Does Zinc Roofing Rust? (Ultimate Guide With Best Recommendations)

We all know that zinc is a great material for roofs. It’s rust-resistant, durable, and can last for decades. But does it actually rust?

That’s what we’re going to answer in this blog post! Let’s get started.

Does zinc roofing rust?

Zinc roofing is known for its natural ability to resist corrosion, making it a popular choice for roofing material.

However, over time, zinc roofing can develop a patina that may resemble rust in appearance.

This patina is actually a protective layer that forms on the surface of the zinc as a result of exposure to the elements, and it helps to further protect the metal from corrosion.

As long as this patina is not compromised, the structural integrity of the zinc roofing can actually enhance its durability and longevity.

Zinc roofing is a durable and long-lasting roofing material that can provide excellent protection for your home or building, and with proper care and maintenance, it can continue to perform well for many years.

What are the benefits of using zinc roofing?

  • Durability: Zinc roofing is a highly durable material that can last for decades. It is resistant to corrosion, and it can withstand extreme weather conditions such as heavy rain, snow, and high winds.
  • Low maintenance: Zinc roofing is virtually maintenance-free, as it requires very little upkeep over its lifetime. It does not need to be painted or coated, and it does not require regular cleaning or sealing.
  • Energy efficiency: Zinc roofing is highly reflective, which means it can help reduce energy costs by reflecting heat and light away from the building. This can be especially beneficial in hot climates, where it can help keep the building cool.
  • Sustainability: Zinc is a highly sustainable material that is 100% recyclable. This means that at the end of its lifespan, it can be recycled and used again, reducing waste and minimizing the impact on the environment.
  • Aesthetics: Zinc roofing has a distinctive look that can add character and visual interest to a building. It is available in a range of colors and finishes, and it can be used to create unique and striking architectural designs.

How does zinc roofing prevent rust?

Zinc roofing is naturally resistant to rust and corrosion, which is one of the reasons it is a popular choice for roofing material.

Zinc is a non-ferrous metal, which means that it does not contain iron, the metal that is prone to rusting.

Zinc roofing is also self-healing, meaning that it can repair itself if it is scratched or damaged, thanks to a process called patination.

When zinc roofing is exposed to moisture and air, a layer of zinc oxide forms on its surface, which acts as a barrier against corrosion.

This layer of zinc oxide can continue to develop over time, forming a patina that gives the zinc roofing its characteristic grayish-blue color.

This patina is actually a sign of the zinc’s protective properties, as it further enhances its resistance to corrosion.

What is the corrosion rate of zinc roofing?

The corrosion rate of zinc roofing depends on a variety of factors, including the environment in which it is installed, the quality of the installation, and the maintenance practices used to care for the roof.

In general, however, zinc roofing has a low corrosion rate, thanks to its natural resistance to rust and corrosion.

Zinc roofing typically corrodes at a rate of 0.063 microns per year, which is very low compared to other metals.

Further studies have shown that the corrosion rate of pure zinc can range from 0.003 to 0.2 mm/y, depending on the specific conditions of exposure. For example, exposure to salt water or acidic environments can increase the corrosion rate of zinc, while exposure to dry environments can decrease it.

This slow rate of corrosion means that zinc roofing can last for decades with minimal maintenance, making it a cost-effective and reliable roofing material.

It is important to note that exposure to certain chemicals and pollutants, such as acid rain, salt spray, and industrial emissions, can affect the corrosion rate of zinc roofing.

In these environments, zinc roofing may corrode more quickly and require more frequent maintenance and care to ensure its longevity.

Does zinc roofing corrode over time?

The rate of corrosion is typically very slow and can take several decades before it becomes noticeable.

While zinc roofing can eventually corrode over a very long period of time (supposedly over 50 years), the rate of corrosion is typically much slower than other metals such as steel or iron.

In addition, many homeowners and architects highly value the patina that develops on the surface of the zinc roofing because it can give it a distinctive, attractive appearance.

How long does it take zinc to rust compared to other metals?

The corrosion rate of steel is typically much faster than the corrosion rate of zinc, with steel corroding at a rate of around 0.014 mm (0.0005 in) per year, compared to zinc’s corrosion rate of around 0.0006 mm (0.00002 in) per year.

This means that zinc can provide up to 20 times more protection against corrosion than steel alone, with only a minimal coating thickness.

What is the white rust effect on zinc roofs?

White rust is a form of corrosion that can occur on zinc roofs and other zinc-coated materials.

It manifests as a white, powdery substance that forms on the zinc’s surface and is the result of the formation of zinc oxide or zinc hydroxide.

White rust can occur when the zinc coating on a roof is exposed to moisture or humidity for an extended period of time.

This can happen if the roof is not properly ventilated or if it is exposed to frequent or heavy rain or snow. The moisture can react with the zinc coating, causing it to break down and form white rust.

While white rust can be unsightly and may indicate that the zinc coating is starting to degrade, it is not typically a serious problem for the structural integrity of the roof.

However, if left untreated, it can eventually lead to more severe corrosion and damage.

To prevent white rust on a zinc roof, you have to make sure that the roof is properly ventilated to allow for adequate air flow and to prevent moisture buildup.

In addition, regular inspections and maintenance can help identify and address any areas of concern before they develop into more serious problems.

What is the lifespan of zinc roofing?

A properly installed and maintained zinc roof can last anywhere from 50 to 100 years or more.

What are the disadvantages of zinc roofs?

  • Cost: Zinc roofing can be more expensive than other roofing materials, such as asphalt shingles or metal roofing. The cost of materials and installation can be higher, which may make it less accessible for some homeowners or builders.
  • Expansion and contraction: Zinc is a highly malleable and flexible material, which can make it prone to expansion and contraction with changes in temperature. This can potentially cause the roof to warp or buckle over time if it is not properly installed or maintained.
  • Noise: Zinc roofing can be relatively noisy during rain or hailstorms, compared to other roofing materials. The sound of rain hitting the metal surface can be amplified, which may be bothersome for some homeowners.
  • Appearance: While many people appreciate the unique and distinctive look of zinc roofing, others may find it less visually appealing than other roofing options. The patina that develops on the surface of the zinc can also vary in appearance over time, which may be a consideration for some homeowners.
  • Maintenance: While zinc roofing is generally low-maintenance, it does require some upkeep over time to ensure that it remains in good condition. This may include periodic inspections, cleaning, and repairs as needed.

Galvanizing vs. zinc roofs

Galvanizing and zinc roofs are both made from zinc-coated materials, but there are some key differences between the two.

Galvanizing is a process that involves coating steel or iron with a layer of zinc to protect it from corrosion.

The steel is immersed in a bath of molten zinc, which bonds to the surface of the metal and forms a protective layer.

Galvanized steel is commonly used in a variety of applications, including roofing, construction, and automotive manufacturing.

A zinc roof, on the other hand, is made entirely from zinc sheets or panels that are formed into a roofing material.

Zinc roofs are known for their durability and long lifespan, thanks to the natural corrosion resistance of zinc.

While both galvanized steel and zinc roofs are effective at protecting against corrosion, there are some differences between the two.

Galvanized steel is typically stronger and more rigid than zinc roofs, which can make it a better choice for applications where strength and durability are important.

Zinc roofs, on the other hand, are generally more flexible and can be easier to work with during installation.

While galvanized steel can be more affordable than a full zinc roof, it may not have the same aesthetic appeal or visual impact as a zinc roof.

Zinc roofs have a unique appearance and can be a popular choice for architects and homeowners looking for a distinctive look for their home or building.

Are zinc roofs made entirely out of zinc?

Zinc roofs are made entirely out of zinc. Zinc roofing is typically made from zinc sheets or panels that are formed into roofing material.

Zinc roofs can be manufactured in a variety of shapes and styles, including standing seam roofs, shingle-style roofs, and flat roofs.

They are also available in a range of colors and finishes, from natural zinc gray to pre-painted colors.

How does zinc perform with regards to fire?

Zinc is a non-combustible material, which means it does not burn or contribute to the spread of fire. This makes it a good choice for use in roofing and other building applications where fire resistance is important.

In fact, zinc has a Class A fire rating, which is the highest rating possible for fire resistance. This means that zinc roofing can help slow or prevent the spread of fire in the event of a fire.

In addition, zinc has a high melting point of around 419 °C (786 °F), which means it is able to withstand high temperatures without melting or deforming.

This can be an important factor in preventing the spread of fire and reducing damage to a building’s structure.

Is there a zinc coating you can use on roofs?

There are several types of zinc coatings that can be used on roofs. One of the most common is hot-dip galvanizing, which involves coating steel or iron with a layer of zinc to protect it from corrosion.

This process involves immersing the metal in a bath of molten zinc, which forms a bond with the surface of the metal and creates a durable, corrosion-resistant coating.

Another type of zinc coating that can be used on roofs is zinc plating, which involves electroplating a thin layer of zinc onto the surface of a metal.

This process is commonly used for small parts and components rather than large roofing panels or sheets.

In addition, there are zinc-rich paints and coatings that can be applied to metal roofs to provide additional protection against corrosion.

These coatings typically contain a high percentage of zinc, which helps protect the underlying metal from rust and other forms of corrosion.

Do you need to coat zinc roofs?

While zinc is a highly durable and corrosion-resistant material, it is rarely recommended to apply a protective coating to zinc roofs.

However, a coating can help protect the zinc from environmental factors such as sunlight, rain, and pollution, which can cause the zinc to deteriorate over time.

One common type of coating used on zinc roofs is a clear acrylic coating, which can help protect the zinc while still allowing its natural patina to develop.

This type of coating can help to maintain the natural appearance of the zinc while providing an additional layer of protection against the elements.

Another option is to apply a pre-painted coating to the zinc roof, which can provide a range of colors and finishes to choose from.

These coatings are typically made from high-quality paint and can provide excellent protection against the elements while also enhancing the appearance of the roof.

What is the best way to protect zinc roofing from rusting?

  • Apply a protective coating: As mentioned earlier, applying a protective coating, such as a clear acrylic or pre-painted coating, can help protect the zinc from environmental factors that can cause it to deteriorate over time.
  • Maintain a clean surface: Keeping the surface of the zinc roof clean and free of debris, dirt, and other contaminants can help prevent the buildup of moisture and other factors that can cause corrosion.
  • Avoid contact with dissimilar metals: Contact with other metals can cause a chemical reaction known as galvanic corrosion, which can cause the zinc to corrode more quickly. Avoid contact with other metals, and use appropriate sealants and barriers to prevent contact where necessary.
  • Proper installation: Proper installation of the zinc roof, including appropriate flashing and sealants, can help prevent water from seeping into the roof and causing corrosion.

How can I tell if my zinc roof is rusting?

White rust

As mentioned earlier, white rust can form on the surface of zinc when it is exposed to moisture or humidity. This is a sign that the zinc is starting to corrode and should be addressed.


If you notice that your zinc roof has developed a discoloration, such as a greenish tint, it could be a sign that it is starting to corrode.


If you notice small, circular depressions on the surface of your zinc roof, it could be a sign that the zinc is corroding.

Cracking or flaking

If you notice any cracks or flakes on the surface of your zinc roof, it could be a sign that the zinc is deteriorating and needs to be addressed.

What is the best way to repair zinc roofing rust?

  1. Clean the affected area: Use a soft-bristled brush or sponge to clean the rusted area with a mixture of mild soap and water. Rinse thoroughly and allow it to dry completely.
  2. Remove the rust: If the rust is only surface-level, you can remove it with a rust converter solution or by sanding it off with fine-grit sandpaper. If the rust has penetrated deeper, you may need to use a wire brush or grinder to remove it.
  3. Apply a rust inhibitor: Once the rust has been removed, apply a rust inhibitor or primer to the affected area to prevent further corrosion.
  4. Apply a zinc coating: Apply a zinc coating to the repaired area using a zinc-rich paint or a sacrificial zinc anode. This will help prevent the repaired area from future rusting.
  5. Regular maintenance: Regularly inspect your zinc roof for signs of rust or corrosion and address any issues promptly to prevent further damage.

How much does zinc roofing cost?

Zinc roofing is considered a premium roofing material and can be more expensive than other roofing options such as asphalt shingles or metal roofs.

The cost of a zinc roof can range from $10 to $20 per square foot, which includes the cost of materials and installation.

How to maintain a zinc roof

  1. Regular cleaning: It’s important to regularly clean your zinc roof to remove dirt, debris, and any other contaminants that can accumulate on the surface. Use a soft-bristled brush or sponge and a mixture of mild soap and water to clean the roof, and rinse thoroughly with a hose.
  2. Inspect for damage: Regularly inspect your zinc roof for signs of damage such as rust, cracks, or other forms of corrosion. Address any issues promptly to prevent further damage.
  3. Trim nearby trees: If you have trees near your home, trim them regularly to prevent leaves and branches from accumulating on your roof. This can help prevent damage to your zinc roof and keep it looking its best.
  4. Avoid abrasive cleaning methods: Avoid using abrasive cleaning methods such as high-pressure washing or harsh chemicals on your zinc roof, as this can damage the surface.
  5. Hire a professional: Consider hiring a professional roofing contractor to inspect and maintain your zinc roof on a regular basis. They can identify any issues early on and provide recommendations for repairs or maintenance.

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Author: Logan

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