Metal roofing is a big investment for any roof, so it’s important to choose the right type. Standing seam metal roofs are more expensive than exposed fastener metal roofs, but they last longer and look better over time. But which is best for you? This guide will help explain the difference between standing seam vs. exposed fastener so you can make a well-informed decision for your residential home or commercial business roof installation.

Why Choose Metal Roofing?

Let’s start with the basics: why should you choose a metal roof? There are many benefits to installing a metal roof including its durability, long lifespan, and modern aesthetic.

Benefits of Metal Roofing:

  • Long lifespan of 50 to 75+ years
  • Great wind resistance
  • Beautiful aesthetic
  • Improves energy efficiency
  • Resistant to fire, insects, and rot

Standing Seam vs. Exposed Fastener: Weighing the Pros and Cons

Standing seam and exposed fastener metal roofs look relatively similar, and perform similarly, but their benefits and drawbacks can actually be quite different. We’ll dive into some of the major benefits of each, plus disadvantages that can help determine which one works best for you.

What is a Standing Seam Roof?

A standing seam roof is made from individual panels that are welded together. It is the most popular metal roof type, and is a very popular option for many home and business owners. This metal roofing system has hidden fasteners for a more sleek, modern look. The standing seams, also called vertical legs or raised seams, sit every 12 to 24 inches along the flat, durable metal surface. The purpose of the standing seams is to hide the exposed fasteners underneath, but also to allow them to expand contract freely (due to temperature changes) underneath without causing any issues or leaks.

standing seam vs. exposed fastener roofing

Pros of Standing Seam Roofs

There are many benefits to standing seam metal roofs, and prove why it’s so advantageous to make this large investment in your home. Metal roofing has a greater ROI than many other roofing types, and you’ll see why.

  • Allows for thermal movement. The metal expands and contracts when the temperature shifts and standing seams allow for more of that movement without causing any damage or poor fit.
  • No exposed fasteners! Aesthetically, the sleek, modern design of no exposed fasteners is very attractive to prospective homeowners.
  • Increased longevity. Metal roofing in general lasts longer than most roofing systems. With the standing seam design, your roof can last 50+ years with little to no maintenance.
  • Energy-efficient. Metal roofs are great insulators, and many standing seam roofs can actually be designed to be “cool roofs”. Meaning they have a reflective coating that reflects UV rays, or even has cool coils installed to cool down the roof, which in turn can keep your home cooler.
  • Many options for materials. There are many different types of metal that can be used for roofing: galvanized steel, aluminum, copper, or zinc.
  • Work with any architecture. The sleek look of standing seam roofs can work with just about any structure. They can go on commercial buildings like strip malls or stand-alone structures, or any style of home.

Cons of Standing Seam Roofs

Of course, not everything is perfect, and even a beautiful standing seam roof comes with its fair share of downfalls.

  • Hard to find contractors. Premium standing seam metal roofing requires a bit more training and expertise than other types of roofing materials. It can sometimes be difficult to find a well-trained team of roofing contractors or even a contractor willing to install them. But with patience and diligence, you can find the right one.
  • Higher upfront costs. The cost of installing a metal roof is much higher compared to other roofs. However, the longevity of the roof and low maintenance costs make up for it.
  • Difficult to Repair or Replace. Shingle roofs are relatively easy to repair because it can be as simple as replacing a single shingle. But with standing seam roofs, replacement or repair is much more extensive and costly. But it would take a lot to damage a standing seam metal roof.
  • Don’t Work for Flat Roofs. We said one of the benefits was that they can work on just about any structure—well, they won’t work for flat roofs or low-slope roofs.

What is an Exposed Fastener Metal Roof?

Exposed fastener panels have, you guessed, exposed fasteners. This means that the panels are overlayed and then the fasteners go right through the face of each panel, through both layers. They are a lot less expensive due to the easier installation and the less aesthetically pleasing appeal.

standing seam vs. exposed fastener metal roofing blue

Pros of Exposed Fastener Roofs

  • DIY-friendly. Installing these metal panels requires much less expertise to install, and can be done much easier than other metal roofs. DIY homeowners can definitely handle the installation of exposed fastener systems.
  • Less expensive. Both the materials and installation of an exposed fastener system costs less than standing seam.
  • Wider panels. The metal panels themselves are wider and thus require fewer pieces to complete the roof. This can save money when buying materials.
  • Work on a number of different structures. These cost-effective roofs can work well with a number of different buildings and industries. You’ll often see them on residential, commercial, industrial, structural, and agricultural buildings.

Cons of Exposed Fastener Roofs

There are, of course, a few disadvantages to exposed fasteners roofs that offset the many pros.

  • Exposed fasteners. The exposed fasteners are hardly aesthetically pleasing and can make the roof look a little rough and unfinished, which is not for everyone.
  • Not as durable. Exposed metal panels are generally less scratch-resistant, so they’ll need to be replaced more often than standing seam roofs. And they can also rust over time.
  • Requires more frequent maintenance. Exposed fastener roofs need to be cleaned often, checked for damage or leaks, and replace any loose or rusting fasteners.
  • Fewer warranties. Because of how many ‘holes’ this style of roof has, companies will be less likely to offer weather-tight warranties because of the higher likelihood of water leaks via the fastener points.

So which is better? It all depends on your needs. Standing seam metal roofs are perfect for homeowners or business owners looking for a long-lasting, low-maintenance, beautiful metal roof. The large investment you make at the beginning will pay off in the long run with fewer repairs, maintenance, and replacement down the road.

Exposed fasteners, on the other hand, work great for someone looking for a cheap solution for their garage, shed, or barn that just needs to go up easily, be repaired easily enough and can get by for a while until they make another affordable replacement.

standing seam vs exposed fastener roofing installation

Getting the Most Out of Your Metal Roofing System

We hope this side-by-side comparison helps you make an informed decision on which metal roof to choose. Whether you want to go with a high-quality standing seam, cheaper exposed fastener, or a basic shingle roof—you’re going to want a reputable contractor to get the job done. That’s where we come in. Contact Gouge Roofing today to get your quality roof installed!