In a tough economy, contractors undoubtedly are looking for ways to expand into additional markets to gain work. Contractors who already install commercial standing-seam metal roofing may not have to look too far as a trend re-emerges-standing-seam residential roofs.
Modern standing-seam roofs became common in the 1960s for commercial applications and were again revolutionized in the 1970s and 1980s with architectural appeal. Since then, advancements in fabrication, manufacturing and coating technology have further improved the quality of standing-seam metal roofs. With those improvements and architectural details, contractors began to install standing seam on houses in the early 1990s.
Although the overall residential market has slowed, high-end homes continue to be built. Furthermore, home renovations are common because homeowners are reinvesting in their properties, especially with energy-efficient, cost-saving products, such as metal roofs. This is good news for roofing contractors who work with metal.
A standing-seam metal roof is constructed of many interlocking panels. The panels’ connections create an interlocking seam, which is raised above the flat panel surface. Standing-seam panels are designed in two fashions, either a snap-together system used in steep-slope applications or a mechanically folded seamed connection used in lower slope applications. With many options, contractors have to pay attention to the variables of standing-seam roofing, including seam size, material, panel length and width, and coating. These factors all change the panel’s look, structural capabilities and installation process.
For example, the Dutch Seam roof from ATAS International Inc., Allentown, Pa., is a structural continuous standing-seam panel with an integral seam designed for roof slopes 2:12 and greater. With the lock and seam an integral part of the panel, there are no caps to install - just snap the panels together and move on. As another option, the ATAS PC Snap-On System, is a non-structural standing-seam system utilizing a seam that is snapped over the clips and fasteners, concealing the fastening system. Mechanical seaming is not required for either of these products.
“Those involved with a project have to first review the purpose of a roof - waterproofing or water-shedding,” said Jim Bush, vice president of sales for ATAS. “Mechanical seam designs tend to be used for low-slope applications versus the snap-together style commonly used in steep-slope designs.”
Standing-seam metal roofs can be fabricated from a variety of metals and can be customized in many different sizes. The most common metals used are 24-gauge steel, 0.032 aluminum and 16-ounce copper. Common sizes include 11- to 16-inch panel widths for residential and 16- to 24-inch panel widths for commercial applications. Lengths of panels vary greatly and can exceed 60 feet, so contractors should be prepared to install a variety of sizes.
Bush added: “Commercially, the mechanically seamed panel designs often allow the panels to be overlapped when panel lengths exceed 40 feet, therefore minimizing freight cost on long panel lengths.”
Coatings have revolutionized the metal roofing industry in numerous ways. There are many more color and texture options, and adding the resin Kynar 500 or Hylar 500 polyvinylidene fluoride to coating systems has increased the acceptance of high-end metal applications. There is the cool side to many color coatings as well, with improved solar reflectance index, reduced cooling energy consumption and lower heat island effects. Homeowners conscious of sustainable building will appreciate the benefits of these cool coatings, with warranties up to 35 years, helping you to increase the number of residential metal installations.
Given all these variables, there of course are different installation processes for different standing-seam metal roof systems. However, contractors who have properly installed one type of standing-seam roof should have the skills to install other standing-seam products. It is important to follow a manufacturer’s installation guide, as well as consider regional installation differences, such as meeting codes for high-wind areas. Attending training courses offered by manufacturers is a great way to ensure your crews have the knowledge and skill sets to install a standing-seam roof.
Now that the very basics of standing-seam metal roofing have been discussed, don’t feel overwhelmed. It may take time to learn, but installations are easy with proper training. So get educated about the variety of standing-seam roofs available, and seek out help from reputable manufacturers. A good place to start is the Glenview, Ill.-based Metal Construction Association, particularly its Metal Roofing Certification Program (www.metalconstruction.org). This program certifies base metal and finishes based on the industry standards published in the “Guide Specification for Residential Metal Roofing.” Manufacturers with certified roofs, including ATAS, will assist you throughout the researching, specification, bidding, training and installation processes. Also, keep in mind that offering installations of a MCA-certified roof could help you cross over into the residential market because you will be recommending proven products to your homeowner customers.
A Closer Look - Residential & Commercial
Richard Spisto is a designer and the owner of Central Valley, N.Y.-based Design Group, a design-build firm that has done both commercial and residential metal roofing installations. Spisto has designed two homes with metal roofs, and he expects to do more in the future as the trend grows.
When talking about standing seam and metal roofing, he says: “I just think they are spectacular.” He maintains they offer better aesthetics and last longer than other residential roofing options. “They are more difficult to put on, of course, and are more costly, but they result in a much more sustainable product.”
Design Group recently provided the design-build work for a four-bedroom weekend home called the Justin Residence in Pine Bush, N.Y. This very modern home has many sustainable features, and that is the No. 1 reason Spisto selected a metal roof for the home. Aesthetics was the second contributing factor. The roof is a curved standing-seam Field-Lok (FLX175) system from ATAS. The panels are 24-gauge steel in a Coppertone color, and 3,590 square feet of Field-Lok was used. The roofing distributor was Arzee Supply, Middletown, N.Y., and the roofing contractor was Phil & John Piazza, Bloomingburg, N.Y.
“My design goals were to create a home to function as a really attractive weekend home for lots of guests with a lot of leisure and enjoyment,” Spisto said. “I wanted people to enjoy the weekend in a gorgeous house.”
Durability, aesthetics and cost are what led architectural firm Element Design Group, Lewes, Del., to select a standing-seam metal roof for Big Fish Grill, Wilmington, Del. Matthew Peterson, principal with Element, describes these attributes as “the design trifecta.” He said, “Really, metal was the only option to complete the look - it was in from the first design sketch we put together.”
Big Fish Grill is a one-story restaurant that is just less than 10,000 square feet. The building does have a raised bar area to give that space prominence and a loft above the restrooms. Working with Big Fish Grill owner Eric Sugrue, the design team’s goal was “to create a warm, inviting, fun atmosphere for the patrons while creating an efficient kitchen and expedition area for the employees.”
The roof includes about 2,000 square feet of Dutch Seam (MRD150) and 100 square feet of PC System (PCX120) from ATAS. The 0.032-alumimum panels have a Siam Blue finish. Those involved with the project include: roofing distributor, MJM Fabrications, New Castle, Del.; builder, Miken Builders, Wilmington; structural engineer, MacIntosh Engineering, Wilmington; and roofing contractor, G. Fedale Roofing, Wilmington.
“The metal adds a perfect amount of color to complete the look of the building,” Peterson added. “Using metal allowed us to capture the colors of Big Fish’s logo and present it as a major design feature. From I-95, even, there is no mistake where the building is - but it is not so in your face to be distracting.”
Although standing-seam products vary - changing aesthetics, structural capabilities and installation processes - these examples show why metal roofing in general is versatile in both commercial and residential markets.
The use of residential standing-seam metal roofs undoubtedly will increase as homeowners, code officials and governing bodies continue to understand the proven field performance of these systems. Be prepared for this growth, and take advantage of an opportunity to expand your roof-contracting business.