How To Cut Corrugated Metal Roofing (Quickly & Easily!)

Stacy Randall
by Stacy Randall

If you’re looking for clear, easy-to-follow instructions on cutting corrugated metal roofing, you’re in the right place. Builders and homeowners have a variety of choices when it comes to roofing material. Metal roofing can be a sustainable and energy-efficient choice.

To cut corrugated metal roofing, you will first need to adequately prepare your workspace and take copious measurements. Then, choosing from a wide selection of tools, like tin snips, nibblers, or a circular saw, you will cut your panels. Finally, be sure to clean your work area to avoid any potential injury or corrosive effects from loose metal dust.

At first glance, learning how to cut a metal roof may seem daunting and the risk of injury high. However, cutting corrugated metal roofing can be accomplished easily and safely if you exercise due diligence and use the proper tools!

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Cutting Corrugated Metal Roofing

When cutting corrugated metal roofing, follow this step-by-step process to ensure a safe and efficient process. Before you begin, gather all of your supplies for cutting your metal roofing.

  • A wide, stable workplace
  • Cutting tools (tin snips, electric shears, a nibbler, circular saw, or angle grinder)
  • A combination square
  • Measuring tape
  • Metal roof panels
  • Marker

Step 1: Preparation Is Key

As with any home project, proper preparation is a critical step. If you prepare correctly, you will make straight cuts and save time and money by avoiding mistakes.

Begin with placing the roofing material on your workplace. Be sure to secure the sheets with adjustable clamps so they don’t move during the cutting process. Also, ensure the correct side of the material is facing up.

As always, safety is key. Take care to wear leather gloves, protective eyewear, and auditory protection if you are using loud power equipment. Additionally, wear long sleeves and pants.

Step 2: Measure Twice and Cut Once

Before you begin cutting, use the dimensions of your roof to ascertain how many panels you will need. Don’t forget to include the measurements for each panel and the required shape.

Take those measurements and mark the various sizes you need to cut with a tape measure. Make sure you have marked a solid line with no gaps. Doing so makes certain the cut remains true and serves as a visual guide during the cutting process.

Measure twice and cut once. The old adage holds especially true when cutting a corrugated metal roof. Aside from avoiding costly mistakes, precision guarantees the integrity of the roof’s structure and avoids an undesirable shortened roof life.

Step 3: Cut the Corrugated Metal Roofing

There are a variety of different tools you can employ when cutting corrugated metal roofing. Factors like cost, cut type, and the number of sheets you’re cutting at once will determine which tool is best.

Tin Snips

Without a doubt, the most economical metal cutting tool is tin snips. While the least expensive, however, tin snips are most effective for abrupt cuts on softer metals. They operate much like a pair of standard scissors and are an excellent beginner’s tool.

There is a wide variety of tin snips. The type of cut you need to make will determine which kind you should use. Using tin snips is a slow process, and you cannot use them with large sheets.

Electric Shears

There are two types of electric shears. Single cutting electric shears work like regular scissors but make more effective cuts as they are powered. While they make clean cuts, they can mark the materials and may not be the best choice for straight cuts.

Double-cut shears employ two simultaneous cutters to make a single strip as they cut through the material. Unlike single shears, double cutting shears leave less marring on the material, but they cannot cut curves or heavier materials.

Electric shears, either single or double, can reduce project time by cutting through multiple sheets at once. Ease of use also makes them a friendly choice for beginners. You just hold them, engage the trigger, and guide the blade’s movement along the cutting line.

One drawback of electric shears is they can get lodged in the material. Take care not to exert force to disengage them. To do so risks damage to the tool or even the material itself.

Nibblers

For specialty cuts, a nibbler is an excellent tool. You can make cleaner cuts as the tool makes quick punches in the material. A nibbler manipulates easily around corners but is not the best tool for straight cuts.

Circular Saw

While not the best tool for the beginner, a circular saw is an excellent choice if you need to cut through multiple sheets. A saw is also not the most economical choice as blades wear out and can be quite expensive to replace. Additionally, the circular saw can pose a safety risk to the inexperienced user.

To avoid causing damage to the material, make certain the exposed side faces downward. The best blade choice will be abrasive and close to 18cm. Verify you use the appropriate blade on your saw.

Right-angled cuts create the cleanest cuts. Once you’ve fixed the blade, place it accurately on the cutting edge you marked. Use light pressure and be certain to move the saw slowly.

Angle Grinder

A better power tool for the novice is the angle grinder. While the angle grinder can accomplish the task, it should be noted sparks from the grinder can damage the finish. There are other, better options, but an angle grinder will work in a pinch.

Step 4: Clean Up to Avoid Issues

Cutting corrugated metal can generate a large amount of dust. This metal dust can rust. If left to accumulate on your materials, this dust will affect your roof’s integrity in the long run. Additionally, waste metal poses a safety hazard if not properly disposed of.

Safety Measures When Cutting Corrugated Metal Roofing

Besides the easy step-by-step instructions for cutting corrugated metal, there are three important tips to ensure proper safety.

Proper Tool Maintenance

While your cutting tools should work error-free out of the package, they can become dangerous if you don’t maintain them properly. Take care to address wear and tear to avoid potential hazards and ensure you get the most from your tools.

Right Tool, Right Job

Frequently, if you use the wrong implement for a project, it can result in damage to yourself or your materials. Always use the right tool for the right job.

Wear Appropriate Safety Gear

No matter what home project you are undertaking, always be certain to dress out in proper safety gear. For cutting corrugated metal, this includes safety goggles, long sleeves and pants, earplugs, and heavy-duty gloves.

Extra Considerations for Cutting Corrugated Metal Roofing

There are many factors to consider when evaluating which tool is right for your project.

Value of Each Tool

Not all tools are created equal. A circular saw will outstrip the tin snips for quantity, hands down. If your objective is to work quickly and efficiently, then the most valuable tool of choice is the circular saw.

Tool Cost

While your pocketbook should always be taken into consideration when choosing a tool, don’t skimp on quality. However, do purchase what you can afford. If a pricier tool can increase your productivity, though, perhaps postpone the purchase until you can afford it.

Material to Be Cut

Consider the type of metal your roof consists of when choosing a tool. You can only cut certain metals with specific tools. Be sure you are using a tool that can handle your chosen roofing product.

You may be new to cutting corrugated metal roofing, but you can become quite adept with a bit of time. Perfection comes from preparation, practice, and consistency.

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Related Questions

What are some different types of metal roofing?

The four most common metal roofing types used in construction are zinc, galvanized steel, copper, and aluminum.Zinc is extremely corrosion resistant and is self-healing against scratches and scrapes over time. Plus, it is a low maintenance material and lends itself to versatility. Its moldability makes it a favorite of architects for flashing.Galvanized steel is one of the most popular steel types because it possesses remarkable durability.  It also protects against corrosion due to its zinc-iron coating. Copper roofs are quite strong.  They are highly resistant to scratches, nicks, and other minor cosmetic damage. Their reflective properties also help energy efficiency. Aluminum roofs can be pricey but work well in coastal regions because they are incredibly rust-resistant. It is also an extraordinarily lightweight metal and lends itself to roof restructuring.


How can you smooth the edges of cut corrugated metal?

To smooth rough edges of cut corrugated metal, start with 220-grit sandpaper.  Use light strokes, switching to a finer grit as you wear away the major rough spots.  You can use a polishing pad to remove any remaining dust and buff out the shine.


Can I use a jigsaw to cut corrugated metal roofing?

A jigsaw can cut corrugated metal.  While specific blades exist for specific materials, a generic metal blade will suffice.  Do note that roofing steel will require some type of sealer to prevent rust on the cut end of the metal.

Stacy Randall
Stacy Randall

Stacy Randall is a wife, mother, and freelance writer from NOLA that has always had a love for DIY projects, home organization, and making spaces beautiful. Together with her husband, she has been spending the last several years lovingly renovating her grandparent's former home, making it their own and learning a lot about life along the way.

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