Of all major home repairs, installing new roofing is arguably one of the most important. You have many things to consider when replacing a roof, but you never want to let an old roof fail; water can destroy the inside of your home, from the attic insulation down through the painstakingly remodeled kitchen, right on through to the basement family room with a big-screen TV. Fewer home problems can be more disastrous than a failed roof.
Roof replacement is not something to take lightly, nor is it a repair you should delay. It’s not too difficult to replace or repair a single shingle, but if one shingle fails, it’s a good idea to have your roof inspected to check the rest of its integrity.
You might also need a permit in your state or locality to repair a roof, depending on the size of the area and the type of repairs. A permit may also be required when reroofing. When you sense that your roof is nearing the end of its useful life, brush up on these basics before soliciting bids from roofing contractors.
The Basic Roofing Materials
Your choice of roof replacement options often depends on your locality and your personal taste. For example, metal roofing is a standard selection in some regions due to its fire resistance. In contrast, the predominant home styles in other areas might call for a Spanish-influenced tile tool. Roof pitch (angle) also affects the roofing materials you can use. For example, wood shake shingles can be used for steeper-pitched roofs but are unsuitable for flatter, low-pitched roofs.
The most common choices for residential roofing include:
- Asphalt composition shingles: These are cheap and easily obtainable, but they are less attractive than other options due to their flat appearance. This roofing type is by far the most popular roofing material.
- Wood shakes or shingles: These are pricey but attractive shingles. They have excellent durability but aren’t a good choice in regions with fire danger.
- Metal Roofing: Metal roofs made of steel or aluminum have become more prevalent in recent years due to their durability and fireproof durability. These expensive roofs require specialty contractors
According to the National Association of Home Builders, costlier slate, copper, and tile roofs last more than 50 years. Wood shake roofs endure about 30 years, fiber cement shingles have a life of nearly 25 years, and asphalt shingle composition roofs last about 20 years.
Tear off or Second Layer?
It was once common to lay a new shingle roof over the preexisting layer at least once, or sometimes even twice. This roofing practice is no longer allowed in some jurisdictions, where complete tear-off of the previous roofing is now required. Even where layering is allowed, applying a new layer of shingles over the old should be carefully considered based on its pros and cons:
- Weight: The main argument against laying additional layers of asphalt shingles is that the roofing materials can get too heavy for the underlying roof framing. Excessive weight can cause structural problems, especially for older houses. A triple layer of asphalt shingles is often equal to a single layer of slate shingles—an exceedingly heavy type of material.
- Telegraphing: Another problem with shingling over existing shingles is that you essentially repeat some surface irregularities that may already be present. If you’re contemplating putting on a new roof, there’s probably a good chance that you may have bubbles, bumps, and waves that should be remedied. Putting new shingles over existing problems can leave you with a rather unattractive new roof. One way to minimize this problem is to go over the old roof and correct as many issues as you can before re-roofing. It doesn’t take much more than a hammer, some roofing nails, and a handful of shingles to correct bumps, gaps, and protruding nails.
- Work and waste reduction: The primary advantage of layering is that it reduces the work involved. Stripping off the existing layer and then laying down a new layer adds more work to the process. Time isn’t a problem if roofing professionals tackle the job because they can strip most roofs in the morning. But if you’re doing the job yourself, it can be a strong argument for roofing over the old roof.
- Manufacturer’s warranties: Some types of roofs and manufacturers require that roofs under warranty be stripped entirely to comply with the rules and restrictions of the warranty. If the roof is currently under warranty, check what the warranty requires.