How to Copper a Roof

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Homeowners choose to cover a section of the roof or the entire roof with copper for the visual appeal. Copper ages from a bright, shiny hue to a naturally protective, desirable and sought after green patina. Copper roofs provide more than architectural detail. Copper offers a low-maintenance, fire-resistant, durable and lightweight roof covering. Copper roofs naturally fight moss growth and shed snow. Typically, the only drawback to copper roofing is the cost.

Things You'll Need

  • Plywood or 1-inch boards
  • Tape measure
  • Tar paper
  • Utility knife or shears
  • Power stapler
  • Copper staples
  • Weatherproof slip-sheet membrane
  • Copper roofing nails
  • Power shears
  • Hammer
  • Crimping tool
  • Copper nails
  • Examine the plywood roof decking for signs of rot. Replace the plywood decking with new plywood or use 1-inch tongue and groove boards nailed into the rafters to provide a solid base for the copper sheathing to lie.

  • Measure the roof or section of the roof you intend to cover with copper sheathing. Cut asphalt tar paper with a utility knife or shears to the same size as the area of roof you are covering. If you are covering the entire roof, align the tar paper to the peak of the roof and unroll it toward the lower edge of the roof.

  • Equip a power stapler with copper staples and staple the tar paper to the decking every 10 to 12 inches around the edges and throughout the field. Overlap the tar paper by 6 to 8 inches in large areas where a single roll does not cover the section.

  • Lay a weatherproof slip-sheet membrane over the tar paper running perpendicular to the tar paper. Make cuts as necessary with shears. Staple the slip-sheet membrane in place with copper staples. A slip-sheet membrane creates a protective barrier between the tar paper and the copper. It also acts to help with drainage and helps to shed water.

  • Lay the copper sheathing over the membrane with the edge of the copper hanging 3 to 4 inches over the edge of the roof. Insert copper roofing nails into the preformed holes in the copper sheathing and drive them through the membrane and tar paper into the decking with a hammer. Continue to lay the copper sheathing on the roof and nail in place with copper roofing nails until copper covers the entire roof or section of the roof. Make cuts to the copper sheathing as necessary with power shears. Some copper roofing manufacturers recommend overlapping the sheathing, while others have a snap lock design. Follow the manufacturer's directions when butting sheathing up against each other or overlapping it.

  • Grip the overhanging edge of the copper sheathing with a specialized crimping tool and bend it around the edge of the roof. Secure the copper sheathing to the underside of the overhanging roof edge with copper nails.

Tips & Warnings

  • Prevent a green patina from forming by applying linseed oil to the copper seasonally.
  • Wear eye protection and gloves when working with copper roofing materials.
  • Do not use nails or staples made of any other metal besides copper, as a galvanic reaction between dissimilar metals causes the metals to corrode and damage the nails, staples and copper sheathing.

References

  • "Roofs and Siding"; Time Life Editors; 1979
  • "Home Repair and Improvement"; Creative Homeowner Editors; 2006
  • Photo Credit Hemera Technologies/Photos.com/Getty Images
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