The roof is the crown of your home, and a properly installed roof is the only thing standing between you and the elements. Without it, there would be no protection against harsh weather conditions or conserving energy, leading to higher utility bills!

This is why metal roofing is a popular choice for many homeowners today, but cutting it can be tough. Metal roofs have become an increasingly more popular option in recent years because they’re durable, affordable, and come in various colors to match any home’s style.

But if you don’t know what you’re doing when it comes time to install one on your house, there’s a good chance you’ll end up wasting material or ruining your roof by cutting it incorrectly.

This article tackles the basics of how to cut metal roofing with some helpful tips and tricks that will make your job easier by telling you about:

  • The tools you will need.
  • How to prepare the materials
  • How to cut metal panels
  • Finishing and cleaning
  • And other helpful information
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The Tools You Will Need

Cutting metal roofing is not an easy process, but the right tools make it much more manageable.

  • For cutting: tin snips, electric shears or nibbler, or an angle grinder.
  • Stable workplace
  • Combination square
  • Measuring tape
  • Marker

This list is not exclusive, you can absolutely use other equipment to help ensure that your project is conducted smoothly and efficiently.

Today’s Homeowner Tips

Metal roofing is heavy, and you will need help to cut it, so having an extra person around comes in handy.

Step 1: Preparing The Materials

It is essential to prepare well before you start any work. Cutting straight lines and avoiding mistakes will be easier if you do your planning beforehand.

  1. With the proper side facing up, start placing your metal roofing on the workplace area. Make sure it is firmly fixed so that when you cut through, it does not move and starts to break apart. You can use adjustable clamps to hold it in place securely until they are ready for installation!
  2. Determine the number of panels you are going to need based on your roof measurements.
  3. Determine the size and shape of each metal panel you will need. 
  4. Use the tape measure to measure and mark the different sizes that you will have to cut.
    1. Be careful to ensure that there are no gaps left in between cuts when marking. Gaps can cause rippling or uneven edges on roofs made from steel sheeting because they bend under stress while being installed.
  5. Wear protective gear. Remember, safety first!

Step 2: Cutting The Metal Panels

Precision is critical when cutting metal roofs. Slight mistakes can cause damage to the sheet’s structure and shorten its lifespan, meaning you could end up having to spend more money on costly (and avoidable) repairs in just a few years.

Tin snips are perfect for making short cuts on soft metals.

There are two kinds: right-hand and left-hand tin snips. Right-hand tin snips are used for counterclockwise cuts that leave waste on the right side of the cut, and the left-hand does the opposite.

While tin slips are effective metal cutters, they are also slow and it is not advised that they be used on large sheets.

Electric shears are best for cutting long and wide sheets of metal. They can work on both that thin sheet and thick sheet metals.

They also cut cleanly, with a straight edge, but slow down when it comes to curved cuts due to the blades being small in size.

If you’re working with a lot of curves, use single-cut shears. While double-cut shears are best for straight cuts and thick metals.

Electric shears tend to get stuck during operation. Do not force the tool, doing so could damage both the tool and your roof. Restart your cutting on the opposite side.

Nibblers are the best tool for cutting holes, moving around corners, and making curves. In short, it is designed for specialty cuts and not for straight ones.

They can cut through thick metals without much difficulty, and you won’t need to exert that much pressure either.

Angle grinders are best used for cutting tough metal. Here, it can get the work done fast but it is not the most highly recommended tool for this project. Angle grinders can cut through any metal, but it is not safe to use here because it will likely damage the paint finish of the metal panels. 

Further, angle grinders could be highly dangerous to use as the grinder creates sparks that can ignite nearby flammable substances creating a risk for fires and explosions.

Step 3: Finishing and Cleaning

The best way to make your roof last is by keeping it clean. Rust can accumulate in the metal dust leftover from cutting, and if this isn’t cleaned up right away, it will weaken the entire structure of your roof. The strips cut off from the metal panels during initial cutting can also easily injure someone as well!

Good To Know Tips

Safety should be your top priority!

  • Use protective gear – gloves, goggles, ear protection, etc. The best way to protect yourself from sharp blades on roofs is by wearing protective clothing like work boots with steel toes and long-sleeved shirts/jackets.
  • Using the right tool – using the wrong tool depending on the desired cut-is accident-prone and doesn’t expect a high-quality job.
  • Maintain your tools – wear and tear is bound to happen with your tools. Maintaining it properly will always give you the result you want when using it.

Types of Metal Roofing:

  • Zinc
  • Galvanized steel
  • Copper
  • Aluminum

A perfect project requires a smooth and straight cut, which can be difficult to achieve on your first day with cutting. But through constant practice and patience over time, you will get there!

Final Words

You might think that cutting a roof is as easy and straightforward as slicing through butter, but the last thing you want to do is ruin your beautiful new metal crown! To ensure success with this project – which will enable us all to enjoy our roofs for years without worry of rust or weather damage – we must take every possible precaution. If you find doing all the work yourself to be tedious, then you can always order a cut roofing material which will be installed by a roofing expert.

Get a Free Roofing Estimate
Get Connected with Professional Roofers in Your Area
Editorial Contributors
avatar for Matt Greenfield

Matt Greenfield

Matt Greenfield is an experienced writer specializing in home improvement topics. He has a passion for educating and empowering homeowners to make informed decisions about their properties. Matt's writing focuses on a range of topics, including windows, flooring, HVAC, and construction materials. With a background in construction and home renovation, Matt is well-versed in the latest trends and techniques in the industry. His articles offer practical advice and expert insights that help readers tackle their home improvement projects with confidence. Whether you're a DIY enthusiast or a seasoned professional, Matt's writing is sure to provide valuable guidance and inspiration.

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