How to Cut Metal Roofing Panels

Metal roofing panels can add impermeability, resistance, and longevity to your roof construction. However, unlike other types of roofing materials, these panels require cutting and sawing to ensure the right fitting. And, since the roof is one of the most important aspects of all construction projects, it is vital to cut the panels properly, precisely, and efficiently. 

So, how can you do this to ensure the highest quality for the roof and its elements? Here is a simple step-by-step guide that you can use to obtain professional results in no time. After all, with the right guidance, cutting metal roofing panels is easy!

Gather All Materials & Tools

The first step is to gather all the tools needed for the job. Here’s a complete list:

  • PPE – safety should always come first, so make sure you have goggles, gloves, suitable footwear and outerwear.
  • Identify a workplace that offers enough space for you to cut the panels in all safety
  • Your metal cutting tool of choice – as we are about to see, you can use a variety of tools including:
    • Nibblers 
    • Angle grinders
    • Circular saws
    • Electric shears
    • Tin snips
  • Measuring tools such as a combination square and measuring tape
  • High-quality metal roof panels – figure out how many sheets you need in advance
  • A marker

Get Ready To Cut The Panels

Once you have gathered all of the necessary tools, you need to make the necessary preparations for efficient and safe work. Essential preparations include:

  • Find and wear your PPE, which should be adequate for the kind of cutting tool you will use. For example, if you are planning to use a circular saw, you will also need long sleeves and pants to protect your skin.
  • Fix the sheets to your work area with adjustable clamps, making sure that they will not move when you are cutting them. 
  • Gather all the panels you need, based on the roof area.
  • Use the measuring tools to measure the different panels and mark the cutting lines. 

While the preparation stage might take some time, make sure you are doing it all correctly to avoid mistakes. After all, when cutting metal roofing panels, precision is key!

Cut The Panels

As we have seen, there are several tools that can be used to cut the metal roofing panels. The steps you will need to follow vary depending on the kind of tool you have picked. Below, you can find a brief guide for each tool. 

Cutting The Panels With Nibblers

Nibblers are the best, most precise tools to cut metal roofing. Metal nibblers are usually handheld, they cause minimal distortion, and they are easy to maneuver around curves and holes. Nibblers will rapidly create punctures following a perimeter but, because of their functioning, they are most ideal for custom cuts rather than straight, standard cuts. If you need to create both straight and specialty cuts, you can attach the nibbler to a circular saw.

Cutting The Panels With Electric Sears

If you have decided to cut your metal panels with electric shears, you will have to decide between:

  • Single cutting shears – normal scissors with electric-powered blades that help you cut through hard materials. They can create precise cuts, but they could bend the metal.
  • Double cut shears – these scissors cause minimal distortion, which makes them extremely efficient. However, they are more suitable for custom cuts rather than straight cuts. 

One of the main reasons behind choosing electric shears is that they allow you to cut through several sheets in no time. 

Pro Tip: if the shears get stuck, do not apply more pressure – reset the mechanism instead!

Cutting The Panels With Tin Snips

Tin snips are the most affordable tool for cutting metal panels, and they are extremely easy to find. While they are highly versatile, they require a lot of labor to use effectively – so make sure you are only using them to make shorter cuts through soft metal. 

If you are using tin snips, bear in mind that they will produce waste when cutting through the metal. So, it is important to pick either the right-hand or left-hand tin snip based on where you want the waste to fall. 

Cutting The Panels With An Angle Grinder

If you already have an angle grinder and you know how to use it properly, you might consider employing this tool to cut through your metal roofing panels. However, you should keep in mind that this tool is often too powerful for the very thin layers of metal roofing panels. At the same time, if you are hoping to cut through tough metal such as steel, an angle grinder could be exactly what you need. 

When using this tool, beware that the friction can produce sparks, making the work more hazardous, reducing the precision of your cut, and ruining the paint finish of the panels. 

Cutting The Panels With A Circular Saw 

If you have a circular saw, you can get the job done this way. However, there are some limitations when using this powerful tool, including:

  • You should know how to handle it
  • You might need additional PPE
  • You will need refined skills to perform precise cuts
  • If the exposed side of the tin is facing up, you can damage the panels
  • You will need to find the right blade for the job

Using a circular saw is more appropriate if you wish to perform straight cuts through several metal roofing panels. 

Clean Up

Regardless of the type of cutting tool you have used, you will have a lot of cleaning to do once you are done cutting or sawing through the panels. Cleaning off the metal dust that accumulates on the sheets is essential. If left there, it can rust easily and weaken the roof. Make sure you dispose of this dust accordingly to avoid injuring people. 

Consult A Professional

Cutting down metal roofing panels is essential to create a roof’s custom design, and it can make a difference in the efficiency and safety of the roof itself. However, when cutting down metal roofing panels, it is important to take into consideration your level of expertise. In fact, this job involves several risky passages, including handling cutting and sawing tools. 

If you are unsure how to make the most of the tools above or you don’t have the necessary safety measures in place, it is always recommended to get in touch with a professional. At RPS Metal Roofing, we are here to help you throughout each step. Get in touch today!

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RPS Metal Roofing & Siding, Inc is a manufacturer and distributor of metal roofs. Located in Welaka, Florida, our company has state-of-the-art manufacturing equipment resulting in fine quality metal roofs for commercial, residential and agricultural use.

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