How a Metal Roof is Manufactured

When you see that sparkling new metal roof up on your home, or a house you drive by, do you ever wonder how it was actually made and what goes into the process of manufacturing a metal roof?

standing-seam-metal-roof

A standing seam metal roof is the most popular of all metal roofing systems, in part because it can be roll-formed by roofing contractors on a job site, or in a sheet metal shop, to the exact specs provided by the contractor. In other words, you don’t need to “deal” with big manufacturers when getting a standing seam roof.

But lets take a step back and actually explore the manufacturing process of a metal roof, from the iron ore mine to your roof.

Roll-forming Standing Seam Panels

All standing seam metal roofs go through a roll-former – a machine that turns a metal coil into actual metal roofing panels. The roll former machines can be outfitted with different panel profiles, mechanized or manual shears, computer controller unit, portable or stationary platform / trailer, uncoilers, built-in 10,000 watts generator, and other upgrades, depending on the purposes of its use and how much you want to spend.

MetalMan Roll Forming Machine by Englert Inc. - Source www.englertinc.com
MetalMan Roll Forming Machine by Englert Inc.

The basic process of making standing seam panels involves feeding metal coil into a roll-former. – Once inside a roll-former,  the metal coil goes through a series of rolls, which make bends and curves. – Each successive roll makes more of a bend than a previous one. These rolls are made of hardened stainless steel for increased lifespan and durability. Some can bend a metal as thick as 22 gauge steel.

The rolls make up different standing seam profiles, such as Snap-Lock standing seam, Snap-Lock with a nailing strip (no clips required, when fastening these metal panels to the roof), Mechanical Lock Profile, R-Panel, V-5 Crimp panels, and many other exotic profiles.

A panel width can be manually set on each roll-forming machine, but typical widths are 12, 16 and 20″ wide panels. Panel width is actually dictated by a metal coil being used. For a 12″ wide panels you need a 16″ coil. The “extra” 4 inches are not shaved off inside a machine – they actually go into making the locks on each side of the panel.

The computer control unit takes care of the machine operation / speed, panel length, etc. A smart control unit with automatic shear, can pretty much automate your manufacturing process, by running the coil at specified speed and cutting it at specified length. For example you can program it to produce 10 panels at 28′ 3″ and 25 panels at 24′ 6″ and it will do just that – at required length, the machine stops, the automatic shear cuts off the panel, you pull it out and the next panel starts rolling out of the machine.

Sheet Metal Shop

Besides the actual metal panels, there is also a lot to manufacturing a metal roof that escapes the eye – namely, making all the accessories for a metal roof: the drip edge, rake / gable trim, valley pans, ridge cap, z-bar flashing, sidewall and head-wall flashing for roof to wall connection, chimney and skylight curb flashing, etc. All of these items require precision manufacturing and are absolutely necessary for any type of vertical panel metal roof.

All these metal roof flashing is made in a sheet metal shop, on highly sophisticated, computerized sheet metal brakes, which can also be programmed to increase the speed of making the most popular profiles of metal roof flashing.

The way that a computerized brake is different from a manual or a hand brake is that when using a manual brake you have to manually measure, mark and set up the depth for each bend to happen, and you have to do it on each side of the metal strip to be bent. While this is a viable option, it is very slow, labor intensive and not very precise.

The computerized or automatic sheet metal brake, which is a necessary attribute of any good sheet metal shop, has special “fingers” or stops that will let you insert a strip of metal only so deep inside the brake, and the hydraulic bender, will make the bent. These computerized brakes are very heavy duty and can easily bend metal that is 22 gauge or thicker. Even a 3/16″ thick metal (aluminum and steel) can be bent in a heavy duty industrial brake, but for metal roofing it is an overkill, as a typical thickness rarely exceeds 24 gauge metal in residential application and 22 gauge in commercial profiles.

Besides a sheet metal brake, a metal shop needs an automated hydraulic shear to cut strips of metal to the required width, so that a brake operator can quickly produce required components and not worry about having the pieces of metal cut.

Beside the shear, the break, and other smaller specialty tools, each sheet metal shop has some heavy duty racks, where the metal coils, sheets of metal and already produced flashing accessories are stored, and a fork-lift to load and unload all the coils and other heavy stuff. Shop workers cannot lift a typical 2,000 or 3,000 lb. metal coil on their own.

sheet metal shop

The bottom line is that running a metal roofing panels manufacturing facility is quite costly, and all work must be coordinated between the guys that make the panels and the sheet metal shop. Most of the time, to simplify things, the roll-forming machine is located in the shop, on the transportable trailer, and is only taken to a job-site when the job is far from the shop, and panels are too long to be transported by conventional means.

Often, metal roofing contractors who own a roll-forming machine, and manufacture their own standing seam panels, employ an independent sheet metal shop to produce their flashing and accessories, as running a fully equipped shop can be afforded only by bigger, commercial size roofing contractors.

Manufacturing Sheet Metal Coil

We will actually skip the process of converting iron ore into iron / steel, processing and purifying it, etc. Instead, we will start with manufacturers of sheet metal roofing coils, and what they do.

First of all, metal roofs can be made from steel, aluminum, zinc, copper, and even stainless steel. However, galvanized steel and aluminum are the most popular metals, and we will concentrate on these two.

There are about four or five large suppliers of metal roofing coil in steel, and two or three in aluminum, with smaller players picking up the slack.

sheet metal coil

All of these guys basically take a thick metal coil, and run it through rolling machines, to reduce the thickness to a required grade – usually 29, 26, 24 and 22 gauge in galvanized steel, and .032″ / .040″ in aluminum. The steel coil also undergoes a hot-dip galvanization process, where the coil runs through a pool of boiling galvanic mix of molten zinc (G-90 galvanization) or a mixture of zinc and aluminum (Galvalume). Once the coil is dipped in the hot galvanic metal, a thin galvanization layer is formed all around an otherwise highly corrosive steel.

Then the coil is run through an annealing machine, which is basically a hot furnace with cooling tubes and ammonia gas inside the chambers. Annealing softens the metal, which can then be easily rolled down to the required thickness. Aluminum coils do not require galvanization and just go through an annealer machine, before getting rolled down.

Applying Solar Reflective Paint (Kynar 500) is done once a metal coil has been galvanized and cleaned. The coil is then fed into a special “painting machine”, which is a series of separate units, each responsible for its own operation. First, the coil is thoroughly cleaned and dried. Then it goes through a primer application chamber, where primer is applied to both sides of the coil. Then it goes through a baking chamber where the coil is dried at a high temperature, and primer is baked on. Then another primer and bake-on drying process happens for better, more even primer application.

Once the coil has been primed, and primer has cured in the “baking” chamber, it goes through the painting cycle, which is essentially the same as priming, only the main color is added to the coil in two layers on top. Usually a white coat is added to the underside of the coil, which once again goes through the baking / drying cycle.

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Manufacturers

Once the coil is painted, it gets shipped to various metal roofing manufacturers such as Englert, Fabral, PAC CLAD, etc. – These guys slit the coils to their standard widths and cut them into smaller coils – usually 1,000-3,000 lbs., instead of huge 10,000 lb. coils, which come from coil manufacturers.

These smaller coils are then either formed into different types of metal roofing panels or sold off to smaller sheet metal shops or contractors with roll-forming machines, who either install them, or resell them to metal roofing contractors.

The bottom line here is that most standing seam metal roofs are virtually the same product, as most of them use standard Snap-Lock or Mechanical Lock profiles (under different names of course), and the coil usually comes from the same three or four places. The difference is in price, warranty and manufacturer-specific custom panel profiles.

Other than that, as long as the coil comes from a household-name supplier, it does not matter who produced your metal roof. What really matters is the quality of installation.

Then again, I myself have seen aluminum metal shingles with chipping and peeling paint. On one roof made by a company out of Canada, each shingle had paint peeling off at exactly the same spot as others, which leads me to believe that the coil was not painted properly on one side. Another example is of another, smaller metal shingles “manufacturer” out of Canada, whose aluminum metal shingles would also lose paint, as it would easily come off when scratched with a finger nail. This manufacturer would not warranty the product, and stopped responding to the complaints of the homeowner.

The two examples above indicate that a proper warranty is still important and you want to have your metal roof come from a respectable company that will honor their warranty obligations. Just to give you peace of mind, these cases with paint defects are EXTREMELY rare, and most steel metal roofs (especially the cheaper 29 gauge. steel with acrylic paint) will rust before the paint comes off. That’s why it’s important to buy a premium product, if you want a premium service out of your metal roof.

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Standing Seam Metal Roof Installation Basics

Standing seam is the most popular style of metal roofing – both in residential and commercial building industries. It has also been the longest installed type of metal roof, dating back to when all metal roofing was hand-made from sheet metal – usually copper or tin. standing seam roof Today, standing seam roofs are commercially manufactured by tens if not hundreds of big manufacturers, and thousands of smaller roofing outfits with their own sheet metal shops and standing seam roll-forming machines.

We’ve recently added a complete installation guide that walks you through preparing a roof deck and installing roofing underlayment, installing eave, first metal roof panel with gable / rake trim, field panels, sidewall flashing, valley flashing and installation of hip & ridge caps, and includes a hands-on installation video.

Most standing seam metal roofs installed today are 24 gauge steel or .032 aluminum panels with high quality Kynar 500 paint coating, baked-on in seven layers (including primer) in a controlled factory environment when the metal coil is manufactured. After the coil is slit to the right size, it is delivered to the “manufacturer” of metal roofs, and is roll-formed into pre-measured length panels, which can take place on a job site or in a metal shop, and then delivered to the job site, where they are installed on the roof. Standing Seam Most common profiles of standing seam roofs are 16″ panels; they are either snap-lock or mechanical lock profiles. Snap lock standing seam allows installers to quickly install a metal roof by snapping one panel into a receiving lock of the previous panel. Snap lock panels can be installed from left-to-right and vice-versa, and even from a center starter panel in either direction.

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Continue reading “Standing Seam Metal Roof Installation Basics”

How to Install a Metal Roof – DIY Standing Seam Metal Roof Installation

Learning Objective

In this guide you will learn how to install a standing seam metal roofing system.

Standing Seam Metal Roof on a Beach House

Image Inspiration Credits: John McManus & Group 3

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For most homeowners and DIY enthusiasts, a standing seam metal roof installation is not a do it yourself project. But for those few who dare, let this serve as an introductory educational guide on how to install metal roofing on a small shed or a free standing garage. if nothing else, you can still benefit from the basic conceptual understanding of the metal roofing installation process provided in this guide.

Standing Seam Metal Roof Installation
Standing Seam Metal Roof Installation

Materials and Tools you will need

* Sheet metal hand seamer aka folder or crimping tool.
* Drill/Driver
* Wood cutting: For minor wood repairs, a cordless reciprocating saw.
* Hammer, rubber mullet, tool belt, metal snips/shears, tape measure.
* Safety rope, anchor and harness, and knowledge/experience using it, work safety plan, and first aid kit.
* Safe to use and adequate Ladder.
* Tear off/roof stripping tools, heavy duty contractor bags, and a dumpster to dispose of old shingles.
* Pre-measured and Pre-cut Standing Seam Metal Roofing panels at work site.
* System specific screws and flashing details for your roof.
* Roofing Underlayment, Ice and Water, nails with colored caps.

Hand Seamer - a must have tool for the job
Hand Seamer – a must have tool for the job
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Step 1 – Measuring Your Roof and Sketching a Diagram

Take multiple pictures of your roof from different angles, then measure your roof and draw a diagram that you can take with you to a roofing supply warehouse where you can order metal roofing materials for the job.

You will need to take precise/accurate measurements of your roof deck, and come up with an accurate/readable sketch/diagram of your roof; Ridge length, gables lengths (all sides), eaves lengths (all sides), valleys, dormers, chimneys, and skylights.

Roof Sketch Diagram
Roof Sketch Diagram

Although in theory, you can install standing seam metal roof over your existing asphalt shingle roof, I would advice you to tear off the old roof before installing standing seam due to a common effect of telegraphing of lines of asphalt shingles underneath the standing seam metal roof roof. Note You can get away with telegraphing of the shingles underneath, if you choose to install a metal shingles roofing system, instead of a standing seam metal roof.

Step 2 – Ordering Panels

You can order metal roofing panels called standing seam metal roof at your local roofing supply warehouse. They will ask you about the length of panels you need, type of profile you would like, and a color of your metal roofing system.

Hand over your roof diagram with all the details and roof dimensions, and show them pictures of your roof. Based on the information you provide, roofing supply shop will order the panels and flashing for your job. Here you can also buy all the necessary tools, and safety equipment.

In addition you will need to buy a roll or two of roofing underlayment for the job. I recommend that you spend a little extra, and go for a breathable synthetic roofing underlayment that will be installed underneath your new metal roof.

Step 3 – Preparing Roof Deck for Installation

Once you have all the necessary tools, and materials on site, You will need to prepare your roof deck for the installation of a new metal roof. It is generally recommended that you perform a complete tear off of your old/existing roof so that you can get an opportunity to replace any rotten wood or plywood underneath the asphalt.

Roof Deck with anchor safety system attached at the ridge of the roof
Roof Deck with anchor safety system attached at the ridge of the roof

Step 4 Installing Ice-and-Water and Underlayment

Install synthetic breathable roof underlayment in a horizontal fashion, with sufficient tension in the underlayment from one side of the roof to the other. You will want to start at the eaves with a slight overlap of the roof deck, and nail down the first row of underlayment.

(If you live in a northern climate, then install one layer of Ice-and-Water right underneath your roof underlayment, adhering it (Ice-and-Water) straight to the roof’s deck with a half an inch of overlap past the eave’s edge.) You will also need to install ice and water in the valley/valleys of your roof.

You will then continue installing the underlayment in an upward fashion with a six inch overlap over the previous layer until you reach the ridge of the roof.

roofing underlayment installation
roofing underlayment installation

Step 5 – Installing Metal Trim, Drip Edge, and Gable Flashing

Now it is time to install metal flashing at the eaves. The flashing being installed over the edge of your roof’s eaves is called starter trim. You will have to follow manufactures recommendations, but generally you would install your starter flashing leaving 1/4 of an inch of space from the eave, and securing it in place with system specific screws (that you should order along with materials) every 12 inches on center. Then, follow the same steps to install your gable flashing.

Drip Edge Metal Flashing Installation
Drip Edge Metal Flashing Installation

Watch the Video Below:

Step 6 – Installing Metal Panels

Once all the necessary metal trim/flashing is installed, you can begin installing your first metal roofing panel. You will have to cut, and bend about an inch of the panel underneath (forming a hook) so that we can hook it onto the starter trim/drip edge.

Standing Seam metal panel with a hook
Standing Seam metal panel with a hook

Then, the metal roofing panel will be secured by the special screws at the top. After that, you can secure the panel by installing special holding brackets/metal clips, and secure them with the screws to the roof deck. You will find that metal clips will have two holes, one will be closer to the metal roofing panel, while the other will be farther away. I recommend that you only use one screw to secure the metal clip through the farther/outside hole that is away from the panel. This will help prevent dents in the panel due to thermal expansion and contraction of the panels.

If your home is located in hurricane zone, you would want to put two screws into each clip. Never put two screws if you have solid boards underneath instead of plywood. Both screws can easily split the board, which will compromise security of panel attachment to your roof deck. (The holding brackets attach to the panel on a side every 12 inches or so.)

The follow-on panel will be installed in a similar fashion. You have to lock the follow on panel into previous panel using the locking mechanism called the seam (Snap-Lock standing seam panel mechanism).

Use a rubber mallet, or a rubber handle of your hammer to snap the seams of the roofing panels together. You can also snap the follow on panel with the palm of our hand starting at the ridge/top of the panel and working your way down until the entire panel is connected/attached via the snap-lock method. Then repeat the whole process again until you reach the gables/ends on both sides.

Watch the Standing Seam Metal Roofing Installation Video Below:

Step 7 – Installing Z – Bar Flashing

Note: If you are using a combination of ridge and soffit vent system on your roof, then make sure that your roof has sufficient pitch to prevent any wind driven water from getting inside your attic through a perforated z-closure.

Cut your z-bar so that it is the same width as one of the panels to which it will be fitted. Make sure that it fits well, but not too tight as to scratch the locks of the panel. Usually you will want to go about a 1/4 inch less than the nominal width of the panel. This gives you enough room for a snap lock of the next panel to fit in. You will also end up with only minimum gaps between the edges.

Z - Bar Installation for Standing Seam
Z – Bar Installation for Standing Seam

Cut a small piece of ridge cap (about two inches wide), align it so that it is in the center of the ridge, laying perpendicular with the locks. Mark the outer edges on the top of each rib. You will align your z-bars and the ridge cap to these.

Z - bar installation on a standing seam metal roof - side view
Z – bar installation on a standing seam metal roof – side view

Use your first piece as a template, then cut enough z-bars to accommodate every panel on your roof (have enough z-bars for both sides of the roof). Using double-sided peel-n-stick foam, or some type of the exterior grade caulking sealant, caulk the connection area between the panel and the z-bar. I recommend that you use a clear (or color matching) Solar Seal 900. It works great. Attach z-bar with three screws, and caulk the side gaps so that any wind driven water will not get in.

standing-seam ridge-cap installation over the Z bar
standing-seam ridge-cap installation over Z bar

Once all of your z-bars are up and sealed, take a section of the ridge cap, and cut a 2-inch line down the center bend, at the end of the cap. At the same end, cut off 2 inches of the lock and bend down the two flaps. This will be your end-piece.

Align the flaps you have just made with the gable trim, and hook in one side of the ridge cap into the z-bar. If your z-bar is spaced too widely or narrowly, you can bend it in or out so that it fits your ridge cap. Hook the second (unlocked) lock into the opposite z-bars all along the length of the cap. Once it is completely clipped in, use your hands to close the opened lock (lip) on one side of the cap, and then using the hand-seamer crimp down both sides of the cap.

Tips

* I recommend that you first practice installing metal roofing on a small structure such as shed, or a free standing garage before taking on your home’s roof. It would also be helpful if you can get another person who has experience with home improvements to help you out with your DIY project, and make sure that things go smoothly.

Warning

* Doing any type of work on your roof is inherently dangerous. There is always some inherent hazard of falling off the roof or from an improperly placed or poorly-secured ladder. You will want to wear special shoes with rubber soles, use a properly-secured ladder, and know how to properly use your safety equipment including rope, anchor, along with a properly-worn safety harness.

References:

http://www.newenglandmetalroof.com/blog/how-to-install-metal-roof.php

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