Standing Seam Metal Roofing: Know Before You Buy

Learn how standing seam metal roofing compares to traditional shingles

House roof with standing seam metal panels

Scott Hailstone / E+ / Getty Images

For a long time, your main option for roofing materials was asphalt shingles. Most metal roofs were confined to commercial buildings or to higher-end residential structures. Now, standing seam metal roofing is found in more homes than ever, and the pace is only growing. Find out if standing seam metal roofing is right for you and if it should replace composition shingles for your next roofing project.

What Standing Seam Metal Roofing Is

Standing seam metal roofing is metal roofing that connects side to side with vertical seams that are raised above the level of the roofing itself. Because seams are always the weak point with any kind of building material, especially roofing, raising the seams above water level is a key advantage.

Continuous panels run from the ridge of the roof down to the eaves. There are no horizontal seams. Between the panels are seams connected by fasteners which are raised above the level of the metal roofing.

Standing seam metal roofing can be installed on roof decks ranging from 1:12 pitch (steep) to 3:12 pitch (lower, but not flat).

Main Features of Standing Seam Metal Roofing

Seam Fasteners

Metal roofing standing seams clip into each other, from side to side. The seam fasteners range from 1/2-inch high to 1-1/2 inches high. Because these fasteners are concealed, you only see a smooth continuous ridge extending from top to bottom.

Factory-Formed or Formed On-Site

Roof panels can come either pre-formed or site-formed. Pre-formed panels are created in an off-site factory. Site-formed panels are created from rolls of metal that are run through mobile forming machines that crimp the metal into rigid panels.

Panel Width and Length

Panels tend to run 12 to 19 inches wide. Panels can technically be any length since they are formed from rolls. Most panels are between 3 feet and 45 feet long.

Panel Composition

Standing seam metal panels are usually made either of Galvalume-coated steel or aluminum. The metal ranges from 29 to 26 gauge, with some 22 gauge metal being used in select applications (lower numbers represent thicker metal).

Is Metal Roofing Fireproof?

Metal itself is fireproof. Some homeowners may be lulled into a false sense of safety with their metal roofing, believing it will render their home completely safe from all fires; it will not. Metal is fireproof, but then again composite or asphalt roofs are fireproof, too.

Cost of Standing Seam Metal Roofing

The cost to install standing seam metal roofing ranges from $8 to $21 per square foot, for an average cost of $14 per square foot.

To install standing seam metal roofing on a 3,000-square-foot house would cost about $22,500 on the low end, $62,250 on the high end, and around $42,400 as an average cost.

Galvalume and galvanized steel are the least expensive types of metal roofing to install. Painted aluminum, zinc, and copper are more expensive to install than Galvalume or galvanized steel.

Composition Shingles vs. Standing Seam Roofing

Asphalt and composition shingles do have their high points, and they are not going away anytime soon. For one, if you want to purchase a dead-cheap roofing material, asphalt and composition tend to be the way to go. There are two problems with composition shingles, though. First, the cost of composition shingles is influenced by oil prices, as they are derived from petroleum. This means that prices can fluctuate due to pressures outside of the roofing industry. Second, composition and asphalt shingles tend to lose surface material.

If you have ever cleaned out your gutters (assuming you have asphalt shingles), you know quite well how these shingles have the propensity to slough off the upper mineral-based surface. After enough seasons, conventional shingles have literally been worn down to the core. Sweeping the shingles or, worse, power washing them will only speed up the process.

Standing seam metal roofs are a completely different product. Not only is the type of material independent of petroleum prices but the size and shape of the material and its installation methods are different, too. Many homeowners find that the higher initial cost of this type of roofing will pay off in the end because of its greater durability and reliability.

  • High seams

  • Few seams

  • Durable

  • No horizontal seams

  • EPA cool roof

  • Fewer installers

  • Not good for flat decks

  • Higher cost

  • Not DIY-friendly

  • Denting


  • High seams: One great advantage of standing seam metal roofs is contained in the name itself: seams, the weak point in any roof and a potential entry point for moisture, are raised above the level of the roofing panel. This cannot be said for composition shingles or especially for torch-down or rolled roofing.
  • Fewer seams: Because the metal panels run unhindered from the top to the bottom of the roof, not only are there no horizontal seams but in total the roof has far fewer seams.
  • Durable: Metal is tough and durable, but it's not impervious to all hazards. The sheet metal in this type of roofing can be penetrated by heavy falling limbs or dented by a severe hailstorm.
  • Long-lasting: With proper maintenance, you can expect your metal roof to last between 30 and 50 years.
  • Cool roof: All metal roofing, in general, is considered a cool roof by the US Environmental Protection Agency. This is because metal roofing can be painted any color, including colors on the lighter end of the spectrum which will prevent solar heat gain. Composition shingles are difficult to paint.
  • Sleek looks: Standing seam roofs are perfect for certain types of contemporary or country-style houses. Due to the smooth, straight lines, these roofs give your house an industrial feeling—yet with a modern flair. These are not the rippled tin roofs that you might remember from warehouses of the past.
  • Multiple colors: Metal roofing comes in a decent array of colors: grays, browns, forest greens, earthy reds. While this is not the full palette of colors you might find at a paint store, it is far more than you will find with composition/asphalt shingles.


  • Fewer installers: Nearly every roofing company in your area can install composition or asphalt roofing shingles. But far fewer contractors install metal roofing, and fewer still install them well. This means that you will search longer for a good roofer, and the total project cost may be higher because competition in the market is lessened.
  • Unsuitable for flat roofs: Roof pitch refers to the angle of the roof's slope. Certain types of metal roofs do not lend themselves well to flatter (or completely flat) pitches. Snap-lock panel metal roofs are not advisable for roofs with a pitch of 2:12 or less (2 feet of vertical rise for every 12 feet of horizontal rise). However, with a better quality mechanically-seamed panel, it is safer to go to a 1/2:12 pitch. You can even bump the seams up to 2 inches with a butyl seal for those applications. It is important to note, too, that when you get to these lower pitches, you are below the recommended minimum pitch even for conventional shingles. Generally, these safely go down to a 4:12 pitch, with some shingle manufacturers warranting their product down to 2:12.
  • Cost: Metal is considered a moderately expensive roofing material, more expensive than conventional shingles but less than high-end slate or copper. However, metal's higher cost can be amortized via its longer lifespan.
  • Denting:  Metal roofing will dent. Large hail, tree limbs, or other large objects will dent metal roofing.
  • Is metal roofing noisy?

    Properly installed standing seam metal roofing is not noisy. Insulation and roof decking eliminate interior noise.

  • What is the life expectancy of a standing seam metal roof?

    Most standing seam metal roofing will last 40 to 70 years, if properly maintained.

The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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