cutting corrugated metal roofing

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Not sure how to cut corrugated metal roofing? You’re not alone.

After weeks of research and interviews with professional roofers and metal workers, we’ve found the best and the least destructive ways to cut corrugated metal easily, efficient and without cutting yourself.

Because of its unique wavy shape, some people find it difficult to cut corrugated metal sheets. If you adequately prepare before you cut, use proper cutting tools and safety gear, cutting corrugated sheets is easy.

Tin sheets are lightweight, easy to maneuver, flexible and soft – you can cut it manually using snips or by using electric tools like turbo shears, nibblers or grinders.

Today we share the safest, best and least destructive ways to cut corrugated metal roofing. With the tools we recommend, you’ll make clean, fast and efficient cuts with smooth edges.

HOW TO CUT CORRUGATED METAL ROOFING


I. Put on your safety gear: Gloves, Hearing Protection, and Eye Protection

safety gear cutting tin roofing

When handling metal roofing, you need to be very careful. Protect your hands from dangerously sharp edges or raised burrs by wearing appropriate safety gloves.

If you’re using tools that use heat like circular saws or grinders (although we don’t recommend it, see why below), you need to be extra careful and add safety glasses, ear protection, face shield, safety roofing boots, long-sleeved clothes to avoid burns.


II. Plan ahead, prepare the metal and measure before you cut

Hand holding marker pen marking measurement on a metal stud

First of all, measure your roof and order the sheets the exact length you need.

When you’re ready to cut, place the sheet onto a flat, wide and sturdy work surface.

To make the cutting process easier, make sure the work area is wide enough so that you can have enough room to move freely and handle the material with ease.

Measure and mark the length (on both sides) you need to cut.

Use a tape measure, carpenter’s square or a two-by-four, and a permanent marker.


III. Choose the right cutting tools

1. TIN SNIPS: Slow but safe

Best Snips for Corrugated Metal: MIDWEST Aviation Snip Set Left, Right, Center Offset Cuts

This snips set are designed for easy cutting (compound leverage), are comfortable to use and long lasting.

Ideal for professional sheet metal workers, and metal roofers.

The blades are very sharp, and built to last, with maximum strength and durability.

Snips are ideal for cutting any type of corrugated roofing, especially for cutting softer metal like tin sheets. Probably it’s also the cheapest way for cutting corrugated tin roofing.

Tin roofs are lightweight and soft by nature, this is why cutting them manually with snips is a good option.

There are many types of snips available on the market, designed either for straight or curved cuts.

  1. Left offset snips
  2. Right offset snips
  3. Straight cut tin snips

Whether you’re cutting galvanized, stainless steel or plastic corrugated sheets, tin snips can handle it.

Although very slowly, snips will give you clean, controlled cuts. They’re also great for making small cuts and help you with detailed work.

TIN SNIPS: PROS AND CONS

Pros:

  • Clean cuts
  • Cheap tool
  • Quiet
  • Great with details, ideal for tyding up
  • Ideal for small roofing jobs & small cuts

Cons

  • Very slow
  • Tiring to the hand
  • Can’t handle large projects


2. NIBBLERS: the best way to cut corrugated metal

Best Nibbler for Corrugated Metal: Makita JN1601 5 Amp 16 Gauge Nibbler

The Makita nibbler is a reliable, durable and easy to operate tool

It cuts effortlessly through corrugated metal, doesn’t jam and can easily cut straight lines and curves.

Ideal for professional roofers and metal workers who want quality work. Leaves smooth and neat edges.

Nibblers are ideal for cutting corrugated sheet metal, making fast, safe and clean cuts. Easy to operate, nibblers can cut along the sheet and around corners quickly and easily.

How do nibblers work?

The tool nibbles its way through the sheet, so it literally punches tiny pieces of metal one at a time at high speed, leaving behind waste material in the form of tiny metal chips.

Somehow, this way of cutting protects the edges from corrosion.

If you’re a professional roofer, an electric nibbler is the main tool you should use to cut corrugated metal.

Another thing we like most about this tool is that it doesn’t damage the metal, the paint or the protective coating. This is what makes nibblers the most professional, safest and cleanest cutting method.

NIBBLERS: PROS AND CONS

Pros:

  • Fast
  • Professional
  • Leaves clean and neat cuts
  • Ideal for cutting straight lines and cutting curves around corners
  • Excellent for detailed and fancy work
  • Controlled and consistent cutting

Cons

  • Leaves annoying nibblets that can scratch the sheet’s surface
  • Expensive


3. DOUBLE CUT ELECTRIC SHEARS & ATTACHMENTS

Best Double-Cut Electric Shear: Milwaukee 2635-20 M18 Cordless 18 Gauge Double Cut Shear 

Makes two cuts at a time, leaving clean and smooth edges, and minimum waste.

The Milwaukee double cut shear is a rugged tool, highly-durable that helps you cut corrugated sheets fast and efficiently.

The cordless design is convenient and makes the tool ultraportable.

This cutting tool is lightweight, easy on the hands and the ergonomic grip makes it easy to handle.

Another efficient way to cut corrugated metal sheets is by using electric shears. We prefer double-cut shears instead of single-cut shears.

The double cut design leaves clean and smooth edges on both sides (unlike the single-cut shear) and doesn’t leave too much waste. The Milwaukee double shears make two cuts at a time, leave a wider strip of steel behind easy to clean after.

If you don’t want to buy a standalone electric shear, turbo shear attachments might be a great option for you. Plus, they’re much cheaper than a standalone shear tool.

Best Turbo Shear Attachment: Malco TSCM Corrugated Metal Turbo Shear

We like the Malco turbo shear because it fast, durable, cuts straight and curved lines with ease, and leaves smooth edges.

Malco products are made in USA, and they’re always reliable, made for professionals and designed for maximum durability.

The 360-degree rotating head is a great feature, making the tool very easy-to-use and versatile. Excellent for professional large projects.

We recommend the Malco TSCM and the Dewalt DWASHRIR attachements. They quickly attach to a drill or impact driver you already own.

Shear attachments help you make clean and fast cuts. They’re able to cut curves or straight lines, leaving neat edges.

Like any other tool, you have to practice and learn how to make the cleanest cuts. Once you know how to use it, everything becomes very easy.

ELECTRIC SHEARS & ATTACHMENTS: PROS AND CONS

Pros:

  • Clean and smooth edges
  • Fast cutting
  • Shear attachments are cheaper than nibblers

Cons

  • Expensive if you’re buying a standalone electric shear
  • Leaves tiny metal stripes
  • Takes a bit of practice
  • Not the best with cutting around corners


4. CIRCULAR SAWS & GRINDERS: The worst way for cutting corrugated metal roofing?

After asking around roofers and pro sheet metal workers, we’ve come to the conclusion that cutting corrugated metal with anything producing heat is destructive, messy and not professional.

We do not recommend this method.

Cutting corrugated metal with anything producing heat can void the warranty by your manufactures, and can make permanent damage to the metal sheets, causing them to rust.

Whether you use an angle grinder or a circular saw, the heat damages the edges, and the shower of hot sparks can destroy the protective coating and burns the paint finish.

TIP FROM A PRO: “Never use a heated saw, it burns the coating or the paint which will get them both to rust, cut with shears or nibbler

However, if you still want to use a saw or a grinder, use high-quality blades like carbide blades. They’re more expensive, but will last longer, leave smoother edges and definitely, are more efficient than steel-tooth cheaper blades.

Circular saws and grinders cut corrugated roofing very fast, no matter how thick is the steel.

Best Circular Saw: Milwaukee 6370-21 13 Amp 8-Inch Metal Cutting Circular Saw

This Milwaukee circular saw tool is designed especially for metal cutting.

The cutting process is fast, almost effortless and effective.

The dry-cut technology allows for a cleaner metal cutting.

Some roofers say that using a circular saw with the blade put it backward has good results.

CIRCULAR SAWS AND GRINDERS: PROS & CONS

Pros:

  • Cuts like a hot knife through butter.
  • Very fast
  • Can cut through thick corrugate with ease

Cons

  • Requires a complete set of safety gear: safety glasses, hearing protection, face shield, long-sleeved shirt, long pants, safety boots, protective gloves.
  • Messy process
  • This cutting method is the most destructive and damages the finish.
  • Loudest way to cut metal.
  • If you’re using inexpensive blades like steel-tooth blades, they’ll wear out quite fast.
  • Leaves sharp and dangerous edges.
  • Creates hot sparks that are flying everywhere damaging the paint.


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