Finishing the Roof

There are many types of roofing material that you can use for your small house. The most common type, in the U.S. at least, is asphalt. Other types include wood shingles, cedar shakes, real slate, metal, fake slate, ceramic tile, thatch, clay tiles, and concrete. You will want to consider selecting roofing that best compliments your small house and stands up well to the weather elements.

By far and away my preference for roofing material is metal. A metal roof lasts longer than an asphalt roof, and when replaced can be recycled. Metal roofs are also lightweight, durable, and relatively easy to install. They no longer resemble the old metal barn roofs from days gone by. Metal roofing is now very stylish and high-tech with a choice of many colors.

Asphalt is the most widely used, low maintenance, and cost effective with a guarantee of about 20 years. I think the main reason asphalt is still used so much is because of the value. It is fairly low priced per 100 square feet and carries a reasonable guarantee and life span, as well as being readily available at just about any home improvement store.

Whatever material you choose there are a few projects to consider such as a wood stove or fireplace before finishing the roof of your small house. Reworking the framing in the roof and ceiling after the house is done can be painful and complicated (ie., expensive!). Planning now will save you headaches later.

I would advise that if you’re even remotely considering putting in a woodstove or fireplace in the future to DO IT NOW before the final roofing goes on and everything else gets closed up. You also have to take into consideration clearances of framing from the stovepipe and chimney.

flashing around a stove pipe
A simple schematic drawing of how a wood or pellet stove pipe should be framed and flashed.
Picture from England’s Stove Works, Inc.

The flashing around a stove pipe or chimney should be done with care and it is best done while the house is being built, not retroactively. I had intentions for my own house to put in a woodstove in a year or two after construction. I never got around to it because the price quote to install it later made me gasp. I’m so kicking myself for not putting in a basic stovepipe and cheap woodstove right from the beginning and then I could have always upgraded later.

Also, if you are considering solar panels of some kind to mount on the roof this will affect the kind of roofing material you can use since the rafters are the most secure place for mounting a solar panel. You can also opt to install photovoltaic shingles which are solar powered shingles embedded into the conventional asphalt shingle pattern. This saves hassles associated with installing a solar panel such as leak prevention and panel angling problems due to roof design to name a few.

Before choosing to finish the roof of your small house you want to know as much as you can about the future use of the building and possible renovations. These are considerations that are in addition to the basic physical characteristics that determine the type of roof you install. You will also want to consider the building code for your region and the environment that surrounds your small house.

Tarpaper is now up on the roof. Shingles next.