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Rolling Out Our Metal Roof

By: Lee LeFever

I write books and run a company called Common Craft. I recently moved from Seattle to a rural island. Here, I write about online business, book publishing, modern home construction, and occasionally, dumb jokes.

The post below was sent as an issue of my newsletter, Ready for Rain.


You’ve probably seen metal roofs on houses. They usually have “standing seams” like this:

standing seams

The roof on our house will be no different. In fact, it’s one of our only options because the slope of the roof is so flat. For us, it’s exactly what we need. A metal roof can last over 50 years, especially when it is installed with the panels extending the entire length of the roof. This is where we have a challenge. To have panels with no breaks in them, they will be 60 feet long on a large part of the house.

slope of the roof

The question becomes: how? How do you deliver and install metal panels that are 60 feet long?

I recently participated in this process and it’s fascinating. The metal is delivered in large, heavy spools and then formed and cut on-site in a process called “roll forming”. It’s like a giant mechanical tape dispenser. Photos and more below…

One of Three Spools
One of Three Spools
The Machine/Dispenser
A 60 Foot Panel
A 60 Foot Panel
Stacks of Panels, 10 at a Time

Watch the machine in action:

Machine that Forms Roof Panels

Now we just have to get the panels from the ground to on top of the roof. I’ll get to that a little later.

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