24 vs. 26-gauge Metal Roofing: Which Steel Thickness Is Best For You?

On the surface, the disparities between 24-gauge and 26-gauge steel (Galvalume®) metal sheets and coils are practically indistinguishable. However, upon closer examination, you’ll uncover a multitude of differences, particularly in terms of performance, engineering, oil canning expectations, color options, and more. So, which metal gauge is better suited for your project?

With almost three decades of experience supplying metal products for the standing seam metal roof and wall industry, Sheffield Metals has assisted countless contractors, architects, manufacturers, and property owners in selecting the optimal thickness for their projects.

In this article, we will delve into the advantages, disadvantages, and uses of both 24-gauge and 26-gauge metal, as well as provide recommendations based on specific scenarios.

24-gauge Metal Roofing Material

24-gauge Thickness (inches): Minimum of 0.023″
24-gauge Weight (pounds per square foot): Approximately .094 – 1.101 lbs/sq. ft.

Throughout the industry, 24-gauge Galvalume is typically considered the standard thickness for standing seam metal roof and wall systems. Standing seam systems feature concealed fasteners, with vertical legs and a broad, flat area between them. This type of system is highly sought-after due to its sleek appearance.

The reason why 24-gauge Galvalume material is the standard choice is because it offers excellent performance, affordability, and aesthetics. It is commonly used in various standing seam applications, including commercial buildings such as hospitals, offices, hotels, and schools, as well as architectural structures, residential projects, and structural buildings like warehouses and manufacturing facilities.

Advantages of 24-gauge Metal

  • Thicker, Stronger, & More Rigid Material: 24-gauge metal is approximately 27.8% thicker than 26-gauge, making it more resilient against rollforming stresses, oil canning, denting, and other impacts that could damage a metal roof or wall system.
  • Less Susceptible to Oil Canning: While some degree of oil canning is expected, 24-gauge material is more rigid and resistant to shape changes compared to 26-gauge, reducing the chances of severe oil canning.
  • More Likely to Have Engineering & Better Equipped For Extreme Weather: 24-gauge material meets the minimum thickness requirement for engineered standing seam metal roof and wall systems. It performs exceptionally well in high wind areas, regions prone to heavy rainfall or precipitation, cold and snowy areas, and hail-prone regions.
  • Larger Selection of High-Quality Paint/Color Options: Most suppliers offer a wider range of color options in 24-gauge material, and it is usually coated in a high-performance PVDF paint system, known for its ability to withstand extreme atmospheric conditions.

Disadvantages of 24-gauge Metal

  • Slightly More Expensive Than 26-gauge Metal: The cost of 24-gauge coils/sheets is typically higher than that of 26-gauge, although the price difference is not significant.
  • Can Be More Difficult to Work With: Due to its increased thickness, 24-gauge metal may be slightly more challenging to cut, hem, and work with compared to 26-gauge.

26-gauge Metal Roofing Material

26-gauge Thickness (inches): Minimum of 0.018″
26-gauge Weight (pounds per square foot): Approximately 0.730 – 0.885 lbs/sq. ft.

26-gauge metal is commonly used in exposed fastener metal roofing, where the panels are fastened directly to the roof structure. This type of roofing system is often chosen for residential projects, agricultural structures, and industrial or structural buildings. While it is used in some standing seam metal roofing applications, it does not typically have the same engineering/testing as 24-gauge systems.

Advantages of 26-gauge Metal

  • Often a Good Choice in Residential Roofing Applications: 26-gauge metal is frequently used in residential projects due to its slightly lower cost compared to 24-gauge, making it an economical option for property owners.
  • Slightly Cheaper Upfront Cost: 26-gauge material is approximately 8% to 15% less expensive than 24-gauge, making it an attractive choice for those on a tighter budget.
  • Easier to Bend & Work With: The thinner nature of 26-gauge metal makes it easier to rollform, bend, cut, and manipulate, which can result in a more straightforward and efficient installation process.

Disadvantages of 26-gauge Metal

  • More Susceptible to Oil Canning: 26-gauge material is more prone to visible oil canning due to its thinner and less rigid nature. While some oil canning is expected, it is important to consider your tolerance for this phenomenon.
  • Lacks Engineering: 26-gauge systems usually do not have the same engineering/testing as 24-gauge systems, limiting their suitability for designs that require engineering.
  • More Likely to Dent: Thinner materials like 26-gauge are more susceptible to denting, which could be a concern in hail-prone areas or where debris may fall onto the roof.
  • Fewer Color Options (Depending on the Supplier): Some suppliers offer fewer color options for 26-gauge material compared to 24-gauge, and the paint system used, which is often silicone-modified polyester (SMP), may not be as durable as PVDF.

Final Thoughts on 24 vs. 26-gauge Metal Roofing

When choosing between 24-gauge and 26-gauge material, it ultimately depends on your specific project requirements and considerations. Here are some general guidelines to help you make the right decision:

Choose a 24-gauge system if:

  • You need an engineered panel profile.
  • Your project is commercial or architectural.
  • You’re concerned about oil canning.
  • Your project is located in an area with extreme weather conditions.
  • You desire a wide range of color options and a high-performance PVDF paint system.

Choose a 26-gauge system if:

  • You do not require an engineered roofing system.
  • You have a smaller budget.
  • Your project is residential, agricultural, or structural.
  • You’re less concerned about oil canning.
  • Your project is located in a mild environment.

While Sheffield Metals typically recommends a 24-gauge system due to its engineering compatibility, they understand that not all projects have the same strict requirements. Therefore, they offer both 24 and 26-gauge material options to accommodate a range of needs.

If you have any questions regarding gauge or material thickness and how it applies to your project, don’t hesitate to reach out to one of Sheffield Metals’ knowledgeable metal roofing specialists.

Contact Sheffield Metals today!

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