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What is a Standing Seam Metal Roof? (Pros and Cons)

September 15th, 2023 | 9 min. read

What is a Standing Seam Metal Roof? (Pros and Cons)

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Metal, standing seam specifically, is the fastest-growing roofing material in the residential roofing industry. But that doesn’t mean it’s the right fit for everyone. 

So, how do you determine if a standing seam metal roof is right for you? That starts with simply knowing what it is and what it has to offer. 

For over 30 years, we have helped our customers in Nashville and surrounding Middle Tennessee areas determine if a metal roof is right for their budget and home’s look. Staying true to our Southern hospitality, I want to do the same for others. 

This article answers the following questions:

  • What is a standing seam metal roof?
  • What are the cons of a standing seam metal roof?
  • What are the pros of a standing seam metal roof?

What is a standing seam metal roof?

A standing seam metal roof system (also called hidden fastener) is a series of metal panels locked together at the seams or seamed mechanically. The ribs (standing seams) are usually 12 to 24 inches apart, depending on the panels’ length and aesthetics of the home. 

standing seam metal roof over patio(Standing seam metal roof over patio)

Because standing seam metal panels are fastened under each rib, the panels can expand and contract freely when the metal goes through thermal expansion. This makes a standing seam metal roof the recommended residential metal roof system

While the metal panels make up the bulk of the roof, there are also crucial components beneath the surface. A standing seam metal roof system is made up of the following components:

  • Roof decking: The wooden boards that make up the framing of a roof.
  • Starter lock strip: Lock strips hold (lock) the standing seam metal panels to the edges and prevent them from lifting during strong storms.
  • Underlayment: Underlayment is a felt or synthetic material installed over roof decking to provide additional protection. High heat ice and water shield is recommended for a standing seam metal roof.
  • Clips: Fasteners that hold each metal panel to the roof deck.
  • Z bar: A piece of flashing 1/8th of an inch taller than the ribs that’s bent in the shape of a Z.
  • Ridge capping: The trim installed at the peak where two slopes of a roof meet.

A standing seam metal roof needs all of the components above to reach its full potential. If one is missing or improperly installed, you’ll have costly roof leaks. 

What are the pros and cons of a standing seam metal roof?

Now you know what a standing seam metal roof is. But knowing what it is doesn’t help you determine if it’s the right roofing material for you. 

That’s why you need to know the pros and cons of standing seam metal roofing. 

The cons of a standing seam metal roof

Let’s start with the “bad” or the downside of this metal roof system. Below are the things homeowners have the biggest problems or hesitations with when considering a standing seam metal roof.

You’ll hear rain hit a standing seam metal roof

The first con is the light echo that’s created when rain hits a standing seam metal roof. The echo is absorbed slightly by the wood (decking) between the metal panels and your ceiling. 

To dull out the sound even more, you can add insulation boards between the decking and metal panels. Unfortunately, even this extra layer won’t completely block out a heavy downpour.

This isn’t a big deal for some homeowners, and some even like the sound. However, there’s huge potential for buyer’s remorse if the noise factor isn’t considered before investing in a standing seam metal roof. 

Standing seam metal roofing panels can experience oil canning

The next con of a standing seam metal roof is the potential for oil canning. Oil canning occurs when the standing seam metal panels are fastened too tightly together. 

oil canning on a standing seam metal roof

While the metal panels have room to expand longways, they can’t expand sideways. This creates oil canning that starts with a “bubbling” look before eventually turning into a wavy look on the metal panels. 

The good thing is oil canning doesn’t cause functionality problems. However, it does create an aesthetic issue that bothers some homeowners. 

So, keep in mind that oil canning is possible on a standing seam metal roof if aesthetics are important to your decision-making.

A standing seam metal roof is a large investment

The biggest con and concern to homeowners is that a standing seam metal roof is very expensive. To put the investment in perspective, it costs almost three times more than architectural asphalt shingles (the most commonly used roofing material). 

architectural asphalt shingle roof

For example, a two-story house with a little complexity and accessibility, and using architectural asphalt shingles costs around $5.86 per square foot. For comparison, you can expect a standing seam metal roof on the same home to be around $15.00 per square foot. 

standing seam metal roof

This is a huge price jump that immediately disqualifies most homeowners. But a standing seam metal roof is a great option if you have the budget.

The pros of a standing seam metal roof

Now that we got the “bad” out of the way, you’re ready to learn what you get out of your investment. Let’s get to the pros of a standing seam metal roof. 

Standing seam metal roofing has high curb appeal

The first pro of a standing seam metal roof is the high curb appeal. Obviously, looks and aesthetics are subjective.  

steel standing seam metal roof

But a standing seam metal roof is proven to have a higher curb appeal than the standard 3-tab or architectural asphalt shingles. Getting a full metal roof system drastically increases your home’s curb appeal. 

combo of standing seam metal roof accents

However, this isn’t an option for most people because of the cost. That’s why homeowners take advantage of standing seam metal roofing’s versatility by adding it to accent another roofing material in areas like covered front porches, side porches, back porches, bay windows, etc.

A standing seam metal roof increases your home’s value

Speaking of what it does for your home, the next pro is that a standing seam metal roof increases your home’s value. This means you’ll be able to recoup some of the initial investment when putting your house on the market. 

According to the 2023 COST VS VALUE REPORT, the 2023 national average cost for a standing seam metal roof is $47,414. Per the same report, the national average recouped cost is 48.9% of the original price. 

For this specific example, a standing seam metal roof increases the home’s value by about $23,163. A new roof always increases your home’s value, but you’ll unfortunately never see a full return on investment. 

A steel standing seam metal roof comes with Kynar 500

The next pro of a standing seam metal roof is the painted finish applied to the metal panels. Kynar 500 is a painted finish that protects standing seam metal roof panels (specifically steel) from the elements and keeps the color you choose from fading.

After the roof is installed, the painted finish comes with a 30-year warranty. While the paint won’t just disappear once it reaches the 30-year mark, you should start budgeting for a roof replacement once the warranty expires. 

As I mentioned, this is specific to steel standing seam metal panels. There are multiple metal options for a standing seam metal roof that all have their own advantages and disadvantages. 

A standing seam metal roof is durable

The next (and probably the biggest) pro of standing seam metal roofing is its durability. You’ll have no problem getting 30 years out of this metal roof system as long as it’s properly installed

It’s not uncommon to get up to 50 years under ideal conditions. However, a standing seam metal roof won’t get anywhere this lifespan if the metal panels are scratched or damaged during installation.

Exposing fresh steel to dew or moisture in the air leads to rusting and shortens the lifespan. But just like before, this lifespan and painted finish are specific to steel. 

Some metals used for standing seam panels can even last up to 75 to 100 years without relying on a painted finish for protection. 

Standing seam metal roofing is low maintenance

The last pro of a standing seam metal roof is that it’s a low maintenance roofing material. While every roof needs maintenance in some shape or form, it’s virtually maintenance-free after installation. 

The only major maintenance a standing seam metal roof requires is around penetrations such as vent pipes, gas pipes, etc. Besides that, cleaning is the only other general maintenance needed, which is a personal choice. 

However, I still recommend getting your standing seam metal roof checked out every year or two to catch potential problems, clear sitting debris, and ensure you get the most life out of it. 

Is a standing seam metal roof right for you?

After reading this article, you know what a standing seam metal roof is, plus the pros and cons. Now, you have the information needed to determine if it’s the right roofing material for you. 

If it is, you need to find a great local roofing contractor with metal roofing experience. But if it isn’t, or you just want to know your other options, plenty of great roofing materials are out there.

To continue helping you find the perfect one for your replacement, I wrote another article breaking down the best roofing materials. 

Check out The 7 Best Roofing Materials (Pros, Cons, Cost, Lifespan, and More) to find the right roofing material for your budget and situation.

If you’re looking for a metal roof in Nashville or a surrounding Middle Tennessee area, don’t hesitate to Contact Us today to get started. 

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