Corrugated Metal vs. Standing Seam: Everything You Need To Know

Knowing your roof needs to be replaced is a sad reality to face.

Whether you own a home or a business, replacing a roof is a significant cost and requires that a basic question be answered:

What kind of replacement roof is the best choice?

If you own a commercial building, you probably have a metal roof, and now the decision needs to be made on whether your metal replacement roof should be corrugated metal or standing seam metal.

Here at SnapZ we want to help you make a good decision.

In this article, we are going to look at the pros and cons of both corrugated metal and standing seam metal.

Let's get started! (You can read the whole article or click on the table of contents below to navigate to the section that interests you).

Table of Contents

  • 1
    Why Choose a Metal Roof
  • 2
    What is Standing Seam Metal
  • 3
    Pros of Standing Seam Metal
  • 4
    Cons of Standing Seam Metal
  • 5
    What is Corrugated Metal Roofing?
  • 6
    Pros of Corrugated Metal Roofing
  • 7
    Cons of Corrugated Metal Roofing

Why choose a metal roof?

Before we go too far, we should make sure we know why metal roofs are a popular choice for construction, especially on larger commercial structures.

After all, metal roofs are typically more expensive than asphalt shingle roofs, so why choose a metal roof at all?

Here are some of the main reasons metal roofs are popular on commercial and some residential buildings:

Metal roofing is lighter and has less weight concern on large commercial steel buildings.

metal roofing is lighter than asphalt shingles

While more expensive up front, metal roofs last longer, have better warranties, and need less maintenance.

  • Metal roofs are more fire-resistant.

  • Metal roofs are more energy-efficient, especially with their ability to reflect sunlight and keep a large building cooler.

  • Metal roofing is recyclable. This is an important sustainability factor when considering all the commercial roof real estate in the United States.

What is standing seam metal?

Standing seam metal roofs are designed with metal panels that have concealed fasteners.

This system uses wide, flat metal panels with vertical legs, or ribs, on each end. The metal panels are fastened together and to the roof under the vertical legs.

That is the key with standing seam metal roofing - the roof attachments and seams are “hidden” under the vertical legs.

standing seam roofing has hidden roof attachments and seams

These vertical legs are then enclosed and fastened together. This is done in a variety of ways, but the most common are snap-lock seams or mechanical seams.

The panels and vertical legs are roll-formed, and they are shaped for the specific fastening system used. This allows for multiple customization options with metal standing seam roofs.

To protect the roof’s ridge, a standing seam metal roof ridge vent is installed after the roof’s completion.

A metal standing seam roof is truly a unique roofing option! It does not imitate any other roof type, and it is nearly impossible to be imitated by asphalt or other roofing designs.

Pros of standing seam

Standing seam metal is one of the most expensive roofs available, and yet it is used in many commercial applications. It is also starting to become more popular in residential settings.

If it costs more, then why are businesses and people choosing it?

pros of standing seam metal roofs

No Exposed Fasteners or Seams: Because the metal panels are attached to the roof and each other under the vertical legs, there are no exposed fasteners on the roof. This reduces leaks and other maintenance issues.

Customization: With the way the standing seam panels are made and roll-formed, it allows for high customization in the profile, fastening type, and color of the roof as well.

Aesthetics: The sleek lines and flat panels of standing seam make it more visually appealing than corrugated metal. While this is not a concern on flatter roofs, it is a consideration with residential applications or commercial roofs visible from major roadways.

Long-lasting: While metal roofs are known for durability, standing seam takes it to the next level. If properly maintained, they have been known to last 75 years or longer.

Ultra-efficient: Standing seam is some of the most efficient metal. Due to color options, it can be designed to reflect the majority of sunshine and heat. It is also a secure roof to attach solar panels or other renewable energy sources.

Cons of standing seam

Standing seam isn’t perfect, and like any other construction material, it has its weaknesses and flaws.

Here are a few drawbacks to standing seam roofing:

Cost: While metal roofing, in general, is more expensive than asphalt shingles, standing seam is one of the most costly metal roofing options. Standing seam is typically 2-3 times more expensive than corrugated metal. In fact, the cost is one of the biggest problems with standing seam metal roofs.

standing seam metal is more expensive than corrugated metal

Maintaining fasteners: While the roof fasteners and roof seams are not exposed, this does not mean they take no maintenance. The roof fasteners do need checking periodically. Standing seam roofs also need to be repainted, typically several times during their lifespan.

Potential denting: The larger metal panels are more prone to being dented when acted upon by outside forces such as hail, falling tree limbs or other objects, or people walking on it in a careless way.

What is corrugated metal?

To understand corrugated metal roofing better, it helps to understand what “corrugated” means. Corrugated means “to be shaped into alternate ridges and grooves.”

Essentially, that is corrugated metal roofing - metal sheets that are shaped with a pattern of ridges, typically a u-shaped pattern.

Corrugated metal is made by taking sheet metal coil, usually galvanized steel or aluminum, and having a roll-forming machine shape the panels into the set corrugated pattern.

There are several styles and patterns available, but the foundation is the same: The corrugated design gives the metal sheets better structural strength when compared to a flat panel.

corrugated metal has superior strength because of the ridged design

This allows a thinner piece of metal to have more strength and durability, which reduces the overall cost.

Most corrugated metal sheets are 2-3 feet wide, and they overlap on their outside curved portion. Fasteners are then driven through this point of overlap into the roof deck.

Driving the fastener through the overlap not only keeps them fastened to the roof, but it also helps keep the metal panels from shifting and losing their overlap.

Pros of corrugated metal

Corrugated metal is one of the most popular metal roofing methods used, especially in commercial applications.

What makes corrugated metal so popular and widespread?

corrugated metal is very popular

Low cost: Corrugated metal is one of the cheapest metal roofing products available. It is also relatively inexpensive to install, especially on large areas, due to the long metal sheets used. Cost is a significant factor as to why corrugated metal is a popular roofing option.

Efficient: Because it is metal and can be painted, corrugated metal can be developed to reflect a lot of sunlight and heat. Similar to standing seam, this makes it beneficial for large commercial buildings.

Durable: Due to the corrugation of the metal, these roofs are durable and typically last longer than asphalt roofs.

Cons of corrugated metal

While it is a cheaper option than standing seam, corrugated metal has a few negatives that do not apply to standing seam roofs.

Leak potential: Unlike standing seam, corrugated metal does have exposed fasteners. While roofing products exist that keep leaks to a minimum at these fasteners, they are not always perfect. As a result, corrugated metal roofs are more prone to leaks and maintenance.

More maintenance: Because the fasteners are exposed to the elements, they do need to be watched carefully and properly maintained. General maintenance should be done roughly every 15 years and includes re-caulking or re-coating as required.

Aesthetics: While corrugated metal roofing is somewhat customizable with the color, the corrugated u-shaped pattern is not usually appealing. Although it is subject to personal opinion, most people prefer asphalt shingles or standing seam roofing over corrugated metal roofing.

corrugated metal roofs are more likely to leak than standing seam

Knowing whether you should choose a corrugated metal or standing seam roof depends on your unique situation.

Neither roofing option is bad, and both have a set of positives and negatives.

So what should determine which you choose?

If you are unsure which metal roofing product to choose, consider the following questions:

Are finances a concern? If yes, then go with corrugated metal.

Are aesthetics important? If yes, then look at standing seam metal.

Do you want the lowest maintenance or longest-lasting roof? If yes, then look at standing seam metal.

Working with a local roofing contractor will also help you decide which route is the best.

A roofing contractor can price both options and help you decide which roofing material is the best for your situation.

Either way, the team at SnapZ wishes you the best as you replace your roof!

About SnapZ:

SnapZ is a metal roofing company based in Lancaster County, PA. They manufacture materials for standing seam roof projects, particularly the standing seam ridge roof vent. Their unique metal ridge vent design allows for efficient, precise installation and fewer maintenance issues when installing standing seam metal roofs.

Get a quote today to see how their metal ridge roof vent could help make your roof installation more efficient!


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