How to Install Roll Roofing

Learning how to install roll roofing is an easy task for anyone with basic carpentry skills. Roll roofing is a made of a material similar to traditional shingles, but is easier to install and better suited to roofs with a shallow slope.

How To Install Roll Roofing Perfectly

  • Up on the rooftop. Although it is easy to install roll roofing, working on roofs calls for caution. Always work with a helper and try to install roll roofing only on days that are dry and have little or no wind. Wear gloves and non-slip shoes.
  • Preparing your roof. Before installing roll roofing, make sure the roof is swept clear of any debris. If you've removed previous roof coverings, make sure all fasteners are removed and the sub roof is in good repair. While you're clearing the roof, allow the rolls of roofing material to warm in the sun-never work with roll roofing if the temperature is less than 45 degrees.
  • Go on, felt it! Although not specifically required, adding a layer of roofing felt prior to installing roll roofing will increase the lifespan of the roll roofing. Besides, since roofing felt is installed from a roll, it will be good practice for later.
  • Feeling edgy. Before installing roll roofing, install plastic drip edging around all edges of the roof to help direct water away from the roof. Also, add an 18" wide strip of roll roofing material along all edges and in any valleys along the roof. This strip should be nailed in place with roofing nails spaced 8" apart and at least 1" from the edge of the roofing material.
  • Starting out right. As the eaves of your roof may not be straight, snap a chalk line to use as a reference mark for installation. The chalk line should be 1/2" shorter than the width of your roll of roofing material, measured up from the bottom of the roof. The 1/2" difference allows for a 1/2" projection over the bottom edge of the roof.
  • A word on overlap. Each row of roll roofing material should overlap the row below by 2". On rows where more than one piece is needed to cover the row, there should be 6" of overlap between the pieces of the row. All overlaps should be coated with a 2" band of roofing cement before the overlapping section is nailed into place.
  • Rolling along. To begin installation, roll out the first section of material along the bottom of the roof. Position the section using the chalk like for reference. The end of the section should project over the end of the roof. Once the section of material is lined up, nail it in place with roofing nails spaced 8" apart and at least 1" from the edge of the material.
  • Installing other rows. Once the first row is installed, snap a chalk line 2" down form the top edge of the roofing material. Apply a band of roofing cement to the area between the chalk line and the top of the material. Place the next row of roofing material; overlapping the first row and lining up the bottom edge of the material with the most recently snapped chalk line. Nail the roofing material into place. Repeat this procedure until you reach the top of the roof-you may have to trim the last row so that it ends at the ridgeline.
  • Finishing up. Cut an 18" wide strip of roll roofing material to serve as a ridge cap. Snap chalk lines on either side of the ridgeline to help align the cap. Apply roofing cement to the ridge cap area and attach the ridge cap. Finish by nailing the ridge cap into place. Snap a chalk line along the outer edges of the roof and trim the ends with a sharp hook-blade utility knife.
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