December 18, 2017
by Randy Tweedt
Installing metal roofing and siding requires placing and aligning metal panels over the structural supports. But ultimately it requires installers to spend a fair bit of time fastening them in place, typically using a great many fasteners. It is easy to get complacent about this repetitive activity, but the reality is that every fastener plays a crucial role in the integrity and longevity of the installation. Properly selecting, installing, and using the right tools, allows for a proper fastening process that assures a weathertight installation. But if a few fasteners are installed poorly, causing water or air leaks, then the installer is called back to correct the condition. Do a lot wrong, and warranties can be void, with the durability of the building left compromised, possibly requiring a total do-over.
What’s the difference between a good fastening installation and a problematic one? Here are some of the things to pay attention to onsite:
The most common type of fasteners used in metal buildings are self drillers, which vary based on diameter, length, head shape, and material. They are also specifically designed for use in metal substrates. Different fasteners are also available for wood versus metal, and either type can be sized for different substrate and panel thicknesses. Zinc alloy or stainless steel fasteners are common choices for durability, longevity, and avoiding galvanic action with other metal products. Selecting and using the right fastener type for each of the different locations on a metal building begins with determining what is being attached and what is it attaching to.
Fasteners of any type cannot be relied upon by themselves to keep out the elements. Instead, a sealing washer is used that is compressed between the fastener head and the metal panel as the fastener is tightened to form the weathertight seal. High-performance or long-life fasteners may be required for a durable approach to weathertightness and/or may be required by the metal building manufacturer to receive a weathertightness warranty.
With the right fasteners onsite, the success of the installation now rests with the field crews. A few minutes to review the different fasteners and match them with the right tools and settings for installation is time very well spent. Since electric screw guns with or without impact drivers are common on the jobsite, it’s easy to think any tool will do, when it probably won’t. The wrong tool at the wrong setting can place too much torque or other force on the fastener, causing it to crush or damage washers or even the metal panels. Impact drivers are rarely needed in most cases and, while the fastening needs to be tight, overtightening is never a good thing.
In addition to weathertightness, fasteners provide a structural function as well. Their location and spacing will directly correlate to the ability of a panel to resist wind and other forces after installation. Therefore, it’s always best to use information prepared by a professional engineer on the proper fastening locations, spacing, and sizes. The calculations behind such information can prove to be the difference between a successful installation and one that creates problems.
Understanding the importance of fasteners and the role they play in the integrity of the building, and corresponding warranties, allows installers to see beyond the repetitive task of fastening and into the craft of assembling a durable, long-lasting building. To find out more about fasteners for metal products and systems for your next project, contact your local MBCI representative.