2021 Standing Seam Metal Roof Details: Cost, Colors, and Pros & Cons

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. 😉

Standing Seam Metal Panels in a Nutshell

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.

The ingenious design of standing seam metal roof featuring its characteristic raised seams, with no exposed screws in the roof, helps 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 the thinner 29-gauge steel, a minimum of 26-gauge G-90 galvanized steel or more commonly Galvalume steel (better) is used for manufacturing of standing seam metal panels.

A 24- and 22-gauge steel (thicker and stronger/better than 26-gauge steel) can also be used for high-end residential and commercial styles including architectural (requiring a roof deck) and structural (requiring a suitable 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 its close cousins corrugated and ribbed metal roofs (featuring exposed fasteners) 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 projects, as well as retrofitting 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.

Commonly Used Metals and Alloys

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 to prevent any corrosion and rusting risks that can arise from the relatively high concentration of salt spray in the coastal and marine environments.

Two Types of Standing Seam:

Field-locked (mechanically locked) standing seam requires special crimping tools to crimp down/lock the seams during the installation.

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 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.

Cost of Materials

If you order less than 500 sq. ft. or 5 squares of custom-fabricated standing seam metal panels at your local metal fabrication shop, your costs for the materials will be around $5.50 to $6.50 per sq. ft.

Thus, it will cost between $2,750 and $3,250 for five squares of made-to-order standing seam panels and trim to roof over that medium-sized front porch over a patio on your house.

For larger size orders, such as 1,000 square feet or 10 squares and greater, you can expect to pay about $5.00 per sq. ft. for custom-fabricated standing seam panels.

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There’s also the cost of matching metal flashing, such as starter and drip-edge flashing, metal coil for chimney and skylight flashing, snow guards for doorways and entrances, underlayment, and suitable screws.

All in all, unless you have your own roll-forming machine, you will need to go through a custom metal fabrication shop such as the ones at Beacon Supply or ABC supply.

Your total average material costs at these places will be around $5.50 per sq. ft. for a medium sized order of custom fabricated standing seam metal panels.

It’s true that you can also buy prefabricated standing seam metal panels at Lowe’s or Home Depot for about $2.00 per sq. ft., but those panels will be limited to standard lengths, colors, and will normally be made out of lower-end, thin (29-gauge) G-60 galvanized steel.

For higher-end residential metal roof installations, you should aim for at least gauge 26 steel, or better yet 24- or 22-gauge (the smaller the gauge number the better — the smaller the number, the thicker the panel) Galvalume steel or aluminum panels finished with Kynar 500 paint.

All else being equal, Galvalume (zinc-aluminum coated steel) is considered a more premium and hence preferred option vs. the G-90 Galvanized steel (zinc coating only).

In most cases, Galvalume steel will outperform G-90 (galvanized) steel.

Note: Never buy low-cost metal panels finished with acrylic or polyester only paint for residential applications. — Unlike, Kynar 500 paint finish, acrylic and/or polyester paints will peel and fade.

Warrantied Labor Costs

On average, standing seam will cost anywhere from $5.00 to $10.00 to install (professional labor and workmanship warranty, not including the cost of materials), depending on the difficulty of the roof and your home’s location.

Total Cost Installed Including Permitting, Materials, Labor, and Warranty

Your total cost to install standing seam could range between $10.00 to $16.50 per sq. ft. — This cost would include the cost of building permits, materials, labor, and workmanship warranty.

Impressive Selection of Standard and Custom Colors

You can get a wide selection of standing seam profiles available in G-90 galvanized steel, Galvalume steel, and aluminum — all these metals are available in a wide array of standard and custom colors at major roofing supply warehouses such as Beacon Supply and ABC supply where they also have sheet metal fabricator shops.

Major roofing suppliers, such as ABC Supply, Beacon Supply, and Harvey Industries, normally have a wide selection of standard colors when it comes to sheet metal coils they have in stock — available for the fabrication of metal panels in any profile you choose.

However, if they don’t have the specific color you want from the catalog, they can get you a custom or premium color metal coil from the manufacturer, as long as you are willing to pay extra for the premium color, and don’t mind waiting a few weeks for the right color metal coil to arrive.

Pro Tip:

A key to a long-lasting metal roof is the quality of its installation, therefore make sure the installers you choose really know how to install standing seam and have plenty of past jobs to demonstrate their experience and expertise. — It may be helpful to speak to their former customers to make sure they are happy with the product and service.

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5 thoughts on “2021 Standing Seam Metal Roof Details: Cost, Colors, and Pros & Cons”

  1. Are you saying that if you are closer to salt spray it is recommended to use the mill finish steel instead of Kynar 500 painted sheets?

    Please advise.

    • Hi Estella,

      If your house is located in close proximity to salt spray environment such as a beach house, then your best bet is to go with an aluminum roof that is coated with Kynar 500 or equivalent-quality paint finish. The next best thing would be Galvalume Steel finished with Kynar 500 paint. Zinc and lead-coated copper roofing would also work great, but copper is notoriously pricey.

      Make sure to avoid the use of acrylic paint finishes near the salt spray environment. Metal panels coated with low quality paint finishes won’t last very long near the ocean.

  2. 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?

    • 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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