How To Repair Rolled Roofing (We Have A Fix)

Benjamin Wright
by Benjamin Wright

Rolled roofing can be found on several roofing styles and can come in many forms. You can see rolled roofing under shingles on pitched roofs as well as on flat roofs. It is also becoming increasingly popular to use rolled roofing on pitched roofs without shingles.

Whatever type of rolled roofing you have; it is essential that you know how to repair rolled roofing when, and if, leaks and other forms of damage show up.

Cut away the damaged roofing, clean the area, and apply roofing mastic to the damaged patch. Replace the rolled roof material and apply a patch that is 12” larger than the damaged area. Patch the damaged area with roofing cement if there is a small tear or bubble in the rolled roofing.

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What is Rolled Roofing?

If you’re not a fan of the cost and intricacy involved in re-roofing one of your structures with traditional shingle-type materials, rolled roofing may be the solution for you. Rolled roofing, also known as MSR, comes in rolls and is a mineral-surface roofing material. It is less durable, thinner, and more cost effective than conventional asphalt shingles.

Rolled roofing is considered to be one the easiest and cheapest roofing materials on the market. It is also among very few types of roofs that the average homeowner can install easily on a DIY basis. Although it is an easy-to-install roofing material, it has a significantly low resale value when it’s used on homes. Therefore, it is best suited for unoccupied structures like garages, sheds, shops, barns, and the like.

Where to Use Rolled Roofing

Although you may be tempted, rolled roofing is not recommended for residences and any other occupied structures. Instead, it is ideal for functional buildings like shops, work sheds, garages, barns, kid’s treehouses, roofed exercise rooms, and other outbuildings that may be on your property.

Rolled roofing is also generally used on roofs with a low slope. A good candidate for rolled roofing is a roof that has a pitch that declines up to one inch for every 12 inches in a horizontal direction. However, for a roof with a 1:12 pitch, you’ll need to use a concealed nail fastening method. Otherwise, the safest minimum roof pitch for rolled roofing is two inches of decline vertically per 12 inches horizontally, or a 2:12 pitch.

Types of Rolled Roofing

Rolled roofing material comes in rolls of 100 feet and can be up to 36 inches wide. There are many different materials to choose from but nearly all of the options available contain at least some rubber.

Bitumen Roofing

Bitumen roofing is one of the most durable forms of rolled roofing ( also available in shingle form) available today. Unlike many of the others on this list, Bitumen is not made from rubber. Instead, this rolled roofing is made with asphalt. As a result, you get many of the same benefits and drawbacks that asphalt is known for.

TPO Roofing

If you are looking for the ultimate in affordability, TPO roofing is the best choice. Available in a wide variety of styles and colors, this single-ply rubberized roofing material is by far the most cost-effective option. Lasting up to 20 years, TPO roofing is often a first choice for commercial buildings.

EPDM Roofing

Another very affordable type of rolled roofing is EPDM. In fact, other apart from TPO, this is the most cost-effective solution that is available. While an EPDM roof can be installed easily and last up to 20 years, it is not resilient. EPDM roofing can also lower the resale value of any lived-in structure.

Rubber Roofing

Rubber roofing is the most common form of rolled roofing available today. Rubber roofing is made primarily from used tires and shares many of the same qualities. Rubber roofing is tough, cheap, and easy to install. Rubber roofing also comes in a variety of colors and styles.

Felt Underlayment

While this is not the same kind of rolled roofing as the others on the list (i.e. this is not a stand-alone solution designed for flat roofs) felt rolls that is applied underneath tiles and shingles are also called rolled roofing. Be sure to check which type is most suitable for your project.

Repairing Rolled Roofing

The first thing that you must know before repairing your rolled roofing is which type of material you are working with. The products, materials, and process for making repairs will vary slightly depending on the existing rolled roofing material.

What You Will Need

Repairing rolled roofing is an easy process that requires very few materials. You will need a broom, rolled roofing material matching the existing rolled roofing material, a cutting tool, roofing nails, and roofing cement.

How to Repair a Section of a Rolled Roof

Repairing a section of a rolled roof is an easy process that can be done as a quick weekend project, provided you have some basic DIY skills. For minimal damage, you can get away with simply covering the damaged area with liberal amounts of tar or roofing cement, but patches are better long term.

Step One: Cut Away Damaged Section of Existing Rolled Roof Material

When it is necessary to replace a section of rolled roof material, you must first identify areas that need to be cut away. Whether it is a hole from a fallen branch, cracks from weather and excessive heat, or any other form of damage, any cracks, splits, holes, and abrasions should be patched.

Step Three: Clean Area

Once old material has been removed, it is important to clean the site. Roofing mastic works much better when applied to a clean and dry surface.

Step Four: Apply Roofing Mastic

Using a brush for application, apply a layer of roofing cement to the exposed roof. Always read and follow the directions for application listen on the can of roofing cement as different brands and products work differently. It is best not to modify the suggested use recommendations as doing so can shorten the life of your rolled roof.

Step Five: Replace Rolled Roof Material

Using the same material that was cut away from the existing rolled roof, replace it with a piece identical in size and shape. This should be completely flattened, ensuring that there are no air bubbles beneath the surface. Then, secure the edges of the rolled roof replacement with roofing nails.

Step Six: Patch Over

With a piece of the same rolled roof material, you will now apply a patch. The patch should be cut at least 12 inches larger than the affected area on all sides. Following the same process as before, apply roofing mastic, apply rolled roof material, nail down, then cover nail heads and edges with plenty of roofing cement.

How to Repair a Bubble in a Rolled Roof

One common problem that is found with rolled roofs is the existence of air bubbles. Not only can bubbles in rolled roofing material be unsightly, but it also provides opportunities for moisture and rot, underneath. It is also good to repair any bubbles or air pockets in a rolled roof.

Step One: Clear the Area

Before getting to the problem, sweep and clean the area of the rolled roof surrounding the problem area. The tar that you will use should not mix with dirt, dust, or debris.

Step Two: Cut and Tar

The next step is to cut a hole or slit into the bubble. Using a very sharp knife or utility blade, it is quite easy to cut through the rubber material. Once you can access the inside of the bubble, generously apply roofing cement underneath.

Step Three: Nail Down

After applying roofing cement and pressing the rolled roofing material down flat, use 1.25” roofing nails to secure the affected area.

Step Four: Apply a Patch

Cut a piece of rolled roofing material which is larger than the bubble that you are covering up. Apply roofing cement to the surface of the affected area. Cover the repaired bubble with the patch, ensuring that all nail heads are completely covered.

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Related Questions

Is rolled roofing cheaper than shingles?

Yes. Rolled roofing is far cheaper than shingles and most other types of roof materials. In fact, rolled roofing is often one of the cheapest options available. For the materials alone, you can expect to pay anywhere from $30 to $75 per square foot.Another factor that makes rolled roofing cheaper is that the application is simple enough to do yourself. Whether you do the work yourself or hire someone else to do it for you, labor costs are far less than those of other roofing projects.

Is it ok to nail down roll roofing?

It is common practice to nail down roofing. When it comes to roll roofing, a combination of both roofing cement and roofing nails is used to secure the roofing material. When nails are used, a sealant should cover the nails after they go in.Although it is common to see roll roofing nailed down, there are also many roofers who advise against putting nails into roofs that are either flat or of low grades. Without proper water runoff, the risk of leakage increases.

How long does roll roofing last?

Rolled roofs can last as long as 20 years when good quality materials are used. To get the most mileage out of a rolled roof, it should also be installed correctly and properly maintained. Painting your rolled roof, as many do with shingle roofs, can also extend the life of your roof.

Benjamin Wright
Benjamin Wright

Benjamin is a proud homeowner who loves to write about DIY projects and home improvement projects. Traveling, perfecting his home, and spending time with his family are just a few of the many things that keep him inspired.

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