That loose shingle dangling from the corner of your roof is driving you nuts. You’ve called every roofing company in town, but none can come out for another month or two. You don’t think you want to wait that long. You’d rather do the job yourself just so it gets done. Is repairing a roof difficult?
Repairing a roof on your own isn’t difficult, per se, but you will need a second person to help. You must also be comfortable with heights, as you’ll spend days at a time on a ladder, sometimes more than a week depending on the extent of the repairs.
This article will examine the implications of repairing your own roof from all angles, including the difficulty of the job, the equipment required, the time needed, and the expenses. By the time you’re done reading, you’ll either feel confident proceeding with repairing your roof yourself or you’ll find the number of a good contractor to call.
What Types of Repairs Do Roofs Usually Need? Are These Hard to Do?
Whether yours is a new roof, an old roof, a sloped roof, or a flat one, it usually has the same types of issues. Here is an overview of the most common roof problems that get homeowners digging around in their toolboxes. We’ll also assess the difficulty of each job.
Ventilation Issues | Repair Difficulty: Hard
If your roof has poor ventilation, in the summertime, you’ll really feel the effects. The heat gets entrapped within the roof, and eventually, the shingles become blistered. Mold and mildew can appear on the exterior of the roof or sometimes in your home.
The moisture that mold and mildew love may also cause the wood around the roof to rot or warp. Now your roof is structurally unstable.
Due to the severity of the issues that poor roof ventilation might cause, we don’t recommend fixing this issue yourself. If your roof is unstable, then standing on or near the structure could cause it to collapse with you on it.
Roof Leaks | Repair Difficulty: Easy to Hard
Roof leaks can occur for a multitude of reasons. A bad storm or a series of back-to-back weather events could be the lead-up to a leaky roof, as can a lack of roof maintenance. If the roof wasn’t properly seamed when it was built, this too can contribute to the likelihood of leaks.
Depending on how advanced your roof leak is, the structure of the roof could have begun to deteriorate. Once again, that would make working on your roof dangerous, so we’d only recommend that trained professionals go up there.
Further, sometimes it’s very difficult to pinpoint the source of a roof leak, which means you can’t effectively treat it. If that’s the situation you’ve found yourself in, then we’d again discourage you from trying to repair the roof yourself.
That said, for leaks that are easily identifiable and caught early, you’re free to fix them yourself if you feel comfortable doing so.
Gutter Repair | Repair Difficulty: Medium
We wrote a whole post on what goes into gutter repair, so we won’t delve too much into it here. What we will say is that even cheap plastic gutters have more parts than most homeowners think they do.
Like other types of roof repairs, fixing your gutters will entail you spending hours on a ladder. You’ll need a second person to hand you equipment and transport the old gutter parts you don’t want anymore.
It’s a doable DIY job, but it’s not the easiest one. That said, compared to some of the other repairs we’re discussing in this section, gutter repair isn’t the hardest project either.
Flashing Repair | Repair Difficulty: Hard
All roofs have flashing, which is a type of material that goes on the roof to prohibit water from getting through. Flashing is thin and flat and usually goes under the shingles. The design of flashing is such that it redirects the water away from any available openings.
If your roof has issues with the flashing, that’s usually due to mistakes made during installation by the original contractors.
Most flashings are made of zinc alloy or galvanized steel, so finding the right materials for replacement is critical. If you can’t do that, then the flashings won’t hold up, which is why this repair job is more difficult than most.
The exception is if the sealing around the flashing wears away or otherwise vanishes. That’s a quick enough fix. However, when the seal around the flashing degrades, that usually causes the flashing to curl very quickly. Thus, you’d still have to replace the flashing.
Shingle Repair | Repair Difficulty: Easy
Let’s go back to the example from the intro. You have a few loose shingles on your roof. The shingles can slacken through time, bad weather, and basic wear and tear.
However, the damage that shingles can accrue varies. The shingles might have valley weathering, with a valley referring to the part of the shingle where the slopes connect. These parts of the shingles work the hardest and tend to degrade first.
The shingles can lift if they shrink, or they might curl. Outward shingle curling is known as cupping and inward curling is referred to as clawing. Heat and dryness will make the shingles curl.
In some cases, usually due to temperature fluctuations, shingles can split. They can also chip or crack, especially in a bad storm.
Regardless of what kind of shingle damage you’re dealing with, repairing but usually replacing them is an easy enough DIY job.
What Kind of Equipment Do You Need to Repair a Roof?
As you continue to debate whether repairing your roof yourself is worthwhile, do make sure you check out this list of required equipment. It’s quite extensive, as you’re about to see!
- Ladder: How else are you supposed to climb up to the roof but with a ladder? You might already have a ladder collecting dust in your backyard shed, but for a roofing job, it’s not a bad idea to upgrade. The ladder should be tall, sturdy, and comfortable to use, as you’re going to spend a lot of time on it.
- Underlayment: When replacing certain parts of your roof, it’s not a bad idea to place some underlayment. This sheeted material is another layer of protection for your roof against water, ice, and other weather. If your roof has a history of leaks, we especially recommend an underlayment.
- Plywood: If you’re comfortable trying to repair severe roof damage yourself, such as structural damage, then plywood can reinforce soft spots. Some DIYers use oriented strand board or OSB instead.
- Sealant: Does your roof have a lot of loose seals, especially around the flashing? Are you still contending with a leaky roof? Pick up several tubes of sealant to patch up potential openings around skylights, the chimney, roof vents, and the flashing. Even still, don’t expect this to work forever, as sealant lasts about three years on average. The UV rays from the sun will break the stuff down.
- Shingles: Broken or damaged shingles cannot stay on your roof. You’ll have to buy new ones. To ensure the new shingles don’t stand out, they must be the same size and color as what’s already on your roof.
- Gutters: If you’re attempting a DIY gutter replacement, then you’ll have to buy new gutters at your favorite home improvement store or online. Depending on the gutter material you’re interested in, this can be a relatively inexpensive part of the project or quite costly.
- Utility knife: A utility knife comes in handy for most DIY jobs around the house, including repairing your roof. You can use the knife to reshape shingles, for example.
- Tarp: A tarp is also good to have. You can use it to protect your roof during repairs if it rains.
- Roofing nails: If you’re replacing or installing something new on your roof, don’t use just any old nails for the job. You must have roofing nails, which are coil nails that are strong enough to hold roof parts together. Using anything other than these nails won’t ensure the stability of your addition.
- Roofing nailer: How do you secure roofing nails to the roof? Well, you could hammer them into place, but many more DIYers will use a roofing nailer. This power tool will certainly speed up your progress.
- Flat-head shovel: Although shingles might be in bad shape, that doesn’t always mean they detach from the roof easily. Rather than waste time trying an assortment of tools to get stubborn shingles off, use a flat-head shovel from the get-go. It will do the trick fast!
- Crowbar: A crowbar can also aide you in detaching old shingles as well as nails that don’t want to come out. Utility bars are a good replacement.
- Chalk line: You don’t want to install your new shingles crooked, do you? Of course not! A chalk line will help you keep everything level.
- Toe boards: A toe board includes roof jacks that go beneath the shingles so you can traverse your roof with more confidence. Please don’t forego them!
- Fall protection kit: We saved the most important piece of equipment for last, and that’s a fall protection kit. The kit will include a lanyard for shock absorption, a rope lifeline, a safety harness, and a roof anchor.
How Long Does It Take to Repair a Roof Yourself?
Okay, you got your materials together and you’re ready to get this project underway. Precisely how long are you going to be at it?
How long it will take you to repair your roof DIY style depends on a variety of factors, but the general timeframe is two to seven days. That said, it can absolutely take longer.
Here are the factors that will impact your project timeframe.
Comfort with the Job
Are you a little precarious on a ladder or can you climb up and down easily enough? Do you go lightly and slowly on your roof or are you confident up there? Rushing is certainly not the solution, but if you’re going about this slow and steady, then you should expect it to take you longer to complete your roofing project.
Level of Experience
Someone who knows where their flashing is or how to remove old shingles will get through these parts of the job faster than someone who spends an hour finding the flashing or wrestling with a bent shingle.
Availability of a Second Person
We must reiterate that no roofing project should be done alone. It’s good to have someone spotting you while you’re up on the roof. Plus, without another person, you’d have to climb up and down the ladder a hundred times a day to transport equipment and parts.
If all you have to do is patch up the sealant around some parts of your roof, then certainly, you can do that in a single afternoon. A shingles replacement job can also be done in one day, maybe two, tops.
Once you get into the more advanced jobs like a gutter replacement, then you should give yourself several days to work.
You can’t help what Mother Nature does, and she can very quickly throw a wrench in your plans. If it rains for two days straight, you’re benched for at least that long. This time away from the roofing job adds to your overall timeline.
How Much Does It Cost to Repair a Roof Yourself?
Most roof repair jobs aren’t easy, so why do homeowners subject themselves to it? Well, because it’s usually cheaper, that’s why. Exactly how much cheaper though?
According to Angi, in 2021, the average cost to hire a team of pros to fix a roof is between $8,700 and $22,000. If you opt to repair your roof yourself, you’d pay only $2,500 to $6,300 for the same job.
That said, we can’t stress enough that you must do the work correctly. If you do a patchwork roof repair, then you’ll spend more money down the line to fix the roof issue again.
Is It Worth It to Repair a Roof Yourself?
That brings us to your burning question. Should you repair a roof yourself or let the pros do it?
For basic repairs such as adding new shingles or resealing obvious gaps, you’re free to do those jobs yourself. Although homeowners may have qualms about climbing up to their roof, we’ve mentioned on the blog before that it’s good to familiarize yourself with what’s up there.
You’ll have to clean the gutters eventually, after all (unless you hire someone for this too). Plus, seeing your roof up close and personal allows you to notice issues that you’d never get a glimpse of when on ground level.
That said, some roofing jobs are better off left to the professionals. Those include ventilation issues, water leaks, and flashing repairs. Any issue that has caused your roof to become potentially unstable is also one in which you should not attempt to fix it yourself.
It’s tempting to want to climb to your roof to fix the first sign of damage. For minor repairs, you’re free to do just that. Buy quality materials and take your time to get the job done right or your DIY project will cost you down the line.
Whether it’s a short and sweet repair or something more advanced, never feel like you have to fix your roof yourself. That’s what professionals are for!