How to Cut Metal Roofing: Raising Your Roof Game

When it comes to installing metal roofing, one of the first things you’ll need to do is cut the metal roofing panels to the appropriate size.

Learning how to cut metal roofing the right way creates a better-looking finished product and ensures your new metal roof will last for years on end.

But cutting metal roofing can be intimidating, especially for beginners. Not only does it require power tools and working around sharp edges, but making even a small mistake can damage the panels.

Thankfully, when it comes to learning how to cut metal roofing, a little knowledge goes a long way. The process is pretty straightforward. It only requires a few simple tools.

Today, our step-by-step guide will explain everything you need to know to cut metal roofing like a pro.

What You’ll Need

The best way how to cut metal roofing is with a power shear (also known as a nibbler).

Here’s what you’ll need:

To complete this project, you’ll also need a strong and steady work surface. You must find somewhere flat and solid to perform the cuts.

Like always, safety comes first. Though cutting metal roofing is a relatively safe project, you can’t go wrong with a pair of sturdy work gloves and eye protection.

Step I: Prepare the Roofing Panels

Your first order of business is to prepare the roofing panels for the job.

Measure each roofing panel and make a mark where you plan to cut. In my opinion, measuring and marking all of the panels first is the quickest and easiest method to take.

Next, take each piece, one at a time, to your cutting area. The cutting area must be a flat and steady work surface.

Though you can use saw horses or a strong work table, I typically prefer to perform my cuts on the ground outside.

Place each sheet with the underside facing up. You’ll want to make each cut with the underside of the metal roofing facing up to prevent damages to the side that will be visible upon installation.

Step II: Slowly Make the Cuts

Make sure that you are comfortable using your power shears before using them on your metal roofing. 

To start, align the blade of the power shears with the mark you made on the roofing panel. Turn on the machine and start slowly cutting.

Remember to move slowly and gently, but firmly, through the metal roofing panel. You’ll likely be surprised at how easily the shears cut the metal, but you’ll still need to apply some pressure.

Follow the line that you made on the roofing panel as closely as possible. Take your time to follow the mark exactly.

Even a slight mistake with your cutting can render a roofing panel unusable.

Step III: Finish Up the Job

Cutting a metal roofing panel with power shears is actually quite easy.

The tool will move through the metal sheeting quickly and easily. However, chances are you will hit a few snags.

When the machine stops or catches, don’t just try to force your way through the tough spot.

Instead, change the angle of the power shears to cut through the difficult section. You can then continue to cut like normal once again after you’re through the tough spot.

Alternative Options: Circular Saw, Angle Grinder, Tin Snips

Though it’s one of the best methods, power shears or nibblers are not the only way how to cut metal roofing.

A few other options include a circular saw, angle grinder, or tin snips.

Circular Saw

Those unfamiliar with cutting metal should stay away from using a circular saw.

However, many professionals, and others with metal cutting experience, can use a circular saw to cut metal roofing with much success.

If you decide to go this route, follow the same steps outlined above, substituting your circular saw for power shears.

You must use a specialty blade designed for cutting sheet metal.

Angle Grinder

Another power tool that you can use to cut through metal roofing is an angle grinder.

Like a circular saw, this method is best used only by those with some familiarity cutting sheet metal as well as plenty of experience using an angle grinder.

Once again, the steps are pretty much the same as for power shears. The big difference is that the edges are likely to be slightly more jagged.

You’ll likely be required to sand the edges for a smooth finish.

Final Thoughts

Cutting metal roofing can easily seem intimidating if you’ve never done it before. But it’s actually quite easy with the right tools and a basic understanding of the process.

Once you’re done with your roofing project, here are some great DIY projects for anyone to try!

About Gus Donaldson

I built houses for over 30 years and recently retired. I've made lots of mistakes and hopefully teach you not to make the same ones. I still love to build and have a garage workshop that I use for hobby projects like the walnut bookshelf I made for my wife. I like to write and let people know that working with your hands and tools does not need to be intimidating.

Leave a Comment