If you have a structure with a flat roof or a shed that requires a roofing improvement, you might be curious to learn how to install roll roofing. It’s not only one of the easiest roof types to place but also one of the most cost-effective roofing options. Besides, the roofing material is simple to set up and does not demand advanced carpentry skills.

You should consider roll roofing as a practical alternative when aesthetics isn’t crucial; it’s made of materials comparable to composition shingles but isn’t as durable. However, it will last longer if you place roll roofing using the double-coverage approach.

You can utilize the exposed-nail strategy if the roof is slanted. Also, you can use double coverage on a flat or nearly flat roof, though a torch-down modified bitumen or EPDM roof is a superior option.

Expect to spend approximately half a day placing flashings and roll roofing for a 700-square-foot roof with minor complications, working with someone.   Only basic carpentry skills are required to install this roofing material, as it is the easiest of the roofing materials to place.

Where should roll roofing be used?

Residential roofs, in particular, are not suitable for roll roofing installation. Nevertheless, it is perfect for other functional structures. If you have a low-pitch roof, such as those on patios, sheds, garages, etc., you should consider installing it. Barns, businesses, outdoor workout buildings, and even children’s treehouses are all options for installing roll roofing.

The remarkable thing is that you can easily install it yourself if you wish. Just keep in mind that it’s better to do your project on a day when the temperature is over 50°F so that the material doesn’t become stiff and brittle.

The tools you need to install roll roofing include:

  • Hammer or power nailer
  • Measuring tape
  • Flat pry bar
  • Carpenter’s square
  • Tin snips
  • Utility knife
  • Chalkline 
  • Broom

The materials you need to install roll roofing include:

  • Flashing
  • Nails for flashing
  • Roofing felt or primer
  • Roll roofing
  • Nails long enough to poke through the sheathing
  • Roofing cement

Roof preparation

The next step is to prepare your roof before properly starting the installation. Here’s what you should do:

  1. Before starting the installation process, you ought to clean the roof thoroughly by removing any dirt, debris, or grime from the roof. A broom can be used to remove dirt and a leaf blower to remove leaves and debris. However, ensure you wear long pants and work gloves while cleaning. Avoid going on top of the roof to hose it, and stay in a secure place at all times.
  2. Also, make sure you have laid out all of the materials you will need. To keep the sheets in line, roll them out face down on the ground and use bricks on the ends.

How to install roll roofing in a few steps:

Step 1. Roll out materials: If necessary, fix drip-edge flashings, WSU, and roofing felt.  Although metal valley flashing can be installed, it is customary to simply apply an 18-inch-wide strip of roll roofing. Place it on a bed of roofing cement, flatten any creases, and nail it at the edges.

Step 2. Attach the first course: Place the first course about 1/4 inch overhanging the drip edges and roll it out at a length of 8 feet or more. At one end of the rake, insert nails per 3 inches, draw it taut, and put nails along the eave edge. These nails ought to be 1 inch away from the sides. Then, attach a 3-foot-wide strip atop the 18-inches for more protection.

Step 3. Attach the second sheet: The next sheet should overlap the previous by 4 inches or, in the case of some types of roll roofing, quite sufficient to cover the section that is bare of mineral surfacing. Using chalk or pencil, draw a  line marking the top of the next sheet, roll it out along the line, then nail it in place just like the first.

Step 4. Spread the roofing cement: Make sure that no two butt joints are more than 2 feet apart. After that, spread a 6-inch-wide coating of roofing cement along the first sheet’s edge, then hold down the next sheet into the cement.

Step 5. Seal vent: Seal a plumbing vent by spreading roofing cement around the pipe. Make a hole in a piece of roofing (up to 2 feet wide) and slip it over the pipe. The piece should be at least 4 inches longer than the lower course. After that, make a hole in the roll roofing and slip it over the pipe as well. Cement both roofing pieces together. Then, add a boot flashing for extra protection.

Step 6. Overlap the valley: Work two feet across the center of a valley from one side roof. After that, work from the opposite side, overlap the valley, draw a chalk line, and trim the piece at the valley’s center. Set nails at a minimum of 12 inches from the valley’s center and then attach everything closer than 12 inches, using a 4-inch-wide bed of roofing cement.

Step 7. To attach the final piece, you can just use roofing cement and nails to overlap the sheets at the ridge. Notwithstanding, if the last piece fails to extend at a minimum of 8 inches beyond the peak, then make sure the cement’s embedded peak is well covered using a 16-inch-wide strip.

Final thoughts

If you have a sloped roof, you need to remove the roofing materials and place them to flush with the drip corners along with the rake and eave. Then, using the trowel, pour the cement over half of the strips and fix them by pushing the nails’ two rows.

After that, lay the first course in the cement, making sure it only overhangs by 1/4 inch. Finally, be cautious while rolling and situating the roofing, as repositioning is a difficult task. You can now drill nails into its top edge and force it into the cement.