Metal roofing is known for being lightweight yet durable, but if you’re doing DIY roof installation you’ll probably be disappointed that the metal sheets for your roof will have to be cut to size so that they can fit your roof properly.
Luckily, this doesn’t have to be a difficult or time-consuming task.
What tool is best for cutting metal?
There are a variety of tools to use when you want to cut metal roofing, such as nibblers, snips, and saws. But which one is best?
Which one will get the job done faster and with less effort?
Here’s what you need to know about cutting metal for a roof.
How To Cut Metal Roofing The Easy Way
First, measure the metal roofing
Before you start cutting metal roofing, you have to estimate how much you’ll need. You can do this by measuring the width and length of every section of your roof. Divide the estimate of the roof size by the average size of the metal sheets so you can figure out how many sheets you will need for your roof.
Here’s an example: If you have a roof that’s 21 feet by 10 feet, you will have 210 square feet of space that needs to be covered with metal roofing. Then, divide the number by an 18 square feet sheet, which will give you an estimate of 12 sheets that you will need.
Check and recheck your measurements so that you ensure there won’t be any gaps or cracks in the roofing.
Place the sheets on a flat surface
Once you have your metal sheets, place them on a stable, flat surface. Make sure that they’re turned around so that their underside, which is flatter, is facing upwards. This makes it easier to cut the metal. Having the metal on a flat surface will also prevent it from slipping, which could risk injuries.
Get the right cutting tools
The tools you should use to easily cut through metal roofing depend on the type of cutting you’re doing. Let’s explore all the best metal-cutting tools.
If you are making short, swift cuts in the metal, use tin snips. You will basically use them in the same way that you would use scissors.
They come in different types, such as plain snips if you need to cut straight lines, left-handed snips for cutting in a counterclockwise direction to remove metal from your left, and right-handed snips for cutting clockwise to remove metal from your right.
Tin snips are the most cost-effective way of cutting through metal roofing.
Tin snips are easy to control so you can follow the cutting line.
It’s good to use them if you need to trim some of the metal roofing after it’s been installed.
It can take time to cut metal roofing with tin snips.
If you’re cutting more than 0.75 inches off the metal, it can be difficult to do with tin snips, unless the off-cut is large enough to hold and bend out of the way.
If you have to cut straight cuts, you will do well to get some power shears. These can be pneumatic or electric shears that will ensure you can cut the metal faster and give you better, more professional quality.
They’re easy to use because you just hold them where you need to cut the metal, press the trigger, and control the blade so you can direct where it goes.
Shears can quickly and easily cut straight lines in metal without a hassle.
They’re useful for cutting metal roofing that’s hidden underneath flashing or a ridge.
Shears can’t cut around corners very well, which makes it difficult if you need to do anything other than a straight cut.
If you want to make precise, straight cuts in the metal roofing, you need to own a nibbler. This is the easiest tool to work with because it will enable you to cut straight through the metal the first time around. If you have a manual nibbler, you just have to point its tooth in the direction you want to cut and squeeze its handles.
A nibbler is easy to use, even in difficult-to-reach areas.
It’s a tool that works quickly, saving you time.
If you have to cut extremely fine lines, a nibbler is not the best tool.
Now, you can also use a circular saw if you have to cut sheets of metal roofing. This will enable you to cut through more than one metal sheet at a time. Just make sure you wear earplugs so that you protect your hearing because this saw is loud!
It’s also important to fit a metal-cutting blade on your saw. You want an abrasive and spiky blade, such as a steel-tooth blade. You must check that the blade is suitable for cutting sheet metal to be sure that you’ve got the right blade for your requirements.
When you’ve marked where to cut your metal, you should set the saw so that it’s right at the edge of it. Approach it at the right angle, but keep your hands secured on the saw’s guard at all times. This saw will work quickly and efficiently, but you must hold the saw gently to control it and keep it in the correct position.
A metal-cutting circular saw is easy to use.
Since it’s made for metal, it provides more protection against sparks and shards flying off the metal than other tools.
It can be a bit slower than other tools.
Should You Use A Variety Of Tools To Cut Through Metal Roofing?
It’s a good idea to have different tools to cut your metal roofing, such as shears for making straight cuts, snips for trimming off excess pieces, and saws or nibblers for most of the cutting work.
This will give you everything you need to get roofing that’s cut professionally.
Should You Use An Angle Grinder To Cut Metal Roofing?
If you own an angle grinder, you might wonder if you can use it to cut through metal roofing. This is actually a bad idea. An angle grinder is too powerful to cut through the thin metal layers, unless you need to cut through tough steel.
This tool is abrasive and also produces a lot of heat which will damage the coatings of the metal, decreasing its lifespan.
When you use an angle grinder, you need to bear in mind that it can produce sparks because of the friction, which can also make it more difficult to cut accurately with it. This is also why it can damage the metal’s paint finish.
An angle grinder causes vibrations so you need to be careful when using it for long periods of time as it can cause health problems, such as Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS).
This is when you damage the blood vessels, joints, and nerves of the hand after working with hand-held or hand-guided power tools for longer than a few hours every day.
What Are The Benefits Of Metal Roofing?
If you’re considering installing metal roofing, you should – it comes with many advantages. These include the following:
Steel and other types of metal roofing are resistant to fire, mold, and mildew.
Metal is light to handle, which makes installing a metal roof easy.
Metal roofs can handle winds of up to 140 miles per hour without suffering any damage, such as in the form of cracks.
How should you protect yourself when cutting metal roofing?
Cutting metal releases dust and fragments that can be harmful, so wear a long-sleeved shirt, long pants, a face mask, and eye protection glasses.
Should you treat cut ends of steel sheets?
These cut ends should be painted or primed to protect the metal against the harsh elements.
If you need to cut metal roofing yourself, you will need to get your hands on the right tools. In this guide, we’ve looked at how to cut metal roofing the easy way, featuring the tools you need and which ones will ensure you can get the job done faster.
We’ve also looked at some extra tips you should know so that you cut metal roofing in such a way that you preserve the metal while achieving a professional result.
James Weldon is a professional roofing contractor with many years of experience on the job. He does not only handle large projects and provide excellent services for his company’s many clients; James Weldon also dedicates his spare time to teaching others useful tricks of the trade. Using BuildCampus as an avenue to reach many roofers and aspiring roofing contractors, James Weldon continues to provide high-quality educational posts and buying recommendations for anyone who visits the website.