Winter Roofing

Generally speaking, “roofing season” begins when the temperatures warm up in the spring and ends when temperatures cool in the fall.  Of course, in some parts of the country it stays warm enough for roof replacement all year, but even in cooler climates it is often possible to install a new roof in the winter. 

The reason that asphalt shingle roofs are generally installed in warmer weather is due to the design of the shingles.  Asphalt shingles are installed beginning at the lower edge of the roof and working up toward the peak. Each row of shingles is nailed to the roof deck along the upper edge of the shingles.  The lower edge of the shingles overlap the row of shingles below it. 

Asphalt shingles have an adhesive strip on the underside of the lower edge of the shingle.  Where the shingles overlap the row of shingles below it, this adhesive helps hold the lower edge of the shingles in place and contributes to the wind resistance of the shingles.  Warm temperatures are required for the shingles to adhere properly and the challenge of installing an asphalt shingle roof in the winter is that the temperatures on the roof will not be high enough for the adhesive to work properly.

A good roofer can work around this issue by using a few dabs of roofing cement to hold each shingle in place until the weather warms up in the spring.  When it does, the adhesive strip will soften and the shingles will bond together.  The roofing cement will continue to provide additional bonding. 

Posted on behalf of Roofworks

The Do It Yourself Roofing Fallacy

Many handy homeowners are tempted to save money on a new roof by doing the job themselves. The internet is full of how-to advice and installing an asphalt shingle roof looks a job that is time consuming, but not all that difficult.

However, looks can be deceiving.  Before you commit to replacing your roof yourself, consider whether you are actually saving much money and whether you might be better off with a high quality residential roof replacement by a professional roofing contractor.

First, in terms of saving money, the biggest savings will be on labor but some of those savings will be offset by other costs.  The homeowner’s cost of materials will be higher than a roofing contractor will pay because a homeowner will be paying full retail while the contractor may have negotiated a discount on materials.

Next, unless you happen have a complete set of roofing tools, you may have to rent some of the tools and equipment needed for the job which will further reduce any cost savings.   Also, roofing materials are heavy and the roof is a dangerous place to work.   There are an endless number of ways to injure yourself such as a back injury from lifting too much weight, smashing your fingers with a hammer, or falling off the roof and seriously injuring yourself.  The cost of an injury would probably far exceed any savings from doing it yourself.

Finally, although roofing looks easy the reality is that it takes time to acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to do a high quality job on a roof replacement.  Roofing skill is particularly important with asphalt shingle roofing because a poorly installed roof will soon fail no matter how good the materials are.  A high quality, professionally installed roof will last longer an provide better protection than a roof you installed yourself.

Avoid Roofing Over An Old Roof

No one wants to spend more than is necessary for a new roof, but when it comes to replacing an asphalt shingle roof, it is generally worth the extra cost to remove the old shingles and underlayment before installing the new roofing materials.  Many home owners cuts costs on a new asphalt shingle roof by having the new roof installed directly over the old roof.

This practice is sometimes called a roofover or layover and can lower the cost of a new asphalt shingle roof because the roofing contractor does not have to remove and dispose of the old roofing materials, but for a top quality residential roof replacement the better practice is to remove the old shingles first.

If you are even thinking about installing new shingles on top of the existing roof, first check your local building codes.  In many areas, local building codes prohibit this practice and even in areas where it is allowed, two layers is usually the maximum allowed.

Even if it is not prohibited by your local building codes, you are better off removing the old shingles.  For one thing, a good high quality roof starts with a clean, solid deck in good condition.  Your roofer will be unable to inspect the roof deck for rot, water damage, and other issues unless the old shingles are removed.

In addition, an extra layer of shingles adds unnecessary weight that can stress the roof structure, and allows moisture to accumulate between the layers of shingles.  Also, two layers of roofing materials can reduce the roof’s ability to dissipate heat.  Moisture and heat can lead to premature shingle failure.

Finally, some shingle warranties could be void if the shingles are installed directly on top of an existing layer of shingles.  It may cost a little more to remove the old shingles, but your roof will last longer and provide better protection for your home.

Be Wary of Low Ball Roofing Bids

Most experts recommend getting four or five estimates before selecting a roofing contractor to handle your residential roof replacement.  What you do after getting the estimates can make a big difference in the quality of the roof.  An important concept to keep in mind is to avoid any contractor who submits an estimate that is substantially lower than the competing bids.

Contrary to popular belief, the best reason for getting several estimates is not to find the lowest bidder, but instead to find out what the going rate is for a new roof in your area.  Ideally, when comparing bids there should be several estimates that are close in price.  If so, that will give you a good idea of what the job should cost.

Unusually high estimates should be eliminated, but even more important is to eliminate unusually low estimates.  The reason is that all good roofing contractors pay about the same amount for shingles and other roofing materials.  There may be some minor differences depending on the shingle manufacturer, but in general the material costs should be about the same.

A roofing estimate with very low materials costs is suspect.  It indicates that the roofer has not properly calculated the amount of materials needed or is planning to use lower quality materials than the other roofers.

Like materials costs, low labor costs can be a sign that the roofer uses unskilled labor.  A good roofing contractor will pay more for skilled labor and to keep good roofers.  It means that your roof will cost a little more, but proper installation is critical, especially for an asphalt shingle roof.  Trying to cut costs on labor can result in poorly installed roof that will soon fail.

What Are Laminated Shingles?

If you are like most homeowners, you only replace your roof every 20 to 30 years.  If it’s been that long since your last residential roof replacement, you will be pleased to know that there have been some positive developments in roofing materials, particularly in asphalt shingles.

Twenty years ago, choosing a roofing material was pretty straightforward for most homeowners.  Unless you were going with a premium roofing material such as tile or slate, or desired the look of cedar shingles, the only alternative was three tab asphalt shingles.  You simply chose the color you wanted and the quality which was usually expressed in terms of the length of the warranty which ranged from 15 to 30 years.

Although they were installed on millions of homes, three tab asphalt shingles were easily damaged by hail and high winds.

Fortunately, shingle manufacturers have recently developed much higher quality asphalt shingles called laminated shingles.  These shingles are made from two or more layers of fiberglass matting soaked in asphalt and laminated together to form a thicker, more durable shingle.  Like three tab shingles the outer surface of laminated shingles is covered with a protective coating of ceramic granules to protect the shingle from the effects of sun exposure.

Laminated shingles are much more resistant to hail damage and can withstand wind speeds of up to 120 miles per hour.  They last much longer than three tab shingles and often carry warranties of 40 to 50 years or even lifetime warranties.  As you might expect, laminated shingles cost a little more than three tab shingles, but they provide much better protection for your home and outlast three tab shingles by at least two to one.

Avoid The “Half Completion” Roofing Scam

There seems to be no end to the ways that scam artists will try to separate a homeowner from their money, especially when it comes to roof replacement.  These rip-offs can happen anytime, but they are the most common when an area has been hit by high winds or hail and there are a lot of anxious homeowners who need a residential roof replacement.

In one commonly reported roofing scam, the supposed “roofer” gives the homeowner a great estimate and since most homeowners know enough not to pay in full up front, the con artist asks for a third up front, a third when the job is half completed, and the final payment upon full completion.

Once the homeowner signs on the dotted line and pays a third of the cost, the crook then hires a couple day laborers to tear off the old roof.  Once the old roof is removed, he asks the homeowner for the second installment claiming that removing the old roof is “half the job.”

After the homeowner makes the second payment, the bogus roofer is never seen or heard from again.  The homeowner is out of pocket two thirds of the cost of the new roof with little to show for it other than a dumpster full of old shingles and home totally exposed to the elements.  The homeowner is also usually surprised to learn that removing the old roof is just the beginning of a roof replacement and nowhere near half the job.

Protect yourself from this scam by dealing only with a reputable local roofing contractor.  Avoid out of state roofers who are only temporarily in the area to take advantage of the high volume of work.  Make sure your roofer has a permanent local address and telephone number and can provide references from local residents.  Most reputable local roofing contractors will not ask for any up-front payment and will be happy to accept full payment when the job is completed to your satisfaction.

What Roofing Material Is Best For Your Home?

Whether you are building a new home or you need a residential roof replacement on your existing home, one of the most important decisions is what type of roofing material to use.  Your roof protects your home and family from the elements rain or shine, fair weather and foul.  Your choice of roofing material should take into account more than just aesthetics, but also the material’s ability to resist damage from wind, hail, and fire.  In addition, cost and durability are important considerations.

The most common material used for residential roofing is the composition asphalt shingle.  Three tab shingles were the industry standard for decades, but in recent years laminated shingles have begun to dominate the residential roofing market.  Installation methods are similar for both types of shingles.  Three tab shingles are made from a single layer of fiberglass matting saturated with asphalt and coated with ceramic granules.  Laminated shingles are made from two or more layers of asphalt soaked matting laminated together and covered with ceramic granules.  As a result, laminated shingles are thicker and heavier than three tab shingles

Three tab shingles are the lowest cost alternative and offer basic protection from the elements.  They last about 15 to 25 years and offer the lowest level of protection from hail damage and storm damage.  They typically have wind resistance ratings of 60 mph.

Laminated asphalt shingles are a much better option. For a modest increase in cost, laminated asphalt shingles offer very good durability and protection from the elements.  Most laminated asphalt shingles have 40 years to lifetime warranties and are rated for wind resistance up to 120 mph.  They are much more resistant to hail damage than standard three tab shingles and have a distinctive textured look.

Understanding Roof Fire Ratings

Whether you are considering a metal roof, asphalt shingle roof, or some other roofing material for a residential roof replacement on your home, an important consideration when selecting the roofing material is the material’s fire resistance rating.  Roofing materials are subjected to a series of standardized tests and rated based on the results of these tests.  The tests are designed to measure the ability of a roof using these materials to protect your home from external fires.

If your home is threatened by a forest fire or a fire in a neighbor’s home, the danger usually comes from large burning embers carried by the hot air currents that land on your roof.  If your roof is resistant to these burning embers, it can protect your home from the fire.  If not, then there is a serious risk that your home could be damaged by fire.

To test a roofing material’s fire resistance, the material is installed on a simulated roof and a small burning wooden stick is placed on the roofing material.  The material is then rated on its ability to resist the fire penetrating through the roofing materials to the roof deck and its ability to resist fire spreading on the surface of the material.  In addition, the material’s resistance to blow off the roof as burning embers and further spread the fire is evaluated.

Based on these tests, the roofing material is assigned a Class A, B, or C rating.  In some cases, a roofing material’s fire rating is based on the material being installed with specific installation techniques or using a specific type of underlayment.  Be sure to talk to your roofer selecting a roofing material with an appropriate fire rating for your home.

Avoid Roof Repair Scams After Hail Storms

A hail storm can happen anytime so it’s important to know what to do and what not to do if your roof is damaged by a hail storm.  Before you call your homeowners insurance carrier, keep in mind that not all hailstorms will cause roof damage. Hail greater than one inch is capable of damaging an asphalt shingle roof, but many different factors can affect whether your roof needs to be replaced or just has minor cosmetic damage.  Your neighbor’s roof might be ruined while your roof is unharmed.

If you are certain that the roof was damaged by hail, call your insurance carrier to get the claims process started.  If you are not sure whether the roof was damaged, have it inspected by a reputable local roofing contractor or roof inspector.

When choosing a roofing contractor for your residential roof replacement, beware of scam artists.  Unfortunately, the roofing industry is notorious for “storm chasers”  – fly by night roofers who flock to a storm damaged area to make some easy money.

These shady roofers often don’t have the proper licenses or insurance and do shoddy roofing work and move on to the next hard-hit area before the new roof starts leaking. They may leave behind unpaid suppliers or subcontractors who will place a lien on your home.  Sometimes they leave the job half-finished or take the homeowners money and never do any work at all.

You can protect yourself by working with a well-established local roofer.  Make sure they have a local address and find out how long the roofer has been in business.  Avoid roofers who show up unsolicited driving vehicles with out of state plates.  Be skeptical of roofers who use high pressure sales tactics, insist on payment up front, or offer to do the job cheaper than any other company, but only if you sign a contract that day.

Don’t Get Bit By A Roofing Lien

There seems to be no limit to the ways in which unscrupulous roofing contractors can rip off unsuspecting homeowners.  Even when you protect yourself by only dealing with a local roofing contractor, it is possible to get burned by having a roofing lien placed on your home.

What happens is that many roofers buy the roofing materials from a local roofing material supply yard on credit or subcontract part of the job out to another roofing contractor.  When the residential roofing job is completed, the homeowner pays the balance due in full and all seems well until a few weeks or even months later the homeowner receives a notice that a lien has been placed on their home.

If the roofer fails to pay a subcontractor who worked on your home or the roofing materials supplier for the shingles and other materials installed on your home, the subcontractor or supplier can place a lien against your home.  Unfortunately, the only way to get rid of the lien is to pay it, but before you pay off the lien, try to contact the roofing contractor and insist that they pay the amount owed.

Don’t be in a rush to pay off the lien.  Unless you are planning to sell or refinance your home, you have some time to find the contractor and make them pay the amount that they owe.  If you are unable to find the roofing contractor or they have gone bankrupt or out of business, you may end up paying the lien yourself.

To protect yourself against a roofing lien, ask the roofing contractor to provide a lien release from the materials yard and any subcontractors before you make final payment.