If you've ever driven by a building site and paid any attention to the materials stored on site, you have probably seen a lot of things that aren't right, but didn't know it. To build a superior roof, you need superior materials, and these materials need to be handled in a specific way if they are to give you the best roof possible. If you drive by one of these sites and everything seems to be in a haphazard condition, chances are the contractor is not a high quality one, and is probably inexperienced to boot. Once materials are installed, storage problems cease to be a problem. If, however, they are left stored improperly for any length of time, a lot of damage can occur that will mean a roof is built that has three strikes against it before it is a year old. Knowledgeable contractors know this, and use caution in storage. This article focuses on the storage of roofing materials.
Guidelines for Asphalt Shingles
Bitumen roofing materials become very stiff and easily cracked if a contractor attempts to install them when outside temperatures are below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. For this reason, crews should never be allowed to install these materials below this temperature. The materials, being stiff, will not lay flat on the roof. Damage is easily done to the materials because of their stiffness and cracks and tears can appear. Be very leery of any contractor that tells you it doesn't matter how cold it is when he installs your roof. Here's why. Asphalt shingles have a sticky tar strip on them that adheres to the shingle above it. When weather is cold, the adhesion does not work well, leaving a shingle loose and subject to being torn off in any higher than normal wind. Generally, a good contractor will apply a few dabs of roofing cement to the shingles when the weather is cooler to help the adhesion process. This roofing cement has to be kept warm to insure it sticks properly.
Two things to Know
Every shingle comes with a set of installation instructions, giving temperature range, nail location, number of nails per shingle and how deep the nails are to be driven. You can obtain these guidelines at your local lumberyard if the contractor doesn't give you a copy. Shingle companies have engineers that determine these guidelines, so it is wise to follow them. If your contractor insists on installing shingles outside of these guidelines, you can bet that the warranty on the shingles will not be valid. Never let a contractor proceed if there is any question about weather conditions.
You might reach a point when you have no alternative, such as when high winds take shingles off your roof. If this is the case, insure that your contractor knows what to do and will follow your instructions. Monitor the contractor closely to see that his crew follows installation procedures correctly and that they are using roofing cement during installation. Better yet, inspect the work yourself, insuring that the shingles are actually sticking, or have some black gooey tar underneath. Check a half dozen places on the roof.
If you have contracted to have a roof installed, see to it that the contractor follows instructions when storing materials. Bundles of shingles should be stored in a covered, ventilated space where temperatures won't exceed 110 degrees. Rolled roofing should be stored on end, off the ground. Materials such as flashing and insulation should be kept dry, and not covered with plastic or shrink wrap. This insures condensation doesn't form and wet the product, which can damage it. Manufacturers recommend these be covered with canvas tarp.
Watch the work crew closely when they unload materials to insure they are handled correctly. If the weather is unpredictable, such as in the fall of the year, insure that there are at least two days of warm temperatures above 40 degrees before you allow the crew to proceed.
Things To Remember
A roofing installation is a large investment. A sloppy work crew that handles materials roughly and isn't concerned about storage requirements is not in your best interest. Remember, a roofing contractor is very busy during the warm months. He will gladly take on jobs when the weather turns inclement, and a lot of times will not follow manufacturer's procedures. It is your responsibility to insure that he does follow guidelines, and doesn't attempt to install your roof in bad weather.
Try to get a roof installed in good weather. If you have high winds that damage your roof in colder weather, it is generally best to repair the roof, and wait until the weather is warm before proceeding with a full installation.
Alden Smith is an award winning author and regular contributor to DoItYourself.com. He writes on a variety of subjects, and excels in research.