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How to Roof a Building Like Professionals Do?

Roofing Business Tips

Great companies have workflows in place to tackle any challenge thrown at them. Today we will take a look at 9 steps to roof a building like professionals do, so you can have a clear idea of what to expect when roofing a house of a client.

Whether you are roofing a metal roof, rooftop tent, or a tin roof, here’s how to do it like the professionals do.

Roofing contractors need to follow all of these steps, whether you’re laying a metal roofing, roof top tent, or tin roof. Great roofing companies will have proper workflows in place to ensure that they’re able to tackle any kind of job.

1. Removing old roof

If you want to add a new roof, you’re going to have to remove the old roof for roof repair. Even if you’re not going to completely strip and destroy the old roof and just want to add some flashing and underlayment, you will need to tear off the old roof first.

When you are removing the exterior layers, ensure that you are removing or flattening any nails you find. Pointy nails can rip apart any new shingles that you install, and that can lead to a whole lot of wastage. Additionally, since the old roof rack is going to create a lot of debris and waste, you can lay a tarp on the ground to catch the debris to ensure that cleanup is a lot faster.

You can also place a trash can nearby to throw any large pieces into the can while working.

2. Installing underlayment

After cleaning, you should have a completely clear roof. If you still find some dust and debris, you can use an air compressor to blow away any loose debris off the roof.

After that, the next step is applying a self-adhesive underlayment to the bare roof. The underlayment that you install has to be waterproof, since it will be your secondary layer of protection against the wind, rain, and snow.

In fact, some building codes will actually mandate how much underlayment has to be applied, how much of the roof it has to cover, and what types of underlayment are suitable in particular areas of the country.

Different parts of the country have different climates, meaning that there are different roof types and even different roof colors, such as red roofs. Ensure that you are following the building codes. Ideally, you should be deciding all of this when you’re making estimates for the roofing job itself.

The underlayment adheres to the building structure strongly, so you might see some of the old underlayment still sticking around. It’s perfectly fine if you can’t remove all of it, ensure that the roof surface is as level as possible.

3. Covering with tar paper

The next step is adding another protective layer on top of the underlayment that we’ve laid out. Known as tar paper, you can find this paper in any home improvement store.

This paper is specially treated with an asphalt-composition mix to make it waterproof. As you move up the roof, you’ll want to overlap each successive layer, ideally by two inches.

By overlapping, the tar sheets are less likely to be blown away by heavy winds, and also improve how water resistant your roof is.

4. Adding flashing

This is more of an aesthetic step, but since most homeowners do it, it does make sense to add to this list. You can nail down the flashing at the edge, to prevent any materials from curling over the edge, giving it a nice and professional look.

Flashing also provides reinforcement and protection against rain, so every crease and opening should be covered.

5. Laying the shingles

Roofing specialists will tell you that the first few roof shingles that you add to the roof are known as the starter shingles. These are how the placement and orientation of all the successive rows are determined.

Use chalk lines to guide you. Find the center of the roof at the top, draw a vertical chalk line, and work left and right in a regular pattern.

6. Installing the shingles

Once you start laying the exterior layer, ensure that all your materials are on top of the roof.

As you install the first row, cut off the tabs from the shingles and apply them with their self-sealing layer. Repeat this for all the shingles that you have. Professionals also advise that the first row have a slight overhang over the edge to allow for easier dripping without seeping into the house itself. But this overhang shouldn’t be larger than ¼ of an edge.

7. Nailing the shingles

Nail each layer of shingles directly on top of and flush with the starter ones. You can use as many nails as you want, but most professionals prefer 4 nails per shingle. In some windy locations, specialists are known to use up to six nails.

Use the chalk lines that you drew beforehand to get the orientation correct. These rows need to be perfectly straight, since the visual impact here will be clearly visible.

8. Capping the ridge

Before capping the ridge, you can install any additional flashing if you need it.

The ridge is at the very top of the roof. Capping this area will provide maximum protection so no rain or snow is able to seep through the cracks at the top.

9. Flattening exposed nails, sealing, and removing debris

You’re done with the roofing, but this last step ensures that you’re going the extra mile to make it all look good. Flatten out any exposed nails, seal up any gaps, and remove any debris that may be lying around as the remnants of your job. If you see any exposed flashing, you should also seal that out. If you have a trash can close at hand, throw out all the debris, instead of carrying them one by one.


A good roofing job can take up a lot of time, but it will be worth it, since it will protect the house from rain, snow, wind, and other natural elements for a long time. You need to understand that roofing isn’t just about nailing down shingles, it’s about understanding how each and every one of those layers work together to protect the house that you’re working on. This is even more true if you have structures on top of the roof like chimneys and vents.

A good roofing job will last at least 20-25 years, if done right. But that doesn’t mean you can set it and forget it. You will want to do inspections at least once a year, and get it repaired after any major storms.

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