The Process of Installing a Shingle Roof

Do you ever wonder what steps roofing contractors take when they install a roof? The details of a particular roof installation vary widely based upon the construction materials involved and building codes. Installing a roof today generally requires the skills of licensed professional contractors, since the process involves a lot of complexity. However, in general, roofers will follow certain steps in completing most single family homes:


Roofing contractors usually construct the underlying frame of the roof when they frame in a residential property. The frame furnishes essential structural rafters capable of supporting heavy roof materials. Additionally, it creates the outline of an attic, if architectural plans call for this feature. In metal buildings, a metal framework usually underlies the structure. However, many contractors still use wood as an important item in framing wooden roofs.

Install The Sub-Fascia And Sheathing

Another essential step in roofing involves installing the sub-fascia and sheathing, the flat surface upon which roofing materials will rest. For example, a roofer may nail boards across the roof onto the frame in order to create this structure. By the time workers complete this step, the structure will resemble a dwelling with a simple flat wooden roof. Some contractors install insulation and a second level of sub-roof that includes nailed boards covering the first layer. Local building codes play a role in determining the level of workmanship required to completion this portion of the roof. Builders at this time must ensure that they frame in openings for items such as attic fans and vents, chimney pipes, electrical connections and other items that will protrude through the surface of the roof. Contractors then add these items, which do not technically form part of the roof itself.

Install a Drip Edge and Flashing

Depending on building codes, builders may then install a drip edge around the exterior of the roof and add initial flashing around chimneys and other completed structures. They cover these areas carefully with metal or other flashing materials to help prevent leaks from developing at points where structures protruding through the roof, such as the edges of skylight windows and chimneys, adjoin the exterior roof surfaces.

Apply The Underlying Roofing Paper

Roofers then undertake a complex series of steps to apply underlying roofing paper or synthetic materials, sometimes called a self-sticking underlayment layer, to the exposed surface. This material offers an extra layer of protection, and helps keep the roofing tiles separated from the materials underneath. This covering often applies with an adhesive backing, or may be cemented into place. Overlapping layers of underlayment offer further protection against leaks.

Install Roofing Shingles

The exact steps included in this phase may vary considerably based upon the type of roofing materials utilized by contractors. For example, applying ceramic tile shingles differs significantly from roofing with asphalt shingles or metal panels. However, after applying a satisfactory underlayment that conforms with building codes, roofers apply the visible exterior roof materials. They may nail shingles in place individually using special roofing nails which include a seal around the nail to prevent water leakage. This work often requires some time to complete. The careful layering of the tiles helps prevent leaks.

Complete Exterior Finishing

Roofers then complete the exterior finishing by adding any applicable roof caps, and extra flashing and sealing to prevent leaks from developing around structures protruding through the roof. Often some of the most important work required to prevent the development of leaks and loose flashing occurs at this stage.

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