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DIY roofing - an overview

Laying a roof is a complex thing. We don't recommend working alone on such a complicated job, but there are some basic considerations for the keen DIY homemaker! To start, it helps to know how a roof is put together.

The roof surface

The surface material consists of many components; wood framing, sheathing, underlay, flashing, gutters, and, of course, the tiles or other finished surface.

The roof deck

The roof deck is made up of sheathing and, in most cases, an underlay called roofing felt. The type of deck used depends on the finished roof material. Most call for solid plywood or oriented strand board panel sheathing; wood shingles and some tile or metal roofs call for spaced board sheathing.

DIY roofing

Roofing felt is sandwiched between the sheathing and the surface material on most roofs. This heavy, fibrous black paper saturated with asphalt helps repel any water that might find its way past the roofing material.


Flashing is made from galvanised steel, aluminium, or vinyl. It helps repel water wherever the roof surface is broken by dormers, intersecting roof planes, and protrusions and along the roof's edges.

If you are going to lay or partly lay your own roof, there are two golden rules;

Get a level nailing surface

The first step in building a high-quality roof is to make sure you have a level surface by using a piece of lumber or a carpenter's level.

If you need to, shave down trusses or rafters til they are level and install blocking to straighten any warped or bowed top chords.

Provide adequate ventilation

A roof has two main jobs: to prevent outside moisture from getting in, and to allow inside moisture to get out.

Although venting requirements are not based on rigorous research, your local building code should have the specific requirements you need to follow in order to pass inspections.

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