What do Roofers do?

Roofers repair and install the roofs of buildings using a variety of materials, including asphalt, foam, tile and metal.

Duties

Roofers typically do the following:

  • Inspect problem roofs to determine the best way to repair them
  • Measure roof to calculate the quantities of materials needed
  • Replace damaged or rotting joists or plywood
  • Install vapor barriers or layers of insulation
  • Install asphalt, metal, foam, tile or other materials to make the roof watertight
  • Align roofing materials with edges of the roof
  • Cut roofing materials to fit around walls or vents
  • Cover exposed nail or screw heads with roofing cement or caulk to prevent leakage

Properly installed roofs keep water from leaking into buildings and damaging the interior, equipment, or furnishings. There are three basic types of roofs: low-slope, steep-slope, and sustainable. Roofers may specialize in the installation and replacement of one or more of these roof systems.

Low-slope. Low-slope roofs rise less than 3 inches per horizontal foot and are installed in layers. Low-slope roofs make up about two-thirds of all roofs, as most commercial, industrial, and apartment buildings use this type.

Many of today’s low-slope roofs are covered with a single-ply membrane of waterproof rubber or thermoplastic compound. Most previously installed low-slope roofs, however, use several layers of roofing materials or felt membranes stuck together with hot bitumen (a tar-like substance).

Steep-slope. Steep-slope roofs rise more than 3 inches per horizontal foot and use asphalt shingles, which often cost less than other coverings. Steep-slope roofs make up most of the remaining roofs, as most single-family homes use this type.

Sustainable. A small but increasing number of buildings now have vegetative roofs that incorporate landscape materials into traditional roofing systems. A landscape roofing system typically begins with a single or multiple waterproof layers. After that layer is proven to be leak free, roofers put a root barrier over it, and, finally, layers of soil, in which vegetation is planted. Roofers must ensure that the roof is watertight and can endure the weight and water needs of the plants.

Solar is another sustainable roof that is becoming increasingly popular. These systems include solar reflective, which prevents the absorption of energy; solar thermal, which absorbs energy to heat water; and solar photovoltaic, which converts sunlight into electricity.