Joy worked in construction for 7 years alongside her husband (25+ yrs. experience)—working on pole barns, grain bins, and barn repairs.
How Much Repair Is Needed?
The barn in question is not in horrible condition, but was becoming swaybacked, and would eventually have fallen in on itself if proper repairs had not been done.
I was pleased when my husband and I were called to fix the sagging roof. The barn was still being used for animals and equipment storage, and had all the marks of a long, evolving life.
Some roofs will be worse than this one, and will necessitate more tools, time, and materials to put right. This fix took about half a day. If your roof is seriously sagging, you may need a come-along in order to winch the sides of your building back into place, before you add bracing. Some barns require at least one come-along as a permanent fixture, strung across the haymow, to keep them from continuing to buckle outward.
Incomplete Photos, But Enough to Help!
Hopefully, the following pictures and instructions will help you figure out how to fix your own sagging roof.
The Extent of the Damages to the Barn Roof
Tools and Supplies
- Carpenter's pencil
- Circular saw
- Chalk box, optional
- Nail gun
- 16-penny cement-coated nails for use with all lumber (nail gun strips)
- 2-inch roofing nails for plywood . . .
- . . . or 8-penny nail gun nails, 12-penny if you prefer
- Screw gun, if needed
- 2'x6' lumber—the amount will vary according to your situation
- OSB board or plywood at least 1/2" thick—the number of sheets will vary. 5/8" or 9/16" thick is best.
- Replacement roof materials and corresponding hardware, if needed
- Imagination, a sense of humor, a good temper, patience, and, lastly, common sense
If Installing Metal Roof Sheets
- 2" sheet metal screws
- Screw gun
- Appropriate metal roof sheets
- Tin snips
- Electric metal shears, optional—if needing to trim sheets lengthwise, they make the job clean and fast, especially on high ribs
- Square or straight edge, for marking screw lines across sheets in line with purlins
Overview of the Construction Process
Your goal is to strengthen and reshape the roof through means of wooden braces, 2'x6' lumber, possibly new or added purlins, and maybe a come-along manual winch.
You will use a hydraulic floor jack to lift a long 2'x6' against strategic points along the roof to nudge the roof back into shape. Then you will make triangle-shaped braces from plywood or OSB, and install them under the ridge. If needed, a come-along can gently be used to help pull the barn into shape by hooking it to the walls.
After these changes, your barn should maintain its shape well enough not to be a danger to occupants, and you should be able to follow up with other roof or structural repairs.
Stage 1: Placing the Bottom Part of the First Brace
- Using a 2'x6' and a floor jack, we gently pushed a small section of the roof level.
- We used preexisting structural materials to take measurements for the new structural reinforcements.
- Take accurate measurements at crucial points on the structure—this means at the apex of the roof and at both corners. Write them down. These measurements are necessary for cutting the OSB.
Making Wooden Braces: Cutting and Placing the Plywood Triangle on the First Brace
There is no magic to making triangle braces. Careful measurements and a reasonably snug fit are required, but beyond this, what you need to do is whatever works.
The 2'x6' lumber itself does not substantially hold the barn; the triangle of plywood or OSB does that. The lumber is there to stabilize the triangle, which will, in turn, uphold and shape the barn roof.
Stage 2: Repeat Bracing as Needed
The first section is complete. The next few steps, depending on the roof, will be very similar.
You will keep reshaping the roof a bit at a time with the long board and hydraulic jack, pausing to make more custom braces as you go.
The first step of stage two is to place the long board to support the roof sag again! This will allow you to remeasure for each new brace and eliminate the ridge gap.
Holes Along the Ridge
How much gap needs to be sucked out along the ridge in order for your ridge cap to work properly? In new construction, a gap up to 4" wide is sometimes left. However, in this example repair, we tried to remove all the gap we could, resulting in 2" to 3" toward the peak of the barn.
If you get the gaps down to 2", your building should become weather tight with proper installation of a new ridge cap, and foam closure strips. Ridge cap trim is usually a total of 11" wide.
Distinct Brace Measurements
Each brace's measurements are likely to be slightly different than the one before, and you should never assume that what you did for the first brace will serve the others. Treat each as an individual, just as you did the first.
Finishing the Second Brace
The roof is looking much better than it did at the beginning of the project but is only about halfway done. More bracing is required, also purlins need to be added, roof sheets must be replaced, and ridge cap extended.
Stage 3: Jacking Up and Bracing the Third Section for Additional Bracing
More bracing can be put where needed. In our case, we installed new purlins between rafters toward the front of the barn, where the entire structure had disintegrated, and metal roof sheets had disappeared.
This fix was fairly straightforward, but if yours is trickier, use whatever ingenuity you need to in order to make your building safe and reliable.
The Roof Is Back Where It Belongs
King County Barn Preservation Program
Using a Come-Along
If a come-along is required in order to pull the barn together enough for the roof to meet, the following is a good way to attach it.
Insert lag bolts near the ends of two lengths of 3/8" or 1/2" diameter chain, securing the chains to the insides of your barn loft walls opposite each other. The chains should have hooks. Secure your come-along between the chains, and draw the barn back together by degrees.
If your barn starts to creak, groan, pop, or yell excessively—STOP! You can wait several hours or a couple of days, wait for adjustments to take place, and pull the building together a little more. A building whose bones hurt may require several days to put right.
Whatever you do, please use common sense, and don't damage your barn further, or cause it to collapse on anyone.
A come-along can be used in conjunction with the jacking method shown here.
If you believe your barn may not be fixed permanently by merely installing braces, you may install at least one come-along permanently in the haymow.
More Damage Means More Bracing
The steps shown here can be repeated as far along your roof as necessary. Continue jacking, bracing, and aligning through all the affected roof sections.
We haven't had a call-back, and the customer seems satisfied whenever we see him around, so we can say that this has been a successful repair!
Do you have experience fixing a roof or do you need a roof fixed? Leave your questions and experiences in the comments below!
Restored Barn Transformed Into a Home
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2019 Joilene Rasmussen
Joilene Rasmussen (author) from United States on July 12, 2019:
Renovationhyderabad, thanks! I'm happy to be of use!
renovationhyderabad on July 12, 2019: