Choosing the Right Type of Standing Seam Roof (SSR)

When it comes to specifying standing seam roofs, one type doesn’t fit all. While a standing seam metal roof system can be one of the most durable and weather-tight roof systems available in the industry, its benefits can be negated if you fail to understand the details in application parameters of the specific system. Do your research, though, and for your next design that requires an aesthetically pleasing and structurally sound metal roofing system, you can choose with confidence the standing seam metal roof system that suits your project to a tee.

How to identify a good standing seam roof system

A good standing seam roof system is one that can satisfy both the project’s specific design criteria and adhere to building code standards. Standing seam profiles can include those that are utilitarian or architectural in nature, are of numerous widths and profiles and have varying seam joinery (e.g., snap or field seamed).

Why specify a standing seam metal roof system

When properly installed, standing seam metal roof systems are an extremely effective and long-lasting material choice. Key advantages include:

  • Weather-tight roofing system
  • Can be engineered to withstand high winds (150 mph and higher)
  • Class A Fire-resistance rating from UL
  • Class 4 Impact-resistance rating from UL
  • Long service life—up to 60 years
  • Lightweight
  • Special clips designed to accommodate thermal roof expansion and contraction and various thicknesses of fiberglass insulation

Matching the roof system to the project

In basic terms, there are four unique styles of metal standing seam panels: Double lock seam, symmetrical seam, one-piece snap-lock interlock and two-piece snap-lock interlock. These styles can be further delineated by seam shape or profile, i.e. trapezoidal rib, vertical rib, square rib and tee rib. The choice of the rib profile, as well as the rib spacing is generally an aesthetic preference of the designer. Knowing which style will best suit a given situation will help ensure a successful installation.

Popular Standing Seam Metal Panels

Double Lock Standing Seam
Shown: MBCI Double-Lok®

One-Piece Snap Lock Interlock Standing Seam
Shown: MBCI LokSeam®

Two-piece Snap Lock Interlock Standing Seam
Shown: MBCI Craftsman™

Some criteria to consider are roof slope, roof run (distance from eave to ridge), weather conditions (such as ice or snow) and architectural features, i.e. hips, valleys, dormers, parapet walls, etc.

For instance, if your project has a roof slope of 1/2:12 you will need to ensure the product being installed is approved for this low pitch. In this case, you would likely use a “double lock” or mechanically “field-seamed” panel. You also want to ensure that all details are able to provide for a weather-tight seal even if temporarily submerged during a heavy rain. Field-seamed panels are also the best choice in areas that experience heavy ice and snow.

Additionally, it is imperative to recognize complicated design details that should be carefully specified and reviewed regardless of the roof slope. Design conditions that require special attention include: roof transitions, dead valleys, dormers, eave offsets, ridge offsets and offsets in parapet walls.

It cannot be overstated that you should always consult a metal roofing manufacturer about the capabilities of the standing seam metal roof system, including what warranties are available, prior to specifying it.

Browse the standing seam product manual for more information.

Design and testing

Familiarize yourself with wind uplift testing as prescribed by Underwriters Laboratories (UL-90 – 580 Test) and ASTM E-1592.

For more information on standing seam metal roofing, visit MBCI’s CE course on the topic: http://www.bdcuniversity.com/standing-seam-metal-roofing

Best Applications for Water Barrier Standing Seam Metal Roof Panels

We discussed water shedding standing seam metal roofs in my last post, and the fact that despite their water shedding properties, you still really must guard against water infiltration. Today I’ll discuss water barrier roof systems, which are structural standing seam roofing systems. These panels can withstand temporary water immersion over the panel seams and end laps. They normally have factory applied mastic in the seams to insure weather integrity. End laps, when needed, are installed using high quality tape and/or bead sealant supplied by the manufacturer. The trim designs used with these systems are much more water resistant as well.Water barrier SSR

The advantage these water barrier SSRS systems offer:

  • They require no deck. This is a tremendous savings on the in-place roof cost.
  • Many systems can be installed on roof slopes as low as ¼:12. This allows greater design flexibility and can also save on the in-place roof cost.
  • Because they are the only thing between the interior of a building and the weather, these are the most tested metal roof systems available. Manufacturers spend a lot of time and money testing these systems for air and water intrusion, dead load, wind uplift and fire.

Water barrier SSRSs can be further divided by seam type—trapezoidal or vertical rib.

Trapezoidal systems usually have a rib height of 3 inches. The most common panel width is 24 inches, although some manufacturers offer them in other widths as well. Trapezoidal systems are traditionally thought of as commercial or industrial standing seam systems. They are used on warehouses, factories and buildings where the roof is not meant to be seen from the ground. However, some designers have taken these systems and incorporated them into architectural applications with stunning results.

But be careful. Trapezoidal rib systems are much harder to seal at hips and valleys than vertical rib systems. The outside closures at the hip must be cut on a compound bevel with a trapezoidal system. At a valley, the panels are harder to seal because they require an inside closure; the vertical rib panels do not.

Vertical rib systems have traditionally been thought of as non-structural. However, there are now many vertical rib systems available that can span purlins or joists. These systems are available in a wide variety of panel widths, ranging from as little as 10 inches to as much as 18 inches wide. Rib heights vary from 1 foot to 3 feet.

Vertical rib systems are usually easier to install than the trapezoidals. There are fewer parts to the typical vertical seam system, which makes for a simpler, quicker installation. Because there are no inside closures, valleys are much easier to seal and quicker to install. Hips are easier to seal because the outside closures can be cut quickly and simply from a stock length of zee closure.

For these reasons, the vertical rib systems are often a better choice for applications on high-end architectural roofs. Ask just about any metal roof installer, and he will tell you that he prefers the vertical rib system over the trapezoidal system in this application.

Bottom line, when selecting a roof system, choose function first, then aesthetics.  When you use the wrong roof system for a given function, the installation process becomes complicated, and results less than ideal. With so many great metal roof options, don’t make life more complicated and uncertain than it need be.

And to make things simple, safe and sound, choose from MBCI’s array of metal roofing system products. Find out more.

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