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Quickly Constructing a Roof


Following some fundamental guidelines for safe construction practices and good practice makes building any roof a breeze. Various types of roofing require multiple procedures. A simple shed is an excellent place to begin. Using fiberglass panels, a roof can be erected in a short amount of time. The most regular widths for these panels are 24 inches and 30 inches. In addition, some stores carry 36-inch panels. The standard length is 12 feet, but 8- and 10-foot variants are also available.

There are essentially two distinct methods of roof framing. Usual American studs and trusses for framing. The height, pitch, and span of a roof all play a role in determining the size of the framing components used to support the rafters. Two-by-six or two-by-eight-inch rafters are common for sheds, whereas two-by-ten and two-by-twelve-inch rafters are typical for houses. The framework members to support the roof and snow loads must be more significant when the roof’s pitch is lower. To keep the roof’s weight, a flat roof design must include beams and horizontal framing. Sloped roofs are by far the more common type of roof.

Rafters and a ridge beam are typical framing elements. Using a shed-style framing system can significantly save construction time. There’s no need for an expensive ridge beam; it only takes one person to put it up. A roof with a slope of four inches for every twelve inches is ideal. That equates to a four-inch decline in height for every foot traveled when the roof slopes from high to low. A shed with a width of 12 feet will require a drop of 48 inches. If your roof has a slope of less than four in twelve, such as three in twelve or two in twelve, you must replace your shingles with more expansive rafters and a rolled roofing product. Because flatter roofs shed water more slowly, this helps prevent ice from backing up under the shingles.

Plain plywood with rolled roofing is one of the quickest roofs to install once the framing is done. As mentioned in the first paragraph, using fiberglass sheets can make a structure more aesthetically pleasing and let more natural light inside. You have a finished product as soon as you nail them into place. They don’t cost much or need much in the way of upkeep.

Panels made of fiberglass roofing need to be framed somewhat differently than more traditional roofs. In addition to the regular rafters or trusses, you must set up something called Girts. One is placed at the top and one at the bottom of the roof edges, with two-foot intervals or less in between, and they are typically made of two-inch by four lumber. The girts will support fiberglass panels that will span their lengths. If a single panel isn’t long enough to cover the entire roof, you may overlap them with the help of lap sealant to create a waterproof top and highly resistant to wind damage. Panels are often attached using ring shank nails and rubber grommets to prevent water from leaking through the nail holes. Because they won’t back out or become loose over time, screws are frequently used. A few extra bucks up front means considerably less money spent on repairs down the road.

Sheet laps can be sealed using sponge seals, and there are also seals for the ends of the sheets where they rest on the edge beams or plates. These are cheap and convenient since they eliminate the need to cut a wooden closure strip at the sheet’s ends.

Roll roofing is an alternative to installing a new roof quickly, but it’s not as aesthetically pleasing. Roll roofing lasts decades and requires an occasional inspection to ensure its lapped seams haven’t opened. Put up the plywood once the framing is done. For rafters spaced at 24 inches in the center, plywood should be at least 5/8 of an inch thick. A 3/4-inch ply is superior but significantly more expensive. The asphalt seals on the rolled roofing material can get cracked if the substrate moves too much. The less future trouble you’ll have, the firmer the substrate needs to be. Using any more than 5/8 ply is unnecessary if the framing is done on 16-inch centers. Roll roofing is installed similarly to standard fiberglass shingles but with far fewer nails and less time. The typical width of a roll of roofing is 30 or 36 inches. You can choose from a range of colors. If you need to heat a shed or garage, choose white or light colors if you live in a warm climate. The snow will melt faster, and the roof will get free solar warmth thanks to the dark tint.

Install the starter course by securely nailing the sheet along the top and bottom edges, beginning at the roof’s eave. Nails used on roofs must be galvanized. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for installing the second layer to overlap the first. In roofing, the necessary overlap is typically indicated by a line of a different color. In my experience, four and six inches laps have been mandated. Note that the asphalt coating continues to the bottom of the sheet, coating each layer. When the sheets are heated by the sun, the asphalt will melt and fill the cracks. Roofers will use a torch to heat the laps and seal them if they are being put in the winter. If you insist on trying this, do so with extreme caution. Melting roofing from overheating poses a severe fire hazard to the building underneath. Sealing the sheets requires only a tiny amount of heat, so don’t burn yourself while you’re working accidentally. The next step is to use a caulking gun to put roofing sealant over any protruding nail heads.

Metal roofing sheets are preferred over fiberglass for more significant buildings like a full-sized houses. Despite the higher initial cost, many manufacturers back their sheeting with a fifty-year or more extended warranty. Roll roofing is rarely utilized on residential buildings since it does not compare favorably to conventional shingle styles.

Allow me to say a few words about risk. Ensure your feet are always on solid ground when working on a roof. Wearing a safety harness is prudent since it lessens the likelihood of serious injury in the event of a fall. If you don’t want to spend the day waiting for someone to stand a ladder back up while you’re on a roof, make sure the ladders are correctly fastened. Be wary.

Peter, Your Courteous House Inspector, Wagsys.com
Code enforcement and building inspection software BICES

Pete has been working as a building inspector in the public and private sectors for over 30 years. He has experience in both the office of building design and the field of construction in the Eastern United States, having worked on a wide range of projects from schools to treatment plants, individual residences, and condo projects to major residential landscaping projects. Together with two other building inspectors, he established Wagsys LLC in 2006, which developed applications for local governments’ building departments, planning boards, and zoning boards of appeals.

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