Re-Felt Your Shed Roof




Introduction: Re-Felt Your Shed Roof

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During a recent period of very windy weather I noticed chunks of roofing felt blowing down the street. Some poor soul had lost the felt from their shed roof.

That poor soul turned out to be me.

In the wind, a temporary fix with a tarpaulin took three people and a lot of duct tape.

This is how I did a longer-term fix for only £25.00 (under $40.00) in materials.

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Step 1: Tools and Materials

I needed

I documented this project with my GoPro - being small and tough, I could keep it in my pocket in easy reach wherever I was clambering, and take shots without the need to fuss, focus or use a tripod, or even spend much time on framing.

(Before I get a lot of comments about things I should have done differently, please note that this fix is only intended to last around 12-18 months, as the shed itself is nearing the end of its useful life, and its replacement is high on the list of jobs for next Summer.)

Step 2: Health and Safety

Shed roofs are not normally designed to support a fully-grown man, especially when in such a poor state as mine turned out to be.

Stay off the roof as much as you can, working from a stable ladder. If you do end up on the roof, stay low and spread out - keep your weight on at least three points, and stay as close to the edges of the roof as possible.

Make sure somebody knows you are up on the roof, and that will occasionally pop out and check you are not dead in a pile of splinters.

Step 3: Stripping

First, you need to strip off the old felt.

It sounds obvious, but I have come across folk who just layer new felt onto old - that's just ugly, and can hide problems you didn't know you had.

Use the hammer's claw and the Stanley knife to rip away the bulk of the felt, then the screwdriver and the claw to pull out the old clout nails.

Sweep the roof clear of grit and dirt, to avoid poking holes in the new felt.

Step 4: Measure, Cut, and Avoid the Frog.

My shed is old enough to have been built in feet and inches - the roof is exactly eight feet long, and the drop required over the ends was 2.5 inches, so I measured out and cut the felt into lengths 8'6" long.

The felt, being new, was made in metric units, so I had to cut three pieces and have a huge over-lap between them.

Oh, and the frog: we have a pond which, though only small, has a huge population of frogs. That makes it rather nerve-racking to cut the grass, because young frogs pop up from almost every clump...

Step 5: The First Pieces.

When you are felting a sloped roof, you start at the bottom and work your way up, so that rain pours over the top of the laps, and not under them.

Once measured and cut, line the first piece of felt up so that it over-hangs the edge of the roof on three sides by enough to cover the side-pieces of the roof.

Tack the felt in place with just a few widely-spaced clouts. If you're happy with the positioning, nail it down tidily - remember to fold the corners around neatly.

The second piece is easy - place it with a suitable over-lap, then nail each end in place.

A hint for putting the pieces in place: roll them up before you lift them onto the roof, then unroll them in place.

Step 6: The Final Piece.

The final piece, like the first, needs to be lined up with an over-hang on three sides.

Because this is the piece that will be seen most often from ground-level, you might find it a good idea to measure the overlap, rather than relying on doing it by eye.

As before, tack it in place, then add more clouts between the tacking.

Now, back onto the rood of the shed, and nail down the overlapping edges of the felt. You can't have too many nails holding your felt down - a loose edge will eventually rip if it's caught by a strong wind.

Step 7: And Finally...

Well, that's it, really. £25 in felt and clouts, and a pleasant afternoon spent in honest toil, and I have extended the life of my shed by at least a year.


If you are planning for your roof to last as long as the packing of the felt claims (this budget brand claims five years), you can also use any of a wide range of bitumen-based adhesives and sealants to prevent leaks between the layers or under the edges.

To prevent water penetrating through the nail-holes, there are also tapes that can be laid over them as a seal.

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    5 Discussions


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Last year I had to re-deck and re-felt a flat roof garage. A friend helped me strip off the old felt and rotten boards. Then put up OSB deck that was screwed down, followed by under felt and top felt, held in place with clout nails and sealed with bitumen.

    Not something I fancy doing again any time soon.


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    A job worth doing is worth doing properly...



    4 years ago on Introduction

    We have roofing felt which we also call tar paper and then we have rolled roofing. The rolled roofing is the same material as asphalt shingles but in a long roll rather than cut into rectangles. The roofing felt is meant to be put down first and then covered with a layer of shingles or rolled roofing as the felt will not hold up to the weather on its own. It does act to prevent leaks though as it seals around the nails. Used in combination it's supposed to last upwards of 25 to 30 years. I wonder why you do it differently there.

    I have a small building that had the wind start to peal the roof off. It has been in place for many years and needs replacing. Right now it is held down with tires and cement blocks. Replacing it is on my to do list for this summer. It never occurred to me to make an instructable on it. I guess I should add that to the project requirements.

    By the way, another thing we do that helps is to put a generous amount of roof cement at the point where the sections overlap. That glues them into one solid sheet and makes it much more difficult for the wind to get into.


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    I think it's as much tradition as anything, I guess. The vast majority of sloped roofs are covered in either slates or tiles, usually laid over roofing felt.

    Unlike shingles, these roofs can last several decades, even centuries (I have lived under a roof built over a century before your country was founded), and maintenance is needed on the felt or the wooden joists years before the tiles or slates need replacing.

    Felt is usually only used alone on flat roofs, and then it is a heavy-duty grade that requires softening with a blow torch to be fitted to the roof, and is almost always used in several layers with copious amounts of bitumen or tar gluing it together.

    As I mentioned, though, this is meant to be a relatively temporary fix, until I have the budget and time to replace the shed entirely.