Metal Roof Repair 101

metal roof repair

In this repair guide, we'll discuss...

Importance of Prompt Metal Roof Repairs

If you have a leaky metal roof, it's critical to find the source of the leak and get it repaired as soon as possible. Water is the enemy when it comes to roofing—a small leak can turn into a big problem if ignored.

The cost of metal roof repair is inexpensive compared to the cost of repairing extensive water damage down the road. You could end up needing a total roof replacement, new ceilings, insulation, structural repairs, and/or damaged siding replacement if a leak goes unchecked.

metal roof in rain

Repairing Small Metal Roofing Damage

Although a confident homeowner can handle small roof repairs, if the damage to your metal roof is fairly large, a competent metal roofing contractor will likely need to replace an entire section of the roof.

Below are some general tips for maintaining metal roofs and fixing small repairs...

Loose Nails

Loose nails can cause a number of minor and major problems. Simply pull loose nails and re-nail back into place.

Rust Patches

Look for rust patches and other signs of deterioration. Rust can be removed with a wire brush or steel wool. After removing rust, prime the surface with a metal primer followed by a top coat to match the color of your roof.

Sealing Leaks

Urethane roof cement provides superior protection against ultraviolet rays, more than asphalt or plastic roof cement. Spread the urethane roof cement smoothly over the hole or damaged area with a putty knife. Be aware that urethane roof cement will deteriorate over time, and will need to be monitored and replaced when necessary.

Gaps in Roof Panel Edges

Gaps as small as 1/8 of an inch can be a source of leaks during hard downpours. Start by removing debris and rust from the surface of the panels at the area of a gap using a wire brush. Then apply a uniform layer of a metal-roofing base 6 inches on either side of the gap with a brush. Next, cover the base coat with a piece of glass-membrane fabric. Finally, apply a top layer of urethane cement over the membrane and extend to coat 6 inches onto the surrounding roofing.

While small repairs can efficiently be handled by a homeowner, if your metal roof is in need of extensive repairs, find a qualified metal roofing professional. 

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Repairing a Hole in a Metal Roof

Tools and Materials Needed

  • Metal snips
  • Cordless drill
  • Wire brush
  • Caulk gun
  • Paintbrush
  • Sheet metal
  • Urethane sealant
  • Pan-head sheet metal screws
  • Simple Green cleaning product

1. Clean the Repair Area

A hole in a metal roof is likely dirty and requires cleaning to prepare the material for a proper repair. Start by using a cleaner, like Simple Green, to scrub away dirt and other organic matter. Then, using a wire brush, rub the surface where the repair will be made. Roughing up the surface will help the applied sealant bond to the metal roof.

2. Measure the Repair Area and Cut a Patch

The cut sheet metal patch should overlap onto the other panels by at least two inches past the leading edge of the damaged area. After cutting the metal to the proper size, round the corners to prevent its sharp edges from catching large chunks of snow or ice.

3. Install the Repair Patch

Apply the sealant to the area of the metal panel needing repair using a liberal amount so that there are no gaps at the leading edge of the patch. Then, press the new panel into place. (Sealant may squeeze out of the edges, which is normal.) If there are areas that remain dry, use more sealant to eliminate any possible gaps where moisture can penetrate.

4. Secure the Patch

Use pan-head sheet metal screws to secure the patch to the metal roof panel. Space screws every 3 - 4 inches across the perimeter of the patch. It’s crucial to apply uniform pressure to the leading edge of the patch to secure the sealant to the panel.

5. Paint the Patch to Match the Roof

To paint the new panel, gently brush the new panel with the wire brush just past the leading edge of the patch. Then, apply the paint onto the surface, making sure it conforms to the sealant you used. 

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Metal Roof Coatings

Coating your metal roof is one of the best things a property owner can do to prevent costly repair or replacement services. It’s a cost-effective procedure to prevent leaks and corrosion while moderating inside temperature.

What does the coating do?

Metal roof coatings encapsulate rust particles, keeping them from spreading or corroding further areas of the roof. Coatings seal the metal and repair minor leaks, lightly compromised seams, and cracks. Reflective coatings moderate temperature by alleviating the expansion and contraction cycle caused by wide ranges in temperature. This assures fastener holes and sealants hold up longer.

How long does metal roof coating last?

A properly applied roof coating can extend the life of a metal roof by 10 years or more. However, this is dependent on the type of roof, the thickness of the coating, and your area's weather conditions.

Can I apply the coating myself?

We highly recommend using a professional contractor to apply roof coatings. An experienced professional will know how to properly prepare the roof, methods of applications, manufacturer warranties, and other information most people are unfamiliar with.

Can a rusted metal roof be coated?

Yes, but before applying any coating, heavily rusted areas will need to be removed or treated with a corrosion inhibiting primer. If the roof has “white rust,” the roof can be coated after a thorough cleaning.

metal roof with rust

Before applying any coating to the roof, you’ll need to know the size, age, slope, and types of problems you’re seeking to fix or prevent. 

DIY Tips and Advice

Repairing a metal roof yourself can be a complex procedure, but when done right, it saves time and money.

Repairing and maintaining a metal roof is the best way to lengthen its life expectancy and protect your property. Below are some common tips and advice to remember when repairing your metal roof yourself...

Use the Right Type of Metal

If a hole needs to be patched on your metal roof, it’s important that the metal of the patch is the same material as the metal roof. This will ensure the patch adheres properly and won’t wear out prematurely.

Sand Corners

It is vital to sand the corners of the new patch in order to allow proper sealing and to deter future snow or ice from sticking to the new metal repair. If you choose to solder the patch instead of using a roof sealant, a shined, sanded patch will ensure a smoother soldering seam.

Solder Properly

A continuous seam with no gaps around the metal will be the most effective technique to provide added protection. Choosing to solder in spots rather than the entire patch results in gaps, which is not nearly as secure.

Use a Strong Weight

It’s common to forget to weigh down the patches when working on holes in a metal roof. We recommend using a cinder block to keep the patch firmly in place. This allows contact between the patch and the roof, improving the seal, as well as freeing up your hands to work.

Use Quality Sealant

Lastly, use a roofer-recommended sealant, such as urethane roof cement, to guarantee a proper seal. Installations and repairs are only as good as the workmanship and materials involved, so don’t waste your time performing repairs with low-quality materials. Do your research and use top-tier sealants and metal patch material.

Metal Roof Repair Costs

Costs will fluctuate depending on the size and complexity of your roof, your geographic location, and the contractors in your area.

Costs of Metal Roof Repairs
Repair Task Material Cost Installed Cost
Inspection N/A $80 - $150
Pressure Washing $10 - $25 $80 - $150
Leaking Seams $15 - $30 $200 and up
Seal Vent or Rubber Boot $25 - $75 $100 - $350
Ridge Vent $150 - $300 $250 and up
Paint or Coating Restoration $30 - $40 per square Size-Dependent
Drip Edge Replacement $3 - $5 per linear foot $6 - $10 per foot

Being proactive about repairs is one of the best things a property owner can do to mitigate expensive roofing services down the line. And due to the high cost of a completely new installation or replacement—which can range anywhere from $8,000 to $30,000 depending on the size and material being used—proactive repairs are almost always the more cost-efficient route.

Areas of a Metal Roof Prone to Repairs

Modern metal roofing materials are exceptionally durable and long-lasting, but that doesn’t mean these types of roofs are exempt from repairs. Nature happens. Sun, wind, rain, snow, hail, and debris can wreak havoc on a roof, no matter how durable it may be.

metal roof damaged by hail

Catching roof damage early can help reduce the cost of repairing it.

The most common areas to inspect for roof damage include:

  • Seams between metal panels
  • Overlapping metal panels
  • Fasteners, flashings near vents/chimney
  • Low-slope areas
  • Areas prone to ponding and near gutters (i.e., ice dams)

Other more obvious causes of metal roofing damage include fallen debris—like trees, hail, and wind-blown debris—and normal wear-and-tear incurred over decades of enduring the elements.

LEARN MORE: The Homeowner's Complete Metal Roofing Guide

DIY or Hire a Roofing Company?

For metal roof repairs, it’s always a good idea to contact a roofer to inspect the damage.

Metal roofs typically come with long-term manufacturer’s warranties (ranging from 20 years up to a lifetime warranty), and trying to repair the roof yourself could void this warranty.

However, small holes and other minor damages can be repaired by the homeowner at much lower prices than asking a contractor to fix the problem. If you feel confident in your ability to fix the problem, it’s a cost-effective option. However, be mindful that improper repairs could cause major damage down the road.

At Hometown, we verify credentials and gather trusted reviews on metal roofing contractors. Most roofers offer free, no-obligation estimates on metal roof repairs, so it’s definitely worth having a professional roofer take a look at the roof damage before taking further action.

Find a qualified metal roof repair contractor