Cutting costs wherever you can is a popular notion for many homeowners. Usually, the easiest way to save money is to make a grocery plan or limit your electrical use, but some homeowners have lofty aspirations when it comes to the Do-It-Yourself (DIY) phenomenon.
If you consider yourself a handy homeowner, you may want to take on larger projects like a DIY roof installation. But before you hop up and attempt a roof replacement, be sure to follow these steps & tips, and know when to call the pros.
Safety Always Comes First ⚠️
Attempting a DIY roof installation requires a lot of thought and preparation because roofing is no joke. In fact, roofing is one of the most fatal jobs in the entire country— even for highly-trained professionals.
Before climbing up on your roof, be sure you’re fully equipped with safety equipment, and follow these safety tips:
- Never work alone.
- Always use a roofing harness to protect from falls.
- Follow ladder safety rules.
- Never work in rain, snow, or extreme temperatures.
- Wear sturdy, rubber-sole shoes.
- Wear a hard hat.
If you don’t feel confident in your abilities, don’t want to invest money into safety equipment, or simply don’t want to risk injury, then you’re best off leaving the work to the professionals.
Required Tools and Materials 🧰
While a DIY roof installation may save you a few bucks on labor costs, many people don’t realize just how much it costs to get all the tools and materials required for the job.
You may be able to rent larger tools from your local hardware store, but most of the items on this list you’ll have to buy. And those costs can add up quickly, especially if you’re not 100% confident in your roofing abilities.
To perform a full shingle roof installation, you’ll need the following tools and materials:
- Air compressor
- Asphalt shingles
- Caulk gun
- Chalk line
- Circular saw
- Drip edge
- Galvanized roofing nails
- Hook blade
- Measuring tape
- Pry bar
- Roofing felt
- Roof harness
- Roofing nail gun
- Self-adhesive underlayment (ice and water shield)
- Staple gun
- Step and dormer flashing
- Utility knife
- Work gloves
- Valley and vent flashing
1) Measure Your Roof 📏
In order to know how many materials to purchase, you’ll need to get an accurate measurement of your roof. Instead of measuring your whole roof, measure each section.
- Measure the length and width of each section of your roof.
- Then, multiply the width and length to determine the area.
- Add the areas of each section together and divide that number by 100. This will leave you with the correct amount of roofing squares.
- You can even multiply that number by 3 to determine how many bundles you need.
- Be sure to add about 10-15% extra to cover your bases.
2) Tear-Off the Old Shingles
Granted that you aren’t installing a new roof on a brand new house, you’ll need to get rid of the old roof first. Use a pry bar to lift the shingles up and remove them. Be sure to remove all the old nails or at least pound them flat, so they don’t tear the new shingles.
It’s also helpful to place tarps on the plants and landscaping along the perimeter of your home to protect them from all the nails and materials you’ll be dropping down.
Pro Tip: Rent large dumpsters and place them near your roof so you can toss the old materials directly into the bin.
3) Install the Drip Edge
Installing a metal drip edge gives your roof edges a clean and sleek look, and it also prevents shingles from curling over the edge and water from running down your fascia boards. Hold the drip edge tight against the fascia and fasten it through the top into the roof decking with roof nails. Drive nails every couple of feet.
4) Attach the Underlayment
It should be pretty simple to attach if you go with a self-adhesive ice and water shield. However, peeling the backing off and laying it down evenly can prove difficult alone, so many hands make for light work.
The plastic backing is often separated down the middle into a top and bottom half.
- Peel off the top half of the plastic backing as you unroll the underlayment.
- Ensure the underlayment is smooth and flat before you nail the top edge down.
- Then, peel off the lower half of the backing and repeat.
- You can roll out large sections at once, but don’t attempt more than 10 feet at a time.
Note that self-adhesive underlayment can be quite difficult to work with on very hot days, as the higher temperature causes the adhesive to get even stickier.
5) Staple on the Felt Paper
After the ice and water shield is unrolled and nailed down, you’ll need to attach a layer of felt paper. Cover the underlayment with the roofing felt— just be sure to unroll small sections at a time.
Drive a dozen staples into the felt, then unroll the next section and add more staples. Continue this process until the felt is secured across the whole roof.
Pro Tip: Don’t go stingy with the staples! Place staples no more than 12 inches apart. Felt with too few staples could pull cause you to trip and fall.
6) Install the Flashing
Roof flashing is a thin metal roofing material used to direct water away from susceptible areas on your roof. You can (and should) add flashing to numerous areas on your roof, including:
It’s important that flashing is properly installed because loose flashing can let in leaks. Roof valleys especially need extra protection since they channel a lot of water. Lay the flashing into the valleys and ensure it’s flush and tight to the underlayment. Then, nail it down.
There is also the “weave” method which is touched on more in this video:
7) Install Your Starter Shingles
When you’ve got your underneath roofing layers installed, then you can install asphalt shingles. But first, you need to install starter shingles.
Starter shingles, or “starter strips,” are typically installed on the lower eave edges of roofs, but professionals often use them at the gable edge of roofs as well. They help prevent leaks where the standard shingles can no longer overlap.
Line up the starter shingles with your drip edge, and ensure the adhesive strip is at the bottom. Use extra nails to secure your starter strips. When you install your first row of shingles, they’ll stick to the adhesive strip on the bottom and create a tight seal to keep away water and protect against harsh winds.
8) Nail and Trim the Shingles
Now, you’ll install the rest of your asphalt shingles row by row. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions to a tee. The directions will clearly outline how many nails you need (usually 4-6 per shingle), how far apart to place them, and how to overlap each row of shingles.
When you get to the edge of the roof, use your hook blade (specially designed for cutting shingles) to trim the shingles to size. Before cutting, you’ll want to snap a chalk line over the shingles, so you have a straight line to reference as you trim.
9) Cap the Ridge
When you reach the top ridge of your roof, you’ll need to follow a technique called “capping the ridge.” Leave the ridge for last, then install the shingles horizontally so they overlap each other the long way along the ridge edge.
Nail each shingle about one inch above the overlapping seam. It’s also helpful to snap chalk lines before installing the cap to ensure you lay the shingles straight.
When to Call the Pros 📲
It’s no secret that roof installations are incredibly challenging. Your head may be swimming while reading this article, wondering what drip edges and valley flashings even are, let alone how to install them properly.
At the end of the day, the only way you can guarantee a successful roofing installation that protects your home and keeps you safe from injury is to call a professional roofing contractor. Between all the materials and tools you’ll need to purchase and the learning that needs to take place, the extra cost for an expert installation team is well worth it.
When in doubt, leave this project to a professional team. An added bonus is that many top contractors offer workmanship warranties, so you know your roof will be protected in a way it couldn’t be if you did the job yourself.
Trust Scro’s With Your Roof Installation or Replacement
Here at Scro’s Roofing, we’ve been serving the Raleigh, NC, area for decades. Roof installations are in our blood, and your roof will be in fantastic hands if you pass your DIY project off to us. With competitive pricing and impressive warranties, you won’t regret choosing our stellar team.Reach out today for a free, no-obligation consultation!