A Closer Look: The pros and cons of putting a (new) roof over your head

Originally posted at the London Free Press

By Rob Parker, Special to Postmedia Network

With summer and pleasant weather just around the corner, many homeowners may be considering repairing or replacing their roof. Concerns regarding moisture, standing water, durability and appearance factor in to what type of roofing materials are used. Here is a list of some of the pros and cons of some of the more popular roofing materials:

Asphalt (composite) shingles are typically the most common and economical choice for residential roofing but because of the composition of materials (due to environmental concerns) used to make the shingles today, they have a tendency to break down faster than what they did years ago.

The cost will vary depending on the quality of shingles used. For example, 25-year shingles will be much less expensive than 40-year shingles. The actual life of the roof will depend on whether the roof was installed correctly by following the manufacturer’s installation instructions and how well the roof has been maintained. The slope of the roof also affects the longevity of the shingles because a steeper sloped roof will shed water and snow better than a flatter slope.

There have been some recent cases in which homeowners have challenged shingle manufacturers on their warranties because they have shingles supposed to last 25 years deteriorating to the point where part or all of the roof needs to be replaced as early as 10 years. Homeowners are sometimes surprised to find out that the manufacturer’s warranty often only covers the cost of the shingles and not labour that in most cases is greater than the cost of materials. Another common fact about many shingle warranties is that they decrease in value as the years go by.

When choosing a colour for shingles, a lighter colour is best because heat from the sun breaks down the materials in darker colours faster than lighter colours.

Metal roofing products consist of steel or aluminum, although some consist of copper and other metals. Steel is either galvanized by the application of a zinc or zinc/aluminum coating or painted or textured finish that greatly reduces the rate of corrosion. Metal roofing is available as traditional seam and batten, tiles, shingles and shakes.

Products also come in a variety of styles and colours. Metal roofs with solid sheathing control noise from rain, hail and bad weather just as well as any other roofing material. Metal roofing also can help eliminate ice damming at the eves.

In wildfire-prone areas, metal roofing helps protect buildings from fire should burning embers land on the roof. Metal roofing costs more than asphalt, but it typically lasts two to three times longer than asphalt or wood shingles. In recent years metal roofs have gained popularity mainly because of their longevity and improvement in looks and cost.

Most roofs last many years if properly installed and maintained. But no matter how well maintained, at some point your roof will need to be replaced. Proper maintenance includes cleaning the leaves and debris from the roof’s valleys and gutters. Whatever the roofing material may be, debris in the valleys can cause water to wick under the shingles and cause damage to the interior of the roof.

Clogged rain gutters can cause water to flow back under the shingles on the eaves and cause damage. Though seasonal changes in the weather are considered one of the most destructive forces, the best way to preserve your roof is make sure the attic is properly insulated and vented and, most importantly, do not walk on your roof unless absolutely necessary.

Rob Parker is a registered home inspector (RHI) with the Ontario Association of Home Inspectors, and an ASHI certified inspector (ACI) with the American Society of Home Inspectors. Rob can be reached at Thamespec Home Inspection Service (519) 857-7101, by email at thamespec@rogers.com or visitwww.thamespec-inspections.com 

Choosing a roofing contractor:

  • Get at least three quotes and find out what warranty they offer on their work.
  • Read and understand the manufacturer’s warranty before deciding what type of shingles to purchase.
  • Make sure the contractor you choose follows the manufacturer’s installation guidelines as to the type of underlayment required and whether or not the entire roof has to be covered by the underlayment.
  • Make sure your quote includes the installation of a) ice and water shield around the entire drip edge of the roof and in the valleys and b) the proper number of roof vents and soffit vents to ensure the roof is properly vented.

Date : 5/27/2016