If you live in an area where many months are cold and fraught with snow, then the roof of your home has to put up with a lot. Between the threat of thawing and refreezing ice and the weight of heavy snow, it's easy for this type of climate to wreak havoc on a roof that's not up for the challenge. While there are several roofing types that will work alright in a cold climate, one really seems to stand out among the options: metal panel roofing. Here's a closer look at what metal panel roofing entails, why it's such a great choice in a "winter wonderland," and its benefits in general.

What is metal panel roofing?

There are two main styles of metal roofing. One is made from small, shingle-like pieces that interlock. The other is made from large roofing panels that are several feet long and wide. While metal shingles are not really a bad choice in cold climates, metal panel roofing is a better choice. The reasons for this are discussed more extensively below.

What makes metal panel roofing such a great choice in cold climates?

Melting snow slides right off.

When you have a shingle roof (made with metal, asphalt or wooden shingles), the texture of the shingles tends to keep snow stuck on the roof. This can cause a number of problems. For one, as the snow melts and re-freezes, ice can pry shingles off of the roof, leading to leaks. Also, the heaviness of snow can contribute to a roof collapse, especially if the home is older and not as structurally sound.

As soon as snow begins to melt on a metal panel roof, the surface becomes slippery. Because it is so smooth, the snow slides right off the roof. It doesn't get the chance to thaw and re-freeze on the roof, and even if it were to remain on the roof, there are not individual shingles for it to works it way under and pry off. The only seams in the roof are typically along the ridges and along edges. Since you won't get layer upon layer of heavy ice on the roof, a collapse is less of a concern.

Metal is lightweight.

When it's very cold, a decent amount of snow may build up even on a metal roof, since it won't be melting and getting slippery enough to slide off. Thanks to the light weight of metal roof, this is not a big issue. Because the metal itself is so light, more snow can build up on the roof before you have to be worried about a collapse.

You won't have ice dams.

Ice dams are those shelves of ice that can build up on the edge of the roof and in the gutters. They can lead to leaks and gutter damage. Ice dams only happen when snow stays on the roof and slowly melts, trickling down and re-freezing at the edge. Since snow slides right off a metal roof when it starts melting, ice dams won't appear -- so your gutters will stay in good shape.

How much do metal panel roofs cost?

Corrosion-resistant steel roofing panels typically cost between $7 and $10 per square foot, including installation. The corrosion-resistant coating is a must-have in a snowy, cold area where your roof is consistently going to be exposed to moisture. If you have a bit more money in your budget, you may want to opt for aluminum roofing panels instead. At an average cost of $9 - $11 per square foot, they're even more resistant to corrosion and are even lighter in weight than steel panels.

If you need a roof that's impervious to snow and ice, metal panel roofing is a top-notch choice. Talk to a roofing contractor such as Chinook Roofing to learn more.