From keeping your house weather tight to capping its curb appeal, there’s a lot riding on your roof. It has to withstand decades of blazing sun, pounding rains, gusting winds, and in many cases, snow and ice, as it protects you from the elements—all while looking good from the street.
When it comes to maintaining your home, a new roof is one of the biggest-ticket purchases you have to make. While that can be intimidating, experts agree that getting the job done right boils down to a two-part process. First, explore colors and styles by driving around your neighborhood to see how homes similar to yours look with different shingle colors and shapes. Most manufacturers have options in all the basic color families. Second, is using the right contractor. Using a Preferred Contractor of the brand you trust is a must. The quality of the work is key. Asphalt shingles are pretty bulletproof these days, so failures can usually be traced back to poor installation.
Overlay vs Tear Off
They use the same shingles, but these two installation methods are very different.
Most building codes allow for two layers of asphalt shingles on a house, so stripping off everything down to the plywood sheathing may not be your only choice. Nailing new shingles over existing ones is less expensive and faster, requiring less labor, but it also means you lose the chance to assess the sheathing for signs of water damage. Also, adding the additional weight to your home can cause issues. If your roof is in good shape but has some damage to one side from a downed tree or has lost shingles in a wind storm, an overlay is worth considering.
More expensive because of the additional labor and materials, peeling off the old roof down to the sheathing is typically the best option. This allows us to inspect all of the decking for rotten or broken wood. It’s important to know you are nailing into good wood. It will also help pinpoint additional issues like flashing, siding, or window failures.
What It Costs
Materials | 55%
Tear offs require many unseen parts like underlayments and starter strips. In an overlay, the shingles are the main material, and they account for more of the total cost, about 65%.
Labor | 35%
Stripping off a roof is labor-intensive, and complicated rooflines can increase the cost by up to 25%. An overlay is often a one-day job, reducing labor costs to about 25% of the budget.
Disposal | 5%
The cost of hauling and disposing of the old roofing materials.
Job site extras | 5%
This can include fees for poor roof access and having to take extra precautions for landscaping causing more labor hours.
Select a Grade: Good
Spending more usually means a broader selection of colors and shapes to choose from. Most companies offer the full range.
GOOD: Three-tab shingles
Nearly all shingles start as a fiberglass mat soaked with water-resistant asphalt. The top coat is a layer of igneous-rock granules, wrapped in a ceramic-pigment coating that protects the asphalt from UV rays. Made in one consistent thickness, these shingles are usually 12 by 36 inches with three to five tabs, or segments—all with the same rectangular shape.
Price—these are always the less expensive option. Available in most neutral colors like blacks, grays, and browns; a clean, uniform look.
The single, flat layer offers less dimension with no shadow lines. While most include two colors, they have less variegation than more expensive shingles. These shingles only last 25 years and have a 60-mph wind rating. It is not unusual to get 60 mph winds during severe weather.
Select a Grade: Best
BEST: Laminated shingles
Instead of one layer, laminated, or architectural, shingles have two or more layers with three-dimensional tabs of varying sizes. The shingles are usually the same size as the basic three tabs, but a laminated shingle can weigh up to 50 percent more, which increases the durability and come with a longer warranty. These shingles are rated to last up to 50 years and have a 130-mph wind rating.
All Under One Roof
This metal flashing is installed around the perimeter of your roof. On the eaves it is installed under the underlayment and on the rakes over the underlayment.
ICE AND WATER SHIELD
A self-adhesive membrane applied in all valleys. This is a self-sealing membrane so when you nail through it, it reseals to the nails. This product will help prevent ice damning when there is snow and ice accumulation on the roof.
This synthetic layer, which replaces felt paper, covers the entire roof deck and is the second line of defense against leaks, after the shingles.
A narrow row of asphalt roofing, the starter strip is nailed to the perimeter of the roof with a bead of adhesive on top that grips the underside of the first course of shingles, keeping them in place during high winds.
A circular saw is used to cut a long slot along the roof ridge—if there isn’t one—then cover it with a shingle over ridge vent. Openings along the sides allow air out of the attic, cooling the attic / roof surface, and lowering your air-conditioning bill.
Venting prolongs the life of the roof. In most cases, cool air is drawn in through soffit vents, and warm air is released through a ridge vent.
Applied from the eaves up toward the ridge, shingle courses are staggered to prevent water from seeping in. Shingles are installed with 4-6 nails depending on the shingle type.
Finished in the same colors and thickness as the other shingles, these caps are square sections installed over the ridge vent, straddling vulnerable parts where two planes of the roof meet.
Warranty Fine Print
Shingle coverage Three-tab shingles usually carry a, 25-year warranty against manufacturing defects; laminated versions carry a “lifetime” warranty, which means for as long as you own the house, or up to 50 years.
Most manufacturers offer more-expensive warranty packages that, if the roof fails within a set time frame they cover the cost of new shingles and the labor to reroof.
Buying a house with a new roof? Don’t assume you’re covered because the roof was recently installed. Ask for the name of the manufacturer, notify the company of the change in ownership, and make sure the warranty transfers to you.