Top 7 Problems When Designing Standing Seam Metal Roofs

With the right design, standing seam metal roofs can last decades without issues. Avoid these common design problems to ensure your roof’s longevity.

Looking to avoid common problems when it comes to designing a standing seam metal roof?

Designing any type of structure can be challenging, and standing seam metal roofs can be particularly complicated. While they’re some of the most durable and impressive roofing systems on the market, they also require a level of detail and knowledge to ensure they can last for decades.

With some insight into the common design problems of standing seam metal roofs, and how to solve them effectively, you can be confident that you’re getting the job done right.

Sheffield Metals International (SMI) is committed to helping contractors and architects find the products they need to complete their metal roofing projects. We supply metal coils, sheets, and other metal roofing accessories for standing seam metal roof applications. 

Aside from providing high-quality, reliable materials, we also strive to give our customers the information and support they need to meet their goals. Over the years, we’ve consulted with many architects, home builders, and metal roofing contractors to help them get their standing seam metal roofing design right.

In this article, we’ll go through the top seven problems when designing standing seam metal roofs and talk about ways you can ensure you get your design right. By the end of this article, you should have a better grasp of what goes into an effective standing seam metal roof design and understand the common pitfalls to avoid.

Here are the top seven problems when designing standing seam metal roofs.

1.      Unfit Leak Prevention

Close up of droplets of water falling from a roof.

One of the most common issues related to standing seam metal roof design is improper leak prevention. A standing seam roof can look sleek and aesthetically pleasing, but if the design doesn’t account for proper water shedding, a variety of issues could occur.

The most common points of leaking on standing seam metal roofs are at flashing points and penetrations — these are areas on a roof, such as valleys or chimneys, where extra material is added to keep moisture from entering at the joints of the design. Flashing points require detailed installation and sealants, which makes them common targets for leaking issues.

When designing a standing seam metal roof, it’s important to consider how many flashing points you’ll have and to figure out how to make sure they won’t cause problems in the future.

There are other considerations to look at when it comes to preventing leaks, such as choosing the right material and panel profile for your standing seam metal roof.

2.      Incorrect Materials Selection

Sheets of 24-gauge metal in the Sheffield Metals International warehouse

With the wrong material, you can take away many of the main advantages of standing seam metal roof systems, like decades of longevity, high-end appearance, and unmatched durability. Typically, the materials selection will come down to steel and aluminum, but there are many other options to choose from, including:

  • Stainless steel
  • Zinc
  • Aluminum
  • Galvalume
  • Copper

Each material will have pros and cons; some may be better suited for specific environments. Aluminum, for example, is typically used by those near the coast, as it stands up well against saltwater corrosion.

It’s essential to take time during the design process to look at the various materials, consider how each would react to your unique environment, and choose the one that would hold up best in the future and ensure your warranties stay intact.

If you happen to choose the wrong materials, it could have adverse effects — especially if you use dissimilar metals on the same standing seam metal roof.

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3.      Using Dissimilar Metals  

Visible corrosion on a bolt

Many types of metals are incompatible, and if one comes into contact with another, corrosion can occur. Dissimilar metal corrosion is a common problem on metal roofs that can be easily alleviated. An experienced designer can step in during the design stage and avoid dissimilar metal installation so that problems do not arise in the future.

Keep in mind that materials don’t even have to be touching for issues to occur. A steel roof with copper gutters or lightning protection, for example, may experience dissimilar metal corrosion because of water runoff.

During the design stage, you can control which materials you choose to avoid dissimilar metals.

Other factors like local codes and regulations will often be out of your control.

4.      Not Adhering to Local Codes

A modern neighborhood with small homes and metal roofing designs

Sometimes, there will be external design factors, and you’ll have to fit the specifications of a standing seam metal roof to fit within a set of requirements.

Local ordinances, codes, governing bodies, and HOAs can impact the design process. Be sure to understand the local laws where you’re installing the roof, and contact those governing bodies if you have any questions about the requirements you need to meet.

Codes and requirements differ across the country, so you should treat each roofing project as unique. Here are some common roofing specifics that local codes and other governing bodies may impact:

  • Color choices: Some customers may have an entire color design review board overseeing color choices. Likewise, some HOAs may only allow a certain color scheme to have an overall aesthetic amongst the homes in the neighborhood.
  • Weight loads: In certain areas, such as Colorado, requirements for weight loads will change as buildings get closer to mountains.  
  • Proximity to hazards: Areas in Florida located near the coast or in hurricane zones will likely require higher testing requirements or state approvals to defend against high-speed winds.

Many of the codes and requirements for standing seam metal roof designs will be dictated by the specific region in which you plan to install the roof.

5.      Improper Adjustment to Region

A building with a standing seam roof in Colorado, partly covered in snow

Where you design a standing seam metal roof can drastically change the requirements you need to meet. Aside from just local codes, you’ll also need to pay attention to other natural factors that could impact your design, including the sun exposure in the area, any substantial weather events, and wind speeds:

  • Sun exposure: In extreme heat, standing seam metal roof designers may want to consider cool metal roofing systems, which reduce heat by reflecting the sun’s energy. This is done by using a paint system that has a high Solar Reflectance Index (SRI) number, and it can result in energy cost savings between 7% to 15%.
  • Weather events: Those in hurricane zones will need a durable roof to match. Hot, dry areas may require combustion-resistant roofing assemblies. And cold climates may create the need for snow-shedding and retention systems. Research the specific area to understand substantial weather events and how they may impact your roofing design.
  • Wind speeds: One crucial region-specific element to consider is wind speed. Different wind speeds will require different design pressures, and you’ll want to make sure you’re choosing the right product so that the roof remains robust.

If you don’t correctly adjust your standing seam metal roof’s design to the specific region it’s located in, you could be creating various safety hazards, including leaving the roof open to harm from wildfires, hurricanes, or high winds. Careful considerations for weather and region-specific factors can help protect a building from the elements.

Knowing the region may only be half the battle – you’ll also need to find the right materials and information to match.

6.      Lack of Product Information

Metal coils on skids in the Sheffield Metals International warehouse

When designing a standing seam metal roof, one of the most challenging parts of the process is finding information on certain products.

The key is finding a reliable metal roofing supplier that can offer detailed information on their products. With the right information, you can make confident decisions and have a clear picture of how products will hold up in certain environments.

7.      Wind Uplift

When it comes to standing seam metal roofs, wind uplift is one of the most significant dangers to longevity. Wind uplift occurs when wind hits a structure and moves upward over the corners of the roof, creating mini vortexes that pull upwards on a roof. With enough force, this pressure can cause panels to separate and produce clip failure. Wind uplift is a natural phenomenon happening at various degrees of magnitude at all times, and it will be dictated mainly by wind speeds in the local region.

Because standing seam roofs have wide panels, it’s often easier for wind to pull upwards on the flat sections, creating panel deflection. The more panel deflection, the more issues you may have with the roof.

When designing a standing seam metal roof, you should look at the wind speeds in your area and ensure the materials you’re getting are adequately tested. That way, you can be confident that you’re doing everything you can to reduce the harmful effects of wind uplift.

Download the Your Guide to Metal Roof Design e-book here!

How to Make Sure Your Standing Seam Roof Design Is Effective

Knowing the common problems of standing seam metal roof design can help you stay on the right track and avoid any complications. On the flip side, there are also some simple steps you can take to ensure you’re building a practical design that will help your roof last long into the future.

Plan Early

Begin the design process as early as possible so you aren’t rushing the process. The sooner you start, the more time you’ll have to gather information, communicate with those involved, and create a complete design that you can be confident in. That way, you can avoid forcing builders to switch out materials midway through a project, which will incur late fees and extend the time of the project.

Research Location and Climate

Droplets of rain dripping off of a roof in a downpour

Throughout this article, we’ve discussed how important it is to understand the region your standing seam metal roof is located in and how the climate may affect its design. In nearly every region, your roof may be liable to natural dangers, whether that be from hurricanes, wildfires, snow, or hail. Be sure you’re taking time to research and understand the unique parts of your region so that you can build a suitable design.

Communicate with Stakeholders

When it comes to roofing design, whether for a commercial building or a residential home, multiple stakeholders will likely be involved. It could range from a few voices to entire design boards you may have to speak with to ensure the design fits their needs.

In all situations, the key is to clearly communicate with these stakeholders, understand their needs, and help them design something that will allow them to achieve their vision while also getting a high-quality, reliable roof.

Find a Trusted Metal Roofing Supplier

A variety of metals in different colors in the Sheffield Metals International warehouse

Your standing metal roof design will only be as good as the materials you have to bring it to life. With high-quality, reliable materials, your design will hold up just as you imagined and allow you to have confidence in its foundation.

Be sure to do your research and seek out an experienced metal roofing supplier that can answer your questions, provide you with detailed information on products, and get you the metal roofing parts and accessories you need.

Need Design Help for Your Standing Seam Metal Roof?

Standing seam metal roofs are intricate products that require careful installation and focused designs to ensure they’re as effective as possible. A variety of variables in play can all affect a standing seam metal roof, and if one is not accounted for, it could cause issues in the long run.

In this article, we’ve outlined the most problems in standing seam metal roof designs. Hopefully, this article has helped you identify any pitfalls and made you a bit more knowledgeable on the topic of standing seam metal roof design.

For more information on seam metal roof problems, or with help regarding installation, feel free to visit our online learning center, which provides articles and videos on metal roofing topics.

As was mentioned earlier, standing seam metal roof design can be challenging. Contacting a metal roofing expert to get the trusted information you need can be helpful. At Sheffield Metals, we’re dedicated to helping our customers get the products and the answers to complete their projects as best as possible. Feel free to reach out to our expert team today.

Contact Sheffield Metals today!