Never Miss a Purlin Again

There is nothing much more frustrating than a leaking brand new steel roof. In my humble opinion, most (if not all) steel roof leaks caused by errant screws could be avoided by simply following instructions and pre-drilling roof panels.

Loyal reader MONTE in FRANKTOWN writes:

“I’m asking for your opinion on the need for a commercially available product/tool that would allow anyone to know with certainty where a purlin is located under a metal panel during installation. I needed such a tool and could not find one so had to create it. It actually speeds up installation while allowing the installer to avoid missing or broken purlins, large knot holes, and know where to screw on even the most warped purlin. This is not a sales pitch but an honest request for your opinion as here in Colorado it seems everyone misses at least 1% of all screws and simply silicones the misses. After successful huge arena installations I’m considering patents and expensive injection molding, assembly, etc., and would greatly appreciate your input beforehand. Also, thank you for all the help I’ve received from all the posts I’ve read in the past.”

Well Monte, thank you for your kind words, my hope is that you have found my posts to be entertaining, educational or both!

I would think your proposed tool would be most beneficial to builders who do not take time (although it is faster in the long run) to pre-drill steel roof panels on post frame buildings they are constructing. These are the same people who love to try to caulk misses, even though this is a strictly prohibited repair. Your challenge is – our market is highly fragmented. Those few large post frame builders take time to adequately train their installers in methods to avoid missed screws (like pre-drilling) and have serious Quality Control programs in effect. Most every burg in our country has a pole barn builder who puts up a handful of buildings a year – and most of these do not invest enough in themselves or their businesses to justify a new tool, even when it will probably save them money and heartache over time. I truly do not know if your investment will ever be recouped.

This past Winter, I attended NFBA’s (National Frame Building Association) 2019 Frame Building Expo. While there, I found County Line Concepts ( who has designed a better “mouse trap” for punching holes in steel panels.

Please check out this live Expo video featuring Gordon:

5 thoughts on “Never Miss a Purlin Again

  1. Does this page have the tool or info leading to “never miss a pulling again” if someone has the answer I would be grateful and willing to compensate for it. Specifically metal panel installation over roll insulation onto 2×8 wood pulling wich are not perfectly straight and knotholes Wayne etc.
    Thank u

    1. Steel panels over metal building insulation is a poor design solution – very low net R value and only effective as a condensation control when seams are properly sealed. There is not a tool available, however one could create a “story pole” to lay over top of purlins in mid-spans to keep purlins aligned.

      1. Hi Mike – RE your comment about condensation control in reference to steel panels over insulation. What are your thoughts about about using Dry-Tech entangled mesh with Vent 3 permeable underlayment 81 Perm to create a thermal break to control condensation and to try to keep condensation away from bottom of galvalume panels and from top of purlins/plank decking on an exposed fastener roof?

        1. I wouldn’t feel comfortable using Dry-Tech entangled mesh with steel applied to purlins as it will likely negatively affect shear capacity of through screwed steel panels, due to its thickness (at /4″ thick, it creates a plane upon which steel panels could shift). Over solid decking, where decking is carrying shear loads, I don’t see a problem.

  2. Mike – thank you for your comments on entangled mesh. Is a permeable underlayment (no entangled mesh) the only choice to try to control condensation on steel over purlins?


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