maintaining zinc

It’s hardly a secret that one of the main benefits of a metal roof over traditional shingling is the increased durability and longevity that metal offers. What’s more, a metal roof will require much less maintenance than a shingle roof in order to outlast it by an order of decades. From protective patinas that guard against scratches and physical damage, to its antimicrobial nature that reduces or eliminates mold and algae, zinc is unquestionably the easiest to maintain roofing option available. 

However, “easiest to maintain” is distinctly not the same thing as “requiring no maintenance” – a zinc roof does require some upkeep and care from the homeowner in order for it to last its full natural service life of 80 years or longer. This article will walk through the necessary steps that should be taken by anyone and everyone who owns a building with a zinc roof. 

Basic Maintenance

No matter what, there are some basic steps that you should regularly follow to keep a zinc roof in good shape. The first and probably most regular step is to make sure that the roof is clear of organic matter – specifically taking the time to remove any leaves or grass that may be blown onto the roof, or any moss that may start to grow there. Keeping plant matter off your roof before it rots will help keep the roof unstained and in good shape. 

Beyond removing plant matter, it’s necessary to keep a regular eye on the structural integrity of several key elements of the roof:

  • Rainwater drains and gutters should be kept clear. Even if zinc doesn’t rust, avoiding a buildup of standing water is best practice for maintaining the integrity of the roof (for this reason flat gutters that encourage standing water should be avoided). 
  • Maintaining ventilation or air conditioning units that may be on the roof, ensuring that they’re in good working condition. Naturally, mechanical problems with any such units located on a roof can have negative side effects on the roof itself. 
  • Ensuring the integrity of all elements related to keeping the roof watertight, including fascia, drips, filets, junctions, etc. Naturally, keeping moisture on the outside of the zinc roof and not inside the building is a necessary step to prevent mildew and mold from forming in the space between the roof and the rest of the house. 


Because of its low-maintenance nature, regular exposure to simple rainwater will do most of the heavy lifting when it comes to keeping a zinc roof clean. However, even with regular rainfall it’s certainly possible to clean a zinc roof by hand, and is worth doing every once in a while. Hand-cleaning is obviously even more important if you live in an area with very little rainfall. 

Dirt and dust accumulation can be cleaned off with nothing more than a cotton rag and warm water. If a stronger or more thorough cleaning is needed however, the warm water can be replaced with soda water, alcohol, or a diluted solution of either dish soap or white vinegar with warm water. Generally speaking you should start with the mildest detergent possible, and slowly work your way up in intensity until the desired cleanliness is achieved. 

Important Considerations

Anytime you clean zinc it’s vital to always rub the metal in the direction of the grain. Additionally, to protect the zinc’s patina, you should never use a pressure washer, and should never use any cleaner containing ammonia, chlorine, or muriatic acid, which can have an adverse reaction when in contact with zinc. Lastly, you should always clean zinc with a cloth and never with a broom or vacuum to avoid damaging the finish.

Other Important Steps


If you notice a scratch on a zinc roof, the best course of action is to simply leave it alone. Zinc’s patina will naturally self-healing light surface damage over time. 

Using Adequate Gear

It must be noted that zinc will display fingerprints if it comes in contact with the oil naturally found in human skin. It’s advisable therefore to always wear gloves and long pants and sleeves when working on a zinc roof. 

Be Cautious and Careful!

The final thing to remember – until you’re experienced in cleaning zinc, it’s best to be cautious and be very sure of any steps you take before committing to any course of cleaning. For example, it’s smart to clean a small, out of sight area and leave it for 24 hours to observe how it affects the metal before performing the same cleaning on the rest of the roof. 

Of course, the safest option is to consult with zinc experts before committing to any course of action, such as the experts at MetalTech Global. As the nation’s largest distributor and fabricator of architectural zinc, there’s no name more reliable in the industry. With our own warehouses and manufacturing facilities we’re capable of producing custom zinc rolls and sheets, and shipping quickly and efficiently. If you are thinking of installing zinc roofing or paneling, don’t hesitate to contact us today!