If you are looking for an inexpensive, easy-to-install alternative to more traditional roofs, then rolled roofing may be the perfect match for you. Rolled roofing is “a mineral-surfaced roofing material that comes in rolls, [which] is thinner, less durable, and cheaper than asphalt shingles.” Many homeowners have gone with the roll roof option and been satisfied with the result.
How do you install a roll roof? All you’ll need is some basic roofing/carpentry tools, the right materials, and time to work on this project. Let’s talk about how to install a roll roof and some pros and cons of this roofing system.
What Will You Need to Install Your Roll Roof?
First of all, you’ll need some basic tools in order to successfully install a roll roofing system. Some important tools include:
- A hammer (or possibly a nail gun)
- Measuring tape
- A utility knife
- A carpenter’s square
- A broom
- Tin shears (also known as “tin snips” or “metal scissors”)
- Roofer’s chalk (to lay down lines for the rolls)
- A roofer’s brush
Once you have these key tools ready to go, it’s time to gather the materials needed for the job. These include:
- Nails (for the rolled roof)
- Nails (for the flashing)
- Rolled roofing (typically asphalt)
- Roofing cement
Now that you have your tools and materials in order, you’ll need to follow a 3-step process to install your rolled roof.
The 3-Step Installation Process
1. Install a Drip Edge, Flashing, and Protective Strips for Valleys
Your first order of business (after a thorough cleaning of your roof) should be the installation of a drip edge around your roof’s perimeter. (This aluminum flashing will ensure that the edges of your roof stay waterproof after the installation is complete.) Cut off strips of flashing with your tin shears as needed, and nail them to the roof with the appropriate nails.
Install flashing around any vent flues as needed. For valleys in your roof, cut a strip of rolled roofing that is 18 inches wide and at least an inch or two longer than the length of the valley. Drive in your nails at a distance of approximately 1 inch from the strip’s edges in order to secure it to the roof. Next, cut a second strip that is double the first one’s width, and nail it on top of the first one.
2. Lay Your First Roll
To prepare for the installation of your rolls, it’s important to first lay down a chalk line on your roof as a guideline. With your tape measure, measure 35 inches from the outside edge of your perimeter (where the drip edge is), and snap a chalk line lengthwise across your roof that is 35 inches from the edge at all points.
Next, unroll your first strip of roofing and cut it from the big roll. This first strip will need to be long enough and wide enough to cover the area of the roof that you’ve measured out with the chalk. When you use your utility knife, be sure to draw it slowly and steadily along the cut line. (It may also be a good idea to leave a little bit of extra space to account for human error.)
Line your strip up with the chalk line, and nail down the edge next to the roof’s perimeter first. Smooth out any “bubbles” as you work your way down the length of the roof. Once you’re done with the bottom edge, nail the sides, but not the top edge. Keep a space of about 6 inches between your nails.
3. Work Your Way Up
Now that your first strip of rolled asphalt is in place, it’s time to work your way up to the peak of the roof. Measure 34 inches up from the upper edge of the strip you just nailed in, and snap another chalk line that is uniformly parallel to that strip (34 inches away at all points).
Cut another roofing strip to the correct length and width. However, don’t nail it in just yet. First, you need to spread roof cement (aka “roofing glue”) along the top edge of the first strip. Use your roofer’s brush to apply an equal amount of the cement lengthwise along the edge of the strip. Before the cement has a chance to set, lay the next strip on top of the original, and drive nails into its bottom edge (that is, the top edge of the first strip). This overlap, along with the cement, will secure both strips to the roof and ensure that water won’t seep through later.
Repeat this process all the way up to the roof’s peak. Then do the same thing to the other side. After you’ve covered both sides of the roof, spread cement over the two uppermost strips. Finally, lay one last strip of roofing over the peak — one that’s wide enough to overlap both of the topmost rolls. Nail it in, make one last inspection, and you should be good to go!
Pros & Cons of a Roll Roof
As with any roofing system, there are pros and cons to asphalt-rolled roofing. A couple of pros include:
- Cost-effectiveness. Rolled roofing is not very expensive, especially compared to many of the advanced shingle options on the market today. If price is a major concern for you, then rolled roofing may be one of your better options.
- Ease of installation. Rolled roofing can be a godsend for the diehard do-it-yourself. Rolled roof installations don’t require much experience or technical skill, and are among the easiest DIY roofing options.
Of course, there are some significant drawbacks to going with rolled roofing as well, including:
- Lack of durability. Asphalt rolled roofing typically wears out within a decade of installation. When you think about roofing systems that last 20 or 30 years (or longer), rolled roofing’s durability is very limited in comparison.
- Seam issues. The asphalt rolls in this system are joined together at regular intervals known as seams. Unfortunately, sometimes these seams wear out, and start allowing water past the topmost layer of the roof. To prevent damage from occurring, you’ll likely have to stay on top of repairs and maintenance throughout the lifespan of your rolled roof.
If you are thinking of installing a rolling roof on your house, it’s always a good idea to get a professional opinion first. Reach out to our friendly team of roofing experts at Ultra Foam today for a free consultation. We’d be happy to answer any questions you may have.