Types Of Standing Seam Metal Roofing

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The popularity of metal roofs is undeniable. While metal roofing has higher associated costs compared to other materials, standing seam metal roofing is gaining traction among homeowners and developers because of its durability and style options.

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What Are Standing Seam Metal Roofs?

Standing seam metal roofs are manufactured using metal panels with concealed fasteners. Each panel has vertical legs and a single, long flat board between them.

A standing seam roof also features raised seams that rise slightly over the panel area. Regardless of how standing seam metal roofs are attached to a home, the fasteners always remain hidden.

Standing Seam Metal Roof Types

There are three main types of standing seam metal roofing you need to know before renovating your home. Each one presents specific advantages and disadvantages that can influence your decision-making process.

Snap Lock Standing Seam Roof

This type of metal roof has panels that snap together at the legs and are then fastened with clips to the roof of the home. It’s probably the most used standing seam roofing type, thanks to striking a good balance between performance and cost.

One of the trademarks of snap lock roofing is its superior thermal movement. The system enables panels to move along with expansion and contraction in hot and cold temperatures.

The extra room for movement makes panels resistant to oil canning, a common issue with light-gauge panels or flat metal roofing.

This is more of an aesthetic nuisance, but it’s still one easily avoided with a good snap lock standing seam roof.

Another characteristic of this type of roofing is the overlapping panel design. This eliminates the need for seaming, drastically reducing the installation time.

Furthermore, the design permits multiple sheet lengths, including a roof-sized length. The absence of seams on your roof will remove the risks of leaks developing.

But installing this type of metal roof isn’t without downsides and can require the proper situation. For example, low-sloped roofs aren’t recommended for this roofing style.

The lower the slope, the higher the risk of leaks. That’s why you shouldn’t choose it for a flat or very low slope roof.

In addition, the installation can be complex and even costly despite the less complicated snap lock system. The extra material costs can add up.

Install Standing Seam Metal Roof: (30,275 projects)
Roof size: 1490 sq. ft.
National Average Cost $12,234

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How Much Does A Snap Lock Standing Seam Roof Cost?

Standing seam metal roofing can cost you $2.70 to $5 per square foot. But because of its installation complexity, you could be looking at an $8 to $15 per square foot price range after labor costs.

This wide range, however, enables homeowners to find the right balance for their budget and performance requirements.

You can use our Standing Seam Metal Roof Calculator to estimate the cost of installing a standing seam roof.


-Improved thermal movement
-No seaming necessary
-Protects the home against roof leaks and ice dams.


-Not ideal for lower sloped roofs
-Can be harder to install

Nail Strip Standing Seam Roof

The nail strip design, also referred to as a fastener flange or nail flange, is an interesting style. At its core, it’s much like a snap lock standing seam roof, but it differs greatly in terms of installation.

This system features spaced male flanges that can be fastened onto the roof deck. The design doesn’t need clips, and the fasteners are hidden when the female leg is snapped over them.

Unless you want customization, you’ll find most nail strip panels at 1-inch and 1.5-inch heights and widths between 12 and 18 inches.

A nail strip standing seam roof will be the most desirable in residential applications. The lower cost makes it appealing to many homeowners looking to save a few bucks on their renovations.

However, it doesn’t have nearly the same performance as snap lock roofing. That’s why it’s not a common solution for commercial renovation projects.

Apart from being cheaper, nail strip standing seam roofing is much easier to install than any other type. Without the need for clips, the material costs are lowered, and the number of necessary accessories is reduced.

Therefore, professional installers face fewer problems. You can also use these in DIY installations to lower your renovation costs further.

As for disadvantages, nail strip panels are typically shorter. That’s because creating splice joints is ill-advised.

In terms of weather tightness and performance, this is the least weatherproofed standing seam roofing you can install, especially on low-sloped roofing.

It performs better on slopes of at least 3:12.

You can also expect more oil canning on a nail strip standing seam roof because it won’t benefit from clip relief.

Did you know? There are at least five factors that can contribute to oil canning. They include contraction and expansion, over-tightening the fasteners, installing on uneven substrates, having uneven underlayment, and the structure settling.

The contraction and expansion triggers are reasons why improved thermal movement is necessary for modern metal roofs.

How Much Does A Nail Strip Standing Seam Roof Cost?

You may pay anywhere between $2.50 and $4 for every square foot of nail strip roofing. After accounting for labor, the installation can be between $6 and $14 per square foot.


-Most affordable standing seam roof option
-Shorter installation time
-Cheaper labor costs
-Suitable for DIY projects


-Prone to oil canning
-Unsuitable for low sloped roofs
-Available in shorter lengths
-Less weather tight

Install Standing Seam Metal Roof: (30,275 projects)
Roof size: 1490 sq. ft.
National Average Cost $12,234

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Mechanically Seamed Standing Seam Roofing

If you want to double-down on weatherproofing, mechanically seamed panels are your best choice. These come in two types: single- or double-lock systems.

With a single lock, you get a single fold at 90 degrees. A double lock system sees the panel seams folded twice at 180 degrees to create a more secure system.

The latter is generally preferred and more commonly used in residential and commercial applications. Double lock mechanically seamed roofing is particularly useful on very low sloped roofs because it offers superior weather tightness.

Of course, you could always opt for a cheaper and easier-to-install single-lock roofing type if you live in a mild climate. Even the single-lock system is more weathertight than other standing seam metal roof types.

Its compatibility with very low sloped roofs is a bonus, and the secure fit and weatherproofing ensure no water entry points can form.

It may also be helpful to know that this type of panel will fit nearly all flat roofs, which other standing seam roofing can’t do.

How Much Does A Mechanically Seamed Metal Roof Cost?

The average material cost can vary between $3 and $4.50 or higher per square foot. However, if you add the installation cost, you’re looking at a $9 to $15 range per square foot. The more complex the roofing system and the more demanding the dimensions, the higher the overall cost.


-Works on very low sloped roofs
-Most weathertight panel system


-Higher price point
-Challenging installation

Standing Seam vs. Metal Shingle Roofs

A standing seam metal roof is a common sight in most parts of the country. The interlocking panel system with hidden fasteners comes with panels in continuous lengths, which provides a clean roof look.

This can be appealing to some owners as it fits most contemporary homes. But the sleek aesthetics aren’t what truly set it apart.

The design allows the metal to expand when it’s hot and contract when it’s cold. This prevents, or at least stalls, deformation.

Furthermore, standing seam metal roofing is about as weather-resistant as it gets, hence its popularity in areas prone to storms. The hidden fasteners and specific standing seam roof subtypes can completely eliminate water leaks.

Did you know? Miami and New Orleans are the only American cities that see over 20 days of major rainstorms, on average, per year.

But Miami is generally the state that tops the charts in most rainstorms, thunderstorm frequency, and hurricanes. If you live in this climate, it’s even more important to select the best roofing for your home.

Here’s how standing seam metal roofing stacks against metal shingle roofing. The two roofing types have many similarities.

For example, metal shingles are also designed to work as interlocking panels that may conceal the fasteners.

In terms of appearance, standing seam and metal shingle roofs are very different.

While standing seam roofs are sleek and may even have a commercial or rural style, metal shingles adapt well to classic, Victorian, cape and ranch-style residences.

This is due to many manufacturers creating metal shingles that mimic wood shingles. This more natural appearance is preferred by some homeowners, especially those that need fire-resistant roofs and don’t want to perform costly and extensive maintenance.

Both roofing types tend to have the same lifespan because they’re made from the same materials. They’re not susceptible to mold or fungus growth, won’t catch fire, and can withstand hail impact.

But installing shingles can still be labor-intensive and costly, although they are somewhat slightly easier to replace than standing seam roofing.

The latter comes with larger panels and complex installation processes, for the most part, making them harder to work with.

Install Standing Seam Metal Roof: (30,275 projects)
Roof size: 1490 sq. ft.
National Average Cost $12,234

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Standing Seam vs. Exposed Fastener Metal Roofs

A standing seam metal roof has an intricate installation process but provides many benefits. The hidden fastener design and interlocking or lapping edges create superior weather resistance.

It also allows for optimal thermal movement, which increases the roof’s durability and makes it less susceptible to oil canning and other deformations.

But some homeowners ask themselves if there’s a big difference between hidden and exposed fasteners. The two roof types are miles apart.

Exposed fastener metal roofing involves fastening the panels to the roof deck. This means the panels are penetrated by screws without being covered after the fact.

One benefit of this is a significant discount on materials and installation costs. This roof type requires fewer trim and flashing accessories.

Although the gauge and paint will influence the price, exposed fastener systems can be up to 50% cheaper than standing seam roofing.

Furthermore, most exposed fastener panels come in 24, 26, and 29 gauges. In contrast, the 22 gauge is more commonly used for standing seam systems. On average, exposed fastener roofs are at least 30% lighter and easier to work with, not to mention cheaper.

However, the installation differences are the most obvious. Some homeowners buy exposed fastener metal roofing panels for DIY renovation projects.

The skillset required isn’t advanced, even though a professional installation is always recommended. Still, the ease of use, shorter installation time, and cheaper materials make exposed fastener roofing the most affordable option.

Unfortunately, these roofs will require extra maintenance and have a rather weak leak resistance compared to standing seam roofs.

Homeowners will have to check the sealant and closures and perhaps tighten the fasteners once in a while.

There are significant visual differences too. Standing seam roofing looks clean, and exposed fastener roofing can have an industrial look that isn’t fit for many homes.

Did you know? Chicago’s “Windy City” moniker is slightly misleading. The name is rumored to refer to the boastful politicians of the past who were “full of hot air.”

But the wind speed does increase when wind tunnels are formed between skyscrapers. However, the city’s average wind speed is clocked at only 9.9 miles per hour.

This doesn’t even break the top 20 windiest American cities list. By comparison, Mt. Washington, New Hampshire, has the highest national average wind speed of 35.7 miles per hour and is famous for its powerful gusts.

But wind-proofing a roof is still definitely more important in some cities than others.

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Standing Seam vs. Stone-Coated Steel Metal Roofs

Standing seam metal roofing is a conventional form of roofing. Stone-coated steel roofing alternatives are often considered premium roofing systems and the stone coating introduces a new element to traditional metal roofing.

The latter is quite versatile and can give homeowners the appearance of shakes, tiles, and shingles. Of course, it can be a lot cheaper to go with stone-coated steel than traditional tile roofing.

In terms of maintenance, stone-coated steel metal roofs don’t require much care. Sure, you will have to remove debris and clean your roof, but not necessarily more than a standing seam metal roof.

Furthermore, both roofing types are durable and can have a lifespan of around 50 years. But you will have to ensure you get the best impact and fire ratings. Standing seam metal roofs are strong and can withstand storms and hail while also being pretty much fireproof.

Installing stone-coated steel roofs isn’t necessarily easier. Instead of panels, these systems come with shingles that feature a steel base and a blend of epoxy and stone as a coating. They can be heavy and often have a more intricate and labor-intensive installation process.

The energy efficiency is similar but favors standing seam roofing. That’s because metal roofs better reflect UV rays when treated with the right paint.

The epoxy and stone particle coating can limit the reflective qualities of a roof and capture some of the radiant heat.

Although differences can be minor in many applications, one option is clearly superior at cooling homes and lowering energy costs throughout the year.

Another difference between these roofing options is the environmental impact. Because of their unique coating, stone-coated metal shingles aren’t 100% recyclable, unlike their standing seam roof panel counterparts.

And it’s best to ensure you can buy panels with Class 4 impact ratings and Class A fire ratings.

How Is Corrugated Metal Roofing Different Than Standing Seam Metal Roofing?

Corrugated metal roofing comes in sheets similar to standing seam roofing panels. However, securing the corrugated panels involves overlapping them and screwing them into the roof deck.

It’s different from how standing seam metal roofing panels interlock and hide the fasteners. The two are also different in durability and style, with corrugated metal being the inferior choice and unsuitable for home renovation projects.

Are Standing Seam Metal Roofs More Expensive Than Asphalt Shingle Roofs?

The simple answer is yes. Standing seam metal roofs have a price tag of up to three times higher than that of asphalt shingle roofs.

However, their increased longevity makes them a better long-term investment. The superior performance of standing seam metal roofing can also compensate for the higher upfront cost.

What Happens If a Standing Seam Metal Roof Gets Hit by Lighting?

Having a metal roof when your home gets struck by lightning is helpful. The conductive properties of metal will allow your roofing to discharge the strike to the ground. As a bonus, the roof won’t catch fire.

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Is Standing Seam Metal Roofing Loud?

This type of roofing has sufficient insulation to prevent excess noise, at least when compared to corrugated metal roofing.

As long as the metal roof panels are of high quality and were properly installed, there shouldn’t be significant differences when rain or hail hits them compared to composite shingles or panels.

What Type of Standing Seam Metal Roof Should You Buy?

Standing seam metal roofing isn’t always the best choice. While it’s an overall great product, each type of this metal roofing can present unique advantages depending on your location, the climate, personal preferences, and financial constraints.

Snap lock roofing has superior thermal movement than almost anything else on the market. But some homeowners might prefer the budget-friendly nail strip alternative, despite its lesser leak protection.

Of course, mechanically seamed roofing makes a strong case with its premium weatherproofing that can, in the long run, offset high installation costs.

There are many factors to consider when choosing a standing seam metal roof.

Although pricing can be of significant interest to you, don’t let it be your only guide. Try to get the best performance, durability, and comfort that your budget can accommodate.

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Author: Leo B
For over 20 years Leo has run a successful roofing business in New England, specializing in metal roofing, as well as cool flat roofing technologies. Having replaced and installed hundreds of roofs in New England, Leo has first hand experience with pretty much every residential roofing material and roofing manufacturer available in the US.
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