Metal roofs are made with different materials such as steel, aluminum, or alloys/ combination of the two. And even though metals can be galvanized, they won’t be as strong as cemented roofs or brick. Which is why you may wonder if can you even walk on them

Well, yes. You can walk on a metal roof, however, several factors come into play to avoid damaging your roof. To safely walk on your roof, you need to understand the roof type, have the right shoes, roof-top support equipment and ensure the conditions are right. What’s more, some roofing industries have other prerequisites to these roofs such as don’t exert force on certain spots of the roof.

If you want to learn all about walking and even working on the roof, then keep reading. Below is a detailed discussion on when it is possible plus when should avoid it.

Walking on Metal Roofs

As mentioned above, metal on its own has some integrity that allows you to walk over the roof without damaging it or even causing accidents. Nonetheless, on several occasions, safety measures have to be put in place to ensure the roofing is secure to walk on.

Understanding the Type of Metal Roofing

First and foremost, you need an understanding of the type of metal roofing used. What does this mean? Well, there are four types of roofing styles most manufacturers use. They are;

  • Standing seam roofing
  • Metal tile roofing
  • Corrugated panels
  • Metal shingles

For all these metal roofing styles, you should walk strategically to avoid falls, accidents, or damage to the roof.

Standing Seam Roofing

This is the safest metal roof to walk on since it holds up weight pretty well; you can literally walk all over it, at any spot and you won’t damage it. However, the type of shoes will matter, more about this in below next segment. 

Metal Tiles

These ones are made to resemble any other tiling solutions such as ceramics or shake. They are a bit fragile hence, you should walk on lower spots (roof deck)

Corrugated Panels

Since they too are screwed on the roof decking, that should be the safest place to walk over.

Metal Shingles

Simply walk on the upper part of the shingle panel,  there’s where the strength is highest and with minimal airspace in between the metal. However, metal shingles can get easily damaged if you don’t walk in the right spots. This is why there is an option of installing foam backers.

If you notice there’s increased foot traffic on the roof, you can include foam inserts or backers. Their purpose is to seal any air gaps left open on the metal panels, shakes, or tiles, as they can increase the chances of bending or damaging the roof altogether.

Polystyrene foam backers offer additional support, rigidity, and steady walkability on the roof.

Wearing the Right Shoes

The right shoes offer grip as you walk on the roof. Unlike other roofing materials, metal roofs are very slippery and without the appropriate footwear, the likelihood of being unable to walk reduces drastically. This is why you need soft-soled shoes.

Good roof shoes
Soft-sole Roof Shoes

Soft-soled shoes have a rubberized outer sole that offers grip and reaction as you walk on the slippery or wet surface. It will prevent you from slipping, especially if it a steep roof. Soft-soled shoes are also known to be lightweight. Adding additional weight can easily damage the metal roof by adding dents or exerting too much pressure on the roofing structure.

Having lightweight shoes will also allow you to maneuver comfortably on the roof. Better mobility and speed are excellent features. One last thing, shoes with debris, mud, grime, or other types of dirt can cause you to damage the roof by scraping on the metal surface. Grime can also cause you to slip even though you’ll have the rubberized shoes.

Therefore, ensure you clean the shoes before you waste up to the roof. Clean up any gravel that may be stuck in the grooves, or anything that may interfere with the shoes’ traction. Also, check for tracks on the shoes. These are lines/ tread marks that will give the shoes that sticky feeling when you walk over a slippery surface. Flat based shoes are a no.

Choosing the Right Weather Conditions

Metal roofs can be very dangerous to walk on during the rainy seasons. The winter, during hailstones, the storm, earthquakes; all these weather conditions are not suitable times to walk on the metal roof. The metal will be extremely slippery and in case of a lightning strike, the likelihood of you getting caught in the crossfire is high.

If at all you must, really must walk on the roof during these uncertain weather conditions, then observe safety measures such as the ones discussed above. More so, let a professional do the work as they are more accustomed to doing that type of work. Avoid any risks.

Observing Safety Measures

Safety concerns are the number one measures one should even consider before attempting to walk on a metal roof. Note that other types of roofs are safe to walk on, but metal has it’s own additional risks, especially if it’s a steep roof. Therefore, you need fall protection guides ready to secure yourself properly while on top.

Secure roof top support system
Support system

OSHA standards dictate that one needs to fall protection when undertaking any roofing work. Regardless of the metal roofing technique, safety is mandatory. Therefore, get safety fall protection kits from your nearest store. These kits should include;

  • Harness
  • Anchors
  • Ropes

You can also invest in fall arrest and fall restraint systems in case of any falls, there are safety measures as well.

Under What Circumstances is It not Possible

It’s not impossible to walk on metal roofs, however, it’s quite risky under these circumstances;

  • During wet/rainy seasons- metal by itself is very slippery, therefore, the additional rainwater makes it even more slippery therefore highly risky.
  • Damaged roof – an already damaged or weak roof is a no go zone. There’s a high probability of the roof giving in, causing irreversible damage, or causing yourself injuries.
  • Improper stages of safety materials – if the safety measures put in place to safeguard the workers and those indulging in the activity are faulty, then you shouldn’t try walking on the roof. Safety still remains a major concern.
  • Very early mornings – this has to do with the few in the morning that causes the roofs to be wet or damp hence, unnecessarily slippery.
  • Without proper knowledge – it’s a very bad idea to try and walk on the metal roof without knowledge of how and where you should walk on. You’re simply risking damaging the roofs. That’s an additional cost on the repair you don’t want to bear.

Tips to Walk Safely

Metal roofs are not all that safe to walk on, however, this doesn’t mean that you cant walk on them. In case you plan on walking on the roofs, here are several tips times can use to ensure safety.

  • Always check the manufacturer’s advice on the recommended method of walking on a particular roof. Different company’s make roofing systems different, hence the best way to ensure safety is by using instructions and illustrations from the manufacturer’s manual.
  • Always inspect your equipment to ensure they are safe to use, secure, and that it meets OSHA standards of safety. Safety can’t be emphasized any less.
  • Regardless of the weather condition or other underlying factors, its vitamin to prepare the worksite to avoid any hazards. Even for professional workers, the roof can be faulty causing injuries and accidents. Therefore, security fall arrest and restraint systems have to be put in place.

Other tips have already been explained above such as wearing shoes with the right sole to avoid slipping, don’t work on wet roofs, or during the rainy seasons. Avoid working in windy conditions, and avoid wearing heavy boots as they can obstruct your pliability and flexibility.

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