Roofing Fails: 5 DIY Roofing Mistakes to Avoid

November 14, 2022

Your home’s roof is the best and strongest protection against Mother Nature’s worst. From rain, sun, snow, and hail to windstorms and falling debris–your roof withstands it all. Of course that’s only true if the roof is installed correctly to begin with. Making roof repairs when necessary is important, but even more vital is being able to recognize the signs that your roof is failing. It’s important to know how long roofs last, but that said, there are also reasons why a new roofing system could fail. We’ll get into some key reasons why you might want to think about a roof upgrade, along with reasons why DIY might not be the best route.


Why DIY?

Homeowners are always looking for a way to save some cash. We get it–it’s expensive to maintain a modern home! But with a project as important to your home’s structure and your family’s wellbeing as a strong roof is, saving money upfront can often backfire down the road. That could be as a result of shoddy installation, sub-par materials that don’t provide a long lifespan, or missing important cues to quality. Let’s face it–most homeowners aren’t professional roofers. In the long run, money saved at the outset of a DIY roofing project generally doesn’t pay off later. Given the role a roof plays in keeping your biggest investment–your home–safe and sound, it’s worth more consideration than it often gets.


Signs that Your Roof is Failing

If you’re trying to figure out how to tell if it’s time for a roof upgrade, just take a long hard look at your existing roof. Do you see signs of deterioration, like missing or curling shingles? Are energy bills higher than they used to be? Are you seeing a lot of shingle debris when you clean the gutters? All of these are clear signs that your roof is reaching the end of its lifespan. How long do roofs last? Well, like most things, it depends. Anywhere from 15-30 years is a general estimate, but it really varies based on roof type and the climate and environmental factors where you live. That said, many roofs fail long before the 20-year mark, and most often, failures can be chalked up to installation errors. In fact, replacing an aging roof without following correct protocol or using high-quality materials can end up doing more harm than good.


Why to Hire a Pro for Roof Repairs and Replacement

DIY roofing can be tempting. Just get your strongest, most energetic friends and family together and make a weekend out of it, right? There can’t be too much to it. Thus begins quite a few projects that require major repairs later on. Here’s our condensed list of some of the most common mistakes we see when homeowners try to DIY a roof replacement.


1. Not Getting a Permit 

Cleveland roofing companies know that major roof repairs and new roofs require a building permit. Not only does the permit ensure that the roof is installed correctly, but it also protects homeowners from violations and fines. Incurring these fees can quickly make a DIY job less cost-effective. That’s especially true because failing to obtain and comply with the needed permits can also threaten insurance coverage and warranties, since there is no guarantee that the roof was installed to the current industry standards. If a roofing job doesn’t meet relevant codes, it also won’t be as protective and won’t last as long as it should. Reputable roofing companies, like Fairview Home Improvement, can handle all the permitting for you, simplifying the process.


2. Choosing the Wrong Roofing Material

When planning a roof replacement, it’s easy to get caught up in the aesthetics–there are so many great options out there! But it’s important to remember that part of the reason there are so many roofing choices is that every area of the country has different weather patterns, and so different roofing materials are best suited for these varying climates. If heavy snow loads, intense rain, or strong windstorms are common, then the roofing materials need to be rated to stand up to those threats. They can still be attractive and boost your home’s curb appeal, but durability and suitability is the most important factor–one that can sometimes get lost along the way when you choose the DIY path.


3. Repairing Instead of Replacing

Roof repairs have their place, but it’s important to know the signs that your roof is failing. How to tell if it’s time for a roof upgrade? There are a few visual cues to look for, and a general timeframe to guide you. But in general, if your roof is over 10 years old and the compromised areas cover 30% or more of the surface, it’s time for a replacement. Damage from an isolated weather event or other localized impact can often be repaired if the rest of the roof is in good shape. But if there is widespread damage, it’s time for a new roof. Otherwise, you’ll likely find yourself in a cycle of major repair every few years. Better to install a fresh roof and just worry about maintenance for the roof’s lifespan. It could be tempting to tackle a major repair yourself, but unless you are a roofing professional, we wouldn’t advise it. You don’t know what you’ll find once you start removing shingles, and you might not have the materials, tools, or experience to handle what you uncover. 

A related concern is covering over old roofing materials instead of pulling them up and replacing. This could sound like an easy option, but it will cause more problems in the long run, as faulty materials can open the new roof to premature damage. Proper support and underlayment are key to a roof’s success, and those can only be replaced if the old materials are removed.


4. Ignoring Moisture, Drainage and Venting

Your home’s roof exists to keep the elements out. But water has a way of finding a path inside. Certain angles and slopes can create problematic spots where water sits and causes damage. Even with moisture barriers in place, a lack of understanding of how water flows and acts can be a major downfall for DIY roofing repairs or replacement. Excess moisture in and around the roof can lead to harmful mold, damage, decay, and collapse. To prevent this sad outcome, all the pieces need to be in place to direct water where it needs to go to drain away quickly. From installing materials at the incorrect slope to using inadequate attic venting and skipping vital metal flashing in key areas, there are a surprising number of ways to go wrong when installing a roof yourself. Water and moisture take easy advantage of these mistakes and will compromise all your hard work, shortening your roof’s lifespan and threatening the stability of your home.


5. Incorrect Shingle Installation

We’ve all seen how shingles lay on a roof, so it could be easy to assume that you’ll intuitively know how to install them. But this is so far from the truth, and getting every element right isn’t an easy feat for an occasional DIYer. Besides knowing how many nails to use, understanding how nail depth affects stability, and getting placement just right, you also have to worry about choosing the right nails and calibrating the nail gun properly. There are countless small steps that a pro roofer knows inside and out, that a DIYer would have to guess at. But what’s most worrisome about this step in the process is that incorrectly installed shingles can often void warranties. And small mistakes really show on a roof, where every successive course of shingles can amplify errors. A roof really isn’t a place to try out new-found DIY skills–leave this to experienced roofing companies, like the experts at Fairview Home Improvement.


Avoid Roofing Fails with Experienced Professionals

The best way to ensure that your new roof is up to snuff and built to last is by hiring an experienced roofing contractor. They will be sure to install everything correctly and to code, while also keeping a strict eye on safety. If an unexpected situation comes up, they’ll know how to react, because they’ve dealt with it before. And because this is their profession, they will get the job done efficiently and on time, ensuring that your home and family are protected. If you’re ready to plan for a roof replacement, get in touch with the trained professionals at Fairview Home Improvement. Our team is ready to help you find the best roofing option for your home, and we stand behind our work. We love helping our customers beautify and enhance their properties–reach out today to learn more and schedule a consultation!

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