Raise the Roof

“On the roof it’s peaceful as can be
And there the world below don’t bother me, no.”
–James Taylor


With all the rafters in place, it was time to install the Barn’s roof. We lifted and slid and positioned 66 pieces of plywood to pave over the whole thing. Then we stapled down sheets of weatherproof underlayment, and sheathed the gable ends. The second floor now is entirely enclosed except for a single window on each end, and feels quite cold and dark compared to the airy quality it had when only the rafters were up. Fortunately, I get to spend lots of time on the roof… where the air is fresh and sweet, and the views are stunning, with Camel’s Hump and the Green Mountains to the east and Lake Champlain and the Adirondacks to the west.


Main problem is, it’s not easy to stand on a 45 degree pitch. We installed the bottom row of plywood from the second floor, holding it from above and nailing as far as we could reach. Then we nailed in 2×6 cleats running the length of the roof to provide footing for the next row of plywood, and so on until we reached the top. Those cleats aren’t the easiest thing to stand on, either, but they give the sensation of climbing all day on a jungle gym so it’s a fun challenge. I certainly preferred tramping around up top to Colin’s job, which was to stand on the second floor and hoist each piece of plywood up to Terry and me so we could maneuver it into place and nail it to the rafters.


The underlayment went in relatively easily. We use a product much lighter and cleaner than the tar paper of old. Down below we cut 44-foot strips of it from a roll, then up on the roof we unrolled each strip in a straight line, overlapping and stapling as we proceeded. When we got to the back side of the roof we didn’t wait to finish the plywood and started the underlayment immediately, which sped things up.

It was a little tricky to sheathe the gable ends. Terry needed to work from a ladder on the outside while Colin and I threaded half-inch plywood through the studs to him. The triangular shape required Colin to cut lots of sheets to fit, and the 25-foot roof height forced Terry to get creative with ladder placement. The scariest moment occurred when I lost my grip on a sheet as I passed it to Terry; tipping beyond the balance point, the sheet nearly tumbled two stories to the ground. Thankfully, Terry’s killer reflexes and superhuman strength saved the day, and we finished the sheathing without further issue.


Late Thursday we cleaned up a bit. I routed out the rough openings that we’d partially covered with plywood, Kiara swept up sawdust, and we started a burn pile for our scraps. Next on schedule are shingles, Typar, and interior finishes.

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