How to Make and Mark Chalk Lines

Chalk Lines

It does not matter what business you are in, with most trades you learn a trick or two along the way. In this post I will teach you about one of my favourite tips – a trick long used by roofers and probably by any other profession where you have to make straight lines over some distance. Focusing on roofing now though: When you are doing major work to your roof it is important to do everything right. Never is this more important than when installing a new roof, as any mistakes and delays will cost you money. When you come to the part of putting down new tiles, you will need them to be straight and the use of chalk lines is indispensable – especially if you put them down without using furring strips. By marking the roof deck with chalk lines, it will clearly show you where to install each course.

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How to Make and Mark Chalk Lines

So, start by laying down a tile along the eave and at each rake, these are the so called sample tiles and remember to allow for whatever the recommended overhang is, normally somewhere between 1 ¼ – 3 inches. Hook the chalked line to the upper edges of the two tiles and stretch it taut. Lift up the chalked line and let it snap back down, leaving a chalk line behind. Now you will need to measure the distance from the line that you made, all the way up to the top of the sheathing. Then divide that distance by recommended exposure for the tiles that you are using. This is the recommended exposure from the manufacturer. If you can divide the distance into an even multiple of the exposure, then great – do so!

Continue by marking the successive exposure, working from the first chalk line you made and all the way to the ridge board. Snap horizontal lines as you go. Once you have done this and it is time to lay the tiles down, you just have to align the upper edges of the tiles with the chalk lines that you have made. It could not be easier! Sometimes though, if there is an odd fraction of the exposure you will have to compensate for this. Do not worry – this is not a big issue. Just remember to do this by shortening the tile exposure over the entire distance between eave and ridge.

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