If you want a modern looking metal roof with superior durability and weather protection, you can’t go wrong with standing seam panels.
Standing seam is a highly durable, long lasting and energy-efficient alternative to roofing shingles.
Here are the essential facts you need to know about standing seam metal roofing to ensure that you get the system that best matches your needs.
Click on each topic to learn more:
Standing Seam Panel Types
A standing seam roof consists of vertical panels that run from the top of the roof to the eaves. The panels overlap and fit together in order to conceal the fasteners, thereby creating the recognizable look of raised seams. There are four general types of panels.
Snap Lock (Dutch Seam):
A continuous panel with an internal seam. Since the lock and seam are an integral part of the panel, no seam caps need to be installed.
This means, you will not have to worry about “blow-off” or “creeping” of the seam or cap. The dutch seam is a structural panel that can be fastened right on to purlins or solid substrate. No mechanical seaming is required.
This panel requires a minimum roof pitch of 2:12 for proper installation. If your home has a flat roof, it is actually possible to convert it to the necessary slope with the addition of a light-weight truss system.
This is an economical, one-piece, positive-locking panel, with no extra caps, strips or clips.
Installation is done by hooking the panel into the previous one and fastening it with mechanical fasteners through pre-punched holes. The fasteners are not visible as they are covered by the adjacent panel.
This design allows for expansion and contraction. It is also virtually impossible for the panels to come apart due to the positive locking action.
Eco seam can also be used as metal siding / metal wall panels.
Field Lock / Mechanical Seam
This panel option is available in many different seam heights, and must be mechanically or manually (with hand tools) seamed in the field.
A double field lock allows for optimal watertightness, and can be used on roof slopes of 1 and higher, whereas other types of standing seam require a minimum of 3/12 roof pitch.
Seaming is done after panels are laid down, and clips are fastened to the substrate. Seaming can be done with a hand seamer that costs about $100 (inexpensive but very time consuming option), or a robotic / mechanical seamer which costs over $2500, but saves a lot of time and labor.
Many roofing suppliers and tools sellers offer mechanical seamers for rent, at about $100-150 per day. So if a contractor only needs a seamer for 1 or two days, it’s often cheaper to rent it.
None-Structural PC Panels
This panel consists of two parts: the flat panel itself and a separate seam or batten. Installation consists of snapping the seam over the clips, thereby concealing the fastening system. With the batten option, the panel is installed with a spacer clip and is snapped in place. Because these are not structural panels, they must be installed on to a solid substrate. One significant benefit of these panels is that they can be used for tapered and curved installations.
Panel Color and Style Options
Standing seam panels are available in a wide range of standard, premium, two-tone and custom colors. Typically, most manufacturers offer panels finished with Kynar 500 coatings, which is the industry’s best. It offers superior protection against color fading and chalking, and comes with a 30 year warranty.
Above is a palette of standard and premium (multi-tone) colors which are available from nearly all standing seam manufacturers in US.
These colors are practically the same among major manufacturers, since they come from same 3-4 steel / aluminum coil producers and are usually painted with the same Kynar / Hylar or Acrylic coatings.
In terms of style options, you can select from 4 different looks:
Standard: smooth, continuous surface that offers a sleek and clean look.
Embossed: textured surface that adds visual interest and sophistication.
Stiffening Ribs: vertical ribs running across the panels, offering a more traditional look and feel.
Striations: a series of ridges/linear marks that add visual interest.
Here is an aluminum Patina Green Snap-Lock standing seam roof that my crew and I installed in Plymouth, Massachusetts, in 2008. We used aluminum because the house is near the ocean, and aluminum does not corrode, like steel would.
Panels on this roof were made from coil supplied by ATAS, and made locally by Coastal Metal (a division of Beacon Sales roofing supply).
Panels were not manufactured on site – instead they were cut to a specific length, and I brought them over in my truck.
Durability and Weather Protection
It is hard to beat a standing seam metal roof when it comes to durability and unfailing protection against the elements. This system offers superior protection against hail, wind uplift, snow and rain, fire and UV-damage from the sun. Unlike shingles, a standing seam roof will never crack, warp, or rot.
Most importantly it is designed to be virtually impervious to leaks! As a result of such durability in severe weather conditions, many insurance companies offer discounts of up to 35% for homeowners who have a metal roof installed.
Particularly in the snow country, a standing seam roof will offer the best possible protection from ice dams, which can cause thousands of dollars in damages. It is designed as a snow shedding system, so it will not leak even in the most severe snow storms.
A properly installed standing seam roof will last at least 50 years, and this is the standard warranty duration offered by metal roofing manufacturers. It is not unusual to find metal roofs that have been perfectly functional for 100 years. During this long service life, you will not need to worry about regular maintenance or repairs.
Material Options and Costs
Standing seam is available in the following types of metals. Each has its own advantages and drawbacks. Material prices also vary, and there are a number of factors that make an impact. These include: regional price differences, size of the roof, the type of metal you select, and the contractor you hire.
A standing seam roof made from steel is the most budget-friendly option. Either coated or stainless steel options are available.
Cost: Steel starts at about $300 per roof square. Stone coated steel starts at $350-425/roof sq.
This is an ideal choice for homeowners who live in coastal areas. Because of close proximity to the ocean/sea, there is a high concentration of salt in the environment, which would cause corrosion in a steel roof. Aluminum, on the other hand, is corrosion resistant, and will survive well in this environment.
Cost: Aluminum starts at $400 per roof square.
Copper and Zinc
These high-end metals are typically selected for their longevity and outstanding aesthetics. Both can last hundreds of years, maintaining a beautiful, distinguished look. Copper is famous for developing a lovely green patina. In terms of durability, copper and zinc offer the same level of protection as aluminum.
Cost: Copper and zinc panels cost roughly the same, starting at $900-1,400 per roof square.
Installation Costs and Considerations
Cost to install standing seam vary greatly depending materials supplier, metal gauge, type of coating, installer qualifications / experience, local economic conditions, competition, type of house, etc. You can use our price estimator tool to get an approximate quote for your roof size and compare that to other materials.
On average, you can expect to pay 25-35% more to install a standing seam roof than you would for metal shingles. The cost is higher, because the process of installation for standing seam is a lot more complex and involved than for metal shingles.
In most cases, standing seam installation requires a roof slope of 3:12 or more.
It is not recommended to install this system over asphalt shingles for a number of reasons:
1. Roofing shingles will telegraph underneath the standing seam panels. This is problematic because it will completely destroy the curb appeal of the beautiful standing seam panels. If a lot of snow piles up on the roof, it is possible for the shingles underneath to make horizontal dents in the panels.
2. More importantly, if you install metal panels over asphalt shingles, the expansion and contraction of metal will make it rub against the stone coating in the asphalt shingles, causing rust and corrosion from underneath. This will shorten the life of your metal roof to about 5-10 years, whereas a properly installed standing seam roof should last a minimum of 40-50 years.
3. By not removing asphalt shingles, you are trapping possible wood rot and making roof ventilation none-existent. This will shorten the lifespan of the substrate and you will have to remove your metal panels and scrap them within 10-15 years, just to fix the wood substrate. It is always advisable to remove old materials before installing new metal panels.
You should note that proper installation is the KEY to the roof’s performance and longevity. Standing seam installation requires special tools, knowledge and technical skills. Therefore, it is critical to find a contractor who specializes in metal roofing and has experience installing standing seam systems. Such an installer will charge more for his labor than the average general roofer, but you will have the peace of mind that the job is done right.
A standing seam metal roof will make your home a lot more energy efficient. It will reflect solar heat in the summer months and retain it during the winter. On average, a metal roof can potentially save you 10-15% on heating and cooling costs, while helping reduce energy consumption. It is important to realize that not all metal roofs have the same reflective and emissive properties. These largely depend on the special chemicals put into the paint coating by the manufacturer. Generally, lighter colors will be more “cool” than darker colors, but you need to carefully check the specifications of the color coating you are interested in.
Additionally, standing seam is considered to be a green roofing material because it is made from at least 30-60% recycled metal content. At the end of the roof’s service life it can be completely recycled, instead of going to a landfill. Moreover, in most cases, standing seam metal roofing is light enough to be installed over an existing asphalt shingles roof, which means it will not be wasting space in our landfills either.
Standing Seam Manufacturers
There are hundreds of standing seam manufacturers in the US. Since the technology is not patented (or patents have run out), anyone can manufacture their own standing seam products; all they need is a 30,000 -100,000 investment in roll-forming equipment. In fact, hundreds if not thousands of roofing contractors manufacture their own standing seam panels.
However, the biggest, and most reputable manufacturers are:
Of these, ATAS is the most expensive for unknown reason (that’s why it’s listed last), and they all offer similar material warranties.
We recommend any one of the big manufacturers, because the reality is that they all buy their coil from the same 3-4 coil manufacturers in the US.
Have a roofing question or issue? Ask me anything!