No matter if you’re going to replace an existing roof or add a roof to a new building, metal roofing can be a great choice over more traditional asphalt shingles. A DIY metal roof is strong enough to survive hurricanes, wildfires, and hail. It’s an extremely durable material that offers a lifespan of 50 years or more, depending on the metal you use and the climate.
Metal roofing can also help you save energy in some climates due to the ability to reflect the sun’s heat. You can install most metal roofing styles as a more advanced DIY project, it’s a complicated process that will vary slightly depending on the shingles, panels, or brand you settle on. We recommend that you enlist the help of one or two people during the project along with fall protection equipment.
This guide will go over how to install a DIY metal roof using step by step instructions, and we’ll include safety considerations and the types of metal roofing available to you.
Metal roofs are more and more common, but it’s unusual for people to DIY this project, even if it is very possible to accomplish.
Important Safety Considerations
When you’re learning how to install a DIY metal roof, staying safe is the most important step. Always be sure that you prioritize safety when you work above the ground. Safety goggles and gloves should be included in your roofing supplies and worn at all times to help prevent injuries, especially when you use tools like power drills or saws to cut your metal roofing.
- Make sure there are no electrical wires or low branches hanging over your work area on the roof.
- Secure your ladder at the base and at the roof at the point of contact. Test your ladder to be sure it won’t shift under your weight.
- Use fall protection equipment and make sure that your system gets anchored to the roof studs.
- Wear the correct safety shoes when you work on your DIY metal roof.
This quick overview can give you a good idea on how to install a DIY metal roof, the installation process itself can be hazardous and complex. A project of this size is usually best left to a professional. If you decide to go this route and hire professionals to install your metal roof, do research and pick a team that has experience in the roofing system you want, roof repair, and that offers insurance and is licensed by the state.
Deciding Between a Do-It-Yourself Job and a Pro Install
Even for the most avid DIYers, installing a new roof is a tricky process. It’s demanding, time-consuming, and potentially dangerous, so it’s a good idea to know exactly what you’re getting into before you start.
The first thing to consider is the size of your roof that you need to replace or install. While putting a DIY metal roof on a two story home may be best left to professional contractors, installing new roofing on a playhouse, shed, or a detached garage may be doable for an experienced DIYer. You should consider the project’s overall complexity. A simple A-frame roof style would be much easier to have a DIY metal roof put on than one with complex angles or features like dormers or skylights. Be sure to take any obstacles in account like power lines or overhanging trees.
The bottom line is that you want to make sure you know exactly what the job entails and that you have the necessary materials and skills to finish it safely. This guide will outline the basic steps you need to take to install a roof, but it’s a good idea to do additional research on your specific type of metal roof.
Three Types of Metal Roofing Available
There are a few types of metal roofing you can get on the current market. This roofing material has come a long way since they had big metal panels used on lean-tos or pole barns. Shingles made out of metal can mimic traditional asphalt ones or slate shingles with the added benefits metal has. Also, the type of material you pick out to build your DIY metal roof are usually limited to zinc, tin, aluminum, copper, and steel.
This DIY metal roof type is probably one of the most recognizable as it looks like a steel or tin barrel. It’s one big panel that lays on your home similar to shingles, but it’s usually much thicker, stronger, and heavier than other types. Also, it comes in a range of colors, and you can paint right over them if you desire or leave it as-is for a more natural look.
Metal shingles are becoming the most popular choice for a DIY metal roof for anyone who wants to invest in the exterior of their home. They look like a standard roof shingle, but they’re much more long-lasting and durable. Also, they can work with virtually any home style or color, and they’re easy to repair as needed later.
Modular panels come made out of very thin pieces of metal that interlock with one another. They’re very popular in industrial applications where you can apply them to building walls or rooftops, but they also have a high amount of appeal for homeowners who want the durability and look of galvanized steel on their home.
This metal roofing type is very durable and solid, and it allows the panels to overlap one another. It’s very common to see it used on commercial buildings, but it can also work well for some residential applications.
You have to decide which materials and style of metal roof you want early on because this will dictate how you install it.
DIY Metal Roof Installation Steps
A durable DIY metal roof can last upwards of 50 years or more, provide great insulation from the elements, and give your home a very unique and pretty look. We’ll walk you through the installation process from start to finish below, including telling you all of the tools and materials you’ll need.
Now for the fun part, how to install a DIY metal roof from start to finish. However, you should never attempt to install a metal roof if you have absolutely no clue what you’re doing. When in doubt, always call in the professionals for help. This being said, here is how you install a DIY metal roof:
Tools and Materials:
There are a few items you need to have on hand to complete your DIY metal roof. What you need may vary slightly depending on the type of shingle or panel you want to use, but a general list is as follows:
- 24 and 12-inch squares
- Duckbill snip
- Marking tools like chalk, markers, and pencils
- Measuring tape
- Metal roofing materials
- Panel hemming tool
- Rivet gun with ⅛-inch rivets
- Safety equipment like, safety goggles, roofing harnesses, gloves, and hard hats
- Seaming and bending tool
- Straight edge
- Turbo shear
Step 1 — Measure the Roof, and Measure Twice
Before you do anything, you have to get very accurate measurements of the roof. You’ll need to figure out the square footage, how long each section is, and the width of the panels you’ll need to order. To start, measure from the roof’s ridge right down to the eaves. Once you have these measurements, measure the width and determine how many square feet each section of your roof is.
It’s easier to do when you have just two sides, but separate areas like spaces with dormers or over the garage can complicate your measurements. Once you get the measurements, you can order your materials based on the square footage, and remember to add a few extras for mistakes.
Whether you choose to install your DIY metal roof with off-the-shelf panels or put in a special order, having the correct amount of materials and length starts with knowing how many square feet your roof is. Along with the square footage, you’ll have to know each section’s length from the ridge down to the outer edge of the eave. This will tell you how long your panels have to be.
For a Basic Gable Roof:
- Start the process by measuring the rake of the roof. This is the point from the ridge down to the very outer edge of the eaves. We’ll say ours is 14 feet.
- Next, you want to measure the width of the roof. Measure from one side of the roof all of the way to the other side, making sure you include the eaves on each end. Ours is going to be 35 feet.
- To get the area for one side, multiply these two numbers.So 14 x 35 is 490.
- You’ll multiply your result by two to get the roof’s total square footage. So 2 x 490 is 980 square feet.
- When you get the square feet, you’re now free to order your roofing supplies by square foot, making sure to add 10% for waste. The goal is to order panels that are long enough to run the length from the ridge in your roof to the eave to help avoid seams.
- Make sure you order roofing screws at the same time as you order the panels so you’ll get a solid color match.
HappyDIYHome Tip: When you install your DIY metal roof, you’ll want to ensure that you start square.
Measuring the roof is one of the most important things you can do because you want to ensure that you’re not short on material.
Step 2 — Remove Your Existing Roofing and Make Any Needed Repairs
Tearing off your old roof is a relatively easy process, but you have to be very careful as you do so to avoid causing any damage to the structure under it. You’ll also want to keep an eye out for any water damage, holes, or sagging that you’ll have to fix and reinforce before you put your new roof on.
It’s possible to install a DIY metal roof right over the top of asphalt shingles, but a full tear-off of the old roof is usually the way to go. Removing the old roof will let you look at the sheathing and flashing and replace any problem spots before you go to the next step. This way, you can look at and repair your sheathing and flashing before you put the new roof on, and this reduces the chances of a leak.
- Start from the top of your roof and carefully remove the old shingles, underlayment, flashing, and vents.
- Hammer down or pull out any large nails that you expose during this removal process.
- Look at the underlying roof sheathing for any damage and perform any repairs that are necessary using roofing adhesive and sealants.
- Install a layer of roofing underlayment next, including a layer of rosin slip sheet or felt paper as the roofing manufacturer recommends. Metal panels will contract and expand at different rates through your sheathing, so you want to follow the guidelines the manufacturer sets very carefully when it comes to underlayment.
Step 3 — Install Your Drip Edge
The drip edge works to seal the edges of your roof and keeps water from getting into your attic or under your shingles that run along the roof’s edge. When you do this step, you’ll want to use 1 ¼-inch galvanized roofing nails along the leaves and rake of your roof. Put one roofing nail roughly every 14 to 16 inches.
- If you currently have gutters installed on the eaves of your roof, you should install the drip edge flashing to overhang over your gutter’s lip by ½ inch.
- Once you get the drip edge installed around your roof’s perimeter, add sealant tape by running it along the top of your drip edge and roughly an inch from the edge of your drip flashing.
- When you have the sealant tape along the drip edge, remove the top protective backer paper and put an inside closure strip on top of your tape. If you have a flexible closure strip, you should be careful so you don’t stretch it or it won’t align properly with your panel.
Step 4 — Install Your Shingles or Metal Panels
Now, you want to install your metal shingles or panels however the manufacturer directs. Different companies usually have their own installation processes, and following them helps to ensure that you keep your warranty and don’t have issues with leaks or damage.
- HappyDIYHome Tip: Make sure that your metal panels overlap the roof edge by a minimum of ½ an inch. You’ll also want to ensure that you use the correct flashing and roofing sealant to lock ice and water out. A well-sealed roof is what makes it last over 50 years.
Since every company has their own directions on how to install metal shingles or panels, the following are meant to be rough, generalized guidelines.
- Align your first metal roofing panel so that it overlaps the edging by ½ to ¾ of an inch. It should also be square to your roof line.
- Make sure you lay the larger edge so that the smaller edge of the next panel overlaps it.
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for screw placement along your metal panels. Some companies require you to drive fasteners directly into the ribs, and other companies prefer you put the screws in the flat. In hurricane zone areas, you’ll follow the fastening patterns laid out by local codes.
- Start from the eave and work your way up the roof to the ridge to avoid buckling issues.
- Secure the screws but make sure you don’t over tighten them. The washer located under the screw head should seal the surface of the panel without any shifting or bulging.
- Run a bead of 100% silicone sealant along the underside of the next panel’s short edge. You want to install the panel so that the short lip overlaps with the large lip. The silicone will create a seal by spreading and adhering.
- Screw the new panel in place as the manufacturer’s instructions lay out.
- Continue adding your panels until you cover the roof. You may need to cut your panels to fit specific angles. Cutting metal roofing is possible if you have a circular saw outfitted with a metal saw blade, or you can cut it by hand using tin snips.
Cutting the metal can be a time-consuming process if you choose to go at it with tin snips, so plan accordingly so you don’t get behind.
Step 5 — Install the Gutters and Ridge Caps
When you get the panels in place and secured, it’s time to cap the ridge. To do this, you’ll install an outside closure strip. It’s very similar to the inside closure strip you installed at the start of your DIY metal roof project. The outside closure strip runs over the top of your metal panels in a shape that matches the flat parts and ridges. You can get vented or solid closure strips. If your roof is designed to have venting at the ridge level, you’ll need to get the vented type. The vented closure strip works like a ridge vent. If your roof doesn’t have a ridge vent design, you’ll need the solid closure strip.
- Center your ridge cap so it evenly laps each side of the roof and mark along the metal roof panels where your ridge cap will go. You can do this by putting a mark on each end of the ridge and snapping in a chalk line to connect your marks.
- Run a sealant tape strip the full length of your roof ridge, up from the line you snapped by whichever distance the roofing manufacturer dictates. This is usually around an inch. Repeat for the opposite side.
- Run your closure strip along your sealant tape, taking care to ensure that it fits very tightly over the metal panels’ contours. Repeat with the opposite side.
- Run another sealant tape strip along the top of the closure strip on both sides of your DIY metal roof.
- Install your ridge cap by following the manufacturer’s instructions. You do this typically by putting screws at each main rub of the metal roof panel and the overlapping consecutive pieces roughly every six inches.
You’ve done it. You’ve successfully completed a DIY metal roof project, and we’re hoping it went seamlessly.
DIY Metal Roof Install Over an Existing Roof
Maybe you want to overlay a single layer of asphalt shingles with your DIY metal roof. If you do, prep work is going to be huge to ensure you can pull it off.
Step One – Prepare Your Old Roof
Any part of your roof that already has metal on it, including gutters, valley tin, chimney flashing, and roof jacks should come off. You can overlay the gutters and valleys, but you’re begging for issues down the line if you do. Cut back your shingles along the gutter apron or valley roughly two inches beyond the metal’s width. Pull the metal and nails off the roof. Remove all of the roof jacks and any chimney flashing you have. If it’s not badly damaged, you might be able to use the chimney flashing again.
Step Two – Start With Your Gutters
You can start your new DIY metal roof by following the manufacturer’s instructions. If you want to layer the shingles, you’ll want to get self-tapping sheet metal screws that are a little longer than the 1 ⅝ screws used on new metal roof installation projects. The zip screws you use on the overlapping seams are still okay.
Set your gutters and valleys in place with the roofing material that you got in your package. Make sure you don’t nail or screw anything into your new valley pan. If water runs down this area and hits a screw, the water will slowly start to leak inside if you have one bad fastener in the assembly.
Step Four – Lay Down Your Roof Using Complete Sheets
Once you get the gutters and valleys in place, you can attach your metal roof edge on all of the exterior sides and pull the jacks. You can then lay down the new roof in complete sheets, and they’re usually 36-inches wide while offering a two-inch overlap.
When you hit a jack, you want to cut a hole in the metal directly above the vent or pipe. Attach the roof jacks following the instructions. The top has to slide under the DIY metal roof and the bottom over it. Water will flow down your roof’s slope, and it’ll run off the roof onto the jack, but it can’t go inside since it runs over the bottom and back onto your metal roof. Squeeze out a thicker bead of blackjack caulk under each connection between the metal roof and jack. Screw them securely in place and it’ll last for 50+ years.
On chimneys, metal flashing always has a stair-step design, and the top is underneath with the bottom over the top. Don’t hold back with the caulk to help avoid water trips called “crickets” from appearing around your chimney. This is a spot where there is no slope to it and it allows for ice and water buildup, which can cause problems.
Step Five – Apply the Finishing Touches
This is it for your DIY metal roof. Attach the metal cap with the foam insulation strips very securely and screw them in place. Cover the exposed ends with your gable trip.
It is possible to install a DIY metal roof over an existing roof, but the process will be slightly different than starting from scratch.
The Six Biggest Metal Roof Benefits
Metal roofs are some of the most durable, strongest, and longest-lasting roofing materials you can put on a commercial or residential building. They have a huge range of benefits that puts them leagues ahead of more traditional shingles. We’ll outline some of the biggest reasons why people want to have a DIY metal roof on their home below.
Metal roofs are excellent insulators, and they’re very highly reflective. Both of these features allow for them to be very energy-efficient. You will also be able to keep your home cooler in the hot summer months and warmer as winter temperatures plummet.
2. Environmentally Friendly
Metal is usually made out of recycled materials, so you can get a 100% recyclable roof. A lot of other common roofing materials like rubber or asphalt end up in landfills when you remove them. However, metal doesn’t just last longer to mean the tear-offs and debris are fewer, but you can melt them down and use them again.
Most metal roofing is classified as being Assembly-Rated Class A, and this means that the covering and supporting materials give you excellent fire protection, more than you’ll get with standard roofing materials. This is one of the biggest benefits for people who live in wildfire-prone areas. A fire-resistant roof can help reduce a lot of damage from falling embers and keep your home safe.
4. Great Snow and Ice Shed Capabilities
Metal roofing is much more efficient when it comes to shedding ice and snow compared to asphalt. This is partly due to the nail-free design that you get with DIY metal roofs as it doesn’t allow for debris to get stuck and clog the gutters while allowing water to roll off at the same time. Also, metal will absorb the sun’s warmth, and this melts ice and snow much quicker and cleaner than other roofing materials.
5. Lightweight Design Relieves Pressure on Home’s Structure
If your home isn’t built to withstand heavy weight on the roof or if it’s older, it can apply pressure to your home’s foundation and integrity. Luckily, metal roofs are very lightweight compared to traditional materials. For example, materials like clay, slate, or asphalt shingles can weigh two to six pounds per square foot, and metal weighs roughly 1.5 pounds per square foot.
6. Long Lifespan (50+ Years)
Finally, with the correct maintenance and installation, your DIY metal roof can last up to 50 years or more. Although they do cost more upfront, the durability and longevity of this roof style lend you a fantastic return on your investment. If you take very good care of your new roof, it can last upwards of 70 years. One lifetime metal roof is worth three or four traditional ones.
Investing in a new DIY metal roof will make a huge difference in the value and comfort of your home. Once you get your new roof in place, the exterior will have a very updated look, and you can rest easy knowing you’ve protected your home for years to come.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.