RC Roofing

Exposed Fastener vs. Standing Seam: Which Is the Better Metal Roof?

If you’re searching for different roofing systems that’ll last a long time, you may want to consider a standing seam or exposed fastener metal roof.

However, whether you have heard of these roofs and don’t know which is better, or if you do not know much about these roof types, you will want to keep reading.

You will first learn what each roof type is and how they’re attached to your roof substrate as you keep reading. Afterward, you will find the differences between exposed fasteners and standing seam metal roofs.

Once you’re done reading this guide, you will better understand what roof type you should choose.

What Is a Standing Seam Metal Roof?

A standing seam metal roof (SSMR), or concealed fastener roof, is a roofing system with a series of flat panels intersected with spaced vertical ribs. Standing seam metal roofs come in various colors. Also, you’ll find them in different sizes and shapes like:

  • Snap-lock
  • Mechanically seamed
  • Nail Flange panel

Regarding installation, you can attach these types of roofs to your roof deck by using clips or concealed fasteners. Moreover, you can snap standing seam roof panels together by hand or mechanical seaming.

What Is an Exposed Fastener Metal Roof?

An exposed fastener (EF) metal roof or screw-down metal roof are thinner-gauge and wider metal roofs with exposed fasteners. To install these panels, you only need to overlap each panel and fasten them together, which results in less labor, costs, and parts.

Differences Between Standing Steam and Exposed Fastener Metal Roofs

Now that you understand the basics of each metal roofing option, we will now cover the differences between the two. Throughout this section, we will cover whether exposed fastener or standing-seam roofs triumph each other in the following areas.

Roof Maintenance

Since standing seam roofs don’t have exposed fasteners, they will not suffer from the elements and wear over time. Because of this, you won’t need to perform regular maintenance on these types of roof fasteners.

For the most part, with maintaining concealed fastener roofs the important thing is to keep it free of debris which allows water to flow freely into your gutters.

If you maintain your roof, SSR can last up to 50 years since they are better protected from the elements.

Conversely, exposed fasteners require regular maintenance due to the fasteners contracting and expanding because of fluctuating temperatures, among other factors. If you don’t maintain your fasteners, you will likely encounter water leaks later.


Standing-seam roofs are your best option if you care about curb appeal. Not only do they have a sleek and modern look, but manufacturers offer multiple color options. Also, with rows of straight lines and hidden fasteners, they triumph over their counterparts in appearance.


Indeed, having hundreds of exposed screws makes exposed fastener roofs less appealing. Also, the exposed screws spread throughout the roofing system will give your roof a bumpier appearance. However, if you’re after a more budget-friendly option, you may prefer an exposed fastener roofing style.

Does it Have a Weather-tight Warranty?

Due to the increased likelihood of installation errors, lack of weather resistance, and other factors, most manufacturers will not offer a weather-tight warranty on screw-down metal roofs.

The same doesn’t go for standing seam roofs, though. More manufacturers have confidence in their products. Thus, SSMR will generally offer a weather-tight warranty in the scenario where certain weather conditions lead to your roof failing or leaks.

Energy Efficiency

Manufacturers use emissive metals and reflective paint pigments for standing seam roofs. Because of this, these roofs excel at emitting heat and reflecting UV rays, which could reduce your cooling costs between 10–25%.

SSMR can act as a mounting platform for installments like solar panels if you want to take your energy savings to the next level. However, exposed fastener roofs don’t have this feature. Nor do they reflect heat as well.

Cost to Purchase and Install

Exposed fastener roofs cost less to purchase and install than standing seam metal roofs. For the most part, the lower costs for exposed fastener roofs come from the following:

  • Fewer components required
  • Not as labor-intensive
  • Lower quality paint systems
  • Wider and have thinner gauge metal panels

Since standing seam roofs have a thicker gauge and require more materials than screw-downs, the costs to purchase and install these roofs can be significantly more than their counterparts. Moreover, the installation of these roof types proves to be more labor-intensive, which may raise the costs as well.

Not to mention, while these roofs don’t require much maintenance, if SSMR suffers from any damage, you may have a more challenging time repairing them. That’s because you will need to find a qualified contractor with the required skillset and specialty tools as well as the costs of the materials.

If you are looking for experienced roofing contractors in Eastern Tennessee, reach out for a free quote now.

RC Roofing

Maryville: (865) 336-2374
Nashville: (615) 753-6877
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