If you want to know how to roof, a good place to start is to learn the "Hat Trick." I learned it when I started roofing 22 years ago.
My boss taught me that no matter what type of roof system we installed, our work had to accomplish three things. He called these mandates "The Hat Trick" and it goes like this:
How to Roof Mandate # 1: It Has To Look Good!
An important consideration when learning how to roof is the appearance. The roof is a key part in the curve appealing of a home. As such, the difference between a good-looking roof and one with unsightly blemishes could mean a difference of thousands of dollars in market value.
It's the little things that can make a big difference in appearance. It may mean chalking a few extra lines to keep the roofing straight. It may mean bringing a roofing sample to the supply house to make sure you get the best color match.
Whatever it is, keep in mind that the cosmetic factor is very important.
How to Roof Mandate # 2: It Has to Pass Inspection!
In 1992 I was working in Homestead, Florida. A Category Five hurricane had recently made landfall there, destroying just about everything in its path. And almost every home that was still standing needed a new roof.
My boss had hired a few "storm chasers" from out-of-state for some of the roofing jobs he had sold.
They reroofed three houses before the roofing inspector kept up with them. All three jobs flunked their final inspection for the same reason … the shingle nails were in the wrong place.
The roofers (who had already been paid) refused to fix the problem because "that's the way they always did it and they never had a problem before."
I wish I had a buck for every time I've heard that over the years!
Anyways, the boss could not get paid until the roofs passed inspection … so I got the job of fixing them. That involved lifting every shingle on all three roofs and renailing them. Of course the shingles were all stuck together, so it was a tough job and that's my point: It's a lot easier to just do it right the first time.
Your work should also pass the inspection of nosy neighbors and critical in-laws. In fact, you should be the toughest inspector of all. Set your standards high enough so that if the work passes your inspection, you will not get trouble from anyone else.
How to Roof Mandate # 3: It Can not Leak!
Of course the most important thing in learning how to roof is to avoid leaks. They can wreck ceilings, walls, floors and valuable possessions. Under certain conditions, roof leaks can also cause mold-related health problems and expensive remediation.
One of the keys to avoiding leaks is to think "WWWD" (What would water do?) If you're not sure of the answer, you can find out by pouring some water on the detail in question. See where the water goes. Does it run off the roof the way it should … Or does it get trapped in little puddles around fasteners and seams in the roofing?
If there's any way for the water to get in, sooner or later you will have a leak.