By Dan Simms
Updated Jan 12, 2023
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If you’re shopping for a new roof, you might have come across standing seam roofs and been shocked at the exorbitant prices. Before you disregard standing seam as too expensive, check out this guide. Below, we explain why standing seam roofs are more expensive than other kinds of roofs and break down the factors that determine the cost of a standing seam roof.
When you factor in longevity, durability, and ROI, standing seam roofs become competitive with other roofing systems and wind up being cheaper in the long run. Keep reading to learn why.
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Standing seam roofing has many advantages over more common roof types and a few glaring disadvantages. Whether or not standing seam is right for you depends on how you weigh its pros and cons and is heavily influenced by where you live and your financial situation.
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The biggest drawback to a standing seam roof is the upfront cost. However, they are often cheaper in the long run, offering substantial savings for people who can comfortably absorb the steep initial price. Here’s a look at the factors that determine how much it will cost to install a standing seam roof.
The most obvious factor that affects the cost of standing seam is the type of metal used. Most residential standing seam roofs use steel or aluminum. These metals are much cheaper than alternatives like copper and zinc but require special coatings to protect them from the elements and prevent corrosion over time.
Steel roofs are often galvanized, which means they’re coated with a protective layer of zinc to protect them from wear and decay. Galvalume is a similar process that uses a mixture of aluminum and zinc instead of pure zinc. Galvalume and galvanized steel roofs are often similarly priced, but galvalume is usually the better deal because it lasts longer.
In general, thicker metal roofs are more expensive but offer more protection and last longer than thinner roofs. When assessing roof thickness in terms of gauge numbers, lower is thicker, so 22-gauge steel is thicker than 24-gauge steel, for example. Using thicker steel is usually a good idea since it’s not much more expensive and increases durability.
The size of your roof plays an important part in determining the total cost of a standing seam roof. Larger roofs require more material, making them more expensive than smaller roofs. Standing seam roofs cost between $10.00 and $20.00 per sq. ft — that’s a price range of $1,000–$2,000 per square if you’re familiar with roofing terminology. These estimates include the labor cost; the raw materials make up approximately half of this cost.
Standing seam roofs can have two different designs for how the individual standing seam metal panels join: snap-locked or mechanically-locked. Snap-locked roofs are cheaper but are not as resilient as mechanically-locked roofs. The tradeoff is that installing a mechanically-locked roof requires special equipment and an experienced technician, making them more costly.
Combining the factors from the previous section and assuming an average home with a 1,500–2,000 square foot roof, the total average cost of installing a standing seam roof is about $20,000–$35,000.
A regular metal roof with exposed fasteners is much cheaper than a standing seam roof but also less durable. Regular metal roofs usually cost between $12,000 and $20,000, making standing seam roughly 50% more expensive.
Standing seam is generally the most expensive type of roof you’ll see in a residential home, with asphalt shingles, clay tiles, and wood usually being far more common in most areas. Here’s how the cost of a standing seam roof compares to the cost of a roof made from other roofing materials.
More than 50% of the cost of a standing seam roof comes from labor. Installing a standing seam roof requires experience and specialized tools that many roofing companies don’t have. This leads to a lack of supply of experienced roofers, which leads to higher prices.
Even though the materials are less than half the cost of a standing seam roof, metal is more expensive than other materials like asphalt shingles. This is especially the case if you choose a more expensive option like zinc or copper roofing, but even galvanized steel or galvalume steel will cost you more in materials than simply picking up a few bundles of asphalt shingles from your local hardware store.
If money is tight and you don’t have a sizable budget available for a new roof, a standing seam roof probably isn’t your best option. However, it is possible to save money and still reap most of the benefits of a standing seam roof.
Choosing galvanized steel or galvalume for your standing seam room is going to reduce the cost of materials substantially compared to zinc or copper without sacrificing most of the protection you get from the more expensive materials.
Mechanically-locked standing seam offers superior resistance to extreme weather like high winds, but snap-lock roofs are still better than a regular metal roof. Snap-locking standing seam takes less time to install and doesn’t require special equipment, making it more affordable.
Using 24-gauge or 26-gauge steel will help keep costs down compared with thicker 22-gauge steel. However, the savings from using a thinner gauge won’t be as significant as using a different material or choosing snap-locked roofing panels. Additionally, thinner roofs offer noticeably inferior protection compared to thicker roofs, so only consider downgrading the gauge if money is especially tight.
Standing seam roofs are three to five times more expensive than asphalt shingle roofs, making it hard to justify for many people. However, a standing seam roof often winds up being more affordable in the long run, making it a great choice — if you can stomach the initial sticker shock.
Consider that most people never have to replace a standing seam roof once they have one installed. Over 60 years, the one-time $30,000 cost of a standing seam roof doesn’t seem so bad when you realize that you might have to replace an asphalt roof two or three times over the same span.
A standing seam roof is also easier to maintain, withstands high winds better, and gives you a better ROI than most other roof types — even other types of metal roofing. If you can look past the high upfront cost, a standing seam roof is an excellent investment that will pay for itself in time.
Materials and labor make up the bulk of the cost of installing a standing seam roof, but there are other factors to consider.
First, any roofing contractor will charge you to remove your old roof. These costs are usually included in the quote a company will give you, but it’s worth asking to avoid any surprises. You don’t want to find out after the fact that you were charged for removing your existing roof.
Second, even though standing seam roofs are easy to maintain, they still need regular maintenance. Seasonal cleaning is a must to prevent any deposits from degrading your roof. Luckily, mold, moss, and mildew — common problems for other roofing materials — are usually not an issue for standing seam roofs. More important than yearly cleaning is recoating your roof every 20–30 years, depending on how corrosive the environment is where you live.
Finally, even metal roofs can experience damage from natural disasters and weather, so you might have to pay for repairs down the line. Hail has been known to dent metal roofs, and improper care when walking on a standing seam roof may also cause it to deform. These costs are hard to predict but should be considered before you purchase a standing seam roof.
Overall, standing seam roofs are excellent investments that give your home better protection against the elements, an unparalleled ROI should you decide to sell your home down the road, and freedom from frequent replacements due to their incredible longevity. Standing seam roofs would be more popular if they were cheap since many homeowners who would otherwise choose one can’t afford to cover the high installation costs.
Still, if you factor in the money you’ll save on repairs and roof replacements over the years, the price gap between an asphalt shingle roof and a standing seam roof closes. If you have the cash on hand and can afford to plan for the long run, a standing seam roof is an excellent choice.
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Yes, absolutely. Standing seam roofs hold their value over decades, with most people recovering between 70% and 90% of their investment when they sell their home. This is unheard of with other roofing materials, and a standing seam roof that’s been well-cared-for is a selling point. Thankfully, metal roofing panels are very low-maintenance, making it easy to keep a new metal roof in good condition.
Most people can expect to recoup between 70% and 90% of the cost of a standing seam roof when they eventually sell. Standing seam roofs have outstanding durability and are long-lasting, increasing the resale value of any home that has one.
Most standing seam roofs will last for at least 50 years, even in harsh climates. The salty, humid air in coastal regions presents the biggest challenge to standing seam roofs but is easily manageable with regular maintenance. In an average climate, standing seam roofs have even longer lifespans, with many homeowners getting upwards of 75 years out of them.
Arranging for a home repair of this scale is going to be a fairly involved project. If you haven’t conducted renovations like this – either via a contractor or on your own – then it can be a bit overwhelming. At House Method, we pride ourselves on being able to take all of the guesswork out of the equation for you.
We’ve thoroughly evaluated each roofing type to make your selection process easier. Through exhaustive research into hundreds of different roofing providers throughout the United States and analyses of thousands of individual homeowner experiences, we’ve broken our roof rating system down into the following categories.
All roofs receive an aggregate rating between (0.0) and (1.0). This rating is comprised of six key evaluation criteria, which we’ve outlined below. The rating between (0.0) and (1.0) will correspond to a secondary rating out of five stars, which is displayed more visibly in our articles across this category.
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