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The Anatomy of Metal Roofing: Exploring Components and Structure

Metal Roof

Metal is one of the strongest, most long-lasting materials on the market when it comes to roofing solutions. Metal roofs are expected to last between 40-70 years, can withstand even the toughest environments, and are available in many different profiles. It’s important to understand all the different components that make metal roofs so tough.

Metal Panels

The biggest (and most obvious) part of a metal roof are the actual metal panels themselves. Panels are the pieces of metal coil/sheets that have been shaped into your desired profile and are ready to be seamed together to form a roof. When it comes to selecting which panel profile is best for your home, you should consider the environment you live in and the typical weather conditions you undergo. If you experience extremely hot temperatures, a cool roofing system may be the way to go. If you live in an area with frequent hail, Corrugated or Tuff Rib will likely be the best options. Areas that experience high amounts of rainfall may want to consider using Mechanical Lock panels.

Fasteners & Clips

Fasteners can either be hidden/concealed or exposed when it comes to a metal roof. Fastener refers to a wide variety of hardware used to secure and assemble various parts of the roof together. It can include nails, screws, clips, cleats, and bolts. Hidden fasteners are used with panels like Standing Seam, and are secured beneath the panel so they are unable to be seen. Exposed fasteners are used with Corrugated panels, and are secured on top of the panels so they are “exposed” to the elements.

Clips are another metal component that are anchored to the building substrate. They secure two pieces of metal to one another. Clips systems are used in panel profiles like Standing Seam, and can either be fixed or floating. These systems usually require a bit more experience for installation purposes, but turn out beautifully with smooth, uninterrupted lines.


One of the most crucial elements of a metal roof is the underlayment. Underlayment is the layer of material underneath the panels. It provides a layer of protection against moisture, ice, extreme temperatures, and more. Underlayment is required by code beneath all metal roofs, even if you choose to leave old shingles or other materials in place when re-roofing.


Sealant is another important component in regards to protecting your home from moisture. It’s used during the installation process to ensure water, dirt, wind, and other things that may get in small spaces are sealed out. This helps make the roof as weather-tight as it can possibly be. Sealant is not designed to be an adhesive, rather an extra line of defense against water intrusion.


To help your project look neat and finished, trim is a major component of your roof’s aesthetic. Residential Metal Roofing Trim helps bring a profile to life and can complement other materials on the building/home. Residential Metal Roofing Trim can be used to add subtle detail or texture in ways that other materials simply cannot. It also helps ensure moisture doesn’t seep in where the panels join together or meet at angles.


Panel closures and ventilating foam are key elements to help keep out insects and other animals. They’re vital in helping your home properly ventilate. Closures are custom-fit to your specific panels, and are an important accessory that aids successful installation.

All of these components make up the basic parts of most metal roofing systems. Of course, there are exceptions, excess parts, and other requirements that may differ from one panel type to another. However, the most basic and common roofing systems require those components for a complete and successful installation. Once your metal roof is installed, it’s also important to understand the different parts of your metal roofing structure. They are as follows:

Decking — A roof’s decking is the surface installed over the roof framing to which the roofing material is applied. Think of it as the (typically) plywood base or foundation that underlayment and the metal panels are attached to.

Soffit — The panels or material that connect a roof’s overhang to the side of a building.

Valley — The valley of a metal roof is the internal angle, formed by an intersection where two sloping planes meet, which provides water runoff.

Pitch — Pitch refers to the slope of the roof plane. It’s measured by dividing the roof’s rise by its run. Steep slopes refer to any pitch greater than 3:12. Low slopes refers to any pitch less than 1.5:12.

Eave — The portion or edges of the roof that hang out over or extend past the supporting wall. Typically, the eaves project beyond the side of the building.

Ridge — The ridge refers to the very highest top section of the roof. This is where at least two roof slopes come together and commonly form a horizontal line.

Fascia — This is the trim that’s right below the roof, which runs the perimeter of a building or structure. Typically, it’s a border for low-sloped roofing systems that keeps water from running into the structure and can even waterproof interior parts of the building or home.

Flashing — Another way to ensure weather-tightness, flashing is a thin piece of metal used to help waterproof and seal different portions of the roofing system including valleys, chimneys, etc.

Hip — Hips are external, jutting angles formed by two sloping roof planes intersecting. They run from the ridge to the eaves.

Gable — Referring to the edge of the roof that runs from the eave to the ridge, a gable is a triangular portion of a wall between the edges of intersection roof pitches.

Drip Edge — A drip edge is a piece of metal placed on the eave of a roof. It’s used to protect the underlayment and eave by directing water in the proper direction. It steers water into the gutter away from the fascia.


This list is not exhaustive of the variety of different parts which make up a metal roofing system. The parts, installation requirements, and other accessories needed may vary based on the panel profile chosen.

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