How to Install Roof Sheathing

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A strong roof is important to the structural integrity of a house. A sturdy base is a requirement for a durable and safe roof. Roof sheathing, also known as a roof deck, provides a stable foundation for the application of shingles. Roofers use sheets of plywood or sometimes 1-inch by 8-inch boards to create a flat area for support. Sheathing sits on the rafters, and nails secure it in place to create a strong substrate.

Things You'll Need

  • Ladder or scaffold
  • Safety harness
  • Galvanized roofing nails
  • Hammer
  • Nail gun
  • Circular saw
  • Hole saw
  • Gain access to the roof with a ladder or scaffold. Wear a safety harness tied to a stable chimney.

  • Lay plywood or planks, beginning along the lower edge of the roof, known as the eave. Position the sheathing so it extends past the side of the roof by 1/2 inch. Lay the sheathing with the long side horizontal to the eave.

  • Secure the planks or plywood in place with galvanized roofing nails. Place nails every eight to 10 inches through the plywood or planks into the rafters. Measure the plywood and mark the placement of the center of the rafter directly on your sheathing. Use a hammer or nail gun to drive nails through the sheathing into the rafters.

  • Lay the next piece of sheathing with a 1/8-inch gap from the previous piece and secure in place with galvanized roofing nails. A gap between pieces of sheathing allows for expansion during humid weather. Continue to work across the eave, then begin your second row above the first. Secure in place using the same method you employed for the first row. Work your way across the roof, then up toward the peak.

  • Measure and mark areas for cutting, including chimneys, vent stacks or skylights directly on the sheathing. Cut the sheathing with a circular saw or hole saw to accommodate the roof structures. Make cuts on the ground rather than on the roof itself.

Tips & Warnings

  • Wear a hardhat, safety glasses and gloves when installing sheathing.
  • Ask a helper to assist when installing roof sheathing.

References

  • "Roofs and Siding"; Time Life Editors; 1979
  • "Home Repair and Improvement"; Creative Homeowner Editors; 2006
  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images
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