Archive for the ‘roofing’ Category


December 9, 2008

Roofers came and replaced my moss ridden roof this week. Thankfully, the weather was quite dry, but it was still clouded over and the light conditions being what they were , my photos didn’t work out as crisply as I would have liked. Nevertheless they will give me some great material for paintings and I think you may enjoy them despite their photographic lack of crispness.

I took photos to record the process , to show the under-structure of the roof, and then to record people working in their natural poses. I find that quite fascinating.

In this day of electronic information and power assisted everything, there are still some tasks that are manually done. Roofing is one of them. A computer can’t do this. It’s men with craft in their hands that construct this roof .

Recommended by several of my neighbours, Whonnock Roofing was the company that installed mine.  They have  a good reputation in the community having been here for two generations now; and they lived up to it. The boss, Abraham, kept me informed about progress during the installation and explained difficulties to me. At clean-up time, all debris was removed.  All the workers were respectful and diligent.

So I’m going to share these photos with you and hope you enjoy learning about the process as I did.


This was the first piece of equipment that they unloaded. It powers their nail guns, I think.  The contractor warned me that if I stayed in the house, I could depart safely only if the compressor was off. They worked from eight until four thirty, and everyone broke for coffee at ten, noon and two.  At those times, the compressor was turned off; all the workers would be off the roof and I would have no danger of being hit by flying roof products.

I liked the honeycomb pattern of the metal guard as a background to the black shapes silhouetted against it, and then, the yellow is a nice cheery contrast to that.


All the products came loaded on this truck. The men unloaded the 85 pounds per bundle Duroid shingles, rolls of roofing felt, pails of nails, roof anchors, and equipment  by hoisting manually. These were piled  in a corner of the back yard for later.  The first tasks were to cover the yard close to the house in tarps so that clean-up of the debris would be simplified; then set up of ladders; then destruction and removal of the existing roof that was tossed down over the roof edge into these tarps.


There was a crew of  fourteen. The work is dirty and rough, so they wear dark clothing, steel-toed boots, hoodies to keep their heads warm in the early December morning, baseball caps underneath to shade their eyes from potential sun. These guys work in the elements with  whatever Mother Nature may bring on.


These roof anchors are safety devices used for the steep slopes.

yy-016-smallThe men work as easily high above on a sloped surface as if they were down on solid ground. No vertigo or acrophobia allowed!

yy-018-smallLook how close to the roof edge this guy is, with such insouciance. He merits one of those “No Fear” T-shirts.

They wear rope and harness for safety and a big belt full of pockets that carries many of their necessities, rooftop.

yy-019-small1Tarps are spread out from the house edge to mid-yard to collect all the falling debris. If you are getting your roof done, I caution you to protect your special plants in the garden and mark out gardens that might not be obvious to a roofer. Protect small trees and shrubs that may break with the weight of roofing debris falling on it.

yy-022-smallHe nimbly climbs the ladder with tools or materials. The shingle packages weigh eighty five pounds!  Every bit of the new roof goes up the ladder on the shoulders of these men. All the old roof gets chucked off, flying through the air to be accumulated on the tarps below, and where close enough, tossed right into the truck’s large haul-away bin.

I missed seeing how they got the plywood up to the roof. That must be a feat.

yy-026-smallThese nails for their power nail-guns were brought in a big ten gallon pail. Imagine the weight of it and then imagine carrying that up the ladder! They have the iridescent manufactured bloom on them, full of many colours,  that will fade after being exposed.They are held in alignment by thin threads of copper wire that spiral in this image, making for interesting abstract patterns of the their straight posts, the round flat nail heads and the coiled wires.

yy-029-smallThe men start at the apex of the roof to rip off the existing layers of shingle. Here is an exceptional picture where there eight of them prying away tile all at once. Not long afterwards, they started to spread out and I never captured so many at once in one frame.


The tool they use is shaped somewhat like a shovel, but with sturdy indents like whale molars. These slide under the old tiles to rip up with a levering motion the long encrusted nails and shingles.

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When they get really going, the house shudders with their ripping and wrenching. It’s loud. Shingles begin to fly. If you are on the ground, you need to be alert!


On my roof, they found that there was a layer of cedar shakes underneath the two layers of shingles they knew about. In the manner of Depression Era construction , this roof had strapping – long lath-like boards strung across the roof surface from rafter to rafter. From where I stood below, they looked to be about two inches wide by three eighth inch deep. These had to go.

In current day construction, three-eight inch plywood covers the rafters, so unfortunately for me, this unknown factor added to my final bill. The boss ordered up a load of plywood and the men unloaded them one by one into the back yard. A carpenter began to measure them up to fit the roof. Eventually there were these geometric pieces left in the back yard.

yy-108-smallHere is what the underpinnings of the new roof look like, complete with plywood sheathing. Now they start hammering the new layer of shingles on. They are Duroid, acrylic shingles, way better than the asphalt ones that were here before – much less prone to moss build-up.  It’s constantly loud as they pound in the nails. Another caution – take your framed artwork off the walls before roofers come. The house shook enough to knock two of these off my walls. Oddly enough, one was in the basement and one on the main floor but none on the floor closest to the roof. One survived without damage, but as for the other – the glass broke and shattered.

Notice the barrel formations at the edge of the roof.  When the fellows took the old shingles off, this was covered with newspaper! More Depression era economy! One of the newspapers had advertising for rental apartments for three dollars and twenty five cents, heat and light included. Now there’s a deal!

Fixing these was not so easy. Here, the workman has to work prone. One fellow said he’d only seen eight of these roofs in his twenty or so years of roofing; and for one younger fellow, it was the first he had seen.

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This is the last picture. You just have to admire this man’s courage to be working looking over a thirty foot drop and still having to concentrate on the manual task he is involved in.

You can see what my new roof looks like – it’s Castle Grey, looking a little ruffled for now, just waiting for a warm day for the shingles to settle in. All the moss and the little ferns that were growing in its predecessor are gone. The gutters are cleaned out.  The hole where the raccoon tried to take up residence is gone. Hopefully the basement leak is resolved. And I have a skookum new roof!