How To Cut Roof Sheeting
Once the measurements of the roof have been taken there will be a need to cut down the roof sheeting to size. This can be done on or off site, although doing so in close vicinity to the roof makes it easier to transport the trimmed sheets quickly into position so they can be installed.
There is not a great variation between the techniques and tools used for different materials. The process is relatively straightforward, but when cutting into any material, great care should be taken to protect yourself. Also ensure you have all of the correct measurements in place because once you start to cut, there is no way to rectify mistakes. Read our guide on how to cut roof sheeting to find out more.
What tools do I need to cut roofing sheets?
The list of tools required for cutting roof sheeting is not too extensive and you will only need a small selection from the list below:
- Tape measure
- Marker pen
- Course or fine tooth saw
- Secure workbench
- Straight edge ruler
- Circular saw
- Hand guillotine
- Fibre shears
- Score and snap knife
How to cut corrugated PVCu sheets
Tools: Stanley knife, workbench, marker pen, measuring tape, straight edge ruler.
- Secure the polycarbonate sheet so it will not move or vibrate during cutting.
- Use a marker to outline the size of the cut area on the cover film on the sheet. Double check the measurements are correct because once cut, there is no way of piecing it back together if the size is incorrect.
- Ensure the cover film remains in place when the sheet is being cut. Polycarbonate sheets are typically coated on one side with UV protection, which will act as a guide to how it should be installed and which side to cut on. The side with the UV coating will typically be the facing that also contains the film cover.
- After the polycarbonate sheet has been cut, check to see if any chippings or dust has gone inside. If this is the case, use an air compressor to remove this from the panel as swarf can be difficult to remove by hand or by simply blowing or wiping on polycarbonate materials. If you do not own an air compressor, a strong vacuum cleaner should be a good alternative.
How to cut polycarbonate sheets
Tools: Fine tooth saw, workbench, marker pen, measuring tape, straight edge ruler
- Position the polycarbonate sheet on a hard, stable surface. It is also a good idea to position cardboard or plywood underneath to stop the surface from being scratched during cutting.
- Use a measuring tape to clearly mark out the areas where the polycarbonate needs to be cut. Make sure the line is straight, using a hard edge or long ruler, and ensure the line can be clearly seen before proceeding.
- A Stanley knife can then be used to cut through the marked portions of the polycarbonate sheet. Using a knife will then enable you to keep a free hand to hold the panel in place so you can secure a precise cut along the markings.
How to cut fibre cement sheets
Tools: Score and snap knife, workbench, pencil, marker pen, measuring tape, hand guillotine, fibre shears
- Place the fibre cement sheets securely on the workbench before starting. As with other materials, placing a sheet of cardboard underneath is a good idea to protect the surface underneath.
- Mark out the area you need to cut with a pencil or marker pen. For more complex shapes take the time to get the dimensions measured correctly because once the cutting begins there is no going back and it could lead to a wasted sheet.
- If you are cutting the fibre cement sheet inside, use either a score and snap knife, hand guillotine or fibre shears as this will help keep the dust down to a minimum. Ensure the material is positioned so the dust will blow away from your face and anyone working nearby.
How to cut corrugated bitumen sheets
Tools: Course bladed saw, workbench, marker pen, measuring tape, straight edge ruler, circular saw and tin snips.
- Measure the size of the material you need before clearly marking out the line you want to cut with a chalk line or pencil.
- If you need to cut more complex shapes into the bitumen sheet it is best to use oiled tin snips to cut through the material for more accuracy.
- When cutting along corrugated bitumen sheets you can either use a Stanley knife or a course bladed saw. Alternatively, cutting across the panels will require either a course bladed saw or a circular power saw.
Roof sheeting safety tips
When cutting through any material make sure you are wearing safety gloves to protect the hands. This will keep them safe should the knife or cutting tool slip for any reason. Safety gloves also allow you to firmly grip the material sheet without being affected by its sharp edges.
Eye goggles are always a good addition for the job. When cutting through any thick material it is impossible to know where any of the shavings or dust may fly. Getting caught in the eye with shavings can be painful and also lead to a sudden reaction while still holding the cutting tool which could create further problems.
Follow the tool manufacturer’s safety guidelines when cutting through the material. Even if it looks like a straightforward job, unnecessary risks should always be avoided where possible.
How long does it take to cut roof sheeting?
Cutting through any of these materials will only take between 10-15 minutes, depending on the size of the cut required. This is based on cutting a straight line either along or across the material. Cutting more complex shapes in the material may take a longer amount of time.