Choosing the Right Panel Style

Thinking about using a metal roof for your building project? You’ve probably noticed that there are a lot of systems to choose from. It is important for you to know that not all panels are created equal. Different panels are intended for different niches within the metal roofing market. Performance and aesthetic issues can be radically different from one panel to another.

You need to analyze what your particular needs are. A good reference for this would be the National Roofing Contractors Association metal roofing manual and material guides. Descriptions of panel types and performance characteristics are contained within these publications.

Metal roofs panel designs are typically categorized into four basic categories. They are: 1. Structural low slope systems, 2. Architectural mid slope systems, 3. Mansard steep slope systems, and 4. Hybrid systems.

The structural low slope systems are panels that are capable of spanning between structural members without decking underneath. Seam are generally highly water resistant so that they can be used on very low slope applications. They often compete with traditional flat roof systems. The Ultra Seam US200 panel would fall in that category.

The architectural mid slope systems generally require more slope than the structural panels. With a steeper slope, they become part of the architectural statement of the building. As such, they usually have a finer, less massive look than many of the structural panels. This refined look is usually gained at the expense of the structural capability of the panel. They will likely require solid decking underneath the panel for support. The panel will still be the primary waterproofing system for the roof assembly, so the seam interlock must still exhibit a high degree of water resistance. The Ultra Seam US150 or the US150WB would be a good example of this type of panel.

The mansard style panel generally imitates the look of an architectural standing seam or batten seam panel, but features a simplified panel interlock. This may increase the installation speed and improve the ease of mitering slope transitions. However, the panels sacrifice water resistance with this type of panel interlock. Snap on cap design panels should only be used on steeper slope applications with a high quality underlayment. A solid deck support is required. The Ultra Seam US100CS panel is an example of this type of panel.

The fourth category would be hybrid panels. Panels in this category are those which exhibit characteristics of two or three of the other categories. The Ultra Seam US175LS panel is a snap together panel that goes together easily but still features good strength and water resistance capabilities.

Choose your system carefully so that your panel matches the needs of your building. Feel free to consult your local authorized Ultra Seam manufacturer for their recommendations for your project.