial, governmental, and residential buildings, among others.
  • Structural and Industrial Uses: This refers to structures like warehouses, factories, and similar industrial applications.

Galvalume vs. Aluminum Roofing: Which Should I Choose?


To aid in the decision-making process, we’ll present various typical scenarios that could impact the material selection for your project.

Coastal Homes or Buildings: Opt for Aluminum


While Galvalume/steel materials are susceptible to corrosion in saltwater environments, causing premature roof failure, aluminum responds differently. When exposed to saltwater/coastal conditions, aluminum oxidizes, reinforcing its strength and extending its lifespan. Opting for an aluminum roofing system is advisable for coastal properties. This choice opens the door to more warranty options, including paint and weathertight warranties.

Your Home or Building is Located in a Non-Corrosive Environment: Choose Galvalume or Aluminum

In general, homes and properties located away from the coast often opt for a Galvalume metal roofing system. This choice is prevalent due to its widespread availability, standard installation procedures, and cost-effectiveness. Nevertheless, aluminum remains a viable alternative even for non-coastal projects.

Your Personal Aesthetic Calls for a Bare Finish: Choose Galvalume

standing seam galvalume metal roof with valleys

Consider Acrylic-Coated Galvalume (AZ-55 or Galvalume Plus) if you prefer a natural, untreated metal appearance. Typically, bare aluminum isn't recommended as it can fade and develop spots. Both Galvalume and aluminum can be coated in paint systems imitating bare metal finishes, like Silver Metallic, Copper Metallic, and Medium Bronze.

You Desire a Warrantied Product: Choose Either Galvalume or Aluminum

As previously mentioned, Galvalume and aluminum offer diverse warranty selections, encompassing both paint and weathertight options. The extent of coverage is influenced by factors such as location, paint system, and panel profile. Nonetheless, warranties remain accessible for Galvalume and aluminum products that adhere to the manufacturer's installation guidelines.

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You’re Hoping to Stay Away from Oil Canning: Choose Neither Galvalume or Aluminum

Oil canning is a natural trait of lightweight, cold-formed metals like Galvalume and aluminum. It manifests as ripples or distortion on flat metal surfaces, primarily a visual concern rather than affecting performance.

Fortunately, several techniques mitigate oil canning's appearance:

  1. Opting for thicker sheet or coil products
  2. Choosing reputable brands of coils and sheets
  3. Utilizing striations or bead stiffeners during panel roll forming
  4. Engaging skilled contractors familiar with effective material handling and installation to minimize oil canning
  5. Ensuring flawless roof decking, as the metal will conform to any deck inconsistencies

Should I Choose Galvalume Or Aluminum for My Next Roofing System?


As you now know, in making the choice between Galvalume and aluminum for your roofing needs, it's essential to weigh the pros and cons of each material in the context of your specific project requirements. Galvalume offers a blend of steel, aluminum, and zinc coatings that provide robust protection against corrosion, making it an economical and versatile option for various applications.

On the other hand, aluminum's lightweight nature, exceptional corrosion resistance, and energy-efficient properties make it an attractive choice, especially for coastal environments. Consider the environmental conditions your roofing will face, your budget constraints, and the aesthetic qualities you desire. Whether it's the high resistance to coastal corrosion provided by aluminum or the affordability and malleability of Galvalume, each material presents distinct advantages that align with different project needs.

By carefully evaluating these factors, you can confidently select the material that best suits your roofing project, ensuring a resilient, long-lasting, and aesthetically pleasing solution. If you’re interested in learning more about the key differences between Galvalume and aluminum, and which is better suited for your home or business, be sure to hit the “Schedule an Inspection” button down below. One of our roofing experts will provide you with their professional opinion, as well as what your next steps will be! 

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Anthony Marzbanian

My name is Anthony, and I am the lead estimator of RoofCrafters’ Georgia/South Carolina division. The roof is the most important part of a structure, and people count on that to protect themselves and their families. That is one of the many reasons why I love my job and enjoy coming to work every day. The continuous training, honesty, and providing the customer with the Roofcrafters experience is what makes me the best in the business.