Everything You Should Know if You’re Undertaking a DIY Roofing Project

Replacing a residential roof is a tough project, but home handymen who are physically fit and aren’t afraid of heights should be able to tackle it themselves if they don’t mind a challenge. Before rushing out to buy a roofing nailer, read on to find out what DIY roofers need to know to take on a project at this scale safely and efficiently.

Be Realistic About Physical Ability

Roofing is tough work, and not everyone is cut out for it. To see if it will be feasible, start by setting up a ladder and heading up to the roof. If it feels too unsafe to be up there, even with a safety harness, it’s not worth the risk.

Next, head to a local hardware store and pick up a bundle of roofing shingles. Toss it over a shoulder and imagine climbing the ladder with it, multiple times. If that’s not enough to make investing in professional help seem worthwhile, it’s time to start preparing in earnest.

Advanced Planning Is Key

It takes even experienced roofers multiple days to complete small to mid-sized roofing projects, and larger or more complex jobs can take several weeks. Don’t rush to get started, though. Take the time to arrange for material delivery and a Dumpster Rental to dispose of the old shingles, and make sure to have all of the required tools on hand. When you rent a dumpster you should take size into consideration. This means thinking about questions such as – “will it fit in my driveway?” Look at your driveway and measure it to make sure you select the right size.

Most DIY roofers rent air compressors, hoses, and roofing nailers. For large roofs or projects that must be completed on weekends or after work, it might be worth buying the equipment. If you don’t feel equipped to do it yourself it’s best to ask a qualified company like Alpine Roofing, which is a Roofing Denver company that can deal with your needs, or, alternatively, you can speak to a local contractor and go over what you need doing. They have the skills and experience to complete any roofing needs from maintenance to leak repair.

Always Put Safety First

Falls from height are the number one cause of work-related fatalities in the roofing industry, and DIY roofers are even more prone to slips and fall since they don’t receive dedicated safety training. It’s worth investing in a fall protection kit, rubber-soled shoes, and a scaffolding rental to install the first few courses of shingles and the drip edge more safely. Remember, those few thousand dollars saved by taking on a DIY roofing project will be eclipsed quickly by medical bills and missed work if the homeowner takes a tumble, even from a relatively short roof.

Know When to Remove Old Shingles

If the home’s roof is in relatively good shape and there’s only one course of shingles, DIY roofers may be able to lay the new shingles right on top of them. If there are missing or severely damaged shingles, or if there are already two courses of them on the roof, the project will have to start with removing everything down to the roof deck.

Position the dumpster as close as possible to the roof for easy waste disposal, and take care when removing the old shingles and roofing felt to make sure the subroof doesn’t get damaged. If there’s self-adhesive roofing underlayment on the subroof, don’t worry too much about removing 100% of it. The stuff is very sticky, and it’s fine to leave it in place if need be.

Apply Ice-and-Water

Most local building codes require roofers to use ice-and-water, a type of self-adhesive, waterproof underlayment, for at least the first two feet from exterior walls. There’s a good reason for this requirement since this waterproof material can go a long way toward preventing leaks if water gets under the shingles. Even if it’s not stipulated in the local building codes, it’s always best to run at least one or two rows of ice and water in cold climates.

Don’t Skimp on Staples for Roofing Felt

There’s no need to use self-adhesive roofing underlayment for the whole roof deck. Most contractors switch to roofing felt once they get two to four feet from the edges, which can help to cut back on costs without sacrificing water protection.

When applying roofing felt, start by holding it in place with a cluster of around a dozen staples, then add more staples at least every 12 inches down the entire course of felt. Don’t walk on the roofing felt until it has been stapled into place, as it can slip and cause a dangerous fall.

Pay Extra Attention to Valleys and Ridges

Ridges should be covered by overlapping courses of first roofing felt, then shingles. The ridge cap shingles should have their seams placed so that the prevailing winds will blow over them instead of into them. When it comes to valleys, DIY roofers need to exercise even more caution since that’s where most of the water runs off the roof.

To get started off right, apply self-adhesive underlayment to the decking and push it into the valley as tightly as possible to ensure that it won’t rip when the flashing goes up. The metal flashing should cover six inches of the valley on the top and ⅛” per linear foot of the valley run on the bottom. Some roofers also deal with valleys using what’s known as the weaving method, but that’s an advanced technique best left to the pros.

Always follow the Manufacturer’s Instructions

Every type of roofing shingle has slightly different installation guidelines. Some require four nails, while others need six, and even the recommended distance between the courses of shingles can vary by manufacturer.

Unless the local building codes specifically call for altering the installation process, always follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Failure to do so could increase the chances of water infiltrating the shingles and causing leaks, and it will almost certainly void the manufacturer’s warranty. No matter how tempting it may be to use staples instead of nails or to cut back on the number of fasteners, it’s never worth it.

Tackle That Roofing Project With Confidence

Reroofing a home is hard work, and it requires specialized knowledge, tools, and some experience. That said, most handy homeowners can install their own roofs if they don’t mind heights and are physically fit enough to carry large bundles of shingles up a tall ladder safely. Follow the advice above, and don’t hesitate to reach out to a professional for help if the project starts getting too far behind schedule.

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