Copper Roofs Explained: Pros and Cons, Types and Examples

You may not have heard of copper roofing, and you’re not alone as the idea of this type of roof on a residential home is somewhat unusual. However, copper roofs are becoming more popular now in residential construction due to the many advantages of this material.

In this article, we’ll delve into copper roofing and its appeal for residential homes. You’ll also learn more about the different types of copper roofs available, some great examples as well as their pros and cons.

What is a Copper Roof?

What is a Copper Roof?

Copper roofs can practically be installed on any architectural style building. From luxury homes to commercial buildings, you’ll see shiny copper roofs that are installed by experts. Some buildings even have their entire roof covered in copper while others feature copper shingles or panels on turrets or over a bay window as a unique accent.

While it’s true that copper roofs can be added to every type of building design, this material does come with some limitations. It depends on the specific installation and design application of the individual.

It must be noted that installation of copper roofs takes special expertise so if you’re not trained and experienced with this roofing system, it is best to consult with professional roofers about whether this material suits your building.

Types of Copper Roofs

Copper roofs come in the following categories:

Copper shingles

Copper shingles

These are available in custom sizes and take longer to install each shingle by hand. Copper shingles are the most commonly used type as they are relatively cheaper than other copper roofs.
Each shingle is installed by hand in order to prevent damage to the copper’s soft surface. Copper fasteners are required to prevent metal reactions, which can happen when other metals come into contact with the copper shingles.

Copper panels

Copper panels

These types of roofing material are made of sectional sheets of copper in standard sizes. Again, they are installed by hand just like shingles.
For the finishing process, some noticeable seams are welded or brazed on-site while others are already crimped.

Continuous copper roofs

As the most expensive option, continuous copper roofs require particular expertise in terms of installation. They are usually designed for custom building projects.
Unlike the visible seams of copper panels, these sheets have no noticeable seams or joints.
The installation involves applying layers of copper sheets on the roofing substrate that appears as one complete piece with no joints or seams visible.

Benefits of Copper Roofs

Minimal Maintenance

Unlike most other metal roofs, copper doesn’t require any finishing or repainting. Although it can expand and contract during adverse weather conditions, it’s not a huge concern as only the seam fasteners become loose. But if you regularly inspect the joints, you can repair them as necessary.

If you want to retain your copper roof’s beautiful shine after many years, consider using a special copper cleaning agent to restore the natural appeal of this material.

You may choose between chemical and natural cleaning products. The cleaning task can be done by yourself, however, many homeowners choose to hire a professional copper roof cleaner to restore the shine instead.

Flexible and Lightweight

Copper is one of the lightest materials in terms of weight so it’s a clear advantage when installed on the roof. This lightweight material doesn’t exert much stress on the building’s internal structures unlike wood shakes or clay tiles, which weigh up to three times as much. This factor is especially important during heavy snowfalls.

Another benefit to lightweight copper roofs is their ease of transport and installation. A properly installed copper roof weighs half as much as tiled roofs. This means transporting and installing the material will be super easy.
And since copper is such a flexible material, it can easily be installed on uneven roof shapes. Copper is a trouble-free roofing material that takes no time or difficulty to install.

Energy Efficient

All metal roofing materials are energy efficient as they reflect light and prevent heat from entering the home. Copper roofs are no exception so it makes sense to install them on your roof in order to help reduce your home’s heating and cooling costs.

What’s more, copper is an environmentally friendly material as most are 75% recycled copper. This means, unlike asphalt shingles that give off chemical fumes over time, there is no danger of copper damaging the air around you.

Homeowners can confidently opt for this type of metal roofing knowing it is the most energy-efficient and environmentally friendly material available.

Visually Attractive

Visually Attractive Copper Roofs

One of the biggest benefits of copper roofing is its visually attractive and elegant appearance. Copper is available in different finishes from pre-painted green and dark brown to bronze. Copper roofing complements any building style, whether it’s a traditional home or a modern one. 

Thanks to the high sheen of this material, it adds character to both residential and commercial buildings. Over time, the appearance of copper roofs gets even better as the golden shine gradually turns into a blue-green patina. We usually see the green copper roof on dome roofs, churches, and other architectures.

The beautiful architectural beauty of copper roofs not only stands out amongst other nearby homes, but they also increase the resale value of your property. This makes the copper roof option the most viable investment. 

Resistant to Harsh Weather Conditions

Copper is a highly resistant metal during harsh weather conditions. If you live in a very dry climate where wildfires are a threat, you’ll be pleased to know that copper roofing will withstand fire as it’s not flammable.

In regions where heavy snow or rainfalls are common, copper roofs are light enough to allow snow fall off the roof naturally without causing damage to the structure of the building. This makes copper the material of choice for extremely dry and wet climates.

Drawbacks of Copper Roofs


Just as with every other roofing material, copper also comes with some drawbacks that are worth noting. The noise from rain is one such disadvantage, especially if the panel or shingle is installed over an open frame. This is why it is imperative to use plywood as an underlay in order to absorb some of the sound.

More Expensive

Copper is generally pricier than wood shakes or asphalt shingles. This is not because of the installation process as it’s quick and easy. It is the material itself that is more expensive to produce.

Can Expand and Contract

Copper is a type of material that can expand and contract often during temperature fluctuations just like wood. When this happens, the joints or fasteners can loosen and require repair. However, don’t let this be of concern as regular inspections of your roof will help avoid such problems.

As you can see, the advantages of copper roofing far outweigh the disadvantages. If you have the budget and want to invest in this roofing material, you can be sure of adding resale value to your property.

What is the lifespan of Copper Roofs?

Copper roofs tend to last much longer than other roofing materials such as asphalt shingles. The newly designed copper roofs can last anything from 60 to 100 years without the need to maintain them throughout their lifespan.

Copper Roof Costs

There is no set price as it depends on the roof style, type, and size of your roof. In fact, no one can give you a specific price quote per square meter without seeing your roof first. Too many variables need to be considered before any roofing company can give you a price quote. Even the location of your home will need to be taken into account.

The material costs depend on whether it’s readily available on the market or not, plus you need to think about whether you want copper panels, continuous sheets, or shingles. Additional materials which can bump up the price include fasteners, flashings, gutters, and underlays. All these will make your copper roof a long-lasting element of your home.

4 Famous Examples of Buildings with Copper Roof

Belvedere Palace in Vienna 

This majestic royal palace in Austria is unique thanks to its head-turning green copper roof. This building material turns green after a number of years so the architect’s goal was to create a tent-like roof to resemble the Ottoman Empire’s army, hence choosing copper for the roofing.

Minneapolis City Hall, USA

Minneapolis City Hall, USA
Credit to McGhiever

The city hall was originally built in the 1800s boasting the largest copper roof in the entire US! In fact, the roof is said to weigh over 150,000 lbs. The original color of the roof was light beige but due to aging, it gradually turned green.

The Rotunda at the University of Virginia, USA

The Rotunda at the University of Virginia, USA
Credit to Aaron Josephson

This magnificent university was designed by T. Jefferson and is said to represent the power of nature. The round copper roof is the most prominent feature of the building. 

The Berlin Cathedral, Germany

The Berlin Cathedral, Germany
Credit to Thomas Wolf

This beautiful cathedral is the largest church of its kind in the capital city of Germany. Its naturally oxidized green copper roof draws the eye instantly to the ancient building.