Skip to content
The Visual Appeal of Metal Roofing 

A well-designed roof can intrigue passers-by and establish a building as an urban landmark. For instance, the New York Life Building’s roof provides a dazzling gold sliver to Manhattan’s skyline. Likewise, the iconic roof of Sydney’s Opera House can be recognized around the world. While jaw-dropping visual appeal is important, even the most decorative roofs need to serve a purpose: to protect a building’s interior and occupants.  

Metal roofs come with several practical advantages, including a long service life due, in part, to their finish coats and exceptional warranties. They can also be customized to help architects create unique roof designs. Their ability to provide form and function could explain why metal roofing systems have seen a steady growth in popularity over the last few years. With more buildings being fitted with metal roofs, it’s important for designers and building owners to know what is possible to ensure they don’t compromise on their aesthetic vision. Below are three ways a metal roof can enhance a building’s look. 

1. Curved panels add visual flair

When people think of metal roofing, many imagine rectangular corrugated sheets or flat, industrial standing seams. However, advances in metal roofing manufacturing, including onsite rollforming, have greatly expanded the aesthetic possibilities of the material. Curved roofing panels in both residential and commercial applications can make a bold architectural statement. 

For example, St. Anthony’s Coptic Orthodox Church in Florida utilizes curved roof panels for a design aesthetic that is both eye-catching and connected to traditional Coptic architecture. These panels were formed and curved onsite for fast installation that did not sacrifice the roof’s look or performance. While St. Anthony’s entire roof is curved, this style can also be focused on key areas, like an entryway, to provide a playful accent to commercial and residential roofs alike.  

Although curved panels are not a necessarily new design, onsite fabrication makes this look more feasible because it mitigates the risk of shipping damage, which can increase lead times and costs. 

2. Custom cornices range from contemporary to historic 

Metal coils and sheets can also be fabricated into cornices and custom forms, including dentils and finials. Although decorative in nature, these features offer protection against the elements to the exterior wall and can also be fitted to collect rainwater. As such, they can be a pragmatic way for architects to sideline rainwater run-off without sacrificing design. 

These finishing details can be perfect for revitalizing historic buildings or creating a contemporary and stylish shape along the edge of a roof. For historic reproductions, specifying metal cornices that have been finished with Kynar can help extend the life of the feature and the systems that surround it. To ensure new forms will accurately match existing cornice shapes, select manufacturers use CNC machines. These machines provide precise control over the formmaking process. 

In addition to historic renovations, these machines can create an almost unlimited variety of shapes. Because CNC machines can replicate a design accurately, designers can rest assured their artistic vision will be realized consistently piece after piece, so all components fit the roofline and each other without gaps or imperfections.

3. A variety of color options balance minimalism with rustic charm

Metal roofing systems can be finished in over 40 colors, including colors that support cool roof goals. With so many options, designers can find a hue that fits their project’s needs without compromising their aesthetic vision. While colors can be brilliant (like St. Anthony’s roof), they can also be more subtle, providing either a minimal feel or rustic charm depending on the context. 

For instance, a roof of a hillside cottage can be finished in Midnight Bronze to nod to traditional building materials while providing premium durability and weather-resistance. This same color can also be used on a building with both a metal roof and metal architectural wall panels to create the crisp and monolithic profile loved by modern minimalists.

Advanced metal roofs meet today’s performance and design needs

Gone are the days of plain, corrugated metal roofs. Standing seam and prefabricated metal roofing systems not only offer first-rate performance and durability, but they can also help enhance a building’s design aesthetic. From standard profiles and colors to custom fabricated shapes and curved panels, metal roofs present architects with design potential limited only by their imaginations.