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Metal Roofing Gauge Sizes: What They Mean

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“Gauge” is used in a variety of applications. If you’ve ever checked the air pressure in your car tires, you used a tire gauge. If you get your ears pierced, there are different gauges depending on the type of piercing and jewelry.

And if you want to install a metal roof, you’ll need to decide between different gauges. In general, “gauge” refers to the thickness or diameter of an item. While tire gauges and earrings are cool and all, we’re a professional roofing company, so today we’ll be exploring the gauge of metal roofing, what each size means, and which one is best for residential roofs.

What Are Different Metal Roof Gauges?

gauge of metal roof determining thickness

As we mentioned above, gauge refers to the thickness of metal. Metal roofs come in the following gauge sizes: 22. 24. 26, and 29.

The smaller the number, the thicker the gauge. So, in the instance of metal roofs, 22 is the thickest gauge, and 29 is the thinnest. For comparison, the hood of a car is 20-gauge, while a soda can is 37-gauge.

  • 22-Gauge: This is the thickest and most durable size of metal roofing. Accordingly, it’s also the most expensive.
  • 24-Gauge: Slightly less thick than 22-gauge, 24-gauge still provides great weather resistance. It’s more expensive than other options but falls in the mid-range.
  • 26-Gauge: This thickness is pretty standard for many buildings. It’s less expensive than 22 and 24-gauge metal, but it’s still thick enough to provide weather protection.
  • 29-Gauge: As the thinnest metal roof size, it’s also the cheapest since it doesn’t stand up to extreme weather as well.

Each gauge size equates to a certain measurement in inches. They are:

  • 22-gauge — .0299 inches
  • 24-gauge — .0239 inches
  • 26-gauge — .0179 inches
  • 29-gauge — .0149 inches

The Best Gauge Size for Residential Metal Roofs

gauge of metal roof finding best gauge

So, there are four different thicknesses of metal roofing, but which one is ideal for residential applications? Well, it’s pretty safe to rule out a 29-gauge roof (the thinnest) unless you live in a region with very mild weather.

29-gauge roofs are best for sheds and garages or other structures that don’t need a lot of durability. If money is a big concern, you can get away with 29-gauge metal. Just don’t expect it to last as long or look as pleasing as thicker metals.

The most common sizes for residential metal roofs are 26 and 24 gauge. These sizes fall in the mid-range of thickness, durability, and price. 26 gauge metal will have a slightly higher upfront cost than 24 gauge, but the extra durability can be worth it.

Keep in mind that the thinner sizes (26 and 29 gauge) are more susceptible to something called “oil canning.” Oil canning happens when metal panels are fastened too tight. As they expand and contract in changing temperatures, they can get pushed too close together, which causes a wavy look on the panels. This is uncommon with proper installation practices, but thicker gauges can help prevent it entirely.

3 Factors That Impact the Gauge Size You Need

If you’re having trouble deciding which gauge size to go with, consider the following factors that play a role in the type of roof that would work best for you. Additionally, you can (and should!) consult with a professional roofing contractor. They will have expert recommendations for your specific situation.

1) Weather Considerations

gauge of metal roof dealing with weather conditions

The first thing you need to consider is how much your roof needs to stand up to harsh weather. There aren’t many areas in the United States that experience a truly mild climate all-year round, so you’ll need to account for some durability on your metal roof. Places like San Diego, CA, and Charlotte, NC, experience pretty mild weather, but even then, they need to account for UV exposure.

Chances are you live somewhere with intense winters and/or summers, and you routinely experience thunderstorms, wind, and hail. Maybe even tornadoes or hurricanes!

Take account of the weather events that occur in your area. Do you get lots of snow? What about hail or high winds? The more extreme the weather, the thicker gauge you should get.

2) Your Budget

As mentioned earlier, thicker gauges also come with higher upfront costs. If you’d like a metal roof but don’t have a large budget, go for a 26-gauge roof. If durability is the biggest priority no matter the price, then a 24 or 22-gauge is what you’ll want.

3) The Style and Type of Metal

gauge of metal roof standing seam rooftop

Did you know you can get a metal roof in a variety of styles? You can opt for the popular standing seam panels or metal tiles. Alternatively, corrugated metal (also called exposed fastener) roofs are a cheaper option, but they don’t have the aesthetics or curb appeal of the other options.

You can also opt for different types of metal. Steel is the most common, but aluminum, zinc, and copper are all viable options.

Certain materials (like copper) are naturally more durable than others, so gauge size isn’t as much of a concern. However, steel is the most common residential material for a reason. Zinc and copper are incredibly expensive. Tin is cheap, but it doesn’t hold up well to the elements.

We’ll Help You Find the Perfect Solution for Your Home

Ideally, you’ll work with a professional metal roofing contractor when you want a new metal roof for your home. Level Edge Roofing & Construction has been serving home and business owners in Minnesota and Wisconsin for over 20 years, and we know the ins and outs of metal roofing.

Whether you want standing seam panels or metal shingles, we’ll educate you on the best materials for your specific needs. Simply reach out today for a free consultation!

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