Roof Installation: What to Expect

Here are the six steps and what to know about the process.
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Written by Roberta Pescow
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Edited by Tina Orem
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The process of roof installation typically includes planning and preparation, removing old roofing, making necessary repairs, installing underlayment materials, installing new materials and flashing, cleanup and inspection. Professional roof installation typically takes one to five days.

1. Prepare for your new roof

You’ll need to select a contractor, who will inspect your roof to determine exactly what’s needed to complete the job and then give you a written cost estimate for the new roof. You’ll also need to obtain any required permits (your contractor will likely handle this part) and arrange financing, if needed.

Once you’ve signed your proposal, your contractor will order all the necessary materials and have them delivered to your address. Your contractor will also probably have a dumpster delivered to your property a few days before the installation process begins, although some contractors may opt for a dump truck instead.

Clear the area around your house of anything that could get damaged while the contractors are working, such as outdoor furniture, planters, toys or sports equipment, and make sure your pets and children are out of the way

OwensCorning. Roof Repacement Basics. Accessed Jul 9, 2024.

2. Removal of your old roof

This involves prying up old shingles, flashing or other materials and putting them in the dumpster or truck. Expect this part of the process to be messy and noisy, with materials raining down from the roof, so you won’t want to go in or out of the house during this process unless absolutely necessary.

Your contractor might install the new roofing materials directly over the existing ones. This roofing method is called an overlay or reroofing, and it is generally cheaper, faster, more environmentally friendly and quieter. Opting for an overlay has some drawbacks, however, including the possibility of missed structural issues, possible compromising of certain roof components and the strain of additional weight on your roof

Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry. Asphalt Shingle Roofing: Guidelines for Planning Asphalt Shingle Roofing. Accessed Jul 9, 2024.

3. Inspection and necessary structural repairs

Your roofer should take a careful look at your roof decking (your roofing support system). The contractor should repair or replace all rotted, broken or otherwise compromised wood, as well as pull up old nails. In addition, for a tighter, safer fit, the contractor should replace boards that have overly wide gaps

Texas Department of Insurance. Questions to Ask Your Contractor Before Roofing. Accessed Jul 9, 2024.

4. Installing the underlayment

A roof underlayment is protective material that helps keep moisture out. After the metal drip edge is replaced (a metal drip edge is material that sticks out from the edge of the roof; its purpose is to direct water into the gutters or off the roof), the contractor installs the underlayment on the roof deck and then covers it with special felt or tar paper for additional protection

State of Louisiana Department of Energy and Natural Resources. Roof Underlayment for Asphalt Shingle Roofs. Accessed Jul 9, 2024.

5. Installing the roof cover

The roofer will attach new roof materials, usually starting along the side edges and bottom of the roof deck. Asphalt shingles (if the roof is a shingled roof) go on next, installed in staggered rows; hip and ridge (capping) shingles finish off roof edges and hips. The activities in this part of the process can vary with the type of roof. For metal roofs, for example, the panels are screwed in rather than nailed. The contractor will also install new vents or replace your existing ones, as well as add flashing, which is a thin sheet of metal bent around joints to protect against moisture

Federal Emergency Management Agency. Check Your Roof Flashing. Accessed Jul 9, 2024.

6. Cleanup and inspection

The contractors should blow debris off your roof, gutters and downspouts. On the ground, they should pack up tools, roll up tarps and pick up debris. Someone on the crew should walk around your entire property with a strong magnet to pick up any nails. The dumpsters or other large equipment should be removed from your property. Expect your contractor to do a careful walk-through inspection to make sure everything was done properly. If you had to get a permit from the city, you may need to schedule a formal inspection.

Frequently asked questions

Replacing your roof can be the perfect opportunity to go solar, especially if you’ve been considering solar shingles, which do double duty. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory estimates that homeowners could save an average of $4,000 by combining roof and solar array installations

U.S. Department of Energy. Replacing Your Roof? It’s a Great Time to Add Solar. Accessed Jul 9, 2024.
. Additionally, you may qualify for a federal tax credit of up to 30% of the cost of your solar array.

The National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) advises that warranties alone may not provide sufficient roof protection, and that the best strategy is to arrange for regular roof inspections and proactive maintenance with an NRCA-member roofing professional

National Roofing Contractors Association. Maintenance: The Key to Long-term Roof System Performance. Accessed Jul 9, 2024.

Here are a few things you can do to pre-qualify potential roofing contractors:

  • Look for affiliation with a local, regional or national roofing association (such as NRCA).

  • Check out contractors with the Better Business Bureau.

  • Make sure each contractor you’re considering has a permanent business address, legit phone number, business license and tax identification number.

  • Ask to see the contractors’ liability insurance and workers compensation certificates to make sure both are valid and up to date.

  • Check the contractor’s references and reviews.

  • Get a detailed written estimate and review it carefully.

  • Get a copy of the warranty and review it carefully.

  • Research current average prices for this type of work, and be skeptical of bids with prices that seem too good to be true.

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