can you walk on a metal roof without damaging it

Can you walk on a metal roof without damaging it?

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Last Updated on June 15, 2022 by Todd

If you’re wondering if: can you walk on a metal roof without damaging it, the answer is: Yes, you can! To avoid causing any damage to a metal roof, you’ll need to proceed with caution. The roof will be fine, as long as you follow these 3 simple rules:

  1. Wear soft-soled clean shoes
  2. Don’t drop your heavy tools on the roof
  3. Learn to walk in the right spots

If you’re a homeowner and you have to walk on your metal roof for different reasons like to clean, fix something, or to wash some windows, how can you do it safely and without causing any damage to the roof?

Well, first of all, if you are inexperienced you should not get up on the roof. It is recommended to call a professional and stay off any roofs for safety reasons. But if you really need to go up on a metal roof, here are some of the most important things to consider before getting up on a metal roof.

Wear soft-soled shoes

Soft soled shoes are the greatest you can wear on slippery surfaces, like metal roofs. You need to choose a shoe with the sole made of a rubber material. The rubberized outsole grips on the roof really well and it provides great traction to keep you from slipping.

If you don’t own a professional pair of roofing shoes, don’t worry, go with some hiking or skate shoes.

Related: Best Hiking Shoes for Roofing

Vibram is definitely one of the most popular types of outsoles known for gripping slick and wet surfaces. A pair of shoes with soft soles will also be lightweight, and that is great for your mobility and for preventing causing any damage to the metal surface.

Depending on the style of the metal roof you need to walk on, there are different techniques of how to walk on the roof without damaging it or injuring yourself

Clean your shoe bottoms from dirt and small rocks

It is extremely important to ensure that the outsoles of the shoes are free of dirt, debris or small rocks. If you climb a metal roof with tiny rocks stuck in the bottom of your shoes, you risk to scratch the steel and damage it. In the same time, the shoes won’t grip well and you risk losing traction and slip.

Make sure they are not oily or wet. Always climb a roof with clean and dry shoes.

Don’t drop your tools on the roof

Another way to damage the roof is by dropping your heavy tools on it. Yes, it sounds so obvious but it needs to be mentioned since it happens a lot. It is important to be very careful with the tools you’re carrying.

You might like: 25 Tools Needed for Roofing (2019 Update)

First of all, you should go for lightweight hand tools and wear these tools in a professional tool belt that will keep your them in place.

Dropping heavy tools on beautiful, sensitive metal panels can bend the surface really hard. So it is best to be careful and always wear your tool belt.

Learn to walk in the right spots

There are different techniques on how to walk best on metal roofs, and they depend on the type of the metal roof you’ll be walking on. There are many styles of metal roofs, like standing seam (sheet metal roofs), corrugated steel roofs, metal tile roofs etc. The safest way to make sure you will not damage the roof is by asking for instructions directly from your contractors, installer or manufacturer.

The people who took care of the roof installation know exactly how you should walk on that specific metal roof, they’ll give you specific instructions.

Walking on Metal Tile Roofs

If you have a metal roof with panels that are formed like shakes or tiles (see also ‘Can You Paint Tile Roof?‘), you should be walking on the low spots of the panels that are closer to the roof deck.

Walking on Standing Seam Metal Roofs

Standing seam roofs are safe to be walked on without being damaged. Although, remember that these roofs are usually very steep and excessively slippery, so wear your harness and safety equipment before getting up on the roof. As a conclusion, standing seam roofs won’t be damaged if you step on them with the right shoes.

Walking on Corrugated Steel Roofs 

Corrugated Steel Roofs are also walkable and there is little risk to cause any damage by simply walking on them. They are installed right onto the decking and it is recommended to step on the low valleys they have on.

Walking on Metal Shingle & Metal Shake Roofs

The miracle of Foam Backers

If you are a roofer, a contractor, a home inspector you should already know about foam inserts/backers. They make the difference if you’re going to damage the roof or not.

When installing a metal shingle (see also ‘How Many Shingles In A Bundle‘) or a shake roof, usually it remains an air gap between the decking and the metal panels. This air-gap is usually found in the following metal roofing styles: metal shakes, metal shingles and metal tile. If this air space is present, you can bend and damage the metal roof by simply walking on it..

The professionals insert foam backers (polystyrene) between the metal shingles/shakes and the decking in order to make these roofs safe to be walked on.

The foam backers support the metal panels and give them rigidity and offer solid walkability to the roof. Here is a great example that shows what a difference foam inserts make to metal roofs.

That’s it, we hope we helped you find your answer and now you know if you can walk on a metal roof without damaging it. If we missed something, let us know in the comments below. Happy roofing and stay safe!

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