Protect your shed and its contents from rain by laying shed roofing felt.
This inexpensive product also extends the life of the roof by protecting it from rain and sun damage. Best of all, you and a friend can do it even though you may not be ace DIYers!
Shed roofing felt is used to protect sheds and other structures not occupied by humans, such as aviaries, coops, and hutches, from the elements. It waterproofs the roof against rain and also protects it from the ill-effects of UV rays. Among the different shed roofing solutions, roofing felt is a very affordable option. It is also fairly convenient and simple to lay – not even intermediate DIY skills are necessary.
However, before you order a roll of felt in a fit of enthusiasm, you need to be aware of a few facts. Shed roofing felt is meant for pitched roofs, not flat ones. It cannot tolerate the bending stress of accumulated rainwater if it is laid flat. When felt is laid on a pitched roof, bending stress exerted by rainwater is far less as most of the water runs down the gradient.
Though laying felt is quite convenient and simple to do, unless you’re an experienced DIYer, it is not a one-person job. It is a project best tackled by two so plan accordingly. Just as important, forget about laying shed roofing felt on a windy day as it will be an exercise in frustration, tax you to the limit, and also result in waste as the felt will tear readily. Plan to lay felt on still days or when there is no more than a gentle breeze.
As for tears and tearing, standard roofing felt is prone to tearing when not handled correctly and with care – that’s just an unavoidable fact. However, once it is laid correctly, it will provide a good few years of protection from the rain and sun’s deleterious effects. It is when felt is being unrolled, cut, positioned, nailed, and such that it is vulnerable to one or more types of stresses, which can cause it to tear.
How long the felt actually lasts depends more on the weather than on anything else. If the structure in question is sheltered or, for whatever reason, does not take too much of a beating from the vagaries of the weather, the felt should be good for about four years, perhaps even up to seven. On the other hand, a roof that is scorched by the sun and battered by the rain a little too frequently may well need to have its felt replaced in only two years.
Felt is most often fastened on roofs with a special type of nail, clout nails (sometimes inaccurately called tacks). It is also secured with an adhesive, especially bituminous felt adhesive. Best practice suggests the use of both fasteners. Most shed roofing felts come with a complementary packet of clout nails and a few even include adhesive but do not rely on these! Usually the number of nails is insufficient to lay even six or seven metres of felt, let alone ten, so make sure to get enough clout nails and a couple of tubes of good felt adhesive.
Shed roofing felt is typically sold in 10-metre rolls but rolls of 5, 8, and other lengths are also made. The width is almost always one metre.
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This product is not exactly one that has clear and obvious differences, strengths, and weaknesses between brands and makes. One roofing felt is more like another one than unlike it. However, minor differences can be found among different products, and we strive to tease out such differences in the five products reviewed underneath.
Though costlier than other felts, Rose Roofing’s Felt is of distinctly superior quality, being thick, tear-resistant, waterproof and long lasting.
Rose Roofing’s Black Polyester Felt is a higher grade felt. Sold in rolls of 10 metres, it is also available in red and green, besides black.
This felt is thick and tough without being stiff. It is also noticeably heavier than standard felts yet is not that much more difficult to lay.
Perhaps best of all, Rose Roofing’s Polyester Felt is tear-resistant and does not rip, even under moderate shear stress. This property should be an important consideration for those who are inexperienced in handling and laying roofing felt.
The material is polyester-reinforced bitumen. As a result, this felt is more durable and longer-lasting than most other felts. In normal weather conditions it can last for 10 years and perhaps even more.
It comes with a packet of clout nails.
Rose Roofing’s Polyester Felt is the priciest one in our set of reviews but it is also the best one. Overall, on every count the quality distinctly exceeds that of standard or even ‘premium’ shed felts while the price premium lags behind. Therefore, while it is a ‘nailed-on’ Best Pick for us, over and above that it is also a very good value.
- This high-grade felt is thicker and tougher than most other felts.
- Tear-resistant felt withstands stresses much better than most other felts.
- Though a clear Best Pick, in view of its quality-to-price equation, it is also a very good value.
- Rather more expensive than other felts.
BillyOh’s shed felt is more or less as good as the competition but is a little cheaper; though a bit stiff, it has that ‘just right’ greenish hue.
BillyOh’s economical ‘Green Mineral’ felt is green-grey, as all ‘green’ felts are, but it really has a distinct green hue unlike many other ‘green’ felts. In our view, the pleasing colour puts it one up on the competition.
Though BillyOh has the word ‘Premium’ in the name of the product, they use the word ‘Standard’ in the description: “Standard Grade Felt”! In our opinion it is the latter word that more accurately describes this felt. Having said that, we must also add that it is surprisingly good at the price. It provides more than adequate waterproofing.
It will tear under stresses so you have to be careful with it. It may not be as flexible as other felts, and relatively speaking is a touch on the stiff side.
A packet of clout nails is included.
This is genuinely a good quality standard-grade felt but no matter what one may think of the quality, it is an undeniable value for money. As it is a bit cheaper than most other felts yet just as good – and perhaps even a bit better on one or two counts – we are ‘stuck on’ BillyOh’s Roofing Felt as our Value Pick.
- Provides very good waterproofing.
- Compared to other ‘green mineral’ felts, this one has a distinct (and pleasing) green hue.
- Probably the best value-for-money roll of felt.
- ‘Premium’ roofing felt? Not!
- A bit stiffer than other felts.
Perhaps more prone to tearing than other felts, Chesterfelt’s felt is very serviceable and comes complete with nails and adhesive – a ‘value deal.’
Chesterfelt Green Mineral Shed Felt has the typical or ‘classic’ greenish grey colour – grey with just a hint of green. This bitumen felt is sold in rolls of 10 metres.
This felt is on the thin side and is rather prone to tearing and will need TLC treatment. Beginners would do well to steer clear of it. However, it really does the job keeping water out, in which respect this is a very serviceable product.
It comes with a packet of clout nails and a tube of guttering sealant. Now and then the pack of nails or the tube of adhesive is missing from the package. The packet of nails may or may not be enough for the job you need to do.
Because both clout nails and sealant are included, Chesterfelt’s Shed Felt is a convenience purchase and a solid value for money. Though it may be just a shade costlier than other standard-grade shed roofing felts, unlike other products you get everything in one package at one price. For this reason it could have nicked our Value Pick spot.
- Roofing felt, adhesive sealant, and clout nails all in one package means you’re ‘ready to (un)roll.’
- Though a bit costlier than other felts, the package deal means it’s a very good value.
- Probably more likely to tear under low to moderate stress than other felts.
- Now and then the package is missing the pack of nails or the tube of adhesive.
A thinnish felt, Rose Roofing’s budget-class item is dull grey and may tear but it is easy to lay, is very flexible, and is a smart value for money.
Rose Roofing’s Green Mineral Shed felt is not even green-grey but is very much grey – call it ‘Drab Grey.’ It is different from most other felts in that it is made of plastic. It is sold in rolls of 10 metres.
It is a thinnish felt and does tend to tear so those who are inexperienced in handling felt may wish to avoid this choice. A good feature is that it is relatively easy to cut very cleanly and straight. It is also not the least bit stiff and is very flexible, allowing for easy laying.
For standard-quality roofing felt, Rose Roofing’s Mineral Felt demonstrates admirable waterproofing capability.
It comes with a packet of clout nails. It contains quite a generous quantity of nails but the length is on the short side.
In sum, this is an inexpensive, budget-class felt that in its own right is a very good value for money.
This felt is meant to offer protection for up to 5 years.
- A very flexible felt that facilitates easy laying.
- Comparatively easy to cut straight and clean.
- Very good waterproofing capability.
- A dull shade of grey and lacking the green tinge.
- Thinnish, and a bit prone to tearing under some stress.
Not thin and resistant to tearing, IKO’s felt is more expensive than others but looks the part; this high-quality product is a ‘semi-premium’ felt.
IKO Shed Felt in Black is made of a mineral-coated fabric and is sold in rolls of 8 metres. Besides black it is also available in red and the traditional green.
Billed as having a ‘decorative fine mineral finish,’ IKO’s felt perhaps has the finest finish among the felts reviewed here – it may be the best-looking felt.
This felt is easy to cut straight. It is not as thin as other standard felts, tolerates stresses better, and is less prone to tearing than much of the competition. It also does an excellent job at rain-proofing.
A varying and limited number of clout nails are almost always included, and they are usually too short or too small. However, whatever quantity is supplied, consider it a bonus or something like a free sample because IKO does not state on their product listing that tacks or nails are included.
IKO’s shed felt, a little costlier on a per-metre basis than other ‘standard’ felts, is also a little better. In fact, the quality is so good that we feel that even though it is pricy, in the balance it is really good value. It may be considered a ‘semi-premium’ shed felt.
This product should definitely last for its stated ‘5 year life’.
- Fabric-based felt is less prone to tearing than most competing products.
- ‘Semi-premium’ quality felt provides reliable waterproofing.
- The finish and appearance are better than those of most other felts.
- Metre-for-metre, costlier than other roofing felts.
- If clout nails are included, they are usually too short.
How To Replace Shed Roofing
Replacing shed roofing felt is a hazardous job and safety should be your paramount consideration. You should know how to position, rest, and stabilise a ladder securely. You should also wear shoes with grippy soles. Oddly enough, the actual task is easy and does not require advanced DIY skills. You need to be very good at measuring, calculating, and cutting above all else.
Look into the state of your shed’s roof and be sure that it can support your body weight. In any case, keep near but not at the edges of the roof and distribute your weight across feet, knees, and hands.
Do not attempt this task on a windy day or when the roof is wet or even damp. On a windy day it may turn into an exercise in futility and applying felt on a damp roof will likely lead to warpage or mould rather than roof protection!
The tools you will need include a utility knife or craft knife, cutting board, safety cutting straightedge, marking chalk or marking pencil, measuring tape, claw hammer, clout nails, and bituminous felt adhesive. Two ladders would be optimal; one for you and one for your helper. A long-handled wide floor brush would be very helpful.
Shed roofing felt is laid in ‘runs’ along the length or across the width of the roof. A widthwise run goes from one side to another, that is, from eaves upward and over the ridge down to the other side. A lengthwise run goes parallel to the eaves and ridge from gable to gable. Applying felt in lengthwise runs is the better choice for two reasons: to facilitate rainwater runoff and to obtain a pleasing, symmetrical look. Both ends are achieved by utilising one and the same trick: working your way ‘uphill’ from eaves to ridge, and overlapping successive runs by a some centimetres.
You need to remove the old felt first, though. Pull out all the nails with claw of the hammer and peel off the old felt cleanly and completely. If patches remain stuck to the roof, make gentle use of a chisel, a non-industrial solvent like mineral spirits, or both, to remove the felt.
Measure your roof to figure out how much roofing felt you will need. Keep in mind that the vast majority of felt is one metre in width.
Calculating (and cutting to) the length is easy enough: measure the roof from gable to gable and add 3 centimetres for the overhang of each end. So if the roof measures 4.9 metres, you would arrive at a figure of 4.96 metres. In this case, for convenience and practicality, you may as well cut to lengths of 5 metres. But cut only one length first! This is so you can do a test run for confirmation.
Calculating the number of runs you will need is more difficult. Say one-half of the pitched roof as measured from ridge to eaves (the gable’s hypotenuse) is 2.25 metres. Now we need 3 centimetres on each side (width) of a run for overlap but at least 5 centimetres for the overhang. So the effective width of the first or lowermost run of felt will be only 0.92 metres and that of the successive runs will be 0.94 metres. Very small differences, yes, but they make all the difference in the world between getting the right overlap or leaving a strip of roof unprotected! So you’ll need two widths of one metre felt that will cover 1.86 metres (of one side), leaving a band of 0.39 metre width along the ridge (on one side, therefore also on the other side). This means that a total of five runs (of 5 metre length) of one metre-width felt will be what you need: two runs on each side and the fifth run along the ridge, overlapping the runs just below it. No need to trim the widths to get 3 centimetres of overlap, you can simply distribute the total ‘excess’ width to the overhangs on each side and the overlaps.
Lay the length of felt you have cut along the eaves on one side, gable to gable. Between you and your helper, hold it taut – but do not pull – to check that the length is correct, accounting for the equal gable-side overhangs that will be tucked in.
Now bearing in mind that we have a cumulative ‘excess’ width, go for a total overhang over the eaves of around 9 centimetres (i.e. about 4 additional centimetres). Handle the felt with care so that no unnecessary stresses are exerted on it, otherwise it may tear. On the roof, make a little line on each side in pencil or chalk to mark where the upper edge should fall. If all is well, you will cut the remaining lengths to size. But while you’re at it, mark out where the second run will be placed too. (The fifth and last run will go above this second run, along and atop the ridge.)
Cutting felt clean and straight is best done by unrolling it so that the part you are cutting rests on a cutting board, firmly pressing down the straightedge while cutting along the straightedge with the utility knife. If you know how to use and hold a safety cutting straightedge correctly so that your holding hand is protected at all times, well and good, otherwise learn the technique.
Now to the general procedure of laying the roofing felt. Begin by laying the first run of felt crosswise along the eaves or overhangs, gable to gable, aligning the upper edge to your marks. Then move ‘one level’ up and overlap the just-laid felt with another parallel run. Work your way up the slope almost, but not quite, to the ridge. Then start over from the other side in the same way. Finally, lay one last length of felt along and on the ridge; this topmost layer would overlap each layer on either side. In our hypothetical case, you would lay two runs along each side and then the fifth and last one over and along the length of the ridge.
When you lay each run of felt, you and your helper should hold it straight and taut without pulling it or slip-sliding it along the roof. Use the brush to tamp it down so that it lies flat. Lift up one side and apply some adhesive to the underside of the felt and roof and press down. Hammer in clout nails along that side at 5 centimetre spacings, up the gable (i.e. the gable hypotenuse). Now the other end of the felt must gently be pulled taut and the length tamped down flat with the brush before being adhered and nailed on the other side too. Come over to the lengthwise edge along the eaves and squeeze out some adhesive to stick the felt along the edges, patting and pressing the felt downward as you do so. Now drive nails in lengthwise along the run on both edges, about 3 centimetres in and at spacings of 5 to 10 centimetres.
Now repeat the previous step, laying another run of felt but overlapping the first one that will be below the current run. Having planned for an overlap of 5 centimetres, the cumulative ‘excess’ width means that you can overlap more generously by 9 or so centimetres. (Though if you think that a 9-centimetre overlap is a bit much, by all means trim the width of the felt.) Stick and nail down the sides the same as for the first run. However, you will be sticking the lengthwise, downward edge of this second run of felt over the first one. The nails that you hammer in lengthwise, you will need to intersperse them with the nails that were driven down earlier and are underneath the second run of felt.
Lay the roofing felt on the other side of the roof in the same way.
Now to the last run. Lay the last run atop and along the ridge, half the width down one side and half down the other. As before make sure that you and your helper make it taut, and lying flat along both sides. Stick and nail down one end, pull it taut and brush it flat along both sides, and fasten the other end. Remember to apply adhesive under the length on each side and tamp down, and then hammer in the clout nails.
But there’s one last step. To complete the job, the extra felt overhanging all sides of the roof has to be folded over and tucked in under the roof. Do this along the gable (the slopes) first, and finish along the eaves. Apply adhesive to the underside of the felt, stick it on the underside of the roof, and drive in nails with the same spacing as you did previously. Finishing the job with this final tucking-in fully protects the roof and presents a neat, professional look.
You may want to cut out a square piece from the overlap at each of the four corners so that you can tuck and fold the felt neatly, without a fold-on-fold.
Kersie learnt the basics of gardening as a toddler, courtesy of his grandfather. In his youth he was an active gardener with a preference for flowering plants. He is a professional and vocational writer and his freelance projects have spanned various kinds of writing.