How to Build a Clear Roof

Lead Image
What You'll Need
Polycarbonate panels - 10 feet long
3 Pre-built steel frame
Power circular saw
2 ½-inch screws with rubber washers
Screw drill
Foam closure strips
Hold-down brackets bolts
Climbing ladder
Hold-down brackets

In a bid to improve interior lighting, reduce heating costs, and increase views of the sky, many people are opting to install some sections of transparent roofing. Many homeowners with patios use see-through roofing material to regulate the amount of sun coming in, while maintaining the feeling of an open area. Some people with sheds or other outbuildings that tend toward the recreational side enjoy having skylight ceilings so they can watch the stars on clear nights.

Many materials can be used to build a clear roof—in this guide, we will be using polycarbonate panels. We look at how to build a simple, gable clear roof for a small area such as a patio.

Step 1 - Take Roof Measurements and Assemble the Materials

Before you start working, get accurate measurements of the roof space you'll be converting. This will help you get the right materials in the required quantities. In this guide, we will be constructing a simple 10x10 clear patio roof. To simplify, we will deal with the pre-built steel frames (you can weld these to any size you prefer). The frame should be made with a three inch slope for drainage. After designing and painting your frame, gather the rest of your materials, including the roof panels and tools.

welding metal frames

Step 2 - Install The Frame

To install the frame, you'll need a ladder and someone to help you lift it to the roof. With one person on top and another on the ground, guide the panels upwards one by one.

First, align the horizontal ceiling frame in place. Use the hold down brackets to keep the frame in place while you work on the other structures. Make sure the flat frame is tightly held using sturdy steel brackets to avoid accidents. One at a time, lift the other frames and align them in a slanting manner. Using the screws, tighten the frame at the main junction points for stability.

Step 3 - Prepare The Polycarbonate Panels For Installation.

The reason we used the 10 feet panels is that the slanting length of the roof might be longer than the other available panel dimensions. Measure the slanting length of the roof to determine the necessary panels. If the roof length is less than 10 feet, you only have to use one polycarbonate sheet. If the length of the roof is longer than the panel, you will have to cut a piece from a new panel to supplement the full piece.

To minimize work when installing the panels, take all measurements twice, and cut the pieces accordingly using the circular power saw. Also, use the drill to make holes in the steel frame at the points where you intend to screw the panels.

polycarbonate panel

Step 4 - Install The Polycarbonate Panels

The only remaining part is fitting the panels in the right place. Position the panels one by one while you screw them to the steel frame. Make sure to extend at least one foot of polycarbonate panel outside the frame for water drainage. To ensure that the sheets hold well, place the foam strips along the steel frame. These provide a good ground for the screws, and help ensure the panels aren't scratched by the steel frame.

Step 5 - Add The Roof Cap

After installing the panels, measure the roof cap and cut a piece that fits the horizontal length of your roof. Fit the cap and screw it with the 2.5 inch screws for holding to finish installing the roof cap. With that, you have your transparent roof!


Always use protective gear when working on a roof. Wear a dust coat and gloves with closed-tipped shoes, and practice standard precautions when using the drill and the power saw. Such tools may cause injuries if mishandled.