Standing Seam Metal Roof Details – Pros & Cons of Standing Seam

Standing seam is a descriptive industry term for vertical sheet metal panels. It’s one of the most popular metal roofing styles for homes, thanks to its beauty, durability, longevity, simplicity, versatility, energy efficiency, and its remarkably clean, bold looks.

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If you like the modern style of raised metal seams and clean lines, then consider installing this system on your home. A standing seam metal roof will not only compliment your home, but it will also give it that contemporary look and feel, along with its unmatched durability, longevity, and energy efficiency. 😉

In a nut shell

Standing seam is a high-end upgrade and an undisputed step up in quality and longevity from the classic corrugated and ribbed style metal roofs. Unlike its predecessor, corrugated steel roofing, which is still being widely used today for many commercial, industrial, and even some residential projects, standing seam has an improved design featuring concealed fasteners. Its ingenious design – the raised seams, with no exposed screws in the roof, help minimize the chance of a roof leak down the road.

Standing seam roof on a two story house

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Standing Seam vs. Corrugated Metal

Standing seam roofs are generally made from thicker grades of steel than corrugated steel roofs. While many corrugated steel roofs are made using a very thin 29 gauge steel, a minimum of 26 gauge galvalume steel is used for manufacturing of standing seam panels. A 24, and 22 gauge steel can also be used for residential and commercial styles including architectural (requiring a roof deck) and structural (only requiring a roof frame only) profiles. A mid-panel stiffening technique is sometimes employed by the sheet metal fabricators, suppliers and manufacturers for a 16 inch and wider standing seam panels in order to prevent “oil canning” of the panels. A metal coil from which standing seam panels are manufactured is usually factory painted with a high-end Kynar 500 paint finish. – this is unlike corrugated metal roofs that are often painted with cheaper acrylic paints.

Loved by Residential and Commercial Architects

Standing-Seam-Metal-Roof-on-a-Luxurious-House Many architects are especially fond of specifying standing seam for new construction and existing roofs thanks to the beauty, durability, longevity, and relative softness with strength and flexibility of metal. Standing seam roofs can also help improve the overall energy efficiency of a house, as well as help prevent ice dams during the winter months.

Common Metals and Alloys used

Standing seam panels can be manufactured from a coated G-90 (galvanized) steel, Galvalume Steel (better quality than G-90 steel), bare and painted aluminum, zinc, copper, titanium, and stainless steel. If you live near a coastal area, it is a good idea to opt for an aluminum standing seam roof in order to prevent any corrosion and rusting due to a relatively high concentration of salt in coastal and marine environments.

Two Types of Standing Seam:

  • A field-locked (mechanically locked) standing seam requires special crimping tools to crimp down/lock the seams during the installation.
  • A snap lock standing seam system is a bit pricier, but the seams can be locked by a simple snapping of the panels together.

Regardless of the type of system you choose to install, you will have to use manufacturer approved fasteners with every panel during the installation.

How Does a Standing Seam Compare to Metal Shingles?

Standing seam metal roofs generally cost 25% to 35% more to install than metal shingles. This is largely attributed to a more tedious labor necessary to install a standing seam. In terms of performance, there is no significant difference between the two systems, however the quality of your installation and strict adherence to your system’s manufacturer’s specifications is by far the single most important factor determining longevity and performance of any residential or commercial, high-end metal roof.

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3 thoughts on “Standing Seam Metal Roof Details – Pros & Cons of Standing Seam

  1. Pingback: Roofing Materials Guide for Savvy Homeowners | Roofing Calculator -

  2. Jan Alan Claire

    I noticed that a lot of sites covering standing seam roofs seem to dance around the question of rust over time. There is generally no information about the possibility of rusting, and the “lifetime” term of standing seam roofs. Where can the information be found as to the best manufactured standing seam panels in general, along with overview of brands/manufacturers offering panels that are least liable/susceptible to rust and corrosion?

    1. The Roof Guy Post author

      If you live near the ocean, within a quarter mile from the shore, I would recommend that you go with aluminum standing seam panels designed for architectural applications. Aluminum roofing panels, whether painted or mill-finished, are not susceptible to corrosion, period. It does not matter whether you go with Petersen Aluminum (Pac-Clad), Atas International, or another manufacturer or supplier of the coil. Panels can be fabricated at your local building supply such as Beacon Supply or ABC Supply, Harvey’s Building Industries might have ’em to.

      The key to understand is that all manufacturers, whether they offer painter aluminum panels, or galvalume steel, license their paint-coating technology under the trademark of Kynar 500, and all of the Kynar-coated panels will have the same 30-year limited warranty.

      If you go with aluminum and your roof happens to have a rather large span (longer than 20 feet on each side of the ridge), then I suggest you go with the thickest possible metal panels, whether aluminum, galvalume steel, copper or zinc. The panels can also be fabricated on site.

      If you live far enough from the ocean and salt-spray is not an issue, then galvalume steel standing seam with Kynar 500 or equivalent/better paint finish will do the trick. The key is to avoid acrylic paint finishes which are often combined with the thin-gauge steel panels, such as 29-gauge corrugated and ribbed metal panels. These are low quality metal roofing products that should be avoided as they are subject to rust. 26 or 24 (better) gauge steel panels with Kynar paint finish are appropriate for most residential applications, as long as your home is not in the immediate vicinity of salt-spray environment.

      Other than that, the quality of installation, and making sure your deck is properly prepared before the installation of standing seam panels.

      I would go as far as recommending a complete removal of old asphalt shingles before installing standing seam metal panels, as sand granules on the old asphalt roof can scratch and expose steel during the thermal-expansion and contraction cycles, which can cause steel panels to rub against the old asphalt shingles and its sand granules. Yes, both steel and aluminum can expand and contract ever so slightly with different temperatures. Removing old that old asphalt roof will help prevent the scratching and rusting of steel panels due to rubbing over asphalt from underneath.

      Hope this clears things up.


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