Roof repair technologies

Here is the latest installment in the “technology” posts here in the EE forum. I got a leak in the roof of my shed and I have no idea how to fix it. Here is the whole sordid story:

I decide to hang the bikes from the wood ceiling of my home built shed to make a little room. It’s about 10x8 wooden shed that came with the house. It has this really rough stuff (like sandpaper, but much more course and stiff) nailed over the wood on the weather facing side of the roof. I broke through it with the hook for the bike.

I tried putting this strip of stuff that came in a roll on the roof where I assume the hole is. I also notice a lot of moss growing on the roof. I take my flat shovel and push it off to keep things tidy. Big mistake. Everywhere I shoveled it leaks like a sieve. Worse the strip of roof repair stuff I got doesn’t really work in the cold (or maybe it just doesn’t work period). It slowed the water down, but it still leaks.

I go back to home depot and get this Henry’s stuff. I watch the video, buy a can of Henry’s, and a trough to apply it. This stuff is much better, but it seems like it would be more effective if I knew where the leak was. I am just applying it on the seem in the tar paper rough stuff about where the water is coming in at. I am still getting water, but it seems like less.

I suppose I could get the large economy can of Henry’s and smear it over the entire roof, but I wonder if there is a less ghetto way of making this repair.

Anyone ever patch a roof? Can I just slap a sheet of plywood on it and expect it to keep my stuff dry? We have all our pictures and memorabilia in the shed, so I would really like to keep it as dry as possible in there.

It sounds a lot like you have “roll roofing” on there, which is basically like a big roll of shingle.

I’m not sure where you want to put the plywood. On the outside, water will just get under it from the top and eventually find the hole. On the inside, it will come through the hole and eventually find the bottom.

It’s kind of hard to roof in the winter, beause the materials don’t like it (if I remember right, typical shingles have a strip of pseudo-adhesive on them where the next row of shingles overlaps, and that needs to be warm to adhere/seal correctly).

The shed is small enough that you could re-roof the whole thing in a few hours. You don’t need to replace the plywood that’s there, because it doesn’t bear any serious load.

Tear off all the current roofing/tar paper, re-paper it and then re-shingle (or, roll roofing) it. Start from the bottom, overlap each row by about 1/3, put the nails in the part that will be covered by the next row.

Even if you just want to repair it, you’ll need to know two things: Where exactly the leak is, and where above the leak water can get to the plywood underlayer.

Depending on how ghetto you want to get, you really need to get whatever you’re using over the hole, and under the material above the leak (so that water won’t have a chance to get under the patch from above). You could just put a piece of patching material over the hole, and then get a caulking gun and put Roof Sealant:

All around the entire patch, in theory sealing the hole off from the outside. It’ll look pretty stupid, though.

I’ll second dannimal’s suggestion to reroof the whole thing. If moisture is a concern over the winter, just patch it for now using a shingle or two and some silicone roof adhesive. When the weather is warm enough, shingle the whole thing. I don’t think you even need to go to the effort to remove the existing material–just shingle right over it.

Thanks danimal. I think what I have is that roof roll stuff. It’s such a small roof I think doing it all over is the right choice. I think shovelling the moss off the roof just comprimised the roof roll material that’s on there now. I was worried I had to rip off the entire roof and install it all over again. I am glad to hear it might just require tar paper and this roof roll stuff.

Tar paper and roof roll aren’t what the guys are recommending, Tim. You need actual shingles, at least you do if you want a good fix. Go with that cheap crap that’s on there now and you’ll just wind up with more leaks in a year or two. So measure the roof, head down to Home Depot and pick up a couple of sheets of plywood and shingles. You won’t need much to do a shed, although plywood is ridiculously high-priced these days. Then cut the wood to size, nail it down securely over what you’ve got on the shed roof already, and then put on the shingles. You should be able to do the whole job yourself in a couple of hours for no more than $250 or so.

If the pitch of your roof is not very steep, there is actually some rubber like tar paper you are supposed to use. Shingles look nice, but are not made for mild slopes (so says the guy who is fixing our shallow sloped roof on the back of our house).


Does he use a torch to put it on, Chet. That’s the kind of stuff on the roof of my house.

You are probably right, Brett, but I am not going to put shingles on the shed. The only reason the shed roof failed is because a) I screwed a hook through it and b) I shovled all the moss off it. We’ve been here 5 years and the shed was here before we were. Even if I only get another 5 years out of it with roof roll, it’s fine. I just want my camping and memoribilia stuff to stay dry.

Besides, as every married man with a lick of sense knows, you never want to make the shed roof look better than the house roof. That’s just an invitation for your wife to start complaining about the house roof! :)

I’m kind of hoping he had it fixed already, being a 12 year-old topic… :-)


You joined 12 minutes ago to have this particular thread closed? Fascinating.

My shed roof did fail earlier this year. I was reading back and someone warned me it would fail in a year or two. Well, it lasted 14 years baby!

I just tied a blue tarp on it and that ‘fixed’ it. I’m going to have to do some repairs one day. I’m willing to bet the tarp might take me all the way out to 20 years.

FYI, blue tarps are considered light duty. They are used extensively because they are cheap. You might want to spend a bit more for a better one.

Oh, thanks. Like buy a more expensive tarp? I hadn’t thought of it. I was thinking I would probably rip off the old roof and put more tarpaper like last time. That’s if the tarp fails or if I get around to fixing it proper.

I actually used this metal stuff for the chicken coop roof and it was super easy, but I’m not sure it will be dry doing it like I did the chicken coop roof and I need this shed to be dry because it’s got a bunch of crap in it I don’t want to get wet.

Meanwhile - our roof is not yet failing, but way too old to just sit here feeling smug about not needing a new roof.

In a land of kind-of midwest winter (harsh winters - meaning snow on the ground most of the time - are uncommon, but not unheard of), is there a time of year that would be best for getting quotes? Always pretty much gone the “replace it when it leaks” route, but the leverage there is obviously on the roofer’s side.