It’s that time of year again! The holiday season is that magical time of year when everyone brings down the lights, reindeer and santa figurines, and garlands from the attic and channels their inner Clark Griswold to create the biggest and most exciting Christmas display in the neighborhood. Decorating is a cherished holiday tradition, but if you’re not careful it can lead to a blue Christmas. According to the United States Consumer Safety Commision, since 2009 there have been over 12,000 emergency room visits during the months of November and December. Out of these incidents, 34% of these accidents were caused by falls from decorating a roof. Taking a few precautions and learning the do’s and don’ts of holiday roof decorating will help make sure your house looks beautiful for the holidays and ensure that your holiday season will stay merry and bright.
5 Don’ts For Decorating Your Roof
Tip #1 Don’t Decorate if the Weather is Bad
Snowy days should be reserved for drinking cocoa and watching holiday specials indoors. When the weather outside is frightful, do not attempt to hang up your decorations. The snow and rain can make your roof or ladder slippery and increase the risk for an incident. Instead, wait for a relatively warm day with no snow, rain, or wind. Not only is it safer, it will also be easier for you to hang your decorations without the wind blowing them away.
Tip #2 Don’t Work Alone
When it comes to working on a roof, teamwork makes the dream work. Call over a friend to help you with your decorating. Having a person on the ground makes the work much safer and easier. They can hold your ladder steady while you climb, hand you tools and decorations, and, if the worst should happen, get help in the event of an accident. Plus, it’s always good to have a second opinion from someone who can see the display from the street.
Tip #3 Don’t Haul Heavy Items Up the Ladder
When choosing decorations for your roof, it’s best to look for lightweight items like inflatables and string lights and leave the larger and heavier items like statues and figurines on the ground. Keep the load-bearing capacity of your roof in mind as you make your selections. Not only can heavy decorations overburden your roof and lead to damage, they can also cause accidental injuries by falling off the roof during a storm. If you do want to add a large or cumbersome but lightweight item to your roof, do not attempt to carry it up the ladder yourself. Instead, use a rope to pull the items up after you are safely positioned on the roof.
Tip #4 Don’t Use Nails or Staples
Nails and staples have been used traditionally to secure string lights to the roof of the house, but these items can damage your roof and siding and often don’t hold your decorations very securely (especially when used on fiber cement). Instead, look for modern options like shingle clips and gutter hooks. Shingle clips will slip underneath the shingle to securely hold the lights to the roof. Gutter hooks can also be used to hang string lights as long as they are not too heavy.
Tip #5 Don’t Go Overboard
It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of the holiday season, but bigger isn’t always better. When planning out your Christmas display, it is important to be aware of the limitations of your roof, your circuit board, and your own abilities, especially if you are a beginner. Choose lightweight, uncomplicated decorations that will not overburden your roof. For lights and electric decorations, do not plug too many items into one outlet. This can overload your circuit and lead to a fire. Placing a few items properly will ensure that your house looks fun and festive while keeping you (and your house) safe and sound.
5 Do’s For Decorating Your Roof
Tip #1 Inspect Your Roof Beforehand
Before you can begin decorating, it is important to get a lay of the land (or in this case the roof). Choose a warm day to inspect your roof for any broken tiles or shingles and ensure that there is no ice or debris on top of your roof. While you’re inspecting your roof, take measurements to determine how many strands of lights you will need and note the distance to electrical outlets.
Tip #2 Choose the Right Gear
When decorating your roof, make sure to plan ahead and make sure you are dressed properly for the task. Wear sturdy shoes that will not slip on the roof as well as warm clothes. You should also inspect all of the electrical cords to ensure that they are all rated for outdoor use and free of any damage. Test your lights beforehand to ensure they are working properly before hanging them. Also make sure your ladder is stable and tall enough for your needs. A good rule of thumb is to use a ladder that is at least 3 feet taller than the roofline. Make sure you have all the tools and decorations you need at hand before you begin to decorate.
Tip #3 Carefully Consider Where You Place Your Decorations
Finding the perfect place for your decorations is going to largely depend on the size and design of your roof. Place your decor pieces on your roof in areas that are easy for you to access and within the weight limits for your roof. Instead of covering your entire roof in decorations, focus on key areas like the roofline or use a specific item like an inflatable or cut out to serve as a focal point. No matter what type of decorations you use, keep them away from your chimney, power lines, vents, or trees. You should also avoid placing items on parts of the roof with a steep pitch (45 degrees or higher).
Tip #4 Secure Your Decorations
Once you have your decorations arranged the way you want them, take the time to ensure that they are properly secured. Even if you use lightweight items, a good strong wind or snowstorm can knock them off your roof. Use ropes to keep inflatables tethered to the eaves or soffits of the roof. Some inflatables can also be attached to a plywood frame to keep them weighted to the roof.
Tip #5 Be a Courteous Neighbor
Christmas is a time when we share goodwill with our neighbors… especially the ones who live next door. Whenever decorating, it is wise to keep the rest of the neighborhood in mind as you plan and prepare your decorations. Keep your decorating limited to your own property and if they feature flashing lights, sound effects, or music, use a timer to turn them on and off at a reasonable time. If you take a moment to consider the needs of the people who live around you, they are sure to enjoy your holiday display too.
Many people wait all year for the moment when they can deck their houses out to celebrate the holidays. Follow these simple tips to keep the season safe and festive while ensuring your house looks beautiful. For more tips on how to decorate your home, inside and out, check out our holiday and seasonal blog articles.