How to Roof a House – Forbes Advisor

Editor’s note: Forbes may earn a commission on sales made through affiliate links on this page. However, this does not affect the opinions or ratings of our editors.

Compare quotes from top local roofers

Free, no-obligation estimates

  • working hours: 5 to 7 days
  • total time: 1 to 2 weeks
  • Skill level: Extended
  • Project costs: $ 3,000 to $ 6,000 for a 2,000 square foot roof

The roof installation is a high quality project that will pay off now and later. A new roof refreshes the exterior and improves the attractiveness of the curb. Roofing materials have a long life expectancy, so a new roof is a valuable asset when selling a home.

Learning how to roof a house isn’t difficult as it’s straightforward, but timing and execution can be difficult. If you’re motivated and have a few sturdy assistants, you can roof a house without a professional.

When to roof a house

As a do-it-yourselfer, treat yourself to as much favorable weather as possible – long days that are warm and dry. Depending on your region, this can be in the summer months.

Don’t assume nice weather even in summer. So always check the 10 day weather forecast before tearing down the old roof. Avoid extremely cold temperatures. If it freezes or almost freezes, the asphalt glue will not stick to the shingles.

Security aspects

Fall injuries are a danger to anyone roofing a home. Be careful how and where you place the ladders. Ladders should be mounted on firm, level ground. To avoid falls, set up either a personal fall protection system (slows and stops falls) or a fixed fall protection system (prevents access to the edge of the roof). The OSHA publication “Roofing Workers Protection” can inform you about roofing safety.


  • Nail gun
  • Air compressor
  • Flat chisels
  • Roof shovel
  • hammer
  • square
  • Hook knife shingle cutter
  • Utility knife
  • Cartridge gun
  • Chalk line
  • Tape measure
  • pencil
  • Safety equipments


  • Asphalt or composite shingles with three tabs
  • 30 pound roofing felt or synthetic underlay per local code
  • Drip edge
  • Ice protection underlay (ice dam protection)
  • Roof nails
  • Roof adhesive

Step-by-step instructions for roofing

1. Assess the roof: replace or re-roof

A roof can either be completely replaced or re-roofed.

When replacing, the shingles are removed and then replaced with new shingles. Replacing it can fix problems under the existing clapboard. It also eases heavy roof loads.

In the case of roofing, the new shingles are installed directly on top of the existing shingles. A roof reduces working hours. It’s also cheaper because there are no clapboard disposal fees.

As a rule, a roof can be re-roofed if:

  • Both existing and new shingles are made of asphalt or composite material
  • The roof terrace is structurally sound
  • The existing roof consists of no more than one layer of shingle

2. Obtain permits

Your municipality may require you to obtain planning permission to install a new roof. Since a wide variety of factors apply, it is important to speak to your local licensing department.

Permission may not be required for non-roofed roofs that do not have the sheathing removed. A permit may be required for the roofing due to the increased static load on the roof. Rolloff dumpsters parked on the public street usually require a permit.

3. Prepare the construction site

Cover any nearby plants with plastic wrap. Decide on an area for the clapboard to be thrown in and put some plastic wrap around that area as well.

Have the waste container delivered. If you can park the dumpster near the house, then you can potentially throw a lot of the old clapboard straight into the dumpster.

4. Remove the shingles and felt paper

Start with the roof shovel and lever bar at the roof ridge. Press the tools under the ridge cap to remove it. Work the rows of shingles down to the edge of the roof.

Slide the tools up under the felt paper and clapboard (towards the ridge). Loose shingles should slide towards the gutters. For safety reasons, pick up these shingles immediately and throw them at the disposal site.

5. Install Drip Edge

Use the roofing nails to nail the aluminum drip edge to the edge of the roof deck. Include a gap of approximately 1/2 in. Between the edge of the deck and the start of the drip edge. This allows the water to run into the gutters without running over the facing board.

6. Insert the felt paper

Nail down the felt paper with roofing nails. Start about 1/2-inch above the end of the drip edge. Continue upward in overlapping rows. Overlap by at least 4 inches. When you reach the ridge, continue with the felt paper over the ridge.

7. Install the ice protection pad

If there is snow and ice in your area, install an ice protection pad in the lower area of ​​the roof terrace. This prevents water from melted snow and ice from leaking under the lower rows of clapboards.

Remove the adhesive backing. Apply the protection in a single strip down the length of the roof.

8. Accept delivery of clapboards

Ideally, the shingles should be delivered shortly after the new felt paper has been inserted. The shingles should be delivered directly to the roof by the utility company. Roof delivery is standard as a bundle of 20 shingles weighs nearly 70 pounds.

9. Mark the position of the starter strip

Measure 11-3 / 4 inches above the edge of the drip edge. Do this on each end of the roof. Snap a chalk line from end to end.

10. Install the starter clapboard

Cut off the three tabs from each clapboard in the first row. Save these tabs as you will need them later.

The remaining shingles should protrude 1/4-inch above the drip edge. Then run another row of clapboards (with the tabs attached) over the bottom row. Nail them down. Always nail in the middle of the clapboard.

11. Install the second clapboard strip

Place the second row of clapboards over the starter strip. Offset each row horizontally from the bottom row by 6 inches. You’ll need to cut 6 inches from the first clapboard so the rest of the clapboard on that row offset the bottom row. Tabs on adjacent lines should never be aligned. Use the square and the clapboard cutter to make the cuts.

12. Complete the rows of shingles

Keep moving the rows up until you reach the crest (top) of the roof. You should only reach the ridge, not cross it. If necessary, cut the shingles to fit.

13. Complete the other side of the roof

The other side of the roof should be finished in the same way as the first side. You cannot cover the roof with the roof ridge until both sides are complete.

14. Create the roof edge

The roof ridge is formed from the previously cut shingle tabs. Cut off additional tabs as needed. Fold the cut tabs over the ridge and nail them in place with roofing nails. Overlap the tabs. Keep going until you reach the end. Apply roofing glue to the heads of exposed nails for a waterproof seal.

When to call a professional

One of the benefits of hiring roofers is that the company has everything that is required for roof installation: adequate manpower, specialized tools such as air compressors and nail guns, safety equipment, and additional items such as extension ladders. Homes in the 1,000 to 3,000 square foot range can typically be roofed in just a day or two.

Common roof pitches between 4/12 and 9/12 are easiest for homeowners who want to roof their own home. It is best to leave parking spaces outside this area with a licensed roofing company.

Compare quotes from top local roofers

Free, no-obligation estimates

Comments are closed.