Renovating a roof?

Wednesday January 13 2021
By Joan Salmon

A house provides a roof over your head, keeping wrong elements out. However, there comes a time when your roof has walked the mile and is in need of repair, lest you start experiencing leaks, rot and even bigger damage.

Waiting for such to happen can be disastrous, it could be a recipe for high costs to revert the damage. As we usher in the new year, it is time you gave your roof a fresh look that will not only keep you and yours safe but also make your home look better.

There are several roof types and each has a different procedure regarding renovation.

Tile roof

Musa Lwalero, an independent contractor, says if your roof has been recently installed, for example six months and starts developing a variation in colour due to dust or moss, you can give it a fresh look by washing the tiles.

“A jet machine is ideal as it will help get rid of the build up with ease thanks to the pressure,” he says.


He says roof washing is important because lack of timely maintenance will lead to adverse damages hence urgent and costly repairs.

“Buildup, mould or moss feed off the tile, eroding it hence causing untold damage over time. Roof cleaning or washing will extend its life span.”

Lwalero urges homeowners to seek the services of professional roof tile cleaners to ensure that the tiles are cleaned well, not damaged and falls are avoided.

In case the roof has been around for long, he says it is advisable that all the tiles are removed and brought down for inspection which involves washing as well as checking for any that could be damaged.

“While you are at it, you need to check if the tile battens are intact; have not warped, are not rotten, or eaten by pests. In case there is any damage, they must be replaced before you sit back the tiles.”

Lwalero stresses that this too must be done by professionals to ensure work is done proficiently.

Concrete roof

These are usually water proofed, tiled and used for a variety of functions, for instance, some are rooftop compounds. Mark Ongwen of Concept MacFaj, shares that renovation for such calls for checking on the grout between the tiles and thus re-grouting those places where it has worn out.

Iron sheet roof

Unfortunately, Lwalero says this roof type cannot be renovated but replaced because driving a nail where one was previously driven enlarges the hole making the roof prone to leaking.

“While some may use bitumen or silicon to cover such holes, when it gets very hot, these melt, opening the hole again.”

Therefore, he says utmost care should be taken during installation to avoid making losses and future hiccups.

This involves; making sure the timber is straight so that when nailing, the roofer does not nail amiss.

Ensuring there is sufficient overlap between the sheets of approximately one foot. “If this is not adhered to, on a rainy day, if the wind blows in the direction of the overlap, you will have a leakage.”

Avoiding to nail in the valleys because that is where the runoff water flows. “A nail driven here means a leak.”

While he is not really for the idea, Lwalero says, for discoloured iron sheets, you can paint the roof to make it look better. “It worked best to avoid rust in times past but some use it even today for coloured sheets. ”

Steel framework

Other conditions such as the framework need to be observed. If you used steel for the framework when installing your roof, Wilberforce Andrew Kizito of Kitibwa metal fabricators, says in case of a leak, it can be corrected. “The first thing would be to check if the bolts used in attaching the roof to the framework in that area are not loose. If they are, tightening them will keep the water out.”

However, if the bolts are tight, then one needs to look at the rubber washers because chances are they might have worn out thus allowing water.

“These can be replaced to deal with the leak.”

Kizito adds that owing to the leak, you should look at the steel in that part for rust. “In case there is rust, sand the rusted area and repaint it with red oxide as this is what protects the steel.” However, if your steel is less than 1.5mm thick, you need to check how deep the damage is as you may need to replace the rusted steel.

Facer boards

While they may seem cosmetic, these boards actually help keep gusts of wind from getting beneath the roof. Lwalero says these winds weaken the hold of the nails and could easily get the roof blown off if it is constant. “They also stop water from rolling back beneath the roof which would, in the long run, affect the wood framework.” However, these suffer a lot of beating from the elements and with time look horrible or give way. The first course of action is to check if they are not broken or rotten. “In case they are, then replacing them is the best thing. You could also check to ensure they are still well fastened, and nail back those that are loose. If all is well, then you can give them a paint job preferably oil paint as it wears off with time.”


These get clogged with leaves, soil, and plants or could develop leaks. Ongwen says seeing to them will avoid dripping at the joints as well as have clean water in case you harvest rain water.

“To renovate them, get up a ladder to remove whatever might have collected in the gutters. Thereafter, unclip them, put them on the ground to wash them, otherwise, all the remaining dirt will end up in your tank. Once done, clip them back into position. With this, even the leaks will be resolved.”