Getting Started with Metal Roofing

Getting Started With Diy Metal Roofing

Learn the basics of metal roofing – products, tools, and terminology.

Begin with the Type of Metal Roofing

Metal roofing can be broken into 2 main categories: panel and decorative.


Tuff-Rib PanelA metal roofing system is labeled a panel if it comes in long sheets and has ribs: raised portions of the panel that provide strength and rigidity. Typically, panels run continuously from the peak all the way down the gutter, though they are sometimes installed in multiple rows.


Astonwood Shake PanelA metal roofing system is considered decorative if it is stamped to provide the appearance of another product such as shingles, shakes, slate, or tile. These are typically smaller sections that are installed in rows and staggered as you go up the roof. Less commonly, some types may be in longer “panel” sections.

Panel – Through Fastened and Standing Seam

Metal Roof Panel Category TypesThrough fastened systems install the fastest of any metal roofing – fastened with long-lasting screws that are: painted to match, have a neoprene rubber seal, and a metal cap that protects that seal from the sun’s UV rays.

Typically, through fastened panels come 2’ to 3’ wide by 3’ to 45’ long. They can be installed on everything from residential applications to agricultural and commercial applications.

Finish options include baked-on enamel paint, a mill finish Galvalume, or in some cases, mill finish galvanized.

Standing seam systems take a bit longer – they are fastened via hidden clips or a hidden side flange. Most systems snap-lock together, but a few commercial options require a mechanical seamer to tighten the seams. The lack of exposed fasteners is both a benefit visually and functionally – standing seam systems can last 100 years and upwards if repainted at about the 50-year mark.

Finish options are similar to through fastened panels, though high-end Kynar® paints are available in heavier gauge options.

Decorative – Shingles, Shakes, Slate, Tile

Metal Roof Decorative Category TypesDecorative metal roofing is easily split into painted shingle sized, stone coated shingle sized, larger metal tile panel sized, and galvalume historic shingles.

Painted shingle size systems are made from G-90 galvanized steel that is then primed and painted with a high-end Kynar® paint finish. These systems interlock on all 4 sides and can be stamped to look like shingles, shakes, slate, flat tile, and barrel tile. Hidden fasteners ensure a permanent seal.

Stone-coated shingle size systems are made from galvalume coated steel that then has a base coat, stone granules, and a clear overcoat added. These systems overlap right and left, overlap or interlock top and bottom, and can be stamped to look like shingles, shakes, slate, flat tile, and barrel tile. Fasteners are either hidden or fastened into the vertical leg of the panel nose, thus outside primary water draining areas.

Larger metal tile panels are made from G-90 galvanized steel that is then primed and painted with a high-end Kynar® paint finish. Peak to gutter lengths are possible in many situations, eliminating vertical overlaps. Horizontally, panels are lapped similarly to standard panels. These panels are fastened with long-lasting screws that are: painted to match, have a neoprene rubber seal, and a metal cap that protects that seal from the sun’s UV rays.

Galvalume historic shingles are in a category all their own. These Victorian-era metal shingles are stamped in very small shingles designed to replicate those popular in the 1880s through the 1920s. Water-shedding, not water-tight, these systems require a full peel & stick underlayment be installed prior to panels. Panels overlap at top and bottom, and have a hidden fastener interlocking design right and left.

Move to the Roof

Regardless of the type of metal roofing you go with, you need to understand what a roof is, and its purpose.

A roof is the uppermost portion of a building, sheds water, and typically receives the heaviest portion of abuse from outside elements. For this reason, the primary purpose of a roofing system is to protect your home from these elements. Elements that affect roofs include rain, sleet, snow, hail, wind and wind-driven objects, heat from the sun, and wind-carried sparks/embers.

Another purpose of a roof is to add value and beauty to the structure – a roof is a crucial design element that ties all the others together. The right roof can, as one homeowner put it “make a $250,000 home look like a $500,000 home.” With today’s photo and drone happy real estate market, the right roof truly makes the house.

Trim Components

Metal Roof Panel Trim LocationsBefore you consider installing your own roof, you also need to know the sections or components that make up a roof.

Aside from the field of the roof, where panels or shingles are installed, each boundary of a roof area has a name, and typically, a flashing that is installed at that location.

Becoming familiar with these boundaries will help you be more prepared to obtain a quote on materials, and more prepared to DIY!


Metal Roof Decorative Trim LocationRegardless of the type of roofing: metal, asphalt, clay tile, or other; each area of the roof has a name that is consistent. Even before roofing material is installed that area of the deck still carries the same label.

Here are some common roof areas:

  1. Ridge – Upper ends of two roof sections meet. Often referred to as a peak or top cap.
  2. Hip – Upper ends of two roof sections meet at a diagonal (typically 45 degree) angle. Often uses the same trim cap as a ridge.
  3. Eave – Lower end of roof section terminates and goes down a wall or fascia. Often referred to as the gutter edge or drip edge.
  4. Gable/Rake – Side of roof section terminates and goes down a wall or fascia.
  5. Valley – Lower ends of two roof sections meet at a diagonal (typically 45 degree) angle. Water draining area that requires trim be lapped more than is typical.
  6. Sidewall – Side of roof section terminates and goes up a wall.
  7. Endwall – Upper end of roof section terminates and goes up a wall. Often referred to as headwall.
  8. Transition – Lower end of steeper sloped roof section transitions into the upper end of a shallower sloped roof section. Often referred to as pitch break.
  9. Gambrel – Lower end of shallower sloped roof transitions into the upper end of a steeper sloped roof section. Typical on gambrel barns.
  10. Low Wall – Lower end of roof terminates and goes up a chimney, skylight, or wall. Often referred to as upper chimney if at an acute angle or upper skylight if at a 90-degree angle.
  11. High Side – Upper end of roof section terminates and goes down a wall or fascia. Often referred to as high side peak, one slope peak, or monoslope peak.
  12. Flying Gable – Angled side of roof terminates and goes down a wall or fascia. Often referred to as flared gable, flared rake, prow gable, flying rafter or angled gable.

Typically, the name of the roof flashing used will be the same or similar to the name of that roof area.

Roof Penetrations & Attachments

Metal Roof Penetrations and AttachmentsNearly every roof has at least 1 penetration: a vent pipe for a bathroom. Many other types of penetrations and attachments exist including:

  1. Vent Pipe
  2. Round Exhaust Vent
  3. Square or Rectangular Exhaust Vent
  4. Electrical Conduit Pipe
  5. Turbine Vent
  6. Chimney – Rectangular or Round
  7. Skylight – Rectangular or Tubular
  8. Satellite Dish
  9. Snow Rail
  10. Snow Guard
  11. Solar Panel
  12. Cupola
  13. Lightning Rod

And some most often found on commercial roofs:

  1. HVAC Curb
  2. Roof Hatch
  3. Walking Platform
  4. Steeple
  5. Mounted Sign
  6. Internal Gutter Drain
  7. Permanent Roof Anchor

While the list might seem exhausting, most roofs have only a couple of types of penetrations/attachments.

Penetrations can usually be broken down into two categories: round and rectangular. Round penetrations are usually sealed with pipe flashing. Rectangular penetrations are often sealed with metal flashings, though for smaller penetrations sometimes square base pipe flashing can be used. On extremely low slope roofs, curbs may be built around skylights and other rectangular penetrations

Regardless of the penetration type, rely on the flashing as your primary weather protection – tube and butyl sealants should be secondary protection. Avoid filling large gaps with sealant – do it right using the right flashing for the specific penetration.

Don’t Forget Tools

From safety to installation, the right tools make the job.

Roof Safety

Metal Roof Safety GearConsider safety in everything you do – from clothing and fall protection, to when and where you work on your roof:

Primary Gear

  1. Fall Protection Kit (Harness, Rope, Adjustable Lanyard, and Roof Anchor)
  2. Ladder and Ladder Anchor
  3. Soft Soled Shoes or SteelWalker Magnetic Boots
  4. Cut Resistant Gloves
  5. Long Sleeves or Cut Resistant Arm Guards
  6. Shatter Resistant Eye Protection

Other Possible Gear

  1. Hook Chicken Ladder
  2. Johnny Jack Roof Jack – Metal Shingles, Shakes, Slate

When and Where

  1. When Dry – Avoid Wet or Dew-Covered Roofs
  2. When Visibility is Good – Don’t Try Working in the Dark
  3. Where Safe – Until Fall Protection is in Place – Stay on the Ladder as Much as Possible
  4. Where Necessary – Avoid Roof Edges When Possible

Be prepared before you get on the roof – learn about the right gear and how to use it. The right fall protection could save your life.

Other Tools

Metal Roof Cutting ToolsAfter you’ve ensured your safety, move on to some other tools to consider:

Measure & Estimate

  1. Measuring Tape
  2. Pencil, Paper (Graph Paper or Standard), Ruler
  3. Pitch Gauge App for Android or iPhone
  4. Google Maps to Help Determine Roof Shape
  5. Quote Sheet
  6. Quote and Order Checklist
  7. Scratch Awl or other Sharp Marking Device


  1. Cordless Drill
  2. Hammer
  3. Circular Saw
  4. Chalk Line with Blue Chalk
  5. Retractable Box Cutters
  6. Caulk Gun
  7. Level
  8. Tool Belt
  9. Magnetic Wristband
  10. Shingle Tear-Off Shovel

Bend & Hem

  1. Hand Seamers – All Profiles
  2. Turn-Up Tool – Many Through Fastened Panels – Optional
  3. Hemming/Folding Tool – Standing Seam
  4. Stone Coat Top and Bottom Bender – Some Stone Coated Profiles
  5. Trim Brake – Usually Not Required Unless On-Site Trim Production Required

Cut & Shear

  1. TurboShear HD Drill Attachment
  2. Long Cut Snips
  3. Right and Left Snips
  4. Hand Notchers – Standing Seam
  5. Metal Shingle Shear – Metal Shingles, Shakes, Slate

Punch & Fasten

  1. 1/8” Drill Bit – Panels
  2. Magnetic Driver Bits – Many Products
  3. Hole Punch – Standing Seam
  4. Pop Rivet Gun – Standing Seam


  1. Knee Pads
  2. Foam Cushion


  1. Soft Bristle Brush
  2. Water Hose
  3. Magnetic Sweeper

This is the exhaustive list – some tools are specific to certain types of metal roofing. On simpler projects, often the list of needed tools is much shorter.

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