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Stop Colorbond Oil Canning

I opened up my Macbook to find a subject line on a new email reading “URGENT OIL CANNING…PLEASE HELP!!!“. Not again I said to myself. So many phone calls and emails, people that have moved forwards with their dreams to build a modern architectural home, with feature cladding or roofing using standing seam type materials made from Colorbond Steel only to have these dreams crushed by an inferior installation of these materials by quality tradesman that are not experts at standing seam… sometimes without any experience.

How Bluescope describes oil canning

WHAT IS OIL CANNING? Oil Canning can be defined as a perceived waviness in the flat areas of metal roofing and metal cladding panels. Generally the period and amplitude of the wave depend on the continuous width of the flat section of the profile. Oil canning is an inherent part of light gauge cold formed metal products, particularly those with broad flat areas. Profiles having wide flat surfaces are often referred to as “architectural” roofing and cladding panels. Such panels are distinguished from corrugated shapes as the latter are more fluted in design, have much narrower flats, and are less like to exhibit oil canning. Oil canning can be more apparent during certain times of day and in certain seasons based upon the angle at which sunlight hits the roof or wall, and based upon the temperature differential. FROM PAB05 Lysaght Product Advisory Bulletin July 2017 REV 01.

I am in the industry and the above excerpt sound like jargon to me. So below is my attempt to educate you by sharing some of our stories related to oil canning.

To the lay person it is very frustrating and difficult to understand after seeing all these amazing Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook and google images depicting the most amazing looking properties and then they have ended up with the nightmare which is patches of oil canning. The effect makes a multimillion dollar home look like it has been constructed in a substandard manner worse than a project home.

The above photo shows the typical result achieved when the manufacturers installation instructions have been followed by the roofing tradesman.

So is this the fault of the installer or the manufacturer? Well a little from column A, a little from column B and from C, D and E. Im not going to bore you with the technical jargon that can be found here “PAB05 Lysaght Product Advisory Bulletin July 2017 REV 01.” Instead you will get some real life solutions to eliminate oil canning from your future projects, making sense of the whole debacle and empowering you to achieve the Instagram worthy outcome you could only dream of.

So here we go.

Oil Canning in Flashings and Barges

Above is Oil Canning in a barge – The Barges on this Ausmar display home in Caboolture Qld was installed by MyCladders in 2018. As you can see in the photo above, Yuk…. Though the quality of the workmanship from the our tradesman was first class, many other factors came into play that contributed to this result.

1. Roof Frame not straight – When the structure that the flat metal cladding is installed onto is curved, bent or not structurally adequate and level, the flat Colorbond is made to bend into the shape that it needs to to fit the structure and folded colorbond doesn’t want to bend or twist.

2. Inconsistent fixings – Roof fixing have been installed through the top attaching the barge to the roof sheeting. Soffit fixings have been installed through the Fibre cement ceiling sheets and the underside of the Colorbond barge. You can see in the picture above, the oil canning is consistent with where fixings have been installed.

3. Barge Flashing Design – Flat faced barges are very susceptible to the “Oil Canning effect” especially if made as a one peice flashing.

Above is the same house with the oil canning issue removed. How was this done?

Knowing that the 3 above reasons contributed to the poor result, the following process was used to achieve the final result.

1. Remove the oil canned barge and install a new 2 piece barge flashing that allows flexibility between the soffit and the barge flashing itserlf. The solution is to have the Colorbond be as relaxed as possible.

2. Utilize a hook fold system to secure barge to underside of soffit.

The result ended up a beautiful and oil can free facade, just as the customer ordered. I know that the sun is not shining on the flashing in the second photo, feel free to drive past at 9am in the morning – Harvey Ct Caboolture South and see how amazing it looks with your own eyes.

Oil Canning in Roofing

How about Roofing? When I started my roofing career in 2003 there was no questions about oil canning, it wasn’t an issue. Through the introduction of these new architectural products made from Colorbond Steel the Australian public have become aware how beautiful these profiles can be.

Just the smallest amount can change the entire feel of a house, school, coffee shop and even a hospital, to name a few.

So when 99% of the countries roofers had never experienced using these products many lessons had to be learned…at the expense generally of the end client.

See Colorbond has a disclaimer stating that it is a natural part of the product and so that is what the roofers reiterated to their upset clients.

Does this excuse them? No. Does it mean that these tradesman are not very skilled? No.

The way I see it is that if you have been trained as a GP and then you jump into elective plastic surgery, without any experience and extra training… Only the absolute upper echelon of doctors will be able to pull it off. The same goes for Standing seam cladding systems…

Who installs metal roofs? A metal roofer of course, don’t be silly…Just because you can drive a car, can you race one?

The above is a Colorbond Standing seam roof “Installed to the manufacturers specification” – The phone rang one afternoon, I answered with my regularly cheerful voice “Thank you for calling MyCladders, how can I help you”. The voice on the other end somberly said “You can start by saying I told you so”. That’s the last thing I ever want to say to a client as this only makes them feel much worse, though in this occasion I had already forewarned on multiple occasions not to go in the direction they were heading, choosing another supplier and contractor to save 13% of the total roofing price.

What you see above me here was the first building to be erected at a grand home in Chandler, Brisbane. The product is Sharpline 465 by Stramit (link to install guide) rolled from a Colorbond Monument Matt .55 coil. The roofers were a commercial roofing company that specialised in larger commercial projects with a small amount of experience in the standing seam area. To their credit, the installation was done to industry standard and all Australian codes were met, this didn’t stop the owners from picking up the phone to MyCladders to ask for our assistance.

So what has caused the oil canning outcome you see above? again, it is a number of things that contribute, so here we go again.

1. The Product – Installing 465 wide will always be a challenge when rolled from a .55 Coil of Colorbond steel, as wide flat metal that is this thin wants to twist and warp with expansion and contraction of heating. and cooling. A short stiff rib on either side of a wide flat pan creates a recipe for oil canning every time. The narrower the distance between the two ribs, the less chance there is for oil canning.

2. The House frame – It is a total misconception that to achieve the perfect installation of standing seam roofing the roof must be as flat as possible…This is what was this builder tried to do with the outcome of some of the roof planes being at negative camber, not all of the roofs had negative camber, however the majority didnt have positive camber. I call this the Rainbow and smile effect. If the roof bows like a rainbow from the gutter to the ridge, the chance for a sucessfull outcome will increase. If a smile bow is what. you get. from gutter to ridge…The outcome isnt doomed, though other material components will need to be used in conjunction with the roof cladding to attain the Happy customer effect at conclusion to the install.

3. Truss Spacings and ply underlay – Trusses are one of the most integral components to a roof structure. Standing seam roofing wants to be installed on the best structure it can be. This structure had 900mm truss spacings and the ply was fixed directly to the trusses without roof battens. Although engineering was passed for this construction method, it is not suitable for an oil free outcome of the 465 wide profile. along with this they ply used in the above was 17mm thick and due to the less than desired structure below, a lot of warping and twisting occurred.

Control The Influences That Cause The Effect Of Oil Canning

Above is the same house after MyCladders was engaged to rectify and continue the 465 Standing seam roofing.

After looking at the issues that contributed to the original oil canning..Was it the 1. Product, 2. Truss Frame, 3. Ply sub frame that caused the oil canning?

If the material supplier knew how to install the product to avoid oil canning, wouldn’t they include these instructions and insist on this method?

The installation liabilities manufacturers limit themselves to is based solely on meeting the construction codes of Australia for structural integrity and not for the visual outcome customers expect. It comes down to the expertise, installation method and idea’s from the roofing company and the tradesman that follow these through that get the result you see above.

How was “No Oil Canning” achieved if the Frame and sub structure was not adequate (optimum for product)? That is what we are all wanting to know.

Easy, “Control the influences that cause the effect”. It. is as easy as that.


Now for the simple explanation that you should be able to understand.

Oil Canning Occurs in Colorbond when:

1. A flat section of steel wants to bend in multiple directions. e.g North to south and east to west at the same time.

2. The effect occurs when adding heat making the steel want to expand and exaggerate the Oil Canning. This is because the sheet wants to lengthen and widen itself at the same time but is restricted.

The architectural range of Colorbond cladding and roofing is generally made from .55mm thick Bluescope steel, thicker then the standard corrugated iron profiles made from .42mm or .48mm, though when laid flat it lacks the integrity needed and it struggles on its own to hold it’s shape…hello oil canning.

Thicker materials would certainly minimise the chances. Colorbond is available in many different thicknesses, for example – .4 , .42, .48, .55, .7, .8, 1.0 and even 1.2mm.

So why do we not use a thicker material to avoid the dreaded oil canning? $$$ Dollars $$$

Not every Colour is readily available in all the gauges and a minimum order quantity is required for most.

.55 Gauge is the most diverse coil on the market. Used for flashings on homes, sheds and buildings all over our great country. Because it is used for flashings, this makes it a high volume item that helps roll formers keep large ranges of colours in stock, keeping the price affordable to most.

Perfectly Oil Can Free

“Control the influences that cause the effect”. It. is as easy as that.

MyCladders are experts at the installation of Colorbond material used in roofing and cladding applications.

Give us a call today on 0731773366 and see what we can achieve for you with our:


About the author:

“Im Kendrick Myers, Director and License holder of MyCladders. I have passion to help people achieve the best results possible using Metal roofing and cladding. I do this with innovative ideas and solutions that are implemented to deliver some of the most amazing results achievable with Colorbond steel…Without our clients needing to engage an architect. On top of that, My love for design and bespoke creations means I will never sell you an idea or solution that I do not believe in.”