What Is the Difference Between U-Panel and R-Panel?

What Is the Difference Between U-Panel and R-Panel? post thumbnail

Choosing to install a metal roof means that you also get to choose a roofing panel for it. There are different kinds of roofing panels, and if you opt for an exposed fastener roofing panel, you’ll have to choose between a U-panel and an R-panel.

Deciding between these panels can be pretty tough, but we are here to make it an easy one for you. In this article, we will discuss each panel and the qualities that make them different from each other. Knowing this will help you decide which one is better suited for your roof.

What is U-Panel Roofing?

U-Panel metal roofing is a kind of exposed fastener system with an economical through-fastened design. It has ribs with a 36″ width and 3/4″ depth. U-Panels are popular for light commercial and industrial roofing use. Another thing they are popular for is their inexpensiveness.

It is ideal for linear panels or interior partitions in small storehouse structures. U-Panel roofing is a long-lasting, sustainable, and stable metal panel that gives property owners and architects an outstanding but flexible design that they can combine with other building materials. It also offers a wide range of energy-efficient paint systems and colors. Additionally, in comparison to R-Panel, it offers a more subdued appearance and a smaller profile.

U-Panels are available in three different thicknesses: 22-gauge, 24-gauge, and 26-gauge. The 26-gauge U-Panel makes wonderful commercial-grade steel, while you can accommodate applications that require radiused corners by crimping a curve into the other two.

What is U-Panel Roofing?

  • Heavy-duty design: U-Panels are heavy-duty and can withstand pressure and harsh weather conditions like storms and heavy rainfall. This is because they usually consist of 26 gauge steel, which is quite heavy.   
  • Low maintenance: You need little to no maintenance for U-Panels. Since you won’t have shingles or anything similar to change, there will be no need for you to get on the roof to carry out maintenance. However, to make sure water doesn’t get into the roof and cause damage, you may need to monitor the seams between panels. You can prevent leaks from occurring by installing the panels correctly.
  • It can be installed directly on the roof: Every homeowner would love to save some money on their building projects. Installing a U-Panel roof helps to achieve that. How? You can install a U-Panel roof on the shingles of an old roof directly. This not only saves you some money but also energy and time. So, if you are on a budget, you might want to opt for this option.

What is R-Panel Roofing?

R-Panel roofing is an exposed fastener metal roof made of 36″ panels with elevated ribs and flat areas between them. You can use this type of panel for different purposes, including commercial and residential. It is also popular as siding for residential structures.

R-Panel is available in a variety of metal gauges, ranging from 22 to 29 gauges. However, the most popular panel thickness is 26 gauge. In gauge numbering, the lower the number, the thicker the gauge. Hence, the 29 gauge is the thinnest, and the 22 gauge is the thickest. There is a misconception that the denser the gauge, the better and more functional it is. This isn’t true. In addition, installing heavier metal roofing with thicker gauges is usually more expensive.

Advantages of R-Panels

  • Can withstand severe weather conditions: You can rest assured that an R-panel will provide your home with the protection you desire. It has a sturdy design that can withstand harsh weather conditions without caving in. Even if it is hit by hailstones, you won’t have any worries about damage.
  • Variety of color options: This panel type is available in a variety of colors. You can choose any color you like, whether you want one that stands out from others or blends with other roofs in your location. 
  • Readily available: In situations where you have to replace your roof immediately, you can easily access R-Panels. You don’t have to go through hurdles or wait for eternity before you can get one and have your roof replaced. 

R-Panel Alternatives: R-Panel Vs. PBR-Panel

R-Panels and PBR-Panels have very similar panels with 36″ coverage. However, the PBR-Panels have a larger section that overlaps, which is absent in an R-Panel. This overlap section is called a purling bearing leg, and it makes the metal roofing stronger.

PBR-Panels have more benefits than R-Panels. They are more resistant to inclement weather because of the overlapping section, which serves as a barrier to moisture. On the other hand, R-Panels are prone to leaks due to their weaker connections. The PBR-Panels are also stronger than R-Panels as a result of the way each of the panels are connected.

When walking on a PBR panel, you don’t have to fear it buckling under your weight. However, the same can’t be said for R panels, which might give in to people’s weight during repair or installation.

PBR Panels would be a superior product for roofing. However, if you want to use the panels for a wall or metal siding, any of the two options can work. You also need to bear in mind that the difference in cost between both is usually 2 or 3%. Because the difference is negligible, many manufacturers make PBR more available, which is generally a better choice.

Differences Between R-Panels and U-Panels


Many homeowners prefer this roofing panel because of its sturdiness, ease of installation, and variety of colors. They believe that it gives them their money’s worth. 
Because they are economical, people commonly use them for commercial buildings. 
It is available in different colors, which is a huge selling point, as it gives property owners a wide range of options for their designs. It has limited options to offer you in terms of color. The options are regular and have no uniqueness.
The panel’s ribs are of equal height.
The panel has ribs that are of different heights.The panel’s ribs are of equal height.
The materials usually cost around $2 to $4.50 per square foot.Depending on the supplier, U-Panel might be about 5% cheaper than R-Panel. However, the prices are usually almost the same. 
They are easier to find, as they are always readily available in the market.Although you can also easily access them, their availability in comparison to R-Panels is lower.
The sturdy construction of R-Panels makes them highly capable of withstanding inclement weather. Even when they experience hailstorms, the damages are minimal, if there are any at all. Because of this property, they are ideal for people who don’t always want to fix their roofs. The panels are strong, but not as strong as R-Panels. 
They are easy to install. In addition, you can install them over already existing shingles.They are inexpensive and easy to install. You can also fix them on an old roof easily. 
The charge for maintenance is higher than that of U-Panels.Maintenance is inexpensive.


U-Panel Vs. R-Panel: Which Is Better?

R-Panel and U-Panel are long-lasting, inexpensive, sturdy, and resistant to wind. This makes them excellent roofing options. Now, here comes the question of which one is better. The answer is quite relative, depending on your priorities and factors like the type of structure and its location. If what you want is a panel for your house, the better choice is an R-Panel because it is very durable and offers you a wide variety of colors to choose from. In contrast, U-Panel is a better choice for commercial buildings because it is easy to install, sturdy, and low-maintenance.


R-Panels and U-Panels are great choices for various reasons. They are both functional as roofing panels and have several advantages. However, your needs and location will determine which one is best for you. If, after reading this article, you still aren’t sure which option to choose, we suggest contacting a professional roofing contractor for guidance. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between standing seam and R-Panel?

The price is one of these panels’ main differences. The standing seam metal is the most expensive metal panel, while the R-Panel is not as costly. As a matter of fact, a standing seam metal panel can cost two times the price of an R-Panel. 

What is the difference between the R-panel and the Ag panel?

AG Panel has ribs that are ¾” high, while R-Panel has ribs that are 1¼” high. The R-Panels are stronger because of their higher ribs. Another factor influencing the difference in strength is the gauge size. 26 gauge is the standard size for R-Panels, while that of AG Panel is 29 gauge. 

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