This guide provides an overview of metal roofing with a focus on installation considerations for homes in coastal high-wind areas. Properly select and install metal roofing to minimize the risk of damage from wind, water intrusion, hail, seismic activity, wildfires, and severe winter weather.
- Enhance roof deck attachment and roof framing attachments, as needed (roof replacement).
- Seal the roof deck using one of the following three options, per the IBHS Fortified Hurricane and High Wind Standards:
- install a self-adhered (peel and stick) membrane over the entire roof deck (recommend a #15 felt bond break between membrane and shingles);
- install a nominal 4-inch wide roof deck flashing tape over all roof sheathing panel seams and cover with #30 felt or equivalent synthetic underlayment;
- install a two-layer #30 felt underlayment system (recommended best practice).
- Install drip edges at eaves and rakes.
- Install metal roof panels and other roofing products that provide uplift resistance equal to or greater than the design uplift pressure for the roof based on the site design wind speed and exposure category, as required by the IBHS Fortified Home Hurricane and High Wind Standards.
- Install metal roofing in accordance with manufacturer’s installation instructions, all applicable building codes, and selected best practices.
- Install flashing at roof penetrations and wall-intersections, properly integrated with roofing and wall underpayments and coverings.
See the Compliance Tab for related codes and standards requirements, and criteria to meet national programs such as DOE’s Zero Energy Ready Home program, ENERGY STAR Single-Family New Homes, and Indoor airPLUS.
During a hurricane, tornado, high winds, or hailstorm, metal roofing can be damaged or blown off the roof (see Figure 1), exposing the underlayment, flashing, and sheathing as the only protection against rainwater. Exposed sheathing will eventually succumb to water damage. Unsealed joints or penetrations in the roof sheathing or storm damage can allow rainwater to enter the building, causing severe damage, including saturation of insulation and ceiling drywall, potentially leading to collapsed ceilings and extensive damage to interior finishes and household contents.
Metal roofing that is selected and installed for high-wind applications is much less likely to be damaged or blown off the roof during a storm. Impact-resistant roofing is also available to help protect against damage by windborne debris and hail. Metal roofing is also fire-resistant.
Building codes require roofing to be rated for the local wind zone. Homes located in coastal high-wind areas, including hurricane-prone regions (defined in the IRC as areas along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts where wind velocity is >115 mph, and Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Guam, the Virgin Islands, and American Samoa), generally require products and attachments that can withstand greater wind speeds than the rest of the country (see the wind map from the IRC in the Climate tab). A roof replacement is an opportunity to enhance roof deck attachment, roof framing connections, roofing underlayment, and flashing as needed to meet new standards and building codes.
The International Residential Code (IRC) specifies minimum requirements for design wind loads (2018 IRC R301.2.1), metal roofing underlayment (R905.1.1), metal roof shingles (R905.4), and metal roof panels (R905.10), including deck and slope requirements, material standards and thickness, corrosion resistance, and attachment. Local requirements may exceed the IRC requirements or may require specific product approvals.
There are two broad categories of metal roofing types: metal shingles and metal panels. The metal shingle category includes simulated shakes that resemble wood shakes and simulated tiles that resemble concrete or clay tiles. There are two general types of metal panels: “exposed fastener” panels and “standing seam” panels. Exposed fastener panels are factory-made, typically 3 feet wide and 8 to 16 feet long, ribbed to provide stiffness, and attached using color-matching, gasketed screws. Exposed fastener panels are usually stiff enough to be installed over spaced wood battens or purlins. Standing seam panels, also known as vertical seam panels, are site made, attached to the roof with concealed fasteners, and highly resistant to wind and wind-driven rain. Standing seam panels are attached to clips that are attached to the roof. Standing seam panels typically must be installed on roof decks with sheathing (i.e., not over wood strapping or battens). Standing seam roofs are custom-made and seamed to lock the panels together, with specialized tools on-site; individual panels, typically 16 inches wide, are normally installed as one long, continuous piece from the roof ridge to the eave.
Metal roofs are durable, low maintenance, and can be repainted. The most common materials for metal roofing are steel, aluminum, and copper. These materials are either naturally corrosion-resistant or made corrosion-resistant when manufactured in accordance with building code-referenced standards. Manufacturers rate products for impact resistance; some materials resist impact better than other materials, and heavier gauge metal resists damage from hail better than lighter gauge metal. Metal roofing tends to cost more than asphalt shingles, but a metal roof can last up to 50 years or more. Panels are also available with reflective coatings to reduce heat gain during the cooling season.
Metal roofing manufacturers normally provide a report on individual products with specific details on product materials, installation requirements, fire classification, wind uplift resistance, and impact rating. The report is known as an Evaluation Service Report (ESR) and is available on the ICC Evaluation Service site.
The Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety® (IBHS) Fortified Home program offers guidance, best practices, and voluntary construction standards and programs for building in disaster-prone areas, including hurricane and high-wind zones. The IBHS FORTIFIED HOME™ Hurricane and High Wind Standards provide guidance for making new and existing homes more resilient and durable in hurricane and high-wind zones. There are three levels of FORTIFIED Home: FORTIFIED Roof™ focuses on the roof; FORTIFIED Silver focuses on roof overhangs, opening protection, gable ends, and attached structures; FORTIFIED Gold focuses on tying all components of the structure together. The IBHS FORTIFIED Roof™ program includes guidance on sealed roof decks, flashing, and roofing attachment.
The Fortified Home High Wind Standards require metal panel roofing systems and their attachments to be installed in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions and to provide uplift resistance equal to or greater than the design uplift pressure for the roof based on the design wind speed for Exposure B. The IBHS Fortified Hail Supplement to the IBHS High-Wind Standards requires metal roofing panels to be UL 2218 Class 4 impact-resistant. Fortified Home standards also require stainless steel fasteners or clips for metal roofs within 3,000 feet of a saltwater coastline.
For areas prone to wildfires, metal roofs are generally considered a fire-resistant roof covering. Roof coverings have fire classifications of Class A, Class B, or Class C or are unclassified. Class A has the highest resistance to fire, and unclassified have the least. Class A, B, and C roofing must be tested in accordance with UL 790 (Fire Tests of Roof Coverings) or ASTM E108 (Standard Test Methods for Fire Tests of Roof Coverings). Metal roofs usually require a noncombustible roof deck or fire-resistant underlayment for the roof assembly to qualify as Class A. An example of a noncombustible roof deck is gypsum panels installed above a wood structural panel deck. Fire-resistance-rated underlayment products are recommended in all wildfire areas and may be required by local jurisdictions.
How to Install Metal Roofing for New Construction:
Step 1: Install the roof deck using fasteners nailed as required to meet current requirements for nail type, size, and spacing.
Step 2: Seal the roof deck using one of the following three options, per the IBHS Fortified Hurricane and High Wind Standards, and in accordance with the product manufacturer installation instructions:
- Install a self-adhered (peel and stick) membrane over the entire roof deck (recommend a #15 felt bond break between membrane and shingles).
- Install a nominal 4-inch-wide roof deck flashing tape over all roof sheathing panel seams and cover with #30 felt or equivalent synthetic underlayment.
- Install a two-layer #30 felt underlayment system.
Step 3: Install metal drip edge at eaves and rakes.
Step 4: Install flashing at all roof penetrations and roof-wall intersections.
Step 5: Select and install metal panels for roofing.
- Install roofing in accordance with the manufacturer’s installation instructions, all applicable building codes, and selected best practices.
- IRC does not permit metal roof shingles to be installed on roof slopes below three units vertical in 12 units horizontal (25 % slope), and minimum slopes for metal roof panels should comply with the following provisions:
- For lapped, non-soldered-seam metal roofs without applied lap sealant, the minimum slope is three units vertical in 12 units horizontal (25%).
- For lapped, non-soldered-seam metal roofs with applied lap sealant, the minimum slope is one-half unit vertical in 12 units horizontal (4%).
- For standing-seam roof systems, the minimum slope is one-quarter unit vertical in 12 units horizontal (2%).
- Metal roof shingles are applied to solid, closely fitted roof decks, whereas metal roof panels are applied to solid or spaced sheathing.
- See the manufacturer’s ICC-ES Evaluation Report (ESR) for specific details on product material, installation requirements, fire classification, wind uplift resistance, and impact rating.
- For cooling energy savings in hot climates, select metal roofs with a solar reflectance Index (SRI) equal to or greater than 78 for low-slope and 29 for steep-sloped roofs (ENERGY STAR Cool Roof certified products are recommended).
- Use stainless steel fasteners where within 3,000 feet of a saltwater coastline.
- Use galvanized fasteners for steel roofs.
- Use copper, brass, bronze, copper alloy, or 300-series stainless steel fasteners for copper roofs. Stainless steel fasteners are acceptable for metal roofs.
- Don’t underdrive or overdrive the fasteners. The rubber washer in the fastener should seal the metal surface but should not be pressed.
- Fasteners should not be angled. Take the fasteners off the roof and re-nail if angled.
- Standing seam panels are typically attached to corrosion-resistant clips that are attached to the roof using corrosion-resistant fasteners (screws) as specified by the manufacturer.
- It is important to lay the panels straight on the eave-to-ridge course. Ensure that the first metal panel is straight; the rest of the panels will follow the layout of the first panel.
- Install metal roof panels to avoid rainwater puddling or being trapped by seams so that rainwater can drain freely into the gutters.
- Ensure all roofing and flashing are installed shingle-fashion, where the top layer of the panel or flashing laps over the bottom layer to prevent water from draining behind the bottom layer.
Step 5: Install flashing
- Valley flashing should be of corrosion-resistant metal of the same material as the roof and should extend at least 8 inches from the center and have a splash diverter rib 3/4 inch high at the flow line formed as part of the flashing.
- Pipe flashing should be sealed with tube sealant and attached using adequate screws.
- Sections of flashing should have an end lap of at least 4 inches.
Step 7: Install eave clips at the eaves.
- Eave clips for eave closure should have a smooth finish and allow the water to flow into the gutter.
Step 8: Clean the surface of the roof to remove any debris from construction.
Roofing should be inspected and installed by a professional roofing contractor to ensure that the roof system provides robust protection from rainwater and ice dams and that proper flashing is in place. A building permit may be required for a roof replacement. Ask the local building department. For disaster resistance, comply with the roofing requirements defined by IBHS Fortified Home Technical Resources. For metal roofing, precautions should be taken to avoid damage in the long term due to corrosion and galvanization. Corrosion can be caused by ponding water and debris accumulation. Corrosion-resistant material should be selected for roofing in coastal areas. Proper flashing and drainage plane should be installed to avoid ponding water, and the roof should be cleaned after installation to minimize debris accumulation. To avoid galvanization, the contractor must not use different metals on the roof. Select screws and other metal accessories that match or are chemically compatible with the material of the roofing panel.
Hurricane and High-Wind Areas
Roofing is more likely to be damaged or lost in hurricane-prone regions and other high-wind areas (see Figure 1), leaving flashing and underlayment exposed and more susceptible to wind and water intrusion. Selection of high-wind and impact-rated metal roofing is required in high-wind and hurricane regions. Proper installation of roofing is even more important in these areas to protect against storm damage.
The Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety® (IBHS) offers guidance, best practices, voluntary construction standards, and programs for building in disaster-prone areas, including hurricanes and other high-wind zones. The IBHS FORTIFIED Roof™ program includes guidance on sealed roof decks, flashing, and shingle attachment.
Metal panel roof covering systems are rated by design pressure. Fortified requires that design pressure ratings for metal panel roof cover systems must come from one of the approved certified test reports and/or testing standards listed in the Fortified Technical Bulletin: Metal Panel Roof Covering Guidance. However, it should be noted that the design pressure ratings are dependent on the proper attachment of the metal panel attachment, including the type, size, and spacing of fasteners or clips, and should comply with those requirements during installation.
Cold Climate and High Snow Load Regions
In regions of cold or nighttime subcooling (where the roof temperature falls below air temperature), condensation can occur on the underside of the metal roofing. Adequate roof venting should be provided, either with a vented attic or venting of the roof assembly through the use of battens between the roof decking and roof cladding. To protect the roof sheathing should condensation occur, a continuous layer of roof underlayment (felt, synthetic underlayment, or membrane) is needed. In cold climates and high-snow-load regions, install self-adhering bituminous membranes along roof eaves, and ensure proper air sealing, insulating, and ventilation of the attic or roof assembly to reduce the risk of ice dam formation and damage. The International Residential Code 2018 requires an ice barrier to be installed in areas where there has been a history of ice forming along the eaves. The ice barrier should consist of at least two layers of underlayment cemented together or a self-adhering polymer-modified bitumen and should extend from the lowest edges of all roof surfaces to a point not less than 24 inches inside the exterior wall line of the building. If the slope of the roof is greater than 67%, the ice barrier should not be less than 36 inches measured along the slope from the eave edge of the building.
In areas of high snow load, design roofs with proper slopes to encourage snow to slide off safely on a continuous basis. If there are areas of the roofline where falling snow would cause a danger (i.e., over a doorway), a variety of snow guards or snow slide protection products are available. Homeowners should be aware of the potential overloading of roof structures in locations on the home where snow guards have been installed.
If a vented attic design is used and high snow loads are anticipated that may block roof vents, consider adding cupola vents.
The roof must also be designed to structurally support heavy snow loads as required in the code. Roof snow loads are based on the historical records for ground snow loads for a given location; however, the local building authority should always be consulted to determine the correct roof snow load to use for a given site and application. Most building codes in the United States reference the procedures found in ASCE 7-16 - Minimum Design Loads and Associated Criteria for Buildings and Other Structures, Chapter 7: Snow Loads. The ground snow load map shown in Figure 2 is based on ASCE 7 (Figure 7-1; see also 2021 IRC Figure R301.2(4)). Ground snow loads for the contiguous United States can be generally determined using this map. Ground snow loads for sites at elevations above the limits indicated and for all sites labeled "CS" require site-specific case studies and approval from the governing building authority. Ground snow loads for Alaska are listed in Table 7.1 of ASCE 7. Ground snow loads for Hawaii are zero, except in mountainous regions as determined by the authority having jurisdiction. The American Society of Civil Engineers offers a web-based mapping tool that provides a quick way to look up key design parameters specified in Standard ASCE 7-10 or 7-16, including snow load data, by address, latitude/longitude, or map location, for a small fee.
The Compliance tab contains both program and code information. Code language is excerpted and summarized below. For exact code language, refer to the applicable code, which may require purchase from the publisher. While we continually update our database, links may have changed since posting. Please contact our webmaster if you find broken links.
Section R301 Design Criteria. Discusses provisions for constructing buildings and structures to safely support all loads, including dead loads, live loads, roof loads, flood loads, snow loads, wind loads, and seismic loads, resulting in a system that provides a complete load path that meets the requirements for the transfer of loads from their point of origin through the load-resisting elements to the foundation.
Section R302 Fire Resistant Construction. Describes fire-resistant construction of building components.
Chapter 9 discusses the requirements for roof assemblies.
Section R902 (“Roof Classification” in 2009 and 2012). Discusses fire classifications for Class A, B, and C roof covering materials and assemblies, as well as (starting in 2015) provisions for roof-mounted photovoltaics.
Section R905 discusses requirements for Roof Coverings.
Section R905.1 provides requirements for underlayments based on wind design.
Section R905.4 discusses provisions for the installation of metal roof shingles, including deck requirements, slope, underlayment, material standards, application, flashing, etc.
Section R905.10 discusses provisions for the installation of metal roof panels, including deck requirements, slope, material standards, attachment, underlayment, etc.
Section R905.1.2 (Section R905.2.7.1 in 2012 and 2009) specifies ice barrier requirements for geographic areas where there has been a history of ice dams. Requirements apply to asphalt shingle roofs, metal roof shingles, mineral-surfaced roll roofing, slate and slate-type shingles, wood shingles, and wood shakes. An exception is included for detached accessory structures not containing a conditioned floor area.
Section R905.7.1.1 (Section R905.8.1.1 in 2009) states that in areas where the average daily temperature in January is 25°F (-4°C) or less, solid sheathing is required on that portion of the roof requiring the application of an ice barrier.
Section R908.3 (Section R907.3 in 2009) states that roof replacement shall include the removal of existing layers of roof coverings down to the roof deck except where the existing roof assembly includes an ice barrier membrane, in which case the existing ice barrier membrane shall be permitted to remain in place and covered with an additional layer of ice barrier membrane.
Section R102.7.1 Additions, alterations, or repairs. Additions, alterations, renovations, or repairs shall conform to the provisions of this code without requiring the unaltered portions of the existing building to comply with the requirements of this code unless otherwise stated. (See code for additional requirements and exceptions.)
Appendix J regulates the repair, renovation, alteration, and reconstruction of existing buildings and is intended to encourage their continued safe use.
Section 504 Class 1 Ignition-Resistant Construction
Section 504.2 Roof Assembly. Roofs shall have a roof assembly that complies with a Class A rating when tested in accordance with ASTM E108 or UL 790. For roof assemblies where the profile allows a space between the roof covering and roof deck, the space at the eave ends shall be fire-stopped to preclude the entry of flames or embers or have one layer of 72-pound (32.4 kg) mineral-surfaced, nonperforated cap sheet complying with ASTM D3909 installed over the combustible roof deck.
- Class A roof assemblies include those with coverings of brick, masonry, or an exposed concrete roof deck.
- Class A roof assemblies also include ferrous or copper shingles or sheets, metal sheets and shingles, clay or concrete roof tile or slate installed on noncombustible decks, or ferrous, copper, or metal sheets installed without a roof deck on noncombustible framing.
- Class A roof assemblies include a minimum of 16 oz/sq. Ft. (0.0416 kg/m2) copper sheets installed over combustible roof decks.
Note: 2009 and 2012 IWUIC do not mention compliance with ASTM E108 or UL 790 and do not include the list of exceptions.
Section 504.2.1 Roof valleys. Where provided, valley flashings shall be not less than 0.019 inches (0.48 mm) (No. 26 galvanized sheet gage) corrosion-resistant metal installed over a minimum 36-inch-wide (914 mm) underlayment consisting of one layer of 72-pound (32.4 kg) mineral-surfaced, nonperforated cap sheet complying with ASTM D3909 running the full length of the valley.
Section 505 Class 2 Ignition-Resistant Construction
Section 505.2 Roof Assembly. Roofs shall have a roof assembly that complies with not less than a Class A rating when tested in accordance with ASTM E108 or UL 790 or an approved noncombustible roof covering. For roof assemblies where the profile allows a space between the roof covering and roof deck, the space at the eave ends shall be fire-stopped to preclude the entry of flames or embers or have one layer of cap sheet complying with ASTM D3909 installed over the combustible roof deck. (2009-2018 IWUIC requires a Class B rating rather than a Class A rating, and only the 2015-2021 IWUIC mentions compliance with ASTM E108 and UL 790.)
Section 505.2.1 Roof valleys. Where provided, valley flashings shall be not less than 0.019-inch (0.48 mm) (No. 25 galvanized sheet gage) corrosion-resistant metal installed over a minimum 36-inch-wide (914 mm) underlayment consisting of one layer of 72-pound (32.4 kg) mineral-surfaced, nonperforated cap sheet complying with ASTM D3909 running the full length of the valley.
Section 506 Class 3 Ignition-Resistant Construction
Section 506.2 Roof assembly. Roofs shall have a roof assembly that complies with not less than a Class B rating when tested in accordance with ASTM E108 or UL 790 or an approved noncombustible roof covering. For roof assemblies where the profile allows a space between the roof covering and roof deck, the space at the eave ends shall be fire-stopped to preclude the entry of flames or embers or have one layer of cap sheet complying with ASTM D3909 installed over the combustible roof deck. (2009-2018 IWUIC requires a Class C rating rather than a Class B rating, and only the 2015-2021 IWUIC mentions compliance with ASTM E108 and UL 790.)
Section 506.2.1 Roof valleys. Where provided, valley flashings shall be not less than 0.019-inch (0.48 mm) (No. 25 galvanized sheet gage) corrosion-resistant metal installed over a minimum 36-inch-wide (914 mm) underlayment consisting of one layer of 72-pound (32.4 kg) mineral-surfaced, nonperforated cap sheet complying with ASTM D3909 running the full length of the valley.
Section 507.1 The roof covering on buildings or structures in existence prior to the adoption of this code that is replaced or have 25 percent or more replaced in a 12-month period shall be replaced with a roof covering required for new construction based on the type of ignition-resistant construction specified in accordance with Section 503.
“Metal Panels. Metal Roof Wind Resistance Requirements. Metal panel roofing systems and their attachment must be installed in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions and must provide uplift resistance equal to or greater than the design uplift pressure for the roof based on a nominal design wind speed (Vasd)= 110 mph (ASCE 7-05), and an ultimate design wind speed (Vult) = 140 mph, (ASCE 7-10) design wind speed for Exposure B. The metal panels must be installed over continuous decking and one of the acceptable sealed roof deck underlayment options.”
“An essential but often-overlooked fact is that Design Pressure (DP) ratings are dependent on the proper attachment of the metal panels to the roof. Therefore, it is vital to understand the panel attachment requirements, such as the type, size, and spacing of fasteners or clips, and comply with those requirements when installing the panels. It is important to reiterate that different connection spacings may be required in roof zones two and/or three then are required in roof zone 1 in order to meet the corresponding design uplift pressures.
Many metal panel manufacturers also provide specific installation details for metal panel attachments at different areas of the roof, for example, ridges, eaves, valleys, gutters, sidewalls, flashings, etc. It is the job of the manufacturer to obtain all installation information.”
Section 220.127.116.11.3 Metal shingles and panels. Metal panel roofing systems and their attachment must be installed in accordance with the manufacturer’s installation instructions and shall provide uplift resistance equal to or greater than the design uplift pressure for the roof based on the site design wind speed and exposure category. The metal panels must be installed over continuous decking and one of the acceptable sealed roof deck underlayment options (see the Description tab or the Fortified standard for details).
“Metal Roof Impact-Resistance Requirements UL 2218 Class 4 … It should be noted that while impact-resistant metal roofs have good impact resistance and are likely to survive the impact from most hailstone sizes without functional damage, metal roofs can be vulnerable to aesthetic damage since hail can cause permanent indentations in the roofing panels. Use of metal roofing products with granular coatings may reduce the visibility of small indentations.”
18.104.22.168 Only listed roof coverings tested and rated as Class A in accordance with ASTM E108, Standard Test Methods for Fire Tests of Roof Coverings, or UL 790 Standard for Test Methods for Fire Tests of Roof Coverings, shall be used.
5.3.4 Eaves shall be enclosed with exterior fire-retardant-treated wood, ignition-resistant materials, noncombustible materials, or materials exhibiting resistance to wildfire penetration when tested to ASTM E2957-15 Standard Test Method for Resistance to Wildfire Penetration of Eaves, Soffits, and Other Projections.
5.3.7 Metal drip edge shall be installed at all rake and eave edges.
For a roof replacement:
- Remove all existing roofing (claddings and underlayment).
- Replace any rotten or damaged wood sheathing.
- Inspect and replace any damaged flashing; Where flashing is missing, inspect and replace damaged sheathing and framing.
- Inspect the roof deck attachment fasteners and re-nail as required to meet current requirements for nail type, size, and spacing.
How to Install Metal Roofing for an Existing Roof:
Step 1: Assess the roof decking and fix any area that may show signs of rot or wear. Ensure the underlayment, eave protection, and drip edges are adequately nailed and installed correctly.
Step 2: Install metal panels or shingles following the manufacturer’s instructions and instructions for new construction provided in this guide.
Step 3: Integrate the metal roofing with flashings at roof-wall intersections and roof penetrations.
Step 4: Apply sealant between the metal roof and drip edge.
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