Walking On A Metal Roof

October 12, 2009 | Filed under: Roofing Help Podcasts

So you’ve had a metal roof installed in your house and you want to know “If I have to go up there to perhaps wash a dormer window, how do I do it?” First of all, I would advise as much as possible if you can stay off your roof…stay off your roof, because that’s for your own best interest from a safety standpoint.

If you do have to walk on the metal roof,or if you’re hiring someone to go out and walk on your metal roof, a couple points of wisdom here:

  1. Make sure that when you’re metal roof was installed you talk to the contractor ask them for advice on how to walk properly on the metal roof that’s on your house. Always are going to tell you to use a soft-sole shoe to grip on the roof and to not cause any damage. They may also talk to you a little bit about if you’ve chosen a metal roof that consists of formed panels like a shake or tile profile, they will tell you specifically where to walk on those panels. Normally it’s going to be on what we call the low spots of the panels where the panel’s rest closest to the roof deck.
  2. The other thing is some of the metal roofs available today that are formed to look like cedar shake or tile, they may have the option of foam backers behind the panels. If you got roof areas where you know you may walk with some frequency, or have workers up there walking, you may want to talk to your installer when the roof is installed about using foam backers with those panels to give extra rigidity and walkability to the roof in those areas.
  3. Now, if you have to have some substantial work done on your roof… lets say someone has to go up there to tuckpoint a chimney, chances are the best way to do that is going to be to lay down lumber or walk-boards on top of your roof, and then have the workers walk on top of those walk boards. The walk boards will distribute the weight across the roof rather than have it be concentrated in specific areas, and that’s going to be one of the best ways that you can walk that roof safely without damaging it.
todd Miller

has spent his entire career in the metal building products manufacturing industry. He is president of Isaiah Industries, an organization recognized as one of the world’s leading metal roofing manufacturers. Todd is currently Vice President of the MRA (Metal Roofing Association) and a Past Chair of MCA (Metal Construction Association). Through his website, he strives to raise the bar on standards and practices to provide property owners with the best possible products for successful roofing projects.

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4 responses to “Walking On A Metal Roof”

  1. Michael Mazurek says:

    Do the polystyrene backers that are available for Country Manor Shakes add any R-value to the shingle?

    • toddmiller says:

      The inserts provided by my company as the manufacturer of Country Manor Shake provide very very minimal R Value. There are inserts for our product available from other companies that have “full roof” coverage (versus our “drop-in biscuit style) which do offer some R value — probably around 2. While I would never argue about any extra R Value in a roof system, for overall best winter and summer efficiency, my preference is to see insulation on top of the ceilings in a home rather than on the roof.

  2. Carol says:

    I would like to know if i can have solar panels put on a metal roof without cancelling out the warranty for the roof?

    • Todd Miller says:

      Thanks for your question. It seems that there is a natural connection between metal roofs and solar. Certainly the environmental benefits of both, and a focus on energy efficiency. Also, if solar panels are installed, they really need a durable, lasting roof beneath of them.

      Solar panels can be installed on virtually any metal roof. In some cases, fasteners will need to penetrate the roof. With many standing seam roofs, the panels can actually be clamped to the raised seam though. While this may distort the seam some, it does not involve a penetration through the seam.

      I do not know of any metal roofing manufacturer that advises against installing solar panels on their roof. However, of course, I do not know the opinion of each and every of the thousands of manufacturers out there so, ultimately, your question needs to be posed to your metal roof manufacturer.

      So, while I also do not know of any manufacturers whose warranties are voided by solar panels, I do not know any manufacturers who as a normal course of business will warrant that a hole placed in their roof will not leak. Keeping the fastener penetrations watertight is up to the solar panel installation team. I’d say that most metal roof manufacturers will have instructions or guidelines available. However, the actual responsibility of doing it correctly so it does not leak falls on the workers on the roof, and will not I’d say be covered by the roofing manufacturer.

      However, it can be done and solar and metal roofs go well together.

      Here’s a related article you may find helpful.

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