How Do You Cut Polycarbonate?

Polycarbonate sheets are a fantastic, versatile roofing material that offers a number of unique benefits. As well as boasting impact resistance 200x greater than that of glass, polycarbonate roofing will not chip, shatter or be damaged by adverse weather. What’s more, polycarbonate panels are highly UV-resistant, with no chance of becoming warped or discoloured by exposure to sunlight.

Many customers come to us wondering how to cut their polycarbonate sheets to size, which is why we’ve written this handy guide. We’ll talk you through cutting polycarbonate by hand as well as how to cut polycarbonate with power tools. There are pros and cons to each of these methods, and the right one for you depends on your confidence and experience level in DIY.

 

Table of Contents

Does Sheet Thickness Matter?

Yes, as polycarbonate roofing sheets come in a range of thicknesses, you will certainly find it easier to cut thicker panels with power tools. Both solid and multiwall polycarbonate sheets will be trickier to cut using hand tools if they’re thicker than 5mm, it can still be done, but will take more time. If you’re struggling to cut your polycarbonate sheets with hand tools, then you have two options. The first is to learn how to do so yourself. Whilst this is a potentially hazardous course of action that should not be taken lightly, the skills will transfer to any future projects, and will pay dividends. The second is to consult a professional to cut the sheets for you. This will of course increase the costs of your project, but you’ll have peace of mind knowing it’s in safe, qualified hands.

What Safety Measures Do I Need to Take?

When using sharp equipment, particularly power tools, it’s vital to know what you’re doing, and take all necessary precautions.

Firstly, ensure that you wear adequate protective clothing. Cutting polycarbonate sheets will inevitably produce dust and particulates, so we’d recommend wearing eye goggles, a dust mask, and of course gloves to protect your hands.

Secondly, it’s always a good idea to test any equipment you plan on using. Check the condition of your saw blades, ensuring that they’re well-sharpened and neither corroded not damaged. After all, you could seriously injure yourself were your saw to snap or slip whilst cutting through your polycarbonate sheets.

The same goes for any power tools or equipment you’re going to use. Check that they’re fully functional, perhaps by testing them first. Are they making any strange noises? Are the blades still sharp? How recently has the tool been cleaned? All of these questions need to be answered if you want to proceed with cutting your polycarbonate safely.

How Do I Cut Polycarbonate Roof Panels?

There are a few different ways to cut polycarbonate, but whether you’ll be tackling the job by hand or using a circular saw or jig saw, you’ll definitely need a fine-toothed blade. Whilst using a hand saw will naturally take more time, it’s a far easier tool to cut polycarbonate with if you aren’t confident using power tools. However, if you’re a more experienced DIYer or a professional, cutting polycarbonate sheets with power tools will be far quicker and easier.

How to Cut Polycarbonate Using a Handsaw

The humble hand saw is one of the most common tools in the country. When working with polycarbonate, we’d recommend using a fine-toothed saw.

  1. Secure the polycarbonate sheet on a cleared worktable, ideally using clamps or vices to avoid slipping or other movement during cutting.
  2. Do NOT remove the cover film. This film indicates the UV-resistant side of your polycarbonate sheet, which you’ll need to know prior to installation.
  3. Mark out your cutting line on the film side of the panel, using a marker pen or masking tape. We’d recommend using a straight edge to ensure as clean a line as possible.
  4. Beginning on one side, slowly but firmly begin cutting along the marked line. If the saw blade becomes stuck at any point, reassess how secure the sheet is to your work surface, the sharpness of the blade and the firmness of your cutting strokes.
  5. Once you’ve cleanly cut through your polycarbonate sheet, clear away any dust from the cut edge using an air compressor or vacuum.

How to Cut Polycarbonate Using a Circular Saw

If you’re going to cut polycarbonate sheets using a circular saw, we’d recommend one capable of 4000rpm with a 250-300mm blade.

  1. Clear a workspace and firmly secure your polycarbonate panel to it using a clamp or a vice. This is to prevent your sheet from moving whilst being cut.
  2. Remember not to remove the film from the UV-protected side. This will be handy to keep on until you come to install your sheets.
  3. Use a marker pen, pencil or masking tape along with a straight edge such as a ruler to mark out where you’re going to cut the polycarbonate sheet.
  4. Slowly and carefully work your circular saw along your marked line, being careful not to stop once you start to ensure a clean, consistent finish. Apply a reasonable amount of pressure to the blade so it runs through the polycarbonate smoothly.
  5. Clean away any dust or chippings using compressed air or a hoover.

How to Cut Polycarbonate Using a Jig Saw

A jig saw is used in a similar way to a circular saw but is a far more effective tool for cutting curves. This is ideal for anyone who wants to cut polycarbonate into more complex or extravagant shapes. We’d recommend using a jig saw with a metal cutting blade capable of 12,000 strokes per minute.

  1. Place your polycarbonate sheet onto a clear work surface, and ideally secure it down using a vice or clamps. This will help ensure you make as clean a cut as possible.
  2. Don’t peel away the film from the UV-protected side of your polycarbonate just yet. This will be helpful later on when you come to fit your new roof.
  3. Using masking tape or a marker pen and a steel rule or other guide, mark out where you’re going to cut your polycarbonate. It’s best to do this on the film side.
  4. Carefully work along your marked lines with the jig saw, applying a reasonable amount of continuous pressure for a clean, professional cut.
  5. If you find any excess dust on the freshly cut edge, this can be cleared away using a vacuum or even compressed air.

 

Can I Purchase Polycarbonate Sheets Pre-Cut?

You absolutely can! We supply a fantastic range of polycarbonate sheets cut to size from leading brands Axiome, Corotherm and Solek. Simply entire your required finish, thickness and dimensions and add to cart! The benefit of choosing cut to size polycarbonate is twofold, not only will you be saving time on-site, but you’ll also minimise wastage and post-project clean up.

Conclusion

And there you have it! You should now be able to cut polycarbonate sheets yourself! Polycarbonate is a fantastic roofing material for DIYers, as it is lightweight and easy to work with. Now that your sheets have been cut to their ideal size, it’s time to put them on your roof. Take a look at our handy guide on how to install polycarbonate roofing to learn the best way to do so. If you’re still unsure as to which polycarbonate roofing sheets are right for you, we’d recommend reading our Mega Guide to Polycarbonate, where we discuss the pros and cons of each of the major varieties.

As always, if you have any questions about our range of polycarbonate roofing sheets or anything else, get in touch with our award-winning customer service team. They’ll be able to help you every step of the way and get your project underway ASAP. Call them on 01295 565 565, email [email protected] or use our handy online chat below.