Key Differences Between Standing Seam vs. Exposed Fastener

Metal roofing is on the rise! And with it comes a lot of perplexed homeowners wondering how to incorporate metal roofing in their modern homes. Well, we can first narrow it down to two main types of metal roofing:

  1. Standing seam
  2. Exposed fastener

While standing seam and exposed fastener roofs function relatively the same and are made up of the same materials, they showcase some staunch differences that make them highly unique from one another. To determine which type of metal roof is best for your home or business, you can start by weighing the pros and cons.

Today, we will do some of the heavy lifting and build a comparison guide of standing seam vs. exposed fastener metal roofs. By the end, you should know just which one to go with.

Standing Seam vs. Exposed Fastener Metal Panels: What’s the Difference?

Two noticeable differences lie in their names: a standing seam has a visible standing seam on the exterior, and an exposed fastener has just that— exposed fasteners on the exterior. This means that a standing seam roof has rows of panels connected via a 1-2 inch tall seam between them. It looks like nice, neat rows of panels from the outside.

Meanwhile, exposed fastener roofs show the fasteners, or screws and bolts, from the exterior. This is very unlike most roofing shingles that hide the roofing nails underneath each overlapping layer of shingle. Some other differences between these two types include:

  • Standing seam roofs can be more expensive than an exposed fastener
  • A standing seam roof is more challenging to install than an exposed fastener
  • A standing seam roof will last longer than an exposed fastener roof because there are no holes for water to seep in and cause leaks.
  • Exposed fasteners are not as aesthetically pleasing for homeowners
  • Exposed fasteners are often lighter and wider than standing seam material
  • Standing seam panels utilize a more high-quality paint

Despite these differences, they are equally utilized in many residential homes, barns, and commercial businesses. Metal roofing has been rising in popularity in recent years, most likely due to homeowners wanting more ROI and a more durable (but affordable) roofing material.

standing seam vs exposed fastener roof

Types of Structures That Use These Types of Metal Roofs

When you think of a standing seam or exposed fastener metal roof, even an inexperienced homeowner may first think of a barn or shed roof. And they wouldn’t be wrong— these materials have been widely used to cover such structures. But those aren’t the only places you might see either of these metal roofing panel types installed. Other structures that utilize either standing seam or exposed fastener, or both, include:

  • Homes
  • Offices
  • Schools
  • Churches
  • Storage units
  • Farm buildings

As you can see, there’s a good mix of structures that use each type of roof. It just depends on the owner’s preference or budget. However, we will say that most modern homeowners are choosing standing seam for their homes because it is seen as a more aesthetically pleasing option. But, there are some drawbacks to this roofing material that we will touch on next.

The Top Benefits of Standing Seam Metal Roofs (Pros)

Let’s expand on some of the differences between the two and list their benefits plus how they work well as a solid roofing material.


This type of roofing is highly energy-efficient because it has a very low thermal conductivity. In other words, it doesn’t absorb heat as much as other roofing materials might. Most standing seam roofs are made with aluminum or steel— two materials that reflect sunlight rather than absorb it.

Sleek and Modern Appeal

A standing seam metal roof has a sleek and modern appeal. This is one of the reasons they’ve been gaining popularity in recent years. They are often seen as upgrades to an asphalt shingle roof because they look higher quality and more expensive.

No Exposed Fasteners

One of the main differences between a standing seam and an exposed fastener roof is that the former has no visible fasteners. This means that there is less chance for leaks because water can’t seep through any holes.

Long Lifespan

Standing seam metal roofs can last nearly 50 years or three times as long as an asphalt shingle roof— sometimes longer with the proper maintenance.

Flexible for Expansion

This type of metal roofing is also very flexible, which means it can expand and contract as the temperature changes throughout the year. This prevents any gaps from forming in the roof that might let water or air seep through.

black standing seam vs exposed fastener

The Downfalls of a Standing Seam Roof (Cons)

While standing seam roofs are highly beneficial, they still come with their fair share of negatives.

More Expensive

Standing seams require more materials and labor to install and can cost an average of $29,000 for a full install.

Difficult to Repair or Replace

If a standing seam roof is ever damaged, it can be quite difficult to repair or replace. This is because the fasteners are underneath the panels and aren’t easily accessed.

High Labor Costs

This material is heavier and requires more labor-intensive installation, which can quickly drive up labor costs, adding to that high overall total.

close up of exposed fastener metal roofing

Why Exposed Fastener Roofs are Beneficial (Pros)

Now let’s talk about exposed fasteners roofs. They may not look as pretty as a standing seam roof, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be a fantastic roofing option.

More Affordable

The average cost of an exposed fastener roof is around $10,000, give or take the size of the project.

Easy to Install

Exposed fastener panels are lighter and wider, making for a faster and easier installation.

More Accessibility

More standard roofers can manage the installation of this type of metal roof. It doesn’t require any special training or certification to install it properly.

Unique Curb Appeal

This isn’t your standard asphalt shingle roof. This type of roof would give your home or business a unique curb appeal that stands out from the rest.


Any DIY-savvy homeowner could probably install their own exposed fastener metal roof. This DIY video can help! 

Why Exposed Fastener Roofs Aren’t For Everyone (Cons)

Do exposed fasteners sound too good to be true? That may be— here are some of the downfalls of choosing this roofing material.

At-Risk for Leaks

Because of how many penetrations there are in the metal sheet panels, this roofing type can be very susceptible to leaks. This is especially true if even one fastener is installed crooked or if they rust over time.

Wears Quickly From UV Rays

UV degradation is a very real thing with many roofing materials, but especially this type. While the metal roof itself isn’t necessarily vulnerable, the neoprene washers used for waterproofing the fasteners are the culprit. Once these washers wear out from exposure to UV rays, they become brittle and crack. This leads to water seeping in and damaging your home.

High Maintenance

To maintain this “cheaper” material, more extensive maintenance is vital to uphold its integrity. Maintenance may include:

  • Regularly cleaning the roof of debris and dirt
  • Cleaning stains or mildew off the surface
  • Cleaning out your gutters (vital for most roofs)
  • Regularly checking the fasteners for rust or signs of leaks

Standing seam modern metal roof over vintage stone wall, horizontal aspect

Which Type is Best For Your Home?

Now that we’ve gotten this far, you may be more confused than you started with knowing which type of metal roof— standing seam or exposed fastener— you should choose for your home or business. You first need to consider the most important factors:

  • What’s your budget?
  • What function does your structure serve?
  • How much maintenance are you willing to do?
  • How long do you want your roof to last?
  • Are you shooting for more curb appeal or more durability?

If you want the cheaper option, go for an exposed fastener. If you want something that will last and require little to no maintenance, a standing seam might be a much better investment for you. But don’t go this decision alone— work with an expert roofer to decide.

Choosing Durashield For Your Metal Roof Installation

Choosing a reputable contractor to install your new metal roof is one of the best ways to get the job done right and get all your questions answered. If you’re intrigued by metal roofs but aren’t quite sure which route to take, the pros at Durashield will be there to inspect your home or business and help you make an educated decision for your new roof replacement.

We love helping our customers get the roof of their dreams that gets the most out of their investment. Contact us today to get started!

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