How To Cut Metal Roofing Materials: A Step By Step Guide

Posted on October 26, 2023

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How To Cut Metal Roofing Materials: A Step By Step Guide

Learning how to cut metal roofing panels might sound like a challenging task, but with a little research, it’s a project you can tackle with confidence. More and more people are turning to metal roofs for their durability and energy efficiency, and you might be considering one for your own home. While it’s true that installing metal roofing is a bit more complex than traditional asphalt shingles, it’s a doable project, and we’re here to guide you through it. Imagine your roof withstanding the test of time and you being the one that made it happen.

In this step by step guide, we’re going to make cutting metal roofing panels feel like a breeze. We’ll also share some handy tips to ensure your metal roof installation goes smoothly.

Key Considerations Before Cutting Metal Roofing Materials

By taking these various factors into account, you’ll be well prepared to cut your metal roofing panels effectively and safely.

  • Safety Precautions: Safety should always come first. Ensure the work area is secure and free of hazards.
  • The Right Tools: Using the proper tools is crucial. Tin snips, electric shears, or circular saws with metal cutting blades are common choices. Keep your tools sharp to achieve clean cuts.
  • Measure with Care: Precision is essential. Measure and mark your cuts accurately to prevent waste and ensure that the panels fit as intended. Always remember to measure twice, and cut once.
  • Mastering Cutting Techniques: Practice steady, controlled cutting to ensure a neat finish. Maintain a straight line to prevent jagged edges, which can lead to an unprofessional look.
  • Weather Considerations: Weather conditions can impact the quality of your work. Avoid cutting metal roofing materials on windy days, as this can make the process more challenging. Optimal weather conditions lead to a smoother process.
  • Proper Waste Disposal: Safe disposal of metal scraps is vital. Metal can have sharp edges, so dispose of waste correctly to prevent any injuries or accidents.

It’s crucial to keep these factors in mind to ensure your project is completed to professional standards. 

Preparation: Choosing the Right Tools

To achieve accurate and clean cuts when working with metal roofing panels, it’s crucial to have the right tools at your disposal. Each of these tools serves a unique purpose, making them indispensable for various cutting needs. 

Let’s explore how these individual tools can assist you in cutting metal roofing materials:

  1. Metal Roofing Shears: These specialized cutting tools come in both electric and manual versions. They are designed for effortlessly cutting through metal roofing sheets. Metal roofing shears excel at making straight cuts and curved edges, ensuring precision in your work. 
  1. Circular Saw with Metal Cutting Blade: Utilizing a circular saw with a metal cutting blade is an efficient method for creating straight cuts. To achieve clean and precise cuts, ensure that you’re using a blade specifically designed for cutting your chosen material, whether it’s aluminum, copper, or steel.
  1. Nibbler: The nibbler is a handheld tool known for its precision. It’s an excellent choice for making intricate cuts and curves on metal roofing sheets. Whether you have detailed work or need to navigate tight corners, the nibbler is your go to tool.
  1. Snips (Aviation Snips): Snips, also known as aviation snips or tin snips, are versatile hand tools for cutting metal roofing panels. They are available in different styles, including those for straight, left, and right cuts. These tools offer flexibility for a variety of cutting tasks.
  1. Angle Grinder with Metal Cutting Disc: An angle grinder equipped with a metal cutting disc provides versatility in cutting metal material. It’s capable of handling both straight cuts and curved edges, making it a valuable tool in your arsenal.
  1. Roofing Shears: Roofing shears are specially designed for cutting metal roofing materials and are often preferred by roofing professionals. They are built to handle the unique challenges of working with metal roofing materials, ensuring precise and efficient cuts.
  1. A Tinner’s Hammer: While not primarily a cutting tool, a tinner’s hammer plays a role in preparing the metal for cutting. It can be used to make small punctures or score lines on metal roofing sheets, making it easier to bend and cut them as needed.

Each of these tools is designed to cater to specific cutting requirements, ensuring that you have the right instrument for the job. With the proper tools in hand, you can confidently tackle your metal roofing project, achieving clean, accurate cuts and a professional finish.

How To Cut Metal Roofing Materials: A Step By Step Guide

Step By Step Guide to Cutting Metal Roof Panels

If you’ve ever considered installing a metal roof on your house, you’ve probably wondered how to cut metal roofing materials. In this step by step guide, we will break down the process into four key steps using specific tools:

1. Marking the Metal for Cutting

   Before you start cutting, it’s crucial to make precise markings. Here’s how to do it:

  • Measure Carefully: Begin by measuring the metal roofing panel you need to cut using a tape measure. Precision is key, so ensure that your measurements are accurate.
  • Marking the Cut Line: Use a pencil or a chalk line to mark the cut line on the metal sheet. Double check your measurements and make sure the line is straight. This line will serve as your cutting guide, so accuracy is essential.

2. Working with Metal Roofing Shears and Snips

 Metal roofing shears and snips are versatile tools for cutting metal. Here’s how to use them effectively:

  • Select the Right Tool: Choose metal roofing shears for straight cuts and aviation snips (left cut, right cut, or straight cut) for more intricate cuts. 
  • Cutting Technique: Position your shears or snips on the marked line. Apply steady and even pressure as you cut along the line. Keep your hands and fingers away from the cutting edge to avoid accidents.

3. Using a Circular Saw or a Nibbler

For larger projects or when you need more speed, power tools like a circular saw with a metal cutting blade, or a nibbler, can be the way to go:

  • Circular Saw: Equip your circular saw with a carbide tipped metal cutting blade. Adjust the blade depth to cut through the metal without damaging the layers beneath it. Follow your marked line and cut steadily.
  • Nibbler: A nibbler is a specialized tool designed for cutting metal. It’s perfect for making curved cuts and cutting around obstacles like vents. Align the nibbler with your marked line and squeeze the handles to make precise cuts.

4. Finishing Touches with an Angle Grinder and Tinner’s Hammer

   After making your cut, here are the final steps to ensure your metal roofing panels are in top shape:

  • Smooth the Edges: Check the cut edge for any sharp or rough spots. Use an angle grinder with a metal cutting disc or a metal file to smooth out these edges.
  • Painting: To protect the cut edge from rust, consider applying a rust-resistant paint or primer. This is especially important in humid environments.
  • Secure the Panel: Make sure the cut panel is securely fastened in place according to your roofing system’s specifications.

By following these steps and taking the necessary precautions, you can successfully cut metal roofing panels for your DIY project. Remember, practice makes perfect, so don’t be discouraged if your first attempts aren’t flawless. With time and experience, you’ll become proficient in this essential skill for metal roofing installation.


Learning how to cut and install metal roofing materials is a valuable skill for any DIY enthusiast. While it may seem daunting at first, this guide has provided you with a clear, step by step approach that simplifies the process. Metal roofs offer numerous advantages, such as longevity and energy efficiency, making them a popular choice for homeowners.

Remember, safety is paramount throughout your DIY project. Always wear the necessary safety gear and take precautions to avoid accidents.

We’ve covered everything from marking the metal for cutting to using various tools and ensuring a proper disposal. By following these steps, you can confidently tackle your metal roofing project knowing you have the knowledge and skills to do it right. However, remember that opting for professional help is always the best option. If you ever need professional assistance with your metal roof, don’t hesitate to contact us at McClellands Contracting and Roofing. Our dedicated team is here to provide expert metal roofing services in Pittsburgh, PA. You can reach us at (412) 353-5660 to learn more or to schedule a consultation.

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