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A Complete Guide to Installing a New Roof

The roof is the first and last line of defense against everything Mother Nature has to thrown at your home. Snow, ice, rain and wind can all pummel the home over the course of a year, and a solid and well built roof is going to keep the home dry and protected. Proper maintenance of that roofing material is essential to making sure the roof can continue to do the job of protecting the home. While you might not have the capabilities to install a new roof yourself, there are signs to watch for to know when a roof is aging to the point of needing replacement. Waiting until there is a leak or some other obvious damage to the roof is too late. Once a roof is leaking, that can cause much worse damage to the structure of the home, and greatly increase the overall expense of the roofing project.

When is it Time for a New Roof?

There are some telltale signs when looking at a roof and the area around it that can point to the roof needing to be replaced. One of the most basic signs is to simply know the age of the roof. Asphalt shingles are the most common type of roofing material for homes, and they can last anywhere between 20 – 30 years. The quality of the shingle, how they were installed, and whether or not the roof has proper venting can all contribute to a shorter or longer life. If you are unsure of the age of the roof, you can have the roof inspected by a qualified professional, and they will be able to estimate the age and give an overall indication of the quality of the shingles. In addition to the age of the shingles, a quick visual inspection of the roof can tell a lot about the condition it is in. When you look at the shingles, pay close attention to the edges, and whether or not each shingle is still lying straight and flat on the roof. When the edges on the shingles start to curl or look like they are wearing away, that is a sign of an aging roof. If the shingles look like they are sagging at all, that can be an indicator of the roof material underneath starting to fail.

Another sign to look for can happen when you are cleaning your gutters. As you clean out the debris that has collected, check to see if there are a lot of granules from the roofing material. The granules will look like tiny pebbles or larger grains of sand. The more of that material that you find in the gutters, the more the shingles are starting to break down. Another important spot to check is the flashing around the vents or chimney on the roof. These areas are susceptible to shingles wearing out more quickly, so it is a good idea to keep a close watch on those spots. A final check point can be to go up into the attic area of your home and check for any areas that look wet. Going up after a rainstorm, or after the snow starts to melt for the year are good times to check for moisture. As you do these routine inspections, if you find that the shingles do seems to be wearing down, then it is time to call a roofing specialist and have them do a full assessment of the roof.

Options for a New Roof

At some point in time, most people are going to have to put a new roof on their home. There are a few options to consider when that choice has become a reality for you. The shingles from the old roof can be torn off and disposed of, and this is a fairly common practice when installing new shingles. While leaving the old shingles on and simply roofing over them is an option, it is good to also be aware of the some of the drawbacks. The main advantage of leaving the old roof in place is the cost savings that you can gain. One of the drawbacks of leaving the old shingles in place is that it makes it much more difficult to assess the condition of the wood roofing structure under the shingles. If there are any weak spots they need to be exposed by tearing off all the old shingles. There is also an underlayment material that goes down before the shingles are attached to the roof, and that material can be replaced when the old shingles are torn off.

Another challenge with installing new shingles over the old ones is the weight of the roof essentially doubles. While some homes could handle this additional weight, it can put added stress on any of those weak spots that weren’t completely repaired. The wood material for the roof can be inspected from the attic area if there isn’t any sheetrock blocking the access. A final thought on roofing over existing shingles is that the flashing around vents and chimneys is the most susceptible to water getting into the home. Without completely tearing off the shingles on those areas, it can be more difficult to ensure they are as solid as they need to be.

There is an option for installing a roof over existing shingles that roofing experts agree is a good option, and that is putting on a metal roof. While asphalt shingles continue to be the most common roofing material, metal roofs are gaining in popularity. The main advantages with a metal roof are the longevity of the material, the overall maintenance that is needed and the long term cost savings. When a metal roof is installed it is essentially a lifetime roof. It should not need to be replaced for as long as you live in that home. The metal roofs are also fairly simple to maintain as they don’t have the asphalt material that will break down over time. These roofs come in a variety of colors and styles to give your home a very contemporary look. While a metal roof might cost a bit more up front, the long term savings compared to an asphalt roof can be significant.

Who Should I Hire to Install my New Roof?

Moving forward with hiring a contractor to put on a new roof is a huge investment and and huge risk all at once. While the majority of contractors that can install a roof are going to do a fine job, there are some out there that might do a less than stellar job. Putting some time into researching contractors before hiring one is well worth the effort. The investment in a new roof is significant, but if the project is done well it shouldn’t need to be done again for 30 years or so. There are a few key things that you can look for and ask of a contractor before signing a contract to complete the job. The first one is to ask for their license information and insurance information. Any reputable contractor needs to be properly licensed, and have the proper liability insurance. The contractor’s license number can be verified with the state licensing board in the state where you live. One of the best ways to get verification on the work of a contractor is to ask for references from past customers. Make sure to actually follow through and contact the references to verify that they were happy with the work that was completed. There aren’t any great deals when it comes to installing a roof, so always proceed with caution if you are offered a deal that seems to good to be true.

What Will My New Roof Cost?

One of the biggest factors in figuring out the cost of any roofing project is the materials themselves. Asphalt shingles have a range in price depending on the quality of the shingle you want to install. It is generally advantageous to consider the higher quality shingles even though they might cost more up front. It is better to spend a bit more on the front end rather than having to put on a new roof 15 years down the road instead of 25 to 30 years. The cost of labor for the roofing project is the other factor so that should be thoroughly discussed with the contractor before any work starts. An average range for a tear off and installation of asphalt shingles will range from $10,000 to $14,000 depending on the size of the roof and materials used. For a metal roof, the typical range is $12,000 to $15,000.

A faulty roof can cause major problems for a home. Leaks and weak spots can lead to the overall structure of a home being weakened and more costly repairs on the horizon. Take the time to regularly inspect your roof, and when you start to notice signs that the roof is wearing out, contact a professional to come and assess the situation. If you take the proper steps to hire a reputable contractor, you will end up with a quality roof that will last for many years.


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