Do you have a shed, garage, treehouse, or workshop that needs a sturdy roof? One of the most simple and affordable roofing materials that you can install yourself is called roll roofing.

While it’s always best to trust roofing experts for a roof replacement on your home, roll roofing is an excellent option for smaller structures on your property, especially if you’re on a tight budget. Are you ready to get the project started? Let’s explore how to install roll roofing step by step.

What Is a Roll Roof?

You may be familiar with popular roofing materials such as:

  • Asphalt shingles
  • Cedar shakes
  • Metal roofing
  • Clay tiles

But have you ever seen roll roofing? Chances are you’ve passed by a structure with a rolled roof and didn’t think twice because roll roofing looks similar to asphalt shingles.

Roll roofing is an oil-based asphalt product that comes in 100 square foot rolls. Just like rolling out carpet on the floor, this roofing can be rolled right out onto the roof to protect your structure from the weather.

This material is pretty lightweight, as a 100 square foot roll weighs about 75 pounds. Even though roll roofing looks similar to asphalt shingles, it is a less-durable product because it’s thinner and cheaper.

For DIY homeowners, roll roofing is a dream. You can find the materials at almost any home improvement store. But before you run to the store, be sure to familiarize yourself with the potential pros and cons of rolled roofing.

install roll roofing materials


  • Very affordable
  • Easy to install
  • Lightweight


  • More prone to cracking and tearing
  • Less durable than shingles
  • Considered a less-attractive material
  • Short lifespan (Five to eight years)

If you’re looking for a cost-effective roofing material that’s easy to install on your own, rolled roofing could be the solution for your shed or workshop. Remember: if it’s time to replace your home’s roof, opt for a more durable roofing material installed by a professional.

working installing roll roofing with white gloves on

Step 1: Gather Materials

Ready to move forward with roll roofing? The first step in the installation process is to gather all your materials and tools. The last thing you want is to interrupt your installation because of a missing tool, so be sure to account for everything you need before beginning. If you need to purchase new materials, you can find what you need at most home improvement or hardware stores.

Gather the following tools and materials:

  • Roll roofing
  • Roofing cement
  • Ladder
  • Hammer
  • Push broom
  • Measuring tape
  • Meter stick
  • Gloves
  • Trowel
  • Utility knife
  • Tin shears
  • Chalk-line
  • Flashing
  • Primer
  • Roofing nails
  • Nails for flashing

Step 2: Measure Your Roof

It’s very important to measure your roof to know how many rolls of roofing to purchase. Measure the length and width of your roof’s surface. Then, multiply the two numbers together to determine the square footage and how many rolls you need.

It’s a good idea to buy 5-10% more than what you calculated because certain pieces will need to be trimmed to fit perfectly on your roof.

Roof builders measuring roof to install roll roofing

Step 3: Clean and Prepare the Roof

Before you get started installing, unroll the rolled roofing material on the ground to flatten it out. As the material uncurls, thoroughly clean your roof.

Use a push broom to remove loose debris from the roof. If you notice any nails sticking up from the wood sheathing, hammer them down.

Prepare the roof by ensuring you have an adequate base layer to install the roll roofing over. Roll roofing is usually installed over bare wood sheathing. However, applying roofing felt over the sheathing will help protect against leaking.

Preparing a roof deck to install roll roofing

Technically, you can install roll roofing over the top of existing shingles. However, when it comes to almost any roofing project, it’s best to avoid roof layovers and opt for a clean base instead.

It is also a good idea to install drip edge flashing before laying the rolled roof. Drip edge is a type of metal flashing that is installed at the edges of your roof to keep water from getting underneath your roofing materials. Use roofing cement and roofing nails to attach the drip edge flashing around the bottom edge of the roof.

Installing a drip edge over roof felt before install roll roofing

Step 4: Mark Your Working Area With the Chalk-Line

Keep that measuring tape handy because you’ll need it when you begin the installation process. Keep in mind that rolled roofing is typically installed horizontally.

Grab your measuring tape and chalk line, measure 35 inches up from the bottom edge of the roof, and mark it with the chalk line. Use a meter stick to ensure your line is straight and even across the roof. You don’t want crooked roofing!

Step 5: Lay Down Roofing Cement

Next, you’ll apply roofing cement as you go. Always wear gloves when working with roofing cement. Spread roofing cement along the edges of your working area so that it’s about 1⁄8–1⁄4 inch thick.

Apply the cement to the entire horizontal section before attaching the first layer of roll roofing. Stay below the edge of the chalk line you made.

Worker applies roofing cement on the foundation to install roll roofing

Step 6: Cut the Rolled Roofing

Use your utility knife to cut a portion of the rolled roofing to the correct size. Remember, you will lay it as a long, horizontal strip. The material should be cut to be 35 inches wide and the length of your roof.

Cutting the rolled roofing will require a lot of pressure with the utility knife.

Construction worker cutting to install roll roofing

Step 7: Lay the First Layer of Rolled Roofing

Once your first layer is cut to size, carefully line up your edges. Lay the first layer down little by little, stretching it as you go to avoid wrinkles. The first layer should cover the length of your roof, as far up as the chalk line. Push the rolled roofing firmly into the wet cement to secure it.

Once the layer is secured by the cement, it’s time to hammer nails into the layer to secure it further. Use 1 inch galvanized roofing nails and a strong hammer. Make sure you feel steady on the roof before you begin hammering.

Hammer the nails 6 to 10 inches apart across the length of the roof. The nails should only be 1 inch away from the edges. All nails should be flush with the roofing material. Don’t leave nails sticking up above the roof.

first layer install roll roofing

Step 8: Repeat Until Completed

When you’re ready to lay the second layer, make a chalk-line 32 inches above the first layer. You’ll measure 32 inches instead of 35 inches like the first layer because you will be overlapping the layers.

Overlapping by a few inches is essential to keep the entire surface covered and protected. Without overlapping, rain can easily get through the cracks between rolls.

You will continue working upwards and repeating the steps of:

  • Cutting the rolls to size
  • Applying roofing cement
  • Laying the roll
  • Hammering in nails

Once you’ve installed all the rolls, seal the final top edge with roofing cement. Another good tip is to cover all the nails with cement. This will further secure the nails in place and seal them into the roofing materials.

Is there any excess rolled roofing hanging over the edge? Use your razor knife to remove excess materials. After you’ve trimmed the materials down, test to see if you can lift the edges of the roofing. If you can, use more cement to seal the edges.

Roofer installing roll roofing with torch

Step 9: Give the Roof a Final Cleaning

Before you can officially say that you’re done, bring your push broom back up the roof and clear off any dirt and debris. There shouldn’t be too much dirt, but mud from your shoes, twigs, and loose nails may be present.

Once you’ve brushed off your roof and sprayed it down with a hose (stay on the ground when using a hose on your roof), you can step back and admire a job well done.

And that’s that! After all these steps have been completed, you have officially installed your very own rolled roof.

finished flat roll roof installation

Trust the Experts With Your Home’s Roof

Installing roll roofing is a great cost-effective solution for smaller structures such as sheds and garages. Considering how inexpensive the materials are and how you can complete the installation in a day, this roofing method is popular among many handy homeowners.

If your home’s roof is due for a repair or replacement, resist the urge to try and install a rolled roof. When it comes to your home, you need a more durable material with better longevity.

For all your roofing repair and replacement needs, collaborate with the professionals at Gouge Quality Roofing. Contact us today to get a free quote on your upcoming project.


How do you glue down rolled roofing?

To glue down rolled roofing, brush a liberal amount of roofing cement onto the top 2 inches that’s in place, then lay the next roll onto that. Completely cover the brushed on cement and securely nail the roofing down.

What is the best underlayment for roll roofing?

Synthetic Underlayment is currently the most popular choice of roof underlayment for several reasons. This material is lightweight, extremely durable, repels water, and is fast to install. Synthetic underlayment also has slip-resistant options available making a safer workplace for the roofer.

Is roll roofing waterproof?

Yes, roll roofing is waterproof and can provide protection from water and weather for up to ten years when installed correctly.