Residential Shingle Roofing

What Are Your Options?  What Should You Know?

Every residential dwelling will require roof replacement and or repair during the lifetime of the structure.  Dependent upon the type of roof and the location, this replacement of roofing material could occur several times during the use of the structure.  

This article focuses on the typical residential shingle roof which the majority of homeowners have.  A shingle roof is identified by the repeated pattern of what are called a shingle tabs. These tabs can be rectangle ( the most common ), square or even triangled.  The material is normally made up of an asphalt or fiberglass composite. Wood or slate shingles are also common, however this presentation concerns only asphalt, fiberglass, or any composite of these materials.  

Basic roofing terms or nomenclature, include the following:

  1. A square of roofing is identified as a section of roof that is 100SF in area with a dimension of 10 ft by 10 ft.
  2. What is referred to as normal weight shingles will require ( 3 ) bundles of shingles to complete one square of roofing.  Architectural or heavy weight shingles will require ( 4 ) bundles of shingles to accommodate a square of roofing area. The heavier the weight of shingle the longer the warranty period and the longer the roof will remain functional.  
  3. The subsurface of most residential roofs is plywood.  In older roofs there could be roofing boards applied to the roof rafters and not plywood.  Replacement of any deteriorated sub material, whether plywood or roofing boards is recommended prior to the installation of any new roof.  
  4. Flashings are any material such as copper, aluminum, rubber or synthetic material that will cover the interface of the roof and a wall, chimney, valley, dormer or other element of construction that does not occur within the common plane of the actual roof.  Flashings ensure that there is a continual waterproof membrane between different elements on the roof.
  5. Underlayment is the material that is installed over the plywood or roofing boards, prior to the application of the shingles.  This underlayment originally was an asphalt impregnated paper material that was referred to as 15 pound felt, however technology has advanced this application to various synthetic products such as “ snow and ice shield “ which is a rubber membrane adhered to the subsurface of the roof. The specific physical location of the roof will dictate the type of underlayment used by your contractor.
  6. Ridge vent refers to a continuous venting system that is installed within the roofing at the ridge or peak of the roof. This product is designed  to allow the area below the roof to vent or breathe to the exterior. It has been proven that proper venting is required to allow the area below the roof, whether it is a full attic space or any enclosed space that is not conditioned, to acclimatize and not become overheated. This ability for the roof to vent and has been proven to be an extremely important aspect of proper roof design and functionality.  
  7. Fasteners refers to the type of nails, staples or other means of securing the roofing shingles to the subsurface.  What is important in regards to fasteners is that the proper size, type and material is used to ensure that there is no compromise of the warranty of the entire roofing system.  It is important that any fasteners used do not deteriorate with time and weather and do not stain the roofing surfaces.
  8. Warranty for a roofing system, warranty is a very important condition, due to the fact that it relates to the weight of the shingles, the type of shingle, as well as the length of time that the roof is expected to last.  Although the location of the roof will have a direct bearing on the length of warranty, the more years the better. Current manufacturers of roofing products use the warranty period as a measurement of the quality of the product.  If the warranty is a 30 year roof, then the materials are heavier and more durable than a 20 year roof. However, the cost of a 30 year roof is more than a 20 year roof.

Important aspects when considering a re-roofing or roof repair project.

  1. The contractor should be an experienced roofer who takes pride in their work.  This installer should have no problem insuring you that they will correct any issue with the roof within a 5 year period.  Certainly any period of time more than this 5 year duration only adds to the authenticity of this installer.
  2. The installer should identify local roofs and contacts that they have successfully worked for.  The roofing industry is highly competitive and roofers come and go.   The successful roofers have a reputation to uphold and their longevity in business is an indication that your roofer is a qualified contractor.
  3. The need for a downpayment should be expected, but anything over 25% of the total contract value should be challenged.
  4. It is my opinion that an individual contractor unassociated with any of the larger home building supply stores is preferable.   In this manner you are engaging in a specific individual that will provide loyal and conscientious service.
  5. Removal of the existing roof is recommended.  Even if the roof is only a single layer, lack of its removal will hide any subsurface issues that may exist and not allow the contractor to install an underlayment product directly to the subsurface, therefore compromising the final installation.
  6. Protection of the surrounding plants and landscaping during the roof removal and replacement must be discussed and your concern clearly indicated to the contractor.  Although protection is assumed, this issue is important and should be clearly noted during initial discussions.
  7. Final cleanup as well as total removal of all roofing fasteners must also be discussed with the contractor. Roofing is an application that involves a substantial number of nails and other types of flashings and fasteners.  It is important that the contractor be responsible for a complete cleaning of the premises inclusive of using magnets to ensure all metal fasteners are removed from the lawn and planting areas.
  8. It is mandatory that you as the owner insists on a comprehensive insurance policy that names you as “ additionally insured”.  The insurance for a roofing contractor is very important due to the potential for injury or damage to the existing structure.  
  9. Discussion must take place regarding the contractors plans for rain during the roofing operation.  Obviously the removal and installation of the roof must be coordinated with the weather, however, thunderstorms can surprise even the most experienced roofer.  Discuss the use of tarps and the roofers procedures if this type of weather is pending.
  10. Perimeter gutters and leaders should be surveyed for either repair or replacement.  It makes sense that if you are financially obligated to a new roof, you should also be aware that this is the most efficient and practical time for gutter repair or replacement.  
  11.       Miscellaneous perimeter structures such as carports, wood sheds, utility sheds, etc should be discussed to ensure that the contractor includes the required flashings and or re-roofing of these types of structures in their bid for the work.

Your roof is the most important aspect of your home in regard to maintaining the integrity of the interior.  A leaky roof will cause damage that becomes greater as time goes on.  Mold, structural damage as well as total destruction of finishes will result if your roof is not maintained.  

The small additional costs that could be associated with contracting with an experienced, knowledgeable and reliable roofing contractor, is small payment for the personal security and well being of knowing that your replacement roof has been properly installed.  

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