How to Install Roll Roofing

What is roll roofing?

Roll roofing is an affordable and lightweight roofing material that comes in a huge roll. You may find other options for roofing, but they come as shingles most of the time (just one piece of material).

Typically, you’re going to find the roll roofing in rolls that are 36in wide and include 100 square feet of material. It’s why some of the industry professionals also name it a “square.” Each roll weighs 75 pounds (give or take).

Roll roofing’s surface is quite bumpy as it’s made with small rock-granules. Typically, roll roofing is an asphalt-based product, but it can also be mineral-based with UV protection. Some are asphalt based but include a fiberglass surface with UV protection. The UV coating is supposed to keep the sun’s rays at a distance, but also to protect against physical damage or weathering.

Most of the time, roll roofing is expected to last from 6 to 10 years. It may not be as durable as the more traditional roofing materials, but it’s a lot more affordable to buy, which is the selling point for many.

How to begin the installation of the roll roofing?

As with everything else in constructions, you need to be meticulous about installing the roll roofing.

Here’s how to begin your preparations:

How to begin the installation of the roll roofing

  • Start measuring the roof to see how much material you’re going to need.

You may ask for help from a friend. It’s easier to do it if the roof is square or rectangular, for sure. You need to know the width and length of the roof and multiply them for finding out the area for the roof.

If the roof isn’t uniform and presents several areas of different sizes, you need more time to measure it all. You repeat measurements for every single section, adding the parts together for obtaining the final area of your roof. You should add 5-10% of the material for the overlaps and overhangs.

  • Purchase the precise amount of rolled roofing

Check the local hardware or the building supplies store for buying the rolled roofing. You need to get the right amount.

Do you need to prepare the roof?

Once you got the measurements and the rolled roofing, you should prepare the roof for installing the roofing.

  • Clean the roof

You cannot just go ahead and apply the rolled roofing. It’s vital that you get rid of the excess grime, dirt, or any other impurities from the roof. Don’t hesitate to brush the roof and even to use a leaf blower for blowing all the leaves and debris that may be lying on the roof.

Put on some long pants and work gloves during the cleaning. Make sure that the shoes come with deep ridges so that they ensure a sturdy grip. Stay safe and don’t go on top of the roof for hosing it. You should remain in a safe place at all time.

Don’t forget to clean the gutters as well if your roof has gutters.

  • Place the materials out on the floor

As you don’t want to skip any steps, it’s better that you lay down all of your items before you proceed with the installation. Roll out the roofing sheets so that they lay flat on the ground. Use some bricks in the corner for keeping it in place; the trick is also going to reduce the resistance later on.

If you decide to install the roll roofing in the winter, you should roll the roofing sheets in the garage as the cold temperatures may damage the roofing sheets.

You should cut pieces into 12-18 ft sections, laying them out flat in the backyard. Leave them in the sun for a day or so. When the temperatures go below 45 F degrees, you should store the roofing inside.

Always stay safe!

Staying on the safe side is one thing to keep in mind at all time. For safety reasons, you should always bring someone else when you’re up on the roof. You shouldn’t go alone, especially on a rainy day or when the roof isn’t dry. The risk for roofs to become slippery when wet is really high.

Even if the roof is dry, you should always move slowly and carefully on it. Put on good shoes that have a sturdy grip. Never put on your sneakers or canvas shoes when going up on the roof.

What are the steps to take when installing the rolled roofing?

With your roof dry and the materials are ready, it’s time to proceed with the installation of the rolled roofing.

steps to take when installing the rolled roofing

  • Draw a chalk line for the end of the first layer

Get the measuring tape and measure 35 in up from the bottom of your roof, marking it with chalk. It’s the default measurement that most of the roofing professionals are using. Use your ruler (meter stick will do too) for drawing the chalk line across the roof.

It’s tempting, but don’t use the eaves as guidance; the chances are that they’re not placed at the same height all over the roof.

  • Put on cement on the roof

Scoop up the roofing cement with a trowel, spreading the cement along the edges. It should be around 1/8-1/4in thick. You can find roofing cement at the building supplies store or the local hardware.

It’s better that you apply the cement in several stages, starting with the bottom part of the roof. Work at the bottom, then move to the middle, before you apply the roll roofing and so on. Keep in mind to draw the chalk lines as borders for all sections.

Don’t forget to put on gloves when using the roofing cement.

  • Use a razor knife for cutting the rolled roofing

Your rolled roofing has to get to the chalk line as you’re laying down, stretching it from 1 side of the roof to the other. Put some muscle into it when cutting the rolled roofing material.

  • Place the first layer of your rolled roofing

While you’re laying down the rolled roofing, you should also stretch it for eliminating all the wrinkles and the creasing. Push it firmly into the wet cement so that it stays in place.

Use a sturdy hammer and 1in roofing nails at 10 in intervals across the roof. You should hammer the nails right into the roof, making sure that no nails are sticking up above the layer.

  • Measure and mark the next line above the first layer

You can continue and measure up 32 in above the first layer, as you’re going to place a part of the second layer on top of the first one.

You repeat the previous steps and apply the cement on the roof, but right below the second chalk line. When the cement is across the roof, you may continue with placing the second layer. Always have the first 6 in of the next layer on top of the previous layer.

As for the nailing, you should also be sure that the nail goes through the first and second layer at the same time.

  • Cover the nails

You have to secure the nails in place, so use some cement for covering them. Once all the layers are applied, and the roof is all done, you should cover the nails with cement. It’s going to seal them into the rolled roofing, expanding the durability of the roof.

  • Take care of the final details

Get a good razor knife and get rid of the excess rolled roofing. Check the corners and the edges of the roof carefully. Once you’re done with the trimming, give the edges a test. You shouldn’t be able to lift them. If so, get more cement for sealing them in place.

One last step before you can relax!

A competent professional is always going to clean up his mess. You should check the roof once more and brush any excess materials or dirt. If you’re working clean, you shouldn’t have to clean much.

Now that your roof is nice and clean, you can enjoy your cold beer.

Other resources

How to Install Roll Roofing | Hunker

Simple Ways to Apply Rolled Roofing – wikiHow

Installing Roll Roofing | Better Homes & Gardens