Hello fellow roofers! Today I would like to talk to you about the installation I did of a steel roof on my house and how you can do it too.
I would first like to clarify my experience with installing roofs. I have installed several asphalt roofs and this is my FIRST metal roof installation on my own home. So this information may be useful to those amateur roofers out there that may be looking to install a roof their own home or helping family or friends w/theirs.
We bought a house on land contract and it was obvious that the roof was in need of repair. After moving in we noticed a slow drip leak in the foyer area of the house. The kind that you can catch w/a bucket. This further confirmed that our roof needed some TLC.
The one side of the roof was in pretty good condition but we thought the other side was bad so why not put a new roof on the whole house. I had asked advice of several people before converting over from asphalt to steel. Now after doing it in steel I have mixed feelings on it, still steel seems to be the better way to go.
The pros and cons. Steel is better because it lasts longer and I’ve been told that if you wanna change the color or give it a coating later you can. They have a spray technique that is like osmosis where you ground the roof and the material you spray on has metal in it. So it acts like a magnet and you don’t even need to prep around the roof you are spraying because there is no over spray, which is also great for not getting any on the neighbors house too.
Besides lasting longer, I only had to do minimal tear off, which was where the leak was. We replaced 4 sheets of roof sheeting/plywood, the shingles and tar paper came off as well obviously. Also we removed some of the insulation that had gotten wet. This amounts to smaller dumpster, which decreases expense.
The cons: Had to learn how to different process. Slipperier to stand on. When cutting around pipes and etc., there is less room for error and bigger sheet of material than a shingle to cut especially if there is a electrical power line. We did not have electric company disconnect ours (to put a new boot on the pipe coming out of the roof). It was on the backside of the house so we just had a seam there to make it work. Obviously take caution not to get electrocuted.
You need to work with the ribs. They are not flat as shingles. If you step on a rib it can dent. If you set a metal wrench or something on the steel it will scratch it.
Also be careful when cutting the steel w/a grinder, be sure to ware safety glasses cause if you get any metal in your eye you WILL have to go to hospital to have it removed and possibly treated to get the rust out. Your eye can actually turn orange and metal filing (that are like fish hooks) may have to be DRILLED out of your eye… it’s NO joke, protect yourself.
Most of the new houses I see today still use asphalt so I can see if a person still uses them. But we are happy with our choice. The idea is that we should never have to put another roof on again. Worst case scenario is that we will have to spray a coating on it decades down the road. By then we will probably have sold it or turned it into a rental. Either way if we are still living in it… to spray a coating on it will be easier than tear off and etc.
Prep: Get helpers/labor lined up. Get material ordered AHEAD of time. I ordered material from Menards. But it had to be special order which took 1-2 weeks for it to arrive at their store. You will have to take measurements of your roof to give to them, which they then enter into their computer to determine how much material to order. TIP: Keep all your receipts in an envelope or folder so you can easily have access to them if you have to return any merchandise.
Remove any yard stuff away from house, especially in area where you may be tearing off or working in or around. If there is any tear off to be done you will need plywood and nails or screws. You will need drill and drill bits (also i would recommend extender to hold the screws, because of the ribs). Set your drill torch so the screws stop at your desired preference. If you have battery powered drill charge up spare battery so you can keep a screwing.
The screws come in two varieties: a hex head which is meant for commercial and a flat head which is what we used. Flat head screws are more pleasant to the eye but do cost a tad more. Make sure to get grinder blades for your grinder which works great for cutting the steel.
If you do any tear off be sure to pickup any boards or shingles that may contain nails, cause if the nails are pointing straight up you might step on one otherwise. Have tarps on hand in case you don’t finish a side or the peak, cause you don’t want it to rain on your insulation and have leaking in the house.
Have some rope and a trailer to haul the steel and or lumber. The steel we got was on a 20 foot pallet. We could have cut the excess board off for easier transporting. Luckily I had borrowed my Dad’s 16 foot trailer so I just put red flag on the end of it to get the pallet of steel back to the job site. Also one mistake I made was not checking the trailer lights, which did not work. Luckily the trailer was really low and the taillights were exposed on my truck, so we got by. So check trailer lights to make sure they work before borrowing, lesson learned.
I also had cash on hand to pay helpers. They didn’t really need any money until the job was done. But I did give them $100 in case they needed to run get any miscellaneous material if I couldn’t get it for them in time. Lastly I paid them on Sunday (which bank is closed then) and gave them a tip because tips are deserved IF they do a good job. And they did do a good job and was my wife’s brother and his friend ED, who were more experienced w/steel roofs than I was.
TIP: Hire people that have the know how and pay them reasonable to high depending on who you can find (trust, skills) and when you need it done, etc. This will save you time and if done right, leaks. Also because I have a Drywall n’ Painting business, i get to deduct improvements to my house/office as an expense on my taxes.
Remove any trees that are too close to the roof. Trees and roofs Don’t mix! We called around to get reasonable price from a local dependable tree removal service. They may also, depending on the tree service, take trees down AFTER you roof your house, even if the branches are overhanging your building.
If you wanna put a new boot on an electric power line that is attached to your roof (usually enters through a pipe), you may choose to have them disconnect the electricity on the day(s) needed. But then you may want to use battery powered tools or get alternative power supply. Another option is to have the electric removed from the roof and routed underground, but this is an extra expense and may take time to schedule it to be done. Also don’t be surprised if the electric company has you jump through a few hoops including long waits on the phone. Although if you have the money and the inclination, anything can be accomplished.
Another TIP: If it is a windy day, stay off the roof! I drywall houses for a living and this last summer a roofer that works on the same houses I do, fell off the roof when he was putting wood sheeting/plywood on it, on a windy day. He broke his back! Now he has a steel rod and on the cold days he admits he can feel it. And this guy is the owner of the roofing company and does this kind of work EVERY day. I don’t care who you are, if it’s windy, it’s dangerous to be on a roof, especially if you are handling material that has a lot of wind resistance such as plywood, insulation, etc… STAY OFF the roof.
The driveway makes a good working area and if large enough you can place material there as well. Park your vehicles/trailer on the road or on the lawn.
If you are doing tear off you can put a tarp down to catch the shingles and tar paper if you like. Then simply carry or drag the tarp to the dumpster or trailer and throw it in. If needed you can put plywood up against house to protect windows/siding.
We used 2/4’s to strip on top of old shingles. You could also use 1/4’s just depends on perhaps how wavy your roof is or what material you can get. My uncle had access to some cheap 2/4’s so that’s what we went with. Get shims, such as plywood or 1/4’s or whatever dimensions you need. Maybe 2 or 2.5 inch pole barn nails or screws, again depending on the thickness of lumber you are going through. You can snap a line to approximate where the trusses are so you can nail/screw the strips to them.
Strips are put around the perimeter and every 24 inches or however often depending on the steel product you are using. Very similar to a wall in your house as to where the studs are. Then you fasten down the steel to strips/studs. When you do it this way instead of putting felt down and not stripping, the rain may sound a tad bit louder. We used a thicker mil/lifetime steel and I can’t say I notice a difference in noise.
We decided to go w/a ridge vent so we removed ALL other attic vents and even our bathroom power vent as it wasn’t working anyways. We do have a window in our bathroom, so I believe it is up to code. If we want fan in the bathroom bad enough we can always power vent through the soffit or wall at a later date.
The furnace vent pipes (intake/exhaust) were coming up through our chimney. The chimney was starting to crumble so we tore it, and the flu, down below the roof line. The vent pipes we chopped off to be closer to the roof line (approximately 18-24 inches for the curved intake and maybe 1-2 feet above the intake for the exhaust. We had to stabilize the pipes with wood so they don’t sway in the wind. Then we put a boot around both 2″ pipes and tarred around and between the pipes that were very close together. They are still in the chimney, so if it does leak, evidence will show in the basement and no damage to result, just seal it back up again. Preventative maintenance, every 5 years or so should eliminate any leaks before they happen.
When putting your first sheet of steel on, it is imperative that you get it started correct. Get first sheet of steel square and straight. I’m not an expert on this but maybe measure the roof as an X (from corner to corner), which will give you triangles. Maybe you need to scribe/let overhang/make it square for the next sheet to be correct and so on. Otherwise you end up trying to correct and then the ribs, of the two sheets, can get off from each other. And it’s best if one rib lays exactly on top of the other.
Also determine if you want an overhang, where the sheet hangs over the edge of the bottom of the roof. If you need an overhang, be sure to add this length on to the sheet when you order them. Overhang may include fascia board, etc.
We used tar to seal up any gaps around pipes and vents. If you have an electric pipe to go around, put the sheet on the bottom part of roof first, then overlap with top sheet so rain runs over it.
We also had a small hip roof coming off a wall. So there we used ice and water shield to seal up where the wall meets the hip roof, where you would normally put flashing. We also put house wrap on the small triangular upper wall so the water runs off the wrap over the hip roof. Right now the wood is peeling pretty bad, on the rest of the walls of the house. So we will repaint to get by for a year or three until we can afford to do siding on the whole house.
Venting is also important. Attic vent chute w/baffle works good in conjunction with ridge vent. I’m not sure about the baffle part but it keeps the insulation away so air can flow through the soffit vents. Staple or nail the chute on the underside in the attic. We eliminated like 6 vents, which can otherwise be leak hazards in my opinion. Not to mention who really wants to cut around all of them and or replace them.
We did contemplate raising the hip roof so it lined up with the rest of the roof making it into one big ranch style. But decided against it. My Dad could have done it on the cheap. I even got a building permit before deciding to leave the hip roof as is, there goes $30. In my city of Eau Claire, WI they want to inspect after framing/before putting plywood on. They are nice enough to explain how they want the framing done.
We busted the chimney and flu out with a mall and broke one of the PVC vent pipes for the furnace. Cut the pipe straight and cleaned/glued connector/splice on the pipe and another section of pipe. That reminds me I still have to check to make sure the elbow (candy cane) for the intake is glued on.
Screws go in best if you tap/hit the screw into the metal (to pierce the metal) and then drill it in. Don’t put screws in the way of the 2 ribs that have to overlap. The screws have a rubber o-ring that creates a water-tight seal.
Although we didn’t, you may want to order extra steel and etc. in case you mess up. No guarantee you will be able to return anything that is scratched, etc.
Keep safety in mind: Tie off any ladders that need be… especially if the base of the ladder is too far away from the house. We had to tie our ladder to railing of steps. Better than the ladder sliding out and landing on one’s face, in our case, on the concrete driveway.
Having a couple ladders is a good idea. Maybe a step ladder and an extension ladder. Of course you can get fancy and use 2 ladders, a plank and ladder jacks. Our house was one story high, so we never used any fancy scaffolding.
You will need trim to cap the peak. Ask more about trim as I’m still figuring out some of that at this point. I know you don’t want bees to get in there also. But the flip side is ventilation is a good thing, also perhaps for condensation.
Hey, it’s cool I can admit I don’t know it all, just being honest, because I’m learning as I’m going along. Kinda fun learning process. When learning new things it’s definitely not boring.
I’ve got a 6 yard dumpster coming tomorrow morning, where we will put the tear off shingles, insulation, scrap wood, etc. And anything else I want to throw out, now’s my chance to get rid of JUNK. And tomorrow will be doing the scrape and repaint on the wood siding as well. More improvement… hopefully this will satisfy the city, neighbors and most important, our family. It’s good to have a good looking neighborhood, wouldn’t you agree?
And lastly I’ll have to go buy a magnet on a pole or wheels so we can suck up any loose nails laying in the yard and driveway. So there you go, in a nutshell that is it. I will take a video soon, so you can see the finished product and give you the visual. Hope this post was helpful to you and any roofing project you wanna tackle.
and now a steel roof ‘feather in my hat’ 🙂