Most DIY projects are fun-and most of them don’t put your life in danger. When you hammer shelves into your garage or redo your kitchen’s flooring, you might experience a bruised thumb or a cut finger, but you don’t have to worry about anything worse.
Roofing is a little bit different. A DIY roofing project can make you feel accomplished, save you money, and ensure that your roof looks just the way you want it to. However, unlike other DIY projects, working on your roof can be dangerous unless you take the right precautions and use the right safety equipment.
Below, we’ll tell you a little bit more about how you can protect yourself before you start any basic roofing project. This blog gives you a good starting place, but make sure you thoroughly research best safety practices and understand roofing techniques before you get to work on your roof.
1. Dress for the Weather
If you plan to spend hours working on a project, you obviously need to wear comfortable clothes. However, when you work on a roof, you also need to wear clothes that will protect you from the elements.
If you’re working on your roof during the summer, you need to avoid heatstroke and sunburns. You should wear long sleeves to protect yourself from the sun, but make sure you choose lightweight, light-colored clothing. Wear sunscreen and drink water frequently.
If you’re working on your roof during the spring or fall, prepare for more frequent rain. Always check the weather report before you get on the roof. Wear a rain slicker and avoid cotton clothes, since cotton doesn’t dry as quickly as other fabrics.
If you live in Washington, you can expect to encounter more rain than snow during the winter. Still, if you work on your roof in the winter, prepare for slick conditions by wearing warmer clothing with a waterresistant outer layer. Always stay off the roof if it’s windy outside.
Regardless of the season, check the weather and do your best to work on your roof during sunny days. Since the Pacific Northwest experiences more rainy days than sunny ones, this is easier said than done. If you wear the appropriate clothing, you’ll increase your odds of staying safe regardless of the rain, but try to work on sunny days whenever possible.
No matter the weather, always wear gloves, safety glasses, and a hard hat as you work on your roof.
2. Invest in Sturdy Boots
Even if they have a solid tread, your old hiking boots won’t keep you safe on your roof. Instead of wearing old, worn-out shoes, invest in a high-quality pair of steel-toed boots. Many DIY roofing accidents occur because of slips that sturdy boots could have prevented.
Steel-toed boots give you a good grip on your roof, and they also protect your feet from scratches, cuts, or puncture wounds. If you live in Washington, wearing sturdy boots is particularly important, since you might be working in slick conditions more often than not. You should never wear sandals or open-toed shoes to work on your roof.
3. Use a High-Quality Safety Harness
Slips and falls cause the most roofing-related injuries and deaths. A safety harness won’t just keep you from injuring yourself-it could also save your life.
You should definitely wear a harness when you work on a steep roof, but harnesses are a good idea no matter what. Plus, in some states, you’re required by law to use a safety harness when you work on roofs that are higher than 10 feet.
If you want to make your safety harness even more useful, combine it with toeholds. Temporary toeholds won’t damage your roof in any way, and they help you maintain your grip while you work.
4. Buy an Extension Ladder
Leaning over a too-short ladder causes numerous falls every year as well. Your ladder needs to safely touch the roof so you don’t have to lean forward, which can topple the ladder. It should also extend slightly higher than the roof-you want to hold on to the edges while you climb down.
Once you have a sturdy extension ladder, make sure you use it properly to stay safe. Take the following steps:
- Set up your ladder on even ground. The ladder shouldn’t wobble at all once you step on it.
- Angle your ladder correctly. Place your ladder a quarter of its length away from the roof. For instance, if your ladder is 16 feet tall, place the bottom four feet away.
- Fasten the ladder securely to the roof.
- Consider adding roof brackets, which are also called roof jacks. Install the brackets and set a board between them to create a scaffolding that can keep you from falling if you slip.
An extension ladder, when used with the precautions listed above, will help you reach the roof and work comfortably.
Stay Safe While You Work
DIY roofing can be a great experience when you stay safe and protect yourself. These four steps give you a perfect starting point to safely repair or replace your roof, but make sure to carefully research the issue and get expert advice before you start your next project.