It’s time to replace your roof. Where do you start? This is the exact predicament I found myself in after the tree fell on our house a few weeks ago. Choosing shingles and roofing material in less than 48 hours had me in a panic. Don’t they know that I need time to thoroughly research shingles, colors, warranties, etc.? Lucky for us, our insurance company turned our claim over to the restoration company who has a roofer they use. So, I was able to fast forward past the process of hiring a roofer.
Hiring a roofer:
If you need to hire a roofer, do your research. Ask for referrals. Check on Angie’s List. Check with the Better Business Bureau. Do your homework on this one! Investing in a new roof is no small expense and quality installation is key to preventing problems down the road. Also, MAKE SURE THE ROOFER IS LICENSED AND INSURED! Don’t just take “yes” as an answer to this question. Ask to see the policy or get the insurance company name, number and their policy number so you can call and verify. I can’t overstress how important this is because I know someone whose roofer fell of their roof. Luckily he lived and luckily she wasn’t sued. But, this always makes me think twice.
When to replace your roof:
If you start to see torn, damaged, or missing shingles. Or if you discover water leaks, or holes in your roof, it is time to get a new roof ASAP. Delaying the process can only lead to costly repairs to your home (both inside and out.) And repairing an old roof is usually only putting a band-aid on the problem.
Types of roofing material:
There are numerous types of roofing material. Metal (read more about our little copper roof here), slate, composite, clay tile, wood shakes, and asphalt shingles are possible materials. Your decision will likely come down to budget, location, and personal preference. I will focus on asphalt shingles since they are the most popular budget conscious —if spending several thousand dollars can be considered budget conscious—and they are what we chose to use.
Architectural vs. Traditional 3 tab shingles:
Architectural shingles (also referred to as laminated or dimensional shingles) are the latest addition to the shingle line up. Most homeowners who are looking for an upgrade in style and function chose architectural shingles. They cost about 20% more than the traditional three tab shingles. The steeper cost isn’t just paying for good looks. The architectural shingles are thicker because they are made up of several layers of laminated shingles. Therefore they are heavier and much more resistant to wind and storm damage. They are less likely to warp and wear like a three tab shingle. Architectural shingles also typically have a longer warranty. Some architectural shingles come with a 40-50 year warranty (termed lifetime) compared to a 20-30 year warranty for three tab shingles. Plus, architectural shingles are rated up to 110 mile per hour winds compared to 70 mile an hour for three tab shingles.
How to pick colors:
Once you’ve narrowed down your decision to type of shingles and brand. Ask your roofer if they have samples or where you can get sample boards. The sample board will have a few rows of the actual shingles glued to a board. This is a good place to start.
Narrow your choice down to 3-4 colors you like. Then ask to borrow a sample board of each color. (Local building supply companies usually have several of these on hand. Or ask your roofer to get you some.)
Bring those sample boards home and set them up against your house. Look at them from a distance. Ask your friends, neighbors, and family members to weigh in. Sometimes it takes someone else’s top choice to help you realize that you don’t like that one.
Once you think you have it narrowed down to a few colors, ask your roofer for a list of local jobs using those colors. Then do a drive by and accept that you’ll get strange looks as you snap pictures of random strangers’ homes. Seeing the shingles installed on a roof at full scale is truly the best way to color shop.
Some shingle manufacturers have a feature where you can pay to upload your house picture and they will build a mask so you can visualize the different colors on your home. Certainteed has this feature for a price, but it also takes several days for them to process your request (remember I only had 48 hours!)
Estimating Your Roof size:
Shingles are sold in squares. Each square (or bundle) is 100 sq. feet. A traditional 2,300 square foot home usually has approximately a 30 square roof, plus an additional 10% for waste. If you have a garage, porch or other structures, you’ll need to account for their coverage as well. And if you have a cape cod or dutch colonial (like we do), you’ll need to allow for more squares to cover the front where the roof extends over the 2nd floor. (For comparison, our home is 2700 sq. feet with a 2 car garage, screen porch, and laundry room bump out. Our roof was about 50 squares.)
To layer or to strip:
Building codes usually allow you to add another layer of shingles onto a previous layer. If you already have two layers you will need to strip your roof down to the plywood sub-layer. But, before you consider layering, be aware that adding a second roof layer will add weight and stress to your rafters. Another reason NOT to layer is that wood rot and damage may be hidden. I highly recommend starting fresh with your roofing layer. If we hadn’t started from scratch, the roofer would never have noticed the underlying wood rot.
After the old shingles and tar paper are removed down to the wood, your roofer should assess and repair any damaged wood. After repairs are complete, new tar paper (or felt paper) is laid on top of the plywood. Then the roofer will mark horizontal lines on the roof to use as a guide for keeping the shingle rows even and parallel.
My goodness, we’ve gone from stripping to flashing. I thought this was a G-rated blog! Sorry, I couldn’t resist. Flashing is required anywhere where two different surfaces on the roof meet (i.e. chimney, dormer windows, different roof lines, etc.) I can’t stress how important it is for your roofing professional (or you) to use proper flashing on your home. The best flashing around dormer windows, chimneys, and other changes in roof surface is step flashing.
Strip flashing can be used on vertical locations, but the angled rooflines of our house was not the place to use them.
Strip flashing on the dormer window was not enough to prevent water from working its way under the shingles. Over time the water was running under the flashing and rotting out the plywood underneath. After it had rotted through the plywood, it got busy rotting the rafters that hold up the roof! Do you see why flashing is important?
Instead, the dormer windows should have been step flashed. Here is a little example of the layering process of step flashing.
It starts from the bottom with one piece of step flashing. Then one row of shingles is set on top of the flashing. Next another piece of step flashing and the next course of shingles. And so on until you reach the top of the window, chimney, or wall you are roofing against.
Educate yourself on proper installation:
Okay, I get it, you’re not a roofing pro. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t be aware of proper shingle installation techniques. You wouldn’t buy a car without learning some of the important technical specs would you? Well, you should take time to learn a little bit about roofing specs too.
Most manufacturers make this education easy for you (and your installer.) They’ve put the instructions on the back of the packaging. If you’ve read the instructions, don’t be afraid to ask your roofer if you see something that doesn’t look like the instructions.
After your roof has been installed, make sure you receive the appropriate receipts and warranty paperwork.
Enjoy your new roof and the piece of mind that comes with knowing you are leak-free.
Soooo, are you curious which color we chose? The winner with a unanimous vote (by our four family members) was…
Moire Black! Which ironically is actually a tad lighter than the Charcoal color.
Here’s a little before and after picture:
The previous green shingles really dictated potential house paint colors. I really like that the new roof color will coordinate with any house color we may choose in the future. Plus, if we ever sell, it is a nice neutral color.
What do you think? Do you like the new roof? I’ll tell you what I like, no holes in the roof!
Disclosure: No disclosure necessary. This is not a sponsored post, nor was I compensated. We chose CertainTeed under the recommendations of the roofer and several local builders…and my Father-in-law , who is my go to research assistant.