Metal roof installation, materials, prices and manufacturers

Standing Seam Metal Roof Guide

Standing seam is the most popular style of metal roofing – both in residential and commercial building industries. It has also been the longest installed type of metal roofs, dating back to when all metal roofing was hand-made from sheet metal – usually copper or tin.

Image of standing seam metal roof

Today, standing seam metal roofs are commercially manufactured by tens if not hundreds of big metal roofing manufacturers, and thousands of smaller roofing outfits with their own sheet metal shops and standing seam rolling machines. Here is how standing seam metal roof is manufactured.

We recently added a complete installation guide that walks you through preparing a roof deck and installing roofing underlayment, installing eave, first metal roof panel with gable / rake trim, field panels, sidewall flashing, valley flashing and installation of hip & ridge caps, and includes a hands on metal roof installation video.

Most standing seam metal roofs installed today are 24 gauge steel or .032 aluminum panels with high quality Kynar 500 paint coating, baked on in seven layers (including primer) in the controlled factory environment when the metal coil is manufactured. After the coil is slit to the right size, it is delivered to the “manufacturer” of metal roofs, and is roll-formed into pre-measured length panels, either on site or in the metal shop, and then delivered to the job site, where they are installed on the roof.

Most common profiles of standing seam roofs are 16″ panels – either snap-lock or mechanical lock profiles. Snap lock allows the metal roofing contractors to quickly install the roof by snapping one panel into receiving the lock of the previous panel.

Snap lock panels can be installed from left-to-right or vice versa, or even from a center starter panel in either direction.

Standing seam metal roof installation

Standing seam metal roofs should be installed over a properly prepared roof deck. The wooden substrate below should be even, dry, and be at least 1/2 inch thick. Standing seam roofs can also be installed over purlins (horizontally running 1×3 or 1×4 furring strips) or over boars. It is also recommended to install standing seam metal roofing over a roofing underlayment such as roofing felt (tar paper) or synthetic underlayment. It is recommended that synthetic underlayment is breathable, so it does not trap moisture, which can cause the roof deck to rot and mold / mildew can form, causing expensive repairs. Ice $ Water shield is also not recommended for use under a metal roof, as it is first – not serving it’s main purpose, since metal roofs inherently prevent ice dams, and Ice and Water will also trap moisture.

In Norther New England states (NH, VT and ME), it is a common practice to install a standing seam metal roof over asphalt shingles. This is done mainly for economical reasons, as roof tear off and disposal can be very costly. This practice should also be avoided however. Two reasons for this are:

  • Standing seam panels will expand and contract with temperature changes, while the under-pan will be rubbing against the stone-coated surface of asphalt shingles, which will strip off the paint and galvanizing layer of the metal roofing panels and cause rust.
  • When snow sits on a metal roof, it compresses the panels against the asphalt shingles, creates horizontal dents on the panels, which make your new roof look very unattractive or should I even say – ugly. This is also referred to as “telegraphing effect”, when rows of shingles show through the metal roof.

A standing seam metal roof is attached to the roof deck using fasteners (usually 1 inch wide head screws) and either clips or screws / nails installed through a nailing strip, which can be formed when the metal panels are produced.

Nailing strip panels are faster and cheaper to install, but should not be used on panel runs over 15 feet, as expansion and contraction will cause buckling and “oil-canning” in the panels. Oil canning is a term used to refer to ugly bubbles that you can sometimes see on a standing seam roof. To prevent oil canning, you can have your standing seam metal roof made with special low profile stiffening ribs that are indented into the pan of each panel, during manufacturing process.

Another way to avoid oil canning is to install the standing seam roof using clips (this reduces the tension on the panel) and to install panels in mild weather, so it’s not too expanded or contracted at the time of installation, and of-course you need a more or less even roof deck surface.

Pros and Cons of standing seam

While standing seam roofs are very popular, they are rather difficult to install on complicated roofs, with many dormers, skylights, valleys, etc. They can be very pricey compared to other metal roofing materials such as metal shingles, shakes and stone coated steel roofing profiles. The difference in cost is mainly due to the difficulty of installation, high waste factor, and higher material cost for quality metal roofing panels (not the 29 ga cheap steel, acrylic-coated metal roof normally installed by low-ball metal roofing companies).

Because of the design of architectural standing seam metal roof, it is also very difficult to install a roof penetration flashing for sky-lights and chimneys, as there is no one good flashing method, and you rely mainly on caulking, when it comes to water-tightness. All of these factors complicate the installation process of standing seam metal roofing and make the cost go up.

Standing seam on low slope roofs.

A standing seam metal roof can be installed on a low slope roof of no less than 1 in 12 pitch. It must be a mechanical lock standing seam system, and is usually a structural standing seam, installed on space metal buildings.

The mechanical lock profile used on low-sloped metal roofs ensures that water does not penetrate through the lock between panels, if it sits above the lock. Structural standing seam is often made of cheaper steel with low quality galvanic coating, and can begin to rust within 10-15 years, and will require a roof repair, as well as fastener re-tightening.

Metal roofs should never be installed on dead flat roofs as it is not designed to withstand ponding water and all joints on a metal roof are sealed using some type of caulking. Even the copper panels with soldered seams have proven to leak on dead zero slope roofs. Most interlocking shingles profiles can only be used on roofs with at least 3 pitch. As for standing seam, it can be used on very low slope roofs, but you must use the mechanical lock profile to prevent roof leaks.

Written by Leo - roofer with a vision. Follow Leo on Google+

with 22 comments

Written by admin

Posted on November 1st, 2012 at 9:45 pm

Posted in Metal Roofing Materials

22 Replies to “Standing Seam Metal Roof Guide”

  1. Roofing Glendale says:

    Metal roofing is the most energy efficient roofing available on the market today with its fire resistance, and daily ware and tear resistance it is a smart choice for anyone. However, as mentioned in this article there are many different types of metal roofing that serve similar purposes at much more affordable and practical prices. For the best materials at an affordable price you could go with metal shingles, shakes and metal covered stone roofing tiles.

  2. […] (as well as skylight flashing) on a metal shingles roof is rather simple, compared to that of standing seam metal roof, which you can see in the photo […]

  3. […] common type of solar metal roofing is the standing seam metal roof with integrated Unisolar PV laminates. Unisolar PV laminates were initially designed to fit in the […]

  4. […] out of a relatively thin sheet metal, corrugated metal roofs costs less than metal shingles, and standing-seam metal roofs.  They can be a practical alternative solution for commercial, agricultural, industrial, and […]

  5. […] which makes it a green alternative to asphalt composition shingle roofs. Another advantage of standing-seam metal roof is that they can be easily integrated with solar roofing panels. From financial stand point, roofs […]

  6. Cathy Noonan says:

    Help, I just had a metal roof installed on my 12/12 pitch house with 2 sky lights and they are leaking. Any ideas?? I’m not a construction person and really do not know what questions to ask. PLEASE HELP!!!!!!

  7. […] the windows. At the same time we could now measure the roof, and place the material order for the standing seam metal roofing panels to be manufactured to our exact […]

  8. […] many different types of metal roofing systems, most metal roofs can be divided into two categories: standing-seam metal roof -a modern styled sheet metal roofing panels connected at the sides through a mechanism called a […]

  9. […] Metal Roofing Calculator, which estimates roof prices for various types of metal roofs, such as standing seam metal roof, corrugated steel roofs, stone coated steel, metal shingles roofing, copper and zinc […]

  10. Lukasz Sobczuk says:

    Wow, a very thorough article – great job! And yes, standing seam metal roofing offers many benefits, such as durability, energy efficiency and long-term value. Metal roofs are lightweight, fire resistant and require minimum maintenance.

    While the initial installation cost may seem high, standing-seam metal roof is the least costly roof option over the life of the roof because it is virtually maintenance-free and can last 50 years or more.

  11. […] forward to see the roofing prices for 24 gauge galvanized steel standing seam metal roof as well as other types of metal roofing materials added to this calculator. Category: […]

  12. […] Standing Seam Metal Roofing – learn about different types of vertical metal roofing, Snap-Lock vs. Mechanical Lock vs. Batten standing seam metal roofs, steel vs. aluminum, etc. […]

  13. […] The rolls make up different standing seam profiles, such as Snap-Lock standing seam, Snap-Lock with a nailing strip (no clips required, when fastening the metal panels to the roof), Mechanical Lock Profile, R-Panel, V-5 Crimp panels, and many more exotic profiles of corrugated and standing seam metal roofing. […]

  14. […] roof is essentially an ice belt installed over entire roof. Metal roofs, be it a standing seam metal roof or a metal shingles roof, will be the most effective way to stop ice dam related roof leaks, as […]

  15. […] as flat-stock), flashing for skylights / chimneys, snow guards, underlayment, etc. When pricing a standing seam metal roof, it is also very important to measure the exact length or roof panels, to avoid having short and […]

  16. […] that same roof preparation techniques should be used when installing a standing seam metal roof, or metal roofing shingles, slate roofs, tile and even cedar shingles/shakes (though often, cedar […]

  17. […] installation guide is based on FABRAL nailing-strip standing seam metal roof, with 1″ ribs. Before you take steps to order materials and install the roof, we recommend […]

  18. […] Standing Seam Metal Roofing – vertical panels with concealed fasteners, made using steel, aluminum, zinc, copper and other metals. Architectural standing seam roofs offers aesthetically pleasing look combined with lifetime roof performance, resistance to ice dams and reduced heating costs. […]

  19. […] using Makita quick pan-head screw-gun, which greatly speeds up attaching clips to the snap-lock standing seam metal roofing panels. Metal Roofing Shingles Installation – This video was taken during an aluminum […]

  20. David Hansen says:

    I have a steel metal building that has a 9/12 pitch with R panels. The panels are screwed to the roof C purlins. I would like to know if standing seam roof panels be applied over the R panels? I had the interior side of the metal panels sprayed with foam insulation prior to the interior framing, there for I would rather not remove the R panels for cost purposes of having to refoam the interior side of the metal panels. What prep is necessary to install the standing seam over the R panels? Please
    Advise. Thank you!

  21. Frank says:

    I have more questions – who can I contact that is reliable?

  22. watauga roofing company says:

    As you can imagine, this monsoon season is the busiest time of year for people who are in the roofing industry.
    EPDM is a tough rubber and may not harden like most Novolac, Epoxy-based or Phenolic Resins.
    Check it carefully for cracks, small holes or other leaks.

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