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Choosing a New Roof for Your House

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Summer is prime time for roofers. Most roofing companies stay pretty busy from spring to fall when the weather is better and there are more sunny, workable days. If you’ve decided it’s time for a new roof, you may want to contact a roofing company as soon as possible, because quality roofers often have long waiting lists during peak season. 

Of course, we always suggest you work with a trustworthy roofer, like the roofers on TrustDALE.com, even if the wait is a little longer. Unfortunately, roofing is an industry full of scammers, so it’s always better to work with someone you can trust.

Choosing a New Roof for Your House [infographic]

Is it Time for a New Roof?

How do you know when it’s time for a new roof? Since a new roof can be a significant expense, many homeowners try to put it off until they are forced to. But waiting until your roof is literally falling apart may not be the most cost-effective choice. If you wait too long, the understructure of your roof could be damaged, adding a substantial extra cost to your roof replacement. If you wait for your roof to leak, you could end up having to replace a lot more than just your roof. Insulation, attic flooring, and even interior ceilings can be damaged by a visible leak. Replacing all of that is undoubtedly going to cost you more than replacing a roof that hasn’t leaked yet.

How Long Can Your Roof Last?

If your home has a typical asphalt roof, one way to determine when it needs to be replaced is simply by its age. Three-tab asphalt roofing is the most common type of asphalt roofing, and you can recognize it by its even lines and flat shape. Each shingle looks exactly the same. A three-tab asphalt roof under normal conditions can last 15 years or more. If your three-tab asphalt shingle roof is getting up beyond 20 years of age, it very likely needs to be replaced soon. If you’re not sure, ask for a roofing company to do an inspection. A reliable, TrustDALE certified roofing company can let you know if your roof needs repair or a full replacement.

Another common type of roof is laminate asphalt shingle. Laminate shingles are made of layered fiberglass and asphalt. They are recognizable by their varied shape and thicker profile. (In fact, laminate asphalt shingle is sometimes called dimensional shingle because it is three-dimensional compared to flat three-tab shingle.) A laminate roof can last twice as long as a three-tab shingle roof, 25 years or more. If your laminate roof is older than 30 years, it is due for an inspection. You may find that you need a new roof, or you may be able to extend your roof’s life with some necessary repairs.

Roofs made of metal, tile, cement, and slate all last longer than asphalt shingle. It still makes sense to get your roof inspected every 3-5 years just to check for damage. Making repairs as necessary can extend the life of your roof. Slate roofs last the longest, 100 years or more. With a slate roof, the most common repair needed is replacing aging fasteners. Wood roofs last about as long as shingle roofs and should be inspected if they are more than 25 years old.

The Cost of Replacement

The cost of replacing your roof is a combination of materials and labor. Three-tab asphalt shingles are the cheapest and most common option. Slate is the most expensive. Between those two lies a range of prices for different materials.

Labor can be harder to predict. Installing a new roof on a simple gable roof with few breaks—such as chimneys, dormers, or ventilation pipes—will be cheapest. If your roof has multiple planes, penetrations turrets, or other complex angles, the price of labor can be much higher.

The cost of a new roof can also be affected by the condition of your existing roof. In most cases, before a new roof is installed, the existing roof has to be removed. If you have let your roof go for too long before replacing it, you may also need to do some work on the structure underneath, which can add significantly to the cost of labor and materials.

While we usually think of homes in terms of square feet, roofers use a different measure called squares. A square is 100 square feet or a 10’ x 10’ area of your roof. Prices for roofing are usually given in squares. A gabled roof on a 2,000 square foot home is usually about 1,500 square feet or 15 squares.

Types of Roofing Materials

The most important choice you have to make when replacing your roof is what material you will use. Not every material will work on every roof. If you have a low slope on your roof, or if your roof is flat, your choices are limited to materials made especially for flat roofs. That may include different types of tar, modified bitumen, PVC, rubber, and specialty materials like sprayed-on silicon. For a typical sloped roof, you can choose between asphalt, wood, tile, cement, metal, and slate. Prices and lifespans vary greatly between materials.

Asphalt Roofing

The most common type of residential roofing material is asphalt. Asphalt shingles are made of a fiberglass base that is impregnated with tar and then covered in a fine gravel material. The gravel protects the tar from UV rays in sunlight that would quickly degrade the tar. Three-tab asphalt shingles are flat with a regular shape and size. They usually last about 15 years or a little more.

Laminate asphalt roofing is made up of layers of fiberglass and tar that are built up to create a thicker shingle than three-tab. Laminate is becoming a very popular choice because it often looks more natural, and its thickness means it lasts longer before it needs to be replaced. A laminate roof can last 25 years or more.

Wood Shingles

Wood shingles were the most common roofing material until asphalt took over in the twentieth century. Before the twentieth century, wood shingles were usually made of whatever type of wood was available locally. Today, wood shingles are typically made of cedar, southern pine, or redwood. Many homeowners love the natural, traditional look of wood shingles. However, some local codes prohibit wood shingles due to the risk of fire. Check your local codes to find out what is and isn’t allowed before you choose wood shingles. Wood shingles last about as long as laminate, 25 years or more, but can cost twice as much.

Metal Roofing

Metal roofing was once relegated to industrial and agricultural buildings. However, in recent decades metal roofing has undergone a rebirth as a highly-desirable residential roofing product. Metal roofs are usually made of aluminum, steel, copper (with or without tar), or lead. 

Copper is by far the most expensive option and is usually used only in high-end homes that desire a classic look. (Copper roofs were popular in Roman architecture.) 

Other types of roofing can be manufactured as shingles, long strips of shingles, or large vertical sheets that stretch from the ridge of the roof to its edge. Metal roofing is relatively expensive, but the cost varies widely based on the type of metal material.

Metal roofs have a significantly longer lifespan than asphalt or shingle. Depending on the type of metal, metal roofs can last 50 years or more.

Tile or Cement

Ceramic tile has been used as a durable roofing material for millennia. Today, it is common on Spanish mission-style homes or other Mediterranean styles. Cement is often used to mimic ceramic tile. Both options are very durable but also very heavy. For homes that were initially built with tile or cement roofs, a new roof of the same material can be a good choice. For homes built with lighter roofing materials, installing tile or cement can require building in a new roofing structure to support the added weight. That new structure can come with a high price tag in addition to the already high cost of these extremely durable materials.

Slate Roofing

Slate roofing is the most durable form of roofing commonly used on residential buildings. Slate roofing lasts so long that the most common repair on slate roofs is replacing aging fasteners that don’t last as long as the tiles themselves. Slate can easily last a century or more. In fact, when homes with slate roofs are demolished, the late is often recycled for new roofs where it will continue to be useful for another century. However, the long lifespan of slate comes with a hefty price tag. Slate is one of the most expensive roofing materials, and it also requires a specialist to install it correctly. Slate is also very heavy, so a home that uses slate needs a heavy-duty roofing structure.

Finding the Right Roofer to Replace Your Roof

A new roof is a significant investment in your home. It can be expensive to install, but if it is done right you will probably only have to install a new roof once or twice in the time you own your home (depending on the material and how long you stay in your home). Finding the right roofer is crucial because defects in the installation can shorten the lifespan of your roof, costing you thousands of dollars. If you’re ready for a new roof, or if you just need an inspection, try one of these TrustDALE certified roofers in your area.