I went up on my roof this weekend to do some work on an antenna and clean chimneys. It's the first time I've been up there since I replaced the hail damaged asphalt shingles with standing seam steel.

I wore some basic cross-trainers, roof was dry, but cold - probably 35F.

The lower roof (4/12) was ok, but I didn't feel all that secure. On the upper roof (5/12) I didn't feel very secure at all with regard to slipping and doubt I'll go up there again unless I can find a better solution.

I did some roofing and construction as a kid - working on roofs doesn't spook me in general and these aren't particularly steep. But I've never worked on a steel roof before.

Will warmer weather or better shoes make a big difference? I don't recall the crew putting the roof on having much trouble, though they got off in a hurry at the first hint of rain.

  • Maybe barefoot? Are you trying to get a good grip, or trying to minimize damage to the roof?
    – Ariel
    Jan 13 '15 at 19:32
  • It was a little cold for barefoot! Anyway, my goal is to remain on the roof - most shoes aren't going to damage the finish so long as you don't have sand & gravel stuck in them. Jan 13 '15 at 19:34
  • Can you fasten a rope to something as fall protection? Falling off a roof could make for a very bad day.
    – Mark
    Jan 14 '15 at 5:09
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    Material the soles is made of is very important. Most plastic polymers nowdays lose grip with cold temperatures. You're looking for a rubber sole that retains flexibility and traction. Feb 14 '15 at 22:35

What you did was fine for the task at hand. A good sneaker/trainer is all you need, but yes, ANY moisture and you can go for a ride easily with little chance of stopping before the ground.

Metal roofs can be spooky.

  • 1
    Yea, spooky is the right word - you could be walking and it felt fine, then the next step would give a little. Didn't seam any different from the steps that felt solid. And the 5/12 felt much different then the 4/12 Jan 15 '15 at 19:11

I wouldn't put all my faith into footwear. I'd suggest being strapped in or a ladder.

That said, if I had to suggest footwear, I'd look at rock climbing shoes. Designed specifically for gripping:

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Or, given that it's a steel roof, Magnetic Space Boots!

  • Agree - footwear is only part of the solution, along with waiting for better weather, etc. I think the rock climbing shoes might be a good idea. As far as working from a ladder - this stuff was mostly in the middle of the peak, so couldn't get to it from a ladder. Don't have one long enough to reach this roof from the ground either. Jan 15 '15 at 19:06

Hire a Roof Ladder - or if a friend has one slip him a nice red wine. As an aerial rigger a long time ago our boss bought us "Vibram Sole" trainers/boots. These didn't give us any probs. However, nowadays I just use normal trainers to do any roof work. Regarding the metal roof I would seriously consider putting any jobs off till the weather picks up. Always consider reducing your risks, as a human is deficient of self-powered flight.

  • What's a roof ladder? Jan 15 '15 at 19:07
  • Nevermind, googled it. Good idea, but not sure how I'd get it up there. Guess I'd need to get a longer extension ladder to get at the edge of the roof from the side. By the time I buy all those ladders I could probably pay somebody to do what needs doing and not have to store the things. Jan 15 '15 at 19:14
  • +1 for chicken ladders and weather dependent. Might be best done on a sunny day sometime after lunch to avoid dew.
    – Mazura
    Feb 14 '15 at 22:49

I do a lot of industrial metal roofing in Dutch harbor Alaska which is relly wet. Working 12 to 14 hour a day 7 days a week . We use Xtratuf boots which stick really well as long as they are clean. And we work on pitches up to a 6/12. But use proper safety harnesses when required. They come in Insulated and un- insluated. You can find them at xtratufboots.com If you wear them day in and day out and its cold, get them 2 sizes bigger, and add a pair of wool or felt insoles, as well get a pair of Bama socks to control the persperation. But use a pair of regular socks or what ever under the bama socks which are just a booty sock. At the end of the day pull every thing out to let dry your bama sock will be soaked from sweat but yor sock under neath will be dry. And use a boot dryer. They are no longer made in the U.S. so if you find those they last the longest, the china tuffs are still good but dont last as long.


I'm using walmart cheap sneakers that I smeared with GE silicon rubber caulking. Be sure to let cure fully. These work very well on my 4/12 steel roofing. Keep them clean, I take them off when I get off the roof. I also smeared the knees of my jeans the same way. I'm working on a 7500 sq. ft. barn.


Bug spray the bottoms of your shoes then wipe off. Flat rubber shoes are best also.

  • How does that work? Does it deteriorate the shoe to make it gummy? Mar 4 '17 at 18:44

Old school converse, basketball shoes or skateboarding shoes work the best for metal roofs

  • Deck shoes work well I have a pair on my boat the soles are a soft gum like material they stick to wet metal well. Deck shoes do not last long if used every day I have not used them in sub freezing temps so not sure if it gets below freezing if they will preform well.
    – Ed Beal
    Mar 6 '17 at 14:37

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