Standing Seam

Standing-seam metal roofs have been popular for centuries. The term standing seam is used to describe any type of joinery that uses an upturned portion of the metal to connect adjacent metal sections. The joinery raises the seam above the drainage plane of the panel, creating its distinctive vertical lines.

In the past, the original standing-seam roof involved only the 90-deg. adjacent metal upstands that could be single or double folded at the top. Today standing-seam joints are held together with a concealed clip, or cleat, at the seam. The clip involves a male and a female upstand that joins with or without seaming. Other versions of standing seam incorporate a nailing flange to the roof, which is then covered up by the next panel as it is snapped into place.

Standing-seam metal roofs are used with many types of high-pitched expanses of roof that can be enhanced with strong definition of the architectural lines. Standing-seam roofs are also very prevalent in mountainous regions where the need to shed snow is important. In addition, standing-seam installation is sometimes easier than other roofing styles.

Standing-seam metal sheets go through a roll-forming process to create the panels. The roll-formed panels are custom cut to the specific lengths of the roofs. Because they are custom cut, the product is usually special-ordered for each job.

Advantages of Metal Roofing

Standing-seam steel roofing holds the largest percentage of residential metal roofing in the industry. This type of roof is economical, attractive, and used in heavy snow areas. With a historical look that is gaining new popularity, standing seam is the oldest style of metal roofing that can be seen on traditional and restored buildings and homes.

In addition, the latest styles of metal roofs are catching the eye of many homeowners. The new metal-roofing products address all preferences by providing a variety of designs, styles, and colors to complement any type of architecture. As there are many advantages to standing-seam steel roofing, many of these attributes can be found with other recent styles of metal roofing.

Metal roofs are durable, offering a high-strength-to-low-weight ratio. These roofing systems are almost maintenance-free, no cleaning or pressure washing is needed, and will not lose impact resistance with age. Furthermore, metal roofs are low weight and can be installed over many existing roofs.

The advantages of a metal roof in severe weather are numerous. Metal roofs are fire retardant, providing a unfriendly home to fire-blown embers. In heavy snowstorms, metal roofs reflect radiant heat to melt ice and snow. In high winds, standing seam’s fully interlocking panels can pass the Dade County, Fla., test — withstanding winds over 110 miles per hour.

There are numerous environmental benefits of standing-seam metal roofs. Metal roofs are energy efficient; the metal reflects the heat and blocks heat transfer. Homeowners have reported a savings of up to 20% in their energy bills. Furthermore, steel roofs are made from 60-65% recyclable material and can be installed over existing roofs, eliminating excessive landfill disposal.

Standing-seam steel roofing is a complete system that includes factory- formed sheets and accessories, consistent protective finish, and overall protection. A metal roof is actually quiet, despite the misconception that they are noisy. Folds in the metal, solid decking, and insulation in the attic or ceiling muffle the sound of rain.

Cost Issues

While the initial cost for a premium metal roof is higher than most other roofing materials, the investment homeowners make for installing a metal roof will be returned over many years.

Installation Considerations

Many metal-roofing manufacturers have been reviewing the installation process and looking for ways to make it simpler and less labor intensive. Some metal manufacturers have been able to design a roofing system that needs only six common tools.

Furthermore, metal-roofing manufacturers have been designing products that do not require specialized training. Contractors can learn how to install a metal-roofing product through a brief presentation by the manufacturer or through a step-by-step video.

Future of Metal Roofing

Metal roofing will always be a roofing option, for both old and new homes and buildings. In the past few decades, metal roofing has evolved into a variety of styles and designs while maintaining its traditional standing-seam style. Even though standing seam still dominates the metal-roofing industry, other varieties and styles have also emerged, attracting many different audiences.

Tile Roofing

More than any other roof type, the traditional tile roof is an architectural feature deserving of special attention — because the texture, color, and play of light and shadow impart a distinctive character to a building that no other roof type can match. Yet tens of thousands of tile roofs have been lost in recent decades because of the ignorance or laziness of low-level roofing repair contractors. When a contractor says of a tile roof: “That can’t be repaired,” it only means that he or she can’t repair it!

Roofing tiles can be ceramic (e.g., clay fired at a high temperature) or fabricated from cement concrete. Some of the lighter types use fibers (e.g., cellulose) added for strength. The color of a tile may be dispersed throughout, or it may be applied in the form of a coating. Perhaps the most venerable type of roof tile is the Spanish style red barrel tile made from fired clay. The modern version of this tile is sometimes a cement tile with a suitable coating. In either case, the red color is due to the ubiquitous iron oxide material, hematite.

Roofing tiles are available in a wide range of colors; more data on the solar reflectance properties is needed. A starting point for the estimation of the solar reflectance would be to use the reflectance of a paint coating of similar color.

Advantages of tile include fire safety, as they are non-combustible, and durability. Disadvantages include increased weight and cost compared with low-cost asphalt shingle roofs


Tile roofs often have enhanced air circulation compared to other roofing types because ambient air can circulate below as well as above the tile. (Wood roofs also have provision for air circulation below the roof, to make sure they always remain dry.) This enhanced air circulation helps the roof shed solar heat more readily.