When doing painting and repair work above a sloped roof line, a homeowner must keep safety foremost in his or her mind. Mistakenly thinking that you simply can set up some kind of make shift support for your ladder to get you to the height you need can be very risky and can land you in the hospital.
Before undertaking this challenge one should do the appropriate research on what is available to use on sloped roofs and what will work best for your roof given the amount on incline you face.
Below are suggestions that I can give base on over 30 years of experience in the home improvement industry:
A.The first thing I recommend is assessing just how steep of a slope you are dealing with. A shallow slope may mean that all you need is a short extension ladder equipped with a good set of levelers. Shallow slope is the operative phrase here. Trying to use a ladder on slopes that are too steep to maintain proper traction of the leveler pads can result in serious injury, so use some common sense here.
B.For homeowners who plan to do their own painting, I recommend buying a good quality roof hook that attaches to the top two rungs of an extension ladder and then loops over the ridge of the roof. This allows you to safely work without worrying about sliding off the roof. I will mention also, you can even set an extension ladder that is equipped with levelers inside of the ladder rungs of the ladder that is equipped with the roof hook. It should properly support the extension ladder preventing slippage of the leveler pads on the roof.
C.Another option is to buy a roof ladder. A roof ladder is designed specifically for the purpose of doing roof work. There are several advantages in using the roof ladder. Roof ladders are easier to walk up and down the roof since it has a lower profile. There is less danger that you will trip or lose your balance when using a roof ladder. You can also set an extension ladder equipped with levelers inside of the rungs of the roof ladder. This is my favorite method; however it is the more expensive way to go. You will be investing several hundred dollars in a good roof ladder. It is worth the safety it affords, however.
D.Roof cleats or 2X4s is an option. Most homeowners cringe with the thought of driving nails into their roof, especially if it is a relatively new roof they are working over. Of course the nail holes have to be filled with roofing patch when the cleats are removed. If you decide to use roof cleats, keep in mind that nails can pull out, and especially on very steep roofs. Some people make the mistake of using 2 layers of 2X4s to work off of. The problem with this is that by using 2 layers you are putting more stress on the nails that are securing the 2X4s and often they will bend and pull out sending you down the roof. Only use one layer of 2X4 for cleats. The another problem with this method, is that you have to cover your roof with a drop cloth to protect from paint. This can make navigating up and down the roof dangerous. The other option is to put the drop cloth down first and nail the cleats through the drop cloth. This will damage your drop cloths but is much safer. Using cleats on your roof is also more dangerous when trying to us an extension ladder equipped with levelers. I personally do not use and extension ladder in conjunction with roof cleats.
The best policy is to play it safe. Use the roof ladder or roof hook for maximum safety. Just one mistake can ruin you for a lifetime. If money is an issue, then save until you have enough money to purchase the proper equipment. The house maintenance can wait for your safety. The best tip offered by house painters is to always put your safety first.