How to Build a Roof

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Adding an addition or building a garage requires some way to cover your dwelling. When in the design phase, you'll choose how you want to frame and build your roof so that you'll have a presentable surface to view from the curb, sometimes called "curb appeal," and have usable, easy-to-roof space.

  • Determine a design suitable for your dwelling or application. The range of roof types and coverings are many. First determine a pitch, and then decide what material suits that type of pitch.

  • Lay the top plate. The top plate is the horizontal piece of material that rounds the top of your wall studs. This gives the rest of the roof something to nail to.

  • Set a ridge beam. This beam goes along the length of the frame and you set it by raising two uprights in the center of the ends of the dwelling. Set the ridge beam according to the pitch you decide upon during the design phase. A flat roof's ridge beam, for instance, runs parallel to and at the same height as the top plate.

  • Join the rafters to the top plate and ridge beam. Set each rafter at 16 inches on center (O.C.) and determine the size of the rafter by the pitch of the roof. A steeper pitched roof needs less material to hold the weight, and a lower pitched roof needs more.

  • Nail down the sheathing. This is sometimes chipboard, but in better construction you use plywood.

  • Put down the roofing underlayment which is usually tarpaper, especially for asphalt roofs. Most often builders nail this in place.

  • Apply the roofing material. Asphalt shingles are popular choices in some parts of the country. Other choices include ceramic, terracotta, cedar and composite materials.

Tips & Warnings

  • Be sure you design according to the climate of where your building sits, and check the snow load capacity as well.
  • You may opt to frame with roof trusses instead utilizing Step 4.

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