Selecting the right gauge

There are a variety of metal roof and wall panel profiles to choose from and they are all available in several gauges, but how do you select the right gauge for your project?

Steel panels are commonly identified by gauge. Aluminum commonly uses decimal inches (ex. 0.032”). Copper commonly uses ounces (per square foot, ex. 16 oz). Zinc commonly uses millimeters (ex. 0.8mm).

First, we must understand that gauge represents a measurement or range of measurements (inches).

For Metal Sales, 29 ga ranges from 0.014” to 0.018” thick. 26 ga ranges from 0.017 to 0.020. Variation is primarily due to the corrosion protection (galvalume or galvanized) and whether the panels are painted.

Thicker panels are stronger, but the importance of that added strength depends on the type of building construction as well as the customer’s priorities and location.

Higher-end projects with a tougher spec and very steep roofs or vertical walls tend to be handled best by the heavier gauges. Low end, agricultural and exposed fastener projects tend to be thinner.


The thickness of your metal panels will be driven by a variety of factors, including what type of building it is, the climate in the area where you live and any potential tornadoes, earthquakes, high winds, etc. In most cases agricultural buildings are constructed with a steel gauge no higher than 29.

26 gauge steel is the industry standard for most light commercial and residential applications, and 24 gauge is steel is also common for standing seam panels and buildings that will experience high wind or snow loads.

It is important to keep all this in mind when comparing metal roof prices, because two roofs that look the same may have completely different thicknesses of metal.

In many cases, a 29-gauge ribbed panel, with a high wind rating, may be more than sufficient for your purposes and that difference in gauge – between 26 and 29 – can save you thousands of dollars.

There are instances where thicker gauges always earn their keep. The most common of these is the post-frame building, or pole barn: an open-framed structure used for barns, garages and warehouses. Post-frame buildings generally lack structural sheathing, so the roof and wall panels must span between the supporting trusses or purlins. 

Because 24- or 26-gauge sheeting is thicker, and will, therefore, remain more structurally sound over a longer span than a 29-gauge, the building needs fewer supports, which saves money. For post-frame structures like this, it is important for you to consider the potential snow load the roof may need to support when choosing the metal panel gauge.

About Metal Sales

Metal Sales Manufacturing Corporation is the premier nationwide provider of metal panels for the construction industry. Metal Sales works with architectural specifiers and commercial construction professionals to create inspirational design solutions. With the industry’s largest and most knowledgeable sales and technical support team, Metal Sales has the expertise to address today’s challenges in high-performance, sustainable and Net-Zero building. Metal Sales has outreach around the world. Delivering outstanding roof, wall and fascia metal panels from its 21 facilities throughout the U.S.

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