What Roofers Do
Roofers install shingles, asphalt, metal, or other materials to make the roof weatherproof.
Roofers replace, repair, and install the roofs of buildings, using a variety of materials, including shingles, bitumen, and metal.
Roofers typically do the following:
- Inspect problem roofs to determine the best way to repair them
- Measure roofs to calculate the quantities of materials needed
- Replace damaged or rotting joists or plywood
- Install vapor barriers or layers of insulation
- Install ventilation systems
- Install shingles, asphalt, metal, or other materials to make the roof weatherproof
- Align roofing materials with edges of the roof
- Cut roofing materials to fit around walls or vents
- Cover exposed nail or screw heads with roofing cement or caulk to prevent leakage
Properly installed roofs keep water from leaking into buildings and damaging the interior, equipment, or furnishings. There are two basic types of roofs: low-slope roofs and steep-slope roofs.
Low-slope roofs rise less than 3 inches per horizontal foot and are installed in layers. Most commercial, industrial, and apartment buildings have low-slope roofs, making them the most common roofing type. The complexity of low-slope roof installations varies with the type of building. When installing low-slope roofs, roofers typically install a single-ply membrane of a waterproof rubber or thermoplastic compound.
Steep-slope roofs rise more than 3 inches per horizontal foot and are typically covered with asphalt shingles, which often cost less than other materials. Most single-family homes have roofs with asphalt shingles. Although less common, roofers can also lay tile, solar shingles, metal shingles, or shakes (rough wooden shingles) on steep-slope roofs.
Roofing systems may also incorporate plants and landscape materials. A vegetative roof, for example, is typically a waterproof low-slope roof covered by a root barrier and harboring soil, plants, and landscaping materials.
It is becoming increasingly popular to take advantage of solar energy on rooftops. Roofs may incorporate solar reflective systems, which prevent the absorption of energy; solar thermal systems, which absorb energy to heat water; and solar photovoltaic systems, which convert sunlight into electricity. Roofers install some photovoltaic products, such as solar shingles and solar tiles, but solar photovoltaic (PV) installers typically install PV panels. Plumbers and heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics also may install solar thermal systems.
Roofers use a variety of tools when working on roofs, depending on the type of roof being installed. They may use roofing shovels and pry bars to remove old roofing systems. They may use hammers, nail guns, drills, knives, pavers, tape measures, chalk lines, and framing squares to install new roofing systems.