Wrapping up the Roof

So it took almost 3 weekends and a few work days in between, but this past Sunday we did it! My friends and I finished laying shingles on the east side of the roof not too long after lunch, and later in the afternoon we unrolled the ridge vent and nailed down the ridge pieces. By 5:15, it was official: the roof on the house was finished!


Above is standing on the roof of the garage, looking south.  The home across the street is really similar in size and scale to my bungalow, so many of the homes in this block are almost duplicates to the ones beside or across the street.

Notice how flat the shingles look? I was so thrilled to finally get to this point! It got a high of 65 the last day we worked, and the shingles were gluing themselves down as fast as we could nail them. The scaffold was really helpful on this project, it made getting on and off the roof faster, gave us a nice platform to stand on, and helped with getting the new shingles onto the roof faster.

I think we worked most efficiently with 3 people: one walked shingles from the back yard to the ladder; the 2nd person laid or threw the shingles onto the roof; the 3rd person, mostly me or Dave, was up on the roof with the nail gun, lining up each shingle and nailing it down.


The photo above shows the east side of the roof looking north. On the north end close to the ridge is the only penetration in the new roof, a white pvc pipe for the waste drain vent. The small 1 car garage is in the background on the right, we focused first on re-roofing the house and haven’t started the garage roof yet. It looks like the weather is going to cooperate this weekend, so Nick and I are starting Friday afternoon and planning to work all weekend. In scale, its only 1/4 the size of the house roof and much less steep; we’re hoping it will be quick and much easier.

At the end of the last post I mentioned what I discovered in the attic. Although the lighting is dim, what this photo shows are 3 individual leaded glass windows in the gable above the front entrance of the house!


No, I’m not kidding. Leaded glass. As in, should make the front of the home more dramatic and beautiful, not to mention provide daylight and natural venting into the attic. These will be uncovered before I am finished with the house, mark my words.

As Nicole Curtis says in the intro of every episode of Rehab Addict, “Why the hell would anyone cover that up?!”

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Roofing 101

Hire it done.

When that is not an option, call in your friends and hope the weather holds. And when it doesn’t, buy tarps.

Before I begin writing about this project, I do need to mention how grateful I am for everyone who has pitched in to help this past weekend. It is humbling to have friends eager to pick up a shovel and help me out for a day or two knowing its a messy and tiresome job, yet several did just that. Dave, Jim, Dennis, Kyle, Nick, Chet; my brother and sister have pitched in, and my mom has fed everyone lunch or dinner each day or evening – there is no way I could have taken on this crazy idea of tackling a roof without all of this help.

About two weeks ago, I looked at the extended weather forecast and decided it would be a nice chance to tackle the roof on the humble bungalow. I knew when I purchased it that the roof was in bad shape. In fact, the bank that had foreclosed on the previous owner required me to sign a document making sure I understood the meaning of “as-is,” with almost 3 pages describing that they were not responsible or aware of any issues with the roof. Yeah right. Even my insurance agent felt the same; he actually warned me that the insurance company would probably drop my coverage if the roof wasn’t replaced before winter. So these months as I’ve been working inside, I’ve kept in the back of my head that the roof needed replaced – and tried to budget time and money accordingly.

Well, not just replaced, but torn off, with sagging rafters repaired, and then all new decking before I can even lay shingles. Sounds like light work, no?

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Turns out there were 2 layers of asphalt shingles (well, actually about a layer and a half – so many shingles fly off each time the wind blows, I’m still in shock that I’ve never found a leak during a rainstorm), and then a layer of the original wood shake shingles. Shingle-eater shovels made quick work of the asphalt, while the claw end of a hammer was quick pulling off the shake one row at a time.

Beneath all of those layers, the skip sheathing (also called cedar breather or skip lath) was finally uncovered. Whereas a traditional shingle roof has solid boards or plywood sheathing underneath, wood shake was installed over 1 x 3 boards, each spaced a few inches apart running the length of the roof. The advice I got from contractors was to keep the skip boards in place, as they keep the rafters tied to one another, and to install new sheathing over them.


Unfortunately, in the hustle of making sure everyone had a shovel and no one was falling off (the 6/12 pitch is a little steep and took some getting used to), I forgot to take photos before or during the tear off. The photo above is not my roof, but looks a lot like what we found. (Except above shows a paper layer beneath the shake shingles – mine did not have that.)

From the ground, I could see that both sides of the roof had areas of sagging rafters. The east facing side was barely noticeable, and after shingles torn off was even less noticeable. So we went right to laying new sheathing and then paper over this portion. I should also mention here that I chose not to use traditional felt paper, but a synthetic version over the new roof deck – it’s thinner, lighter, and more like fabric. It’s designed to be more durable during the installation, in case the roof doesn’t get shingles right away. In fact, the product warranty is good even if exposed to rain and sunlight for 6 weeks before the shingles go down. It was about a 1/4 more expensive, but worth the peace of mind in case it rained during the roofing process (IF, ha!)

The west side was where the sagging was the most obvious – as in, my friend the contractor simply said, “whoa.” He was convinced I must have several broken rafters and was baffled to learn they were simply sagging that much. The sagging was in 2 separate areas, and I identified and marked 9 rafters on the north end of the house and 7 on the south that would need fixed to bring the roof deck flat again. I’ll detail that process in a follow-up post, including photos of the old rafters beside the new rafters. During that process, I found the neatest surprise in my attic – it amazes me that people cover up craftsmanship and beauty in the name of aluminum siding.

The roof isn’t finished yet – in fact, I haven’t even started shingling yet. But what was supposed to be an evening spent finishing the sheathing and paper on the west side was quickly rained out. Yes, we draped the exposed part of the roof in tarps and, yes, we got soaking wet.

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To Tub & Toilet

So the grouting is finished & sealed, 2 applications on the floor and 1 application on the shower walls. Now when the grout gets wet, the water runs across it in little beads. According to the bottle, it must be reapplied in 6 months, but then should last 20 years…? Sounds funny to me, but I’ll do it their way.

A large step forward was connecting the tub faucet and then attaching the mixer plate & handle. Pretty straightforward, except when trying to get the tub faucet to point downward. After screwing the faucet on and off about 20 times (and going through about half a roll of teflon tape) I finally got it to point down. Apparently there is a rule of thumb that the threaded pipe sticking out of the wall should be a very specific distance off the finish wall. But where is the fun in after the fact? I nearly cut my palm twisting it so hard, getting it to the right position, but I got it!

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The mixer plate and handle were pretty straightforward. The plate already had a seal attached to the back, so I simply had to line it up level and screw into place.

Then I decided to install the toilet! (I am probably the only person who is excited when work is over, knowing I get to go home and install a toilet…)

First thing was to line up the toilet flange and mark the holes where I would need to pre-drill. Turns out the floor tile is hard as nails. Even with a masonry bit, drilling directly into the face of these little hexagons was next to impossible. The bit would smoke and eventually turn red hot at the tip – wasn’t working. Because these tiles will never be visible, I used a hammer and nail-set to punch a hole or crack the tiles where the screws needed to be – this worked much better. Then I could screw the flange tight to the finish floor. I used 2″ stainless steel screws, and they fit in the countersunk holes just right.

I actually found quite a bit of discussion on plumbing & construction forums about whether the toilet flange is supposed to be affixed atop of the finish floor (as I did) or if it was meant to be attached before the tile so it would be flush with the finish floor. It sounds like it depends on different areas of the US as to which method is more popular among licensed plumbers. And I’m pretty sure I’ve seen both examples when replacing different toilets, and neither have leaked. Who knows.

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Above the flange is screwed into place (it only required 4 screws, but I used 6 just to make sure – this toilet is going no-where!). I have set the toilet anchor bolts into place and the wax seal is to the left, upside down in the plastic liner. Trying not to get my hands too dirty, I flipped the wax seal into place and peeled the plastic liner away. Then it was time to carefully lower the toilet onto the wax ring, trying to line up the anchor bolts with the corresponding holes in the toilet base.

(It was right about this time I figured I should sweep up the sawdust from the toilet – it has been sitting in one of the bedrooms where I’ve got my miter saw set-up so it got a little dusty.)

IMG_2241 BI never know exactly how tight to bolt down the base. I typically tighten the bolts evenly, making sure the toilet has no play and doesn’t rock at all on the floor. When the metal washers start to bend, I figure that is tight enough. I’m always worried about cracking the porcelain – I hear it can happen if you over tighten.

Attaching the tank is pretty straightforward. Set the rubber gasket on the underneath of the tank, and lower the tank onto the base. This model had 3 bolts. I made sure to tighten them evenly until I felt the gasket was evenly compressed. If the tank looked off-level, I simply tighten the opposite side to adjust.

IMG_2245 BI used a metal hack saw to cut off the tops of the anchor bolts, and then snapped on the plastic bolt covers. A simple braided water supply line, voila! I have a both a working tub and toilet tonight!IMG_2251 B

I’m still readying the dresser before I can set the sink into place. I’m using marine varnish, and it requires 6 coats to have a thick and water durable finish on top.

So what’s left before this bathroom and be a bath-done?

  • install window
  • tile, grout, and seal grout around window
  • 2nd coat of paint on walls
  • crown molding around ceiling
  • build & paint medicine cabinet
  • install light fixtures
  • fit door to frame
  • install door & window molding

Ok, maybe I’m not as close as I thought to finishing…

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