Metal is one of the longest-lasting materials in the roofing industry. It doesn’t erode the way that asphalt shingles do. It’s puncture, fire, and moisture resistant. But that doesn’t mean that it’s invincible. You should maintain and inspect metal roofing regularly.
However, someone may have to walk on the roof during inspections and other maintenance requirements. It’s important to understand how to walk on a metal roof safely so that you avoid hurting yourself and damaging the roof.
General Roofing Safety Precautions
Walking on the roof can be risky, especially if you’re not an experienced roofer. In the industry, we take precautions and follow OSHA standards when working on any elevated surface.
These precautions include:
- Avoiding walking on a roof alone
- Walking slowly
- Wearing proper non-slip footwear
- Using safety ropes and harnesses
- Utilizing a fall-protection system
- Don’t leave obstacles and hazards underfoot
But metal roofs can be slipperier than other materials. Therefore, you should familiarize yourself with the following tips for how to walk on a metal roof safely.
Pay Attention to the Weather Conditions
Because they transfer temperature differently than other materials and become slicker when they’re wet, metal roofs can be unsafe to walk on in certain weather conditions. Even professionals should avoid walking on metal roofing in the rain.
If you have to make an emergency repair, however, the weather doesn’t always cooperate. When walking on a metal roof under inclement conditions, take extra safety precautions, including wearing fall protection gear.
Rain isn’t the only weather condition that you have to look out for. Hot, sunny days can make walking on the roof unsafe. Metal roofs can become scorching on high-heat days, melting the soles of your shoes. Plus, you increase your risk of heat-related illnesses, such as heatstroke, when you walk on the roof in extreme temperatures.
Wear the Right Footwear
It’s imperative that you wear shoes with non-slip soles to walk on a metal roof safely. Soft rubber with a significant tread creates more friction than some other materials, making it ideal for roofing footwear. Look for shoes with a flat sole, which creates a larger contact surface area with the roof. Footwear with a flexible sole gives you more control over your balance.
What types of shoes should you avoid when walking on a metal roof?
- Heavy boots
- Shoes without full coverage, like flip-flops or sandals
- Old, worn footwear
- Hard-soles shoes
- Ill-fitting footwear
How can you tell if you have the right shoes for walking on a metal roof? The sole should feel almost sticky when it makes contact with the hot metal. If it is slick or you’re able to shuffle your feet easily, your shoes don’t have enough traction.
Make sure that the soles of your shoes are clean too. Gravel and dirt on the soles can reduce traction. Hard particles stuck in the treads can also scratch the roof.
Don’t Walk on a Dirty Roof
Buildup of grime, sand, pine needles, leaves and other debris can make metal roofs especially slippery. These materials reduce your ability to create solid traction as you walk on the roof. Even pollen can create a dusty mess that makes a metal roof slippery.
Brush off loose materials before you walk on a metal roof. You can do this with a hose, soft brush or cloth.
If you’re already on the roof and notice that there is soil or debris beneath your shoes, don’t grind it in. Do your best to tread lightly to avoid scuffing the surface.
Know What Type of Roofing You Have
Different types of metal roofs have distinct requirements for safety and maintenance. Each manufacturer will have precise recommendations for walking on a specific type of roof. You can contact the manufacturer of your roof for suggestions. At Presidio Roofing, we can also help you care for your metal roof properly.
You should avoid stepping on seams, laps and ribs when walking on a metal roof. It’s generally safe to walk on any part of a standing seam roof. Trying to avoid the ribs while you walk could be awkward and make you lose your balance.
Corrugated metal panels are also safe to walk on. They’re screwed securely to the decking, which makes them especially sturdy. However, you should still avoid walking on any overhangs. Only put your weight on areas with decking underneath.
Metal tiles are a bit less forgiving than the other types of metal roofing. Try to keep your footfalls toward the lower areas, which are closer to the decking. When walking on metal shingles, stick to the upper portion of the panel. There is little air space between the materials there and less room for movement.
Install Foam Backers in High-Traffic Areas
Some metal roofs require more maintenance than others. For example, the architecture of your home might create valleys that trap debris. If you’re regularly walking on a metal shingle roof, you may want to reinforce the high-traffic areas. Adding foam backers to shingles that are exposed to repeated foot traffic will make them stronger. Doing this can extend the life of your roof and boost the safety of the roofers.
Use the Correct Products to Clean Your Roof
The way that you care for a metal roof even when you’re not walking on it will help prevent problems when you do need to head up there for a repair. Using the wrong products to clean your roof can accelerate corrosion.
For example, you should not use products that contain copper or iron on Decra roofing. The metals in the product will have a chemical reaction with the roofing material, causing damage that could weaken the roof when you walk on it.
Decra manufacturers also recommend against using high-pressure power washers on the roof. Using hoses with pressure greater than 500 psi can erode the stone coating on the product, causing potentially risky deterioration.
You should clean your roof regularly, however. A patch of mildew growing in the shade of a tree can cause a quick slip if you don’t see it. Monitor your roof for signs of poor drainage or moisture condensation. Look for patchy areas of organic growth, and treat those appropriately. You may not even have to walk on your metal roof to clean it–there are methods for cleaning a metal roof from the ground.
Be Mindful of Your Tools
Avoid walking on the roof with heavy tools. Use lightweight tools, and keep extension cords organized. Tripping on a cord can cause falls and damage the roof. If a heavy tool slips out of your hands, it can also dent the material. Most roofers wear a toolbelt to keep everything secure and prevent these types of accidents.
Should You Hire a Roofer to Walk on Your Metal Roof?
You should always visually inspect a metal roof before you walk on it. Don’t tread on cracked, worn, broken, or fragile surfaces.
Sometimes, it’s safer to leave complicated jobs to professionals. Steep roofs, severe damage, and abundant debris or mildew growth often require professional treatment. If you’re not comfortable walking on the roof or don’t have experience with it, call a professional roofer.
The team at Presidio Roofing has extensive experience with metal roofing. We’ll take care of your installation, repair, and maintenance needs while keeping your roof in pristine condition. We are also licensed and insured and follow safety guidelines to keep our clients and employees safe.