Publications by New England Metal Roof

Metal Roofing Tips: How to Cut Standing Seam Panels

This is the first tip in the new “Metal roof installation tips” series. It is a follow-up on our 3-piece series on how to install a metal roof. Here I will talk about cutting a standing seam metal roofing panels at an angle or a straight line cut. When installing standing seam metal roofs, you have to do this procedure very often and the fast and clean method of doing so will make your life so much easier. Installing a metal roofing system is not an easy task even for advanced DIY home owners or experienced roofers, and we always recommend that you hire a PRO, but if you plan to try and do it yourself, we are here to help.

You will often hear that you can do it with a Skill-Saw or using a specialized table cutter with adjustable angle. First of all, cutting metal with skill saw is just dangerous and I really do not recommend doing it. As a homeowner you probably do not want to invest 0ver $700 into a stand for just one job. And also, what many people do not realize, cutting standing seam roof panels with a saw, overheats the metal, destroys galvanic layer and leads to rusting, soon after such panels are installed. Therefore, you should not cut metal roofing panels with any type saw.

Shed with standing seam metal roof

The best and proven method to do so, remains the tried and true pair of tin snips. Yep… this will give you a clean, usually straight cut, will not destroy the galvanic layer of the panel, and is much less dangerous. By wearing simple safety gear – work gloves, safety goggles (just in case) and being careful, chance of cutting yourself is VERY minimal. The results and speed of this process will amaze you though. I find this to be the most effective method even for a metal roofing contractor.  Cutting these panels with just metal snips will give you a lot of small cuts, and you will hate doing it for the rest of your life.

Here is what you will need to cut the standing seam metal roof panel at an angle:

A razor knife with many replacement blades.

A pair of tin snips (left and right work best, though it’s not always convenient to have both) – I use the $17 aviation snips pair from sears… lasts the longest and has 3″ blades for easier and longer cuts.

A pair of horse stands – you can get them for $20-30 at a Home-cheapo or Lawe’s. They will also be helpful at other home improvement projects.

Two 2x6x8 boards and a sheet of plywood 2×8′. You do not need a full width plywood as it will be too wide to fit on horse stands. Place plywood onto the horse stands and the 2×6’s on top of it, somewhere in the middle. You can leave an inch gap between the boards and screw them to the plywood so they do not move.

You may also want to get a 16″ shit metal bender from Grainger, for about $25, if you need to make a straight line bend.

Easiest and fastest way to cut metal roofing panels:

standin seam metal roof

Place your panels on the horse stands with plywood / 2×6 boars already in place. This will give you a stable work surface to cut your metal roofing panels.

I usually mark my panels with a carpenter’s pencil, draw a straight line in the pan, over a painted side. I do this because once you cut a straight line grove in a metal roof panels, you will have bend it, until it brakes, and if you cut the painted side, the locks will not be in a way when you bend the panel.

Cut the locks with snips and using a sharp razor knife, make a “cut” along the line. Be very careful when cutting with a knife, as not to cut yourself (I recommend wearing leather work gloves, as they are very tough and difficult to cut through), and also to keep your cut straight. Than just bend panel back and forth, until is snaps. This is the fastest method for me, and gives the cleanest cut, without cutting your hands. I use this for both straight and angled cuts.

Also I usually place a couple of 2x6s on the horse stands, turn panel so that painted side faces up and 2×6’s are between the locks. This is the easiest way to cut the pan with razor knife.

Razor knife works best on aluminum, but will also cut into steel. Just make sure it’s sharp. If mine gets dull, I brake off a little piece off the tip of a blade and its sharp again an lasts longer.

Making an Eave lock (drip edge hook) on your standing seam panels:

Metal roofing panels

You will want to have this lock on every metal roofing panel, and it usually takes a long time to make. However there is a way (took me a while to figure it out on my own) to make this process fast an easy.

If you need to make a straight angle cut and a bottom lock in the panels, you will want to use the 16″ sheet metal hand bender made by Malco tools and sold at your local Granger or other supply place for HVAC contractors.

First of all, when you measure your panels, you will need to add two extra inches to the total length of the panels. This is for the drip edge overhang and the hook lock (one inch each).

Once you make a straight line cut, measure about one inch deep into the panel and place a mark on both ribs. Cut the single rib lock completely off and one side of the double lock, leaving a lip to bend back, around the rib – look at the picture bellow.

Picture 1 – single lock – cut off.

Metal roofing panels

Picture 2 – double lock with 1/2 cut off and second half left as a bend back lip.

Snap lock standing seam

Now that your panel is ready, slide the Malco hand bender onto the panels, and press your palm firmly against the inner edge of the hand bender. This will ensure sharp, and exactly on inch wide hook lock. If you do not press firmly against the hand bender when you make the bend, you will rip the corners of your metal panel and your hook lock will be more like 1 1/4 inches wide which will make it much more difficult to work with.

Sheet metal hand bender used to make a lock on a standing seam panel.

Making the drip edge lock on standing seam metal roofing panel

Once you make the initial bend, keep applying pressure with your palm until  you swing the bender all the way around. You want your lock to be almost parallel with with the panel. When you are done pull off the hand bender – be careful as it probably sits tightly on the panel, you may hurt yourself pulling it off. I just give it a good whack with a hammer and it flies off the panel.

Now you have a near perfect drip edge lock which will have to be clamped once you put the panel in place.

Drip edge lock on metal roofing panel

This is just one of the unique techniques we use when installing standing seam metal roofs. If you are a DIY type, and want to install the metal roof your self, we hope this was helpful and wish you best of luck. Otherwise we recommend that you hire a professional metal roofing contractor to install your new roof. If

In this guide we used pictures from our standing seam metal roof installations in Plymouth MA (the green roof) and a metal roof in Wayland, MA (grey roof). You can find out more information  and read detailed project profiles of flat and metal roofs in Massachusetts, which we installed recently.

you are located anywhere in New England, feel free to request our free metal roofing estimate form and we will give you a price to install a metal roof on your home.

Good luck.

One thought on “Metal Roofing Tips: How to Cut Standing Seam Panels

  1. void

    why aren’t the hips a standing seam? if it’s a standing seam roof then why make every seam but those 4 standing seam?

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