How to Replace a Sunroom Roof

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Some sunrooms are built with standard roofs, made from decking, shingles and felt paper. Other sunrooms are constructed with all-glass walls and ceilings. Replacing the roof of your sunroom will depend greatly on the type of roof that your sunroom has. To replace a standard roof with shingles, felt paper and decking, you will need to tear down the roof to the decking and replace what is rotten. If your sunroom has a glass roof, you will need to replace the sealant around the windows.

Things You'll Need

  • Tarps
  • Duct tape
  • Trash bin
  • Shovel
  • Crow bar
  • Plywood decking
  • Measuring tape
  • Circular saw
  • 10d and 4d roofing nails
  • Hammer
  • Drip edge
  • Felt paper
  • Utility knife
  • Vertical flashing
  • Shingles
  • Silicone sealer
  • Caulk gun
  • Leaning-style ladder
  • Free-standing ladder

Tearing Down a Shingled Roof

  • Cover all the windows with heavy-duty tarps to protect them. Tape the tarps to the top of the windows.

  • Place a large trash bin on the lawn beside the area where you'll be working. Move the bin as you switch positions on the roof.

  • Tear off the shingles on the roof with a shovel. Throw the shingles over the edge of the roof and into the trash bin.

  • Tear off the rows of felt paper and flashing and throw this into the trash bin.

  • Inspect the decking. Carefully test areas that look rotten with your hands. Do not attempt to stand on a potentially rotten area of the decking. Identify panels of decking that have soft spots, water damage and dry rot. Pry these damaged panels up with a crow bar and throw them into the trash bin.

Replacing Decking

  • Count the pieces of decking that you removed from the roof. Purchase as many pieces as you removed, plus a few extra in case you make mistakes. Plywood decking is usually sold and installed in 4-by-8-foot sheets. The sheets of decking you purchase should be as thick as the original decking on the roof.

  • Put the replacement decking in the holes on the roof where the old decking used to be. If the pieces of decking you removed were not full-sized, you will need to cut down the decking with a circular saw. Measure the holes where the decking will be installed, and use a circular saw to cut the decking to that size minus 1/8 inch on each side. The decking should be 1/8 inch smaller than the hole it will be filling because the wood will need room to expand in times of high moisture.

  • Nail the new decking into place. Use 10d nails to nail the decking into the rafters below. The nails should be spaced 6 inches apart along the edges of each panel of decking, and 12 inches apart through the middle of the decking.

  • Nail down the new drip edge at the bottom of each slope on the roof. Use 4d nails spaced every 10 inches. Overlap each additional piece of drip edge with the previous piece by 1 inch.

  • Attach a row of vertical wall flashing to the roof where the sunroom roof meets the rest of the house. Use 4d nails to nail the flashing down, with one nail at the top of the flashing and one at the bottom. Each additional piece of flashing should overlap the previous piece of flashing by 2 inches.

  • Roll felt paper over the roof, starting from one end and moving to the other. Use a utility knife to cut the felt paper when it reaches the end of each row. Cover the entire roof with rows of felt paper. Each new row should overlap the previous row by about 4 inches, or however many inches your building code specifies.

  • Nail drip edge to the edges of the roof that form a 90-degree angle with the wall beneath it. Use 4d nails spaced every 10 inches. Overlap each additional piece of drip edge with the previous piece by 1 inch.

Replacing Shingles

  • Nail down the row of starter shingles at the bottom of the slope. The starter strip should overlap with the edge of the roof by 1/2 inch. Use 4d nails. Each panel of shingles should have a nail in the left-hand side, a nail on the right and two nails through the center.

  • Nail down the first course of shingles directly over the top of the starter strip. Use the same method to nail down each panel of shingles as used with the starter shingles.

  • Nail down the second course of shingles to overlap with the top of the first course of shingles. Stagger the placement of the shingles, like bricks in a wall. Shingle both sides of the roof in this way.

  • Nail the ridge caps over the ridge. Use 4d nails. Each ridge cap should overlap with the previous ridge cap by 2 or 3 inches.

Resealing a Glass Roof

  • Inspect the silicone sealer around the edges of each window at the point where the leak is taking place. Look for places where the sealer has become brittle and cracked over time.

  • Use a utility knife to cut out and scrape out the old pieces of silicone sealer.

  • Clear out any debris from the channel where the new sealer will be applied. Use a rag or a vacuum hose to clean out the space.

  • Load the silicone sealer into the caulking gun.

  • Cut off the tip of the sealer with a pair of scissors. The hole in the tip of the sealer should be slightly smaller than the width of the channels where the sealer will be applied.

  • Reseal all areas where you cleaned out the old sealer. Run your finger over the new channel of sealer to make the top of the sealer smooth.

Tips & Warnings

  • When resealing the windows on your sunroom, you may be able to get away with resealing the exterior areas that you can reach from a ladder leaned against the side of the sunroom. It will help to reseal the interior areas as well. If your sunroom is still leaking, you will need to remove the nearby panes of glass to reach the damaged areas. Start by using the utility knife to cut off the exterior and interior seal around a pane of glass on the edge of the sunroom roof. You should be able to reach all edges of this glass from a ladder leaned against the sunroom. Remove that pane of glass, then place a freestanding ladder inside the sunroom with your head poking up out of the cavity where you removed the pane of glass. Remove the next pane of glass in the row, and continue in a straight line removing panes of glass across the roof until you've reached the leaky area. Remove the bad seal around the leaking area as instructed, then reseal the pane as instructed. Once the leaking area has been repaired, reinstall and reseal each pane of glass in reverse order of removal. Reinstall each pane by first placing the pane of glass back in position. Reseal the edges along the exterior and interior seams. Do this for each pane of glass until all panes are back in place and the roof is repaired.
  • If you purchased a prefabricated sunroom, it may be protected under warranty. Check with the manufacturer for details.
  • Photo Credit ULTRA F/Photodisc/Getty Images
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