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      How to Install a Residential Roof

      How to Install a Residential Roof - Featured Image

      Is your roof leaky, covered in mold, or you’re simply looking to increase your home’s curb appeal? Then it’s time for a new roof. But roof installation is no easy task. You can do it yourself, although it’s a lot of heavy lifting, exposure to the elements, and plenty of time spent going up and down a ladder.

      Before embarking on this task, break out your ladder and climb up to your roof. If you can’t walk around your roof comfortably then it’s time to call a roofer. However, if you’ve passed this first test, continue reading. This article will discuss how to prepare you for your roofing project, the steps required, and some critical tips.

      Preparing for Your New Roof Installation

      Before nailing down your new shingles, you’re bound to have some basic questions: How much does it cost to install a roof? How long does it take to install a roof? How do I know when to replace my roof? And can I roof a house myself?

      Let’s break down each of these questions.

      How Much Does it Cost to Install a Roof?

      To put it plainly, the national average cost to replace a roof is around $8,000, with most people spending in the range of $5,500 to $11,000 (the cost could get up to $46,000 for an intensive metal roof replacement). While that number might be a little scary, we have some good news. According to Zillow, a roof replacement will return around 60% of its value when you sell your house. So, although it’s a lot of money upfront, it’s an investment for the future.

      What are some of the factors that affect the cost?

      • Labor: Since you’re doing it yourself you’ll be able to save yourself a good chunk of change—about 60% of the project’s total cost comes from labor.
      • Materials: 40% of your project’s cost will come from materials which can be anywhere from $100 to $1,000 per square (a square is 100 square feet). The reason why this cost can vary so much is that there is a range of materials, asphalt being the least expensive and copper being the most. Read a deeper dive into roofing materials here.
      • Extent of damage: If you’ve ripped up your shingles and see rotting timbers underneath, then the cost of your roof replacement is going to go way up because you’ll need more equipment and materials to rectify the damage.

      How Long Does it Take to Install a Roof?

      Every home is different so every timeline will be different. With that being said, the average residence’s roof (3,000 square feet or less) can be replaced in two days—on day one, you rip up the roof, and on day two you install the new roof.

      However, in extreme cases involving weather conditions and the supply of your materials, it can take five days or even three weeks. So, always be prepared and have a game plan if your roofing installation project begins to get long.

      How Do I Know When to Replace My Roof?

      The $8,000 question! Just because your roof is leaking doesn’t mean you need to replace your entire roof, that could simply call for a roof repair. But the answer as to when you should replace your roof can vary. Here are three of the most common reasons to replace your roof:

      1. Your material’s lifespan has run out. If your asphalt roof was well ventilated then you should get about 25 years of life out of it. But you don’t want to run the risk of replacing it too late. That’s why most contractors recommend replacing materials at around 80-85% of the roof’s life—so consider replacing a 25-year roof around the 20-year mark.
      2. Here are a few of the most common roofing materials and their life-expectancy estimates: wood shingles, 20-25 years; rubber roofs, 30-50 years; metal roofs, 50-75 years.
      3. Your roof fails prematurely. The materials should last as long as the manufacturer specifies. But with bad installation and poor attic ventilation, your roof can fail. If your roof wasn’t installed properly then you’ll find shingles in your yard, and maybe have whole patches of your roof slide off.
      4. Your roof was damaged in a storm. Even if everything was done correctly, no one can predict Mother Nature, and storms happen. If high winds come through and rip up your shingles or a tree falls on your roof, then you’re going to need a new one.

      Can You Roof a House Yourself?

      Technically, yes you can. However, if done incorrectly you can cause a lot of damage to your roof leading to more costs down the road. And if you have a highly technical roof with steep angles, dormers, pitch changes, chimneys, or any variety of specialty issues, we’d recommend you call a professional roofing installation company.

      That being said, if your roof is pretty straightforward, you're a handy person and feel comfortable at great heights, then go for it! Just be sure you’re following all the safety precautions that can be found in this guide and any of the other DIY resources.

      How HOVER Can Help You

      Getting accurate measurements of your roof is crucial no matter if you’re doing the project yourself or decided to hire a roofer. HOVER generates the most accurate measurements (and a whole lot more) from a few photos of your home. Our software lets you see and interact with measurements in 3D to easily obtain roof dimensions and discover your different siding options.

      Plus, HOVER reduces your “ladder time,” so there’s less time spent going up and down a ladder taking measurements, doing math, re-doing measurements, and going to the store. You simply need to use HOVER once to get a clear picture of the size of your project and the exact amount of materials needed.

      Roofing Materials and Process

      Now that you know when and if you should replace your roof and the time and money that goes into it, let’s get into what you’ll need.

      Roofing Materials Required

      For a successful project you’ll need:

      • #15 or #30 Felt underlayment
      • Asphalt shingles (or whichever material you decided on)
      • Drip edge
      • Hook blades
      • Roofing nails
      • Sealant
      • Self-adhesive waterproof underlayment (“ice and water shield”)
      • Staples
      • Step and dormer flashing
      • Valley flashing
      • Vent flashing

      In addition to these key materials, you’ll also need tools to make sure you’re properly installing your roof to avoid premature failure. These are the tools we recommend:

      • Air compressor
      • Air hose
      • Caulk gun
      • Chalk line
      • Circular saw
      • Extension ladder
      • Roof harness
      • roofing nailer
      • scaffolding
      • Stapler
      • Straightedge
      • Tin snips
      • Utility knife
      • Work gloves

      Roof Installation Steps

      As we’ve mentioned before, roofing is tough, and it’s essential to get it right. So we’re happy to break down the steps involved.

      1. Tear off the old roof. You can’t properly install a new roof on top of the old one. Some of the shadier contractors are known to add a new roof on top of the old, but that’s a near guarantee of premature roof failure. This is the most tedious step in the roofing process, but it’s key to tear off all the old shingles, or at least pound them flat into the structure. And leaving nails sticking out will tear holes into your new shingles—it is vital to not skip this step.
      2. Install the drip edge. The drip edge is the metal flashing that’s installed at the edges of the roof to help control the flow of water away from your fascia (which is the attractive board along the side of the overhang and the roof that helps your roof appear finished. It usually is below your gutter). When you replace an asphalt roof you must replace your drip edge or your home will not be up to code, making it tough to resell down the line.
      3. Roll out the underlayment. Underlayment is a felt (15lb, 30lb, or synthetic) material used over your decking to provide additional protection. It’s important because it can prevent ice or rain from getting into your home. This material is self-adhesive, so all you have to do is peel off the back and apply it as flat and straight as possible to your roof’s deck (the wooden framework).
      4. Waterproof the valleys. The areas where your roof meets the slopes and forms a “V” angle are called valleys. Because of their shape, a lot of water runs through them, so it’s crucial to waterproof them. To do so, underlayment and felt paper are installed much the same way as above, but with different methods that allow for complete coverage of the valley’s specific structure.
      5. Apply starter shingles. Shingles are meant to overlap each other. But starter shingles are specifically designed to be the first ones down and are only half as wide as regular shingles. They won’t be visible under your finished roof, but this is a crucial step because these shingles keep water from running between the seams of the first shingles.
      6. Install the shingles. Just like ripping up shingles, installing them is tedious, too. But don’t worry, it’s pretty simple! They’re applied in an overlapping pattern and secured with a nail gun.
      7. Install the flashing. Flashings are thin metal pieces that are meant to cover cracks or gaps in your shingles. These are usually installed around the base of chimneys, skylights, or vents. Like waterproofing the valleys, this is an extra step that needs to be completed to get a tight seal around any structures that touch the roof.
      8. Cap the ridge. The ridge is the peak of your roof, and there are special shingles that are specifically designed to cover it. Securing these shingles often requires longer nails due to having to go through multiple layers of shingles.
      9. Seal it up. Clean up any debris and seal all the exposed nails. Try to seal the nails with a silicone and asphalt-based hybrid as it can last for years.
      10. Admire your work. Congrats!

      Last-Minute Roof Installation Tips

      So, you now know what you need and have the basic process of installing a roof. Here are some tips to make the project run smoothly.

      Choose the right materials. Understanding the pros and cons of the different roofing materials and how they can impact your home is crucial. If you live in a high wind area, metal shingles might be the better choice. If you’re unsure about which material best suits your home, consult an expert to determine which materials would be a good investment for your house.

      Going beyond the shingles you put on your house, the nails that you fasten your roof with are just as important. Pay attention to the length of the nail and how far it must go to penetrate the wood roof deck. Hot-dipped galvanized nails are the best because they have a 30 to 50-year lifespan—your nails should last longer than your roofing material.

      Be sure to use HOVER to get accurate measurements the first time. With accurate measurements, you can move confidently through your project, and spend less time doing the math to make sure you bought the right amount of materials. And beyond measurements, the design tool within HOVER lets you test out different roofing styles.

      Finally, a roofing project can be noisy. By ripping up the old shingles, firing the nail gun, and stripping metal sheets you’ll create quite a racket. We recommend taking any noise-sensitive children or pets out of the house for the duration of the project. Trust us, you’ll thank us later.

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