Unbelievably Common Roofing Mistakes & How To Avoid Them

June 2nd, 2020 BY First American Roofing

When it comes to roofing replacement and repair, a lot of people think they’re doing what’s best, but really they’re cutting corners. When you cut corners, you make mistakes, and you aren’t going to get the best result.

Common Roofing Mistakes

Working in the industry for so many years, we’ve seen it all. DIY homeowners often try to tackle jobs beyond their expertise—especially when it comes to the roof. Roofing jobs are hard and require at least a bit of working knowledge, and a handy crew to get it done right. When or if you ever tackle a DIY roofing job—keep in mind these common roofing mistakes and how to avoid them.

1. Doing It Yourself

There are a lot of things you can do around your home that are incredibly DIY-friendly. Re-doing your own roof, however, is not one of those things—for a number of reasons. First, it’s not safe unless you know what you are doing and have the proper safety equipment.

The last thing you need, aside from installing shingles wrong, is to get injured while doing it. Always hire a professional when it comes to anything related to your roof.

Avoid this mistake by hiring a reputable, professional roofing contractor like First American Roofing.

Man on roof diy nailing on new shingles as a common roofing mistake

2. Installing Your Starter Shingles Wrong

One of the most important parts of installing shingles is getting the starter shingles installed correctly. This sets the precedence for how the rest of the shingles will be installed. If you get this part wrong, the entire roof can be out of alignment.

Using a chalk line tool can help to install your started shingles in a straight line. The started shingles go along the eaves of the roof, and should be flush with the underlayment to ensure water does not seep in and leak into the attic.

Avoid this mistake by watching videos and thoroughly reading through manufacturing installation instructions.

Roofers installing shingles on roof using chalk lines for correct installation, not making common roofing mistakes

3. Failing to Align Shingles Correctly

In addition to poorly installing your starter shingles, inexperienced DIYers might also install their shingles crooked or not layered properly. Your shingles must be installed in a way that they overlap and nail through the shingles below them, and also stay in a straight line. 

The manufacturer specifications may indicate a side or spot to start laying each row of shingles. If it’s the left edge, then you’ll start there, working your way in, and will have to cut your shingles to the right size, if needed.

Avoid this mistake by utilizing chalk line tools and taking your time—don’t rush to get the shingles placed because that might just cause you big problems down the road.

4. Improper Use of Roofing Nails

It’s very important to use the correct type of nail and nailing technique for the job at hand. Using nails that are too small will not hold well, and you might have problems with the wind blowing up your shingles as they’re not held down.

It’s also vital to drive the proper roofing nails into the nail strip on your shingles so that they both overlap the shingle row beneath, and also go through both layers to ensure a tight fit. Any roofing nails that are too short or thin will not adequately hold your new shingles. Each manufacturer of shingles should indicate which roofing nails to use, and how often to nail (every few inches to feet) to ensure those shingles in particular stay in place.

Avoid this mistake by reading thoroughly the manufacturer’s suggestions for which size and type of nails to use on the shingles or other roofing material. Also, be sure to get yourself a high quality nail gun that will make a tight seal and make the job go faster with less manual labor.

A diy roofer making common roofing mistakes by using hammer to nail shingles

5. Failing to Install Flashing Correctly

In order to ensure water cannot get behind your shingles and leak into the house, it is vital to install flashing around valleys, vents, skylights, or chimneys. There are a lot of different pieces that go into proper roofing installation of these items, but if you just stick them on haphazardly you could be asking for big problems down the road.

A lot of new homeowners don’t know that there is a difference between different types of flashing and how they should be installed, but you do need to understand this if you’re going to install your own roof. Step flashing will be installed along the points where your roof meets a wall or dormer window, for example. Valley flashing goes in the valleys or corners of the roof. And other basic flashing goes around skylights, vents, chimneys, etc.

Avoid this mistake by taking your time, reviewing the instructions, and watching how-to videos on installing flashing. Also, note all the areas that will need flashing before you begin, and check those off so you don’t miss a thing.

Installing flashing over roof felt on a new roof

6. Hiring a Friend or Family Member to Do the Job

Everyone knows a guy who knows a guy or has a brother or cousin who is a great handyman. But, there are a lot of reasons why you may not want to hire them to work on your roof.

Avoid this mistake by ensuring your friends, family, or hired team are well equipped to handle such a job. Also, make sure you have liability insurance!

friend helping with roofing as a common roofing mistake

7. Lack of Safety Protocols and Equipment

Roofing is one of the most dangerous jobs—with thousands of fall injuries and hundreds of fatal falls happening each year. This is why safety equipment is a must when doing any sort of work up on a roof. Helmets, safety harnesses, gripping shoes, and safety gloves must be worn to ensure the safety of you and anyone else working on the roof. Failing to do so can end up in severe injury or even death. Don’t make this mistake!

Avoid this mistake by reading through our roofing safety best practices, and also purchase all of your safety equipment before you ever start the work. Double check your harness before stepping foot on that ladder.

8. Cutting Corners With Cheap Materials, Installation, or Both

In line with hiring cheaper work by DIYing your roof, or asking friends and family to help, cutting costs on materials may not actually be worth it in the end. Trying to save money on either end means you are spending more elsewhere, but without the combination of good materials and good service, you may not get the end result you hoped for.

Say you are saving a buck on materials, but then hire someone at an exponentially higher rate. This person isn’t familiar with that brand—or isn’t as skilled as other contractors—and you may end up with a very poor end result.

On the other end, saving money on installation but using high-quality materials can have the same effect. At First American Roofing we are a GAF Certified Contractor. We use certified materials every single day, so we get really accustomed to them, and know our products inside and out.

A contractor uses the same materials for many reasons—being well-acquainted with how to install them properly is the most important.

Avoid this mistake by hiring right the first time. Your certified contractors can take care of the rest.

cheap roofing materials

9. Not Getting a Manufacturer’s Warranty

Whether it’s poor installation, the age of your house, or severe weather, things happen that can diminish the integrity of your roof over time or damage it within minutes. Not having a reliable warranty on your shingles can make all the difference between having to pay for two roofs, or one.

As a GAF Master Elite Certified Contractor, we know the importance of having warranties on our products. In fact, we recommend GAF’s Lifetime Roofing System with a Golden Pledge Warranty. This is one of the industry’s very best warranties. Homeowners get lifetime coverage for material defects, and 25 years of workmanship coverage, backed by the nation’s largest shingle manufacturer.

Avoid this mistake by ensuring the products you purchase and install come with a great manufacturer’s warranty. When you think about owning your home for 20, 30, 40 years, or more, a lifetime warranty just makes sense. You will be so happy you went with products and contractors backed by such protection.

Building contractor putting the asphalt shingles on roofing with warranty

As always, when you are in need of roofing repair or replacement, we are more than happy to assist you. With our GAF Master Elite® Factory-Certified Contractor label and our highly professional team, you simply can’t find better. Call us today for a FREE estimate!