How do you Walk on a Metal Roof?

Most people never have to risk their safety to venture up into their property’s roof. However, some may be tempted to do so in order to spot the source of a leak, fix-up some minor roof damage, remove debris, or clear up the gutters. While we advise homeowners to seek the help of a professional to do these minor tasks since it is not safe to get up on a roof, there are still many DIY homeowners who prefer to do these things by themselves. Thus, we are here to provide essential safety tips to help prevent any untoward accidents from happening.

How Do You Walk On A Metal Roof

Here is some important safety information to keep in mind before you try climbing up your metal roof.

Back in the 1800s and early 1900s, metal roofs were a popular residential roofing material. Now, metal roofs are more commonly found atop commercial buildings. Back in the day, however, many homeowners found themselves walking on old metal roofs to apply sealers and nail loose sheets down. Today, metal roofs are more leakproof, rustproof, and low maintenance. But, that doesn’t mean that no one ever needs to go up there.

There are still some times when there is a need to walk on the metal roof to inspect, assess, or repair it.

Before doing so, however, you should first check the condition of the interior of the roof before you climb up. If it is a metal roof on a garage, barn, porch, carport, or shed, you should be able to do this. Be on the look out for rotted beams, or broken or missing lathe boards or sheeting, along with other signs that the roof is soft in places. If there are any areas where the roof is not well supported, then it is best not to risk it. If there is any damage on the interior of a metal roof, the added weight of a person on the roof could cause the structure to collapse.

If all seems to be in good shape, then you can go ahead with your task. However, here are the essential Metal Roof Safety Walking Tips.

  • It is best to wear soft, rubber-soled shoes to get the best traction. 
  • It is important to position your ladder as close to where you need to be on the roof. However, you should place it away from any known weak spots. The ladder should extend at least 3 feet above the roof edge. This is so that you have something to hold onto. 
  • When you climb up the ladder, be sure to step carefully onto the metal. Old metal roofs usually have a certain amount of give. It is best to expect that.
  • Proceed to walk safely on the metal roof by staying on or at least near the rafters. These areas will feel solid underfoot, Rafters are normally located 16 to 24 inches apart. 
  • Avoid walking on the seams.
  • When you walk up the roof, lean your body over towards the roof to help maintain your balance. 
  • You will need to lean over more on a steeper metal roof. 
  • Crouch down slightly to walk down a metal roof safely.
  • Walk up or down a slightly inclined roof by walking as you would on the ground. However, this should be done slowly. 
  • When on a steep roof, it is best to walk sideways.
  • Use a roof safety harness to walk safely on a roof if it’s in poor condition or if it’s very steep. The harness should attach you to the roof to prevent you from falling if you lose your footing. It is imperative that you follow the directions on how to put the harness on according to the instructions from the manufacturer because each brand can vary. Double check to be sure that it fits tight and don’t forget to check the harness buckles.


Some roofs are too steep for the average person to walk on comfortably, and it is best to leave steep-slope roofs to the professional. The same is true of tile and slate roofs. Both can be damaged easily, and loose pieces can cause falls. If you have a roof that is not too steep, and one with a surface that can be safely walked on, follow these guidelines.

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