Metal Building Fasteners: A Quick Rundown

Published August 4, 2015 by Whirlwind Team

Residential & Re Roof (10) resized 600

One of the best things about the increasing popularity of metal buildings is they can often be partially or fully assembled by Do-It-Yourselfers and others may lack a more professional construction industry background. This feature saves thousands of dollars in labor costs. However, unlike many other DIY projects, metal buildings need to be constructed as per plan - without any deviation in parts - in order to ensure they perform as intended by their engineers and architects and to make sure the building components alight with your area's building code (not to mention Mother Nature's seasonal demands).

In other words, you know those reusable plastic containers or buckets you have laying around the garage, filled up with miscellaneous screws, nails, bolts, clamps and other random fasteners? You're best off forgetting about these when it comes to assembling your metal building or you risk a leaky roof - or one that blows off - not to mention countless other structural issues.

A Quick Rundown of Dos and Don'ts in Regards to Metal Building Fasteners

Using the correct metal building fastener is particularly important when you're installing your metal roof. Your roof's ability to prevent moisture infiltration, which can lead to rust, corrosion and hidden structural damage in the interior of the building, is significantly dependent on the types and quality of fasteners you use. Purchasing the correct versions will yield the uplift requirements your building was designed to achieve and will keep it leak-proof for decades to come.

There are two steps when it comes to best metal building fastener practices: selecting the right fastener for your particular applications and then installing those fasteners correctly. Most importantly, you should always use the fasteners recommended by your building's manufacturer. Failure to do so can compromise the generous building warranties that metal buildings are known for,, which can be costly if fastener-related issues ensue.

Selecting the Right Building Fastener for Your Metal Roof

Your building's roof performance will depend on the fasteners that are used to install it. Always select fasteners that are designed to meet the minimum building design loads. If your building will be used to house human occupants or valuable livestock, and you live in an area prone to more extreme weather conditions, you may want to upgrade your fasteners accordingly.

Things to consider when selecting your fasteners include:

  • The substrate. Different fastener types perform differently depending on the substrate. Use a metal roof fastener that is designed specifically for the substrate - wood, metal or concrete.
  • Uplift requirements. Consult your plans and verify uplift requirements. No point in doing the work to install a bunch of fasteners if they're going to rip out the first time the roof experiences sustained high winds. Not sure what the uplift ratings or requirements are? Get independent load reports from your manufacturer and verify them with local building officials.
  • Corrosion. We're not being melodramatic when we say corrosion is your metal building's worst enemy. If your fasteners corrode, there's a good chance the chemical reactions resulting from that corrosion will affect surrounding building components. Look for fasteners that minimize galvanic corroding. Typically, we recommend life-long treated screws and head screws (typically made from stainless steel or coated with zinc).
  • Aesthetics. While not the very top item on the list, aesthetics are of particular importance for homes, schools, churches and other buildings that are in the public eye. Talk to your metal building manufacturer about the finishes available to you so that the fasteners enhance - rather than detract from - the building's overall appearance.

Remember that your metal building manufacturer's customer representatives are more than happy to assist you with metal roof fastener selection.

Proper Installation Techniques For a Metal Roof That Lasts

Once you've selected your metal building fasteners, it's time to move on to installation. One of the most important things you can do is have the proper screw gun for the job. It should have depth-sensing and torque control features to ensure screws are tightened to the appropriate level(s).

  • Wood and substrates less than 1/4-inch thick require a 2,500-RPM screw gun.
  • Steel substrates that are more than 1/4-inch thick require a 2,000-RPM screw gun.

The following tips can also help to make sure your screws are installed at the correct depth and without compromising them, their seals, or surrounding building materials:

  • Hold and drill at a perpendicular angle.
  • Do not use excessive pressure as this can create too much heat and can cause the fastener to fail.
  • Use high-quality nut-setters and insert bits to aid installation and improve the fasteners' performance.
  • Tighten the screws using sealing washers enough so that EPDM sealant extrudes to just beyond the outer edge of the metal backing or flange without extruding beyond the metal backing edge.


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