Installing a Roof and Creating Prefabricated Root Cellars

MOTHER EARTH NEWS readers receive guidance on roof safety when installing a roof, and using a chest freezer as a root cellar.

| September/October 1987

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    If the pitch of your roof is greater than 8/12, safe scaffolding is essential.

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MOTHER's column gives MOTHER EARTH NEWs readers a chance to ask our experts about a variety of homesteading problems that are in need of a good answer.  

Installing a Roof

I was all ready to try my hand at installing a roof by replacing the deteriorating shingles on my house. Then it occurred to me: It's a long way down. I have to be able to stay on the dad-blamed roof while I'm shingling it. 

Good point.

If the pitch of your roof is greater than 8/12, safe scaffolding is essential when installing a roof. It needn't be elaborate or expensive, but a system that's both comfortable to work from and easy to move around will make the job less hair-raising. A method I recently used on the 12/12 roof of my two-story timber frame is to cradle platform brackets over 2 by 4 toeboards to provide a 10-inch horizontal working surface.

To start the system, shingle up the bottom couple of feet of the roof, then nail 24-inch lengths of galvanized hanger strap along the top edge of the upper row of shingles. Space the straps so you'll have three hangers for each 10- to 12-foot toeboard. Continue to shingle above the hangers as far as you can comfortably reach. Then attach the toeboards by nailing the first strap to the upper face and bottom edge of the board, and the second strap to the underside and bottom edge. (By alternating wrap directions, you'll reduce the chance of a very dangerous roll-out.)

The second part of the scaffold system provides the portable working platform. Homemade triangular brackets can be notched so that they slide over the top edge of a toeboard to cradle against the roof and create a flat surface large enough for a 2 by 10 plank. As you move up the roof, you can move the brackets and plank from toeboard to toeboard. When the job is complete, remove the boards by snipping off the exposed hanger straps.

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