Metal roofing can be used for different projects other than roofing. Personally I’ve used it for fencing as well as a patio roof but I’ve also seen it used in outdoor bar siding, outdoor showers, raised garden beds just to name a few. The biggest issue with using metal roofing for projects is cutting the panels.
There’s a couple different of corrugated metal roof panels but each have raised areas that are hard to cut a straight line with regular hand tools. Most metal panels used for roofs are cut with a large machine to size before being brought to the job site.
When I’ve used metal panels before in my projects, I order them cut to specific sizes as much as possible but sometimes you still have to cut the metal in certain spots to go around a pipe or other object. Below I’ll show you the different tools I use to cut metal panels for my backyard projects.
Depending on the thickness of the metal panel roofing, you can use hang tools such as tin snips to cut through it. When I’m using metal panels for projects other than roofing, I get the the thinner panels, which is 29-guage. These thinner gauge panels can be cut fairly easily with tin snips.
Tin snips come in three different types. A red handled tin snip cut left, while a green handled tin snip cuts right. A yellow handled tin snip cuts straight and left or right. So depending on if you’re trying to cut a straight line or a curve in the metal will require you to use different tin snips. I actually just have the yellow snips which gives me the most flexibility cutting different shapes in my metal panels.
To use the tin snips to cut the panels, you should mark a line across the panel where you want to cut it. I use a level and a sharpie to mark my line. Because of the raised grooves, I rest my sharpie next to the level and continue at the same angle to make a straight line.
Start the cut and bend up the opposite side of the panel from the hand used for cutting, as shown in the picture above. Getting one half of the panel out of the way of the tin snips is crucial to help keep them in a straight line. You may need help from another person to help keep the panel bent when the panel is 3 feet or longer since the metal can get heavy holding it only with one hand while cutting with the other.
When you have thicker gauge metal or just a lot of panels to cut, you may want to choose a power tool to make the job easier. Before using a power tool to cut anything metal related, be sure to have the proper personal protection equipment or (PPE). You should have safety glasses, face shield, thick gloves as well as protective clothing to cover your arms and legs from sparks.
An angle grinder fitted with a metal cutting disc is by far the best choice to cut metal roof panels. It can easily cut through the thicker metal and help you keep a straight line if marked properly.
Mark your cut as mentioned above with tin snips, then get a piece of lumber to put underneath the metal panel just to the left of the cut. You don’t want to cut the panel straight off the ground as the cutting disc will also cut into the concrete or whatever is underneath the panel and dull your cutting disc quickly.
You want to cut the metal in the opposite direction of the sparks. Use both hands on the angle grinder to keep it steady and guide it along the marked line keeping one foot on the panel to keep it from moving.
Circular Saw with Metal Cutting Blade
If you don’t have an angle grinder and don’t want to purchase one, you can use a regular circular saw to cut the metal panels. You will need to get a blade specifically used for cutting metal but the blade will be cheaper than an angle grinder.
You will need the same PPE to use the circular saw since it will also generate a lot of sparks when cutting the metal panel. The cutting technique is similar as with the angle grinder but you will have to navigate the circular saw up and down the metal grooves which can prove a bit difficult if your saw is heavy.
Similar to the tin tips are the metal-power shears, an upgrade of the tin tip for cutting heavier gauge metal or if you have a lot of panels.
They are used in the same manner as the tin snips where you want to hold one side of the metal panel up while using the shears.
If you don’t have to purchase specific metal shears, they now have shear attachments for your cordless drill.
We’ve shown you several different methods for cutting metal roofing panels depending on the tools you have. Before I started accumulating power tools, I used my tin snips a lot to cut metal panels and still do when it’s just one or two small cuts.
Now that I’m older and have more tools, I always use my angle grinder to cut metal panels when I have a lot of cuts to make. An angle grinder is a good tool for any homeowner to purchase as they can be used to cut so many different materials.
Good luck cutting your metal panels in whatever project you’re working on in your backyard. My next metal panel project is fencing.