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Posted by McElroy Metal ● Feb 23, 2021 1:28 PM

Metal Roof Installation

Every year, more and more homeowners opt for a metal roofing system. With a lifespan of 40+ years or more, energy efficiency, and low maintenance costs, no other roofing option can compare to a metal roof system for your home or commercial property.

House during construction 2As with any construction project, you may have questions about the metal roof installation process, which we will cover in this article.  

One of the most important factors with your new metal roof is finding a quality contractor with experience installing metal roofing. Like conventional shingle roofs, faulty installations and poor workmanship can lead to performance (such as leaks) and aesthetic issues. 

A roofing contractor with experience and expertise in metal roofing can also help you select the best metal roofing system for your budget, building, or home.

Hiring a knowledgeable and qualified contractor for your metal roof installation is as important as choosing the best metal roof system option.

Once you have hired your roofing contractor, they can answer questions specific to your metal roof project. In the meantime, here are some general thoughts about what you can expect with a typical metal roof installation.

Metal Roof installation Methods

House during construction 3

Metal roof installations are either new construction or retrofit. For new construction, the installation of the metal roof panels occurs when the building shell is complete. Often, the general contractor looks forward to the roof installation because the structure should be watertight and interior finish work can begin.  


For retrofit projects, the roofing contractor has two primary options - recover/overlay or remove and replace. The recover/overlay option leaves the existing roof in place and eliminates the need, and expense, of tearing off and disposing of the old roof and ancillary components. 

House during constructionOn some projects, recover/overlay is not a viable option, so the contractor will recommend a remove and replace method. Contributing factors in this decision are many, but here are two common reasons to remove and replace. 

  • Local building codes often dictate if a remove and replace is required. Most jurisdictions allow recover applications for either one or two existing layers of shingles. If the number of shingle layers exceeds code requirements, the existing roof will have to be removed.
  • If the existing roof had any leaks, there could potentially be water-damaged wood decking that would have to be replaced.  Your roofing contractor should conduct a thorough inspection of the existing roof to determine if there is water damage.  

All things being equal, the less tear-off, demolition, or repair involved for your project, the faster your new roof will be complete. And the lower your installation costs will be.

Metal Roof Installation Components

The following are the core components of any metal roof installation project.


Refers to the material used to cover the rafters and joists. Typically, this can be plywood, planking, or OSB (Oriented Strand Board) and is attached to the top of the roof framing members to create the roof surface for the underlayment and metal panel attachment.


Underlayment - croppedMost metal roofing contractors utilize synthetic underlayments, which offers many benefits compared to felt paper, which was an early generation underlayment. Synthetic underlayments are easier to install, offer improved durability, and can be left exposed to nature’s elements for a longer period of time.  

Metal Roof Panels

Metal roof panels come in various sizes and colors to work with every type of home and budget. Your metal roof supplier or contractor can help you sort through all of the available options.

Fasteners and clips

Wood DeckingDepending on the type of metal panel you select, your roofing contractor will use clips and/or fasteners to attach the roofing panels to the decking.  

Trim and Flashing

Trim and flashing refers to the components that are installed at the intersections and terminations of the metal roofing system to seal the roof and prevent water from entering the roofing system and building envelope. 

Sealants and Caulking

Butyl tapes and sealants are used for metal-to-metal connections, such as laps or junctions that intersect trims and panels. 

The sealant must adhere to painted metal surfaces and provide some elasticity (for movement) as the metal expands and contracts with the changing weather. 

Check out this Max-Rib installation video to see many of the components used when installing a metal roof.

Job Site Requirements

Contractor image 6

Every job site is different, but here are the key points to consider to ensure that your new metal roof installation goes as smoothly as possible.


Establish a flat area for material storage, vehicle parking, and a dumpster (if needed) for your contractor and their installers. Depending on your roof, the installers will need clear access on all sides of the building to position and install the panels and trim.

Power Supply

Your contractor will need a power supply for their cutting and fastening tools. To avoid tripping breakers all day, have the installers use different outlets for powering their tools and equipment. 

Some contractors provide a generator for their installers to use.

Safety Issues

Safety should always be a high priority, especially when there are occupants in and around the building during the metal roof installation. 

Metal roof panels and trim have sharp edges so only the installers should handle them.

Other Installation Resources

All of our installation manuals, for instance, are available for download on our Downloads page. The installation manuals we’ve made available provide general notes about the product, details showing suggested guidelines for proven methods of construction, as well as contact information for our technical service department.

These manuals do not, nor are they intended to, cover all building requirements, designs, installation methods, or codes. Again, the best resource available to you is an experienced contractor.

Another metal roofing resource is our YouTube channel. The installation videos we share on our YouTube channel are a great way to visualize our most popular metal roofing systems.

If you still have questions about a metal roof installation, you can learn more by visiting our metal roof resources page. Here you can download different metal roof guides, access our project visualizer, or watch project videos.

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Learn everything you need to know about Residential Metal Roofing. Check out our metal roofing resources for inspiration and answers to your questions.

About McElroy Metal

Since 1963, McElroy Metal has served the construction industry with quality products and excellent customer service. The family-owned components manufacturer is headquartered in Bossier City, La., and has 13 manufacturing facilities across the United States. Quality, service and performance have been the cornerstone of McElroy Metal’s business philosophy and have contributed to the success of the company through the years. As a preferred service provider, these values will continue to be at the forefront of McElroy Metal’s model along with a strong focus on the customer.

Topics: Education, Metal Roofing, Commercial

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