Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Last Roof

 I haven't done all that much roofing, five maybe. But this I can call my last.
 At 63 I'm already too old to be working on a roof. My brother, at 56, says the same thing. We agree, at least: no more.
 That said, we thought we'd do the kitchen roof one last time. If this one - a dimensional shingle with at least a 25 year life - I'll be nearly 90 anyway. If I'm living and need another roof, someone else is going to be doing it.
For my own information, we used Owens Corning Oak Ridge Shingles, Onyx Black color with a lifetime warranty. These are the same "dimensional" shingles used on the main house roof.

 Here's Bob cutting a final shingle of a row. We alternated placement every-other row, beginning one run on the north side of the house, the next on the south. That gives the shingles enough of a random look. Patterns repeat, of course, but they can't be easily seen.
 Initially we figured this would be a three day project because we expected to have to remove two existing layers of shingles. Not so. We put the current roof on in about 1988 and I thought we stripped it bare before doing the work; Bob thought we hadn't. We found out I was right. Therefore the existing roof could stay in place and the new shingles placed right on top of them. Removing a roof (or multiple roofs) is the main work. Then there's hauling of all the debris away. It was a task we were glad we could skip.
 Then, too, the weather seemed not to cooperate. The summer was far to hot. We cancelled the project the previous two weekends. Both the weather and other events got in the way. Bob found he had to work half a day on Friday (09/14/12) and we didn't get started until 1:30 pm. Just before we began there was a light shower. But as we were not removing a roof, it didn't matter. Soon it cleared and got cooler. Perfect weather to do roofing work.

 The shingles that were on the kitchen roof were gray and flat. The newer dimensional shingles are black.
 The roof that was already in place actually wasn't in bad shape. Why did we update it? Because of a major leak around the northern plumbing vent, mostly. I sealed it once and it began leaking again, staining the kitchen ceiling an ugly yellow in one spot. I used stain block paint (Kilz) and have not had further leaking but I figured the fix wasn't going to hold in the long term. Plus, we always planned to replace this roof in about 25 years and we wanted it to match the shingles on the main roof.

 Bob has a nail gun (see the orange hose) and we placed the compressor on the back porch. That saves lots of time over manual nailing.

 I'm dressed for job. Suspenders hold my old, "holey" jeans up. My t-shirt is one with a large hole in the back. It's rough working on a roof, hard on every joint. Even my toes hurt as they pressed downward into the end of my shoes. Last night's shower was a luxury though the water and soap caused every small cut to sting. Roofing must be a horrible profession unless one's body toughens up to the job. In the summer, the sun's heat must be unbearable.

 Here's a wider view of our work. We're replacing the lower roof which covers the kitchen and first floor bathroom. Just that size roof took nearly $700 worth of raw materials. I bought all the supplies in the spring before costs could go any higher.

 Bob's carrying up one of the final bundles of shingles. I can manage to get them from the garage (where we've had them in storage since May 28) to the porch but I cannot throw them on my shoulder yet alone get up the ladder with a full bundle. The best I can do is break a pack into thirds and carry that portion at a time.
 Last night we managed to finish the actual shingling. I took a hot shower, drank a beer, took an aspirin and was in bed by 9 pm. I didn't sleep, though. I hurt too much. I was still wide awake at 11:30 pm wondering how I'd ever get comfortable. I did ... eventually.
 Today we returned the unused supplies to Lowe's and bought roofing sealer in tubes to seal where the top row of shingles meet the house. Because the previous shingles were still in place - and didn't leak - the sealing job was more cosmetic than anything. Still, it will stop water from getting between the layers. Ice won't be able to heave them apart.
 So, job done. No more.

Added 09/16/12: A day later and the warm sun has sealed the shingles down already. It's been a pleasant day into the mid-70's (though it got down into the upper 40's last night) ... calm and sunny. Here's how the roof looks after a day of settling down. Compare the two roofs and you'll see that the shingles match perfectly.


  1. You and Bob set a goal earlier this year make this happen. What a golden memory of you two together - just leave it out there as an accomplishment to be proud - you did it! In those 'twilight years' - life events do have that Last Hurrah!

    Made me think of the quote, by CS Lewis, “You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.”

    May your next goal involve dusting off that wallet as you dream of others tackling any future, physically challenging projects! :)

  2. What a perfect way to retire the old ladder, huh, Bill? You’re right, the new roof is definitely better than the old one. I’m impressed that you and Bob were able to execute the renovation flawlessly. Way to go, Bill!

  3. You definitely did an impressive job with your last roof project! It looks neat! And I think it is a wise move that you decided to make this your last one. Roof jobs are quite dangerous. It would be best to let the professionals handle things like this. After all, they were trained to deal with this kind of stuff. [Lino Kosters]

  4. +You and Bob certainly did a great job fixing the roof! I think you should consider wearing safety equipment when working on the roof, though, since it’s all too easy to slip and fall from up there. All the same, it’s amazing how both of you just nailed the job! You really seem to be quite handy with these things.