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R-Panel Roofing vs. Standing Seam: The Key Differences For Homeowners
Lauren Risotto

By: Lauren Risotto on April 2nd, 2020

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R-Panel Roofing vs. Standing Seam: The Key Differences For Homeowners

Metal | Roofing | Standing Seam

So you’ve decided on a metal roof for your home, but what kind of metal roof is right for your home? It may come as a surprise to you that several different kinds of metal roofs exist. Saying “I want a metal roof” is like saying “I want a red car”. There are still many different options within the category and you need to narrow it down further.

Two roofing types that are often compared because of their appearances are R-Panel and standing seam. While they can look similar, they have big differences that are important to know.

At Western States Metal Roofing, we sell both types of panels. In this article, we will go over the differences between the two panels and how they compare in:

  • Panel Appearance
  • Panel Performance
  • Panel Cost
  • Panel Installation
  • Panel Applications

Panel Appearance

R Panel Corten AZP Raw
Standing seam roofing Corten AZP RawR-Panel roofing (top), Standing Seam roofing (bottom), in Corten AZP Raw®

Because of its appearance, R-Panel can be mistakenly referred to as standing seam.

While the panels look different up close, they have a similar look once they are on a roof. R-Panels offer an aesthetic that is comparable to the look of standing seam panels with its smooth finish and flat area in between raised ribs.

Winner: Standing Seam

The look is subjective to the project and personal preference, however standing seam is especially popular for its clean lines and modern look.


R Panel vs. Standing Seam

Both panels can provide longevity with proper installation and regular inspections. However, standing seam is favored because the fasteners are not exposed. R-Panel is an exposed fastening system and standing seam is a concealed fastening system.


Exposed Fastener System v. Concealed Fastening System

An exposed fastener metal roofing system, also known as corrugated metal roofing, is when panels are fastened directly onto the roof deck with screws that penetrate the panels. The screw heads are left visible which is where the name “exposed fastener” comes from. The screw heads have to be checked regularly to see if they need to be either tightened or replaced.

A concealed fastener system features panels consisting of formed metal sheet with vertical ribs at the panel edges, installed by lapping and interlocking edges of adjacent panels. The panels are attached to the substrate using concealed clips and fasteners.

You’re probably wondering what a fastening system has to do with leaking. An exposed fastener such as a screw is made weathertight with a rubber sealing washer that is compressed as the screw is tightened. You will have thousands of screw penetrations in the roof. If the screws are installed at an angle, over-tightened, or under-tightened it will create a leak point. In addition, after many years of expansion and contraction the screws might back themselves out a bit. This can cause small gaps between the screw and the panel.

When left exposed, rain can get through these gaps and cause a slow leak over time. A concealed fastener system does not have any exposed fasteners so they are protected from the elements, making it harder for water to get through.

Winner: Standing Seam

With the proper maintenance, both panels can provide excellent performance. However, the exposed fasteners of R-Panel puts it at a higher risk of potential water issues.


Metal Panel Cost

A major difference between these panels is cost. R-Panel is considered a lower-cost metal panel, while standing seam is the most expensive metal panel option.

Winner: R-Panel

Standing seam can cost twice as much or possibly more than R-Panel.


Metal Panel Installation

Installation of an exposed fastener system requires less time, fewer tools, and a simpler skillset compared to a concealed fastener system. This makes R-Panel a better choice if you are looking for a simpler installation to do yourself.

Download R-Panel Installation Guide

Finding a qualified contractor with the right experience to do a concealed fastener installation may not be easy to accomplish. Also, if a repair needs to be done, it will be time-consuming as each individual panel needs to be separated in order for a panel to be replaced.

Download Standing Seam Installation Guide

Winner: R-Panel

The installation of standing seam will also cost more than R-Panel since it’s a more complex job. Standing seam will cost a minimum of 40% to 50% more to install. The reason for this is that standing seam takes more time to install as it’s a more complex and weathertight system.


Solar Panel Installation

The legs of a standing seam roof are very convenient for a clamp (S-5) to attach the solar panels to the seam/leg of the standing seam roofing panels. There’s no need to drill into the roof. Other rooftop additions, such as snow retention systems, are easily installed in a similar way.

Winner: Standing Seam

If you plan on investing in solar panels or already have them, standing seam will be the roofing option for a simpler solar panel installation.


Solar panels attached on a Standing Seam roof in Zinc Metallic®


Metal Panel Applications

R-Panel and standing seam metal panels can both be used in a variety of ways. However, there are certain applications that you will see them each used for more often.

R-Panel is is the least expensive metal roofing panels and you will see it used in agricultural and industrial/commercial buildings. In addition, it’s the most common metal siding panel.

Standing seam is more often used as roofing in residential projects or upscale looking commercial projects. You will also see standing seam on jobs in which the roof has to be warrantied for weather tightness.

Winner: Tie

The application depends on what type of project you have.

I’m Deciding Between R-Panel and Standing Seam. What’s Next?

R-Panel and standing seam have similar looks but are at very different price points. A choice between R-Panel and standing seam really comes down to a compromise between cost and performance.

R-Panel Works Well For Those Who:

  • Have a limited budget
  • Are interested in doing the installation themselves
  • Are looking for siding for an agricultural or industrial building

Standing Seam Is A Good Fit For Those Who:

  • Have a flexible budget
  • Are looking for extra protection from leaks
  • Plan to use solar panels
  • Are looking for residential roofing


Three Types Of Standing Seam


Now that we've talked about panel profiles, the next step would be to decide on the design of your roof. Color has a huge impact on your metal roof's appearance.

Western States Metal Roofing offers a wide range of color options in different paint finishes. 

Learn about how to pick the best color for your metal roof by reading: 

Metal Roofing Colors: 5 Tips To Pick The Best Metal Roofing Color


Download Your How To Choose A Metal Roofing Color Guide


Get a Free Quote for Metal Roof or Metal Wall Panels Today! Click Here


About Lauren Risotto

Lauren is the Content Manager at Western States Metal Roofing and provides insight on content creation and product promotions.