Getting ready to deck the halls for the holidays? Before you start hanging lights and other rooftop decorations, take a few moments to prepare. Decorating without a plan could lead to costly roofing repairs for your home.

Some roofing materials are better than others when it comes to withstand foot traffic. For instance, cement tiles bear weight exponentially better than low-end asphalt shingles. Regardless, it is wise to only walk on your roof sparingly to avoid potential damage.

Numerous internet articles foolishly instruct you to nail or staple lights to your asphalt shingle roof. Never do anything to create holes in your shingles, or anywhere else on your roof! Even tiny holes create openings for moisture to enter and compromise the structure of the shingle. Not familiar with the components of your roof? It’s a good time to learn roofing structure basics before you put up your Christmas lights. Display your holiday cheer without harming your roof by following these tips:

Call Roofers First

Before you set up any decorations, make sure you call a roofer to inspect for roof damage. A damaged roof can present many problems, including some that concern your personal safety. Call for roof repairs first, then decorate.

Caring for Gutters

Similar to installing on a roof, avoid any method resulting in gutter holes.  Even small holes in gutters allow water to leak. Prevent damage to fascia boards as well. Even a small amount of water infiltration can lead to future rotting. If possible, avoid leaning a ladder against the face of the gutter. This can damage the gutter edge when climbing on the roof.  Ideally, use a ladder with standoffs or wrap the ladder with a blanket to help disperse the load on the gutter.

Hanging Lights Correctly

The best (and only correct) approach involves using non-invasive, specialized clips on your gutters. For areas without gutters, use the clips on the shingles or drip edge. When working close to shingles, avoid breaking the sealant in between the layers of asphalt shingles. This commonly occurs when you lift the edge of the shingle.

Untangle and check all lights and cords – Take time to unwind your lights and their cords. Inspect all your lights, cords, and outlets for signs of impairment. This is important because tangled or damaged lights can pose an extreme safety hazard for both you and your roof.

Use plastic clips and other accessories – There are helpful decoration tools and accessories that won’t hurt your roof like staple guns do. For instance, plastic clips and zip ties are useful for attaching lights and other festive displays to your roof.

Avoid walking on the roof – Try to not walk on your roof unless you absolutely have to. Staying off the roof can help prevent roof damage – and help you stay out of harm’s way.

Safety First

Do not attempt to hang Christmas lights when it’s wet or damp. This sounds like common sense, but I know when people are on a mission, they often put safety aside. The other often ignored safety precaution is having someone nearby anytime you are on a roof or ladder.