Choosing the Right Roof: What to Consider

shake-roof-house2-1140x460Whether you’re building a new home or looking for options to replace or update an existing roof, the choices are endless. Understanding what is available and what’s best for your property is critical. Take the time to read this roof buying guide below to ensure you are well-informed as you start the process.

Understand Neighborhood Regulations

If you live in a development regulated by a HOA, or homeowners association, you may be limited as far as colors and roofing materials are concerned. You may also be responsible for having your project approved prior to starting any work. Take the time to contact your HOA to ensure you move forward in the right direction without any setbacks as the roofing project progresses.

When contacting your HOA, be sure to include information relating to:

  • The materials you will be using during your project.
  • Any construction equipment or trucks that will be on your property or in your neighborhood during the process.
  • Your project’s timeline.
  • Copies of any permits you have pulled for the project.
  • A diagram of exactly what work will be completed, along with color samples.
  • The contact information for your contractor.
  • The reasons why your project will add value to your home and neighborhood.

Material Options

Once your project is approved, if necessary, understanding the various materials available is critical. These include:

  • Asphalt or Composition Shingles. Asphalt shingles are typically more affordable than other options, ranging from $200-$250 per roofing square; they represent a good value. Within this category, multiple colors and lifetimes are available. Laminated shingles are generally the top shelf in the category, typically lasting anywhere from 20-40 years.
  • Slate Shingles. Slate and slate alternatives offer a durable alternative to composition shingles, high fire protection ratings and resist rotting, mildew and insects. Slate roofs run anywhere from $250-$500 per square.
  • Wood Shingles. Wood shingles offer a natural look that is often preferred for log cabins and other, more rustic buildings. Offering a lightweight and easy installation process along with a lifetime warranty of 15-25 years, they are an option for those looking for something a little different. Wood shingles run from $300-$500 per square on average.
  • Concrete and Clay Roofing. In living areas where Spanish, Italian and Mediterranean styles are popular, concrete and clay roofs are desirable. These roofs are generally heavier and prone to cracks and breakage, and are at the upper end of the price range at about $400-$700 per square.
  • Metal Roofing. Generally made of steel or aluminum, metal roofs offer long lifetimes and a light-weight finish; they are made to withstand the elements, generally lasting 20-50 years. Metal roofing generally runs $700 or more per square.

By taking the time to consider the desired finish of your roof and your home’s style, you’ll be better equipped to make a material decision when renovating or replacing your home’s roof.

Considering Your Climate

The various roofing options are meant to withstand different weather conditions, making certain roofs better for certain climates. Ask your builder which materials are best for your region, factoring in snow, storms, rainfall and other factors.

Roofing Slopes

A roof’s slope or pitch may determine which materials are best for finishing it. The slope refers to the number of inches it rises for every 12-inch horizontal section. A roof with a 3 in 12 slope would rise every 3 inches for every 12 inches horizontally. Certain materials, like shingles, tiles and slate, are designed for roofs with a 4 in 12 slope or steeper. Roofs with flatter surfaces generally require seamless roofing materials to prevent leaks from standing water, especially relating to snowfall.

Layering an Existing Roof 

While many online searches will turn up information for adding a second layer of shingles over an existing roof, this practice is quickly becoming dated. Adding a second layer to your roof adds weight that could cause problems when inclement weather strikes or could make correcting leaks more of a challenge. While the price may be attractive, it might not be the best investment. Speak with your contractor to learn more.

Understanding Warrantees and Coverage Options 

Durability is critical when selecting roofing materials — this means that paying more for a roof that will last longer is often a sound investment. In addition to selecting durable materials, take time to ask questions and to understand the warranty or other coverage offered by the supplier. Pay special attention to any actions that could void the warranty to ensure you are protected at all times.

Finding the Right Contractor

Installing a new roof is a large-scale home renovation project. Take the time to ask questions and to shop around. Ask any potential contractors for testimonials and photos of work completed. Ask to speak with past customers and reach out to ask questions about their satisfaction levels. Make sure you understand the timeline of your project and that you are comfortable with the company you select. Your home is your most important investment; a roofing project or replacement is no different. Take the time to familiarize yourself with your options and to make educated choices from the start for best results.



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