We have all seen a movie where the main character escapes to their roof for a relaxing evening of stargazing. But, how practical is this? Is sitting on the roof even safe? While it certainly looks like an enjoyable way to spend a few hours, it is important to realize that it may not be the wisest decision.
Will my roof break if I sit on it? It is not recommended to sit on your roof as it can be dangerous and potentially cause damage. Most modern roofs have the structural integrity to support a minimum weight of 20lbs per square foot. However, there are many potential hazards of sitting on your roof and the possibility of roof damage. While your roof is certainly designed to withstand many things, lounging is likely not one of them. Sitting on your roof could cause you personal injury, roof damage, or even structural damage to your home.
Although sitting on your roof is likely not a wise choice, there are a few exceptions when a rooftop escape may be feasible! Keep reading to learn more about the hazards of sitting on your roof as well as great alternatives for a relaxing escape.
How Much Weight Can a Roof Hold?
The first question that comes to mind when you are considering sitting on your roof is how much weight the roof can hold. Many traditional roofs are designed to hold a minimum of 20 pounds of weight per square foot.
Some roofs are designed to hold more weight. For instance, a roof that was designed with the intent of adding a rooftop deck should be able to support at least 55 pounds of weight per square foot.
These numbers may trick you into believing that your roof will not break if you sit on it. After all, a human weighs much less than these minimum requirements. The problem, however, lies in the distribution of the load.
The weight of a rooftop deck, or even a heavy snowstorm, is distributed evenly across several square feet. Because of this, there is not a significant impact on one area of the roof. However, if a human were to sit on the roof, the weight would be concentrated on one location. This can lead to disaster and serious damage.
You can learn more about how much weight a roof can hold here.
Hazards of Sitting on Your Roof
So, what are the specific hazards that you open yourself up to when you sit on your roof? While there are numerous ways that sitting on the roof may cause damage to yourself or your home, here are a few of the most prevalent concerns.
Potentially Serious Injury
Even professional roofers who work on top of roofs for a living are injured by accidents. In fact, a large majority of construction site accidents each year are caused by roofing accidents. Anytime you are on top of a roof, even with years of experience, you are risking a serious physical injury.
Sitting on the roof for enjoyment is simply not worth the risk of injuring yourself or others.
Damaging the Shingles
While it may not seem like a serious issue, damage to the shingles of your roof can lead to costly repairs. Anytime you are on your roof, you are putting excessive strain and pressure on the shingles. This unusual impact has the potential to remove shingles, leading to water leaks and further roof damage.
In extreme situations, or after multiple instances of this unusual impact, shingles may even become detached from your roof.
Significant Stress to One Area
As mentioned previously, anytime an individual is on top of a roof, they create significant stress to an area of the roof. While a roof is designed to handle weight and pressure that is distributed across the tresses, it is not designed for this concentrated force.
If your roof is in a state of disrepair or lacks structural integrity, this excessive stress could actually cause you to fall through the roof! This type of accident would not only create a potential for physical injury but would also force you to make emergency roof repairs.
Structural Damage to Your Home
Repeated and unusual stress on your roof will have a lasting impact. Not only could your shingles and roof receive damage but you could actually compromise the structural integrity of your home!
For these reasons, as well as many others, it is important to only sit or walk on your roof when it is absolutely necessary.
Alternatives to Sitting On the Roof
While sitting on your roof is not typically advised, there are other ways to enjoy the same type of relaxing escape from reality! Here are a few safer alternatives.
Add a Rooftop Deck
If you have a dream of enjoying your roof as an area of relaxation, it may be worthwhile to look into adding a deck to your roof! This process is one that must be overseen and implemented by a roofing professional. However, if your roof is able to support a deck, it can be a valuable addition to your living space.
You can read more about safely building a rooftop deck here.
Create a Private Outdoor Escape in Your Yard
Unfortunately, many roofs are simply not designed for any purpose other than protecting your home from the outdoors. While you can remodel your home to accommodate for a rooftop deck, it is often quite an investment.
Luckily, you can easily create a private, outdoor escape in your own backyard! Use landscaping elements, privacy shelters, and cozy outdoor furniture to create a pleasant space to enjoy when you would otherwise sit on your roof.
Tips for Safely Walking on Your Roof
There are times when you may find it necessary to walk on your roof. While this should be limited to emergency situations, there are a few ways to make sure you remain as safe as possible.
Of course, it is always best to contact a residential roofing company before attempting any sort of roofing inspection or repairs on your own.
Watch Where Your Are Walking
This one should go without saying but it is a mistake made by many. It is crucial that you carefully watch where you are walking when you are on top of your roof. This is especially true if you are inspecting for roof damage.
Things like dead leaves, twigs, water spots, or even warped shingles could cause you to trip and fall. It is also important to avoid any areas of the roof that appear to be different than others. Spots that look strange could have damage that you would not notice otherwise.
If possible, visually inspect your roof both from ground level and while standing on your ladder before climbing on top of the shingles.
Wear Appropriate Footwear
It is also important to wear the appropriate footwear when you have to walk on top of your roof. Stay away from any shoes that you can not secure on your feet. Never wear flipflops, sandals, Crocs, or other slip-on style shoes when you are working around your home.
You should also stay away from shoes that could damage the shingles. The best type of footwear to wear when you are going to be walking on your roof is a rubber-soled shoe that you can tightly secure.
Use Safety Gear
If possible, use safety gear when you are walking on your roof. It is always wise to use a safety harness system for a home that has multiple stories. It is also important to follow ladder safety guidelines such as securing your ladder on a level piece of ground, having another person at the bottom of the ladder, and always laying the ladder on the ground when you are not present.
Using the proper gear and safety measures will go a long way in preventing a serious injury or even death caused by walking on the roof.
Only Walk on Your Roof If Necessary
As mentioned previously, only walk on your roof if it is absolutely necessary. In most cases, it is wise to wait until a professional roofing company can repair or inspect your roof using the proper equipment and protocol.
While sitting on the roof may seem like a nice way to pass the time, it is not worth the many safety risks. In addition to the personal injury that is highly likely when climbing on your roof, the structural damage that you can cause may result in expensive repairs.
If you have dreams of sitting on your roof, consider calling a professional contractor to install a safe rooftop deck instead.
Learn more about roofing repair and maintenance here.
Will a missing shingle cause my roof to leak? If you recently discovered that a shingle is missing from your roof, you may be concerned about the potential of a serious roof leak! The possibility of a roof leak really depends on the location of the missing shingle. If the missing shingle is located over a seam, a leak is imminent. However, if the shingle is missing from the middle of the roof, the possibility of a water leak decreases greatly.
If you notice a missing shingle, it is wise to contact a roofing company to schedule a roof inspection. Doing so will help to prevent more serious roofing damage in the future.