You have a few vacation days to burn and you love a good challenge, so why not make your dilapidated roof your newest project? Although many people assume that roofing is as easy as nailing down a few shingles, the project is much more in-depth than most people realize. Here are three reasons you should never make roofing a DIY project, and why working with a professional is worth the added expense.
1. Those Old Materials Will Need to Be Removed First
Since the goal of any roof is to keep water, ice, and snow out of your house, it might seem like a good idea to add a fresh layer of shingles to your existing roof. Many homeowners prefer this method, especially since adding an extra layer of shingles means they won't have to deal with stripping away heavy materials, renting a dumpster, or worrying about water exposure while the roof is bare.
Unfortunately, layering on the shingles opens your home up to a new list of problems, especially since a single bundle of shingles can weigh between 60 to 80 pounds. Multiplied over the span of your roof, a second layer of shingles can add thousands of pounds of weight to your roof, leading to an increased risk of collapse, structural damage, or pooling water. This risk is multiplied for homeowners who live in areas prone to snowfall, since snow can also weigh down your roof. In fact, some states even have laws that make it illegal to add a second layer of shingles to an existing roof.
To prevent structural damage, most roofing experts recommend completely removing shingles, tarpaper, and flashing and then replacing them with brand-new versions. The process of stripping these materials involves a great deal of physical labor, since it involves lifting hundreds of pounds of shingles, peeling away strong membranes, and removing thousands of nails. Fortunately, professional roofing companies have the tools, manpower, and understanding to quickly remove old materials and replace them—without endangering the structural stability of your roof.
2. Roofs Are Inherently Dangerous Places
After watching a few online roofing videos and donning your best pair of work shoes, you might feel ready to grab your ladder, head up to the roof, and get to work. Although most people assume that a roof is nothing more than a graded plane, the fact of the matter is that roofs are inherently dangerous places. In addition to dealing with a steep slope and an unfamiliar environment, most people are surprised to learn that older roofs can be especially slippery, since roof shingles have pebbled aggregates that come loose over time.
Heights are another serious danger to inexperienced homeowners, with falls being the number-one most-common cause of unintended homeowner death. To keep themselves safe, professional roofers use reliable equipment such as roofing harnesses, cherry picker lifts, and even special roofing boots designed to grip those shingles better than your old pair of kicks.
3. Roofing Is More Complicated Than You think
Roofing might not seem like rocket science, but it is a lot more complicated than most people think. In addition to requiring a basic understanding of how to lay shingles, roofers also have to learn how to select roofing materials based on home slope and geography, which kinds of nails will work, how to lay protective membranes, and how to wrap windows and vents to protect the home against incoming water. Installing flashing is another complicated task that roofers undertake, especially since research has shown that up to 95% of leaks occur at flashing details—which are typically hand-designed and molded to the contours of your home.
Unless you moonlight as a professional roofer, learning all of the tricks of the trade might prove to be more difficult than you have the time and patience for. However, roofers spend years honing their skills and perform these tasks day-in and day-out, which means that they are especially qualified for the job.
By doing the smart thing and hiring a professional roofing service, you can save time, money, frustration, and maybe even your own life. Contact a roofing company in your area to get a bid for your project.