Standing Seam, Sheffield,  Copper Metallic, Hollister MO

What are Metal Panel Roofing Products?

Metal panels are among the most durable and beautiful materials that you can choose to install on your roof. In this article, we will compare three popular metal panel roof systems: Standing Seam, Exposed Fastener and Stamped Metal.


Two of these roofing types, Standing Seam and Exposed Fastener, have a similar look and are installed vertically. On the other hand, Stamped Metal roofs are typically installed horizontally and have a completely different look than vertical panel roofs.

Regardless of which type of metal roof is installed, all metal roofs share certain benefits including:

  • Long Lifespan – Most metal roofs can last 50+ years with proper maintenance. Metal roofing can last 3-6 times longer than traditional asphalt roofing. Note that exposed fastener vertical panel roofs may have a shorter lifespan than other metal choices.
  • Lightweight – Metal panels are lightweight; much lighter than asphalt shingles.
  • Fire Resistant – Class “A” Fire Rating. Metal roofs do not burn and offer the best protection against fire of any roofing materials.

  • Wind Damage Resistant – Interlocking panels prevent most wind damage.
  • Hail Damage Resistant – Class 4 Hail Resistance. Although some metal panels may dent from large hail stones, they seldom penetrate the metal and will continue to protect the roof from water damage.
  • Attractive Look – All metal roofs provide a great curb appeal. There are many styles for homeowners to choose between.
  • Energy Efficient – Many metal roofs reflect heat away from buildings. Others allow for air flow or air-gap under the panels to reduce heat transfer.
  • Environmentally Friendly – Metal panels are recyclable, and most metal roofing products are partially made from recycled materials.
  • Lower Insurance Rates – Because of the longevity and resistance to the elements, some insurance companies offer discounts on insurance premiums when metal roofs are installed.
  • Increased Property Value – Higher cost-recovery than asphalt shingles.

Let’s explore the different types of metal roofs in closer detail.

Vertical Panel Roofs Overview

Standing Seam and Exposed Fastener panels are two similar but different types of painted metal sheets that run vertically up a roof. These types of metal panels are what most people think of when metal roofs are discussed. These metal roofing sheets are available in different sizes, gauges, and profiles. They also come in a variety of colors and finishes to suit different architectural styles.

Most Standing Seam and Exposed Fastener roofing systems are made from Galvalume which is a combination of steel, aluminum, and zinc. However, in some coastal areas and agricultural environments, aluminum is a better choice.

The primary differences between Standing Seam and Exposed Fastener panels lie in how they are fastened to the roof decking.

  • Standing seam roofs are either mechanically fastened or snap-locked together and connected to the roof decking via a concealed fastener system.
  • Exposed Fastener panels are screwed directly to the decking via fasteners that are visible from the outside.

Next, we will take a closer look at the more subtle differences between Standing Seam and Exposed Fastener roofs.

Standing Seam Roofs

Standing seam, also known as concealed or hidden fastener roofs, are painted panel roofs that have raised seams or ribs that run vertically up the roof. The panels are either snap-locked or mechanically seamed together. In either case, the fasteners that connect the panels to the roof are not visible from the surface. Furthermore, standing seam systems do not put holes in the metal panels. Thus, they provide better water protection than exposed fastener roofs.

A higher-quality paint is usually used on standing seam roofs, and thicker gauged metal is often used when installing standing seam vs exposed fastener roofs. The standard thickness for standing seam is 24 or 26 gauge, but some panels are available in a thicker 22 gauge.

  • Snap-lock standing seam roofs use a special interlocking system that allows the panels to snap together, creating a tight seal. Snap-lock standing seam roofs are easy to install and require less labor than mechanically seamed panels, making them a more cost-effective option.

  • Mechanically seamed metal roofs require specialized tools that crimp the seams together. This crimping creates a more watertight seal than snap-lock panels and they can be used on lower sloped roofs. As you might guess, mechanically seamed panels, require more labor and expertise during installation than snap-lock panels. Thus, these panels are more expensive to install, but they offer superior weather resistance and durability.

Standing seam roofs are available in different widths and profiles. With “flat pan” standing seam installations, the metal between the raised seams is flat, which provides a clean, sleek look. Standing seam panels are also available in variety of “ribbed” or “striated” profiles. Striation adds strength and helps minimize oil canning. Thus, striated surfaces have become the preferred style of standing seam roofing for architects, developers and roofing contractors.


Standing seam roofs are a great low-maintenance choice for many residential and commercial applications.

The cons of a standing seam roof include:

  • Oil Canning – The potential of “oil canning” or “pan wave,” which is a visible warping or waviness of the flat area of metal panels. This mostly occurs when light-gauge materials are used, when not enough space between the panels is allowed for a normal thermal expansion and contraction process, and there are misaligned substrates and/or framing. Oil canning is also more visible when high-gloss and darker colors are used. Note that oil canning is only a cosmetic problem and does not affect the integrity of the roof. Choosing a striated rather than flat pan profile can minimize the pan wave effect.
  • Denting – While standing seam roofs are very wind and storm resistant, the metal panels can be dented by large hailstones and falling branches. Unfortunately, many homeowner’s insurance companies will reject claims for the replacement of dented panels if the damage is considered “cosmetic” in nature and does not affect the “function” of the roof. Thus, dents may result in a permanent and unsightly appearance for the remaining life of the roof. If you get a standing seam roof and want to be covered for cosmetic damage, you should check with your insurance agent and make sure that you do not have a cosmetic exclusion to your policy.
  • Noise – Metal panel roofing can be louder than other materials during hail or heavy rainstorms.
  • Price – The cost of standing seam roofing is higher than basic roofing systems such as asphalt shingles. However, the difference in overall costs may not be as great as initially thought when, lifespan, replacement costs, energy savings and insurance savings are considered.

Exposed Fastener Roofs

Exposed Fastener painted metal roofs are also known as Agricultural Panel, AG Panel, R-Panel, PBR Panel, 5V Crimp Panel, U-Panel, Tin Roofs, Screw Down Panel, Through-Fastened and Corrugated Metal roofs. Exposed fastener roofs have similar look to standing seam roofs in that they are installed vertically and may have a ribbed profile. All exposed fastener roofs use screws or nails to penetrate and fasten the panels to the roof decking. Exposed fastener roofs have historically been used in agricultural buildings, such as barns and sheds. However, due to cost considerations, improvements in underlayments, and other technological advancements, they are now often used on commercial buildings and residential homes.

Exposed Fastener roofs are typically available in different gauge thicknesses, ranging from 24 to 29 gauge (the lower the number the thicker the metal). 22 gauge is sometimes available via special order.

Exposed Fastener panels are usually wider than standing seam panels and they all have some type of corrugated profile to provide more strength to the thinner metal and an overlap where panels connect. They are quicker and easier to install than standing seam so labor costs are usually lower. While slightly more expensive than standard asphalt roofs, many exposed fastener roofs are a cost-effective alternative for individuals wanting the look and other benefits of metal roofing.


Cons of Exposed Fastener Roofs:

  • Water Leakage – The largest issue with exposed fastener metal roofing the is potential for water leakage. The exposed screws create a possible path for water to penetrate the roof. The washers or gaskets used to seal the holes around the screws will eventually fail. Also, the holes around the screws may grow due to thermal expansion and contraction, which may eventually allow water to get under the panels.

  • Denting – These metal panels are even more susceptible to denting from large hailstones and falling branches because the metal is often thinner that what is used with standing seam. The resulting dents can produce a permanent unsightly look. However, the dents in exposed fastener roofs may not be as noticeable as some standing seam roofs due to the corrugated nature of the panels. Unfortunately, many homeowner’s insurance companies will reject claims for the replacement of dented panels. If you get an exposed fastener roof, you should check with your insurance agent and make sure that you do not have a cosmetic exclusion to your policy if you want to be covered for cosmetic damage.
  • Maintenance – The maintenance of exposed fastener roofs is much greater than standing seam. Some screws are prone to rust and all washers eventually wear out. Thus, the fasteners and washers should be inspected and replaced on a regular basis.
  • Aesthetics – Some people do not like these roofing panels because they do not like seeing the exposed fasteners. More people tend to prefer the clean, flat look of standing seam panels.
  • Lower Quality Paint – Exposed fastener roofs are usually covered with a lower quality paint than standing seam panels and will fade or chalk more quickly over time.
  • Noise – These types of metal panels can be noisy during hailstorms and rainstorms.
  • Slope – Exposed fastener roofing materials should not be used on low slope roofs.

Horizontal Panel Roofs Overview

Some metal panel roofs are installed horizontally rather than vertically because they are designed to have a unique appearance or are made look like some other type of material such as asphalt shingles, clay tile, wood shake or stone slate. There are two main types of stamped metal roofs. The first is Plain or Painted Stamped Metal and the second is Stone Coated Steel.

It should be noted that some stamped metal systems use exposed fasteners. However, they generally do not have the same leakage problems as other exposed fastener panels because of where the fasteners are placed.

Plain/Painted Stamped Metal Roofs

Stamped metal panel roofs have most of the benefits of standing seam metal roofs but have a very different look than vertical panel roofing. These metal panels are formed to have a unique diamond pattern, or look like stone slate, Mediterranean tile, asphalt shingle, or wood shake.

These stamped metal panels can be made from steel (Galvalume), aluminum, and even real copper. A high-quality paint is applied to the steel or aluminum panels.

Cons of Plain/Painted Stamped Metal Roofs

  • Price – Stamped metal roofs are more expensive than standing seam and exposed fastener roofs to produce and install.
  • Denting – While some of the stamped metal profiles can hide denting from hailstones, others are susceptible to the same denting issues as standing seam and exposed fastener panels. Thus steel panels are recommended in areas susceptible to large hailstones.
  • Artificial Look – Painted products that are made to look like slate, shake, and tile are very attractive. However, they can have a metallic sheen and don’t quite look like the “real” material.

Stone Coated Steel Roofs

Stone Coated Steel roofing panels are similar to the other stamped metal panels described above in that they are manufactured to look like regular asphalt shingles, wood shakes or clay/tile products. However, like the name suggests, these stamped steel panels are embedded with stone chips that provide added durability and a more realistic look, at a better price than most painted or plain stamped metal roofing.

From a distance the tile and shingle products look almost exactly like their natural counterparts. The wood shake panels do not look quite as authentic as real wood shake. Nevertheless, all Stone Coated Steel panels have a high-end look when installed on residential homes.

In many cases stone coated steel can be installed directly over existing asphalt shingles which can lower the cost of installation.

Stone Coated Steel is also the most durable of all the metal roofing options. Large hailstones rarely penetrate the metal and denting from storms seldom occurs or is hidden by the texture of the profiles. See this Article to learn more about why some Class 4 Impact Resistant roofing materials are better than others.

Because of the durability, long lifespan, attractive look, and other benefits, Stone Coated Metal panels are also installed on many churches, apartment complexes and other commercial buildings.

Cons of Stone Coated Steel roofing:

  • Price – Stone coated steel is comparable in price to standing seam panels and more than twice as expensive as asphalt shingles. However, the difference in overall costs may not be as great as initially thought when, lifespan, replacement costs, energy savings and insurance savings are considered.
  • Difficult to Install – These products can be difficult to install properly. Only highly trained roofing contractors with experience in installing these products should be used.


Metal is a very durable and long lasting roofing material. Metal roofing is an eco-friendly and energy efficient product that can save homeowners money over the long run. Choices regarding aesthetics and style are a very personal thing. Fortunately, there is a metal roofing solution for almost any architectural preference.

Roofing Force is an expert installer of all metal roofing products in Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Oklahoma and Arkansas. Let one of our experts provide you with a free estimate and help you choose the most optimal roof for your needs. Visit our Material Comparison page and Gallery for more information or give our headquarters a call at (913) 270-5440 to set up an appointment with a Roofing Force professional in your area.

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