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Types Of Standing Seam Metal Roofing: Pros And Cons + Cost
Lauren Risotto

By: Lauren Risotto on February 3rd, 2021

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Types Of Standing Seam Metal Roofing: Pros And Cons + Cost

Standing Seam | roof

When you are searching for the best quality roof, a standing seam metal roof is going to be one of the top contenders. It can last up to 40 to 60 plus years while being low maintenance, weathertight, and, of course, strikingly attractive. This is why it’s used so often on residential roofs and commercial buildings.

While the decision to use standing seam might be an easy one, which type of standing seam roofing to use may require a bit more consideration. 

There are three different types of standing seam metal panel systems to choose from, along with different types of stiffening ribs or striations that can be included within them.

At Western States Metal Roofing, we manufacture all three types of standing seam metal roofing panels and are thoroughly knowledgeable in the benefits and potential drawbacks of each panel.


Types Of Standing Seam Comparison Chart-2


In this article, we will discuss: 

  • Types of standing seam panel systems 
  • Pros and cons of each system
  • Standing seam metal roofing cost
  • Different styles of stiffening ribs

By the end of this article, you will have all of the knowledge you need to decide which standing seam system is best for your roof.


What Is A Standing Seam Metal Roof?

Standing seam metal roofing is sheet metal that has a flat appearance in the center and vertical ribs at the panel edges. It’s the most weather-tight metal roofing system  because it’s attached with concealed fasteners.


What Are The Types Of Standing Seam Metal Roof Panels?

These are three types of standing seam roof systems:

  • Snap Lock 
  • Mechanically Seamed
  • Nail Strip/ Nail Flange


Benefits Of Standing Seam Metal Roofing

Each of these three systems has different pros and cons, but there are some standing seam benefits that are universal.

  • Modern looking with clean lines and a sleek appearance.
  • Concealed Fasteners - Fasteners don’t penetrate the panel. This eliminates visible screw heads and screw holes, which can cause leaks.
  • Low Maintenance
  • Impact Resistant
  • Class A Fire Rating
  • 100% Recyclable 


Standing Seam Metal Roofing Problems

Standing seam metal roofing is the best metal roofing system, but it has some drawbacks. Here are the problems that each of these systems has in common.

  • Cost - The price of standing seam is nearly double the cost of corrugated metal roofing. 
  • Difficult To Install
  • Oil Canning - The standing seam panels may have wavy and wrinkled appearance. 

Standing Seam Roofing Differences


Now that we have covered the similarities between the panels, it’s time to discuss the differences between these three types of standing seam metal roofing systems.

  • Seam heights
  • Panel Widths
  • Methods Of Fastening
  • Engineering
  • Seaming
  • Methods Of Installation
  • Pros and Cons
  • Cost


Snap Lock Standing Seam Roofing With Clips

The snap lock standing seam roof system consists of panels with a male and female leg that snap together. These panels are fastened to the roof with clips, and the fasteners are concealed.



Snap lock panels can be made in the following measurements:

Seam Heights: 1.5” and 1.75”

Panel Widths: 12”, 14”, 16”, 18” , Custom

Panel Lengths: Up to 52’. Lengths in excess of 52’ will have to be roll-formed on-site.

Snap lock is the most common type of standing seam roofing. Its popularity comes from being regarded as the best all-around standing seam solution when you consider the performance of the panel, cost, and easier installation than some of the other standing seam panels. 


What Are The Advantages Of Snap Lock Standing Seam?

  • Designed For Thermal Movement
  • Does Not Require Seaming
  • No Panel Seams
  • Cost


Snap Lock Panels Are Designed For Thermal Movement 


With temperature changes from hot to cold, metal will expand and contract. This type of roofing system is designed to allow for panel movement. The more the panel can move, the more resistant it is to oil canning.

Snap Lock Does Not Require Seaming 


The side lap, or overlapping, of the panels does not have to be seamed together. This allows for the panels to be installed much faster than a mechanically seamed system.


Snap Lock Has No Panel Seams  

The panels can be made to any sheet length, meaning that each side of the roof can be installed in one panel length. Eliminating a seam at the panel lap removes the possibility of a roof leak.


Snap Lock Standing Seam Cost


This type of standing seam is more expensive than a nail strip panel and cost less than mechanically seamed roofing panels.

  • Standing Seam Materials Cost - $3.00 to $5.50 Per Square Foot
  • Materials and Installation - $10 to $16 Per Square Foot


What Are The Disadvantages Of Snap Lock Metal Roofing?

  • Not for very low sloped roofs 
  • Difficult to install 


Snap Lock Is Not For Very Low Sloped Roofs 

Snap lock standing seam metal roofing minimum slope is 3” in 12” or greater to reduce the risk of roof leaks. This does not make it compatible with flat roofs or roofs with a very low slope. 


Snap Lock Standing Seam Metal Roofing Installation

While snap lock is less complicated compared to mechanically seamed, it is still a difficult roofing panel system to install correctly. When compared to most other roofing materials such as corrugated metal roofing, snap lock installations cost more because of the additional material cost and labor involved. 

DIY standing seam metal roofing installation is rarely recommended. If you are handy and want to take on the challenge, we recommend viewing our standing seam installation details and viewing our standing seam installation videos prior to starting your project. Otherwise, hiring a professional roofing contractor is normally the best option for your residential standing seam metal roof.


mechanically seamed metal roofing

Mechanically Seamed Metal Roofing

Mechanically seamed panels are designed with clips that line up with one another to be locked together by a mechanical or hand seamer


Snap Lock panels can be made in the following measurements:

Seam Heights: 1” to 3”

Panel Widths: 12”, 14”, 16”, 18”, Custom

Panel Lengths: Up to 52’. Lengths in excess of 52’ will have to be roll-formed on-site.


Mechanically Seamed Panel Locking System: Single Lock Vs. Double Lock

Mechanically seamed panels can either use a single lock system or a double lock system when they are seamed together. 


single lock vs double lock standing seam


A single lock refers to the seams of the panel being folded once (90 degrees) and a double lock is when the seams of the panel are folded twice (180 degrees). 

Double lock systems are more commonly used. They are more secure and have an overall better performance over a single lock system. 

If you are working with a very low sloped roof, then a double lock is the preferred system as this method makes the panels more weathertight.

A single lock system is easier to install and is best suited for milder climates since the seams are not as weathertight as double lock panels. 



What Are The Advantages Of Mechanically Seamed Metal Roofing?

  • Most Weathertight Standing Seam Panel
  • Compatible With Very Low Sloped Roofs
  • Most Secure Fit

Standing Seam Metal Roof

Double Lock Mechanically Seamed Is The Most Weathertight System

If you have a very low sloped roof and are looking for a roof with the greatest leak resistance, double lock mechanically seamed is your answer. They are seamed together very tightly with no entry points for water to enter through.

If you live in an area such as snow country or where there is heavy rain where leaks can be a potential threat, having a roof with maximum weathertightness is critical to prevent having to do costly water damage repairs in the future.

Mechanically Seamed Roofing Panels Are Compatible With Very Low Sloped Roofs

The weathertightness of mechanically seamed panels make it the only standing seam roof that is appropriate for very low/ almost flat roofs. The panels can be used on a roof with a .5” to 1” roof slope or greater.

Double Lock Standing Seam Has The Most Secure Panel Lap 

Mechanically seamed panels that use the double lock system are extra secure and will not have the seams come undone. Though it is rare, panels that come apart results in your roof being majorly vulnerable to damage if not fixed immediately.


What Are The Disadvantages Of Mechanically Seamed Metal Roofing?

  • Most expensive standing seam panel
  • Most difficult standing seam installation


Mechanically Seamed Standing Seam Metal Roofing Cost The Most 

When you factor in the additional accessories, expertise, labor, tools, and effort required to install mechanically seamed, it results in higher materials prices and labor costs for installation. When factoring installation into the total cost for the roof, it makes mechanically seamed the most expensive standing seam roofing system.


Mechanically Seamed Roofing Cost
  • Materials Cost - $3 to $5 Per Square Foot
  • Materials and Installation - $10 to $16 Per Square Foot

Mechanically Seamed Roofing Panels Are The Most Difficult To Install

This is the most difficult and time-consuming standing seam panel to install. The panels have to be seamed by hand and if you choose a double lock system, they will have to be seamed twice.

Mechanically seamed installations are the longest and most labor-intensive of all the standing seam systems. This results in a more expensive installation as it is a more complex process. This is the least DIY friendly standing seam metal.


Nail Strip Standing Seam Roofing

Nail strip, also known as nail flange or fastener flange, is the snap lock standing seam roof system with the simplest installation process. The male flange has one-inch slots that are spaced 6 inches apart and fastened directly to the roof deck, eliminating the need for clips. Once the panel is fastened, the female leg of the panel snaps over, hiding the fasteners. 

Nail Strip panels can be made in the following measurements:


Seam Heights: 1”, 1.5”

Panel Widths: 12”, 14”, 16”, 18”, Custom

Nail strip panels are used most often for residential applications because they’re the least expensive standing seam system. However, this panel has the worst performance of the three types of standing seam panels. We do not recommend it for commercial projects.

Even though it’s the cheapest standing seam roof panel, it’s still substantially more expensive than corrugated metal roofing. The cost savings are minimal and the difference in performance is substantial. If possible, we would recommend upgrading to a clip system panel.


What Are The Advantages Of Nail Strip Standing Seam?

  • Most affordable standing seam roof
  • Easiest installation of all the standing seam panels

The Lowest Price Standing Seam Metal Roofing Panel

By eliminating the use of clips, the cost of both the roofing accessories and the installation labor are both reduced. This makes nail strip systems the most economical choice for standing seam roofing. 


What’s The Price Of Nail Strip Standing Seam Roofing?

You can save about fifty cents per square foot on the materials cost and additional savings for the installation.

  • Nail Strip Materials Cost - $3.00 to $4.50 Per Square Foot
  • Materials and Installation - $7 to $16 Per Square Foot


The Easiest Standing Seam Panel To Install 

All standing seam panels are challenging to install, but the nail strip is the easiest of the three systems as it requires less accessories and less steps. This usually means a less expensive installation as a contractor has less work to do when installing nail strip panels. While we always recommend hiring a professional installer, a nail strip roof is the most suitable for a DIY installation if you are interested in doing the installation yourself. It’s slightly less complicated than a snap lock panel with clips.


Nail Strip Standing Seam Product Limitations

  • Pinned panels
  • Not recommended for commercial projects
  • Shorter panel lengths
  • Not for low sloped roofs
  • Most likely to show oil canning 


Pinned Panels

There are no clips, instead there is a one-inch slot that’s designed so that the panels can move due to expansion and contraction. However, this allows for less movement than a clip system panel. Furthermore, it’s not uncommon for the installer to fasten the screws too tightly which will pin the panels. When this happens, the nail strip panels cannot move.

The fastener head and the edges of the slotted holes are the only things holding down the panel. If the panels cannot move, it puts extra stress on the slotted holes. Most failures occur because the metal around the fastener head rips apart.


Nail Strip Panels Are Rarely Used On Commercial Projects

These panels are intended for residential applications where cost savings are the primary focus. The lesser performance and the lack of engineering makes this a bad choice for a commercial project.


Shorter Panel Lengths

Not recommended for panel lengths that are greater than 30 feet. A splice joint is not recommended with a nail strip standing seam panel.


Not For Low Sloped Roofs

It’s the least weather-tight option in the standing seam category. This makes it a bad choice for low sloped roofing, and you should have a minimum roof slope of 3:12 or greater.


Nail Strip Panels Are Most Likely To Show Oil Canning 

Nail strip panels allow for the least amount of thermal movement. In addition, the panels follow the imperfections of the roof deck that they are fastened to. While oil canning can occur in all standing seam panels, nail strip panels are the most likely standing seam panel to display oil canning.

Oil canning on a standing seam roof

Oil canning on a standing seam roof


Oil Canning Metal Roofs

A common occurrence in metal panels, especially standing seam, is oil canning. This cosmetic deformation is observed as waves or wrinkles in the standing seam panels’ flat areas. Oil canning is solely an aesthetic issue and does not affect the functionality of a metal roof. It is not a cause for panel rejection.

There are additions you can make to metal panels to help with the appearance of oil canning such as:

  • Clip Relief
  • Stiffening Ribs
  • Striations

Clip Relief For Standing Seam Panels 

These are ribs put into the panels on the female and male sides to control oil canning and allow a recess for the clip to not show up through the panels. Having clip relief will not make oil-canning go away but can control it when compared to not using any type of stiffening ribs on the panels.

Stiffening Ribs On Standing Seam Panels 

Stiffening ribs are low profile indentations added to the center of a standing seam panel with ribbed rollers to help minimize the unwanted look of oil canning. While the ribs don’t remove oil canning, they do help disguise its appearance. Oil canning on standing seam roofs without stiffening ribs is usually more noticeable. 

The stiffening rib style you should choose depends on the roofing aesthetic you are looking to achieve. 


The most common stiffening rib styles to choose from are:


Pencil Ribs

Pencil Ribs


Pencil Ribs

Pencil rib panels have narrow, circular ribs that look like pencil indentations.


V-rib panels consist of narrow ribs that come to a point in a triangular pattern. 

Bead Ribs

Bead ribs have rectangular indents and have the widest ribs of all the panel types.


Striations on standing seam panels

Striations on Standing Seam Metal Panel

Striations vs. Stiffening Ribs

We just discussed stiffening ribs; however, you may have also heard of striations. In fact, the terms “striations” and “stiffening ribs” are often used interchangeably. While both are used on metal panels to decrease the appearance of oil canning and do not add any additional cost to the panel, there is a slight difference. 

Striations are a pattern of linear grooves on the flat surface of the panel which runs parallel to the standing seam.

Unlike stiffening ribs, striations are located through the entire panel which makes them more effective at disguising oil canning. 

While both striations and stiffening ribs increase the panels’ strength, striations are the strongest of the panel types. Striations are more often recommended over stiffening ribs for maximum durability and protection from oil canning.

Adding striations or stiffening ribs does not guarantee that your panels will not have oil canning. However, if oil canning occurs it will not be as noticeable.


Which Standing Seam Roof Is Best For Me?

When choosing your standing seam panel, consider factors such as:

  • Roof budget
  • Roof slope
  • Climate (mild or heavy rain/ snow)

Each panel has different advantages and is best in different circumstances.

Snap Lock is best for:

  • The best all around standing seam panel
  • Lesser installation costs
  • Roof slopes that are 3” in 12” or greater

Mechanically Seamed is best for:

  • Snow country and extreme weather conditions
  • Extra weather tight and secure fit
  • Experienced installation professionals
  • Very low roof slopes that are .5” to 1”:12 and greater

Nail strip is best for:

  • Budgets that require the most affordable standing seam
  • Panel lengths that are less than 30’
  • Roof pitch that is 3:12 or greater

Three Types Of Standing Seam


We also recommend checking out these standing seam articles:

Snap Lock Standing Seam v. Mechanical Seamed Panels: The Pros And Cons

What Is Nail Strip Standing Seam Roofing?



About Lauren Risotto

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