Roofing for the Do-It-Yourselfer

the-downside-to-diy-roofingWelcome to the age of Do-It-Yourself home improvement. Many homeowners are finding they can save money by replacing or fixing their roofs themselves. Keep in mind that unless you are experienced at this work, professionals will likely do a much better job at making sure it’s done safely and in compliance with local building and fire codes. Here are important points to consider before you rush into a DIY roofing project.

Choosing the Right Materials

You have options for your roofing materials from shingles to tiles to sheets. Factors that come into play include local codes, the angle of the roof and how your home was originally built. It’s also a good idea to research your area to find out which materials are most durable in withstanding environmental elements. Usually, the most durable material is the most expensive. Remember that if you install the roof improperly, it will not be covered by a warranty.

Physically Challenging Work

Due to the strenuous and time-consuming amount of work involved, you will probably want to ask for help from friends. Ideally, these are physically strong people, since it involves loading the moving heavy roofing materials. Keep in mind that professional roofing skills can take years to learn to do top quality work, since it’s a complex job that involves several components. It takes several hours or days to complete the job, so make sure you have the endurance to do it, but do not force yourself to work when you’re tired. Tearing off shingles alone can drain your energy.

Dangers To Consider

The slope of your roof will determine the proper safety measures to take and equipment to use. While a flat roof doesn’t pose as much risk, sloped roofs can cause slipping, sliding or falling. If you have a roof steeper than 8:12, it’s best to let experienced certified contractors handle it, due to the increased risk. Otherwise, it is crucial that both feet have proper support. In other words, don’t wear old worn out tennis shoes. Be conscious at all times of what to do in case you slip.

Make sure you have the sufficient insurance or emergency funds to cover any possible injuries. According to OSHA, the top cause of fatalities in the construction industry is falling off roofs. So if it can happen to professionals, it can happen to anyone who isn’t careful. These accidents are completely preventable if you focus on safety.

It is essential that you stay clear of power lines, which can cause electric shock. When using a ladder make sure it is well anchored with no chance of tilting over. If the ladder is old and beat up with broken parts, replace it. Do not drink alcohol or consume anything that will diminish your focus. Be aware that stepping on loose shingles can be slippery and dangerous. Always point a power nailer away from your body and other helpers. For the best possible protection, get a body harness connected to a roof anchor.

Additional Safety Tips

  • do not work on a wet surface
  • soft-soled boots provide excellent traction
  • wear a helmet for protection in case of an accident
  • use eye protection to avoid flying nails
  • bend your knees when lifting heavy materials to avoid a back injury

Using Proper Tools

Unless you already own the proper roofing tools, you may need to spend money renting or buying equipment. A power nailer can help speed up the process. Do not use old tools that are not in good condition, which can be hazardous. Keep in mind that roofing tools can be expensive for a one time project.


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