How To Protect Your Roof From The Elements

by Dave Logan


When it’s time to replace that old roof with a new one, there are many things to understand so that your professional roofing contractor can provide the best level of service for you. The greatest weakness in any new roof typically lies in the between the the roof sheathing and the rafters. When the sheathing isn’t properly fastened to the rafters, wind and water damage will certainly become a problem. It’s just a matter of time.

The best (and least expensive) way to address this is to use screws to fasten your sheathing to the rafters. Provided your existing sheathing isn’t damaged, you can easily have this addressed for you before installing the shingles (or other roof covering). If your sheathing is damaged, you will of course want to have your roofing contractor replace it as part of the project – and again, make sure the sheathing is screwed down instead of nailed down.

Below are a few more tips for you to ensure both your sheathing and roof covering are properly installed. And don’t forget to check out our post from back in January, Top 5 Ways To Find A Great Roofing Contractor, for more helpful information regarding your roofing project.

1. If you live in an area where strong winds are common, think twice about adding a second layer of shingles over your existing layer. The smartest long-term solution is to tear off the existing layer and replace it with a new, single layer of quality shingles.

2. Make sure your sheathing is carefully inspected for existing damage or decay. This is something your roofing contractor will do for you, but be sure to ask. If you’re replacing the sheathing, inspect new pieces for damage or decay as well – prior to having it installed on your roof.

3. Fasten the sheathing to your roof using 2” # 8 screws. The screws should be about 6” apart between fasteners.

4. For additional water protection, consider flashing tape to cover the joints between the pieces of sheathing. You can get 100 ft. rolls for about 20 bucks. Have all of your pipe boots and flashing replaced as appropriate.

5. The felt paper (or layer between the sheathing and the shingles) should be attached using capped head nails (plastic or tin) with a minimum diameter of one inch. The capped nails should be about 6-9” apart as you fasten the felt paper to the sheathing.

6. Finally, your shingles should have a minimum of four nails per shingle. Some contractors may use more, but they shouldn’t use less. Also, your contractor will likely (as a best practice) use a starter tab at the bottom before moving up the roof with the shingle installation. The starter tab should extend about 1/4'” off the edge of the roof.

The above is intended to help you understand at a high level some best practices in roof installation, but this just scratches the sruface. There are many things to know when it comes to proper roof installation/repair and ultimate protection from the elements. Work with your professional roofing contractor for the best solutions.

For more helpful information on these and other home improvement projects, check in often with the TDL Blog. And don’t forget to visit to find a trusted home improvement professional to help you with your next project!