You probably don’t spend a lot of time thinking about your home’s roof, and that’s a good thing. Ordinarily the only time a roof gets our attention is when it’s damaged or leaking. And while a roof’s main objective is to protect and weatherproof the house, don’t underestimate the impact roofing can have on the style and appearance of your home.
There’s a wide variety of roofing materials available, and they’re all suitable for both new construction and re-roofing of existing homes. The type of roof you choose will depend on several factors, including the home’s architectural style and your personal preference and budget.
Where you live should also be considered since certain types of roofs are more prevalent in some areas of the country. For example, clay tile roofs are popular in the southeast and southwest, but not very common in the northeast or Midwest regions.
All kinds of roofs have advantages and disadvantages, so choosing the best roof material for your home is something that should be done carefully and thoughtfully. The average homeowner will spend between one and four per cent of a home’s value on maintenance and repairs each year.
The percentage, and thus the maintenance cost, will increase consistently as the house grows older. As a general rule, a roof should be inspected at least once a year.
However, the frequency of roof inspection and maintenance will depend upon the environment around your home, and the type of roofing material used.
In order to help you determine the best roof material for your home, here are some pros and cons of common roofing materials. Take a look at our range of roof repairs Melbourne.
What Are the Different Types of Roofing Materials?
Not long ago, asphalt shingles, slate, clay or concrete tiles were about the only roofing options. Today, advanced roofing materials provide an unprecedented range of alternatives, as well as new looks for existing materials.
Here is a list of different types of roofing to consider for your next re-roofing job:
Advanced solar collectors integrate seamlessly into existing shingles, generating up to 1 kilowatt of energy per 100 square feet. They’re perfect for sunny roofs in homeowners’ associations that forbid typical solar panels.
While they may help offset energy costs with solar power, they also cost more than traditional solar options.
Asphalt shingles are the most common roofing materials in America because they’re effective in all environmental conditions. Quality varies widely, so ask whether they pass the ASTM D3161, Class F (110 mph) or ASTM D7158, Class H (150 mph) wind tests and the AC438 durability test. Upfront costs are low, but you should expect to replace the shingles after about 20 years. If you live in a hail prone area, consider impact resistant shingles which have a UL 2218 Class 4 rating. Result resistant shingles may qualify for a discount on your homeowner’s premium.
Metal roofing comes in vertical panels or shingles resembling slate, tile and shake – and lasts about 60 years. Metal excels at sloughing off heavy snow and rain, won’t burn and resists high winds. It is lightweight and can be installed over existing roofs. However, metal can be noisy during rainstorms and may dent from hail. Average costs range between $5 and $12 per square foot, depending on the type and style of metal – which is more than asphalt but less than concrete tiles. Corrosion also varies by material.
Interlocking panels mimic slate, clay or shingles and resist damage caused by heavy rains (up to 8.8 inches per hour), winds of 120 miles per hour, uplifting, hail and freeze-thaw cycles. Consequently, they’re an economical, practical choice for wet, windy regions or areas prone to wildfires. Some stone-coated steel roofs are warranted for the lifetime of the house.
Slate roofing lasts more than 100 years. It won’t burn, is waterproof and resists mould and fungus. Slate is effective in wet climates but is expensive, heavy and may be easily broken when stepped on. Keep this in mind if you live in an area that experiences hail.
Rubber slate looks natural and can be cut with a knife to fit intricate roofs like those found on Victorian homes. Rubber slate roofs can last 100 years but can be damaged by satellite dishes and walking – so may also be susceptible to damage by hail, similar to slate. Roofing professionals that are trained to install rubber slate may be hard to find.
Clay and Concrete Tiles
Clay and concrete roof tiles can withstand damage from tornadoes, hurricanes or winds up to 125 miles per hour and even earthquakes, according to “A Summary of Experimental Studies on Seismic Performance of Concrete and Clay Roofing Tiles” by the University of Southern California for the Tile Roofing Institute. They are good in warm, dry climates. They may require extra support to bear their weight, and they are likely to break when walked on.
Green roofs are covered with plants and can improve air quality, reduce water runoff and insulate homes to mitigate urban heat islands. However, they need extra structural support, a vapour barrier, thermal insulation, waterproofing, drainage, water filtration, soil, compost and plants. Their estimated lifespan is 40 years.
This heavy roofing consists of layers of asphalt, tar or adhesive topped with an aggregate and is only for flat roofs. Tar and gravel roofs, also for flat roofs, are best for roof-top decks with heavy foot traffic. These roofs may become sticky in summer, and it is harder to shovel snow off of these roofs when compared to smooth surfaces. They can last 20 to 25 years.
Roof Buying Guide
Some home repairs, you can put off indefinitely. A leaky roof is not one of them. Cracked, curled, or missing roof shingles demand immediate attention. If you neglect them, they can lead to severe water damage that can seriously drain your savings account.
The first step to take when you’re thinking of having a new roof installed is to figure out the type of roofing you want. Asphalt shingles remain far and away from the most popular choice because they’re inexpensive, easy to install and come in dozens of colours.
But slate, tile, and metal are all excellent options, too, provided you plan on being in the same house for a long time. All three cost more than asphalt shingles, but last significantly longer, in some cases, as long as 100 years.
As you research shingles, check our comprehensive ratings to see what the best roofing lines are.
In CR’s roofing tests, we found that some shingles are more than twice as strong as others that cost more. Others provide a beautifully layered look or come in vast arrays of colours.
Once you’ve nailed down a few contenders, use the manufacturer’s website to find licensed installers in your area, and request bids from at least three pros. Keep in mind that some shingle manufacturers will only honour a warranty if you use a licensed installer they’ve previously vetted.
If you have a specific roofer in mind, make sure to confirm that he’s licensed to install the product you want by checking with the manufacturer. You can also ask your roofer for his shingle recommendations and check them against our ratings. Looking for a roof replacement? Check out Top Glaze for a wide range of roof services.
Comparing Quotes From Roofers
Costs for a job as big as replacing an entire roof can vary widely, even for installing the exact same shingles. Roofing material is priced by the “square”—a 10-foot-by-10-foot section, which is equal to 100 square feet. For asphalt shingles, prices range from $65 per square for the basic 3-tab shingles, all the way up to $350 per square for multilayered architectural shingles.
The cost of the shingles themselves should be similar no matter who installs them, but other related expenses for labour and materials are what you have to look out for when comparing bids.
Some roofers may assume you’re tearing off everything down to the roofing trusses, which is expensive because it leads to higher labour costs, and the added expense of new sheathing and roofing felt. While another may plan on putting shingles right on top of the old ones, which is generally much more accessible and should cost far less.
It’s crucial to make sure each bid you receive is not only for the same product but also the same service. You want a breakdown of all the costs involved: one price for the shingles, one for the labour of removing the old ones and installing the new ones, and a contingency budget that outlines the costs if your roofer discovers the sheathing and roofing felt need to be replaced.
Always ask each roofer for references, and ask whether they warranty their work above and beyond the warranty provided by the shingle manufacturer. Few do, but if your roofer does offer coverage, it can be easier to have a repair made down the line if you don’t need to file a claim with the roofing manufacturer.
Watch the Warranty
Don’t be wowed by a long coverage period on a roof manufacturer’s warranty—what is actually covered is more important than the time frame. For example, a 20-year guarantee that offers to pay for brand new shingles and labour costs on any defects might actually be better than a 50-year guarantee that only covers the cost of the shingles.
Check the length of the policy, what’s covered, and at what price—many warranties cover only the depreciated value of your roof. That means that the older your roof, the less money the manufacturer will pay toward replacing it.
Make sure to find out if the warranty is transferable. If you sell your home, a roof warranty can be a big perk to a potential buyer. In general, pricier shingles come with more extended, more comprehensive warranties. Weigh that consideration, along with performance, before you buy.
What if I Add Solar Panels?
Solar panels have grown in popularity, and if you’re considering adding them to your roof, check the warranty of any roofing shingle you’re considering before adding the panels, to make sure they won’t void the warranty.
You should also check for coverage from the solar panel company, too. Wish you could just replace your roof’s shingles with solar roofing shingles, like Tesla’s Solar Roof? You’ll likely have to wait, as they still aren’t widely available in most parts of the country. We have a wide range of Melbourne roof replacement services at Top Glaze.
How to Tell When You Need a New Roof?
Water Will Find a Way In
Watermarks on a ceiling, or worse, dripping water, may have you worried that your whole roof is in tatters. But just because there’s a leak doesn’t mean your roof will require a massive amount of repairs.
Sometimes stopping it is as simple as filling a crack with caulk, replacing a few shingles, or installing some flashing—a membrane or layer of metal that provides a mechanical barrier to redirect water at corners, crevices, gaps, and other spots vulnerable to leaking.
Fallen tree limbs, hail, and even wind can loosen or remove shingles.
Damaged flashing is another common culprit. Even rubberized boots around plumbing pipes, or improperly installed satellite dishes or solar panels can cause isolated leaks. To determine what kind of leak you’ve got on your hands, first try to trace it to its origin.
Looking for Leaks
It’s easiest to find a leak when it’s raining outside. Remember that water often accumulates at a spot that’s different from where it’s entering—it generally runs down the length of a rafter or stud and only drips once it reaches a low point.
In an unfinished attic, the framing is visible, so simply start at the leak and look along the length of any wood framing that leads to that point, to see if you find a trail of water that originates higher up on your roof. In a finished attic, you’ll need to use a handheld tool called a jab saw to cut away any drywall that obstructs your view.
Once you think you’ve found the origin, look at top of the roof (you can do this safely from the ground with a pair of binoculars) to see if you can identify any obvious culprits, like missing shingles, or worn out flashing near a chimney.
If you can’t locate the leak yourself, a licensed roofing contractor can perform an inspection and make recommendations about whether repair or replacement is needed. Even if you’re able to locate your own leak, you’ll want to leave the repair job to a pro—climbing onto your roof with a tall extension ladder is a dangerous job.
Most leaks can be stopped if they’re limited to a few spots. If, however, you’re experiencing recurring leaks, and your roof is out of warranty, it may be time for a new roof. The money you would spend on multiple short-term fixes is probably better applied to a brand-new roof with a lengthy warranty.
Other Warning Signs
You don’t have to wait for leaks to appear before you consider repairs to your roof, though. Missing, damaged, or curling shingles can all be signs of leaks to come.
And the age of your roof itself can be a guide—homeowner’s insurance companies generally assume an asphalt shingle roof will last about 20 years, and some insurers won’t provide coverage if your roof is older than that.
If your roof was put on by the previous owner of your home, a roofing contractor or a licensed home inspector can generally provide a rough estimate of the age, based upon the condition of the shingles.
Even without leaks or obvious signs of damage to the roof, it can make sense to replace an out-of-warranty roof that’s more than 20 years old. That’s because once a leak develops, it can do serious damage to the wood sheathing beneath the shingles.
And if that sheathing becomes warped or rotted, replacing it can add several thousand dollars to the overall cost of your new roof when you do get around to replacing it. The illustration below shows the different layers involved in a typical roof.
Before you hire anyone to work on your roof, call your homeowner’s insurance company to check your deductible and coverage for roof repairs or replacement. You’ll want to weigh your out-of-pocket costs against the cost of replacing your roof entirely.
Consider any resulting increase in your premium as well—it may make more sense to simply cover the cost yourself.
Generally, homeowner’s insurance policies may cover, or contribute toward, the repair of isolated leaks, but won’t cover the cost of replacement.
Most insurers will send an adjuster to provide an estimate for the repair, and policies typically cover repairs to the roof, as well as any damage to the framing, drywall, or flooring that results from a leaking roof. If you do receive a payout from your insurance company, you can use that money to make the specific repairs, or apply it toward the cost of a total replacement.