Today, many savvy homeowners are choosing to install standing seam metal roofs for their durability, longevity, low maintenance, energy efficiency and great curb appeal. Our complete guide to standing seam roofing will enable you to make an educated decision whether this is the right roofing material for your home.
Standing Seam Metal Roof Overview
A standing seam metal roof can be immediately recognized for its distinct looking straight vertical panels. These panels are secured in place by concealed fasteners and attached together by an overlapping mechanism that creates a raised seam as a joining line between metal panels. Standing seam metal panels can be rolled out in the field, prefabricated and shipped to the plant, or they can be custom bent at a sheet metal fabrication site.
Metals Used to Manufacture a Standing Seam Roof
Standing seam panels can be made out of a variety of different metals. Depending on the metal used in the manufacturing process, the price and overall quality of a standing seam roof will vary. The most economical option is a standing seam roof made of painted galvanized steel/G-90 Steel. A better option, specifically in the case of standing seam, which offers a higher level of protection from corrosion than G90, is Galvalume steel. Other metals used in manufacturing are Stainless Steel, Painted Aluminum, Copper and Zinc. Being premium metals, copper, zinc and stainless steel offer superior durability and longevity, but also cost as much as 2-3 times more than standing seam roofs made of Galvalume.
Our Recommendation: We typically recommend our clients to go for the balance between price and quality of metal and choose Painted Aluminum. Aluminum is the only metal that is slightly more expensive than steel, while offering the benefits that it will never rust or corrode (unless exposed to run offs from copper or zinc, which almost never happens). Aluminum is also the perfect metal to install in coastal regions, where salty air will corrode steel. Best of all, aluminum costs only 5% more than steel, making it a smart investment.
Types of Standing Seam Roofs
There are three different types of standing seam metal roofs available:
Snap-lock: This is the most popular standing seam option. On a snap-lock profile, the locking mechanism is formed into a panel, and panels are snapped together, which simplifies and speeds up the installation process. Snap lock requires a minimum roof pitch of 3/12.
Mechanical-lock: This is another common type of a standing seam roof. In this profile, panels are joined together with a special seam locking tool. Mechanical lock takes longer to install, because you have to lock all the seams manually, but offers superior leak protection on low slope roofs (2-3 pitch).
Standing seam shingle based panels: This profile has the look of standing seam, but in reality it is made of vertical shingle panels. These panels are installed vertically, but also have horizontal locks every few feet. This is a niche product, used to achieve specific aesthetic requirements, such as replicating old tin panels on historic buildings.
Appropriate Roof Pitch
First and foremost, standing seam is designed as a water shedding system. Although it is excellent in protecting your roof from rain, ice and snow, a certain minimum roof slope is required to achieve the maximum level of protection and durability.
For mechanical lock, the required minimum roof slope is 1/12. The double folded locks will prevent water from penetrating the panel through the lock. However, the weakest point of a mechanical lock seam is the top flashing, which relies on caulking or sealing tape and is therefore susceptible to wind driven water infiltration. Therefore, it is advisable to have a minimum of 2/12 roof slope, because the higher the slope, the more difficult it is for water to travel up.
For snap-lock and standing seam shingles, the required minimum roof pitch 3/12, because the water can easily travel up the lock on lower slopes.
Benefits of Standing Seam
Leak-free: Once you install a standing seam metal roof, you will forget your troubles with roof leaks. Unlike asphalt shingles, standing seam does not have horizontal seams, so ice dams and wind driven water have no chance of getting under the panels and leaking into the house.
Designed to Shed Ice and Snow: One of the reasons why homeowners in Massachusetts and other New England states, which get slammed with heavy snow storms, love standing seam metal roofs, is for their superior ability to shed ice and snow. As a result, the possibility of ice dams built-up is eliminated even before it happens. Shedding ice and snow also helps keep the roof load to a minimum. In fact, standing seam roofs shed snow so well, that we have to put a snow retention system (Snow Guards) above door ways, to keep snow from sliding off the roof.
Protects Against Hurricanes: Recently, the damage to homes brought on by hurricane Sandy made the necessity of having a strong, hurricane – resistant roof abundantly clear. A standing seam roof is recognized by FEMA as the strongest form of roofing to protect against wind uplift when a hurricane strikes. Most standing seam metal roofing systems are rated to withstand up to 110 mph wind uplift. It is possible to achieve an even greater wind uplift rating by adding more fasteners to each panel. With fastener spacing of 8″ O.C. (on center), you can go to about 130 mph (For actual wind uplift ratings, refer to individual manufacturer specs).
Saves Energy: In the summer, a standing seam roof coated with Kynar 500 Cool Roof coating reflects solar radiation, keeps your home cool, reduces the load on your HVAC equipment and lowers your monthly utility bill by as much as 25% compared to a dark asphalt shingles roof. This can translate into hundreds of dollars in annual savings.
Long-lasting Protection: A standing seam roof may be the last roof you will ever need to install on your home, lasting over 50 years, with virtually no maintenance. You will never have to worry about this roof catching on fire, cracking, shrinking, eroding or perforating. Your roof will also be resistant to termite infestation and mold/mildew build-up. Throughout its long service life, a standing seam roof will retain its strength and curb appeal.
Green Roofing Material: Today, increasing numbers of homeowners want to use green building materials for their home improvement projects. The good news is that in the roofing industry, a metal roof is as green as it gets. Standing seam roofs are manufactured at least out of 25% recycled metal content, and are 100% recyclable at the end of their service lives. This means that your roof will never have to fill the precious space in our overflowing landfills.
Boosts Home Resale Value
Integrating a Standing Seam Roof with Solar Panels
One thing that appeals to many of our environmentally-conscious clients, who are interested in making their home more energy efficient, is the fact that a standing seam roof can easily be integrated with solar panels. We can either outfit your new metal roof with thin-film PV solar roofing laminates, or attach photo-voltaic, crystalline solar panels to your roof using a bracketing system (S-5 clips). This system gets attached directly to the seams of the roof, without requiring any penetrations. By combining metal roofing with solar panels, you can be on your way to enjoying a truly green home, and generating clean renewable energy!
Cost of a Standing Seam Metal Roof
There are a number of factors that will impact the overall cost of your standing seam roofing materials and installation. These include:
- Roof slope
- Number of layers of existing roofing material
- Roof penetrations: dormers, skylights, valleys, chimneys, and other
- Ease of access to the roof
- Type of metal
- Roof type: Hip vs Gable roof
In general you can expect to pay 3-4 times more for standing seam than for a 30 year architectural asphalt shingles roof installed by a licensed/insured roofer. On average, this will be $10-13/sq.ft. for 24 GA steel, $11-14/ sq.ft. for .032″ aluminum. Refer to our metal roofing prices guide for more details.
Return on Investment (ROI) Installation
Standing seam is one of the most difficult and time-consuming types of metal roof to install. It is simple to install only on a 4/12 range house, but as soon as you are faced with any kind of roof details, penetrations or curbs, installing standing seam correctly becomes a challenging task. Flashing a skylight or a chimney requires building special metal flashing detail around the curb, cutting an overlapping the panels and generally takes 2-3 times longer than the same process with a metal shingles roof. A typical standing seam roof takes 1-2 weeks to complete.
The bottom line – a standing seam metal roof is easy to install ONLY when you have a straight run roof without any obstacles.
Because installing a standing seam roof is a complicated and daunting task that requires years of experience and craftsmanship, it is important to hire ONLY a professional metal roofing contractor.
WHY YOU SHOULD ALWAYS HIRE A PROFESSIONAL METAL ROOFING CONTRACTOR
We are currently (as of March 2013) working on a large contemporary new construction house with a standing seam metal roof in Massachusetts. The original roofing contractor (specializing in asphalt shingles) walked out from the job after being unable to complete the project, because they lacked experience working with some of the complex details on this roof. The contractor began working on this project in September 2012, and after 5 months of work, this roof is still not complete. In addition, there are numerous installation errors and cut corners, which will now cost the owner a lot more money to fix and successfully finish the installation. We will publish pictures and videos of this job after it is complete.