Is My Roof Strong Enough to Walk on? How You Can Easily Test.

The Best Way to Test If Your Roof Is Strong Enough to Walk On

Roofs hold live and dead loads and still retain structural integrity. According to local building codes, standard roofs bear about 20 Lbs. per square foot.

Home DIY projects and maintenance tasks may require you to work from the roof. Considering the height is often 15 to 30 feet, avoiding risks that will endanger your life and safety is essential.

More robust materials such as metal and clay can support more weight in every square foot. The roof can cave in or break if the live and dead loads exceed the roof’s limit. 

How Much Weight Can a Normal Roof Hold?


Generally, roofs should support a dead load of 15 to 20 pounds. The International Building Code (IBC) also stipulates other general requirements. However, some states, such as Maryland, have different restrictions.

So, what’s the difference between dead and live loads?

Dead Loads

Dead load refers to the permanent weight the roof supports due to the construction materials. It includes the gutters, underlayment, shingles, and the adhesive materials used to hold these materials in place.

A regular shingled roof holds between 15 and 20 pounds every square foot. This measurement accounts for the weight of the shingles and supporting construction materials.

Live Loads

A roof should hold the sum of live and dead load by design, which means the roof’s load limit considers both weights.

Most roofs have a minimum live load capacity of 20 pounds per square foot in addition to the dead load. For instance, if your roof has a load capacity of 20 pounds per square foot, it can hold a live weight of 20 pounds per square foot. 

It’s essential to determine whether the weight you’ll apply when taking a step will exceed 20 pounds per square foot.

Live loads include ice, snow, water, and anything else that the roof holds temporarily. 

How to tell Your Roof Might Not Be Capable of Holding You 

When considering climbing your roof, actively preventing accidents and injuries is the best move. Prevention starts with understanding the signs that your roof’s structural integrity is below standard.

Common signs to look out for include:

Sagging Roof

Sagging is a tell-tale sign that your roof may be dangerous. Typically, the whole roof doesn’t cave simultaneously, so watching for early signs of possible collapse is essential.

Ensure you inspect the roofline for dips or bowing since these are clear indications that the roof has an issue. If you climb your roof and notice the areas you step on feel soft, spongy, or springy, get down immediately and call us. 

Visible Cracks in Your Ceiling or Bricks

If cracks on your ceiling are visible, it’s a clear sign that the roof has an invisible issue to the naked eye. It’s essential to investigate immediately, to catch the problem before it causes a disaster. 

Cracked bricks near the roof indicate that the top is applying stress, forcing the bricks to curve outwards.

Leaking Roof 

Multiple leaks on your ceiling indicate moisture is passing through your roof structure. If you notice some stains, water accumulated and sat in place for an extended period. 

The next stage is your roof sagging or bowing in those areas. In such a case, avoid climbing onto the roof and get in touch with the best Roofing Company, Kennesaw.

Unusual Sounds

When walking on any roof, listening carefully to unusual sounds is crucial. Moaning, squeaking, or creaking when you take a step could signify that the top has some weak points.

The best move is to climb down and call our Roofers Kennesaw team

Weather Damage

Weather can cause severe damage to your roof if the effects remain unnoticed. Heavy snow accumulating on your roof can weaken the structure, making it vulnerable to excessive moisture.

If you notice exposure to extreme weather on your roof, it’s best to be cautious before climbing up.

Abnormal Signs Inside Your House 

As a homeowner, you are probably intimately familiar with your house. You can leverage this knowledge to determine your roof’s integrity and the amount of weight it can support.

Look for unusual drafts, slanted floors, and soft spots on your base. Such signals indicate that your house has structural issues, so your roof may be unsafe to walk on.

How to Reinforce Your Roof

If your roof has significant damage or age, you should consider building a new roof or replacing the entire roof to retain structural integrity.

You can prevent severe damage by reinforcing the roof to ensure it can support more weight and strain than usual. 

You can take steps such as:

Attaching Trusses to Your Walls

You can fortify your roof by attaching the trusses to your walls with hurricane tie-downs or intense lashes. Some areas on the roof’s internal structure may be hard to reach, limiting the places you can attach the trusses. 

Using Construction Adhesive to Repair Damaged Shingles

Although asphalt shingles are popular roofing options, you must repair or replace damaged, chipped, and curled shingles.

Construction adhesive helps secure the unstable roof portions to prevent unwanted moisture from seeping into your roof. The water exposes the roof structure to rot over time.

We fix such issues to ensure a stable, durable roof that can support your weight if you walk on it.

Fortifying the Existing Trusses

Reinforcing the existing trusses is a great way to increase your roof’s durability. You can fasten extra wooden beams at an even distance horizontally. Ensure every beam is secure to ensure they serve its purpose.

Attaching trusses increases the weight the roof can support, using the same concept as a double plank holding more weight than one.

Strengthening your existing trusses is also an easy way to gain even more durability in your roof. It enhances the overall stability of your roof, making it safer to walk on.

Safety Tips When Walking on your Roof

Once you’re sure your roof’s structural integrity is sound, you can consider walking on your top. 

You can enhance your safety by:

Wearing Safety Gear

Climbing on any slanted roof carries the risk of slipping off the roof. You can prevent this by wearing a safety harness to hold you up if you slip.

If you don’t have adequate safety gear, it’s best to let our professionals handle the job. 

Inspecting the Roof for Slippery Surfaces

Any lingering ice, snow, dew, or rain on your roof can increase the risk of slippage. If unsure of the safety, it’s best to wait for the roof to dry completely.

Wearing Proper Footwear

Most roofs are slippery, so you should always wear the right shoes. The bottom should have a soft rubber sole that grips the roof. The footwear should have a sticky grip when you take a step, especially during hot weather. 

You can wear skate shoes, tennis shoes, or Converse because they have a design that explicitly enhances grip. Ensure your shoes’ bottom is clean because gravel and dirt can reduce traction and damage your roof. 

Sweeping off the Debris

The roof’s surface can appear dry but still have hidden moisture under debris and leaves. This moisture makes the leaves and, inevitably, the roof more slippery.

Keep a broom close by to sweep your path ahead to optimize traction.

Walking on Clay Tile Roofs

Clay tiles are fragile, so it’s essential to be cautious when walking on them. As you step forward, ensure your foot lands on the lower part of the tile or head-lap, about three inches from the edge.

Stepping across two tiles at once also helps to distribute your weight. You can also position plywood above the tiles if you plan on staying on the roof for an extended period.

Walking on Metal roofs

Metal roofs are safe to walk on if the roofing rests on closely-spaced sheathing or nailers. If the roof rests directly on the rafters or the nailers are far apart, the roof may be vulnerable to denting or fragile.

Avoid stepping on raised beams or damaged areas. Moisture also causes metal roofs to become more slippery.

Walking on Steep, Icy, Snow-Covered, and Wet Roofs

The only circumstance where it’s safe to walk on a steep, wet roof is where there are pre-installed safety railings or parapets. 

Walking on Concrete Tiles

It’s best to avoid walking on concrete tiles as much as possible. By design, these tiles can’t handle the additional live load in most cases. 

The extra weight causes the tiles to loosen or crack, creating future issues. If unavoidable, ensure you distribute your weight evenly and step from your heel.

Avoid jumping from one tile to another, and step on the visible lower third of the tile instead.

Your Safety is Paramount

Before walking on any roof, it’s essential to determine how much weight it can support. Remember that your safety comes first, and a simple DIY project to save money can end up costing you an entire roof.

Benchmark Roofing Systems has the right tools and experts to evaluate your roof’s strength and life span. 

If you need Commercial Roofing Kennesaw services, our team of experienced professionals will assist throughout the project. We excel at installing, repairing, and cleaning all types of roofs and gutters. 

We guarantee to use premier materials to ensure your roof maintains structural integrity for years. The best part is that we offer various financing options and accept insurance payments from all major providers.

Get a free estimate from us today, and get the peace of mind you deserve.

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