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How to Cut Tin Roofing | 3 Best Methods

How to Cut Tin Roofing | 3 Best Methods

If you are a do-it-yourselfer or just want to save money, then you may be interested in installing your own tin roofing.

Tin roofs have been around since the 1800s and were widely used to cover houses because they were low cost and easy to install. 

There are three methods for cutting tin roofing: hacksaw, utility knife, and tin snips.

The method you use will depend on the type of roof that needs attention as well as the length of material required for installation. We will now go over each one in detail!

What is Tin Roofing?

A tin roof is a type of metal roofing made from sheet steel. It can be installed on wooden roofs, concrete roofs, or even existing shingle roofs to save costs versus installing new materials.

When do you use Tin Roofs?

Tin roofs are best used in areas that receive minimal amounts of rain and snowfall each year.

Since the material is not heavy duty, it does tend to buckle when faced with too much rain or snow accumulation.

Tools needed to cut tin roofing

If you have a new roof, it pays to hire a professional roofing contractor to install your tin roof. When it comes time for repair or old tin roofs you can rent the same tools that they use. 

If you’re working with an old roof, which is likely if you’re reading this article, then I would recommend purchasing the following tools: Tin snips, high-temperature roof primer, and high-temperature tin adhesive.

A heat gun is also helpful but not necessary if you’re planning on using an alternate method for cutting thin metal.

A sharp utility knife with a new blade will also come in handy when you’re simultaneously removing the old asphalt shingles that are overlaid on the tin roof.

1. Using tin snips – Once you have completed your measurements, make a mark where you are going to cut the metal roofing with your pencil.

The line is only a guide and its accuracy does not need to be precise. Put on your safety glasses and then use your tin snips to cut the roofing along your line.

Never try to cut straight through the metal without first making a starter mark.

Tin snips will leave an irregular edge, so you should never expect the cut finished product to look like it was made by a machine or factory.

2. Using shears or aviation snips – If you want clean cuts with no rough edges then you should use aviation snips, also known as shears.

You can purchase these from a roofing supply store and they will look like the picture below.

They may be more expensive than tin snips but their clean cut is well worth it for any professional looking to preserve their reputation and leave a lasting first impression with their customers.

3. Using a sawzall – A reciprocating saw is not a tool for amateurs and you must be extremely careful.

I only recommend this method for cutting thin metal roofing if you have previous experience using it.

You can buy them from an auto parts, electronics, or home improvement store for around $35-$75 depending on the quality.

A reciprocating saw will leave rough edges, but they’re still better than the rough edges from a tin snip because you aren’t going to be standing on your roof for anyone to see them.

How do you Cut Tin Roofing?

There are three methods for cutting tin roofing: hacksaw, utility knife, and tin snips.

The method that you use will depend on the type of roof that needs attention as well as the length of material required for installation.

  • Hacksaw Method – Using a hacksaw, you can cut lengths of tin roofing by clamping it firmly in place with one hand and sawing through the metal using your other hand.
    • This method is best used when cutting multiple small pieces or short sections that are up to six feet long.
  • Utility Knife Method – For larger sections, you can use a utility knife to snap the metal and cut it in half.
    • This method is best used for cutting tin roofs that are six feet or less as well as those with small bends such as around corners.
  • Tin Snip Method – Tin snips allow you to cut smooth and precise edges.
    • They are best used for cutting sections of tin roofing that measure more than six feet in length as well as those with larger bends such as around corners.

Tin Roofing Installation

Before you start your project, it is important to prepare the area by clearing all debris from the surface where you will be installing the tin roofing as well as any other objects that may get in the way.

Next, use a drill to create holes every four feet along the entire length of your tin roofing piece, being sure not to skip or overlap too much.

Finally, prepare for installation by laying out all pieces and carefully fitting them together at each corner.

How long does it take to install Tin Roofs?

Depending on the size and type of tin roofing you are installing, it can take anywhere from a few hours up to one full day.

It is best to plan ahead so that you don’t run into any unexpected problems!


Now that you know all about cutting tin roofing, you are ready to get started on your own do-it-yourself project.

Be sure to wear the proper safety gear including gloves, goggles, and a face mask when cutting tin roofing in order to avoid injury or damage!

Cutting Tin Roof