Everything about Standing Seam Metal Roof Types: Profiles, Dimensions, Materials and More

There are many types of standing seam metal roofs. These vary in profile, size, material, price, and color. The choice you make will affect the overall cost, durability, and the amount of labor required during installation.

That's why it is essential to learn about the different types of standing seam metal roofs available and their applications.

Having a variety of options for the consumer is a great selling point. However, it is easy to get lost when there are multiple variations to consider. In this article, we examine the different types of standing seam metal roofs available on the market. We also tell you how to choose the most suitable one for you.

What are the Common Standing Seam Metal Roof Profiles?

There are three common standing seam metal roof profiles: Snap-lock, mechanically seamed, and nail strip. The styles differ in seam height, panel width, seaming, installation method, and fastening method.

What profile you pick will depend on what type of roof you have, your environment, how steep your roof is, among other factors. Let us go through each profile in detail.

standing seam panle types

Snap-Lock

Snap-lock profiles feature panels with roll-formed male and female legs. The edges of adjacent panels snap together with no need for any hand or mechanical seaming. First, a clip is placed on the male leg and fastened to the roof using screws. The female leg then snaps over the male to conceal the fasteners.

Since the panels simply snap together, there are no extra tools required during installation. That makes the installation process straightforward and cheaper. Also, having concealed fasteners eliminates the need for rubber sealing washers that often loosen due to continuous expansion and contraction.

Mechanically Seamed

Mechanically seamed profiles consist of panels with roll-formed edges (male and female) that line up with each other. A clip is placed on the male leg and fastened to the deck using screws as in the snap-lock profile. Once the adjoining panels engage, however, the edges are bent either by hand or mechanically.

There are two types of mechanical seams: Single lock and double lock. The seams of the panel are folded over once in single-lock and twice in double-lock.

Double lock systems perform relatively better and are, therefore, more common. You will find them in low-sloped roofs and areas with extreme weather conditions. On the other hand, single lock systems are easier to install and are common in milder climates.

Mechanically seamed profiles are the most expensive standing seam metal roofs to install since they require additional expertise, labor, and tools. However, they are the most weather-tight of the three.

Nail Strip

Nail strip profile is also known as fastener flange or nail flange. It looks similar to the snap-lock profile but eliminates the use of clips. Instead, the male panels feature one-inch slots with six inches of spacing. The screws go through these slots to fasten the male panels directly to the roof, after which the female panel snaps over to conceal the fasteners.

Nail strip is the cheapest standing seam profile to install since fewer accessories are required. However, the one-inch slot allows minimal thermal movement. Moreover, the installers could fasten the screws too tightly, thus restricting any movement. As a result, the metal around the fastener head could rip apart due to continuous expansion and contraction.

Other types of standing seam metal profiles include:

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Batten Panel

If you have a non-traditional roof layout, the batten panel profile will work well for you. Batten seams are popular in architectural designs in the US and are known for their wind resistance. They are also some of the best options when it comes to water removal.

The batten panel profile functions just like the traditional batten roof style. Instead of having male and female legs, the adjacent edges feature perpendicular legs. After the edges align together, a clip is used to fasten them to the roof deck. A metal cap is then placed over the legs to secure the seam.

standing seam panel types

Flush Wall and Soffit

This profile has male and female legs that snap together, but they are flush with the panels and are not perpendicular. Just like in the nail strip profile, there are no clips. Instead, the panels attach to the roof directly, giving a flush appearance.

While flush wall and soffit may not be as widely used as the nail strip profile, it can be applied in many weather conditions or roof designs. Granted, you will have to pay more for it, but it is well worth the cost.

What sizes are Standing Seam Metal Roof Panels?

Apart from the different profiles, standing seam metal roofs also come in varying sizes. Due to their unique installation methods, the panels usually feature custom sizes, either roll-formed beforehand or on-site. The size you choose will depend on the type of profile, performance requirements, and personal preferences.

Panel Width

The width of the panels will vary depending on the manufacturer, but most will range between 12 inches and 18 inches. However, it is not uncommon to find some with widths of up to 24 inches.

Narrower panels are preferred since they perform better compared to their wider counterparts. As a result, 16 inches is the most common width. Nevertheless, some consumers may opt for wider panels since they are more cost-effective. They are quicker to install and will require fewer accessories such as clips.

Although wider panels enable consumers to save on costs, they are more prone to oil canning. Therefore, you will often find them on roofs with slopes below 3:12 since the roofing planes are less visible. On the other hand, narrower panels are best suited for steep slopes where aesthetics is a point of concern.

Seam Height

Seam height, which is also known as rib height, is just as essential as panel width. It affects a roof's leak resistance. The lower the seam height, the easier it is for the water to go over the edge.

The seam height also affects the price. Generally, a 1-inch seam will cost less than a 3-inch seam due to savings on material cost. However, it will offer the least leak resistance.

The majority of standing seam metal roofs have a rib height of between one and three inches, but 1½ inches and 2 inches are the most common options. 1¾ inches is the most common choice in snap-lock systems, especially in commercial applications.

Thickness (Gauge)

The majority of standing seam metal panels range from 22 to 26 gauge. But 24 gauge is the most common for Galvalume steel. A 29 gauge is also an option, but it is not as prevalent. Remember, the higher the number, the lighter the gauge. Therefore, a 22 gauge is thicker than a 29 gauge.

Naturally, lighter gauge panels cost less. They are a favorable choice if you are looking for the cheapest option available. However, consumers who opt for thinner gauges usually compromise on quality.

When choosing the gauge for your panels, think about the climatic conditions of your area of residence. If you live in an area that experiences extreme weather conditions such as heavy snow, high winds, or hail, a thick roof is preferable.

What are the Common Materials of Standing Seam Metal Roofs?

Standing seam metal roofs come in a variety of materials. The best option should offer longevity, durability, and corrosion resistance. However, your choice will also depend on budget constraints, climate, and aesthetic considerations. The following are some of the most common materials.

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Aluminum

Although aluminum is one of the most lightweight metal roofing materials, it is very durable. It stands out for having the best strength to weight ratio. That means you get the same amount of toughness without using a heavy material. Due to its high corrosion resistance, this metal is the ideal option for buildings in coastal environments.

Pro Tip: Aluminum will not corrode and can last for more than 50 years. It is also readily available, although you'll have to contend with few color options. Be careful if you live in a region where there are strong winds or hail because aluminum is prone to damage. 

Copper

Copper is a 100% recyclable roofing material that has been around for hundreds of years. It is a popular roofing option owing to its unique appearance. Over time, the metal changes color to a desirable brown or blue-green patina, although this depends on climatic conditions.

Pro Tip: Copper roofs are extremely durable, lasting for well over 100 years. Copper is also elegant and has an undeniable aesthetic appeal. But be ready to pay top dollar for this roofing. And don't forget, copper is soft and will dent easily. 

Zinc

Zinc is always a good option for consumers looking for a roofing material made to stand the test of time. Its popularity has gradually risen over the years due to its high corrosion resistance and ease of use. Like copper, it also has a beautiful appearance that changes color over time.

Pro Tip: Zinc expands and contracts more rapidly than other metals, which can expose your roof to oil canning. However, it is easy to work with and doesn't require regular maintenance. It is also very durable but costs almost as much as copper.

Steel

Steel is the most common metal roofing material. In fact, when people talk about metal roofing, they are almost always referring to steel. The roofing material is an alloy of iron and other metals. It has been a popular option for commercial buildings for many years but has recently gained popularity as a material of choice for residential applications.

Pro Tip: Steel is an affordable roofing option and is one of the hardest materials available today. This means that it is ideal for areas that are prone to hail, high snow volumes, and winds. You also get an array of color options to choose from. Unfortunately, it is not corrosion-resistant.

What is the Slope Range?

Standing seam metal roofs can fall into two categories: Low slope (3:12 and lower) and steep slope (3:12 and higher). The higher the pitch, the faster it is for water and snow to drain off.

With low-sloped roofs, a hydrostatic system is necessary to ensure the building remains watertight. Standard slope pitches can range from 1:12 to 18:12. But the minimum slope requirement for standing seam metal roofs is ¼:12.

What about Color?

The color you choose will depend on the type of paint finish on your roof. There are two types of paint finishes available: Kynar 500/PVDF and Silicone-modified polyester (SMP). Unlike SMP, PVDF will not fade fast but will hold the color integrity for longer.

SMP is common in siding applications. It will, therefore, not have many colors from which to choose. The options available are usually light and neutral. On the other hand, PVDF/Kynar 500 costs more than SMP and has more color options. These include designer paint finishes, matte finishes, metallic colors, and bright and vibrant colors.

Since manufacturers will not have all paint finishes on stock, standing seam metal roofs often incorporate PVDF/Kynar 500 paint finishes. That’s because it would not make sense to have an expensive standing seam metal roof with a cheap paint finish like SMP.

With PVDF, you will have a plethora of standing seam color options from which to choose. However, it can get confusing with so many choices available. The following are factors you need to consider before making that critical decision.

Complementing your Property

The color you pick for your roof should complement other features of the property. Therefore, you should compare the color of your roofing to features such as siding, stucco, doors, windows, railings, and columns to ensure they complement each other.

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Dark VS Light Colors

The color of your roof will determine how tall your roof looks. If you have a shallow pitched roof, choosing a light color will make the building look taller than it is. Choosing a darker color will have the opposite effect.

Time of Day

The lighting conditions can affect how the color looks. That's why it is essential to compare the colors at different times during the day. For instance, a glossy color could have a blinding glare during the afternoon. The same color could look gloomy or dull in the evening.

Neighborhood Trends

The color of the roofs in our neighborhood should also determine what color you pick. If all buildings in the area have a dark matte color, choosing a glossy option might not be advisable. Moreover, you should ensure the color you choose adheres to the rules of your HOA.

Geographical Location

The geographical location of the building should also dictate the metal roofing color. For example, earth tones such as classic green and charcoal gray blend well with mountains and forest locations. Warm colors such as sandstone and desert tan will match deserts and the plains, while bright and vibrant colors will look better in tropical environments.

Style of Architecture

Different styles of architecture also look better with specific roof colors. For example, dark colors such as matte black and blackened copper are popular in modern architecture.

Energy Efficiency

The color of your roof can have a direct effect on its energy efficiency. That is especially true if you live in a relatively warm area. Lighter colors tend to reflect light better than darker ones. Therefore, choosing a light-colored roof can significantly reduce your cooling bills.

Factors to Consider Before Choosing a Standing Seam Metal Roof

The standing seam metal roof is one of the best performing metal roofings and will work well regardless of the conditions. However, there are still some things you must keep in mind to choose the best option.

Coastline Distance

Saltwater leads to corrosion and rusting. But the effects are greater when the roof is made from Galvalume steel. Aluminum is a better material if a building is near a coastline since it resists corrosion and rusting.

Weather Conditions

Most standing seam metal roofs will hold up well in most environments, but not all types will work best in extreme weather conditions. If the project is in an area that experiences high winds, heavy snow, hurricanes, or tornadoes, you need a roofing profile that can hold up against such extreme conditions.

Building codes

Some states, cities, or regions have building codes to which all residents must adhere. So no matter your personal preferences, your roof's design needs to conform to the laid out regulations and requirements.

Roof Deck

The type of deck substrate on a roof should determine the standing seam metal profile you pick. Not all styles will work on every deck substrate. It will depend on the materials used, the thickness of the framing, and the engineering.

Industry Standards

It is not enough to gather information about the location, deck substrate, or weather conditions. The system you choose needs to be backed by industry standards. Common industry standards and testing include wind uplift, water penetration, fire resistance, and air infiltration.

What is the Best Recommended Standing Seam Metal Roof?

There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to standing seam metal roofs. The type of roof you will choose will depend on several factors, as we have outlined above.

Mechanically seamed profiles will work best with very low-sloped roofs. Therefore, it is the best option for buildings in areas that experience extreme weather conditions. A nail strip profile is the most budget-friendly option. It is the easiest roof style to install and is, therefore, the best for DIY projects.

If you are looking for the best balance in performance and price, a snap-lock profile is your best bet. It is easy to install and will work for roofs with a 2:12 pitch or more. Snap-lock is the best all-round standing seam profile.

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Final Word

A standing seam metal roof is arguably the best metal roofing option for residential and commercial applications. It can last for up to 50 years, requires minimal maintenance, and is strikingly attractive. However, choosing the right standing seam metal roof can be difficult.

The type of profile, material, color, and size you pick will depend on factors such as the slope of your roof, budget, and weather conditions. However, it is always advisable to seek the advice of an experienced contractor if you aren't sure of what style or profile will work best for your building.

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