Feature image submitted by Igor Akhmatov of IG Great Exteriors

How do I choose the right hand seamer for standing seam metal roofing?

Ask These Questions

Standing seam stagesQ. What is my mechanically locked profile height and width?
A: Your first stage hand seamer needs to be able to fit over top the profile width in order to complete a 90° lock. Seam heights of 1″ & 1.5″ are common for residential standing seam installations and are often paired with a top seam width of 1/2″ (see picture below).  In this case, your first stage locking tool needs to be made for 1/2″ widths. The 2nd stage seamer will correlate dimensionally with your first stage seamer. While 1/2″ is the common size for seam widths, other sizes include 9/16″, 5/8″, 11/16″, 3/4″, 13/16″, & 7/8″ (Various width seamers)

Q. What material & thickness am I bending?
A. The type and thickness of the material you are working with should be taken into consideration when  selecting a seamer.  Steel is going to be tougher to bend than softer metals such as copper or zinc. Most hand seamers have a limitation of 24 gauge steel, .040 aluminum, or 20 oz copper. If you try to bend thicker, either the metal won’t bend, or the tool will.

Q. Does my material have a painted finish?
A. The fact of the matter is that it’s incredibly difficult not to leave scratch marks on Kynar finishes when using a hand tool. Many roofers are either putting some preventive tape of are using the advent of the PVC inserts.  The Biegetec seamer is the newest to hit the metal roofing market has received much praise over its ability to protect painted finishes by using PVC insets.

Q. Do I have a power seamer or am I closing the entire roof by hand?
A. If you have a power seamer, you wont be as concerned about scratches from your hand closing tool and will want a tool to make quick 8″ crimps.  Some power seamers will require the user to single lock over every concealed clip that is securing the metal to the roof.  Be sure to read a power seamers instructions closely to be sure you are installing the panels correctly.

If you are closing an entire roof by hand, you need to consider how much you are seaming and the position you will be doing so in. There are hand seamers that have telescopic handles to make closing on low pitches easier on the back. Assessing the speed and ease of use should be a top priority when closing all panels by hand.

First & Second Stage Seamers


Close up of first and second stage seam

Strength – ★★★★★ – ESE is a manufacturer made up of engineers who understand tool design with regards to leverage and fulcrum points. These tools will close 24 gauge steel without any stress.
Speed – ★★★★ –  Highly recommended for starting a seam for a power seamer or doing a small section. If you are in the position of doing an entire 20 ft length with these, the clasp on the 099 (finishing tool) will slow you down a bit. It must be opened and moved while moving down the seam. With practice you will get efficient, but this lock must be down to avoid the tool rising up.

ESE099 2nd Stage Hand Seamer

Paint Scratching – ★★★★ – The first stage seamer is a beautiful tool for not making any marks. If you are not careful with the clasp on the 2nd stage, you could end up leaving little marks across the top.
Affordability – ★★★★- The first stage seamer is the best first stage seamer on the market. The classic even has the option of removing the handle for tight spaces. The 2nd stage seamer comes in appropriately priced for functionality.


Strength – ★★★ – The RAU tools are an industry standard in Europe where they work with more aluminum, zinc, and copper (softer material). There is not nearly as much 24 gauge steel there so these tools are not meant for thicker materials.
Speed – ★★★★ – The tools will finish seams in a comfortable position which allows for quick movement up and down the seam. It’s especially useful to have the stand up model when doing large runs as you can quickly move up or down the seam.
Paint Scratching – ★★★ – Many roofers find that adding a layer of duct tape is helpful for not scratching panels. Generally when working on 24 gauge, these tools are going to need to be used to their max pressure, which will leave marks if not closed perfectly.
Affordability – ★★★ – The European tools get a bit of a price bump due to the nature of importation charges.


Strength – ★★★ – These have the same strength issues as the RAU above. If you are trying to close 24 gauge steel, these are not the seamers for you
Speed – ★★★★ – Made in very similar fashion to the RAU tools
Paint Scratching – ★★★ – Fine with copper and zinc but will have the same scratching issues with 24 gauge painted steel
Affordability – ★★★★★ – These tools are going to be the cheapest combination of the two seamers

biegetec seamer

The Biegetec seamer can complete the finish seam on up to 24 gauge metal


Strength – ★★★★ – The handles were made longer on this tool than the RAU which adds leverage. This gives the tool the ability to close 24 gauge.
Speed – ★★★★ – It depends on how you look at this tool. This will be an effective means of closing first and second stage profiles in one tool. However, you only have one tool.
Scratching Paint – ★★★★★ – The PVC insets are a major improvement to closing steel without leaving marks. The longevity of the insets will last about 2 months if used every day until they need to be replaced.
Affordability – ★★★★- This tool is priced appropriately for the ability to do the first and second stage. The insets will also have to be replaced to add to the cost. For one tool though, this is an economic means of closing the seams.

Power Seamers

This post would be incomplete without mentioning power seamers and the role hand seamers play. The majority of larger commercial jobs will use a power seamer to run long lengths of panels. Therefore you only need a hand seamer to close 6-8 inches. For these jobs, the ESE tools make sense as they provide the strength for 24 gauge steel. For guys who are doing smaller sections of residences in softer materials, the European products are efficient and quick. Choosing the right seamer depends a lot on your job. And remember to buy the right size for your profile!

Below is our selection of power seamers. Each seamer is provided by a reputable manufacturer and has their own features. Feel free to give us a call with any questions.