how to install rolled roofing

Introduction to Rolled Roofing

As an experienced homeowner or contractor, I understand the importance of choosing the right roofing material for your project. Rolled roofing is a popular and cost-effective option that has been used for decades to protect homes and commercial buildings. In this comprehensive guide, I’ll walk you through the process of successfully installing rolled roofing, from preparation to maintenance and repair.

Advantages of Using Rolled Roofing

Rolled roofing offers several benefits that make it an attractive choice for many homeowners and contractors:

  • Cost-Effective: Rolled roofing is generally less expensive than other roofing materials, making it a budget-friendly option.
  • Easy Installation: Rolled roofing is relatively simple to install, requiring fewer specialized tools and skills compared to some other roofing systems.
  • Durability: With proper installation and maintenance, rolled roofing can last for many years, providing reliable protection for your building.
  • Versatility: Rolled roofing can be used on a variety of roof types, including flat, low-slope, and even some steep-slope roofs.

Types of Rolled Roofing Materials

When it comes to rolled roofing, there are several different types of materials to choose from, each with its own unique characteristics and benefits:

  • Asphalt-Saturated Felt: This is one of the most common and affordable types of rolled roofing. It is made from fiberglass or organic felt that has been saturated with asphalt.
  • Modified Bitumen: This type of rolled roofing combines asphalt with polymers, resulting in a more durable and flexible material.
  • EPDM (Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer): EPDM is a synthetic rubber-based roofing material that is known for its excellent weathering and UV resistance.
  • TPO (Thermoplastic Polyolefin): TPO is a single-ply roofing membrane that is lightweight, reflective, and resistant to chemicals and environmental damage.

Tools and Equipment Needed for the Installation Process

Before you begin your rolled roofing installation, it’s important to gather the necessary tools and equipment. This includes:

  • Utility knife
  • Chalk line
  • Roofing nails or screws
  • Roofing hammer or staple gun
  • Roofing adhesive or sealant
  • Roller or brush for applying adhesive
  • Safety equipment (gloves, goggles, and protective clothing)

Preparing the Roof for Rolled Roofing Installation

Proper preparation of the roof surface is crucial for a successful rolled roofing installation. Here are the steps to follow:

  • Inspect the roof: Carefully examine the existing roof surface for any damage, such as cracks, holes, or uneven areas.
  • Clean the surface: Remove any debris, dirt, or loose materials from the roof to ensure a clean and smooth surface for the rolled roofing.
  • Repair any issues: Address any issues identified during the inspection, such as repairing any damaged or missing roof decking or flashing.
  • Apply a primer (if necessary): Depending on the type of rolled roofing you are using, you may need to apply a primer to the roof surface to help the material adhere properly.

Step-by-Step Guide to Installing Rolled Roofing

Now that you have prepared the roof and gathered all the necessary tools and equipment, let’s dive into the step-by-step process of installing rolled roofing:

  • Measure and Mark the Roof: Use a chalk line to mark out the areas where the rolled roofing will be installed, ensuring that the material is evenly spaced and aligned with the roof’s edges.
  • Unroll and Position the Roofing: Carefully unroll the rolled roofing material and position it on the marked areas of the roof. Make sure the material is aligned correctly and overlaps any seams or edges as specified by the manufacturer.
  • Secure the Roofing: Using roofing nails or screws, secure the rolled roofing material to the roof deck, following the manufacturer’s recommended spacing and patterns.
  • Apply Adhesive or Sealant: Depending on the type of rolled roofing you are using, you may need to apply a layer of adhesive or sealant to the overlapping seams and edges to ensure a watertight seal.
  • Roll or Brush the Adhesive: Use a roller or brush to evenly distribute the adhesive or sealant across the seams and edges, ensuring complete coverage.
  • Trim and Finish: Use a utility knife to trim any excess rolled roofing material around the edges of the roof, and apply any necessary flashing or sealants to ensure a professional-looking finish.
  • Inspect and Repair: Carefully inspect the installed rolled roofing for any gaps, cracks, or other issues, and address them promptly to ensure the long-term performance of the roofing system.

Common Mistakes to Avoid During Installation

To ensure a successful rolled roofing installation, it’s important to be aware of and avoid the following common mistakes:

  • Improper Roof Preparation: Failing to properly clean and repair the roof surface before installation can lead to issues with adhesion and long-term performance.
  • Incorrect Overlap and Sealing: Improperly overlapping the rolled roofing material or inadequate sealing of the seams and edges can result in leaks and water damage.
  • Insufficient Fastening: Not using the recommended number or pattern of fasteners can compromise the stability and durability of the rolled roofing system.
  • Exposure to Extreme Temperatures: Attempting to install rolled roofing in very hot or cold weather can affect the material’s flexibility and adhesive properties.

Tips for Maintaining and Repairing Rolled Roofing

To ensure the longevity of your rolled roofing system, it’s essential to follow a regular maintenance and repair routine. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Inspect Regularly: Conduct periodic inspections of your rolled roofing, looking for any signs of wear, damage, or deterioration.
  • Clean the Surface: Regularly clean the rolled roofing surface to remove dirt, debris, and any growth of moss or algae.
  • Address Issues Promptly: If you identify any cracks, holes, or other issues, address them quickly to prevent further damage and leaks.
  • Perform Minor Repairs: For small issues, you can often make minor repairs yourself using roofing sealants, patches, or replacement materials.
  • Seek Professional Assistance: For more extensive damage or complex repairs, it’s best to consult with a professional roofing contractor to ensure the job is done correctly.

Cost Considerations for Installing Rolled Roofing

The cost of installing rolled roofing can vary depending on several factors, including the size of your roof, the type of material you choose, and the complexity of the installation process. On average, you can expect to pay between $2 and $5 per square foot for the rolled roofing material and labor.

It’s important to note that the overall cost may also include additional expenses, such as:

  • Roof preparation and repairs
  • Disposal of old roofing materials
  • Permits and inspections
  • Specialized equipment or tools
  • Warranty or guarantee coverage

To get an accurate estimate for your specific project, it’s best to consult with a local roofing contractor or supplier.


Rolled roofing is a practical and cost-effective solution for protecting your home or commercial building. By following the step-by-step guide and tips outlined in this article, you can successfully install rolled roofing and enjoy the benefits of a durable and reliable roofing system.

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