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How to Cut Metal Roofing

Installing a metal roof requires you to tailor fit the metal sheets to all roof surfaces and edges. You will need to know how to cut metal roofing in a number of ways. The job involves short and long cuts and some specialty cuts, such as making a hole for a roof vent.

Cutting metal produces metal shards and dust that will be very dangerous for your eyes. Eye protection is essential when you are learning how to cut metal roofing. Freshly cut metal edges can cut you easily. You should wear work gloves as well as pants and a long-sleeved shirt made of durable material.

How to Cut Metal Roofing Step by Step

  1. Set up a workbench or table that you can lay the metal sheets across.
  2. Gather dimensional measurements of your roof to determine where to cut your metal sheets.
  3. Measure and mark carefully where to cut on the underside of the metal sheets. Working on the underside with a saw or snips is easier.
  4. Position the carpenter’s square snugly against the metal’s edge and align it with the mark.
  5. Make a straight line across the metal sheet following the edge of the carpenter’s square.
  6. If cutting a single sheet or making a short cut, hand cutting with tin snips is appropriate.
  7. Clamp the metal sheet to the work table.
  8. Put on your goggles and work gloves and select the correct tin snips for the job.
    1. Yellow-handled tin snips cut straight lines.
    2. Red-handled tin snips are left handed and used for counterclockwise cuts.
    3. Green-handled tin snips are right handed and used for clockwise cuts.
  9. Work slowly with the tin snips and follow the line carefully to complete a precise cut.
  10. When you’re learning how to cut metal roofing you may need to cut holes in a panel for a vent.
  11. To cut inside a panel, start a pilot hole with a drill fitted with a 1/2-inch metal cutting bit.
  12. Drill in the center of the area to be cut out.
  13. Insert the tip of one of the tin snip blades into the hole.
  14. Snip through the metal until you reach your cut lines.
  15. Cut out the circle with either the red or green-handed tin snips.
  16. For longer, straight cuts, you could use power shears instead of tin snips. This tool is electric or pneumatic and is easier on your hands than tin snips.
  17. Align the shears with your cut mark.
  18. Press the trigger.
  19. Proceed slowly and deliberately to keep the power shears lined up with the cut mark.
  20. To cut multiple sheets at once, a circular saw will produce fast results.
  21. Stack your sheets and clamp them securely.
  22. Double check that you want to cut them all the same length.
  23. Wear safety goggles, dust mask, and ear plugs.
  24. Fit the circular saw with a steel-tooth or carbide-tooth blade capable of cutting metal.
  25. Line up the saw with the cut mark.
  26. Press the trigger and bring the blade into contact with the metal sheets.
  27. Proceed down the cut mark with the saw.

Tools & Materials

  • Safety goggles
  • Work gloves
  • Dust mask
  • Workbench or other flat surface
  • Measuring tape
  • Permanent marker
  • Clamps
  • Carpenter's square
  • Tin snips
  • Circular saw
  • Power drill
  • Power shears

Get Help From the Expert Roofers at PJ Fitzpatrick

As you can see, learning how to cut metal roofing will involve several tools depending on the cut needed. Precision cuts are crucial for connecting roof panels tightly to the roof surface. The demanding climate of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Delaware requires perfection when attaching any roofing material. The roofers at PJ Fitzpatrick have been trusted by homeowners throughout the area for more than 40 years. If you need to install a new roof, contact us for a roof estimate.

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