What is a Roofer?

Also known as: Residential Roofer, Industrial Roofer, Roofing Technician, Roof Mechanic.

A roofer is a professional who specializes in roof construction. Roofers monitor the entire process of roofing in residential as well as commercial construction. They analyze the construction plans and make sure that the roofing is done in strict accordance with the design. Roofers also determine the materials, substrates and supportive accessories to be used for roof installations. Even the specifications of the beams, trusses and rafters upon which roofs are installed are decided by roofers.

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What does a Roofer do?

Roofers work on new installations, as well as renovations and roof repair projects. As expected from the job title, roofers usually need to climb onto rooftops to work. They should therefore not be afraid of heights and should have good balance, as well as reasonable carpentry skills.

Roofers work on the installation, repair and renovation of new and existing roofs. If needed, roofers also replace old materials with new, solid structures. Roofers deal in many different materials including metal, rubber, polymer, asbestos and tile. All these have widespread applications in both the domestic and industrial sectors.

With commercial buildings, rubber roofs are generally preferred by most builders. Rubber roof installation is quite a complex process and cannot be managed without the assistance of experienced roofers. In some rubber roof renovation jobs, it is the responsibility of roofers to uniformly mop the entire flat area of the roof using a coat of warm melted tar. Installing rubber sheeting requires measuring and cutting around every protrusion such as vent pipes, sky lights and heating units.

For jobs that involve shingle, tile and metal roofing, roofers usually have to remove the existing materials before laying down a layer of fresh tar paper and installing new materials using either staples or nails. Often, roofers have to replace wood on the roof that is damaged due to weather exposure and rot. Plywood and cheaper-quality wood-made roofs undergo similar issues and need to be replaced from time to time.

Some of the most common jobs performed by roofers are:

  • Tile removal
  • Shingle installation
  • Rubber roof installation
  • Tar application
  • Job estimating

Of all the above tasks, one of the most important is job estimating. The responsibility of the roofing job estimator is to meet with clients and provide an estimate on the anticipated expenses involved in the installation of a new roof. The roofer's ability to formulate an accurate and realistic estimate is extremely important for both parties, because if the estimate is too high, the roofing company may lose the contract to a competitor who makes a lower bid. On the other hand, if the quote is too low, the roofing company may not be able to make a profit. This makes the role of estimator a vital one for roofing companies.

How to become a Roofer

People who want to take up roofing as a career will have to pursue a specialized apprentice training curriculum, which is a basic educational qualification required for the job. The apprentice training program is a combination of theoretical and practical courses covering various aspects of construction including quality management, material selection, roof installation techniques, roof installation skills, and diagnostic skills.

A fully licensed roofer who has successfully completed this type of program is well trained to handle different types and sizes of roofing projects in various settings. Residential roofers primarily specialize in shingle installation on homes. They may also carry out roof inspection services for hail, wind and water damage. Commercial roofers mostly work on bigger commercial and industrial buildings.

The roofer apprentice programs in most countries take three years to complete. The trainee has to complete a minimum of 4,000 hours of extensive training to get recognized and licensed to handle roofing-related jobs independently. The curriculum includes both on-the-job training and classroom instruction. In practical training sessions, trainees work on demo projects and their work is strictly supervised by a well-experienced roofer.

The essential skills that every roofer should have include the ability to read and understand plans, have average carpentry skills, good verbal skills, and the willingness to be part of a team. At times, the job will involve lifting and delivering heavy materials onto the tops of buildings and homes, so fitness and agility is important.

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