Can You Put Metal Roofing Directly on Rafters (Complete Guide)

Choosing the right roofing material and method can overwhelm both homeowners and contractors, particularly when delving into less familiar options such as the methods for installing metal roofs. The main question that arises is whether metal roofs can be installed directly onto metal roofs tend the rafters. Can you put metal roofing directly on rafters?

To address this, metal roofing can indeed be attached directly to rafters, taking advantage of the structural benefits of its lightweight to allow for a variety of installation possibilities. This approach not only enhances the structure but also contributes to cost savings and the acceleration of the project timeline.

Can You Put Metal Roofing Directly on Rafters?

Can You Put Metal Roofing Directly on Rafters

Whether you can install metal roofing directly onto rafters is one that many homeowners and builders contemplate. The straightforward answer is yes, it is possible. However, this approach requires careful consideration of the structure’s integrity, local building codes, and the specific requirements of the metal roofing system you plan to use.

Metal roofing systems are lauded for their durability, longevity, and energy efficiency. Their lightweight nature often makes them suitable for various installation methods, including direct attachment to rafters. This method, while not traditional, offers several advantages, such as improved ventilation and potentially lower installation costs.

Yet, it’s critical to understand that not all buildings or roof structures are suited for this installation method. The decision to forego traditional sheathing and install metal roofing directly on rafters should be made after a thorough assessment of the roof’s lifespan, the building’s ability to support the roof, local weather conditions, and compliance with local building codes.

Benefits And Drawbacks Of Installing Metal Roofs On Rafters

Installing metal roofing directly on rafters is a unique approach that can offer several benefits, namely cost efficiency provide thermal protection, but it also comes with its own set of drawbacks. Understanding these can help homeowners and builders make an informed decision.


  • Reduced Construction Time and Costs: By eliminating the need for sheathing, you can save on both materials and labor. This simplification of the roofing process can significantly reduce the overall construction time.
  • Improved Roof Ventilation: Direct installation can enhance ventilation under the metal roof. This improved airflow can help regulate attic temperatures and reduce moisture buildup, which in turn can prolong the lifespan of the roof.
  • Increased Energy Efficiency: The gap created by installing the metal roof directly on the rafters can act as an additional insulation layer, potentially improving the home’s energy efficiency by reducing heat transfer.


  • Noise: Without sheathing, noise from rain, hail, or other impacts can be more noticeable inside the building. This can be a significant inconvenience for some occupants.
  • Structural Concerns: Directly installing metal roofing on rafters may not be suitable for all types of buildings. The structural integrity of the rafters must be carefully evaluated to ensure they can support the roof, especially in regions with heavy snowfall or high winds.
  • Potential for Condensation: While improved ventilation is a benefit, there’s also a risk of increased condensation if the roof is not properly insulated and ventilated, which could lead to moisture-related issues.
  • Building Code Compliance: Not all local building codes may allow for metal roofing to be installed directly on rafters. It’s crucial to check with local building authorities to ensure that your roofing project complies with all relevant regulations.

What Underlayment is Best for a Metal Roof?

shutterstock 1303041481 scaled 1

When installing a successful metal roofing project, selecting the appropriate underlayment is crucial for ensuring durability, weather resistance, and the overall longevity of the roofing system. The roofing underlayment acts as a secondary barrier against moisture, heat, and other environmental factors. Here are some of the best underlayment options for metal roofs:

Synthetic Underlayment

  • Description: Synthetic underlayment is made from polymers and offers high tensile strength, durability, and resistance to water and UV radiation.
  • Benefits: It’s lightweight, easy to install, and provides excellent protection against moisture. Synthetic underlayment is also resistant to mold and tears, making it a durable choice for metal roofs.

Self-Adhering Membrane Underlayment

  • Description: Also known as ice and water shields, these membranes have a sticky back surface that adheres to the roof deck. They are designed to offer superior protection in areas prone to ice dams and wind-driven rain.
  • Benefits: Provides exceptional waterproofing properties and is particularly useful in valleys, eaves, and around roof penetrations. The self-adhesive back makes it easy to install.

Felt Underpayment

  • Description: Felt underpayment, often referred to as tar paper or roofing felt, comes in two types: No. 15 and No. 30. No. 30 is thicker and more durable than No. 15.
  • Benefits: It’s a traditional underpayment material that offers a good level of moisture protection at a lower cost. Felt underpayment can also provide an extra layer of insulation.

Considerations for Choosing the Right Underlayment:

  • Climate: The local climate plays a significant role in determining the best underlayment. Areas with heavy rainfall, snow, or high humidity may require more robust waterproofing features.
  • Roof Slope: Steeper roofs may benefit from underlayments with higher slip resistance for safer installations.
  • Local Building Codes: Always check local regulations to ensure the underlayment meets all required standards and codes for metal roofing systems.

How to Install a Metal Roof Over Open Rafters

gcp feb2020 hero giws application

Step 1

Ensure you’re equipped with protective gear, including gloves, safety goggles, and a roofing harness. Utilizing this safety equipment is crucial for your protection while working on a roof. Once you’re on the roof, fasten the roofing harness according to the guidelines provided by the manufacturer’s instructions.

Step 2

Secure the ladder firmly in place. If you have someone to help, ask them to stabilize it as you ascend to the roof. Ensure that the ladder is immovable and will not tip or fall while you are climbing or when you are on the roof.

Step 3

  • Roll out the insulation, making sure the side with the vapor barrier faces downwards.
  • To ensure a firmer attachment of rolled insulation to the rafters, use galvanized nails.
  • Start by securing it to the first rafter, then gradually unroll it to the next one before fastening it in place. Pull the insulation taut to avoid any sagging between the rafters, but be careful not to stretch it so much that it tears or gets damaged.

Step 4

Install the initial metal panel ensuring it’s aligned with the eaves and secure it to the rafters using self-tapping screws.

Apply caulking along the panel’s edge before positioning the subsequent panel to overlap the first slightly. This caulking acts as a barrier against leaks between the two overlapping panels. Fasten the overlapping panel into a rafter with screws, and continue this method across the entire structure.

Step 5

Start the new row of panels by applying caulking across the top edge of the already placed panels. Ensure that the new row overlaps the previous one by a few inches, including the side overlaps between right metal panels only.

Continue with this approach for the second row and maintain this installation pattern until the entire roof is uniformly covered with metal panels. Then, proceed to apply the same method to the other side of the roof.

Step 6

Install the ridge cap along the peak of the roof, where the two sides converge. Apply caulking at the points of contact between the ridge cap and the edges of the corrugated panels on the roof. Use self-tapping screws to securely affix the roof edges and ridge cap, finalizing the roof installation.

Tip: Consider incorporating fiberglass panels to create skylights. Keep in mind, though, that these panels may not have the same longevity as the corrugated metal panels and roofing panels.

Best Practices for Metal Roofing Installation

photo 2024 04 05 16 26 14

Ensuring the longevity and effectiveness of a metal roofing project requires consistent maintenance, consulting with professionals for advice or installation services, and being aware of common installation errors to avoid.

Regular Inspections and Maintenance

Metal roofing stands out for its robustness, yet to maximize its lifespan, routine inspections and upkeep are essential. Regularly examining the roof for any indications of deterioration, wear, or potential issues can greatly prolong its durability help avert small concerns prevent leaks from escalating into significant problems.

The Importance of Professional Installation or Consultation

Although the prospect of installing metal roofing may appeal to DIY enthusiasts, seeking advice from a professional is highly advised. Experts can offer important insights, confirm the installation is performed accurately installed correctly, adhere to industry best practices, and identify potential issues that might otherwise be overlooked.

Potential Pitfalls to Avoid When Installing Over Rafters

When installing metal roofing directly onto rafters, it’s vital to be aware of common pitfalls. Ensuring adequate ventilation and uniform weight distribution across the rafters is crucial to avoid structural issues. Proper sealing at joints and overlaps is necessary to prevent water leakage.

Additionally, it’s important not to over-tighten panels during installation and to avoid using dissimilar or incompatible metals together, as these practices can lead to premature corrosion.


During the installation of metal roofing panels on rafters, be cautious of several potential issues. A common oversight is failing to balance the load evenly across the rafters, which is crucial for structural integrity.

Equally important is the need to properly seal joints and overlaps to prevent water ingress. Furthermore, avoid overly tightening the metal roofing panels or combining metals that are prone to galvanic corrosion when in contact, as both can lead to increased corrosion risk.


Can I attach the metal roof directly to the rafters?

Metal roofs can indeed be mounted directly to rafters, a method often referred to as direct-to-deck installation. The primary consideration in this approach is ensuring the structural integrity of the roof can support the weight of the metal roofing materials.

Do you need plywood sheathing under a metal roof?

A water barrier, such as polyurethane insulation, is employed to safeguard metal roofs, ensuring a flat and uniform surface. The presence of a solid substrate is essential for maintaining a level roof; without it, the roofing system may be prone to leaks due to an inability to lie flat.

Do I need furring strips under a metal roofing panels?

Furring strips play a crucial role in minimizing heat transfer between the metal roof and the roofing deck. They not only assist in anchoring the metal roofing underlayment firmly but also, depending on local building codes, their use may be mandated by regulations to ensure proper ventilation installation and the roof’s longevity and performance.

Do you have to put slats under a metal roof?

Neglecting to use metal roof shingle strips can lead to condensation issues between the roofing materials, potentially causing moisture problems. This guide aims to outline the fundamental steps for installing wooden stripping on your metal roof to help prevent such issues.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top