A Roofer’s Tips for Holiday Decorating


Driving around Knoxville and East Tennessee neighborhoods during the holiday season is always a treat.  It’s fun to see the creativity and enjoy the imagination that go into yard decorations. But, for some reason, it’s always the glitter and lights on the roof that attract the most attention.

Whether it’s Santa with his sleigh or Rudolph and all the reindeer, our eyes are immediately drawn to those eye-catching lights and displays around the chimney.  A lot of hard work goes into those high-flying scenes, including steps to protect the roof during the installation process.

Here are some things to think about if you’re considering decorating your roof this holiday season. The first thing always is safety. Whatever you do, be careful and take steps to avoid the possibility of an accident. Then, think about these ideas:

1.     Clean Your Gutters Thoroughly

Your gutters should be completely clean before you start hanging lights. Full gutters are hazardous, giving your light strings more places to get caught up and even potentially leading to fires. Of course, gutters also help ensure that your roof diverts rain more effectively.

The main purpose of your gutters is to make sure water leaving your roof doesn’t drain directly into the footers of your building. If this goes on over a long enough period of time, it can affect your foundation and lead to pricey repairs.

2.     Select Decor Thoughtfully

When planning your holiday rooftop extravaganza, consider your roof’s structure. To decorate your roof safely, you might need to pass on the full-size sled and reindeer. Heavy decorations can often put more weight on your roof than it can bear. The average home may not be equipped with the proper weight-bearing structures to allow for such heavy decor. Over time, this unsupported weight will damage your roof, leading to roof repairs and re-roofing needs down the road.

3.     Think Ladder Safety

Once you begin working on setting up the roof decorations, follow all the standard ladder safety rules like making sure the ladder is firmly planted on even ground, maintaining three points of contact at all time, and ensuring that the ladder is stable and of good quality before you climb.

4.     Have a Spotter

Whether you’re cleaning out gutters, inspecting shingles, or putting up holiday roof decorations, if possible, have a friend, family member, or neighbor spot you from the ground.  Should anything happen while you’re decorating your roof, your spotter can help you out by making sure you’re safe.

5.     Avoid Power Lines

You may think that you can navigate easily around power lines and poles, but if you’re wrong, the consequences can be deadly.  Power lines near your trees or roof mean that you should keep away.  When decorating your roof, keep yourself, your ladder, and your decorations a safe distance away from those power lines.

6.     Use Clips to Secure Decorations

It might seem easier and faster to install lights and decorations with a hammer, but this method will cause much more harm than good.  Hammering nails into your roof will certainly damage the shingles.  The shingles are the first layer of defense for a roofing system, and once your hammer in nails, the penetration can invite water into the layers underneath.  Water exposure is never your friend, especially in a roofing system.  Take care of your roof and use clips designed for securing lights to its surface instead.  This could save you costly repairs—or an even costlier replacement—down the road.

7.     Use Heavy-Duty Extension Cords

Don’t use old, damaged, or overloaded extension cords while decorating your roof for the holidays.  This also includes extension cords that aren’t designed for outdoor use.  You don’t want your holiday to include a house fire, which could be the case if you aren’t using appropriate outdoor, heavy-duty extension cords for your roof decorations.

8.     Use UL Approved Lights

The majority of holiday roof decorations are lights.  It can be tempting to go for less expensive lights, especially if you’re needing a lot of strands for a festive light display.  However, cheaper lights that don’t carry the UL approval can lead to shorts and safety concerns like a fire.  UL stands for Underwriters Laboratory, which regulates and inspects all kinds of products and sets high safety standards for consumer use.

9.     Use GFCI Outlets

Be sure to plug all of your outdoor lights into circuits that are GFCI.  GFCI stands for ground fault circuit interrupters.  These outlets prevent electric shock by helping to break differing currents of hot and neutral wires.  Not only does this make it safer for you, but these GFCI circuits help protect your home.

10.  Don’t Overload Your Outlets or Extension Cords

Don’t exceed three sets of standard lights per extension cord—and remember, that extension cord should be designed for outdoor use!


Garrett Construction and Roofing wishes you a Happy Holiday season. At Garrett, roofing and remodeling are our specialties. Under the experienced leadership of Matt Garrett, our experienced crews stand ready to handle all your roofing needs. Serving East Tennessee since 2005, we are a licensed General Contractor and our general services range from full residential and commercial construction projects to remodeling, painting, drywall, roofing and gutters. Call us for a free consultation.