Types of Roofers

Metal RoofingAt first blush, it would be easy to assume that all roofers are the same. To the uninitiated, the job description seems fairly straightforward. A roofer is someone who installs a roof. As it turns out, the answer isn’t that simple. There are as many types of roofers as there are types of roof. So what kind of roofer do you need? It depends on the project at hand.

Roof mechanics, or roofers, are specialized construction workers who concentrate on roof building and repair. Their skills are primarily focused on materials and techniques that create a waterproof and/or weatherproof surface to protect the building beneath, but also extend to the basic carpentry skills needed to build and repair the beams, rafters, trusses, and other structural elements that support the roof itself. It is physically demanding work that requires a significant amount of endurance and good hand-eye coordination.

Beyond these basic commonalities, the actual training and skill set of roofers can diverge significantly. There are four main types of roofers, and they fall into categories primarily divided by the materials they specialize in.

As the name might suggest, shinglers are roofers who specialize in shingles, tiles, shakes, and other nail-on roofing materials. These are useful for projects requiring roofs with a steep pitch of 5:12 or higher. Shingles are an extremely common and traditional method for roofing homes. Depending on the type of shingle or tile desired, a great variety of appearances and functions can be achieved. The price can vary depending on the specifics, but nearly all have the advantages of being long-lasting and easy to maintain and repair.

Metal roofers specialize in the use of metal panels as a roofing alternative. While not as popular an option to many, metal paneled roofing can provide a durable, weather-friendly and relatively inexpensive option for many homes.

Shingle Roofers“Flat” or Single-ply roofers specialize in a foam or single-ply system of roofing membranes, which can be sprayed on and left to set up. This provides a waterproof surface for flat-topped structures, as are often seen on schools or office buildings. Single-ply roofs offer quick and relatively clean installation, and are known for a consistency in quality. Single-ply roofing systems also have additional benefits in the area of energy efficiency, as lightly-colored reflective roofing surfaces can reduce the amount of heat a building absorbs.

“Hot” Roofers are those who work with tar-based products. Often called hot tar or built-up roofing, these roofs are created by placing down a “base sheet” to the prepared roof and then built-up through alternating layers of fiberglass materials and hot asphalt. Like flat roofing, this requires a flat surface and is primarily seen on commercial buildings. Though some may argue this to be a messier process, tar-based roofing has a number of advantages in durability and weatherproofing capabilities.

While each of these kinds of roofing systems requires specialized skills to install, it is not uncommon for your average roofer to learn multiple kinds of roofing to broaden their capabilities.