Roofing Installation & Maintenance
Learn the best way to install and maintain your roof and what things are better left to professionals.

Roofing Installation Process: Comprehensive Breakdown (2024)

Your roof protects the rest of your home, so knowing when to install a new one is essential — it can aid you in avoiding structural damage and other potentially expensive problems. It's equally important to understand the process of a new roof installation. It isn't very easy, no matter the type, and having a solid grasp will help you know what to expect.

While you should always gather and compare estimates from multiple roofing specialists, our guide will help you comprehend the roofing process and determine if you need a new one.

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What Is the Process of Installing a Roof?

Understanding what to expect for your roofing project before a contractor starts is helpful. Here are the various steps involved in a roof replacement:

  1. Removing the old roof
  2. Inspecting the roof decking
  3. Examining the flashing
  4. Installing the drip edge
  5. Laying down underlayment
  6. Installing the new roof
  7. Debris collection
  8. Final inspection

Step 1: Removing the Old Roof

The first step in a new roof installation is removing the old one. Asphalt roofing will be removed using a shingle fork. Starting at the top of the roof and working down, the shingle fork is used to tear off the old shingles.

If you have another type of roofing, the process looks a little different. For example, a metal roof is removed using a pry bar or drill to loosen the panels. Next, the ridge cap and fasteners for each meeting are removed. Moving from one edge of the roof to another, the process is repeated until all panels are removed.

roofer removing old asphalt roof shingles
Credit: Canva

Step 2: Inspecting the Roof Decking

Once the old roof is removed, the contractor will examine the entire roof deck. This component of your roof provides a base and structural support for the shingles and other roofing materials. They'll be looking for the following:

  • Damage to the sheathing
  • Moist areas
  • Mildew and rot

Essentially, the contractor will evaluate whether any areas need extensive repairs before installing the new roof and if you need new decking.

close-up of bare roof decking
Credit: Canva

Step 3: Examining the Flashing

After removing the old roofing material, the contractor should inspect the flashing to determine if it should be replaced. If it's in good shape, it can stay in place. If worn out, new flashing will be installed in the following areas to prevent water infiltration:

  • Chimney
  • Valleys
  • Vents

All joints in your roof should have flashing installed to prevent water seepage. If you have any other roof penetrations, like skylights or dormers, flashing should be installed around those.

hand moving chimney flashing
Credit: Canva

Step 4: Installing the Drip Edge

Installation of a drip edge is critical to divert water from your home and into the gutter. Depending on where it's located on your roof, it may be installed before or after other components.

The drip edge is installed before the underlayment if it's located on the lower portion of your roof. Installation occurs after the underlayment is down for the drip edge on the side of your roof.

drip edge installation on a roof
Credit: Canva

Step 5: Laying Down Underlayment

Underlayment is critical to the integrity of your roof system. It's a felt paper that protects the framing and sheathing from water and rot by shedding water. There are multiple components to the process of installing underlayment — here's what to expect:

  • Ensuring the drip edge is properly placed: Underlayment goes above or below the drip edge, depending on where on your roof it's located.
  • Fastening the underlayment: The first row should start at the roof's edge and get fastened with cap nails.
  • Overlapping underlayment: After the first row of underlayment is placed, subsequent rows get placed on top, overlapping the previous row by about 6 inches to ensure protection along the seams.
  • Placing the final row of underlayment: The last row gets placed along the roof's ridge. It should drop down and cover the top edge of the underlayment on each side of the roof.
  • Securing the final drip edge: Once the underlayment has been installed and fastened, the drip edge will need to be installed overtop along the sides of the roof to prevent water from going underneath the underlayment.

roofers installing underlayment on a roof
Credit: Canva

Step 6: Installing the New Roofing Material

No matter which shingle roof you're installing, the roofers will work from the bottom of your roof going upwards. If you opt for asphalt shingles, you'll also see them get nailed through the tar strip. This prevents exposed nails from being visible once all the shingles are installed.

The panels should be installed with fasteners along the ridges for metal roofs. If the fasteners are placed along the flat part of the panel, it could cause water to pool and compromise the fasteners.

roofers installing asphalt shingles on a roof
Credit: Canva

Step 7: Debris Collection

Any reputable roofing company should clean up well after itself. In addition to placing all old roofing materials into a dumpster, its team should look for stray nails and other debris that fell on your grass and landscaping, etc.

debris piled up in a dumpster
Credit: Canva

Step 8: Final Inspection

The roofing team's leader, post-installation, should perform a final roof inspection. This will ensure that everything has been installed properly.

The contractor should also double-check that none of the materials are defective and provide you with photos of your new roof.

roofer performing a roof inspection
Credit: Canva

Can You DIY a Roofing Installation?

While the short answer is yes, you can DIY a roofing installation, we don't recommend it. Here's why — it's a massive undertaking, can be dangerous, and mistakes can have big consequences.

If you don't know what you're doing, taking on a roof installation can be a huge job. While the pros can finish the task in a day or two, DIYing the project will take longer. Your time is valuable, so the cost offset is likely not worth it.

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Additionally, professional roofing contractors have the proper safety training and equipment required for roof work. The cost of safety ropes, large ladders, and personal protective gear can add a hefty sum to your DIY bill. Therefore, hiring a roofing professional will eliminate the possibility of an accident and prevent you from buying or renting all the needed equipment.

Lastly, a reputable contractor will be licensed, bonded, and insured. This means that if anything happens to your home during the roof replacement, you won't be held liable, and you and your home will be protected.

DIY Roofing Installation

If you're set on doing a DIY roof installation, you must ensure you have all the tools and materials you'll need on hand. You'll also need a dumpster to easily dispose of the old roofing materials.

  • Chalk line
  • Circular saw
  • Compressor and hose
  • Extension ladder
  • Harness
  • Roofing nailer
  • Stapler
  • Utility knife
  • Work gloves
  • Drip edge
  • Flashing
  • Hook blades
  • Ice barrier
  • Roofing felt
  • Roofing nails
  • Sealant
  • Shingles
  • Staples

Before you start your roof replacement, you'll need to check if a permit is required. If it is, ensure you have obtained it before proceeding with any work. You should remember that roofing is dangerous work. Roofing contractors are used to haul heavy loads up and down ladders, traversing across sloped roofs, and operating heavy-duty tools. You'll need to be in good shape and fairly dexterous to complete a roofing job independently.

While pros can install a roof in relatively little time, doing it yourself can take days or, in extreme cases, weeks. You should also consider that your homeowner's insurance may only cover issues with your roof if installed by a professional.

Hiring a Professional Roofer

Your roof protects your home, so choosing someone you trust to do a good job is important. Finding a good contractor can take time, but it's worth the investment. To best research potential contractors before you hire them for the job, you should do the following:

  • Analyze experience, insurance, licensing, and qualifications: State and local governments have a database of contractor licenses available to search for free.
  • Pay attention to reputation: Read real customer testimonials and ask for references — it's a red flag if a contractor is unwilling to provide these things.
  • Gather at least three estimates from local roofers. Call a few roofing companies and schedule an appointment to get a quote.
  • Compare the quotes: The quotes should be fair and comparable in price.
  • Schedule an appointment: Once you've selected a contractor, schedule an appointment for a final consultation and set a date for installation.

How To Know You Need a New Roof

If you're unsure if you need a new roof, you can look for some of these indications before you call a roofing company.

  • Your roof is 15 years or older
  • Shingles are missing
  • There's a buildup of moss or mildew
  • Leaks are present in your home
  • Shrinking, curling, or otherwise disfigured shingles

If you think you may need a new roof, you should contact a roofing professional. Waiting to replace your roof can cause expensive issues, and in this video, Danny Lipford goes over why you shouldn't put it off:

Roofing Installation Information

How Does Installing a New Roof Save You Money?

If you've gotten some roofing quotes from local contractors, you may be experiencing a bit of sticker shock. There are no doubts about it — a new roof is expensive. While installing a new roof is a large investment up-front, it can save you money in the long term. Here's how:

  • Energy efficiency: Installing a new roof is a good time to upgrade your home's energy efficiency. You can install better insulation, improve ventilation, and opt for shingles that deter heat, increasing energy efficiency.
  • More moisture protection: New shingles and roof underlayment offer better moisture protection. This will help ensure less potential water damage to the sheathing of your roof and save you money on costly repairs.
  • Save on insurance: An old roof is a liability. Replacing your roof brings it up to the current building code and provides better performance in extreme weather, saving you money on insurance.
  • Tax credit: Certain ENERGY STAR-certified roofing products offer an available tax credit. However, you may need to consult an accountant to navigate the specific savings opportunities.

What Is Our Recommendation on Roofing Installation?

Getting a new roof is a long-term investment in the well-being of your home. We recommend that you hire a professional to help you. While finding an experienced professional can take time, hiring someone qualified for the job is important.

We know the options can be overwhelming, so we've vetted roofing contractors in your area to help you start the process. Search local roofing professionals in your region by inputting your zip code below.

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FAQs About the Roofing Installation Process

What Is the Typical Duration of a Roof Installation?

Generally, the roof of a 3,000 square feet or less home takes about a day to replace. It can take three to five days if there are particular challenges or setbacks.

What Is the Best Time of Year To Install a New Roof?

The best time to replace your roof is during fall. Weather is generally more consistent, and temperatures are ideal for outdoor work.

What Are the Most Common Roofing Materials?

The most common roofing material is asphalt. However, metal and wood shingles and shake roofs are also popular materials.

Do I Need To Be Home During the Roof Installation Process?

You don’t need to be home during the installation of your new roof. But you may want to be there to ensure things go smoothly or ask questions about the process.


Meet the Contributors

Danny Lipford


Joe Truini


Jodi Marks

Jodi Marks


Elisabeth Beauchamp

Elisabeth Beauchamp

Staff Writer

Alora Bopray

Alora Bopray

Staff Writer

Sam Wasson

Sam Wasson

Staff Writer

Alexis Curls

Alexis Curls

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Amy DeYoung

Amy DeYoung


Sean Donnelly

Sean Donnelly


Sarah Horvath

Sarah Horvath


Jonathon Jachura

Jonathon Jachura


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Coty Perry

Coty Perry


Dan Simms

Dan Simms


Dani Straughan

Dani Straughan