Oil Canning

Distortion of flat metal areas is an aesthetic problem associated with the manufacture of metal roof and wall cladding and flashings. Flat pan architectural metal panels, wide flashings, and profiled metal cladding with wide pan configurations without stiffening ribs are all liable to show distortion in flat metal areas. It is known as oil-canning or panning.

Oil canning can be defined as visible waviness in the flat areas of metal roofing and wall cladding. It can also be referred to as panning, canning, stress wrinkling or elastic buckling, and is caused by differential stresses in the metal. As the metal tries to relieve these stresses in panels with high width to thickness ratios, material buckles out of plane producing the characteristic waviness of oil canning

It has an aesthetic effect and is not a structural or durability issue. Some highly reflective paint finishes and metals or different light conditions can exacerbate the visual effect of oil canning. Some distortion is inevitable in light gauges. It can become an issue of customer acceptance because customer expectations are often unrealistically high.

The degree of waviness can be hard to measure and is highly dependent on viewing angles, the position of the sun, and the reflectivity of the surface. Cladding installations with a high degree of visibility should be designed to minimise oil canning.

Oil canning is more common where the width of unformed sections is large. It can usually be avoided or minimised in normal rib and trough section profiles with a maximum pan width of 300 mm, and flashings that have a maximum unformed width of 300 mm. See Flashing Materials.

In standing seam roofs with pan widths of more than 300 mm, some oil canning is normally evident. Many designers regard oil canning in such profiles as inherent to the material and treat it as a desired effect accentuating the material's natural characteristics.

Manufacturers and installers should minimise unintentional non-flat conditions, and any visual waviness should be relatively even and regular.

There are various causes for oil canning:

  • material;
  • roll tool design and setting;
  • installation; and
  • expansion allowance.



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