Living in a home inevitably entails the need for roof replacement over time. To ensure your family’s comfort and protection from the elements, it’s essential to tackle this task effectively. Opting for a DIY approach can be daunting, but with the right guidance, it’s entirely achievable. Start by assessing your roof’s condition and researching suitable materials. Prioritize safety measures and acquire the necessary tools before commencing work. Follow manufacturer instructions meticulously during installation to guarantee a durable and watertight result. By taking these steps, you’ll not only safeguard your loved ones but also enjoy a cozy and secure home environment for years to come.

workers on a roof, focusing on safety measures as they work

Making Safety a Priority: A Do-It-Yourself Roofing Checklist

As someone who has fallen off a roof can attest, re-roofing with asphalt shingles is a relatively simple task, but it is not without risk. Fortunately, I only had minor injuries (mainly bruises), but things could have gone worse. Consequently, prior to contemplating roofing work, I go over a list of requirements:

  • The pitch must be sufficiently low to allow for safe walking. Although my limit is 6/12, professional roofers consider any pitch below 8/12 manageable (8″ of vertical increase per foot of horizontal distance). Anything over that, in my opinion, is best left to professionals who have the appropriate safety gear.
  • Shingles can be lifted onto the roof using a hoist. My back hurts just thinking about having to haul many packages, each weighing between fifty and eighty pounds, up a ladder and into place. In addition, there is an additional risk of falling when shingle removal is done by hand.
  • The optimal temperature range is between 50 and 80 degrees, and the weather is dry and not overly windy or hot. Working on a wet roof makes it slippery, the sun’s heat poses a risk to both you and the roofing material, and windy weather invites mishaps. Obviously, roofing cannot be done when the temperature drops to the point where ice forms.
  • The area surrounding the foundation is free of bushes and other vegetation that might impede easy access, and it is level and sturdy enough to hold a ladder.

If all these requirements are satisfied, replacing your home’s roof is a do-it-yourself project that you may complete on your own at significant savings if you choose to hire friends or other locals rather than a roofing company. Before you begin, be aware that you will most likely require building permission. Additionally, you must abide by local laws, which differ depending on the area and climate zone.

Safety Measures

In addition to the circumstances I’ve already discussed, DIY roofers should take into account the following crucial safety factors:

  • Watch out for tall roofs. I could have suffered more severe injuries if the roof I fell off had been much higher than it was, which was just over ten feet above the ground. To truly appreciate your new roof, think about hiring professionals to do the work if your roof is high enough to cause vertigo.
  • Purchase the necessary safety equipment for roofing work. Usually costing about $100, a fall safety kit with a strong harness, long-lasting rope, and trustworthy hook is a prudent purchase. Put safety first without going over budget. Every roofing project is a wonderful opportunity to safeguard yourself.
  • Prioritize safety during roof installations by donning rubber-soled shoes and investing in knee pads for added comfort and protection. Shumaker Roofing advises clients to equip themselves with these essentials to ensure a smooth and injury-free roofing experience. Your knees deserve the care and attention they need.
  • Ensure worker safety with provided hard hats to shield against falling debris. Prioritize caution by visually inspecting the area and verbally signaling before discarding materials off the roof. Safety measures like these at Shumaker Roofing underscore our commitment to a secure work environment without compromising on efficiency.
  • Safeguard your workspace by strategically positioning ropes and extension cords to prevent tripping hazards. A clutter-free environment fosters efficiency and safety, ensuring seamless workflow without interruptions. Prioritize organization and foresight to maintain productivity and mitigate the risk of accidents on the job site.
  • Ensure your ladder can bear your weight and the added load of shingles if needed. At Shumaker Roofing, safety is paramount. We advise checking your ladder’s capacity before climbing to avoid accidents. Trust us for expert roofing solutions that prioritize safety and quality, every step of the way.
  • To make sure everyone is safe, extend the ladder three feet beyond the rooftop and fasten it firmly to the eave. Steer clear of any rungs that are above the roof. For knowledgeable advice on safe procedures during roof maintenance, rely on Shumaker Roofing. Our top priority is keeping you secure.
  • With Shumaker Roofing’s careful approach, your roofing job will be enhanced. We carefully erected scaffolding to guarantee accuracy when we installed the drip edge and first course of shingle. Put your trust in our knowledge to ensure a smooth process, excellent outcomes, and the protection of your property against leaks and extending its lifespan.

showing a team of workers installing shingles on a roof

The Basic Procedure

A comprehensive, step-by-step guide on installing new roofing is provided in this article. In summary, these are the fundamentals:

    • Remove the old roofing: Simplify waste disposal with a dumpster rental, eliminating multiple trips to the dump in a truck. Streamline your project and focus on what matters most with hassle-free dumpster solutions.
    • Replace any rotten or damaged decking: Replace any worn-out or damaged decking to give your outdoor area a new look. Sturdy, modern materials improve both safety and beauty while providing a long-lasting framework for leisure and amusement in your backyard haven.
  • Put in any additional vents you may require: Optimize your attic’s airflow with new roof vents and fulfill your dream of a skylight. Trust Shumaker Roofing for seamless installation and elevate your home’s comfort and aesthetics effortlessly.
  • Place the underlayment: In extreme weather zones, codes require self-adhesive waterproof underlayment, commonly referred to as an “ice barrier.” If not, a single layer of 15-lb. Generally, felt underlayment (tar paper) will do unless municipal requirements specify 30-lb., which is more water-resistant and heavier.
  • Install flashing around dormers and in valleys: Flashing, a protective barrier, is crucial around dormers and in valleys of roofs, preventing water seepage. Proper installation ensures longevity and prevents costly water damage to the underlying structure.
  • Nail in the shingles: Securing shingles involves hammering nails to affix them to the roof structure. Proper placement and technique are vital to prevent leaks and ensure durability against wind and weather damage.
  • As needed, apply roofing sealant: Apply roofing sealant sparingly to cracks, joints, or gaps on the roof surface. Ensure proper adhesion and coverage to prevent water leakage. Regular inspection and timely application maintain roof integrity.

Let’s get into the specifics now that you are aware of what’s necessary.

various roofing tools organized neatly

Tools Needed

  • Broom
  • Caulk gun
  • Chalk line
  • Circular saw
  • Drill/driver
  • Extension ladder
  • Hammer
  • Pry bar
  • Roofing nailer with compressor and air hose (optional but recommended)
  • Roofing tear-off shovel
  • Stapler
  • Tape measure
  • Tin snips
  • Utility knife with straight and hook blades
  • Work gloves

Materials Needed

  • 1 1/2″ screws or nails
  • 1-1/4″ roofing nails
  • 15- or 30-lb. roofing felt paper
  • Asphalt shingles
  • Clear sealant
  • Drip edge flashing
  • Large tarps
  • Roof sealant
  • Self-stick underlayment (ice barrier)
  • Staples
  • Step and dormer flashing
  • Valley flashing
  • Vents and/or skylights (optional)

a step-by-step roofing project by a professional team

Step-by-step project

Step 1: Remove the old shingles

To begin, remove the existing underlayment, shingles, and roofing. Move any movable objects that are close to your home if you’re concerned they might get harmed. Purchase a few sizable tarps to shield your landscaping and plants from the hundreds of nails that will fall from the roof. It’s acceptable if you have to leave old self-stick ice and water underlayment in place because it can be nearly impossible to remove. To make cleanup easier, I always park a dumpster near the house and throw it the old shingles straight off the roof.

Optimal Technique for Roof Tear-Off: Pry Bar and Roofing Tear-Off Shovel Method

Using a pry bar to remove the ridge cap shingles and then switching to a roofing tear-off shovel for the remaining shingles is the most effective method of tear-off. Work the shovel underneath the shingles and underlayment, starting at the ridge, and pry them up and push them down toward the eave. Nails that protrude will rip holes in the newly installed shingles, so it’s critical to remove all of the old ones or pound them flat.

Step 2: Make new vent openings and fix the decking

Any decking that exhibits evidence of rot or water damage should be replaced. You can skip this step if all of the decking is in good condition, but there may be some damage on an older roof. To prevent cutting into a joist, set the circular saw’s blade depth slightly higher than the decking’s thickness. Then, cut a rectangle around each damaged section, making sure the rectangle is big enough to cross a joist on both ends. Take that portion out and replace it with the same thickness (typically 1/2 inch) of CDX plywood or OSB. Use 1 1/2′′ screws or nails to fasten it to the joists.

This is the perfect time to cut the apertures for new vents or skylights if you intend to install them.

After you’re through, use a broom to thoroughly clean the roof decking.

Step 3: Put in a drip edge around the eaves

Attach the drip edge to the eaves that cover the fascia. Don’t break a line; instead, push the drip edge firmly against the fascia and use roofing nails to secure it through the top into the decking. The fascia is probably not completely straight the entire length. Every couple of feet, use 1-1/4 in to nail it. roofing nails, and use tin snips to trim it to the desired length.

Generally, metal drip edges are not needed (ask a local building official). Nevertheless, I always install it to give roof edges a polished appearance, stop shingles from curling over the edge, and stop water from damaging the fascia and decking edges.

Pro tip: Don’t put the drip edge on the roof’s gable ends until you’ve completed installing the underlayment. Ascend the roof, beginning at the bottom of the gable, overlap the drip edge portions by a few inches.

Step 4: Place a stick on the ice barrier (if necessary)

Install self-adhesive underlayment in areas where building codes mandate it. Commonly referred to as “ice-and-water” underlayment, this material prevents water infiltration beneath the shingles, safeguarding the decking by adhering to it and creating a waterproof seal. It also effectively seals around nails, preventing water from penetrating through nail punctures.

Self-adhesive underlayment rolls feature a plastic backing to prevent sticking to itself. The backing is divided along the center. Align the lower edge of the roll with the outer edge of the drip edge. Peel back a portion of the upper backing, then secure the top corner of the underlayment to the decking with nails. Unroll the material across the decking, ensuring it lays flat and straight as you progress. Trim sheets as necessary using a utility knife.

Mastering the Art of Underlayment Installation for a Seamless Roofing Project

Progress upward on the roof, ensuring each subsequent layer overlaps the preceding one by at least two inches. It’s crucial to ensure the underlayment lies flat before fastening it to the decking, as wrinkles and irregularities can show through the shingles and become visible from ground level.

On warmer days, the self-adhesive underlayment will adhere to clean decking without the need for fasteners. However, on colder days, secure it to the roof using staples or nails, but only attach the top portion until you return to peel off the bottom half of the plastic backing. Keep in mind that the adhesive on the rolls becomes stickier as the temperature rises, which can make handling more challenging, so plan accordingly for your project.

Pro tip: Always check with your local building authority before installing self-stick underlayment, since many places with harsh climates have unique regulations. Don’t forget to slide the underlayment beneath any chimney flashing or vents that are currently in place.

Step 5: Place felt paper on the roofs

Apply roofing felt paper to cover the roof surface. If an ice barrier is installed, place the felt paper on top; otherwise, place it directly on the decking. Typically, opt for lightweight 15-lb. paper, unless local regulations mandate 30-lb. paper or if leaving the paper exposed for an extended period. Heavier paper minimizes wrinkles and reduces the risk of tearing from foot traffic.

Mastering Roofing Installation: Step-by-Step Guide for Seamless Results

Commence each course by securing several staples closely together, then unfurl the felt, ensuring a straight line before adding more staples. Space staples are approximately 12 inches apart. Progress from the eave to the peak, positioning courses horizontally with upper courses overlapping lower ones by at least two inches. When joining two paper pieces in the same row, overlap seams by at least six inches. Employ a utility knife for cutting.

Upon reaching the roof’s peak, extend the final row and let the paper drape over the peak onto the opposite side. Repeat this process for the other side, ensuring a watertight ridge. Local building authorities may require a roof inspection at this stage, though sometimes, providing photographs may suffice. Inquire about the inspection schedule when obtaining your permit.

Pro tip: Make sure you have enough staples. A piece of paper with insufficient staples may rip out from under your feet, perhaps leading to a fall. Never walk on unstapled paper.

Step 6: Set up the valley flashing

  1. Put self-stick underlayment in place: Two persons make this process easier. Trim the underlayment to the appropriate length (or in segments for extended valleys), then remove the entire plastic backing. Fold the underlayment in on itself, sticky side out, with a person at each end. Then unfurl it after placing it in the valley. As firmly as you can, try to force it into the valley’s crease. The underlayment may tear when installing the metal valley flashing if a space is left underneath. At the eaves, run the underlayment past the drip edge and use a utility knife to cut off any excess. Nail it down on the exterior edges after it’s smooth.
  2. Cover the self-stick underlayment with felt paper: Take care not to cut through the underlayment while cutting the felt paper.
  3. Put the flashing: Install the flashing. Using tin snips, bend the upper edge over the roof peak and trim the lower edge flush with the drip edge. Attach the flashing with nails along its outside border; avoid nailing the exposed portion of the flashing as this may cause leaks. Nail spacing is 12 inches.
  4. Place shingles vertically along the edges: Draw chalk lines 1 to 3 inches from the center on either side of the flashing area. Using nails, position the shingles vertically along these lines, holding them at or slightly outside of the flashing’s edge. When laying the remaining shingles, there is no need for trimming because these vertical shingles create a neat line inside the flashing. To create a strong seal, the adhesive on the bottom of the tiles will stick to the metal.

Step 7: Install vents

If you have made openings for vents, now is the time to install them. Typically, these have their own flashing. After positioning the vent or skylight over the aperture and securing it with nails through the flashing, apply a bead of roof sealant along the underside of the flashing. To stop leaks, daub each nail head with roof sealant.

Pro tip: Sliding shingles underneath the flashing on the sloping side is still necessary, so avoid driving any nails through it.

Step 8: Start off with starter shingles

Install a row of starter shingles with the front edge extending 1/2 inch beyond the drip edge. These starter shingles are half the width of regular ones and come with an adhesive strip to secure the shingles above them, preventing water leakage through the seam.

Place the starter shingles with the adhesive strip facing downwards and towards the bottom. Secure them using five nails positioned two to three inches above the bottom of the eave.

Some professional roofers also apply starter shingles on the gable ends for a neater appearance, though it’s not always necessary. When installing starter shingles on the gable ends, extend them 1/2 inch past the drip edge and ensure they overlap the starter shingles on the eave by 2 to 3 inches.

Step 9: Proceed with the remaining shingles

Commence by laying down shingles along the eave and progress upward toward the peak. Adhere strictly to the nailing instructions provided by the manufacturer. This step is critical as improper nailing stands as the primary cause of roof failures during storms. Typically, each shingle necessitates five nails evenly spaced and driven above the adhesive strip, ensuring they’re sufficiently covered by one inch of the shingle above. Personally, I opt for 1-1/4-inch zinc-coated roofing nails.

Align the bottom of the initial row of shingles with the bottom edge of the starter row, ensuring that the seams are staggered. Once this row is in place, determine the reveal—the portion of the shingle not covered by the one above it. Standard reveals typically range between 5 and 6-1/2 inches. Whatever the designated reveal, snap a horizontal line that distances from the top of the first row of shingles to serve as a guide for installing the subsequent row. This line aids in maintaining the straightness of the next row and proves more accurate than aligning the bottoms of the shingles.

Expert Tips for Maintaining Shingle Alignment and Uniformity

Slight waviness in rows remains inconspicuous from ground level, so only snap lines every few rows to rectify any deviations. Adhere to the stagger pattern recommended by your shingle manufacturer and employ partial shingles to commence subsequent rows. As you approach within 8 feet of the ridge, measure down to your shingles at each end of the row. If one side is closer to the peak than the other, snap lines for all remaining rows, gradually increasing the reveal on one side until the disparity is reconciled. Avoid adjusting any row by more than 3/16 inch.

Pro tip: To achieve clean, straight lines, run shingles along the edge of the roof, snap a chalk line, and then trim the shingles with your utility knife’s hook blade. Cut off any excess if it exceeds one foot and use the remaining portion somewhere else.

Step 10: Shingle around installed vents

Before beginning shingling around vent pipes, it’s crucial to first apply a layer of underlayment and seal it with roof sealant. This provides an additional barrier against moisture infiltration.

When you come across the vent, carefully slide the lower shingles beneath the flashing and secure them by driving nails through the flashing and into the decking. Ensure each nail head is sealed to prevent water penetration.

For the upper rows, install them on top of the flashing, adjusting the shingles as necessary to accommodate the vent. Take care to cut the shingles precisely to fit around the vent opening. When nailing the upper shingles, aim to place the nails as close to the flashing as possible without piercing it directly.

By following these steps, you’ll effectively waterproof the area around the vent, enhancing the longevity and performance of your roofing system.

Step 11: Close off the ridge

Apply the same method you used with the felt paper when you reach the ridge: Wrap the initial side over the top, then wrap the second side over the first. Size the shingles with a utility knife equipped with hook blades. Extend the shingles over hip ridges, rakes, and valleys. After installing all the shingles, align and trim them to the marked line using a hook blade.

Once all shingles are in place, cap the ridge (and hip ridges if applicable) using ridge cap shingles. Install them to ensure the prevailing wind blows over them rather than into them. You may require longer nails to penetrate through multiple layers of shingles on the ridge.

Hip roof: If you have a hip roof, start at the hips because the top ridge cap shingles will overlap the hip ridge cap. To ensure that the lines are hidden when you’re through, snap a few guidelines slightly inside the ridge’s edge. A little more than an inch above the overlap seam, nail each shingle on both sides.

Step 12: Put in place the dormer and step flashing

Begin by applying self-adhesive underlayment, extending it at least 6 inches onto the walls. This serves as an extra shield in case water breaches the flashing. Start by covering the front wall and then progress up the side wall. Ensure the sidewall underlayment overlaps around the corner onto the front wall by approximately one inch.

Place the shingles right up to the front wall. Trim a few inches off the vertical part of the dormer flashing and extend the horizontal part past the side wall by the same distance. Secure the dormer flashing to both the wall and the shingles with nails.

Proper Installation Technique for Step Flashing: Ensuring Water-Tight Seals”

Using tin snips, make a 1 to 2-inch incision at the bend in the initial step flashing. Apply sealant along the corner edge of the dormer flashing, then extend the step flashing past the dormer flashing by the same distance as your cut. Use a hammer to bend the step flashing around the corner onto the dormer flashing.

Proceed to install the next row of shingles over the first step flashing, followed by covering that row with a step flashing, and repeat. Nail the step flashing to the wall near the top of the flashing, closer to the peak, ensuring the next step flashing in line will conceal the nail. Avoid nailing them down through the shingles.

Pro tip: While it is feasible to utilize pre-existing step and dormer flashing, replacing the flashing with new is the best method to ensure a waterproof seal.

Step 12: Seal it up

Make sure to sweep all of the debris off the roof before storing your ladder. Next, layer flashing and seal all exposed nails on your vents. If you used rubber-booted stack flashing, make sure to seal the pipe’s edge where the rubber meets it. Steer clear of silicone sealants since they won’t hold up and asphalt-based sealants because they tend to dry out in direct sunshine. My preference is Lexel. It is as adhesive as model glue, transparent like silicone, and long-lasting.

Pro tip: You will need to maintain the regions you sealed. Examine them every many years.


Prior to initiating a DIY roof installation, meticulous planning and unwavering commitment to safety are paramount. Begin with a thorough roof inspection and research suitable materials for a solid foundation. Prioritize safety by ensuring all equipment is functional and your workspace is clear. Adhere closely to manufacturer instructions for a sturdy, watertight finish.

Following best practices and meticulous attention to detail can yield significant savings while safeguarding your family’s comfort and well-being. By adhering to these comprehensive guidelines, you lay the groundwork for a durable, weather-resistant roof that provides peace of mind and protection for years to come.

FAQs: A Complete Guide To DIY Roof Installation

What are the most critical safety measures before I start installing my roof on my own?

  • A: Ensure your roof can support your weight and clear the area of debris. Use proper safety gear like gloves and safety glasses, secure ladders, and check weather conditions to avoid hazards.

How can I tell if my roof needs replacing?

  • A: Look for signs like missing or damaged shingles, leaks, or sagging areas. Consider the age of your roof and check for water damage in the attic or ceiling.

What materials and tools do I need for a successful DIY roof installation?

  • A: You’ll need shingles, underlayment, flashing, nails, roofing sealant, and various tools like a hammer, utility knife, and ladder. Safety equipment such as gloves and safety glasses is also crucial.

What steps should I follow during the installation to ensure a sturdy and leak-free roof?

  • A: Begin by removing old materials, then install underlayment and flashing correctly. Align and secure shingles properly, seal around penetrations, and conduct a thorough cleanup after completion.

Are there any local regulations or building codes I should be aware of before starting my DIY roof project?

  • A: Check for permit requirements, restrictions on materials and colors, and guidelines for installation techniques. Also, consider any HOA rules or neighborhood covenants that may apply. Always ensure compliance with local authorities and codes.