Sheathing a roof is an important step in protecting your home from water damage. If you do not want to pay the expensive price of hiring a company to resheath your roof, then continue reading to learn everything you need to know about how to sheath a roof on your own.
What is Sheathing a Roof?
Sheathing a roof is also called sheeting a roof or roof decking. Roof sheathing is the step in roof construction of laying down the wooden boards that then carry the shingles. The sheathing boards are secured to the joints and trusses of the roof, adding an extra layer of support.
Roof sheathing is an additional layer of waterproofing for your roof. It helps to stop leaks that cause damage to your home. Sheathing a roof requires patience and exact measurements so that the edges of your roof are visibly straight and even.
Steps to Sheath a Roof on your Own
Sheathing a roof on your own is a lot like putting together a giant puzzle. Below we cover the steps on how to sheath a roof by yourself one by one so that you can get the job done right the first time.
Step One: Measure and Check your Measurements
Measuring is a step you cannot overlook. Measuring out your roof, calculating the sizes of sheathing, and figuring out if you need to cut holes around chimneys or piping must be done correctly.
Measure out the angles and lengths of your roofing project. Now you will have a clear understanding of the total surface area you are working with.
When taking your measurements, do so from perfectly straight edges. If even one number is slightly off, the imperfection will be exponentially worse as you move up to the roof ridge.
Then, calculate how much plywood you will need to get the job done. Now is a good time to decide if you prefer to precut your plywood on the ground or use a handsaw to make adjustments on the rooftop.
Step Two: Lay Down the First Piece at the Roof Edge
The most important step of sheathing a roof is laying down the first piece of plywood perfectly. Lay down the first piece of sheathing closest to the edge and corner.
Make sure that your measurements are flush and everything is straight-edged. Once you feel confident that it looks good, move on to step three.
Step Three: Tack the First Sheet Down
Tacking down the first sheet means gently nailing it in. Tacking is a placeholder to keep your roof sheathing in its spot while you move onto the second piece of sheathing in step four.
Step Four: Lay Down the Second Piece
With your first piece being straight and flush, laying down the second piece is just a matter of aligning it next to the first piece along the edge of the roof.
You will notice if this piece does not lay flush or is uneven. If this is the case, take a look at your first piece and make the necessary adjustments.
You will be glad that you gently tacked the previous sheathing because it will be much easier to make adjustments than had you used your nail gun to nail it off.
Step Five: Continue to Tack and Sheath
Continue aligning your sheathing to the previous piece, ensuring that everything is straight and flush. Then tack them lightly down until you have the entire first edge of your roof complete.
Step Six: Nail it Down
Now that everything is tacked in and perfectly straight, you want to securely nail your work down. Nail it in with a hammer or use a pneumatic nail gun for extra speed.
Always double-check that everything is straight and lined up evenly as you work. Be sure that all nails are level with the plywood and do not sink into the wood.
Step Seven: Add H Clips at the Tops of your First Row
H-clips may be necessary for your jurisdiction for your DIY roof sheathing project. These help to add extra support to the roof and can help to reduce building costs.
Step Eight: Lay Down the Next Row of Sheathing
Since your first row of sheeting was put in straight, the rest of the job should go smoothly. Continue laying down sheathing and tacking it in along the edge of the first row.
Step Nine: Nail it Down
Once you are confident that the other rows of sheathing are straight, secure them in by nailing them to the joints and trusses of the roof.
Step Ten: Cut Off Extra Wood with a Jigsaw
If you choose not to cut your plywood on the ground, you will have overhang along the edges or ridges of the roof. You can use a handsaw or jigsaw to cut these pieces off. Of course, you want to ensure that you cut it in a straight line.
Can I Sheath My Roof On My Own?
It is possible for you to sheath your roof solo but, it is recommended to have a helper nearby. For convenience and safety, it is best not to work on a roof completely by yourself.
Sheathing a roof requires hard labor at unsafe heights. If you are afraid of heights, unable to climb up ladders, or unfit to carry heavy loads for long hours, then sheathing a roof on your own is not advisable.
If you feel up to the task, then double-check the bi-laws in your area regarding roofing and safety laws. It may be more cost-effective to hire a professional if you need to pay for expensive scaffolding or harness equipment for your DIY roofing project to be up to code.
When Do you Need to Sheath your Roof?
Properly installed roofs will last between fifteen to twenty years. Roof sheathing is often replaced when the new roof is being installed.
The most common reason to replace the wooden boards supporting your shingles is if they are damaged from water or rot. Rot and water damage happen when sheeting boards are outdated or have sagged due to weight collecting in that area.
You might also see light coming in through your attic, which will alert you that the sheathing needs replacing.
Sheathing a roof yourself is a great way to reduce expensive construction costs but can be dangerous and difficult. If you are ready to tackle sheathing a roof on your own, these steps are sure to help.
Now that you know how to sheath a roof on your own, you are ready to move on to the next steps of your DIY roofing project: applying shingle underlayment felt and then installing the shingles.