Fiddlers on the Roof
Posted by Exile on March 4, 2014
A tale of ‘high level’ activity.
The old roof on the shed had never impressed me. Made of wobbly plastic sheets held down by elongated screws, it cracked with age and moved about in the wind. It was a constant battle to keep water out and it leaked at every junction despite the fall of gradient. Capillary action is not to be underestimated. It had to go. My motorbike, Thumper, lives in the shed and I was fed up with having to cover him with tarpaulins and constantly wipe the damp of him. Hellfire, indoor areas should be dry..! Not only that, the roof extends over the woodpile. I was tired of buying dried wood only to have it get wet again. Something had to be done.
That something was an easy decision, albeit expensive, but you don’t get something for nothing. The roof would be replaced by a truly waterproof cover. Asphalt roofing. Guaranteed watertight.
The process is simple. Off with the old plastic roofing and cover the entire roof area with wooden plates. These plates measure 1220 x 2440 mm, are 7 mm thick and heavy as hell in a gentle breeze. Then, roll out the roofing, stick it down with cold tar and add nails under the overlap, which is again sealed with cold tar. Cover the edges of the roof construction with a fold over and nail it fast. Result: one lovely, black, watertight roof. Sounds easy. No it isn’t. At least, not when it’s blowing a bit and very cold.
I had enlisted the help of a good friend. We do all sorts for each other and even work together, on the odd occasion, redecorating and renovating peoples homes. He was happy to help, or so he said, so I got him up on the roof with me. Kneeling on solid plates, so we wouldn’t fall through the now brittle plastic roof, we began removing the three hundred screws that held it in place. It was surprisingly cold up there. And wet. And windy. We were soon shivering and our knees were knackered. We progressed, slowly, until the old roofing was gone and then adjourned for warmth and coffee.
Suitably revitalised we returned to the shed. I went up onto the roof, he handed the plates up to me. I wriggled and pulled them into place. With one third of the roof covered we both set about screwing them into place. It was still cold. and windy. But no longer wet.
We repeated the process until the roof was covered. Finally, with a solid flat surface beneath us we retired for a lunch break and the sun came out. We were looking forward to getting the asphalt down and would hopefully be done with it before sunset. We trimmed the ends off of the final plates to adjust for the length of the shed and broke out the tar. One has to spread this sticky black goop out with a trowel. It isn’t difficult but is time consuming and on worn out knees, frankly, it’s a pain. My mate worked away at this while I carried rolls of asphalt roofing material up the ladder.
The critical part is getting the first roll down. If that one goes down straight and flat without folds or bulges then everything else follows nicely. We took our time, we measured and checked everything twice. Allowing for the overlap and covering the edges of the roof, we got it right and then nailed the folded edges into place. The knackered knees really suffered now as we were working on gritty asphalt instead of nice flat boards. We nailed the trailing edge down, daubed more tar over the line of nails and rolled out the second roll of asphalt giving ourselves a ten centimeter overlap. This process was repeated six times and finally the roof was covered.
We then crawled down the ladder, cleared up all the mess and put the tools away.
By now, we were finished, not only with the job but also physically. Done in and dirty we went to wash up and discovered that the long haired and lovely one had prepared food and drink for us. Gratefully, we sat down at the table and reflected on the days work. The result is great. Everything fitted into place, the roof is solid and watertight and we agreed we are never going to do anything like that again.
Hopefully, I’ll never have to!