A new roof safeguards your home, boosting its value and beauty. This process, while seemingly straightforward, involves several crucial stages. We’ll explore these steps, from planning and selecting the ideal roof to meticulous installation and final inspection. By understanding each step, you’ll be well-equipped to make informed decisions for your roofing project.

construction team planning and preparing for a roof installation.

Planning and Pre-Installation

This crucial stage lays the foundation for a successful and smooth new roof installation. Here’s a detailed breakdown of the key steps involved:

Professional Consultation:

Finding the right roofing contractor is essential.  Here’s how to make an informed decision:

  • Get Referrals: Ask friends, family, and neighbors for recommendations on reputable roofing companies.
  • Check Online Reviews: Research potential contractors online by reading reviews on platforms like Google My Business, Angie’s List, or the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
  • License and Insurance: Ensure the contractor has a valid state license and carries proper liability and worker’s compensation insurance.
  • Multiple Estimates: Schedule consultations with at least 3 qualified contractors to compare estimates and assess their expertise.

During the Consultation:

  • Roof Assessment: The contractor will inspect your existing roof, looking for signs of wear and tear, damage, or leaks. They’ll assess the roof pitch, measure its size, and identify any potential challenges.
  • Needs Discussion: Discuss your goals for the new roof, including desired lifespan, aesthetics, and budget.
  • Material Options: The contractor will educate you on various roofing materials (asphalt shingles, metal roofing, tile, etc.) They’ll consider factors like your roof pitch, local climate, and building codes to recommend the most suitable options.
  • Ventilation: Discuss the importance of proper roof ventilation and the need for additional vents if necessary.
  • Project Timeline: The contractor will outline the estimated timeframe for the entire project, including tear-off, installation, and cleanup.
  • Cost Breakdown: Obtain a detailed written estimate outlining the cost of materials, labor, permits, and disposal fees.

Roof Permit:

Different localities have varying permit requirements for roof replacements.  Here’s what you need to do:

  • Contact Your Local Building Department: Reach out to your local building department to understand the specific permit requirements for your area.
  • Permit Application: The roofing contractor may assist you in completing the permit application process. This might involve submitting detailed plans and specifications of the new roof.
  • Inspections: The building department may schedule inspections throughout the project to ensure compliance with local building codes.

Choosing Your New Roof:

Selecting the right roofing material is a crucial decision. Here are factors to consider:

  • Durability: Research the expected lifespan of different materials and choose one that suits your desired investment horizon (e.g., asphalt shingles typically last 15-30 years, while metal roofs can last 40-70 years).
  • Climate: Consider your local climate. Some materials, like metal roofing, can better withstand extreme temperatures or heavy snowfall.
  • Aesthetics: Choose a material that complements your home’s style and overall curb appeal.
  • Cost: Asphalt shingles are generally the most affordable option, while materials like metal or slate tend to be more expensive.
  • Roof Pitch: Some materials, like metal roofing, are suitable for steeper roof pitches, while others, like asphalt shingles, are appropriate for a wider range of slopes.
  • Local Building Codes: Ensure the chosen material complies with your local building code restrictions.

By carefully considering these factors during the planning and pre-installation stage, you can ensure a smooth and successful new roof installation that meets your needs and budget.

Preparing the Work Area

Ensuring a smooth and efficient roof installation requires proper preparation of the work area. This protects your property and minimizes disruption during the project. Here’s a breakdown of the key steps involved:

Protecting Your Landscaping:

  • Ground Cover: The roofing contractor will likely lay down protective tarps or plywood sheets over your landscaping, flowerbeds, and walkways. This creates a barrier against falling debris like old shingles, nails, and other materials.
  • Shrub and Tree Protection: Bushes and small trees near the house might be covered with burlap or netting to prevent damage from falling debris or from workers accidentally brushing against them.
  • Fencing: In some cases, the contractor might set up temporary fencing around the work area to further safeguard your landscaping and deter pets or children from entering the hazardous zone.

Securing Your Belongings:

  • Move Outdoor Furniture and Decorations: Patio furniture, grills, planters, and other outdoor decorations near the house should be relocated to a safe distance. Ideally, move them to a garage, shed, or another covered area to ensure they are completely protected from falling debris and weather elements.
  • Cover Exposed Vents: If you have any outdoor vents on your house, like dryer vents or attic vents, the contractor will likely cover them with a mesh screen or tape to prevent debris from entering the ventilation system.
  • Secure Loose Items: Take down any wind chimes, hanging plants, or other loose items on your exterior walls that could be dislodged during the project.

Scheduling Utilities (if applicable):

  • Temporary Disconnection: Depending on the extent of the roof replacement, the contractor might recommend temporarily disconnecting certain utilities. This could include:
  • Electrical Lines: If the roofers need to work near electrical lines or access areas where there’s a risk of accidental contact, a temporary shutoff from the main electrical panel might be necessary for safety.
  • Gas Lines: In rare cases, if the roof work involves areas near gas lines or requires removing venting systems that connect to gas appliances, a temporary gas shutoff by a licensed plumber might be needed.
  • Communication is Key: Discuss any potential utility disconnections with your roofing contractor well in advance. They will advise you on the necessary steps and help coordinate with utility companies to schedule temporary shutoffs and reconnections.

Additional Considerations:

  • Parking Arrangements: Discuss parking arrangements with your contractor. You might need to clear your driveway or designate specific parking areas for the roofing crew’s vehicles and equipment.
  • Pet Safety: If you have pets, make arrangements for them during the roofing project. The noise and activity can be stressful for animals, and the work area poses safety hazards. Consider boarding them or having them stay with a friend or family member for the duration of the project.
  • Clear Communication: Maintain open communication with your roofing contractor throughout the preparation process. Discuss any concerns you have about protecting specific landscaping features or belongings.

team of professional roofers working on removing an old roof

Removing the Old Roof

Removing the old roof, often called a “tear-off,” is a crucial first step in the new roof installation process.  While it might seem straightforward, it’s a meticulous task that requires proper safety measures and techniques to ensure a smooth transition and avoid damaging the underlying structure.

Safety First:

  • Fall Protection: Roofing crews prioritize safety by wearing full-body harnesses with lifelines securely anchored to approved tie-off points on the roof.
  • Footwear: Slip-resistant boots with good ankle support are essential to prevent falls while navigating uneven surfaces and potential debris.
  • Head and Eye Protection: Hard hats are mandatory to protect against falling debris, while safety glasses shield workers from dust particles and shingle fragments.
  • Dust Masks: Respirators or dust masks help filter out dust particles and airborne contaminants stirred up during the tear-off process.
  • Communication: Clear communication and hand signals are crucial between crew members working on different sections of the roof.

The Tear-Off Process:

  • Prep Work: The roofing crew will begin by setting up a debris chute or disposal system to safely direct removed materials to a dumpster or designated area on the ground. Tarps might be used on the ground to catch and contain falling debris.Starting Point: The tear-off typically starts at the highest point of the roof, often near the ridge cap. This allows for a natural flow of debris downwards.
  • Removing Ridge Caps: Special pry bars or tools designed for shingle removal are used to carefully loosen and remove the ridge cap shingles, protecting them from unnecessary damage if they are to be reused.
  • Shingle Removal: The tear-off progresses methodically, removing shingles row by row. Specialized tools like roofing hooks or tear-off shovels are used to pry under the shingles and lift them from the underlying layers.
  • Technique: The goal is to remove the shingles as cleanly as possible, minimizing damage to the roof deck below. Prying too aggressively can cause cracks or tears in the underlayment, requiring additional repairs before installing the new roof.
  • Underlayment Removal: Once the shingles are removed, the old underlayment is carefully peeled back. If the underlayment appears to be in good condition and adheres well to the roof deck, the contractor might discuss the possibility of leaving it in place with the new roof installation (subject to local building code allowances).
  • Nail Removal (Optional): In some cases, protruding nails from the removed shingles might need to be hammered flat or carefully removed to prevent them from snagging or puncturing the new underlayment during installation.


  • Sorting and Recycling: Responsible roofing contractors sort the removed materials for proper disposal. Asphalt shingles might be recyclable in certain areas, while other materials like metal flashing or treated wood might require specific disposal methods.
  • Dumpster Management: The roofing crew ensures the dumpster is filled efficiently and remains within legal weight limits to avoid overloading and potential fines.

Additional Considerations:

  • Unexpected Discoveries: During the tear-off, hidden problems like roof deck rot, moisture damage, or previous repairs might be discovered. The roofing contractor will discuss these findings with you and provide options for addressing them before proceeding with the new roof installation.
  • Weather Monitoring: The tear-off process is ideally performed under dry weather conditions. Rain or strong winds can pose safety hazards and hinder the crew’s ability to work efficiently. Roofing contractors typically monitor weather forecasts and reschedule tear-off days if necessary.

professional roofing team preparing a roof deck

Preparing the Roof Deck

Once the old roof is gone, the underlying structure, known as the roof deck, takes center stage.  This crucial stage ensures the new roof has a strong, stable foundation and performs optimally for years to come.

Inspection: The roofer will meticulously examine the entire roof deck for any potential issues that might compromise the new roof.  Here’s a breakdown of key areas:

  • Sheathing: This is the primary layer of the roof deck, typically plywood or oriented strand board (OSB). The inspector will look for signs of warping, cracks, delamination (layers separating), or missing pieces. Water damage might manifest as soft spots, mold growth, or discoloration.
  • Fasteners: Nails or screws holding the sheathing to the trusses (rafters) will be checked for rust or corrosion. Any loose or protruding fasteners will be addressed.
  • Trusses/Rafters: The structural support system of the roof is inspected for signs of rot, warping, or insect damage. Cracks or deflection in the trusses might indicate a need for structural reinforcement.
  • Flashing: Existing flashing around chimneys, vents, and valleys is checked for damage or deterioration. Improper flashing can lead to leaks, so ensuring its integrity is crucial.

Deck Repair: If any problems are discovered during the inspection, the contractor will take the necessary steps to address them before proceeding with the new roof.  Here are some common repairs:

  • Sheathing Replacement: Damaged or rotten sheathing sections will be carefully removed and replaced with new, structurally sound plywood or OSB sheets.
  • Fastener Replacement: Rusted or damaged fasteners will be replaced with appropriate corrosion-resistant nails or screws.
  • Rot Repair: If wood rot is found in the trusses/rafters, the affected areas will be isolated and removed. Depending on the extent of damage, the section might be repaired with specialized wood epoxy or require replacement with sound lumber.
  • Flashing Repair: Damaged flashing will be replaced with new, high-quality flashing material installed according to industry standards.

Deck Reinforcement (Optional):  While not always necessary, additional reinforcement of the roof deck might be required in specific circumstances:

  • Heavy Roofing Materials: If you opt for a heavier roofing material like slate or certain types of metal roofing, the existing roof deck might need to be reinforced to handle the additional weight load. This might involve adding additional support beams or installing thicker sheathing material.
  • Sagging Roof Deck: If the roof deck shows signs of sagging or deflection, additional support structures (like trusses or braces) might be necessary to prevent further issues and ensure the integrity of the new roof.
  • Local Building Codes: Building codes in your area might have specific requirements for roof deck strength based on factors like wind load or snow accumulation. Your contractor will be familiar with these codes and advise on any necessary reinforcement.

By taking the time for a thorough inspection and addressing any underlying issues with the roof deck, you ensure your new roof has a strong, stable foundation to perform optimally for years to come.

professional roofers conducting a final inspection

Final Touches and Inspection

This critical stage ensures a beautiful, functional, and secure roof. Here’s a detailed breakdown of the final touches and inspection process:


  • Thorough Debris Removal: The roofing crew will meticulously remove all debris from your property. This includes shingle scraps, nails, metal cuttings, and any other leftover materials used during the installation. They’ll pay close attention to areas like gutters, walkways, driveways, landscaping, and around your house’s foundation.
  • Magnet Sweep: A powerful magnet is used to sweep across the work area to pick up any stray nails or metal fragments that might have missed initial cleaning. This is especially important to ensure the safety of people and pets walking barefoot around the house.
  • Roof Inspection: The crew will climb back onto the roof to ensure no debris is lodged in valleys, gutters, or around vents and flashing. This prevents potential future clogs or obstructions.

Final Inspection:

  • Visual Inspection: The contractor will perform a comprehensive visual inspection of the entire roof. They’ll check for proper shingle alignment, and missing or damaged shingles, and ensure all flashing is securely installed around chimneys, vents, and other critical areas.
  • Underlayment Verification: In some cases, the contractor might lift a few shingles in specific locations to verify the underlayment is properly installed and free of tears or punctures.
  • Flashing Check: Special attention is paid to flashing details, ensuring proper sealing and watertight connections. This is crucial to prevent leaks around chimneys, skylights, valleys, and eaves.
  • Ventilation Assessment: The contractor will verify that all roof vents are installed correctly and have proper airflow. They might also check soffit vents for proper functionality.
  • Drainage Confirmation: Gutters and downspouts are inspected to ensure proper attachment and functionality. Water flow from the roof should be directed away from the house’s foundation.

Documentation and Warranty:

  • Walkthrough: Once the inspection is complete, the contractor will walk you through the roof and explain any maintenance details specific to your chosen roofing material.
  • Final Inspection Report: The contractor will provide you with a final inspection report documenting the completed work and any observations made during the inspection.
  • Warranty Information: The roofing company will present you with the official warranty paperwork for the materials and workmanship. This typically outlines the coverage duration, exclusions, and contact information for warranty claims.

By following these comprehensive final touches and inspection procedures, you can ensure your new roof is not only aesthetically pleasing but also provides optimal protection for your home for years to come.


While a new roof installation might seem daunting, understanding the process can alleviate some stress. By planning, choosing qualified professionals, and taking precautions, you can ensure a smooth installation and enjoy the peace of mind and increased curb appeal a new roof brings. Remember, regular maintenance is key to maximizing the lifespan of your investment. Happy roofing!