What Kinds of Tools Do Roofing Companies in Vancouver WA Use?

As you can imagine, maintaining rooftops is a big job. It requires a great deal of training, not to mention experience, to perform the tasks required of you effectively. Safety is also an obvious priority, with professional roofers requiring plenty of time and equipment to ensure the job is performed in a safe manner. When you hire a professional contractor from one of the top roofing companies Vancouver, WA, has to offer, such as Interstate Roofing, they’ll arrive with a veritable arsenal of tools for the task. Here, we’ll break down what those tools are and why they’re necessary for roof maintenance and repair:

The Right Ladder

Since a roofer can’t do their job without being able to access the roof easily, the right ladder is an absolute must. Because they often have to access very high areas, it’s common for roofers to bring extension ladders that can reach lengths of 40 feet when fully extended.

Most professional roofers utilize non-self-supporting ladders, of the type that lean up against the roof. However, when it’s used for roofing, the roofer will secure the ladder, generally with straps, to ensure the workers’ safety as they come and go from the roof.

Fall Protection

Working high up is always a risk, even on nearly flat and seemingly safe roofs. That’s why most roofing workers will utilize some sort of fall protection while they’re on the job. Often, this is a simple harness and lanyard, although other fall protection is more sophisticated. Lanyards are connected to rings that are then mounted in a secure area, helping to prevent roofers from falling as they perform jobs that require the use of both hands.

There are several other methods roofers utilize to increase their safety while they work on rooftops. Toeboards give them temporary footholds. These are simply long boards nailed down and removed after the job has been completed. They may set up scaffolds as well, connected to brackets, which are also temporarily nailed into place on the roof. Roofers may also set up rope grabs to hold on to as they navigate their various tasks.

Tool Belt

A roofer is always on the move. They’re darting up and down ladders and from one side of the roof to the other. That’s why roofing companies in Vancouver, WA, supply their professionals with tool belts capable of holding all of the smaller tools they might need to perform the job. This might mean a bag of readily accessible roofing nails, or it may mean a hammer, tape measure, hook blade, or any other small tool the roofer needs fast access to.

The tool belt itself is a specialty item because it has to carry a large number of other tools, often rendering it quite heavy. This means that tool belts should be made of a heavy-duty material as well as properly padded so they aren’t uncomfortable to wear and designed not to interfere with fall protection gear. They need to be designed in such a way that they won’t snag either, as this can pose a large safety hazard for people climbing around on the roof.

Tear-Off Shovel

Most roofs are covered with shingles, which are excellent for protecting the home from wind, water, and ultraviolet radiation from the sun. Precisely because they have such a big job, shingles tend to take a beating and occasionally need to be removed and replaced. Sometimes, these shingles need to be removed in large numbers. This is where a tear-off shovel comes in handy.

An item with a long handle and teeth at the end for gripping the shingles, the tear-off shovel can pull out shingles quickly without forcing the roofer to get down on their hands and knees to perform the task. This saves a great deal of time while also having a beneficial ergonomic impact on the task at hand.

Nail Gun

After shingles have been removed from the roof, they must be replaced fairly quickly in order to prevent any water or other damaging environmental factors from seeping in. While it’s certainly possible to nail shingles down by hand, a professional roofer will likely bring a pneumatic nail gun with them in order to make the task go that much faster.

Because the nail gun is pneumatic—that is, powered by air pressure—it must be connected to an air compressor and set to the PSI that the nail gun’s specifications require. The nail gun itself usually weighs only a few pounds and can drive nails in quickly. This makes it perfect for applying shingles in a fast and efficient manner.

Hammer Tacker

One of the biggest parts of the job of a professional roofer is laying down felt. Felt is rolled out and placed underneath the shingles so that it can offer an extra layer of protection. While the shingles themselves are secured into place with roofing nails, the roofing felt is actually held on with staples or plastic caps, depending on if synthetic or traditional felt is used. The felt needs to cover a lot of surface area, being as it is essentially spread over the entire roof, but with the right tools, it won’t necessarily take a roofer a long time to lay it across the roof. A hammer tacker is a heavy-duty instrument that can staple roofing felt down extremely quickly while being held in the tool belt for ease of access and convenience.


5 Guidelines for Roof Work Safety

Roofing work isn’t a task for untrained individuals. The risks associated with this work can be grave, and those risks increase when you don’t have proper training. Even when professionals are completing these difficult duties, falls remain the leading cause of death, accounting for over 3,500 fatalities between 2003 and 2013. With so much at stake, it’s imperative that certain precautions are in place to ensure that roof work safety is a top priority.

Interstate Roofing has been in the industry for over 30 years, practicing safe roofing techniques to ensure that both staff and the property they’re working on are as safe as possible. Maintaining that safety takes education, patience, and concrete planning. Here are some of the guidelines that contribute to roof work safety.

1. Assess Potential Hazards

Before performing any kind of roofing work, a professional should assess the roof itself and the area around it for any potential hazards. No matter how much experience you have completing the roof work itself, outside hazards still have the potential of disrupting that work and creating unknown dangers. Things like weak spots on the roof, tree branches, rocks, and other large objects can all be considered hazards. Assessing the area where the work will be done properly beforehand gives the roof worker a better chance at performing their job safely.

It also gives them the opportunity to identify and remove those hazards if possible. They can decide if the hazards are significant enough to affect the work environment, document them in a work plan, and control them as necessary. Environmental hazards aren’t the only thing to be cautious of when performing this preliminary work. Other hazards, such as rusting and faulty equipment, should be assessed beforehand as well.

2. Create a Work Plan

After assessing potential hazards, a work plan should be created. This is another way to ensure roof work safety and avoid the possibility of injury. The information in a work plan will give workers more confidence and direction in the jobs they complete.

This can include tasks such as finding the safest access to the roof area, assessing the materials needed, and confirming that said material is on-site. A plan can also include establishing where any weak spots in the roof are, based on roof owners’ description of damage, and making all workers aware of them.

Because roof work is rarely a one-person job, each staff member’s position for the job should be established before the work begins. Figuring out who will be supervising the work, which steps need to be done, and who will be carrying them out can help to create a more concrete work plan.

3. Complete Fall Protection Training

It’s up to employers to ensure that their workers are prepared for the jobs they take on, and any job that requires workers to work six feet or more above ground level should also require fall protection training. During this training, workers learn information that will minimize their chances of falling. This can be done by using special techniques and equipment, and having the knowledge to know what to avoid. OSHA provides online courses for this subject, which can be beneficial to roof workers to help them become more educated on how to reduce their risk of falling on the job.

4. Check the Weather

There is no worse time to find out that a storm is coming than when you’re on top of the roof. For this reason, it’s important for roof workers to check out the weather before they plan to take action. Skipping this imperative step could lead to danger that might have easily been avoided.

Though big storms can be an issue, they’re not the only weather pattern roof workers should stay clear of. Mild rain conditions can also make the surfaces roofers work on less stable, giving them more opportunities to slip and fall. This is a situation that we are well aware of here at Interstate Roofing since we’re located in the rainy Pacific Northwest.

What may seem like stable conditions on the wet ground can become much less stable on a roof, which is why it can be such a dangerous task for people who aren’t trained properly. One slip could lead to a life-changing or life-ending injury. Dry conditions are the best weather for roof work to be completed, unless you have the proper equipment and materials to make wet conditions safer.

5. Know the Categories of Fall Protection

Since falling is the biggest concern for roof workers, being well-versed in fall protection techniques is important. Fall protection typically slots into one of four major categories: fall arrest, positioning, retrieval, and suspension. Having a basic understanding of these categories is an important aspect of being a professional roofer, and it’s one of the many ways to avoid unnecessary injuries. Here is some more information on those categories:

  • Fall arrest. A personal fall arrest system (PFAS) consists of an anchor point, a body harness, and a lifeline or lanyard. When used correctly, this system can prevent roof workers from free-falling more than six feet, giving them time to regain stability and avoid a life-threatening injury. It’s often used in conjunction with one of the other categories of fall protection.
  • Retrieval. The retrieval category refers to workers having a plan for if a fall occurs. Knowing what the plan is to address this problem beforehand can allow workers to save time in getting the necessary medical assistance to a fellow worker.

How To Use a Roof Safety Harness

Using a roof safety harness correctly sounds like something that should not be a big deal, but it is. It’s a process, and it’s not overly difficult, per se, but it will take time. On the bright side, though, it’s not that expensive to use a roof safety harness properly. While you will need to acquire multiple pieces of equipment, and it requires a fair amount of labor and means following carefully laid out instructions, its overall simplicity and lack of major costs incurred make it something that can be carried out without too much trouble. In fact, a quality roof harness system itself should not be terribly hard to acquire and install and will likely cost you less than $500.

Climbing Up

One additional cost will be an extension ladder, as any quality roof professional, such as Interstate Roofing, would recommend purchasing a sturdy extension ladder to help with your safe roof work. Fiberglass ladders are better protection from electrocution in case a power source gets touched, but aluminum can be good too because it’s light and easy to carry around. When using the ladder to assist with the roof safety harness, it’s best to place it on firm ground or else use plywood for the base. You will have to tie the top of the ladder to a secure anchor point on your roof to keep it from sliding sideways as you make your way onto the roof.

You will need to step from the ladder to the roof, and that can be scary, but you can make it safer by not carrying anything up the ladder with you, extending the top of the ladder three feet so you have something you can hang onto if necessary, and keeping two hands on the rung of the ladder at all times to keep your balance.

Safe Practices

Once you’re on the roof, there are several safety measures you will want to take as well. Wear shoes with rubber soles for extra traction and keep them free of dirt and mud. Secure any power tools you’re working with using bungee cords or rope. These cords and ropes should never be positioned underfoot because that would make them very slippery. Hand tools should be stored in a five-gallon bucket and hung on a roof bracket. Also, don’t be a hero: stay off the roof if the weather conditions pose any danger. If you feel uncomfortable in any way, call a roofing professional to take care of the job for you.

Speaking of making something slippery, you should do everything you can to stay off tile roofs because they are easy to slip off and cause injury to yourself. If you have a tile roof, it’s best to call a professional right from the start.

You should also remember that while your safety is clearly extremely important, so is the safety of those around you. In that vein, you should mark off the ground below where you’re working so that people know you’re working there and can protect themselves accordingly. If you have to drop tools off the roof, proceed with extra caution and call out so that in case your aim is poor when you toss a tool from the roof, people who are in the general vicinity can be warned to move as far out of the way as possible.

Safety Gear

Roof brackets are also an enormous help in terms of correct roof safety harness usage, as they allow for a safe place to step onto the roof and store materials while acting as a slide guard to help you keep your balance on the roof. Roof brackets need to be nailed to the structure of the roof, and the best way to go about doing that is to lightly tap across the roof with a hammer looking for solid wood.

When you find it, carefully slide the pry bar’s blade underneath the shingle and gently bend the tab upward before placing nails over by where the shingle will cover them. You should place one roof bracket every four feet along the edge of the roof where you will be working. Doing this will ensure maximum safety, as it will make the area much more stable for storing your tools and for your ability to balance yourself when walking on the roof.

Another piece of roof safety gear is critical to proper roof safety harness usage: a lanyard and rope grab. Additionally, you’ll need a cat’s paw, cordless drill, safety glasses, tape measure. Having these necessary materials at hand makes it far easier to install and correctly use your roof harness to achieve the safest work environment on your roof.

Wearing the Harness

Once you have taken all the necessary precautionary measures and acquired all the necessary equipment, then you can fit and fasten your roof safety harness. Strap the safety harness in and tighten the straps to ensure it fits snugly. Inspect the harness and lanyard to make sure they don’t have any worn webbing or loose stitching. If you find any worn material, you absolutely cannot use the harness. It’s too much of a safety risk. This also goes for any frayed rope: never use frayed rope to secure a harness.

You shouldn’t work more than six feet to the side of a roof anchor, so if this ends up being an issue, either move the anchor or add more anchors. After you have proper distance, mount an anchor no more than six feet from the edge of the roof and reposition the rope grab so you can minimize the space in the rope between you and the roof anchor. This will allow for your roof harness to be as safe and secure as possible. This will mean the least risk possible for your health and to your roof.

What Safety Equipment Is Needed to Stay Safe on a Steep Roof?

Why Safety Equipment Is Necessary

Falling from a steep roof can lead to severe injury or even death. In 2016 there were 364 deaths related to roofing falls, averaging nearly one death each day. Understanding the safety measures and regulations that go with working on rooftops and in other roofing projects where there is potential for a fall will help you learn to protect yourself and keep others safe. According to a CBS report, doing roof work is among the top 20 most hazardous jobs in the United States.

Steep Roof Safety Equipment

It’s possible to work safely on rooftops, but using safety equipment is of particular concern when it comes to doing work, such as re-shingling, on a steeply inclined roof. First, you need to consider the clothes that you wear while working on a roof. You want loose-fitting and comfortable clothes so your body is free to move and there are no restrictions. The best shoes are rubber-soled shoes so you can have proper traction. If there’s inclement weather, select another day to do the work. Wind and rain can not only influence your well-being, but rain can make an already dangerous job more precarious.

Let’s take a closer look at what sort of safety equipment you need to stay safe on a steep roof.

Proper Shoes

As mentioned, rubber-soled shoes are the best. They’re able to “grab” the surfaces where they’re used, providing safer traction for workers on rooftops. You’ll also want something with ankle support so you don’t inadvertently twist your ankle or knee from an unexpected or unanticipated movement.


One of the first things you need in your equipment reserves is a very sturdy and extendable ladder. Before using a ladder, always inspect it for damage. The sides and rungs should not be dented or bent and all moveable parts functioning. The ladder should be able to extend at least three feet beyond the eaves so climbing up and getting onto the roof is as safe as possible. Make sure the base of the ladder is secured and then also secure the ladder at the top to the eaves so it isn’t movable. It’s important to hold on to the ladder with both hands as you get off it.

For large roofing jobs, you may need a few ladders and some scaffolding around the job. Having ladders to get from one row to the other can be helpful. The ladders don’t have to be especially elaborate, but they have to be secure enough to move from place to place. If, for example, you’re working on a roof that is just a couple feet wider than your potential reach, one scaffolding row and a single ladder may be all you need.

Roof Jacks

Sometimes called “roof brackets,” you can find these at hardware stores. They can be used along with 2-by-8 boards to construct roof deck scaffolding. They’re able to provide support so long as they’re used with at least 2.5- to 3-inch nails. The bottom part of each bracket, or jack, is supposed to fit underneath the top layer of shingles, and as long as the nails you use don’t miss the rafters, there should be no additional or lingering concern about roof leakage during the short amount of time they’re installed. The boards are designed to fit—flush—inside the brackets, and the said nail or screw is there to prevent them from moving. Once removed, the roof will need to be repaired.


There are some roof types that are so high and steep that working from scaffolding can still be dangerous so you need to take additional safety measures. Professional roofers always opt for a harness—even on less-steep roofs—as it’s a good way to secure themselves to the site, and it provides the extra security an individual needs when working from a roof. Normally, a harness set includes the actual harness, a rope, a lanyard for adjusting the rope tension, and a roof anchor to secure yourself. Attaching your anchor to the peak of the roof is one of the more important parts of verifying your security and safety.

After you drive the lag bolts down into the rafters, you can link yourself (as you’re wearing the harness) and be able to keep connected, physically, to the top of the house. With this piece of steep roof safety equipment, you’re able to walk four feet away from it in various directions. If you need to move along the roof more than four feet, you need to drive another lag bolt in to secure yourself.

Guardrails, Nets, and More

For starters, the government requires companies to protect (and secure) their workers from potential falls when working at heights. There are specific protection equipment and safety systems in place to guarantee worker safety.

Generally speaking, there should be components of personal fall arrest (PFA) systems safeguarding the workers, in addition to nets and a guardrail. They can be set up around the perimeter of the roof site on steep-slope and low-slope sites.

Umbrella Rules

Anyone who’s working from a height of more than 4 feet (1.2 meters) must use one (or more) of these protections. It’s incumbent upon the worker and business to make sure all the security fittings are in good, working condition, free of wear and tear that might undermine their intended usage.

Remember the Basics

  • Make sure your harness is properly fitted and snug enough to keep you from slipping out.
  • Utilize the safety inputs, such as guardrails and lifelines, on your roofing job.
  • Keep an eye on your worksite. Make sure there isn’t anything impeding the space of the worksite that could jeopardize your safety.
  • Identify skylights or other rooftop hazards and cordon them off.
  • Be dressed for the task. Clothes need to allow freedom of movement and shoes need to have proper traction.

Interstate Roofing has been a local favorite for decades. Come find out why by connecting with us for your next roofing project.

What Is a Toe Board & How Else Do Roofers Stay Safe?

Safety is key in any construction job and few workers in the residential housing business understand this better than roofers. Since they’re working high atop a part of the home not really designed for people to stand on, they must find creative ways to protect themselves from injury without damaging the home.

One of the ways this is done is through the use of a toe board, a simple but effective method to ensure a roofer’s safety. There are a number of other methods roofers can use to stay safe as well. These will vary depending on the type of roof and the materials and tools that the roofer will be using.

Here are some of the precautions we take to ensure our team remains safe no matter how small or large the roof we are working to repair or replace:

Toe Board

If your home has a standard gable roof shape—the inverted “V” that most people picture when they imagine a house—then it’s designed to allow rain to roll off and protect you from the elements.

It’s not, however, designed to be stood upon.

When working, however, roofers must have the freedom to move around on your roof, whether it’s to nail on shingles, repair damage, or perform diagnostic work. One of the ways we move around on this type of roof without fear of falling is through use of a toe board.

The roofer simply nails a long wooden board—usually a standard 2×4—and uses it to create a walkway. The toe board method is commonly used by most roofing contractors for safety and staging purposes.

Although toe boards involve driving nails into the roof of your home, they will not do any damage unless they are not properly removed. When researching a roofing company, ensure that if they use a toe board, they have an appropriate removal technique so that you are not surprised by leaks down the road.

Roof Brackets

Similar to a toe board, roof brackets allow the roofer to create a scaffold of whatever size is needed on the roof. Also known as “roof jacks”, roof brackets are metal devices across which wooden boards are placed to create safe areas for workers to stand.

Like a toe board, its use involves driving nails or screws into the roof itself, and so it’s important that it’s properly installed so that it does not become loose. It’s also necessary to remove it correctly to prevent any damage to the roof.

Safety Harnesses

The safety harness is another tool in the roofer’s arsenal designed to prevent injuries. As you might expect, slips and falls are the most common cause of injuries and deaths during roofing. Usually, these happen to amateurs attempting a DIY project or contractors who do not furnish the proper safety equipment for their employees.

Especially on very steep roofs, a toe board may not be enough to keep the roofer safe. With a harness that is clipped into a sturdy fixed point, roofers will have an added level of security should they lose their footing. In many states, safety harnesses are required by law if the roof is more than 10 feet high.

Roofing Ladders

Ladders are another essential tool for roofing jobs, but it’s critical that your roofer arrives at the job site with the right one. If a ladder is too short, it will be at risk of slipping off when it’s leaned against the roof.

The ladder should also be fastened to the roof; this will add a layer of security to prevent it from toppling over. Roofing ladders are designed specifically for working on your roof. They are essentially the same as any other extension ladder, but they can be securely attached to the slope of your roof to allow roofers to climb up and down with ease. A roofing ladder should never be attached at an angle of more than 75 degrees.

Proper Training

Of course, safety is much more than just equipment. When you’re researching a roofing company and asking about its safety policies you’ll want to ensure their employees are properly trained to handle any roof environment.

They’ll need to be constantly working to familiarize themselves with every tool they might use on the job; they should also have regular safety meetings and inspections.

It’s important that every employee receives safety training as soon as they are hired and that everyone is trained to handle any number of injuries or emergencies that could occur. CPR and First Aid training are a must, as is a process to investigate any accidents or incidents.

You’ll want to research the experience level of your roofing company as well. Ideally, you’ll find a roofing company, like Interstate Roofing, that has been in the business for years and employs only roofers who confidently know what they’re doing.

Working on Your Roof

A structurally sound roof might just be the most important part of your home. It protects you from the rain, as well as sleet, hail, and snow. During the summer it keeps you protected from the sweltering heat. If your roof begins to show signs of damage or decay, it must be fixed immediately. If not, water can leak in and cause devastating damage to your home and belongings.

In worst case scenarios, roofs can even collapse and cause catastrophic damage to the home and threaten the safety of the people inside it. That’s why it is absolutely critical to keep your roof in good shape; you can’t cut corners when your family, home, and property are at stake. You will need to invest in the services of a good roofing company like Interstate Roofing.

A reputable business won’t just do an amazing job fixing up your roof, it’ll also commit to the safety of its workers. Before you sign a contract with any company, you should research whether they make use of a toe board and what other safety practices they employ.