Roofing Installation: DIY or Not?

By Matt Weber
Extreme "How-To" Magazine

The actual technique of attaching shingles to a roof is not especially difficult. Assuming you’re working on a sound roof foundation, then careful shingle alignment and proper fastener location are the keys to success.

Polymer Shake Roof TIlesHowever, installing an entire roof can be grueling work. Stacks of shingles are very heavy. The blazing sun can be merciless. If you plan to remove old shingles, you’ll also be faced with the big job of cleanup and disposal. And, stabilizing yourself for hours at a time on a sloped surface can tax muscles that you forgot you had.

If you’re not a fan of heights, then avoid terrifying yourself by working on a roof. And even if you’re fearless, always tether yourself to a securely anchored fall-restraint harness when working above a ladder.

Roofing contractors show up to the jobsite with multi-man crews for several good reasons. Think twice—no, three times—before attempting your own DIY roof project. With no one to help load and unload the roofing material, you’ll have a long slog ahead of you, to say the least. Take a week off work. Estimate the number of trips you’ll make up and down a ladder then multiply that by ten to arrive at a realistic figure.

Here’s a Pro Tip: Begin the job by carrying all the shingles onto the roof and storing them at the ridge line, rather than toting them up one at a time as needed. Doing so will complete that phase of hard labor early in the day, leaving the lighter work of nailing shingles for later (when you’re tired).

After tackling my own project, I would recommend DIY roof installation only to the most die-hard of handy homeowners, and even then for only small roofs with simple designs. I’m glad to say I did the work and learned from the experience, but I don’t want to do it again. It’s a large-scale job that requires more hands and strong backs than I was born with.

Need more polymer roofing installation insights? Click HERE for a story I created for Extreme How-To magazine last year!