Cost of Standing Seam Vs. Metal Shingles Roofs

Metal is a premium roofing material manufactured from a high-quality coated steel or aluminum coil.

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Most of high-end residential metal roofs are made from either hot-dip galvanized (zinc-coated) G-90 steel used for metal shingles, or Galvalume (an even better type of coating comprised of zinc and aluminum alloy to protect steel sheets from oxidation due to exposure to environmental elements such as oxygen, moisture, salt spray environment, etc.) steel for standing seam panels.

Majority of high-end metal roofing systems and profiles are manufactured from one of the following metals: 24 to 26 gauge steel, 32 to 40 mil. aluminum sheets/coil, and 16 to 20 oz. copper. Zinc and stainless steel can also be used for high-end metal roofs. In fact, some architects often specify zinc standing seam panels for luxurious homes and cabins designs/developments.

Cost of Materials:

Metal shingles generally cost $2.50 to $6.00 per sq. ft. (materials only) for steel and/or aluminum shingles, plus trim and flashing details. Most products have an average cost of $3.00 to $4.00 per square foot.

Standing seam metal panels generally cost anywhere from $4.00 to $5.00 per square foot or $400 to $500 per square (100 square feet), but the cost may be significantly higher for smaller orders.

Standing seam panels are generally 12 to 19 inches wide. They are typically made out of painted galvanized steel/G-90 Steel, Galvalume steel (offers greater protection from corrosion than galvanized steel), and aluminum. It is also possible to order a standing seam metal roof made of copper or zinc, but these premium metals are extremely expensive and are not a typical material choice for most homeowners.

Manufacturing Process

Standing seam roofing panels can either be pre-formed or site-formed: Pre-formed panels are manufactured off-site at a factory or a sheet metal shop. Site-formed panels are formed from rolls of metal which are fed through special equipment which crimps the metal into rigid panels.

Forming standing seam panels right on the job site allows the advantage of installing longer length panels. However, it is important to be aware that longer standing seam metal panels require consideration during the design process to account for greater contraction and expansion.

Snap-Locked and Field-Locked Systems

There are a number of different types of standing seam metal roofing systems. The most common type in residential construction is a field-locked standing seam. This type of system requires a special seam locking tool to join the panels together.

Another common type is a snap-lock standing seam, which locks the panels together when one side is adjoined with the one next to it. Lastly, there are standing seam shingle based panels. They have the look of standing seam, but they are actually vertical shingle panels.

Installation: a standing seam metal roof requires both specialized knowledge, experience, and special tools for proper installation. This means that a fewer number of roofing contractors will be able to install it properly. Further, the installation will also generally cost more due to a more technical and time consuming installation process.

Installation Costs:

Installation costs (including labor and warranty) for steel or aluminum shingles start at about $4.00 per square foot, and may go up to $9.00 per sq. ft. for roofs with multiple dormers, and/or valleys. Architectural standing seam installation (labor only) costs can range anywhere from $3.00 to $11.00 per square foot depending on the type of roof being worked on.

A rule of thumb, the more difficult and cut up your roof is, the higher your installation costs will be. With metal, dormers, skylights, valleys, end-walls, and any roof-level changes will take longer to work around compared to the traditional composition shingles roof.

A metal roof for an average house may cost anywhere from $12,000 to $27,000, with larger and more difficult (cut-up) roofs being at the higher end of the pricing range. For instance, a small, single-story ranch house with a simple gable roof will cost around $15,000 to $17,000 for a metal shingles roofing system, assuming 15 to 20 squares (a square equals 100 sq. ft) of materials needed for the job. The same roof will probably cost roughly 20% more for standing seam.

Now, if you have a two story Victorian type house with multiple dormers and valleys, then a metal shingles roof will probably cost about $25,000 to $30,000 installed, while a standing seam metal roof will probably cost roughly 20% to 30% more for the same roof. Note: a standing seam is a more difficult system to install on a cut-up roof, therefore your installation costs will be higher with standing seam for a more difficult roof.

Choosing the right system:

Looks: For homeowners who are looking for a more traditional look for their home, the overly “modern” and what some may consider “industrial” look of standing seam may not be the best fit. If you fall into that category, then a metal shingles roof may be a better option for your home.

Roof pitch: it is not advisable to install standing seam on a roof with a pitch of 2:12 or less (2 feet of vertical rise for every 12 feet of horizontal run), unless a system in question is specifically designed and certified (mostly commercial standing seam profiles) for low slope applications.

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