My BIL has experience working on roofs. He agreed to help me reshingle
part of my 6/12 roof.
The day we started, he'd walked about ten feet on my roof when his feet
slid out from under him. The next day he slipped again when he stepped
onto the decking we'd cleared.
I've had less trouble. We wore what might be called jogging shoes.
Mine still had deep tread, while his were worn smooth. I think my tread
kept me from sliding far on loose grit.
John Willis recommended frequent sweeping with a push broom. That was
great advice, but loose grit is inevitable and can be hard to see on a
roof. I move slowly on familiar sections of my roof and don't dare step
on other sections without knowing the condition of the grit.
I might be safer and surer with other footwear. The outer 1/8" of my
soles is like tire rubber for long wear. I wonder if what used to be
called crepe soles are better on roofs. It seems to me that a soft,
spongy sole could maintain contact with the fixed surface of a roof in
spite of a little loose grit.
Am I right?
Thanks, I remember the thread. The OP found rubbers better than
sneakers and deck shoes better than rubbers. One suggestion was leather
boat shoes. Another was Cougar Paw disposable soles.
Sneakers, rubbers, and deck shoes should all adhere well to a smooth
surface. However, if rain washed a film of slick mud onto a walk, the
tread of rubbers would let the mud squeeze out of the way so the rubber
could contact the concrete. Similarly, if you step onto shingles, the
grooves in the tread could give loose grit a place to go.
Like deck shoes, my shoes adhere well to most surfaces, wet or dry.
Like tractor tires and some rubbers, they have a bold tread pattern. My
slips have been small, but that's enough to make me uneasy.
Yesterday at first light I went up to apply hip caps to a newly shingled
surface. It had provided pretty reliable traction. After a few minutes
I began slipping pretty badly when I walked. I discovered that the
upper part of the roof was wet. I hadn't found dew on the roof on other
mornings, and the grass was pretty dry. Apparently the wet grains were
adhering to each other, and if I stepped where they had collected, I'd
slip. A change that was not visible had made footing treacherous.
With better footwear I could work faster and sleep better. It might
also cause less wear on shingles. The thread had the url for a roofer's
site that mentioned three kinds of boots from Korker's: one for metal,
one for wood, and one for asphalt shingles. The last one is said to
have soles of closed-cell rubber. I wonder if what I need is footwear
with similar "sponge" soles.
The thread mentioned Cougar Paw disposable soles for $10. The site
doesn't seem to say whether one needs special boots to use them.
Yep, special boots, special soles. You could probably jury rig
something, but I don't know if that's a risk that you should take.
I've found nervous people don't do well on roofs. Don't be blaise
about it, but you shouldn't be all tensed up when you're walking around
When in doubt, use a chicken ladder or tie yourself off. Usually
having a rope within immediate reach is enough for piece of mind.
As far as the crepe soles, I wouldn't know as I've never used anything
like that on a roof.
I'd be most uneasy when I first went up in the morning, before I'd
walked enough to test the traction that day. Tearing off with periodic
sweeping, I got comfortable with my traction on the old shingles. By the
time I'd backed within eight feet of the eaves, I turned around and
began using my shovel from above. That was more difficult, but I was
afraid that if I didn't keep an eye on the edge, I might forget about it
and back off as I worked. With my inexperience, I needed to stay mindful.
would be good for roofing. What footwear do you use?
I've read sneakers are good, but to me that's a broad category.
"High-top basketball shoes" is more specific. To me, the main feature
of these shoes is a very flexible rubber sole that will bend to put a
lot of rubber on the floor although your foot doesn't come down flat.
That reminds me of the difference between tires and tracks. On
concrete, a vehicle with rubber tires would get much better traction
than a vehicle of the same weight on steel tracks. On a loose surface
such as sand, soil, or snow, the tracked vehicle would win. The tracks
put a lot more surface on the loose ground, and they flex to follow the
I used to love snowshoeing. By spreading my weight over a large area of
snow, they gave me better traction on steep hills than wearing rubber
soles in summer. Even in shallow snow, snowshoes were an advantage in a
snowball fight because they provided nonslip support for throwing.
A shingle roof is an uneven surface with loose grit. Basketball shoes
sound like a solution that could keep a lot of rubber on the surface.
Are all brands and models about the same for walking on shingles?
Maybe take a look at the Red Wing site, see if they mention roofing for any
of their work shoes/boots, and see what kind of sole they describe.
And, try to move around with your foot parallel to the lower edge of the
roof, like you were trying to climb up or down a slippery leaf or snow
covered embankment. This way, you'll present more surface area of whatever
shoes you wear.
I am trying to work up the nerve to go up on my roof to do some minor
repairs, but am afraid of heights.
Last year I asked a friend to do it for me; a bee came at him and he ran
wildly across the roof, swatting at it. And I am afraid to even go up on
it; boy did I feel small.
He didn't fall off the roof. The second time, he stayed on his feet.
The closest I saw him come to falling off was when I was on the ground
and he was on the ridge. He turned to say something to me. Suddenly
his arms shot out to the sides and moved around, almost as if he were
clowning. He said he'd lost his balance from momentary vertigo.
I think it came from suddenly looking at me on the level ground while he
was on steep slopes. When I was kneeling, putting down shingles, I
might hear a vehicle drive past behind me. I'd decide not to turn
around and look. It seemed that suddenly turning my head and looking at
the level street could cause momentary confusion about balance, and that
could be dangerous even though I wasn't standing.
As a boy I admired a steeplejack in his thirties. I watched him bring
down two elm trees from the top and work on the slate roof and steeple
of our granite church. I would have loved to be up there with him. One
day he told me his work was becoming increasingly difficult because he
was more fearful of heights as he got older. Common sense was catching
up with him.
One reason to fear heights is the perception of risk. Most people
wouldn't mind eating lunch twenty feet from the edge of a cliff but
would rightly be afraid of climbing over the rail for a better view.
Another reason for fear is that heights can trigger vertigo. Our ears,
visual clues, and the pressure distribution on our feet help us stay
balanced. On a roof, there may be no nearby visual clues to assure me
that I'm balanced. If the roof slopes, the pressure on my feet won't
feel normal. So I take things slow and avoid impulsive rubbernecking as
I get used to it.
An insurance adjuster was on my roof two months ago. He looked a little
unsure of his balance and footing. I was glad to see I'm not the only
one. What surprised me was that he balked when he was about to come
down. In past years, bushes kept me from setting my ladder at the 4:1
slope OSHA specifies. Now I had it at the proper angle, with the
horizontal distance 1/4 the height of the eave. The ladder extended
several feet higher for him to hold, and I was standing on the bottom
rung for stability. I didn't understand what scared him.
I set it the same way for my BIL to go up. He immediately pulled the
foot out to a 2:1 slope. I felt insulted and scared. If I tried to
step on or off the eave with the ladder leaning so far, it might slide
out from under me. I had intended to go up with him. Instead, I stayed
on the ground and held the ladder so it wouldn't slide.
Afterward, he cautioned me not to go on my roof alone. I found that
condescending and unreasonable. If we were to reshingle, I needed first
to resolve any possible problems with ladders, footing, and balance.
I climbed to the roof and found that I didn't dare step off the ladder
when it was at the 4:1 slope. Now I knew how the adjuster had felt.
Instinct may tell you what you haven't figured out. If you step onto a
sloped roof and a ladder is all you have to hold, you push it outward,
away from the ridge, to counteract your tendency to slip toward the
eave. If you push the top of a light ladder out in a direction farther
than the feet, it may fall away from the house. I didn't dare step onto
the roof because I could see the foot of the ladder wasn't far enough
from the house for me to use the ladder as a handhold to keep from slipping.
I moved the foot out to a 2:1 slope (half the height of the eave) and
tied the bottom rung to a secure stake to be sure the ladder didn't
slide out. That solved my ladder problem. I could step on and off the
eave with confidence.
As it turned out, I was more worried about my BIL than myself. He
seemed to be in more danger because he was denying his fear.
Footing still worries me. Foam-soled 6" boots may do the trick.
Sweeping helps. I've borrowed a neighbor's outdoor broom. I think I'll
buy an indoor pushbroom with soft bristles.
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