Metal Roofing Installation: Direct-to-Deck vs Battens

Metal Roofing Installation: Direct-to-Deck vs Battens

Direct-to-deck are easier to install while battens are great for energy efficiency.

Homeowners are often left bewildered when it comes to choosing appropriate roofing options. Most simply want a roof that looks good, is easy to keep in good shape, and doesn’t leak. A good roof may cost a lot more upfront and you might be tempted to choose the cheapest option, but it won't make financial sense down the road with more frequent repairs and upkeep.

There are two primary installation methods for homeowners who choose metal roofing: direct-to-deck and battens. Both have their benefits and drawbacks, so it can be challenging to decide which is best. By knowing the pros and cons of each method, you’ll be able to make an informed decision.

Direct To Deck

Direct-To-Deck Installations

A direct-deck roof system consists of a structural deck that supports the roofing membrane and insulation, attached to exterior materials like shingles or panels directly to the roof's deck. The deck is usually made of plywood, oriented strand board, or metal. The membrane consists of asphalt shingles, metal, or a single-ply membrane. The insulation is often fiberglass, mineral wool, or polystyrene.

With direct-to-deck installation, metal roofing panels are applied directly onto the upper part of the roof (directly above the roof deck). This is ideal for contoured roof structures or specific architectural elements. If a total re-roof is unnecessary, direct-to-deck might be the way to go.


Direct-to-deck installations are a popular choice for homeowners and contractors alike, and here are several reasons:

  1. Direct-to-deck installations are easier to install. Whether installations are on sloping roofs or valleys, they are less vulnerable to weather and wind damage.
  2. Metal roofing panels can be installed directly on the deck. That means no additional framing, sheathing, or plywood sub-floors.
  3. You can secure the panels to the decking with screws or nails. There is no need for special fasteners, and you can design the panels to allow for expansion and contraction without cracking or splitting.
  4. Metal roofing is more durable than asphalt shingles. They will last longer with less maintenance and can fastened on to any kind of decking material: wood, composite, or manufactured products.


While there are advantages of direct-to-deck profiles, there are some drawbacks.

  1. Solar panel installation is more challenging. You’ll need to pull panels out from the ridge down, to repair, replace or remove them if solar panels are desired.
  2. Direct-to-deck profiles only have up to 1 inch of air space. The profiles can taper all the way down to nothing which leaves little room for hot air to escape. The trapped hot air leads to problems like roof deck buckling, and if a fire breaks out, the lack of air space will make it more difficult for firefighters to battle the blaze.
  3. Increased HVAC costs and reduced energy efficiency. All that trapped thermal energy from the sun and the building below means you’ll be spending more on HVAC fees.

Batten System

Batten System Installations

With battens (also referred to as strapping, strips, furring strips, or perlins), roofing materials are attached on top of a grid, creating continuous airspace when conserving energy is important. Battens are also a good choice when roof-overs are needed — providing a smooth, flat surface. In cases where concrete tiles make up the roof, battens are the better choice. If the HVAC system is on the roof, the batten system is the only option. A variation of the batten system is highly recommended because the majority of them only use horizontal purlin boards.


  1. Continuous air space. This space allows hot air out preventing it from entering the attic.
  2. Cross battens keep even more heat out of the attic. Installing vertical battens first and then horizontal battens on top, the space allows fresh air in through the boom and can exit out at the top.
  3. Save money on time, labor, and disposal expenses. Batten installations are usually preferred for roof-overs because the batten grid ensures an uninterrupted flat surface for the new roof (compared to a more expensive roof tear-off).
  4. Maintenance is more accessible than direct-to-deck panels. Batten profiles are walkable (not too steep to walk on with minimal slope) and the metal tile panels can be easily replaced, repaired, or removed either for adding solar panels or other equipment.


  1. Most batten systems have overlaps, not interlocks, between the panels. The overlaps are susceptible to trapping water and debris underneath, especially with non-metal roofing systems, which prevent the overlap from fitting correctly.
  2. Many batten mount systems have valleys requiring double-sided tape to keep water out. Tape gets wet, dries out, and often needs replacement, while some batten mount systems have closed gaps that collect and hold snow, ice, leaves, and pine needles. In horizontal systems, water runoff could leak into the battens and cause rot quickly.
  3. Critters. The gaps inside the battens could become a haven for bats, mice, squirrels, or other household pests.

Next Steps

There are a few factors to consider when deciding between metal roofing installation methods. Direct-to-deck installation is faster and easier, but battens provide a more finished look. Ultimately, the best method for your home will depend on your individual needs and preferences.

Regardless of your choice between direct-to-deck or battens, metal is the way to go. Energy efficiency, weather and fire resistance, fewer maintenance issues, and the fact that metal can last up to 50 years are but a few of the reasons you should consider metal roofing. If you are considering installing a metal roof, be sure to speak with us about the best option for your home.

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