Insulated metal roof panels have become popular in the construction industry for commercial/industrial projects because they provide a cost-effective and energy-efficient solution. This article explores insulated metal panels, their benefits, disadvantages, and common applications.
What are Insulated Metal Roof Panels?
Insulated metal roof panels have been used since the 1960s and involve two sheets of steel or aluminum with an insulating core sandwiched in between. The exterior sheet serves as the roofing panel to complete the building envelope, while the interior sheet serves as a liner panel.
While many variables exist between manufacturers, exterior panel gauge options typically include 26 ga., 24 ga., and 22 ga. The most common gauge for the interior skin is 26 ga. And with thicknesses ranging from 2-6" of continuously poured-in-place polyisocyanurate foam insulation, IMP roof panels can be designed to meet virtually any thermal performance requirements.
As might be expected, you can find several different panel style configurations, colors, and panel widths from various manufacturers; however, 42" wide panels present the most cost-effective and quickest install option.
Click the video below if you want to watch the IMP manufacturing process at our sister company, Green Span Profiles.
Insulated Metal Roof Panel Benefits
From quick installation to energy efficiency, IMP roof panels deliver a host of benefits. Let's explore some of the most significant advantages of this unique product family a bit more.
- Quick Installation: IMP roof panels deliver external roofing, insulation, and ceiling liner in a single installation step providing a quick and cost-effective option. The left side of the photo below shows the various 6-8 components used to make the final roof assembly shown on the right side of the image. Each piece of the assembly must be specified, detailed, purchased, and installed. In contrast, an IMP panel accomplishes the final assembly in a single product and single installation step.
- Superior Insulation Quality: Continuously poured-in-place manufacturing process virtually eliminates insulation gaps and energy loss.
- Thermal-Break. A thermal break reduces or prevents the flow of thermal energy between conductive materials. Metal and glass are great conductors of energy. However, with an IMP panel, the insulation is an excellent thermal break between the metal panels. The red circle in the photo below highlights the area of Thermal Break.
- Energy Efficient: IMP roof panels deliver an R-Value of 7-8 per 1" of foam insulation that remains consistent over time. In contrast, open-cell structured insulations (like rigid board) allow air to replace the gases in the insulation over time. As this happens, the insulation value decreases. But IMP roof panels have a closed cell structure. Between the closed cell structure and the metal interior and exterior skins, IMP roof panels experience minimal thermal drift and consistent R-Values.
- Fewer Install Errors. Compressing the polyisocyanurate foam insulation found in IMP roof panels during construction is impossible. The same simply can't be said for traditional fiberglass insulation. For today's energy-minded building owners, compressed insulation equals energy loss. IMP roof panels virtually eliminate that possibility.
- Long-Life-Expectancy: Metal panel systems can last 60+ years, making metal one of the most durable roofing options.
- Minimal Maintenance: Metal panels require minimal maintenance over their 60-year life expectancy. In contrast, most other roofing products require ongoing maintenance, repairs, and often even require complete replacement once or twice in the same 60-year window.
Insulated Metal Roof Panel Disadvantages
- Panel Weight. Panel weight can be an issue since IMP roof panels often weigh over 10 lbs. per linear foot. Lifting machines routinely help with installation; however, some asymmetrical panel styles still require that crew members literally roll the panel into place on the preceding panel to complete the panel joint. Other T-Style systems, like our Ridgeline, simply push together and consequently represent a much quicker, easier, and safer option for installers.
- Longer Lead times. Depending on the manufacturer and construction schedule, lead time can also be an issue for IMP roof panels since 12-16 week lead times are common. However, with proper planning in the construction schedule, lead time becomes a non-issue. If you find yourself in a bind, contact us. We normally offer shorter lead times than many of our competitors.
Applications of Insulated Metal Roof Panels
Insulated metal roof panels can be installed on literally any project type. From cold storage to manufacturing facilities and literally, everything in between, commercial and agricultural building owners across all sectors appreciate the quick installation, long life expectancy, and how easily IMP roof panels meet the new stringent energy standards.
Conclusion: Insulated metal roof panels offer numerous benefits over traditional roofing solutions. They are cost-effective, energy-efficient, and easy to install, making them a popular choice.
Are they the right product for every application? Of course not. No product is. But could they be a great fit for your next roofing application? We'll let you be the judge after doing your research, but our guess is that it's quite possible they could.
Since 1963, McElroy Metal has served the construction industry with quality products and excellent customer service. The employee-owned components manufacturer is headquartered in Bossier City, La., and has 14 manufacturing facilities across the United States. Quality, service and performance have been the cornerstone of McElroy Metal’s business philosophy and have contributed to the success of the company through the years. As a preferred service provider, these values will continue to be at the forefront of McElroy Metal’s model along with a strong focus on the customer.