Don’t Hurt Yourself Installing Architectural Roof Shingles

Installing architectural roof shingles does not always have to be a job for a professional. It is well within the capabilities of a reasonably skilled do-it-yourself’er, provided you take some common sense precautions (and maybe get yourself a helper or two).

Architectural roof shingles are more expensive than regular slate shingles, but this doesn’t mean that you have to spend even more on a costly pro or contractors to install them for you. Of course, if your roof is extremely steep or has unique features (such as proximity to drainpipes or electrical installations or solar panels), then you may be wise to outsource the task.

There are some dangers involved in roofing work. The most obvious one is that you may fall off the roof and injure yourself badly. Other risks to keep in mind are:

  • injuring your back by hauling heavy loads up a ladder
  • dropping material on someone standing below
  • losing balance while climbing up and down the ladder
  • slipping on steep roofs

The good news is that you can get through installing architectural roof shingles without harm or disaster by taking some simple precautions and following safe systems.

  • Let someone know you’re working on the roof.
  • Have a helper work with you, to hand over material and instruments.
  • Use a strong and long enough steel ladder.
  • Make sure your ladder is grounded solidly and won’t slip.
  • Take care that you are not dangerously close to electrical installations or power lines or antennae.
  • Don’t work on rainy days or when it snows. Wait until even morning dew evaporates before starting.
  • Wear heavy shoes with soles that have a good grip. That will avoid skidding.
  • Don’t wear loose clothes that may catch on something and make you lose balance.
  • Keep your work area clear of clutter. Put nails, tools etc. away after use.
  • Wall off (or clearly label) the surrounding area so people won’t wander too near and get hurt if something falls of the roof.

Before you begin, make sure that you have all the materials and supplies you need for installing architectural roof shingles. You’ll require the shingles, obviously, and nails, hammers, pneumatic nail drivers (optional), starter strip sheeting and other specific material based upon your unique needs.

Measure the dimensions of your roof. Compare this against the size of the individual architectural shingles and estimate how many you will require to roof your residential structure. Your choice should be governed by the purpose of the building, how much your roof slopes, local weather conditions and the overall structure of your home. Other factors may be specific to the kind of architectural shingles you are using, so be sure to read the specifications or check with your tiles manufacturers or sales person before you begin work.

If you are re-roofing the building, remove the older tiles or shingles. Install a starter strip, as backing for the first row of shingles. This also helps water leaks from soaking through to the interior. Install architectural shingles starting from the lower corner. Work your way to the right, and then go uphill. Overlap the shingles in a way that there are no gaps. Hammer down the shingles, or use a pneumatic nail gun.

Giving the rows of shingles an overhang will help avoid water dripping down and causing wear and tear on the veneer. If there are penetrations like a plumbing vent, then you may have to seal off the gaps using plastic or rubber flanges. At the very top of the roof, make sure that you over-lap the shingles, and then use ridge cap shingles to cover the peak. You may use a dab of tar to hold down loose corners.

Installing architectural roof shingles can give your building a pleasing, textured look that’s elegant and sleek. Done right, you can save a lot by shingling your roof without compromising on quality – and avoid getting hurt!



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