Cover Your Roof With Aluminum Shingles for $60

With a little ingenuity you scavenge the materials, cut, and apply aluminum shingles yourself and save a whole lot of money!

| May/June 1981

  • 069 aluminum shingles - photo 3
    The roof of the author's home, covered with aluminum shingles, was durable and saved energy.
  • 069 aluminum shingles - photo 1
    To make your shingles, fold a one-inch pocket over the template and snip two cuts in the 1/8" doubled edge (The arm holding the tool belongs to the author's 9 year old daughter). 
  • 069 aluminum shingles - photo 2
    Place the strap iron along the right slanting fold, bend the metal triangle over itself, and lift the tab between the two cuts.
  • 069 aluminum shingles - diagram
    Diagram shows method of fitting aluminum shingles together

  • 069 aluminum shingles - photo 3
  • 069 aluminum shingles - photo 1
  • 069 aluminum shingles - photo 2
  • 069 aluminum shingles - diagram

A number of years ago, I covered my home's entire 1,800-square-foot roof with aluminum shingles—a job that would have set me back more than $2,000 if it had been done commercially—for a cost of only $60!

I chose aluminum because it can last a lifetime, is fire- and rustproof, and will often reduce heating and cooling expenses. In addition, such shingles are lightweight—an important consideration when you have to lug hundreds of them up a ladder. What really clinched my choice, however, was the discovery that this roofing material can be easily salvaged from inexpensive, used printing plates!

Shop Around

A little research convinced me that the best print-shop "leftovers"—for shingle use, at least—were 0.009" thick and measured 24 5/8" X 36". Telephone calls to several local presses proved that such plates vary quite a bit in availability and in price. However, I finally located one small-job printer who had thousands of the shingles-to-be that he was more than willing to unload for the bargain price of 10¢ apiece!

So, I drove to his shop and carefully selected undamaged plates that had a sturdy, 1/8" doubled-over edge (created when the aluminum was locked in the press). In two hours, I had loaded 600 of the metal sheets in my truck ... and had thoroughly blackened my clothes and gloves. (Printer's ink soils everything it touches, so always don old stained garments when you work with this recycled aluminum.)

Cut 'Em Up!

I soon determined that if I cut the 2' X 3' plates into fourths, I could produce shingles that were attractive and strong enough to resist our Utah mountain winds. So I placed a single aluminum sheet—printed side up—on my work surface, measured carefully to determine the midpoint of each side, lined a yardstick up across the marks, and scratched in a "cross hair." I then used scissors to divide the plate up into four equal sections. These rectangles then became the patterns for the rest of my plates.

I found it easy to cut the sheets with my stout scissors. In fact, I was able to quarter 10 sheets in about 25 minutes. With a paper cutter you could probably do the job faster. (An even faster method would be to pay the print shop to "size" the plates with a power knife, but my pressman didn't have one of the tools on hand.)

4/1/2014 5:35:46 AM

Mr. Simmons that was pretty ingenuitive on your part, especially the price. However, did you remember to use an underlayment? Underlayment is one of the most crucial portions of metal roofing. Proper supporting and insulative material is what makes metal roofs last so long. If you didn't remember the underlayment or cannot add underlayment to it for any reason, hopefully you live in a relatively dry climate. Climates found in the market are far too wet to go without the underlying material. That is not to say that Bryan, TX is an especially wet place. Rather the low amount of rainfall it does get is enough to warp and prematurely age metal roofs.

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