Building with a Panel-Loc Plus metal roof and siding

Panel Quality Levels

Ultra, Prime, and Standard – What’s the Real Difference?

When choosing a metal panel, be in the know

Words: Joshua Karczewski

Central States Manufacturing manufactures a variety of metal panels for residential roofing, siding, and buildings. Our panels are offered in either one quality level or up to three different quality levels to choose from (Standard, Prime, and Ultra). These quality levels allow customers to have more options when considering metal roofing and siding options for their homes. But what are the differences between Standard, Prime, and Ultra?

Since the biggest consideration for customers is not always cost and budget, the three levels take many other factors and attributes into consideration. If you are not sure which level of protection you need, Central States has taken the guesswork out of selecting the panel quality that works best for your residential roofing or siding project. Our Standard level is the economical choice and offers a thick paint layer, and a moderately robust anti-rust layer and steel core. Our Prime quality offers a thicker paint and anti-rust layer, with a more substantial steel core than the Standard level. Finally, our Ultra level features our thickest paint, anti-rust layer, and steel core. The combination of different thickness levels of paint, anti-rust, and steel core layers create the various levels of  “protections” of each specific roof or siding panel

Refer to the diagrams below for a visual representation of the differences between the three quality levels so you can make the best choice for your project:

Ultra, Prime, and Standard Quality Comparison Graphic

Ultra, Prime, and Standard Quality Comparison Graphic

A Deeper Look

As seen in the diagrams above, the Prime and Ultra levels qualify for Central States’ CentralGuard performance system. What is CentralGuard and why should it matter in the selection of a panel? CentralGuard is Central States’ specific combination of performance features that go into making the highest-quality metal panels. Available on our Prime and Ultra panels, the CentralGuard name is a guarantee to customers that you have the best protection and a lifetime paint warranty. For more cost-conscious consumers, you may consider Standard for your metal roof, which comes with a great warranty in an economical panel. Property owners are sometimes surprised to learn that upgrading their panel selection from Standard to Prime could be a very small upcharge, so it’s worth asking your contractor for CentralGuard to get the best protection and a lifetime paint warranty. Want to learn more about CentralGuard? Read the details here.

Now that you understand the CentralGuard difference, let’s quickly review the other differences between standard, prime and ultra. This helpful grid lays out the 3 qualities and how they stack up in the residential roofing offering:

Ultra, Prime, and Standard Quality Comparison Chart

Ultra, Prime, and Standard Quality Comparison Chart

Let’s talk a bit more about the steel thickness / gauge. Our thickest option, 24-gauge, may is available* on Central States’ R-Loc and M-Loc panels. The lighter 29-gauge metal roofing comes in a wide range of thickness and hardness levels – so, depending on your product selections, some 29-gauge panels are thicker or thinner than other 29-gauge panels. It’s important to note that there’s not a large difference in price for the thicker, better product, but consumers can expect to see a big difference in performance against hail and other roof impacts that could create dents. By understanding dent protection, you can dramatically improve your roof with minimal impact on your wallet.

In the metal industry, gauge defines a product’s range of thicknesses. Due to price pressures, some manufacturers have started offering the thinnest allowable metal allowed in a gauge spec. These products are still marketed as “29-gauge,” but may not perform as well as thicker 29-gauge panels. There can be up to a 40% difference in dent protection between the low and high end of a 29-gauge panel. This difference in dent protection is an important consideration when investing in a metal roof, especially if you live in an area prone to heavy storms (or maybe live by a golf course). Simply asking for a specific gauge is not enough, knowing that gauges can be thinner or thicker within each rating is an important differentiator.

Central States’ Panel-Loc Plus panel offers the widest range of options for customers to choose from in the Central States collection. With Standard, Prime, and Ultra quality levels to choose from, a customer can find  a panel that fits their needs, while enjoying the confidence and peace of mind that comes from owing a high-quality Central States metal roof, backed by a lifetime paint warranty and CentralGuard protection.

Another important performance feature to consider when choosing a panel is the “grade” of metal. Central States uses Grade 80 metal for all its 26- and 29-gauge panels. This is important because Grade 80 is a hard steel, and the combination of thickness of steel and hardness is great for metal panels that require dent resistance. This type of metal is not the best choice for every metal component however. Making trim from Grade 80 would cause tiny cracks in the metal due to the hardness of the steel, which would eventually expose the metal trim to rain and eventually rust. Therefore, since trim has lots of sharp bends, Central States uses a softer steel such as Grade 50 or 33. Many manufacturers may only carry one grade of steel due to storage constraints, cost of multiple types of products, and other factors. As a result of carrying fewer grades of material, these manufacturers could end up making panels out of soft steel that will dent, or making trim out of hard steel that will crack. Knowing the grades of material that your supplier uses is important in the decision-making process and should be considered. Central States is proud to provide a variety of products to enhance nearly any project’s need. When choosing metal, make sure to ask your supplier about the hardness of their metal panels and trim.

Want to learn more about Central States metal roofing and siding products? Please check out our solutions page for more product information. We’d love to have you as a customer!

*Ultra, 24-gauge, Horizon-Loc available from Seguin, TX and Cedar Hill, TX plants.


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