The Cost of a Standing Seam Metal Roof, Plus Pros & Cons 2017

Here in 2017, Standing Seam remains the premier choice for metal roofing. It is also the most expensive; around two to three times the cost of Corrugated Metal Panels (and asphalt shingles), and about 20% to 30% above Metal Shingles. Standing Seam offers unbeatable value that is hard to match in really all other roofing materials. So, let’s explore this in further detail:

Costs and Value Of Standing Seam

G-90 Galvanized Steel is the most popular or most-often used option for residential standing seam roofs. The “G” here refers to the amount of the zinc plating, as in .90oz per square foot. While technically, aluminum is more expensive than steel, the reality is the costs aren’t noticeably different when considering what is being sold to homeowners by quality contractors. If the materials were not coated and not finished with factory painting, then perhaps the higher cost of aluminum would be something of note. In the current market, they are virtually the same cost.

Cost of Materials and Important Nuances on Pre-Cut vs. Custom-Fabricated Metal Panels

The material itself will cost between $4.00 and $5.50 per sq. ft. for custom or made-to-order (custom fabricated) standing seam metal panels. If you just want to get some basic standing seam panels for your project, then Home Depot does offer some basic, pre-cut (not made to order) panels that are 8, 12 and 16 feet in length, available at about $1.75 per sq. ft. These are a snap-locking variety, which means they are easier to install than field-locked panels, but they do come in limited color choices. They are available as 26 gauge Galvanized steel, which does provide some good value. — Though, it does leave one important factor up in the air — who will install it? Also, in terms of metal quality and thickness a 26 or 24 gauge Galvalume steel would be a better and a longer lasting option compared to G-90 galvanized steel.

Total Cost of Standing Seam Installed by a Pro

A qualified contractor will likely have real metal samples, a brochure or catalog to show off all the possibilities for what’s available. They’ll provide all the information that backs up their work. And, if going with the national average, their prices will normally fall in the range of $9.00 to $12.00 per sq. ft. to install the system on a typical house.

At 150points, we plugged in the installation of Standing Seam on a 40 by 40 sq. ft. or 1,600 sq. ft. roof, using a licensed and insured contractor, and (in our zip code) the low price came to roughly $19,000, while the high end cost was $27,000. Sometimes roofers will reference the project by “squares” instead, which is 100 sq. ft. So, the 1,600 sq. ft. roof is the same as 16 squares. The cost doesn’t change, just the way the installer may reference it. Some contractors prefer to quote their rate per square, rather than per sq. ft.

How to Find a Trusted Metal Roofer

Depending on your location, it can be tough to find a specialist roofing contractor that installs Standing Seam, but even more challenging is finding a pro that does it well. Installation costs do take into account a number of factors, such as: how exactly will the panels be connected, what are some of the existing roof needs to address (i.e. attic insulation and ventilation, the tear off and disposal of the old roof, etc.), what are the options in terms of metals/alloys, colors and gauge or thickness of the material, whether the installer is properly insured, and whether or not any meaningful labor warranties are being offered.

Understanding The Options of Standing Seam Roofs

Unlike Metal Shingles, Standing Seam roofs make no attempt to mimic the appearance of other roofing options.

Did you know? Standing Seam is a unique roofing style in its own right. To some, it can appear rather plain, with its sleek vertical seams and simple panels that go from the roof ridge line the eaves. It’s really a well orchestrated roofing system. And given that color options are virtually unlimited, the beauty of Standing Seam is certainly in the eye of the beholder.

Stylistic Considerations and Suitability for homes

Country and Contemporary homes are ideal choices for Standing Seam.

The most important aspect of this style of roof is in the name, the way it handles seams. Except for monolithic roofs, usually found on structures or homes with a flat top, all roofs will have seams. — This is where the material overlaps with itself or with parts of the roof that aren’t covered, but are sealed. Well, that’s the hope at least. Over time, and mainly due to weather all efforts to seal will eventually fail.

The good news is that a quality, professional roofing installer can delay that process with proper installation. And the wise homeowner can engage in ongoing maintenance to ensure proper sealing for the length of the material. Metal, along with stone, being the material that is likely to last a long time. 100 years is within reason. Depending on the metal, the century mark would actually be considered short lived.

Back to seams. On most roofing systems, such as wood, or slate or even corrugated metal panels, the seams are intentionally exposed, and the fasteners as well. With Standing Seam, the fasteners are intentionally hidden and capped, which conceals the seams. These capped ridges are the visible, vertical lines on the roof, and are usually between half an inch to one and half inches high.

Field or mechanically-Locked Standing Seam vs. Snap-Locked

Seams and panels, can be snap-locked. This requires less tools and is easier to install, but is not as reliable as the other method. Field-lock Standing Seam is the more popular method, and requires special (locking) tool to join the panels together. It also requires skill and experience, partially to know where to situate yourself so your body is not creating useless impact on the panels. The seams and panels are all metal, though the material is regularly chosen based on how the panels will appear.

Did You Know? Copper and Zinc are possible choices for Standing Seam. They are much more expensive, and thus rarely used for residential properties.

Steel and aluminum are the two main options for metal in the residential Standing Seam market. Both these metals will naturally corrode over time. Which is why we can thank the gods for metallic coating and paint. It used to be that tin, which is highly resistant to corroding, was plated onto steel, as the primary metallic coating. But there are several reasons why “tin roofs” are a thing of the past. Nowadays, galvanized steel, galvalume steel and aluminum are the norm.

Galvanized means steel plated with zinc (which is non corrosive)

Galvalume refers to steel plated with an aluminum and zinc mixture (considered even less corrosive than galvanized steel)

Steel roofs must be coated first with a metallic finish to ensure they hold a coat of paint. Aluminum doesn’t necessity need such a coating, as it can be installed in mill finish, however most aluminum roofs are in fact painted, because people like the colors available with metal roofing.

How the materials are coated with paint will determine their lifespan. Factory finished with what is known as Kynar 500 or Hylar 5000 paint finish quality is arguably the best way to go. It’s actually less expensive than painting after the installation, since it’s just another run of the metal through the mill, not requiring man hours.

Width of panels is another consideration, though the standard range is between a foot and 19 inches.

Gauge is perhaps the last option, dealing with thickness of the metal panel. 29 gauge is the minimum for residential construction using Standing Seam. The lowest gauge would probably be 22 for the residential market, and the standard is currently at 26.

2 Key Facts The lower the gauge number, the thicker the metal. Secondly, thickness of metal doesn’t affect price too much, but obviously can impact the durability.

Advantages Of Standing Seam Roof

  • seams are not exposed, less chance the roof deck will be exposed to moisture, therefore less chance of leaks
  • ROI is excellent for metal roofs, where nearly 87% of money spent on the roof can be recouped and pertains mainly to Standing Seam roofing. This number goes as high as 95% on the east coast of the U.S.
  • wide range of color options
  • metal, if properly maintained, will last at least 75 years, likely longer
  • metal is fire resistant, mildew resistant and insect/animals are not going to feed off of it, or build their home in it
  • metal holds up to wind and hail very well, though check with manufacturer to get precise info on this (where gauge matters)
  • metal roofs are green friendly, they can reflect solar heat and make the home much cooler than other roof types
  • plus metal is 100% recyclable, which most other roofing material cannot claim

Disadvantages of Standing Seam Roof

  • the cost, it is on the high end for all types of metals roofs and much higher than say asphalt shingles, though has much more lasting value
  • ongoing maintenance; while metal lasts a long time, paint does not, plus fasteners will likely need to be inspected and perhaps tightened every 10 to 20 years
  • can dent with enough force, such as large hail, person walking on it in haphazard way, or nearby branches falling on it

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