How To Avoid Oil Canning On Metal Roofing

oil canning post

Building a home or commercial building is a huge financial undertaking. Naturally, you’ll want to be sure to make the most of your investment by extensively researching and planning, hiring skilled craftsmen, selecting high quality materials, and considering the “big picture.”

One way to ensure your building’s roof will last for decades to come is to opt for a standing seam metal roof instead of a traditional asphalt shingle roof. While metal roofs are more durable than classic roof systems, they can still experience a phenomenon that impacts the appearance of the roof — oil canning.

Luckily, there are steps you can take to prevent oil canning, starting from the very beginning of the building process.

What is oil canning?

Oil canning, otherwise known as stress wrinkling, is a cosmetic roof issue that can cause the panels to appear wavy or distorted. It presents itself as waviness, bulkiness, and an overall unsightly appearance on metal panels between standing seams.

The severity of oil canning can differ based on temperature and lighting condition. While oil canning doesn’t impact the actual structural integrity of the roof or building, it can diminish the appearance of your new roof.

What causes oil canning?

Oil canning can occur with a number of commonly used construction materials, including steel, galvalume, aluminum, galvanized, zinc, copper and more. During the milling process, the rollers used to form coils and sheets can have gaps that prevent the equal distribution of stress within the panel. 

Oil canning can also be caused by inadequate spacing to allow for thermal expansion, poor handling, and metal clips that are too tight. Dark color panels are also more prone to displaying this visual phenomenon than lighter colors. 

Other causes of oil canning

There are many factors that can contribute to oil canning, many of which can be carefully avoided at the very start of the build. It can occur early on in the flattening and coiling of the production process, in fact there are three instances during this process that can contribute to oil canning. These include full center stresses, wavy edge stresses, and camber stresses. 

During full center stresses, the sheet or coil is misplaced from the middle section, which can lead to ripples in the center of the panel. Wavy edge stresses occur when the edge of the sheet is misplaced from the edge of the metal strip, and camber stresses occur when the metal sheet curves or no longer lays flat. 

Can oil canning be fixed?

Ultimately, oil canning cannot be fixed unless metal panels are fully replaced. This makes careful construction and prevention all the more crucial early on. However, the appearance of oil canning can also look different depending on the color of the panels, the time of year, the outside temperature, so it may look less severe at times. 

How can it be prevented?

One of the best ways to prevent and avoid oil canning is by following metal roofing best practices, like hiring contractors with the proper training to ensure your roof is installed with the utmost precision and care. During the installation process, it’s important that each panel is aligned properly, and that contractors avoid overdriving metal fasteners as this can contribute to the wavy, uneven finish. 

Selecting high quality, thick material and choosing a light-colored and low-gloss finish for your panels can also be key to prevention, as these are known to reduce the appearance of oil canning. Using a rib roller can minimize the look of oil canning as well, and are available in a few different varieties including ribbed, v-ribs, bead, pencil, striated and more. 

What should roofers consider while planning and installing the metal roof?

Whether you’re hiring professionals to tackle your metal roof or doing it yourself, one thing is certain — remaining diligent during every step in the installation process is vital to prevent oil canning.

Ensure that all materials being used in the roofing process are dry, stored properly and in good condition before beginning the installation. Tension-leveled metal is considered optimal for metal roof installation, as it has already been stretched and cannot warp back to its original state.

Transporters should be put in place to protect the panels. Using metal clips and fasteners is not only important for structural reasons, but can also help point out early signs of oil canning. Including backer rods can provide upright pressure that is also known to eliminate the possibility of oil canning. 

Understanding Temperature Considerations:

Different metal roofing materials have varying temperature tolerances, affecting their susceptibility to oil canning. Galvanized and zinc-coated panels, for instance, may exhibit greater resistance to temperature-induced stress, reducing the likelihood of oil canning compared to other materials like steel or aluminum. 

By selecting materials with suitable temperature characteristics for your climate, you can minimize the risk of oil canning and ensure a more stable roofing system.

Recommended Tools and Accessories:

Ensuring a flawless metal roofing installation requires the use of specific tools and accessories designed to minimize the risk of oil canning and achieve optimal results. Here are some recommended tools and accessories to consider:

  • Fasteners: Selecting the right fasteners is crucial for securely attaching metal panels to the roof structure while minimizing stress and distortion. Choose fasteners made from high-quality materials, such as stainless steel or coated steel, to ensure durability and resistance to corrosion.
  • Clips: Metal roof clips play a vital role in distributing stress evenly across the panels, helping to prevent oil canning and maintain a uniform appearance. Consider using clips specifically designed for standing seam metal roofing systems, as they are engineered to provide optimal support and stability.
  • Backer Rods: Backer rods are cylindrical foam inserts that are placed between the metal panels and the roof deck to provide additional support and cushioning. By filling the gap between the panels and the deck, backer rods help distribute stress more evenly, reducing the risk of oil canning and enhancing the overall stability of the roofing system.
  • Rib Rollers: Rib rollers are specialized tools used to flatten and smooth metal panels, minimizing the appearance of oil canning and achieving a uniform finish. Available in various configurations, such as ribbed, v-ribs, and striated, rib rollers can effectively camouflage minor imperfections and create a visually appealing surface. When using rib rollers, ensure proper technique and pressure to achieve the desired results without causing damage to the panels.

Importance of Proper Ventilation and Insulation:

Proper ventilation and insulation play a significant role in preventing temperature fluctuations that can contribute to oil canning. Adequate airflow beneath the metal panels helps regulate temperature, reducing thermal stress and minimizing the risk of oil canning. Additionally, proper insulation helps maintain consistent temperature levels within the building, further reducing the likelihood of roof distortion.

Key Takeaways Checklist:

  • Choose metal roofing materials with suitable temperature tolerances for your climate.
  • Use recommended tools and accessories, such as specific fasteners, clips, and backer rods, to distribute stress evenly and prevent oil canning.
  • Ensure proper ventilation and insulation to regulate temperature fluctuations and minimize thermal stress on the roof.
  • Follow best practices for metal roofing installation, including proper alignment of panels and avoidance of overdriving fasteners.
  • Regularly inspect the roof for signs of oil canning and address any issues promptly to prevent further damage.

If you want to learn more about choosing the right materials for your metal roofing projects, make sure to check out our blog The Essential Fastener Guide for Metal Roofing Pros.

Reach Out to AMSI for Expert Guidance:

For personalized guidance and product recommendations to prevent oil canning in your metal roofing project, contact AMSI Supply. Our experts can help you find the right tools, clips, fasteners, and more to ensure a flawless installation and long-lasting results. Reach out to AMSI today for all your metal roofing needs.

For more information on oil canning don’t hesitate to visit our blog Understanding and Mitigating Oil Canning in Metal Roofing. Get all the information you need by visiting our website and reading our informative blogs!