There are many things to consider when you are looking into getting a new roof. Colors… Styles… Warranties… What do you do? Below is just a small list of some of the various questions you may have. Browse through and see if your question can be answered.
If you have a question which is not here, please contact us so that we may update this list for the benefit of everyone.
1) What is a roof?
A roof is the upper covering of your home. It is what keeps you from getting wet when it rains.
2) What kinds of roofs are there?
There are many types of roofs, made with various types of materials. Technically, a roof is anything which is covering your home. Therefore, if you have a patch of grass on your roof, you have a grass roof. Typically, there are going to be residential roofs and commercial roofs. Residential roofs often use a type of shingle, while commercial roofs usually use some type of lay-down material.
3) What is a shingle?
A shingle is a tile or some other piece of material which is used to form a roof in an overlapping fashion. Starting at the bottom of your roof, a roofer will secure shingles from the bottom to the top of the roof, placing the bottom of each layer over the top of the previous layer. This means that only the bottom half of each shingle is showing, because the top half is covered by the shingles above it.
4) What kinds of shingles are there?
There are all different types of shingles out there. They come in various shapes and sizes, and are crafted from a range of materials. Shingles can be made out of wood, metal, slate, fiberglass, and other materials.
5) What is a roofing system?
A roofing system is a combination of items and materials which, when combined together, form a secure roof. Different areas and sections of your roof require different parts. For example, proper installation would have ice & water shield installed at all eaves and valleys, and any other areas prone to leaks. A construction felt goes over the rest of the exposed wood decking of your roof. You could put ice and water shield over the entire roof, as it would help to better prevent leaks. However, not only would this cost you much more money, but it would also prevent your roof from breathing properly, and would cost you a bundle of money in the near future.
Selecting a good roofing system is essential to putting on a roof that will last for decades. A great example of a roofing system is GAF’s roofing system.
6) What goes into a roofing system?
There are many parts to a roofing system, and the materials to be used vary from system to system. Any roofing system worth its salt will include the following:
- A Great Shingle (preferably 30-year architectural or better)
- Ice & Water Shield
- #15/#30 Felt or Synthetic Fabric
- Starter Strip
- Ridge Cap
- Drip Edge
- Pipe Flashing
- Turtle Vents or Ridge Vent
7) How much does a roof cost?
A roof will cost you as much as any other product or service – as much as you pay for it. There is no magic formula for predicting the exact cost of a roof. Before an accurate price can be determined, a roof needs to be inspected and measured. Shingles, felts, and vents all come in varying styles and qualities, and as such have a wide margin of pricing. If the roof is high, steep, or has many facets, the price can increase.
The only way to find a precise number is to contact your local contractor and get a measurement. He’ll measure your roof, provide you with style options and color samples. He’ll do his best to figure out exactly what you are looking for in terms of quality and appearance. Once he knows what you want, he’ll be able to provide you with an accurate price. Feel free to contact other contractors, and get their prices too.
Remember though, that roofing is a competitive business with what can be very low profit margins. You may take 5 estimates to find the lowest price, or you may feel great that you got that contractor to shave down the price a bit, but just keep this in mind: The cheapest contractor is still spending the same amount on the materials as the more expensive contractor, maybe even more. The money that you’re “saving” by going with the cheaper contractor has to come from somewhere, and it does – directly from the life of your roof. Your budget contractor may not pay for insurance or worker’s compensation, may be using laborers as shinglers (laborers can be paid half of what good shingler’s demand), or may cut some other corners in order to get your roof done – if it gets done at all.
How much does a roof cost? Generally more than your cheapest estimate.
8) How much do shingles cost?
The prices of shingles varies greatly – not just from style to style, but the prices actually increase and decrease. As most residential shingles are petroleum-based, prices can be affected by the costs of oil. In the past few years, the prices of shingles has raised astronomically, causing concern among roofing contractor’s country-wide.
Compared to each other, shingles can be relatively cheap and can quickly become very expensive. A bundle of designer shingles can cost twice as much as a bundle of 3-tab shingles, often even more.
To get updated pricing on shingles in your area, contact your contractor. If you’re doing your roof yourself, or just want to check your contractor’s numbers, contact your local hardware store or building material supplier.
9) What kind of roof do I need?
This is a question best left for your contractor. Often, the best thing to do is to go with what you know. If your roof is made of laminated shingles, your best bet would probably be to replace it with a roof composed of laminated shingles. Your contractor will be able to provide you with options, and explain if you have any specific needs due to the size, shape, or facets of your roof.
10) What kind of shingles do I need?
Again, this is a question best left for your contractor. Perhaps you currently have fiberglass shingles and now want slate tiles. Your contractor will know if this is a possibility, if this will cause any issues with your home, and what the associated costs will be. Again, with no existing home issues, often it is best to just put on the same type of shingle that you take off.
11) What is the best shingle?
There is no best shingle. The best shingle for you would be the shingle that is best suited to your home, your environment, and your tastes. Discuss this with your contractor.
12) What is the best roof?
There is no best roof. The best roof for you is the roof that keeps water out while still maintaining a good-looking appearance. Discuss this with your contractor.
13) Can I see examples of roofs?
Sure! There are plenty of ways to do this:
- Check out some of our examples and galleries.
- Visit roofing manufacturer websites such as GAF and CertainTeed.
- Contact your contractor, ask for pictures of previous work.
- Ask your contractor if you can check out actual roofs he/she has put on recently.
14) Can I see samples of shingles?
Sure! There are plenty of ways to do this:
- Check out online samples of GAF and CertainTeed shingles.
- Visit roofing manufacturer websites such as GAF and CertainTeed.
- Ask your contractor to bring over shingle sample boards or actual physical shingles for you.
15) What color shingles are available?
There are so many shingle colors available, but there are some limitations. Each shingle manufacturer has several styles of shingles, which each style having its own colors. Even further, some colors and styles are regional, such that someone in Minnesota may have different options available than residents of Michigan.
For shingle color examples, check out our shingle color galleries for GAF or CertainTeed, or check out shingle manufacturers websites here:
16) When is the best time to put on a new roof?
The best time to put on a new roof is on a warm and sunny day. This allows the shingles to properly settle and secure to the roof. A roof done in the cold may contain shingles which seem wavy. The shingles are wavy because they have not had a warm and sunny day to sit in the sun, warm up, flatten out, and stick down to the roof.
17) Do I need a new roof?
You just might! You’ll have to go outside and take a look at your roof to find out though. When you go out, be on the lookout for:
- Missing Shingles or Pieces of Shingle
- Brittle, Cracked, or Curled Shingles
- Shingle Deterioration or Loss of Granules
- Interior Leaks
- Rotted Wood in Attic
If you are seeing one or more of these signs, it is time to call your contractor. Even if he is not able to guess how long your roof will last – and believe me, it would be a guess – he will be able to provide you with valuable information.
18) How long should my roof last?
This is a hard question to answer, and it is impossible to answer without a proper roof inspection. If you’re seeing some of the signs of an aging roof listed above, then your roof is probably beginning to near the end of its useful lifespan.
19) How long will a new roof last?
This is kind of like asking a car dealer how many miles a new car will go before it breaks down. There is no way of knowing for sure how a roof will last considering the amount of variables involved.
Some things to consider when guesstimating the lifespan of a new roof:
- What kind of shingle you use (better shingles equal longer lifespan)
- What type of underlayments you choose (better underlayments equal longer lifespan)
- Was the roof installed properly (quality work will last longer)
- Were there any pre-existing issues (pre-existing issues can sabotage a new roof)
- Does the region have extreme weather (shingles will wear down quicker in rough weather)
- Do you have enough insulation (keeps heat from escaping through roof – prevents ice dams)
- Do you have enough attic ventilation (reduces roof temperature during summer)
20) What are ice dams?
Ice dams are build-ups of frozen water that rest on the roof. They cause damage by preventing water from falling off your roof. Instead of running down your roof, this water backs up under the shingles, leaking into your home. This can cause all kinds of damage.
21) Why do I have ice dams?
Ice dams occur when your home has less than adequate insulation. Imagine, it’s winter, it’s snowy, and it is cold. Your furnace is heating up your home. The heat rises up through the ceiling. Because you have less insulation than you actually need, some of the heat makes its way to the roof. The roof heats up, and the snow on top of the roof begins to slowly melt. The melting snow slowly travels down the length of your roof, ready to fall off the edge. Unfortunately, there is no heat rising through the overhangs of your roof, so they are colder than the area above. The snow which melted on the roof travels down to the bottom edges with no heat, then freezes again. As time passes, this slowly creates a bigger and bigger piece of ice – known as an ice dam.
22) How do I get rid of ice dams?
Getting rid of ice dams is usually very easy. Simply put more insulation in your attic. This will stop the heat in your home from rising to the roof. No heat to the roof means the snow will melt evenly, and you should no longer have to worry about ice dams.
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