A leaky roof is no laughing matter. If you have cracked or missing shingles, they should be addressed immediately to avoid expensive water damage to your home. A professional roofing contractor can help you assess the damage and can make recommendations on materials, but it always pays to know what you’re getting into. This guide will help equip you with what you need to know in order to make the most cost-effective decision for your new roof.
There are five basic elements to any roofing system. The roof covering itself consists of what you would think of as the roofing material—shingles, tiles, slate, or metal—and the underlayment, or layer of roofing felt that keeps the sheathing from getting wet. The sheathing covers the top of the home and consists of boards or sheet materials. Under the sheathing, the roof structure—rafters or trusses—supports the roof. Flashing, typically made of sheet metal, is installed in the joints and valleys of the roof and keeps water from seeping under the roof. The “drainage” of the roof consists of the design features of the roof that allow it to shed water.
Roofing materials are sold by the “square,” which is a 100-square-foot area. Consumer Reports recommends three main types of roofing: asphalt shingles, fake slate shingles, and metal roofing. Asphalt shingles are the most popular and come in laminated and three-tab varieties. Laminated asphalt shingles are preferable over three-tab shingles because they are more durable. Fake slate shingles are a bit more expensive—though not as expensive as actual slate—and weigh about as much as asphalt shingles, though they tend to be much more slippery. Metal roofing, though expensive, is ultra-lightweight and has the added benefit of keeping your home cooler in the summer.
Remember that if you already have two layers of shingles in place, building codes dictate that they must be removed before a new roof is installed. In addition to shingles, you will also need a new underlayment, or waterproof barrier, installed beneath them to keep your home dry.
Choosing a Contractor
The number one way to save money on a roof is to select a quality roofing contractor who will do the job right the first time. But choosing a roofing contractor can be an intimidating task. Here are a few guidelines to make selecting a qualified professional much easier:
- Make sure the contractor is insured and licensed.
- Look for a permanent place of business.
- Ask for client references in order to verify that the contractor has a good track record.
- Get a written proposal of the work to be done, including complete, detailed descriptions of tasks to be done, specifications, approximate start and end dates, and procedures for payment.
- Have the contractor explain their system of supervision and quality control, including what types of training they provide for their workers.
- Check to see if the contractor is a member of any industry associations.
- Make sure you thoroughly read and understand all warranties offered in conjunction with the work and roofing materials.
One of the best ways to save money in the long run is to invest in a roof that makes your home more energy efficient. The most obvious way to do this is to go solar, but that can be extremely expensive. It is also worth mentioning, however, that using light-coloured tiles or shingles can help you save money on heating and cooling costs for your home. Studies show that the surface temperature of a white roof can differ from those of a black roof by as much as 23.7 degrees Celsius. There is not much cost difference between lighter roofing materials versus the more traditional darker ones, so it can be worth it in the long run to invest in a high-quality, light-colored roof in order to make your home more energy efficient.
Replacing a roof can be a costly procedure, but by choosing the right roofing contractor and materials, you can still save a great deal of money. Armed with the knowledge in this guide, you can rest easy knowing that you are making the best possible selection for your situation.