Upgrade to Architectural Shingles

If you are considering a residential roof replacement, consider upgrading to architectural shingles.  Architectural shingles (sometimes called laminated shingles) offer many advantages over traditional three tab shingles at a modest premium in price.  Unless you only need the roof to last for 10 to 15 years, in most cases it makes sense to install architectural shingles. 

Architectural shingles are similar to standard three tab shingles in that they are made from a fiberglass matt soaked in asphalt and coated with ceramic granules.  However, while three tab shingles use a single layer of fiberglass matting, architectural shingles have several layers laminated together to form a thicker, heavier duty shingle. 

As a result, architectural shingles offer much better protection for your roof and your home.  Architectural shingles provide a higher level of resistance to hail damage and can withstand much higher wind speeds than three tab shingles.  In addition, they provide depth and texture to the roof and are more aesthetically pleasing than three tab shingles.

Most roofers who install composition asphalt shingles can also install architectural shingles.  The required skill and installation techniques are a little different for installing architectural shingles, but most of the general principles are the same. 

There is a modest price premium for installing architectural shingles, but they last much longer than standard three tab shingles.  Most come with at least a 40 to 50 year manufacturer’s warranty and lifetime warranties on architectural shingles are common.  Three tab shingles only last about 20 to 30 years.  In the long run, you will come out ahead by paying a little extra for high quality architectural shingles and you will have the benefit of better storm damage protection and the beauty of architectural shingles.

Posted on behalf of Ken Christie, CZE Roofing and Remodeling

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How Roof Ventilation Can Save You Money

As we all know these days saving money is more important than ever. One way in which to do so that you may not have already considered is through ensuring that you take the proper measures to protect your roof and attic space.

For example, an asphalt shingle roof can cause your attic to retain a great deal of heat, particularly in the height of the summer months. When a roof is exposed to the sun for a significant period of time it can cause a poorly ventilated attic to reach extreme temperatures. After a while this heat will begin to radiate into the house and you will begin to feel the temperature of the home becoming unusually warm. In turn this will lead to a greater consumption of energy as your air conditioner begins to work harder in order to maintain a pleasant air temperature.

The key to lowering your energy bill revolves around keeping the air in the attic as cool as possible and there are a few ways in which to do this effectively. The ideal option is to improve the ventilation in the attic to ensure that the warm air is able to escape and fresh air can be drawn in. Don’t attempt to do this yourself, as it really requires the assistance of a professional roofer who knows exactly where vents should be placed to be most beneficial.

Increasing the thickness of your roof insulation can also help to reduce electricity consumption through making it harder for the heat to radiate through into the main home. If you are considering a residential roof replacement, take into account materials that will most effectively reflect the sun such as metal or lighter colored shingles.

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.

Laminated Shingles – An Excellent Upgrade For Your Roof

If your roof needs to be replaced due to storm or hail damage, talk to your roofing contractor and your insurance company about upgrading your three tab asphalt shingle roof to a durable laminated shingle roof.  Laminated asphalt shingles cost a little more than three tab shingles, but they provide much better protection against the elements including wind and hail damage.

Hail damage to a three tab shingle roof is very common.  It only take hail about an inch in diameter to cause serious damage to a healthy three tab asphalt shingle roof.  A tired old roof can be damaged by hail even smaller than one inch.

Most roof hail damage is covered by your homeowner’s insurance policy and when the damage is extensive, the insurance company will pay the cost of replacing the roof with a similar quality roof minus the policyholder’s deductible.  Most homeowners want to avoid out of pocket expenses as much as possible, but this is an excellent opportunity to upgrade to a high quality roof at a very low cost to the homeowner.

Laminated asphalt shingles are far superior to standard three tab shingles.  Laminated shingles are thicker and heavier so they are less likely to be damaged by hail.  They have wind resistance ratings higher than 100 mph compared to only 60 mph for most three tab shingles and they come with warranties ranging from 40 years to lifetime.

All in all, laminates shingles are far superior to three tab shingles, so much so that they now dominate the residential roofing market.  They cost more than three tab shingles, but far less than other roofing options such as metal roofing or tile roofing.  Laminated shingles are an excellent value and will provide long lasting protection for your home.

Asphalt Shingle Features

If you are in the market for asphalt shingles for your residential roof replacement, you have probably already found out that all asphalt shingles are not created equal.  It wasn’t very long ago that a homeowner’s choice in asphalt shingles was pretty much limited to what color three tab shingle looked best.  These days, a homeowner can choose not only between three tab or laminated shingles, but also from a host of features.  Which of these features are right for your home depends on your situation and personal preference.

One of the main weaknesses of asphalt shingles is their low impact resistance which makes them susceptible to hail damage.  Laminated shingles have higher impact resistance than three tab shingles and are an excellent choice for most areas, but if you live in a hail prone area, there are some laminated asphalt shingles made with a Class 4 impact resistance rating which is the highest in the industry.

Low wind resistance is another drawback of standard three tab shingles, especially in coastal areas prone to named storms.  Although most three tab shingles have wind resistance ratings of only 60 mph, many laminated shingles are rated for winds over 100 mph.  Some laminated shingles carry even higher ratings, up to 130 mph, and make an excellent choice for areas prone to high winds.

If energy saving is a concern, look for “cool roofing” asphalt shingles coated with special ceramic granules to provide them with relatively high solar reflectance.  These shingles are available in a wide array of attractive colors including some surprisingly darker colors.  You don’t have to have white roof to achieve energy savings!

Asphalt shingle roofs in wet or humid areas are prone to algae growth which appears as dark streaks on the roof.  If algae growth is a problem in your area, look for shingles specially treated with zinc additives to inhibit algae growth.

What Is the Best Roofing Material?

Choosing a roofing material for your residential roof replacement project involves weighing the advantages and disadvantages of each type of material while factoring in the cost and personal preference.  Roofing materials are not a “one size fits all” solution.  The perfect roofing material choice for one homeowner may not be ideal for another homeowner.  Your roofing contractor can help you sort through the best options in your area but here is an overview of the most popular types of roofing materials.

Composition asphalt shingles continue to be the most popular roofing material due to their relatively low cost and good durability, but traditional three tab asphalt shingles are rapidly losing market share in favor of new laminated asphalt shingles.  Laminated shingles are thicker and heavier than three tab shingles and address many of the issues that plague three tab shingles such as low wind and impact resistance.  Laminated shingles have wind resistance ratings of more than 100 mph and have much better impact resistance than three tab shingles.

Metal roofing is also popular choice because of its excellent impact resistance, wind resistance and durability.  It is lightweight and can be installed on almost any roof that asphalt shingles could be installed on.  Only very low slope or flat roofs are not suitable for metal roofing.  The primary drawback is metal roofing’s higher initial cost.  Over the life of the roof, metal roofing is less expensive than asphalt roofing because it lasts two to three times longer, but the initial outlay is more than many homeowners’ budget.

At the high end of the market, slate and tile are premium roofing materials.  They are excellent roofing materials with very high impact and wind resistance and they have almost indefinite useful lives.  Slate and tile roofing is very heavy and can only be installed on homes built sot support the extra weight.  As might be expected from a premium roofing material, they are very expensive.

Roofing Contractor Specialization

When you are searching for a good roofing contractor, keep in mind that most roofing contractors specialize in certain types of roofs just like doctors and lawyers specialize in certain areas of practice.   The roofing contractor you choose should have extensive experience installing your type of roof.  You wouldn’t want a foot specialist doing your heart by-pass surgery and by the same token, you don’t want a roofer who mainly installs slate roofs  to handle your metal roof installation.

The reason is that all roofing materials are not created equal.  Metal roofing, asphalt shingle roofing, slate roofing, tile roofing and shake roofing all rely on very different techniques, tools and skills for a top quality roof installation.  It can take months or years of experience to become really proficient at installing any of these types of roofing materials.  Some larger roofing contractors have experience with two or more types of roofs, but very few roofers are skilled in the installation of all types of roofs.

The majority of roofing contractors focus on asphalt shingle roofs because asphalt shingles are the most widely used roofing material and because asphalt shingle roofs need to be replaced more often than any other type of roof.  Many roofers start out doing asphalt shingle roofs, then develop the skills to install another type of roofing material common to their area such as tile roofing, metal roofing, or shake roofing.

If  you need a residential roof replacement due to hail or wind damage, look for a roofing contractor accustomed to dealing with insurance companies.  Some roofers try to avoid the hassle of dealing with the insurance companies, but others have learned to work closely with the customer and their insurer and can help the homeowner navigate the insurance claims process.

Beauty Is More Than Skin Deep

When you see a beautiful new asphalt shingle roof, all you can really see is the “skin” – the outer layer of shingles.  A truly top quality roof actually starts much deeper than that.  A roof is a complex system of components that all work together to create a quality roof that provides a home with long lasting protection from the elements including wind and hail damage.

A good roof starts with a solid foundation and the foundation is supported by the rafters, beams, and trusses that hold up the roof deck.  These need to be properly sized, spaced, and designed to support the weight of the roof along with now or anything else that might accumulate on it.

The roof deck is the plywood or manufactured board surface that is attached to the rafters.  The roof deck provides a secure, even surface for the shingles and underlayment to be attached to.  The underlayment or felt paper is nailed to the roof deck and keeps moisture that may have penetrated through the shingles away from the roof deck.

Water and ice barrier has a similar function as felt paper, but is specially designed to create a tight seal around nails that penetrate the material.  It is applied along the lower few feet of roof deck and in any other areas prone to leaks.  Flashing is thin metal material that is installed around chimneys and other features to prevent moisture penetration.

The shingles are the outer layer and provide the first line of defense against the elements.  A properly designed roof also incorporates a ventilation system to maximize the lifespan of the roof by limiting condensation, reducing temperature extremes and thermal shock, and preventing ice dam formation.