Can Roaches Climb Metal?

Anyone who has had roaches knows they can climb and climb well. Watching them run along walls, ceilings, and really any surface they please often gives the impression that there is no surface cockroaches can’t scale. The truth is often a little more complicated than that, and some breeds of cockroaches may be less adept at climbing than we thought. 

I had no idea there were so many roaches, and perhaps in cockroach labs, there are only a few core cockroach species, but in reality, it seems like there is a name for this actual pest in every country they are found in. With all the different breeds of cockroaches that we stumble upon, which ones can climb metal with their sharp claws and what common cockroaches can be stopped by slippery steel? Find out in the sections below.

Are Cockroaches able to Climb Metal?

Pretty much all breeds of cockroach can climb some types of metal especially rough or painted material. Because there are so many species of roaches and a variety of metal types answering this question warrants a deeper look and discussion. During a cockroach infestation, it does appear most roaches can climb most metal surfaces as long as they can find some foothold to get their sharp hooks into. 

For cockroach control, it helps to know just how these crazy pests move up vertical surfaces so fast and evade our carefully placed cockroach traps. Pest control specialists have determined that they climb using the sharp hooks at the end of their legs called ungues.

All climbing species of roaches rely on this claw-like structure for climbing verticle surfaces. These claws allow inversion to flip from a horizontal surface like the ceiling to a verticle surface without breaking stride, which makes killing roaches just that much more difficult. 

Types of Metal Surfaces

There are a few different metal surfaces that are common in and around our homes. Knowing which of these metal surfaces cockroaches can climb up may give you ideas on how to prevent these pests in the future. Any surface that is damaged can be climbed by roaches since the footholes needed for them to climb can basically be microscopic. Assuming no damage, these are the metal surfaces cockroaches will encounter and what happens when they do. 


Anything shined up, polished, or oiled will not be climbable by roaches or other insects. If they cannot get a grip with their claws, it is not possible for them to attach or work up it. They will slip down or, more likely, find another way to approach their target. Polished metal is your best defense against roaches climbing up your walls

Stainless Steel

Most of the time, stainless steel will be too smooth for a cockroach invasion to scale. As much as these pests will try to climb up, they can not. This is one reason why stainless steel kitchens made of smooth metal are used in the food industry. It is easy to sterilize and can keep most pests from climbing up. This is only true if the metal is not old or scratched up. Painted stainless steel that has chips or texture can be climbed, so keep the metal bare if pest control is your goal.  

Rough Metals

It is pretty apparent that rough, textured, or rippled metal would be easy for roaches to climb. The access to footholds makes it a perfect surface to scramble up when looking for a meal or escaping a predator. Things like petroleum jelly or oil spray can be added to make it harder for roaches to climb up slippery surfaces. 

Aluminum Foil with particulate material

Aluminum foil is smooth but will pick up any bumps on a surface it is pressed against, so it will not prevent most roaches from climbing. Additionally, the claws and points of cockroach exoskeletons easily tear the foil and make footholds. A crumble particulate can make roaches fall into traps below if placed over the foil and keep them from getting into apartment buildings.

Species of Cockroaches

If you have ever found an old cardboard box in storage or under a bedroom floor, you have met a cockroach. When pest control isn’t an immediate option, you will want to figure out how to turn the fleeing roach into a dead cockroach. The easiest way to do this depends on what kind of cockroach you are dealing with. 

German Cockroaches

German Cockroaches are the most common species found worldwide and can climb very well. It is extremely adapted to surviving in human dwellings and can escape most casual pest control methods. German roaches are found in bedrooms and kitchens in apartment buildings everywhere and are usually the roach people are calling about.

American Cockroaches

American cockroaches are the largest of the house-infesting pests and are a serious concern for less sanitary areas of the US. These roaches carry all kinds of diseases and are likely to get into food sources. Cockroach feces can accumulate in air vents and lead to respiratory illness from prolonged exposure. Removing all cardboard products and using poison bait or pest control services is the only way to prevent absolute apartment horror. 

Oriental Cockroaches

Mainly an outdoor species and not very likely to enter our homes. Oriental cockroaches have a different leg stricture than fast-climbing German roaches. These big brown roaches are found in sewers, dead leaves, and other lawn debris. While it is unlikely these pests will come into your home on their own, severe weather and flooding may force them inside for a time. 

Brown Banded Cockroaches

A very small invasive species that enters places looking for bountiful food sources and spreads fast once they find it. Brown-banded cockroaches will quickly infest a home, and a pest control specialist may be needed to rid your home of them all. Keep your home clean, and food sources secure to prevent a greater future of pest problems. 

Can Cockroaches Climb Up Drains?

It is incredibly easy for cockroaches to climb up pipes and drains to enter our home. Pipes that have a semi-continuous backup of water will be infiltrated by insects trying to find dry land and water sources. That is why cockroaches can sometimes be found in bathtubs and sinks after a storm. The water forces them in, but they cannot climb the porcelain to escape again. 

Drains in our homes often accumulate dirt and grime that can be used as a ladder by sewer-dwelling insects. Pests from adjacent apartments can come and search for food using a secret tunnel of kitchen drain pipes. Bait traps and counter roach solutions and sprays can stop them once they enter your home. 

Climbable and Unclimbale Surfaces for Roaches

If we assume that cockroaches can climb almost any surface area where their claws can gain traction, then a quick list of the unclimbable ones can speed up your home surface assessment. If you find out that the materials your walls are made of are not going to stop roaches from climbing, you can look at some adjustments and solutions, like an angled wall, to make even the easiest-to-climb surface unscalable. 

To stop roaches adding oil or slippery gels to a surface can make roaches fall. Some materials stick to the roach themselves, making their legs useless as opposed to preventing climbing at all. These kinds of solutions should be reapplied often to keep all the roaches from getting up the walls. A particulate material that crumbles under the feet of roaches can also offer some protection. 

Porcelain X
Metal X
Glass X
Granite/Marble X
Tile X


Surfaces that feel rough under the fingers are ideal materials for cockroaches to climb. The ridges and lines are easily grabbed, and if a roach can climb it at all, then it can climb it fast and will be hard to stop. Most home materials are roach-friendly, including wood, plastic siding, bricks, and drywall. The fabric of curtains and facades and trims around windows and doors are usually also climbable by invasive insects. 


Smooth surfaces, especially ones without cracks or damage, are much harder for roaches to climb. If there are ways for these adult insects to scramble up the smoother surfaces, chances are it will take longer, and there is a chance they will become trapped or fall back down. Porcelain, smooth metal, smooth granite or marble, and most tiles are difficult or impossible for cockroaches to climb up. 

Can Roaches Climb On Every Surface in Our Home?

Not every surface is scalable by roaches, and some adjustments or natural features can help keep a bunch of insects from climbing into your house or apartment. The main thing is angles can make climbable surfaces unclimbable. A cockroach cannot maneuver its forelegs behind it with the strength needed to climb up and outward simultaneously, and so an angled protrusion of at least 20 degrees along the bottom third of a wall can keep roaches out. 

Lubrication and oils sprayed on surfaces that are likely to be visited by roaches can also be useful. While trying to keep every surface roach free is impossible unless you want to spend all day applying oils to walls, keeping food areas safe and counters pest free can improve cleanliness in otherwise unsanitary places.

While not a permanent solution to roach problems, keeping them off surfaces can help you trap and kill them faster and keep your metal surfaces free of climbing cockroaches.