Standing Seam Vs Screw-Down Metal Roofing

Standing-seam and screw-down metal roofs each have their place, and it’s important to consider the pros and cons of each, along with what you’ll be using them for, before making your purchase.

As you begin to remodel or build, you’ll probably face the question of what kind of roof you want and whether it needs a ridge vent.

If you’ve landed on a metal roof, sifting through the many different metal roofing options can be challenging and overwhelming. Two of the most popular metal roof types are screw down metal roofs and standing seam, or “exposed fastener” metal roofs.

The right choice for you will depend on your budget, build-speed requirements and the lifespan you’re looking for out of your roof. Here we’ll go into more detail on the pros and cons of each so you can make the right decision for you.

What Is Screw-Down Metal Roofing?

Screw-down metal roofing, also referred to as “exposed fastener” and “through-fastened” roofing, is essentially a corrugated metal roof held together with many exposed screws that hold the roof in place.

Screw-down metal roofs utilizes many individual metal screws to fasten corrugated metal roof panels to a structure. It is one of the most basic forms of metal roofing you’ll find on the market, and is particularly common over garages and unheated spaces.

Advantages of Screw-Down Metal Roofs

First, screw-down roofing is one of the cheapest metal roofing options you’ll find on the market. It is a relatively straightforward installation process that doesn’t require overly-skilled craftsmen.

Second, it is quick and very easy to install as the roof is simply fastened to the frame with screws, which dramatically cuts down on installation time.

Disadvantages Of Screw-Down Metal Roofs

Because screw-down metal roofs are fastened to the frame using only screws, these roofs leave very little room for metals to expand and contract in times of heat and cold. As these thermal oscillations cause the metal to expand and contract, the corrugated metal roof panels push and pull with significant force against the metal screws that affix them to the frame.

Several seasons of these expansions and contractions can lead to screws breaking off and shortening the lifespan of these roofs. In fact, the rule of thumb is that contractors will need to come out every 5-10 years to replace every single one of the screws on screw-down metal roofs.

What Is Standing-Seam Metal Roofing?

Standing-seam metal roofing is a roofing system where roofing panels are connected at their seams and fastened in place by clips and protected (hidden) screws. 

Advantages Of Standing-Seam Metal Roofing

When you’re looking at standing-seam roof pros and cons, you’ll hear a lot of praise for this roof type. Because the screws on standing-seam metal roofs are hidden underneath and between the overlapping seams, people generally prefer the appearance of standing-seam metal roofs.

Standing-seam metal roofs are also far more thermally responsive. Because they don’t rely on hundreds of screws, standing-seam metal roofs allow for more thermal responsiveness and metal expansions/contractions, which leads to fewer leaks.

Standing-seam roofs are expected to last between 30-50 years with very minimal maintenance, although regular inspections are recommended to help prevent any small problems becoming bigger issues.

Standing-seam metal roofs also help with energy efficiency, especially when a ridge vent is utilized.

On top of all of this, standing-seam metal roofs can usually go over the top of your current roof, making it relatively easy to install.

Disadvantages Of Standing-Seam Metal Roofing

The biggest disadvantages of standing-seam metal roofing are the installation costs and the time to install. Because standing-seam metal roofs require thicker gauged metals and involve a more intricate install than straightforward screw-down metal roofs, skilled craftsmen are needed to properly install a standing-seam metal roof, increasing costs and installation time.

Standing-seam metal roofs can also experience what’s called “oil canning”. This is where contractors fix the metal sheets too tightly together with clips and the metal can expand longways but not side to side. This results in large bubbles on the metal,which resemble oil cans (hence, “oil canning”). While oil canning won’t cause any structural damage to your roof, it does pose an aesthetic issue.

Which Metal Roofing Is Right For You?

If you’re trying to decide between standing seam vs exposed fastener roofing, there are a couple main takeaways to keep in mind.

Standing-seam metal roofs are great for heated areas, like your living quarters, as they handle thermal oscillations very well with minimal leakage. Screw-down metal roofs on the other hand, are great to cover unheated areas like garages, and their low cost may justify the occasional leaks and maintenance needed to keep them in working order.