Roofing Contractors  

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roofers installing a tile roof Roofers install and repair roofs made of tar, asphalt, gravel, rubber, thermoplastic, metal, shingles, tiles, or a combination of these materials.  They may work on all types of roofs or specialize in a certain kind.  Some roofers specialize in low-slope roofs which rise four inches or less per horizontal foot and are commonly found on commercial, industrial, and apartment buildings.  Others specialize in steep-slope roofs which rise more than four inches per horizontal foot and are found on most residential homes.

On low-slope roofs, workers install a layer of insulation and then a tar-like substance called molten bitumen.  The bitumen is covered with overlapping layers of roofing felt which seals the seams and makes them waterproof.  These layers are repeated until the desired number is achieved, and a glaze or layer of gravel is added to the top.  Some low-slope roofs are made with waterproof rubber or thermoplastic compounds which are rolled over the roof's insulation.

Residential steep-slope roofs are most often covered with shingles.  To apply shingles, roofers must lay, cut, and tack three foot strips of roofing felt and then nail overlapping rows of shingles on top.  Flashing-strips of metal or shingles are used to make joints watertight wherever shingles meet a chimney or a vent pipe, or where they meet at an angle.

Roofing work is strenuous, and roofers do a lot of heavy lifting, climbing, bending, and kneeling outdoors in all kinds of weather, except when it rains or is very cold.  Many work overtime in the summer to compensate for work not performed in the winter months.  Roofers must take safety precautions to prevent falls or burns from hot bitumen.  They must not be afraid of heights, and they should be in good physical condition and have good balance.

Most roofers learn skills on the job but some may complete three year apprenticeships offered by local union-management committees.  Apprenticeship programs include at least 2,000 hours of paid, on-the-job training per year and a minimum of 144 hours of classroom instruction in tools, arithmetic, safety, and more.  Roofers may advance to become supervisors or estimators, or they may become independent contractors.

Employment of roofers is expected to grow slower than the national average.  For more information about roofing work and apprenticeships, please visit the National Roofing Contractors Association website or the United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers, and Allied Workers website.

Roofing Contractors in each State and the District of Columbia


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About Roofers' Job Responsibilities, Educational Requirements, and Working Conditions