Standing Seam Metal Roof Details

Everything You Need to Know About Standing Seam Metal Roofs

With its contemporary appearance and extreme durability, standing seam metal roofs are quickly becoming one of the most popular roofing materials among both commercial and residential architects. Is standing seam a good fit for your home? We can help you decide.

The Basics

Before we get into the technicalities, let’s get a quick overview of what standing seam is and why you might want to think about using it for your home.

Why is standing seam so popular?

There are a number of reasons you might want to consider standing seam. Standing seam is known for its:

  • Durability
  • Energy efficiency
  • Suitability for both new construction and retrofitting
  • Clean lines
  • Combination of strength and flexibility
  • Versatility
  • Distinctive, modern aesthetic

These are all key reasons that standing seam has become one of the most popular choices for roofing.
Not all standing seam is the same, though. There are two main types: field-locked and snap-lock.

Field-locked standing seam

Field-locked standing seam is also known as mechanically locked standing seam. With this type of roofing, specialized tools are used during installation to crimp the seams of the panels. This is the less expensive of the two types.

Snap-lock standing seam

Unlike field-locked standing seam, snap-lock standing seam doesn’t require specialized tools. The panels can simply be fitted together and locked into place. However, as with the field-locked variety, you’ll need to use fasteners approved by the manufacturer to ensure that every panel stays secure.

Snap-lock tends to be more expensive, but is also much more convenient, than field-locked alternatives.

The Nitty Gritty

Now that you know the different types of standing seam, we can look at the specifics: materials, colors, and costs.

Materials and colors

There are a number of metals and alloys that are frequently used in the manufacture of standing seam panels. Some popular choices include coated G-90 steel and its higher quality cousin, Galvalume steel.

Other common materials include:

  • Zinc
  • Aluminium
  • Stainless steel
  • Copper
  • Titanium

All of these materials may be either painted or bare when used in standing seam.

When choosing your material, consider the climate. Aluminium is the best choice for houses near the ocean, since it’s especially resistant to corrosion from high levels of salinity in the air. In terms of color, you’ll have the option of paying a little extra to custom-order one of many premium colors offered by most major manufacturers. Alternatively, if budget or time is a priority, you can choose one of the basic colors that the supplier already has in stock.

Metal shingles vs standing seam

Both metal shingles and standing seam tend to perform very similarly in terms of longevity and durability.
However, due to a lengthier, more involved installation process, standing seam usually costs more. Standing seam installation can be anywhere between 25% to 35% more expensive than metal shingle installation on the same house.

Corrugated metal vs standing seam

Corrugated metal is regarded as the predecessor of standing seam. It is still widely used in industrial and commercial construction, and even occasionally in residential construction.

Typically, corrugated metal roofing will be made with 24 gauge steel. Standing seam, on the other hand, will use thicker steel—most commonly Galvalume, but generally at least 26 gauge G-90 galvanized steel. More rarely, certain commercial or residential structures might use 24 or 22 gauge steel in standing seam roofing.

Another key difference between corrugated metal and standing seam is the paint. Both corrugated and ribbed metal panels, along with their characteristic exposed fasteners, are most often painted with acrylic, which is relatively cheap and prone to fading and peeling. Standing seam, on the other hand, typically comes with a factory finish of Kynar 500 paint, which is both higher quality and more expensive.

Costs of Standing Seam

If you’re serious about choosing standing seam for your newly constructed or renovated home, you’ll want to consider how it will fit into your budget.


If you want to get standing seam on the cheap, go for prefabricated panels. They’re readily available at home improvement stores like Lowe’s, and they usually cost around $2 a square foot. You get what you pay for, though: Prefab panels are typically 26 gauge galvanized steel instead of the much superior Galvalume, and you’ll have few options in terms of lengths and colors.

Custom panels are another option. As a rule of thumb, you can expect to pay around $4 per square foot for large orders (starting at about 1,000 square feet or so) of custom fabricated material.

For small orders, particularly those under 500 square feet, you should plan on spending closer to $6 per square foot. That means for, say, the roof over a porch, you can expect to pay $2,000 to $3,000 for materials alone.

Don’t forget that there’s more to it than the standing seam panels themselves. You’ll also need to buy screws, underlayment, and metal flashing. You may also need snow guards and metal coil for skylight or chimney flashing.

Permitting, labor, and warranty

A number of factors will affect the cost of labor, including your location and the complexity of the roof design. Along with the required permits and warranties, the total cost for labor could range anywhere between roughly $4 and $7 per square foot.

Add in the cost of materials, and the total average cost is somewhere around $9 to $13 per square foot to get standing seam purchased and installed.

It’s important to note that with any type of roofing, the quality of installation will be the primary determining factor in how the roof holds up over time. With that in mind, you don’t want to be skimping on the budget for labor.

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