Clipping coupons, shopping during special sales, and completing DIY home projects— we’re always looking for ways to save money. Some homeowners go as far as attempting DIY roof replacements. If you’re considering trying one yourself, be sure to read this entire article before climbing up on your roof.
DIY roof installations are possible, but they aren’t nearly as simple as something like unclogging a drain by yourself. Read all 6 of our roof installation tips before deciding if you want to give it a go or call a professional roof installation team.
Top 6 Roof Installation Tips
Tip #1: Safety Always Comes First
One of the biggest reasons that DIY roof installations aren’t typically encouraged is the safety factor. Roofing is one of the most dangerous jobs in the entire country. With steep slopes, tall heights, and specialized equipment, you are putting yourself in harm’s way without the proper training.
Always listen to your gut and use your best judgment before deciding to do a DIY roofing project. It isn’t worth it to save a few dollars just to end up with a life-altering injury.
Safety rules to follow include:
- Never get up on your roof when it’s raining or if your roof is still wet from recent rainfall.
- Buy or rent a fall protection kit that includes a harness, rope, and hook.
- Wear shoes with soft rubber soles for extra traction.
- Everyone helping out should wear a hard hat.
- Sweep the roof clean of debris before beginning.
- The ladder you use needs to hold your weight plus 80 pounds.
- Keep ropes and extension cords away from your feet on the roof.
- Extend the top of the ladder 3 feet above the roof edge, but never step on the ladder rungs above the roof.
Tip #2: Rent a Large Trash Bin for Shingle Removal
A roof replacement results in a lot of trash, and you don’t want to deal with debris scattered in your yard weeks after the project is complete.
You will need to rip off all the old shingles and nails. It’s a good idea to invest in a few big tarps that you can spread over your landscaping and yard to catch all the nails and shingles that get thrown down.
Additionally, rent a large roll-off roofing dumpster from your local waste management authority to have on your property because there will be a lot of trash. Keep the roll-off container as close to your house as possible so that you can toss in some of the shingles directly from your roof.
Tip #3: Have the Proper Tools and Materials on Hand
You wouldn’t show up to a painting class without paintbrushes or attempt fishing without a pole or net, so don’t consider skimping out on the necessary tools for a roof replacement. And there are definitely many, many tools and materials you’ll need to successfully complete a DIY roof replacement!
- Air compressor
- Air hose
- Caulk gun
- Chalk line
- Circular saw
- Extension ladder
- Roof nailer
- Tin snips
- Utility knife
- Work boots
- Work gloves
- Asphalt shingles
- Drip edge
- Felt underlayment
- Hook blades
- Roofing nails
- Self-adhesive waterproof underlayment
- Step and dormer flashing
- Valley flashing
- Vent flashing
You might be looking at this very long list thinking “that looks expensive,” and you’d be correct. You can definitely rent a lot of the larger tools from home improvement stores, but you’ll still have to buy most of the equipment on this list.
We encourage homeowners to get a quote from a professional roofing company before deciding to do a DIY roof replacement because the numbers don’t end up being that much different in the end.
Tip #4: Enlist Help From a Friend
It’s nice to have a friend in general, but it’s extra nice to have a friend help you with a roof installation. In fact, you should never attempt a project like this by yourself. So if none of your friends or family members are willing to lend a helping hand, you should take that as a sign to enlist the help of a professional instead.
If possible, get someone who has roofing experience to help you out. If you have a handy neighbor or friend who’s done their fair share of DIY roofing projects, they’d be a good person to help you out.
Having another person with you is important because then there is always another set of eyes on the scene. If you get hurt in any way, someone will be there to help you and call for help if needed. And on a less serious note, many hands make light work.
Tip #5: Learn About All the Components of a Roofing System
Roofs come in many different styles and options, so if you attempt a DIY roof installation, you’ll need to know about all of the components of a roofing system. A total roofing system consists of:
- Shingles (or other roofing materials)
Roof decking (or sheathing) is the wooden boards underneath the rest of the roofing system. Typically, decking is made from plywood, but it can be made from other kinds of wood as well.
The integrity of your roof relies on the decking being in good condition. Putting new shingles over a rotting or damaged roof deck is a recipe for disaster down the line. Ideally, you’d be working with sound decking, but as a DIYer, you must be prepared to deal with and replace soft, sagging, or the damaged roof decking.
Underlayment is the layer between the decking and the shingles. The most common type of underlayment is roofing felt, but there is also synthetic and rubberized asphalt underlayment.
When performing your own roof replacement, you’ll need to roll the felt underlayment across your entire roof and staple it down. The staples should be no more than 12 inches apart. Make sure the underlayment is completely flat before you staple it down because any air bubbles could let in water.
Roof Flashing (Valley, Step, Dormer, Vent)
Flashing is an incredibly important part of a functioning roof system. Roof flashing is a thin metal (usually steel) installed over certain areas of the roof to direct water away. It is typically installed in the following areas:
- Roof Valleys
If these areas aren’t properly protected with flashing, they are incredibly susceptible to leaks off the bat.
Without roof ventilation, you’ll experience poor airflow in your home. Improper ventilation leads to overheating, moisture buildup, ice dams, mold growth, and higher energy costs. Yikes!
Typically, you need one vent per every 300 square feet on your roof. Different types of ventilation systems work differently, but ultimately they create a good airflow between your roof and your home. Different vents you may need to install include:
- Wind turbines
- Box vents
- Soffit (eave) vents
- Ridge vents
And finally, the component that everyone knows and loves: the shingles! Shingles are simply the final layer of a roofing system. They act as the first line of defense against inclement weather and debris, but all of the other components keep your roof fully protected and functioning correctly.
If you go for a DIY replacement, be sure to purchase high-quality roof shingles from a reputable manufacturer like GAF or Owens Corning. Cheap, flimsy shingles won’t leave you protected for nearly as long as high-quality shingles will.
Another perk of opting for a professional installation instead of a DIY one is that many roofing companies have solid relationships with shingle manufacturers, meaning they can offer better prices and excellent warranties.
Tip #6: Know When to Call the Pros
This final tip is arguably the most important one. We know, we know, you came to this article to learn how to install your own roof, not to get told to call a professional.
However, your roof is an incredibly vital system that keeps your home protected. A faulty roof will only lead to expensive issues, inconvenient damage, and even injuries and health issues. In most cases, it’s not worth it to risk your safety and your home’s integrity just to save a few bucks.
When you add up all the costs for tools and materials, it’s almost always worth it to pay the difference for highly-skilled craftsmanship, expert knowledge, high-quality materials, and product and workmanship warranties.
If you’re reading this article and starting to feel overwhelmed with all the components of a DIY roof installation, be sure to listen to your gut and don’t risk trying something dangerous outside of your comfort zone.
Need a Pro? Call Gouge Quality Roofing
At Gouge, we’ll never judge you if you give us a call halfway through a DIY attempt. We’ve seen our fair share of DIY fails and are happy to help our Ohio community no matter what.
Our team will promptly come to your property and provide a FREE inspection and estimate. With the highest-quality materials and skilled labor, we’ll give you a brand new roof you can feel proud of. And the best part is, you get to stay safe on the ground.
Contact us today to learn how we can help!