How to Mitigate and Avoid Oil Canning

 

As one of Utah’s top trusted metal experts, we take the design and maintenance of our clients’ roofs seriously. Not only do we prioritize achieving a clients vision, but also advising based on best practices and our expertise in this field. This is particularly important when many of our clients live in Park City, Utah, which is prone to harsh, wet winters and summers with a dry, intense heat.

When prospective clients approach us, we often hear of issues with oil canning on their metal facades including roof, fascia and wall panels. This article will get into what oil canning is, how it happens, and how to avoid it.

 

What is oil canning?

In the roofing industry, oil canning is a somewhat common phenomenon seen on metal roofs. Oil canning can occur with a number of commonly used construction materials like steel, galvalume, aluminum, galvanized, zinc, copper and more. The photo below is from Sheffield Metals website and is a great depiction of oil canning in action.

 

This occurs when there is a thermal expansion and contraction of metal, typically due to weather. Your roof is attempting to expand and contract, but if it cannot, it will become distorted and the metal will appear wavy, as pictured above.

This is most often seen in higher gauge steel products, such as 24 gauge or 26 gauge metals, often popular for fascia and wall panels.

Unfortunately, once a roof has oil canning, you cannot fix it. Oil canning does not impact the structural integrity of the roof and you can only prevent it from happening in future residential or commercial roofing projects.

 

What causes oil canning?

To begin with, it is important to note oil canning is not entirely avoidable. This is simply due to the properties of metal.

Most commonly, the worst of oil canning is the result of an installation error. When you marry metal to the substrate through a fastener, this will determine how much oil canning you will see on the roof or other metal facades. Poor installations significantly increase the risk of oil canning.

It can also be a consequence of manufacturer defects. The material itself could have natural flaws, or if you work with a non credentialed manufacturer, there’s risk of poor quality material or improper handling of the material.

Working with an expert will ensure you know where on the metal to fasten to the substrate to decrease the chances of oil canning. Experts will also be able to obtain higher quality materials and minimize room for error.

 

How to avoid oil canning

  1. Pick a material suited for conduction: Aluminum Composite Material (ACM) is a cost-effective solution and ideal for a climate with extreme temperatures, like those we experience in Park City, Utah. This material is gaining popularity for fascia and wall panels installations as a way to create a premium look and avoid this phenomenon.
  2. Work with a trusted general contractor: this ensures access to better installation partners, such as Viotell, higher grade materials, and open lines of communication to express concerns for things like oil canning.
  3. Incorporate texturized or profiled panels: Ribbed, corrugated, or perforated panels can lessen deformation and help the roof support any stress it may experience. This keeps a nice aesthetic for the roof while mitigating oil canning.
  4. Proper substrate installation: An experienced contractor will inspect the substrate for irregularities, defects, or moisture accumulation prior to fastening. To maintain a smooth aesthetic while minimizing oil canning, contractors may level the substrate or apply insulation. Having a strategy for panel movement is crucial — this is done by installing fasteners correctly (spaced evenly apart and secured tightly) and incorporating expansion joints (allows for thermal movement).
  5. Consider your climate: Particularly in a high snow elevation climate like Park City’s, architects and contractors should be extra careful with material selection for extra durability. This could be reinforced panel assemblies, snow retention systems, slopes to promote snow shedding, and/or coatings with UV resistance.

 

Closing

At Viotelll, we understand that although there is no guarantee to fully prevent oil canning, it takes a village to mitigate the issue as much as possible. We work with trusted fabricators, architects, and general contractors to select the best materials and techniques to stay within a clients budget, deliver on the desired aesthetic, and adhere to industry standards.

We have successfully mitigated this issue for dozens of projects, both residential and commercial with our expert metal artisans and our premier partnerships with trusted brands like ALUCOBOND.

Contact us today to get started on your metal project.

Anthony Ortega, COO & Partner

Anthony Ortega is a dynamic and results-driven executive with a proven track record of fostering growth and innovation. With extensive experience in business operations and high-functioning business acumen, Anthony has consistently demonstrated his ability to integrate and optimize complex business processes.

As the Chief Operating Officer of VIOTELL, Anthony oversees all facets of the company’s operations, finance, fabrication, vendor relationships, and client success. His strategic leadership and expertise in operational excellence have been instrumental in driving the company’s sustained growth and competitive edge.