What if it Rains During Roofing? What You Need to Know

Building and repairing a house can be a lengthy job, and roofing is no exception. However, sometimes Mother Nature interferes and the weather can take a turn for the worse while you’re in the middle of a project. So if it begins to rain during roofing, what should be done?

If it begins to rain while you are roofing, the best thing to do would be to cover the unfinished parts of the roof and wait for the weather to clear. This is mainly because the weather can impact the roof’s structure and cause future problems if not properly protected.

Roofs are there to protect us from the elements, but while they are being constructed, they themselves are not immune to the effects of the weather. If it does rain while roofing is being done, don’t worry, there are steps you can take to help keep your roof safe and protected.

Amount Of Rain

Based on what you know (or don’t know) of the incoming storm, it’s important to do your best to prepare your roof.

If the storm is going to last a while and is supposed to include heavy amounts of rain, the roof will need to be covered with some sort of tarp or covering to protect the wood and other materials from being completely exposed. Try and use a tarp that is heavy-duty and durable. Once you cover it in a tarp, use something to hold it in place (such as nails or 2 x 4 boards).

If the storm is meant to be on the shorter side, with lighter amounts of rain, work can probably just be stopped while you wait out the change in weather. It might not be as necessary to worry about covering the wood in this type of rainstorm, but you will still want to wait for the wood to dry completely once the rain has passed before you proceed.

Wet wood is definitely not a good thing to work with during construction, and if it’s not protected from the rain in some way it can ruin the structure and frame of your roof. It can also impact its future integrity.

Roofing contractors are typically supposed to keep track of the weather, so if you are working on fixing your roof through them, they will let you know what they can do during a rainstorm. Try and keep track of the weather yourself so you can have an idea of what you’ll be able to do that day, whether you’re roofing with a contractor or not.

Can You Proceed With Roofing In The Rain?

Generally, you don’t want to continue roofing while it is raining outside. However, use your best judgment to make your final decision and be aware that choosing to continue in the rain can be dangerous, so use caution.

Your ability to do so will probably depend on if you’re simply repairing your roof or if it is being installed.

Here are some instances where you can continue with roofing even if it is about to rain or has started to:

  • You’re almost done roofing. This means that you only have one section left to complete or only a few shingles left before you are finished.
  • The rain is light, perhaps even just sprinkling, and doesn’t go on for very long.
  • If it’s an emergency repair of some kind that has to be fixed right away.

Stages Of Roofing

The stage you are at with your roofing will also give you more information on what you should do if it begins to rain. According to the website RSG Construction, these are the 10 steps to building a roof:

  1. If applicable, take off your old roof completely
  2. Install the drip edge: This step is not required for roofing, but a drip edge can help with water runoff.
  3. Lay out the underlayment: Roofs are often installed with something called a synthetic underlayment. It is waterproof but can only provide so much protection from the rain. Having this step complete probably means that if it’s lightly raining during this project, you won’t have to worry too much about covering the roof.
  4. Cover the roof with tar paper: Tar paper is used as a waterproofing material for building and construction and helps get rid of water that gets caught under the roof shingles.
  5. Waterproof the roof valleys: Since roof valleys help take water away from the roof, they need an extra layer of protection from the elements.
  6. Put on the starter shingles: These aren’t as wide as regular shingles and are meant to be the first row of shingling on the roof. They also act as an extra layer of protection to keep water from leaking through the seams of the first shingles.
  7. Install the rest of the shingles: This is done by overlapping the rows of shingles and securing them with a staple gun. At this point, your roof isn’t completely protected from the water yet, but most of it will remain dry if it starts raining.
  8. Install the flashing: This part of the project includes creating a tight seal around anything that touches the roof (chimneys, skylights, etc.). Now, all your roof is waterproof except for the ridges.
  9. Finish the ridge caps: These are the shingles that go at the peaks of your roof and are often designed differently than other shingles. They will need to be secured with long nails to make them truly secure.
  10. Seal up the roof: Now all you have to do is make sure there are no exposed nails or debris on the roof. You can seal a roof by pouring a small amount of a seal coat onto the roof and using a roof brush to spread it across in a thin, even coat. Do this across the roof in sections. If you need to apply a second coat, wait at least four hours for the first coat to dry. Source

Problems With Roofing In The Rain

The first problem is that this can be dangerous. The added moisture from the rain will make it a great deal more difficult to finish the job. Not to mention, roofs are high off the ground and rather steep. While you can wear a safety belt, that doesn’t entirely guarantee your safety, especially if you have to walk across wet shingles.

Luckily, new shingles aren’t that slippery because of their added layer of rock granules, but older shingles will be slippery as that layer has had time to wear off.

Depending on the storm, another problem is that you can get struck by lightning or thrown off the roof because of wind or flying debris.

Part of the process of putting shingles on a roof, besides securing it with nails, includes getting the adhesive found on the back to stick to the tar paper. If the roof and shingles are wet, that will be difficult to do; and if you do it while it is raining it can cause moisture and mildew to build up under the shingles. It can take a while for evidence of this to actually appear, so you may not realize it’s a problem until it’s too late.

This will cause more work and money for you in the long run. 

Laws And Regulations

State and city laws can impact your project by having regulations on if you’re allowed to proceed with roofing during a rainstorm. And if you are not doing the roofing yourself, but rather completing it through a contractor, these rules and regulations may dictate what they are allowed to do during a storm as well.

Makes sure to take the time to look at the building codes and laws for your area, city, and contracting company so you know what to expect ahead of time. There may be certain rules against roofing in the rain, and if these are not followed, it can cause the house to fail future building inspections.


In closing, here are some general tips to help you while building your roof and deciding what course of action to take if it starts to rain during the process.

  • If you are demolishing a roof and then re-roofing it, make sure that all old shingles are cleared away, thus leaving the roof completely exposed. 
  • Try working on this project by splitting the roof into sections and doing one section at a time. This will make it a more organized process. 
  • Think about how long it will take to complete the roofing job (A day? A week?) so you can space out your project accordingly.
  • Keep your building materials in a safe, dry location until you’re ready to use them.
  • Even if you aren’t expecting rain, be prepared just in case and have the materials necessary to protect your roof on hand if needed.
  • If the roof gets wet, give it time to dry completely. And if needed, assess for any damage caused by the storm.
  • If you are doing this job without a roofing contractor, don’t do it by yourself, especially if it’s going to rain. Get someone to help you.
  • Do not rush this task. You will see the benefits in the future if you choose to take your time with it.

Ricky Kesler

With all of the projects I've done over the years, you'd think that I work on my house full-time. But I actually enjoy other things like spending time outdoors and time with my family.

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