Roofing is heavy material, and the amount of lifting should not be discounted. Even a basic 20-year 3-tab shingle weighs 225-lbs/square (a square is 100 square feet of roof). A typical roof in my Kansas City roofing service area in Kansas City is 25-30 squares. For 3-tab shingles, it takes 3 bundles/square, so each bundle is just shy of 80-lbs. Most of my customers opt for architectural shingles, and these weigh more but you should always just plan on approximately 100-lbs/bundle. If you like designer series asphalt roofing, we can easily exceed 450-lbs/square. Let’s do some quick math; assuming a 30-square roof, you are easily moving 7,000-lbs. to 14,000-lbs. of just roofing shingles. This doesn’t account for underlayment (60 lbs./roll for 30-lb. felt).
Rather than expound on the amount of labor is here, I am going to tell an amusing story about one of my neighbors (who shall remain nameless to protect the innocent). A very accomplished DIY person who was convinced that roofing was within his skillset (a good assumption). As a good DIY researcher, he researched options, made decision, and then went shopping for the cheapest delivered price. His roof was a bit larger than typical, roughly 35-squares. When this was delivered, his roofing materials was unloaded on a pallet and the pallet placed just in front of his garage door, which happened to be the center of a two-car garage opening. Please note that this was roughly 105-bundles of roof shingles, I will leave the rest of the materials out of the weight calculations.
This was over 9,000-lbs of asphalt shingles. So how did that roofing get from his driveway to the roof? Over his shoulder, up a ladder, one bundle at a time. Each bundle weighed 90-lbs. He was up and down that ladder 105 times just to get asphalt shingles from where the store delivered them to a place he could use them. All because he did his research and saved money be using the lowest delivered price. How much was his time worth? How much time did he have invested before he even opened a shingle pack and started nailing? And once on the roof, he still had to distribute the packs to where he was installing them, so it wasn’t simply up and down the ladder carrying 90-lbs every time.
On the other hand, professional roofers pay extra for rooftop delivery. Rooftop delivery takes special equipment, and these roofing suppliers generally serve professionals only. My roofing supplier will sell to DIYs, but it is up to the DIY to find the suppliers that cater to professionals, and not DIYs. And the cost for this service, to professionals that do repeat business? Sure I can order ground-drop delivery, but rooftop delivery is generally only $10-20 dollars more, although I do have to accommodate their schedule as not every truck is equipped for this.
This is certainly a pitfall of DIY roofing that isn’t explained in any books.
As a Lees Summit roofing contractor, I field a lot of questions about DIY considerations from homeowners looking to save money. Most of these homeowners are quite capable at home repairs but have proven that while they may lack experience, they have several other home maintenance or home improvement items that have worked out well for them. They have a nicer place to live, and they saved some money on the projects by performing their own labor. I appreciate the appeal of saving some money and have certainly finished projects at my house rather than call a professional. This isn’t to discourage DIY-savvy homeowners, but it just might provide some additional considerations.
Just about any DIY project, my recommendation as the first place to start is your local library. The problem is that books only get you so far, and this is AFTER you figure out which books are relevant and which books are fluff. And while I will grant you that Internet research if both faster and easier, there are simply too many perils for this to be your starting point as you have limited ways to validate the credibility of the source. With a published book, you can validate the credibility of the source. I would recommend books from “Taunton Press”; there are a couple on Flashing and Waterproofing in the Taunton Press “For Pros By Pros” series, as well as a book asphalt shingles (get beyond asphalt, and DIY is simply too perilous), and a book on roofing that is a collection of articles in “Fine Homebuilding” magazine.
This blog topic isn’t a replacement for library and Internet research (I said Internet research wasn’t best, but we all know this is your first stop). This topic will supplement some considerations you won’t readily find in the books. Most books are aimed at educating the consumer so they can hire a good contractor, or aimed at professionals to speed up production, and some considerations don’t fit easily into either audience. A couple that I am going to discuss are:
1) Don’t underestimate the amount of heavy lifting and labor that goes into a roof.
2) Don’t underestimate how much experience goes into doing this correctly and consequences it not done correctly.
3) Professionals bring tools you may not have.
4) How much time do you have to invest?
5) Warranty work, what happens if something fails?
Among roofing contractors, there is a lot of debate about the purpose of underlayment and what type you should use. Some roofing contractors will tell you that underlayment’s only purpose is to “dry-in” the structure before the roof shingles are installed and that once the roof shingles are installed that the underlayment serves no purpose as the shingles themselves provide a waterproof roof. This sounds good, but I recently inspected a roof on a five (5) year old house (basically brand new) that had roof leaks EVERYWHERE. Upon inspection, it was clear that the roofer didn’t install underlayment. This basically “new” roof required a complete tear off and new roof including replacement of large portions of the roof deck itself. The general contractor that built this house skimped on a relatively cheap underlayment layer, and left the homeowners with a very large repair bill. I know the roofing contractor that got that job (not me), and they will get a proper installation this time.
For the roofing contractors that identify that underlayment isn’t necessary, kindly explain to me why every shingle manufacturer includes underlayment in their installation instructions? There isn’t a shingle manufacturer in existence that doesn’t include underlayment in installation requirements, and not one of them will honor a warranty claim on their shingles without it.
I fall into that underlayment is another component of the waterproofing system that protects the roof deck material itself. Underlayment provides a second line of defense against wind driven rain. In addition, have you ever seen a roof with a shingle or two blown off? If you lose a shingle due to wind and you have no underlayment you have a guaranteed roof leak. With underlayment you may not have a roof leak even if you lose a couple of shingles in a storm. However, wind driven rain gets everywhere, every nook and cranny, even causing water to flow uphill for short periods, and redundancy matters.
My experience is that underlayment also serves a secondary purpose of establishing a smooth surface for you roofing shingles. In my previous series on roof decks, I identified that asphalt roofing shingles telegraph surface imperfections; a good quality underlayment is layer that ensures a perfectly smooth roof surface, thus eliminating potential to telegraph imperfections. For this reason, I always install 30-lb felt as underlayment as it provides a thicker surface that the cheaper 15-lb felt. 15-lb felt tears too easily around the nails or staples, tears too easily when walking on it to install the shingles, and is difficult to lay down without wrinkles. All of these tears lead to imperfections in the surface, and potentially lead to telegraphing through asphalt shingles. 30-lb roofing felt minimizes or eliminates these shortcomings.
On a typical 30-square roof, 3,000 square feet of roof itself, underlayment material costs for 30-lb felt are ~$300. As your house is probably you largest investment, do you want to skimp $300 on the price of a new roof? Those homeowners I talked about earlier would have gladly paid $300 more for their new house to prevent the magnitude of roof repair they had to undertake on their “almost new” house. Seriously, that general contractor should be barred from obtaining any more building permits. If you need help with an issue such as this, contact a local Lees Summit roofing contractor for assistance.
We are an experienced Lees Summit roofing company with over 15 years experience in repair, service and installation.