The Right Way to Choose a Standing Seam Metal Roof

The modern farmhouse style has really embraced the standing seam metal roof. And this trend may have you considering a metal roof too. Here’s the right way to choose a standing seam metal roof.

Bronze Standing Seam Metal Roof

Woodlane Properties

I recently worked with an eDesign client who had to replace their existing roof due to hurricane damage. This time they were choosing a standing seam (metal) roof because it’s more durable.

My recommendation was to go with a lighter colour because it would de-emphasize the not-so-fabulous roof lines of their house. Standing seam roofs are somewhat reflective and can look really airy in lighter colours disappearing into the sky.

The right way to choose a standing seam metal roof includes the following considerations.

What style of home looks good with a standing seam metal roof?

There does seem to be a trend towards installing more standing seam metal roofs. When I started writing this post, I was going to say that this style of roof is too modern for a traditional home. It used to be that you would not typically see them on a conventional home.

But it works, as it turns out, on a case by case basis. The main reason you don’t see a lot of standing seam (metal) roofs in the residential world is simply because they are expensive.

I also believe it to be a more modern looking material. But, once you get used to something in a new context it can begin to feel right. This is how smart trends sometimes evolve into new classics. Standing seam roofs are attractive because they look clean, solid and high end.

One trend that has really embraced the standing seam roof is the modern farmhouse style. It works well with the simple and practical elements of the aesthetic (see below). And metal roofing is more common in rural areas, so the context feels right as well.

Here is an interesting article about how standing seam roofing is beginning to trend in residential and urban neighborhoods.

Modern Farmhouse Standing Seam Metal Roof

Bannister Custom Homes

Add a standing seam metal roof as an accent.

On a traditional home, they are often used as an accent over a portico or porch with the rest of the roof being asphalt or cedar like this house below.

Standing Seam Metal Roof Porch

Woodlane Properties

Here is a more decorative version of the idea (below). They are also often used on a french country home over a bay window.

Standing Seam Metal Roof Portico Doorway

image source

This copper one is especially pretty I think (below). They have repeated it with copper gutters and downspouts for a timeless, high-end look. And, the creamy exterior offers a nice contrast.

Copper Bronze Standing Seam Metal Roof

image source

Standing seam roofs are often installed on these smaller porch overhang areas because the pitch is too shallow to use anything else.

Choose a standing seam roof colour that relates to the main roof.

The important thing to notice is when a standing seam roof is incorporated as an accent material in this way, it looks best if the colour relates quite closely to the main roof.

The interest is the subtle shift in material and texture, not a random colour thrown in. For example, it rarely works to throw in a black metal accent roof when your shingles are brown or light gray.

A metal roof works well on a modern home or a low pitched roof.

A standing seam roof is beautiful on a modern home like this one below. The linear style of the roof relates well to the simple lines of the design. And it relates perfectly to the black windows.

Notice the pitch of the roof is quite low. Apparently standing seam roofs are better on lower pitched roofs where water is likely to get under regular shingles rather than roll off.

Modern Low Pitch Standing Seam Metal Roof

Image source

The right metal roof colour can work on a more traditional home too.

As it turns out, a metal roof may be an option for any style of house really. They are definitely more expensive to install.  But they make sense in the long run since they are much more durable and weatherproof.

Here’s a metal roof looking right as rain on a traditional stone house (below). The colour relates to both the main roof and the darker stone.

Dark Standing Seam Metal Roof Stone House

Lantern and Scroll

How to choose the right metal roof colour for your home.

So if you’ve decided you want a standing seam roof, how do you go about choosing the right colour?

Just like any roof, it needs to relate to the colour palette of your house. As you know if you’ve been reading my blog, stone and brick  are bossy. It’s important that the roof colour coordinates with elements like that.

You’ll notice that metal roofs tend to be more reflective than other roofing materials, so you can sometimes get away with a darker colour and not have it look too heavy. On the other hand, because they look more uniform and inorganic than traditional shingles, you need to make sure the colour is warm enough so it doesn’t feel too cold.

Consider your windows, trendy black or bronze windows look good when they relate to the roof colour.

If you have a warmer palette with earth tones, you are likely going to be in the realm of bronze, like the stone house above, or maybe aged copper (remember, real copper turns green with patina).

In very hot climates, lighter colours may be more cooling like pale grays. And a light colour can soften a convoluted roof line if necessary as I mentioned at the beginning of this post.

If you have  classic white or cream house, you’ve got lots of options, black, charcoal, bronze, copper and lighter grays all look good on a white house.

And as I said earlier, if you are using a standing seam roof as an accent material or for your porch or portico, the colour should relate to the colour of the main roof shingles as closely as possible.

I will say that in certain contexts, especially buildings surrounded by a rural or natural setting, colours like green or barn red can work well. In general though, a blue, red or yellow roof is going to look too commercial for a residential house.

A hard “plastic” surface like a metal roof in a “plastic” saturated colour to boot is going to look like it belongs on a warehouse or big box store.

Red standing Seam metal roof

Via Go Metal 

So over to you. I’d love to hear whether you’re noticing more standing seam roofs in your area. Or whether you’ve installed one or are considering installing one yourself.

If you are considering investing in a new roof, I would love to help. You can find our eDesign consultation for the perfect roof colour for your house here.

Related posts:

5 Best Ways to Choose Your Roof Colour

10 Tips to Transform Your Exterior

Ask Maria: Is my Roof the Right Colour?

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  1. Interesting article about the design aspects of a standing seam roof. We are outside of Boston and we considered one, not due to design aesthetics, but simply to limit the potential for ice dams.

    Unfortunately, the quote we received was almost 4 times the cost of traditional roof replacement with architectural shingles so we are still roof raking. ; )

  2. Hi, Maria — Here in Virginia, metal standing seam roofs have been around “forever” in copper, zinc, etc. — back to the 1800s on local mansions, some of which are still standing, and even longer in Europe where they were used on the roofs of some cathedrals. I love the look on both modern and traditional homes, but the coated metal colors of today are especially great with modern designs.

    I’m in the early stages of finding land to build a new home — modern farmhouse style — and our plan is to use standing seam metal. If copper is affordable, that will be our choice. Otherwise (probably), it will be colored metal. So thanks for this post which is very timely for me. No way I want to make a color error when choosing a roof.

    Keep up the blogging. I really enjoy reading your posts.

    • Indeed, I was thinking the exact same thing—standing seam (and flat seam) roofing has been around for hundreds of years. I love this roofing. One of the earlier materials versions (which will be of particular interest to those on this site) was terne-coated steel (lead-tin dipped steel) that had to be painted to maintain its durability. Without the paint, the steel would corrode. Paint choices were limited, say a red or chromic green. A ferrous orange was also possible but rarer. So, historic structures should be mindful of their time period when considering colour. My only other comment is that standing seam is appropriate only to a extent at lower slopes—at about 1:12 slopes, it’s best to switch to flat seam roofing for watertightness.

  3. Colorbond rooves are very common in Australia, mostly the corrugated iron style but some standing seam like this.

  4. Actually, tin roofs are really traditional. I grew up in an old Florida clapper board house with a tin roof. The sound of a rain storm was incredible!

    I’d love to paste a picture of the very house for you with it’s now metal seam roof but I can’t figure out how.

  5. When we rebuilt our house after a fire, we chose a standing seam metal roof. We love it. People either don’t notice it or ask “what kind of roof is that” or simply why did we choose metal? Durability is the answer. Initially I was not sure I loved the look..I was unaccustomed…but now find it to be “right”. Our home is a ranch style, pale grey vinyl and slate (not quite dark enough to be charcoal) grey shutters and garage door so we chose a slate grey roof and then garage doors. It looks like a grey flannel suit…understated and classic…but I knew the garden would be the “glamour” in chartreuse greens and hot pink. If we were not in the slate belt of PA I’d have a bright pink door to amuse myself but here they’d be sure I’d lost my mind. My one tip about metal roofs…while it is lovely to hear the pitter pat of a soft rain, it’s not so lovely in a hard rain in the sleeping area if you don’t have a LOT of insulation over head.

  6. Only two weeks ago, we replaced the roof over our deck with a metal roof. It looks lovely-and sounds delightful! We chose to coordinate metal roof to our existing shingles (also a similar cocoa brown). A metal roof worked well for this project I believe because the roof has a low pitch (not super bossy) and works well with the mid-century design of the house.

  7. Thank you, Maria, for another helpful post! We have a contemporary design cabin in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. We chose a standing seam roof for two other reasons: first, we are on the top of a mountain with winds of 120 mph recorded. We needed a roof that would easily withstand our routinely 50-70 mph winds. Second, and most importantly, our sole source of water is rainwater collection. Asphalt shingles introduce all sorts of issues (the grains that slough off, microparticulate that grows on shingles, etc) into the water system. I believe that as we see more residential rainwater collection systems we will see an increase in metal roofing. Yes, the sound of rain on that roof is heavenly! And our water is delicious!

    Another interesting discussion would be about the different styles of metal roof available. Our shed (built first, before the house design was finalized) has the less expensive 4×8 sheet metal, while the cabin has the interlocking standing seam metal. Same color, of course. If you are not familiar with the different types of metal roofing, it is good to research it fully before agreeing to something and being disappointed later.

    I’d love to put standing seam on our primary home. Your post is very helpful as we think that through…

  8. What a thoughtful take on the aesthetics of standing seam roofs! We just put one on our 2001 builder-basic 2-story suburban home in Wisconsin. I can’t figure out the style, perhaps “contemporary” is the closest description.

    Our vinyl siding is white with a blue undertone. Last fall I painted the trim Cracked Pepper by Behr, and replaced the ugly builder’s exterior lights with coordinating modern black fixtures. I choose a black roof to match the light fixtures and trim and it looks amazing!! I would be happy to send you a picture if you’re interested.

    I have learned so much from your blog and books over the last two years, choosing the roof color was easy this spring. My husband said, “I would have liked a fun color, like orange… But you’re the expert.” So thank you!

  9. I am in the southeast in the Appalachian mountains, and standing seam roofs are fairly common.

    Not only are they common in the mountains, but you will see them on traditional houses throughout the southeast. High-end architects include them on gorgeous traditional white southern-style houses with huge porches that are NOT modern farmhouses Usually the standing seam roof is also white and the whole look is airy.

    It’s a versatile roof. I will say that if the body of the house is pale, often it looks better if the roof is also pale, especially if the front of the house is low. In that case, a dark roof makes the house’s proportions look pinched.

  10. I was going to make the same comment as another commenter – here in Virginia you see many historic houses with metal roofs! My mother-in-law has a 150 yr old white farmhouse with a steep-pitched cross-gabled green roof and it looks great. Many older classic houses in historic Alexandria, VA have metal roofs including 200 year old row houses. I’ve always loved the look. Great post!

  11. Great article! We own a cottage in Virginia Beach that is rented for short-term vacations. When my husband’s foot went through the old roof we knew it was time. I chose a red metal roof for “Flamingo Cottage Virginia Beach”. While it was a bit of a leap of faith, we love it…and it’s great hearing everyone comment on it as they walk past. I’d never do that colour on my everyday house, but I really like the look of a metal roof and knowing there will not be water leaks in a hurricane is peace of mind! The cost was about 3x a normal roof, but I’ve no regrets. You can see it here:
    https://www.homeaway.com/vacation-rental/p3603474

  12. Beautiful examples, and so true about coordinating colors. We would have loved to use a metal roof on our home build, but alas, too expensive. My husband is set on one when we eventually need to replace the roof though, as this is our forever home.

  13. I always wanted a metal roof (now am happy I transitioned to a condo — but still — I’d love to hear the rain on one). Where I grew up they were mostly seen on historic homes. This is a lovely post, and it reassures us that indeed “everything old is new again.”

  14. During our hurricane in Florida, metal roofs were the first to fail. And you better hope you never have a hail storm.

    • That’s strange – here in the Cayman Islands, standing seam roofs were the only ones that survived the really bad hurricane we had in 2004. Now they are understandably, very popular – although, as everyone says, an extremely expensive option. The shingles on the back of our home were ripped off completely. A little house along the road, however, had simple corrugated iron on their roof – and that survived too.

  15. We considered standing seam metal roof for our home but due to the style of our home and cost considerations, instead chose a stone coated metal roof.

    https://www.hedrickconstructioninc.com/blog/the-pros-and-cons-of-stone-coated-steel-roofing

    “WHAT IS STONE-COATED STEEL ROOFING?
    Contrary to the bare metal that people tend to envision, steel roofing can have the appearance of traditional shingles while delivering the durability and strength of metal. It can be made of 24- or 26-gauge rolled steel sheets with a rust-preventing coating. Stone-coated steel roofing is finished with a thick layer of stone that permanently adheres to the surface and provides the decorative look.”

  16. Maria I love this post! You have such a delightful way to pique the interest in something I have never even thought about! Possibly because we don’t see many standing seam roofs in California or because I have just not been aware. I have always loved the look because they look so sophisticated. I have wondered if they conduct more heat, too noisy, or just what the advantages are? Because of this post I will pay more attention and do some research. Love reading the comments from other followers because they are educational as well!

    Have a fantastic time on the remainder of your vacation. It is so much fun following you on IG!

    • Ours isn’t noisy and I think reflects heat. It’s Galvalume – so looks sorta like stainless steel. Main advantage, I think, is long -term durability. We’re hoping ours lasts the rest of our lives (we’re mid 30s), and of course the nice appearance. 🙂

  17. Standing seam roofs are all over the place in rural parts of upstate NY state. Their big advantage is they can last 100+ years with proper maintenance. Many are painted silver as part of that maintenance – very heat reflective. I’ve seen them on Greek Revival (1820-1850), Carpenter Gothic (1840-70), and Italianate (1840-85) homes. So really truly NOT modern. Though I love the Cote de Texas modern application you showed.

  18. Preweathered Galvalume was our choice when we rebuilt our 1961 ranch home in Paradise Valley, AZ. Home is “Arcadia” style after the neighborhood nearby. Most of the homes in this style have board on batten siding. Yes, more expensive but it is a forever roof with 50 year rating.

  19. Low slope roofs:
    Low slope roofs are better suited to BUR or single ply roofing, but this does not rule out comp or metal.
    As with any roofing the details matter the most.
    Low slope comp or metal require the appropriate SA(self adhered) underlayment which will seal around the roofing’s mechanical fasteners. Each system has its own type of SA material per manufactures direction.
    Hopefully this enlightens not confuses

    John H

  20. Very timely as we are considering this type of roof for our log cabin. I am adamant that we NOT go with green as is so expected wothnlog cabins. I do struggle with what color. Our logs are a medium brown leaning orangey(will darken them next time we stain)…I’m thinking bronze roof or aged steel? Thoughts? Thanks for the post!
    By the way – I love the look on traditional homes now too.

  21. Metal cladding has being used since the 1860’s in various parts of the world not just for roofs but for whole buildings, notably in Australia, Japan and Iceland.
    During our recent trip to Iceland we noticed many colourful corrugated iron clad buildings dotting the stunning landscape. Reykjavík has many such buildings lining the downtown streets as well as in the suburbs.

    https://inlanding.wordpress.com/2013/05/21/reykjavik-colourful-corrugated-iron/
    https://www.justgoplacesblog.com/how-iceland-made-corrugated-steel-construction-charming/
    Note the picture of Reykjavik, how the colourful roofs brighten the grey sky and sea.

    Another good post, Maria!

  22. Aren’t metal roofs extremely noisy? Or can the noise be buffered from the inside. No, I have never seen such a roof on a home. Copper changes to green almost instantly, I have watched that cahnge daily myself, years ago in Ottawa.

    I am considering replacing my wood shingle roof with tile. Everyone else in the neighbourhood has just transtiioned to ashphalt shingles (wood was a requirement in these parts until 10 years ago). Hard to decide on the colour and I cannot even find anyone who advertises that they install them. My home is stucco, so can be painted any colour. Any advice?

    • Ours is super quite! Though we did a thick later of spray foam insulation throughout the attic area. There also might be some sort of underlayment, like thick felt, between the metal panels on the roof and the wood roof deck to buffer noise – not certain…

  23. I thought about it when redoing the whole house roof after the addition. My honey said as the person who was going to be up there (spraying the stone chimneys, adjusting the antenna when necessary, etc.) he preferred shingles to walk on. We live in a rural area in western New York state and metal roofs are quite common these days. The Amish often use red.

  24. In Hawaii, both standing seam and metal roofs are probably the most common roofing material, at least on Hawaii Island. Not sure about the more populated Oahu. Many houses use their roofs to collect rainwater for almost all of their water needs. Our house, built in mid 1950s, had both aluminum and steel roofing. The aluminum was still good when we purchased the house in 2011. We didn’t realize it was aluminum until removing it to replace with new metal roof. Wish we’d kept the aluminum and just replaced the metal half that was rusting. Love the sound of rain on the roof.

  25. We have a low-pitch roof (2/12) on our 1965 mid-century modern home in upstate NY. it had a 5 year old shingle roof on it when we bought it. We soon discovered it leaked in about 6-8 places. We tried caulking it, replacing shingles, etc. After about 4 years of trying to fix the roof that should have never been put on our house, we chose standing seam. It’s beautiful on our mid-mod home. I wrote about our ordeal on our blog.

  26. Hi Maria,
    I just installed an almost black (charcoal) standing seam roof to pair with our charcoal windows, on a new build in Vancouver, BC–and it looks amazing! Just a few more points to consider when deciding on a standing-seam metal roof. The higher cost of these roofs are a result of their increased longevity, and should last a homeowner their lifetime, with little to no maintenance. And, although it is a fairly straight-forward installation for a new build–it is NOT for a renovation. The cost of the roof will depend on the amount of preparation needed to the actual substrate of your existing roof. Often, they have to take it down to the rafters–sometimes even replacing them, if they are old and have warped. You also need to specify the gauge of metal you want, with the lower number being the harder metal, and if you choose a higher gauge, you may end up with a warped appearance, something called “oil-canning.” You need to decide on the height of the standing seams–which vary from 1″ to 3″ high, as well as the spread of each standing seam–which vary from 12″ to 18″, with options for how the seam types and panels fasten in place. So educate yourself and get several quotes–making sure you go and see examples of the installer’s work, before moving forward. It’s worth the price, if it’s done well. It can look like a work of art!

  27. Great post! We installed a Galvalume (type of metal that basically looks like stainless steel) standing seam roof on our early 1900s craftsman that we’re lovingly renovating. I think the roof looks nice with the navy blue siding. We’re planning to add Galvalume gutters soon. I got the standing seam roof idea from all of the ranch houses in Texas. They look so nice, and as you’ve said – cost effective for the long term. This is our forever house, so we splurged on the up-front cost. We’re doing the same type roof on our garage and other outdoor buildings too. Oh, and we added stainless steel chimney caps to the house – with “seams” to match the look of the roof.

    • Miranda, bet it looks awesome! I’m a big Fan! They are starting to show up here in Naples/Ft. Myers, FL area on new ultra expensive homes (2-5mm). I really like that look on these new modern styled homes here and I’m sure we’ll be seeing a lot more of them as one prominent roofing company is already doing tv ad spots on Standing Seam Roofs.

  28. I just had a metal roof put on our house last summer. The roofer gave me the same quote for asphalt shingles or metal because he said there is so much less labor with installing a metal roof that it cancels out the higher price of the material. In the end, we chose galvalume metal and saved even more over the cost of installing asphalt shingles. My brother, who is a custom home builder in North Carolina, said they also charge about the same for a shingled or metal roof for the same reason. I wonder what gives with people getting such high quotes on metal. Maybe it’s regional? I could, however, see certain types of metal being too expensive for it to work this way.

    Anyway, we chose ours for the durability, classic appeal, and the vertical lines, which I thought would help our roof look less squatty. I live in the southern US and metal roofs have been so common here for such a long time that I guess I viewed them as more traditional than asphalt shingles. I guess I live so far out in the sticks, where a metal roof is almost standard, that I didn’t even realize a metal roof could be considered modern. Lol

    And as a side note, I just have to add that I love those big old houses in Australia that always have metal roofs and big porches. I’m not sure what that style of home is called, so I’ll just call it the gorgeous style. 🙂

    Thanks for another interesting read, Maria!

  29. Lisa Mason Witteman

    In my mind, a metal roof can be very traditional. I grew up on a farm in my family farmhouse. The metal standing seam roof is still on that house today.

  30. I live in the mountains of Northern California and metal roofs are common due to the snow load, and newcomer’s romantic ideals of the past. Storage units, gas stations, and government buildings have blue, red, and green roofs, which in my opinion are hideous. Green roofs compete with the surrounding foliage making it look unhealthy, and limit exterior paint colors forever. Darker color roofs become faded looking after the rain deposits minerals on the surface. For all these reasons, probably light grey is the most practical choice, similar to the original plain steel roofs.

  31. As a person who has had that style of roof, I don’t know that I would choose it again. It IS more durable as far as sun exposure and being ripped off in a hurricane, BUT:
    1. It keeps you awake whenever it rains. It’s like being in a drum. And rain can last for days upon days in hurricane weather.
    2. The wind vibration really does a number on the rivets holding the roof down and it’s expensive to fix. Picture them vibrating out and the wind makes the roof hum.

  32. Thanks for the info,Maria–I never knew the roof over the porch on our new home had a name! It was the builder’s decision, looks good–and now I know it will be durable as well.

  33. This per a reputable roofing company in Florida: the colors WILL fade in the sun – so be aware. We just installed a metal roof and it is quieter than the architectural shingles we had previously. Much depends on the quality of the installation. Do your homework when choosing a roofer.