Six Questions To Ask Your Roofing Contractor When Considering A Residential Roof Deck

Have you thought about building a wood roof deck for added outdoor space? A roof deck can be as accommodating as a balcony, although your roof needs to be suitable for this purpose. A roofing contractor can help you prepare your rooftop for such a task by inspecting and repairing roof damage, as well as determining the load your roof can handle.

Before you begin the preparations of adding a rooftop deck to your home, ask your roofer the following crucial questions:

1. Can the Roof Support a Deck and Whatever It Will Be Used For?

Most residential roof decks are built as an extra space for dining or leisurely recreation. If your yard is too small to accommodate a patio, the roof deck might be something to consider. However, if you are planning on using the deck to store items such as a bicycle or other belongings that you don't have storage space for, your roof might not be able to handle the excess weight. Likewise, if you wish to install a rooftop hot tub, your roof might not have the load-bearing capacity to accommodate it.

Unless you are an experienced roofer, the logical way to know if your roof is suitable for decking is to hire a contractor. The roofing expert will determine if your roof will provide a secure surface for the construction and use of a deck. The contractor will also know if your roof can bear the weight of whatever you will use it for. Typically, your roof will need to sustain a weight of at least 55 pounds per square foot.

2. Is the Roof Damaged or in Need of Repair?

Ask your roofing contractor to inspect the roof thoroughly. If necessary, have the experts repair all damage before roof deck construction begins. Your contractor may look for water stains of the roof, as this is indicative of leakage. In such a case, the leak must be fixed.

Shingles may need to be removed to determine the location of the leak. The roofer may also check for cracked caulking, which is easily solved by re-caulking the area. Alternatively, the contractor may need to replace a cracked roof vent. As a preventative measure, the roofer will ensure all roofing materials are in good condition.

3. Is Waterproofing Necessary?

Most likely, your roofing contractor will say "Yes." If you have a flat roof, the roofer will ensure that a slope of one-quarter inch is in place for every 12 inches of roof space. This will allow proper water drainage.

Ask the roofer to suggest the best method for water drainage. This may be through the edge of the deck or with the use of a drain.

Additionally, the roofer may coat the wood deck with a liquid rubber barrier designed to repel water. It is best applied with an airless sprayer, a tool often used by roofers. The application should be followed up with a coating of sealant.

4. How Will the Deck Material Be Attached to the Roof?

This is accomplished by laying down boards of approximately 2x4 feet, spaced approximately 16 inches apart over the entire roof surface. The boards are known in roofer's terms as "sleepers." The sleepers are then nailed to the roof.

5. How High Should the Deck Guardrail Be?

For maximum safety, your rooftop guardrail should be at least 36 inches high. This is to prevent accidental falls, especially when children are present.

6. What Are the Maintenance Requirements of a Rooftop Deck?

Your roofing contractor may tell you that with proper routine maintenance, your roof deck should last upwards of 25-30 years. A deck that is not cared for will deteriorate rapidly. This presents a serious safety issue, as well as potential damage to the structure of your home.

You should enlist the services of roofing contractors for your roof deck maintenance needs. Your roofer will use extremely low pressure when preparing your rooftop deck for routine maintenance. This is done with a stripping solution to remove the previous wood stain.

After this process, a neutralizer will be applied to brighten the wood deck surface and to maintain proper pH balance. This will also help the new stain adhere to the wood. Before applying the new coat of stain, wood must be thoroughly dry. Typically, this is tested by the use of a tool known as a moisture meter.

Oil-based stain should be applied to help protect the wood surface from the ultraviolet rays of the sun, as well as from moisture. The oils will also prevent the stain from peeling.

A Concluding Thought before Constructing a Rooftop Deck

In conclusion, remember to check with your building department before making your plans. You may require a permit, and this will involve a fee.