Is Roofing a DIY Job – Tools
This is one of the great advantages professionals bring. We work with our tools every day, so we invest in quality tools and they pay us back. Of course this is one of the greatest advantages of DIY jobs too; with the money you save you want more tools. This is a universal of DIY-motivated homeowners => tools are good and more tools are better!!!
But it isn’t just the tools. You need to understand how to use those tools to get the most out of them. Every time you put a new tool in your hand, there is a learning curve.
A hammer, a Roofing Utility Knife, and a Hack Saw will get you a long way. You could hammer every nail, and old timers certainly did it this way before pneumatic tools, but then there is skill to hammering nails as well (keep them straight, don’t smack your thumb, don’t underdrive the nails, and don’t damage the shingles). Back to some basic math though, a typical roof is 30-squares, each square is 3-bundles, each bundle is 20-shingles, and each shingle takes 4-6 nails (this depends on roof slope and prevailing wind considerations) – this is right around 10,000 nails. Have fun with that.
Again though, DIY jobs are about opportunity to buy a new tool. For a job you are going to do once, you are probably shopping at the discount tool supplier. Let me caution you to NOT do this; good tools are worth the investment. If you are going to nail 10,000 nails, you will appreciate the difference by the end of the job.
Sure, you need a pneumatic coil nailer. Now you need an air compressor too. Are you going to be doing this by yourself, because if you have friends helping you (and those are GOOD friends), you need more nailers and you need a bigger air compressor.
But it isn’t just the tools either. If you set the pressure to your air compressor too low, you will be finish hammering every nail in. If you set the pressure to your air compressor too high, you will damage shingles and have to replace them. If you don’t hold that nailer perpendicular to the roof, you won’t drive nails straight and this again damages shingles. Sure, this isn’t brain surgery, but it isn’t something you pick up and use perfectly the first time either.
And this is simply a single tool you need. Professional roofing contractors bring many other tools to the job, all professional grade, and more importantly we aren’t learning to use new tools on your roofing job.
Alright, if the story in the last blog post in this series didn’t deter your from DIY, at least you have learned to avoid a pitfall. You aren’t going to fall into that trap and focusing solely on lowest delivered price. You are certainly not going to shop at DIY-friendly big box stores, but you know you need to research where the professional roofing contractors shop and ordering your materials appropriately. You might pay a little bit more, you might pay a little bit less, but delivery to your roof => when you aren’t carrying it up the ladder this is priceless.
Next up, roofing looks pretty simple. And if you got the Taunton Press Books I recommended, you have a Standard Operating Procedure of sorts. And these are widely considered some of the best source materials for DIY, so it isn’t me trying to mislead you.
However let me ask you a couple of questions about your profession. I will first assume you are an expert in your field. If I ask you, and five (5) other experts in your field the same question, am I likely to get the same answer? I have a friend who is a Civil Engineer, and he tells me that if you ask five (5) Civil Engineers the same question you are likely to get ten (10) different answers. He will also tell you engineers are pretty dysfunctional like that though.
My point is, you read that Taunton Press Book that was the compilation from Fine Homebuilding Magazine. The authors are all experts in their field, these articles are edited for quality, accuracy, and value to the readers of Fine Homebuilding. And yet in that book, there are at least four (4) ways delineated as “best method” to flash a valley. All published at different times, and all published from different geographic areas. So what is different? Different experiences, perhaps due to different timing of learning or due to geographic considerations? If you are a DIY-capable homeowner, you wouldn’t be expected to be an expert in the field. You are researching to save money, get better quality, pride in your work, or maybe a bit of all three (3). What you don’t have are lessons from experience.
For the record, in my service area (southern Jackson County Missouri) you will find that most roofing professional contractors use an open-valley technique with factory paint finished aluminum flashing. Thicker is better (up to a point), but aluminum is soft, easy to form, and holds its shape so is a DIY-friendly material. Make sure you lap it correctly, and use high quality caulk where necessary. There are exceptions though, and these exceptions are based on specific roofs.
And if we can’t agree on even basic roof valleys, just imagine how our disagreements escalate when talking about more complex roofing details.
A roof is your first line of defense for your most valuable asset. What are the ramifications of not understanding the different potential solutions to a common roof detail such as a valley? Roof leaks? This isn’t the same as mixing your joint compound too thick and having to spend extra time sanding your new sheetrock wall in your man cave, or having to use an extra coat of paint to get good paint coverage. The consequences here are much greater than time or labor.
We are an experienced Lees Summit roofing company with over 15 years experience in repair, service and installation.