Metal Roofs: Standing Seam vs. Screw Down Panels (Pros & Cons)

Congratulations if you have jumped on the bandwagon of having a metal roof. They last longer and can have a beautiful aesthetic to improve the house from a value standpoint and eye-catch. But by choosing to go with a metal roof, thousands of more options are thrown in your face, such as standing seam vs. screw-down panels. What do you do?

Standing seam metal roofs offer some of the most durable roofs in the industry and are less of an eye sore since the fasteners are unexposed. They are also eco-friendly and energy efficient. The con is that this comes at a price. Screw-down panels, on the contrary, are incredibly affordable but less durable and more of an eye sore

So how do we balance it out? What makes one decision better than another? Let’s talk about metal roofs and take a deeper dive into both options. It’s also worth comparing them to some other traditional roofing. 

What Are The Types of Metal Roofs? 

While technically speaking, there are many different types of metal roofs and combination roofs, the two we are looking at are standing seam metal roofs and screw-down metal roofs.  They are of different qualities and, most importantly, installed differently. Let’s take a look individually. 

Standing Seam Metal Roof System 

Standing seam metal roof systems are a clean and modern look which is why it is becoming an incredibly popular option for new homes today. These metal roofs (and even metal walls) are designed to hide the fasteners and screws through a raised seam in between the panels. From an architectural standpoint, it’s very sleek and has a functional benefit as well. We can dive into this in the 

Standing Seam Metal Roof System 
Standing Seam Metal Roof System 

Usually, it offers vertical planks but sometimes, depending on different parts of a house, it may be installed horizontally or even vertically to fit the space. Imagine two planks connected by a small raised seam where all the fasteners and screws are sitting underneath it so that you can’t see any of them on top. 

Think modern farmhouse. We have commonly seen it in these types of designs. 

Screw-Down Metal Roof System

Screw-down metal roofs are still a great option because metal roofing is more durable than asphalt shingles. Having said that, in order to get the price down, you have to have some trade-offs. The trade-off from the standing seam is that you will have a little more of an industrial look because the screws show exactly where they are placed. You essentially are screwing down the metal right to the house, which is why the name is very indicative of the look. 

Screw-Down Metal Roof System
Screw-Down Metal Roof System

If the roofing is done right, you may only see the screws put down on the ends of the beams where they connect with the others. If there are raised areas, sometimes it doesn’t look all that different from the standing seam metal roofs. You can find this in many homes today that are making the switch from asphalt shingles to a more durable material. It’s also common for commercial buildings. 

Pros and Cons of Standing Seam Metal Roofs

The pros and cons of standing seam metal roofs are relatively easy to digest. In summary, you get a lot of bang for your buck. It comes down to price with a few nuisances here or there. 

Standing Seam Metal Roofs
Standing Seam Metal Roofs
This is one of the most aesthetically pleasing looks you can get for a roof. The screws are tucked away, and it offers a sleek finished look. There are also a variety of colors you can choose to upgrade the home. There aren’t many cons, but one of the biggest drawbacks is that this type of roofing is expensive. You pay for the quality you get in return, which can be viewed more as a positive investment than anything. 
From a functional standpoint, the screws and fasteners are protected from the elements, such as the sun, wind, rain, snow, etc. Ultimately this makes it less exposed to wear and tear. Another downside that is not an issue for everyone but certainly for some is the noise level. Rain can get particularly loud, but if you live somewhere with hail, too, it becomes noisy. 
It becomes a more durable option because of the above, but the materials and metal commonly associated with this premium product also generally add longevity to the roof. Metal roofs can be subject to dings and dents from hail. So can asphalt, but asphalt tends to be bouncier than metal. Metal tends to ding easily, depending on the quality. 
The warranties that come with a roof installed with these materials are typically some of the industry’s best offerings, in some cases 50 yearsReplacements tend to be just as expensive in sections as they are in full replacements. The per square foot is expensive, and patchwork can be more difficult to do with metal. 


Pros and Cons of Screw-Down Metal Roofs

It’s worth fully diving into the positives and drawbacks of screw-down metal roofs. Ultimately you will find some similarities to the standing seam roofs, but what you don’t get with screw down, you can get with standing seam. It is ultimately a more affordable middle-tier option. 

Screw-Down Metal Roofs
Screw-Down Metal Roofs

It may seem like the comparison below has a lot of drawbacks, but that is because you are paying for less quality compared to the standing seam. It does not necessarily mean it’s a worse option for everyone. 

They are incredibly easy to install and more commonly used for covering garages, patios, carports, and other areas where you don’t need to have the biggest aesthetic appeal. The durability is definitely less than the standing seam because the screws and fasteners are exposed to the elements, which will eventually corrode them. 
This is a much more affordable option than standing seam metal roofs. You may take a small hit in quality or flexibility, but it is still a good durable option compared to most roofing choices.  This type of metal roofing does worse in climate change because they do not expand and contract well. This is because of all the screws that are put in place that don’t allow for much movement. 

The warranties on this kind of roofing will naturally be less than a standing seam roof because you have the screws and fasteners exposed to the elements. You pay a lower cost but will have bigger maintenance in the end. 

Like standing seams, they are on par with the noise level you should expect during adverse weather such as rainstorms or hail. 

Standing Seam vs. Screw Down Panels

Taking the pros and cons of both is good to know what you are working with. However, it is easier to compare side by side some of the most important questions, such as which requires more maintenance, lifespan, and expenses.  

Which Roof Requires Less Maintenance?

The standing seam metal roofing option has the least maintenance when it comes to the two. That’s because of how they are designed and the quality of the materials. Because they are designed in a way that protects the seams and fasteners, they ultimately require less maintenance because they last longer. 

This also has to do with the fact that they are considered to be a more thermally responsible roofing option. This means that this type of roof has an easier time adjusting to different weather temperaments and climates. The screw-down metal does not expand or contract well, which may pressure the parts in place. This can cause loose screws, and with the screws being exposed to the weather, chances are they will need replacing faster. 

Because of this, you may need to have the screw-down metal roofing maintenance every five to 10 years, even if the warranty is good for much longer than that. 

Which Roof Has Better Expansion? 

It’s worth talking a little more about thermal expansion and why it is particularly important for Northern climates in the country. Standing seam metal roofs are by far the winner here. This is because they are interlocked differently and don’t require nearly as many screws to lock into place. 

Screw-down metal roofing is screwed right into place, which doesn’t allow for any flexibility or movement for expansion. The process that many contractors worry about is called oil canning. Oil canning is when the metal starts to expand in length and force the sheets to come up or bubble. This leaves gaps in the roof. Interestingly enough, it won’t cause too much of a structural problem. But it is incredibly ugly and an eye sore. 

Again in this category, the standing seam is more desirable because it has more flexibility for weather conditions. 

Which Roof is More Expensive? – 150 words 

Because the standing seam metal roofing option is more durable and you won’t have to worry about expansion issues, it can be that it costs a pretty penny for this type of roofing. The materials are generally speaking of higher quality and last longer. You may pay for less up front with a screw-down roof, but after the maintenance and the quicker replacement, you are looking at only saving minimal, if any, money. 

On average, a screw-down panel roof may cost somewhere around $4.50 per square foot. A standing seam roof costs upwards of $14 per square foot. In total, you could be looking at $24,000 to $42,000 for a standing seam metal roof. Screw-down roofs are more likely to fall around $20,000. But if you have to do two replacements in the same amount of time for one standing seam, the cost is similar or maybe even more. 

Which Roof System Will Last Longer?

There is no doubt that the standing seam will last longer. These metal roofings go from 30 years minimally to about 50 years with warranties to cover them. The screw-down metal roofs only last around 20 years and, in some cases, 30. 

Because the process can be a pain in the butt, most people care to just do the standing seam. The idea is to spend the extra cash if they have it, so they don’t have to worry about any issues that come with a screw-down. 

Which Metal Roof System Should You Pick?

Ultimately it is no secret that the standing seam is a better pick for so many reasons. You get a better quality roof and it is designed to work with different weather and even combat extreme weather. The screw-down roof really is an option for those that don’t have the means to pay for the standing seam. 

Having said that, having metal in any capacity is sometimes better than some of the cheap quality options from other materials. Choosing between the two, it’s obvious. But choosing between all the materials, having something is better than nothing. 


If you are really feeling conflicted about the metal roofing options or even the difference between aluminum shingles versus metal roofing, the best thing you can do is contact a metal roofing contractor. Particularly the ones you think you are going to hire. They are going to be able to provide the best solution for your roof which is unique to your geographical location. 

If you can choose between the two, the standing seam will always win, but sometimes the choice is more complicated than that. 

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