Make your roof the shiny new toy on the block with this DIY guide
There are plenty of reasons homeowners go with metal roofing, including energy efficiency, durability, and cost. If you’re an avid DIYer with the right tools and prior roofing experience, installing a metal roof is something you can do yourself. But any roofing job is complex and comes with its own set of risks, so it’s important to know everything about the project. This guide covers how to install metal roofing, what to know beforehand, and when to call a pro.
Why Should I Install Metal Roofing?
Let’s explore the reasons you may want to install a metal roof.
Improved Energy Efficiency
One of the benefits of metal roofing is that it doesn’t absorb heat, but reflects the sun’s UV and infrared light rays away from your home. And because of this property, metal roofing can keep your home at least 10% cooler, thus making it a more energy-efficient roofing option.
On average, a properly installed and well-maintained metal roof can last 40 to 70 years. While on the other hand, asphalt shingles last 20 to 50 years.
There are multiple metal roofing materials, each with its style, painting potential, and natural colors. A metal roof allows you to choose the best style for your home without sacrificing functionality.
Initially, metal roofing costs more than shingles. But because of its energy-saving capabilities and longer lifespan, homeowners reap the cost-saving benefits of this roofing material over the long term.
If you get a Class 4 metal roof—which many metal roofs are—you can often get a discount on your insurance premium. Just be careful and what your actual coverage is if you elect to go this route, as some insurance companies then consider hail damage to be cosmetic.
Metal Roofing Considerations
While there are several benefits to installing a metal roof, there are some drawbacks to consider.
While metal roofs generally last longer than shingle roofs, manufacturer warranties are often less.
Metal roofs often block cell phone reception.
Poorly installed metal roofs are difficult to repair.
Metal roofs cost more than many other common roof types.
Many insurance companies won't pay to replace metal roofs when damaged.
How Much Does It Cost to Install Metal Roofing?
The cost to install a metal roof is $5,700 to $16,200. However, the total cost will depend on the type of metal you want installed, the size of your roof, style, and permits. Experienced homeowners can save $3,000 or more on labor fees if they DIY this project.
How to Prep for Metal Roof Installation
Unless you have a professional team helping you install your metal roof, this isn’t a project you’ll likely finish in one day. But, to help you start this project with a solid foundation, here’s how to prepare for it.
Decide on the Material You Want to Use
You can choose metal roofing materials, such as copper, aluminum, zinc, and steel. Each type has its pros, cons, and styles that you’ll need to consider as you prepare to install your new roof. There are two major types of metal roofs: screw-down and standing-seam. For the purpose of this article, we’ll focus on installing a screw-down metal roof, as it’s a much more feasible DIY option.
Take Measurements of Your Roof
You’ll need to know exactly how much material you’ll need for your roof, which means you’ll need to take its measurements. And you’ll need them to be accurate because there’s nothing worse than removing your existing roof only to find out that you don’t have enough material.
Purchase Your Material and Supplies
Once you’ve measured (and measured again) the accurate square footage of your roof, you can purchase your material and add 10% for waste.
Here are a few tools and supplies you’ll need:
Metal roofing panels or shingles
100% silicone caulk
Roofing sealant tape
Solid or vented closure strips
Roofing nails or fasteners
Check for Permits
You’ll also need to look into any permits you might need to get before you start this project. Check your local and state building codes to see if one is required for your metal roofing project. If you live in an HOA, ask whether metal roofs are allowed.
How to Install Metal Roofing
1. Take Measurements
The first step when installing your metal roof is to take its measurements. Here’s how to take your roof’s measurements:
Measure the roof’s ridge to its eave to get the length. Then measure your roof from eave to eave for its width.
To find the area of your roof's square and rectangle sides, multiply its length times its height.
To get a trapezoid’s area, measure the top and the bottom base, add them together, multiply it by the height of your roof, and divide it by two.
If you have overlapping areas common in homes with more complex designs, subtract those from your main roof’s total area.
You’ll also need to measure your roof’s pitch, which is its vertical rise over its horizontal run over 12 inches. For example, if your roof rises eight inches every 12 inches, then your roof’s pitch is eight-by-twelve. You can download a free app that lets you lay your phone on the roof to tell you its pitch.
You’ll repeat this process until you have the square footage of each side of your roof, also measuring and calculating the square footage of vents, skylights, and dormers you have as well. You’ll add all these square footage to get your roof’s total square footage. Finally, add 10% to the total number for waste.
“It's best to draw a bird's eye view of your roof and notate the length of the panels you will need so that you don't have a seam in the middle of the roof,” says Ami Feller, Expert Review Board member and owner of Roofer Chicks in New Braunfels, TX. “You can actually purchase an aerial image of your roof online—there are multiple vendors that sell them. If you order a panel that is just a few inches too short, it can be an expensive error to correct.”
2. Put on Your Protective Gear
After your metal roofing material has arrived and you have all the tools and supplies you need to start this project, put on your safety goggles, gloves, shoes, and fall protection equipment like a safety harness. And before climbing onto your roof, you’ll want to ensure that your ladder is secure.
3. Remove Your Existing Roof
Starting at the top, use a tear-off shovel to remove your existing roofing, flashing, vents, and underlayment. Also, use a hammer to remove or hammer in any nails left behind. If the weather forecast predicts rain within the next few days, hold off on removing your roofing material. You need at least one day of clear weather after starting this project.
4. Check for and Repair Damages
Now that your sheathing is exposed check for any structural damages and make the necessary repairs. To check for these damages, look for rotten, moldy, or signs of either on your plywood. Examine the studs for excessive rotting in areas where the plywood needs to be replaced. Typically, studs that have rotten will need sistering, fastening a second beam to the rotten one for additional structural support.
When checking for and making these repairs, be careful not to walk on the rotten boards to avoid them collapsing under the additional weight. Also, after removing the plywood, be mindful of walking near that open portion of your roof and hammering in any exposed nails for a safer and easier repair.
5. Install the Underlayment
Make sure your surface is smooth and dry; if it is, install the underlayment according to the manufacturer’s instructions. They’ll tell you what type to buy, allowing it to expand and contract based on the temperature. When installing it, take your time to avoid ripping and wrinkling it, use a staple gun or nails to install, and allow a three-inch overlap at the top and bottom as needed.
“Be careful what fasteners you use on your underlayment—they can push through the metal and leave an imprint in the metal when it's installed, especially if someone steps on it,” Feller says.
6. Add Drip Edges
You’ll need to install drip edges on your roof’s eaves and rakes, which we’ll break down for you here:
Starting at a corner, install the drip edge, allowing for a one-inch overhang on the edge. Use a carpenter’s pencil to mark where you’ll need to cut and bend your drip edges.
Cut the drip edge based on its instructions using tin snips, then bend it around the edge using a hand seamer.
Fasten it to your roof using one-inch roofing nails.
When overlapping drip edges, you’ll need to splice them together by gently prying the hem of your overlapping edge with a screwdriver (the edge that’s already secured on your roof).
Then make a three-inch angled cut to the underlapping edge, leaving a one-eighth-inch kick out; apply sealant, using a caulk gun, where the edges will overlap, and slide it into place.
Fasten your drip edge by placing screws eight inches from each end for every drip edge and twelve inches apart on the center.
If you have gutters, use narrow drip edges and ensure that the gutters are installed below the drip edge. The gutter should slide behind and under the drip edge, so that water cannot flow behind the gutter.
Place self-adhesive underlayment on top of the drip edge one inch from the edge, smoothing it out and removing the backing as you go.
7. Add Valley Flashing
If you have valleys on your roof, adhere to the manufacturer’s instructions on installing valley flashing before panel installation. Let’s look at what a typical installation would cover:
Account for one-inch overhang, 12-inch overlaps between flashings, and three inches for ridge area.
Start valley installation at your roof’s eave and draw a line underneath the flashing to show where the valley meets with the roof's edge.
Cut along the outline of your marking, stopping at the valley’s seam.
Measure two inches down at the seam from the top of your cut in the previous step.
Draw a line across your valley’s flap and cut it.
Mark a 90-degree line on both sides of the seam and cut the seam until you reach this line.
Cut away the excess flaps.
Then cut the seam’s left flap at a 45-degree angle, trimming as needed, then using a hammer to tap the flap inward gently.
Tap the right flap inward, removing excess material to allow it to fold neatly. Once finished, you should have a perfect triangle that covers the valley’s seam.
For the ridge side of the valley, place it down and trace where the ridge’s edge meets the valley.
Measure the height of your valley’s seam, then mark its center based on its height.
Draw a line to connect your seam’s corners to the center. Then draw another line from the center to the middle of your height mark. This area should look like a triangle with a line through its middle.
Draw a parallel line three inches from the line in step 10.
Use a protractor to draw a 90-degree line from the valley’s seam to the three-inch parallel line on both sides.
From the line you drew, mark an x on the outside and inside of the seam. This should be below the triangle.
Cut this area, the three-inch parallel area, and a straight line down the center seam.
Fold the flaps based on your roof’s pitch.
Repeat steps eight and nine.
Position your valley for installation, applying sealant one inch from the eave’s edge and cutting off its sharp edges.
Use fasteners to secure your flashing twelve inches apart.
Mark twelve inches for overlap, applying silicone at least one inch below the overlap markings, then securing it with the fasteners.
8. Install Panels
Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and local building codes when installing your metal roofing panels or shingles. If you need to cut your panels to size, use a circular saw with a compatible blade.
You want to ensure that you’re following their instructions to minimize the chance of voiding your warranty and to avoid violating building codes. Your roofing material should overlap the edge by at least half an inch to one inch. Start your installation at the point with the longest distance from the peak of your roof to the eave. Another point worth noting is that you should install your panels while working square (or 90 degrees to the eave.)
Between each panel, have an inch overlap, and use a bead of 100% silicone caulk or roofing sealant tape underneath the short edge of the adjacent panel. When fastening, start from the bottom, then work your way up towards the ridge, always being mindful not to overtighten them.
“If you are installing corrugated roofing, I would highly recommend overlapping the material by two profile ridges and not just one,” says Feller.
9. Install Gable Flashing
After installing your metal roof panels, follow the manufacturer’s instructions on installing the gable flashing for your roof and material type. Here’s a basic breakdown of what that installation might look like:
Use your carpenter’s pencil to mark where the gable meets the eave and account for a one-inch overhang.
Cut your marked lines and fold in your gable.
Apply sealant tape along the flashing flange.
Fasten gable with screws, 16-inches apart.
Like installing drip edge, lap and seal the gable flashing.
Fasten it with screws 24-inches apart on its outward-facing side.
10. Place Ridge Caps
Once you finish installing all the panels; next, you need to install the ridge caps. Depending on your home’s ventilation system, you’ll need to install closure strips along the ridge with solid or vented closures. First, place sealant tape on the ridge, then the closure strip on top, followed by another layer of sealant tape. Then place the ridge cap on top of them and install and fasten the ridge caps according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Tips for Installing Metal Roofing
Installing a metal roof is a tiring process that takes a few days. So, to help make this task more manageable (and safer) for you, here are a few tips:
Take your time during installation and don’t rush.
Don’t install fasteners at an angle or overtighten them.
Install your fasteners in a straight line.
Be safe and always wear protective gear.
Check the weather before starting and hold off on installation if bad or windy weather is in the forecast.
Avoid walking on unsecured or partially secured metal panels.
Consider hiring a pro.
DIY vs. Hire a Pro
While installing a new roof is possible for experienced homeowners, this is a job better left to the pros. Roof installation takes time and energy, and it can also be dangerous if you’re not careful. In addition to that, your roof is your first line of defense against the weather, and you wouldn’t want an improper installation to cause it not to stand firm when needed. There’s also the possibility that you might void its warranty with a DIY installation.
But by hiring a local roof installer, they’ll have the skills and experience necessary to get the job done accurately. Plus, they’ll take care of any potential permits, so you don’t have to. The average cost to get a pro to install your roof is $10,700 in labor fees. Make sure your roofer is insured; some states don’t require they be licensed, but it’s good to check.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, you can add insulation under a metal roof by installing an insulation board underneath it. You can also put spray foam insulation on the underside of the roof when it's completed—but if you go this route, you shouldn’t plan to have ventilation.
Yes, installing metal roofing over your existing shingles roof is possible—but it’s not recommended. It can reduce installation time and add an extra layer of protection to your roof. However, it can:
Void your metal roofing’s warranty.
Cause moisture issues.
Cover up troublesome damage.
Go against your local building code.
Add weight to your roof.
An improperly installed metal roof can be loud when it’s raining. But metal roofing won’t be loud if it’s installed with proper decking and underlayment.