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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Deconstructing with Care – How to Safely Remove a Flat Roof

Though there are numerous advantages of flat roofing, it can and will eventually fall into disrepair (either though leaks or eroding materials) and will need to be replaced. If you wish to replace a flat roof, you're first going to have to remove the old one, a task that isn't quite as simple as simply stripping it all away, in fact it could be argued that taking apart a flat roof is far more complicated (in many respects) than Flat Roof Construction. 

Though it might be a job with a certain degree of catharsis attached (who doesn't enjoy tearing up heavy fabric?), removing a flat roof is not a task that should be undertaken by just anyone. It's a job that requires a certain degree of methodical patience and dexterity, as well as a decent amount of experience in general construction work. As a result, if you are in any way unconvinced that you'll be able to complete the task without making a colossal mess of your roof and/or yourself, consider hiring in a professional roofing contractor. There are numerous online avenues you can search, as well as more local contractors such as Marcus Roofing, who should be able to offer you an incredibly competitive quote.

Getting Started
Before you begin, make sure that the job is safe; you are dealing with roofing after all, so a fall could prove damaging or even fatal. You're going to want to make sure first that the roof indeed actually needs replacing instead of simply just fixing. If the damp has set in to the extent that the roofing and supporting timbers have both begun to rot, a complete flat roof replacement will be necessary. If there are just a few damp patches on the felt though, you might only need to replace the cover.

Safety First
If you do decide a replacement roof is the only way to go, the first thing you'll need to do is hire a skip that you can fill with debris as you go. This will not only mean cutting down the work of disposing of the debris, but will provide a safer place to store the 'droppings' so that nobody trips over it and hurts themselves. Safe access is also incredibly important, so make sure your ladders are sturdy and can stand freely by themselves. Also, test the stability of the roof before you step foot on it. If you don't feel it will be able to support your weight, reinforce it with working boards as rotting timbers can be particularly dangerous, giving away completely without warning if enough pressure is put on them.

Now that you're all ready to crack on you'll want to start by removing the guttering. If the gutters are of the flimsy, plastic variety (as most are) then this shouldn't prove too difficult as they should simply un-clip and pull away with a little persuasion. Older guttering might need to be unscrewed though. If you plan on reusing the guttering when you've redone the roof, store it in a dry place. Next, remove any remaining guttering, fascia boards and chippings. These chipping will generally take the form of small stones, which you should be able to sweep up into sacks to be re-used later. Try not to fill up the sacks too much of course, as you don't want to be exerting too much weight on the roof.

Now it's time to remove the covering and the boards. Most flat roofs will be covered in an asphalt covered felt, which will have been applied in long stripes approximately 18 inches wide. Use a crowbar or spade to pry up the edges of the coverings and once you have a good grip, simply thrust forward to rip the material off the roof. It could take considerable force, especially if its decades old, but you should be quite comfortable doing it without any other tools. When the pieces come up, toss them into the skip and move on to the next piece, removing any nails as you go and repeating until the roof is clear. Whilst you're removing roof covering, remember to wear strong work gloves and safety goggles, as small particulates prove dangerous.

Once you've removed the boards, you'll have to take down the joists, which will most likely be made from timber. You will probably need something to pry them off (a crowbar or wrecking bar) but you should be able to remove them with a little not-so gentle persuasion. When the joists are down (make sure you save them if you intend on re-using them) detach any remaining nails and bits of felt, and remove the wooden wedges ('furring pieces') that have been (until now) holding the joints in place and giving the upper roof its required shape.

Now you're done! Of course you won't want to leave the roof completely bare, so remember to place a tarpaulin over the roof and weight it down with some bricks or heavy rocks. Then you should be ready to replace the roof with some new roofing materials!

About the author:
Jim Goldhorn (with a lot of help from his brother) removed his garages old roofing material last summer and replaced it with a brand new asphalt covering. Thus far it's been a complete success (fingers crossed).

2 Smart Readers SAID::

Janeane Davis said...

This is an interesting article. Before this I never gave a lot thought to how to remove and repair flat roof.

Franc said...

This is a detailed step by step guide for a safer deconstruction.

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A work-at-home-mom (WAHM) with  two  lovely kids and a loving husband.  Passionate in writing about  family, product reviews, and  other related articles.  A Mom, a Wife,  a Blogger/Writer, rolled into one.

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