A Complete Guide to Roofing Projects – All You Need to Know!

A roof is single-handedly the most important part of a home next to the foundation, but like other parts of the home, the roof is often overlooked. The roof covering is a critical part of protection as some coverings and more resilient than others. Common roof coverings are shingles, which are typically seen on the majority of buildings. Materials vary from Asphalt Shingles, Clay Tile, Steel, to Flat Style roof often seen on commercial buildings. Establishing both what type of roof is installed and also the substructure to the roof material is important in understanding what roof you currently have and the best to install. For example, having a plywood/oriented stand board frame vs a tongue and groove lap roof may have a different effect on how resilient a roof will be and how structurally sound the roof may be.

Below we breakdown each common roof material for residential homes, the benefits, areas to pay attention to and lifespan. Be sure to look around the neighboring homes in your area as a certain material may stand out and look out of place, especially in a multi-home facility surrounded by many homes with similar roofs. Also, depending on a specific geographical area should dictate which roof you select. For example, a clay style roof selected in the midwest would improperly stand out and draw extra attention. Vice versa for an asphalt roof installed on a coastal home in Florida or Texas.

When selecting a roofing material for your next project, there is a balance between quality, lifespan, style, and price. If the proper roofing material is selected and properly installed, this will provide a long lasting roof that will last a lifetime of weather, climate change and remain leak free.

DIY vs Hire a Pro

DIY

Like any home project, homeowners are always looking to save money and attain sweat equity in their home. Replacing a roof is expensive, and many homeowners once faced with the cost tend to think of ways they can save money on the project. Many debates doing the project themselves or with family friends, and like many homeowners realize that replacing their roof is too large of a DIY project, especially with the ever-changing weather patterns and rain in most climates. Performing a roof replacement with certain weather conditions over a couple of weeks after work is not an option. If homeowners choose to DIY their roof replacement the process can be expected to last around a week for a normal sized home and can go up from there depending on the height or complexity of the roofline. Also, with replacing a roof yourself, a homeowner must think about what material they would like to install, as some materials are more difficult than others to replace. For example, some roofing materials are more difficult to install than others. A shingle roof is much more DIY Friendly than a clay or metal roof that will require special materials and equipment.

Many home stores, if you purchase shingles and roof material through them will deliver to your house for free. The advantage for some? Many home stores will delivery the materials using special equipment that will allow the material to be directly offloaded onto the roof. Saving homeowners hours of backbreaking work and also allows homeowners to be much safer because they are not carrying roof material up and down ladders.

A roof of a home is a complex and paramount part of a roof that if installed incorrectly, can cause a lot of water and moisture issues, potentially causing structural issues but also interior issues around skylights, plumbing vents, fireplaces and other areas requiring flashing. An improperly installed roof can lead to mold, premature failure, and water leakage. With doing the work yourself, you will not hold a warranty. This means, after installation, if a leak does exist, you will be responsible for not only finding the leak but also repairing the issue, which is in most cases, very difficult.

In the end, if chosen to DIY your roof replacement, we recommend having a few friends come over to help with the removal and installation. Replacing a roof is not a project to complete by yourself or without additional help.

DIY Checklist- Common Roofing Supplies

Little Giant Roofing Ladder

When replacing a roof, safety is a top priority, especially when going up and down the roof multiple times, carrying material, supplies. In order to DIY your roof, a proper, safe ladder is required. In construction, ladder safety and job site falls are of the top safety incidents in construction. Be sure that if you do decide to replace your own roof, that you have a proper ladder for the job.

Roofing Underlayment

When replacing a roof, you need to make sure that a proper roofing underlayment is used. This underlayment membrane is simply stapled to your roof substructure and placed on before the shingle material. This is used, in case water and moisture are blown in behind of the roofing material, that your house is still protected from the elements.

Automatic Roofing Nailer

When installing a roof, shingles typically take multiple nails per shingle and are can be very time consuming to hand nail each shingle in place. With an automatic roofing nailer, this means with a simple pull of a trigger, a roofing nail is placed to the proper depth every time-saving time during installation.

Shingle Remover

Many homeowners, that have zero intention on installing a new roof, still want to gain sweat equity on the project and will choose to rip off the old roof themselves. In order to do this, be sure to purchase the proper tools. This shingle remover is a special shape in order to help remove and lift shingles off the roof to make removal of your old roof as easy as possible.

Hire a Pro

Hiring a pro for a roof replacement is in many cases the smarter, quicker and easier choice for homeowners. Though the option is most expensive, there are many benefits to hiring out your next roof replacement project. Nearly all professional roofing contractors will be able to tear off and install a new roof in a single day. This includes most homes, complex roof lines, and regardless of the material.

A professional installer will not only be able to install a roof in a single day but will commonly have many people in a crew installing, in many cases, as many as 10 professional tradesmen in a crew tearing off and installing roofing materials. This is unmatched compared to a typical DIY enthusiast that will be doing the installation themselves or with a few friends.

With selecting a professional contractor material selection is not an issue, as most materials are not DIY friendly, a professional contractor will not only have the knowledge to install, but also the tools and equipment needed to install properly. For example, when installing a metal roof, there are special crimp style tools that will fold out the edges of the metal to create a watertight seal vs a DIY enthusiast may not have this special tool and may choose to do this crimping manually by hand.

A large advantage to hiring a professional contractor is most carry a leak free warranty along with their installation, meaning if after installation within the warranty period if a leak occurs, simply call a contractor back on the phone and he will come out and find and repair the leak for you.

Hiring a Professional Contractor for this work is wise, considering how complex and large most roof projects are. Replacing a roof is a large DIY project to take on and in most cases can take a long time to complete.

How to Hire a Professional

When selecting a roofing contractor there are four main questions homeowners must ask. Are they insured if they cause damage to your house while on the project? Have they been in business for a long time? Do they hold any certifications from manufacturers for installing their material? What is the warranty once installed?

Depending on the answers from the contractor, the answers to these questions typically help homeowners understand if their contractor is correct for their project. With the warranty being the largest advantage to homeowners hiring a professional. When selecting a professional and the state of technology, many contractors will have a website, where you can see their future work, read past homeowner reviews.

Cost

The largest factor in determining how much a roof will take to install is which material you would like to have installed. Prices will vary exponentially depending on which material you select, a standard asphalt shingle will be much cheaper than a custom architectural clay roof. This also depends on the area in which you live. For example, most that live in Florida or other Southern climates would not install an asphalt roof; similar to how homeowners in the northern part of the country would not install a clay roof.

A standard asphalt shingle roof can be in the range of $1.20-$4.00 per square foot. With the average home of 1800 square feet, the typical cost for an asphalt roof would be $2,160-7,200. Where a high end, a southern clay roof is approximately $4.00-$10.00 a square foot to install, with a range for complete installation to vary from $7,200-18,000.

With prices varying so much, selecting the proper material for your budget is key for ensuring your next roof project comes within your budget. With many different suppliers, manufacturers and materials, selecting a roof that fits your house are attainable with a bit of research. Below we breakdown the main roofing materials, Asphalt, Clay, Steel, and Flat Roofs.

Asphalt Shingles

Shingles are a common roof covering seen on many residential homes, this material is relatively cheap compared to other roof coverings and is fairly easy to install, with the price point and the fact that most replacements only take one day it is understood why this is a common roof protection choice for residents. As with installing any roof material, it is important to follow a manufacturers warranty for installation. The majority of shingle suppliers offer long-lasting warranties on their products and if not installed correctly, this can void warranties for the end user. Common items to focus on when installing a shingle roof starts with the proper underlayment. Be sure to check the local building code to ensure proper underlayment weight is used. Underlayment is particularly important when it comes to shingles. When a wind event occurs, the wind can force water and moisture under the shingles and onto the underlayment. If the underlayment is not sufficient, this can cause the water to rot the roof structure and lead to even more severe issues. The other important thing when installing asphalt shingles is both proper nail spacing and overlap on each row. Using the proper roofing nail to hold down the shingle is paramount to a long-lasting finish. Roofing nails have special heads used to keep shingles pinned down to the roof structure. It is important to note where these nails are placed on the shingle. If improper nailing of shingle, this may void a manufacturers warranty and cause failure during a high wind event. These are some common items to pay attention to while installation and replacement of a roof.

Clay Tiles

Clay tiles are a common roof structure in Florida and other southern states, clay tiles are similar to shingles, but clay tiles have their own level of difficulties while installing and have areas to focus on, especially with high wind and southern environments. Similar to shingles, heavy winds can penetrate through and under the clay tiles, causing root rot and leaking. Roof tiles are a bit unique because they are fastened to the roof a bit differently than the typical asphalt shingle. Most clay roofs are applied with an adhesive but can be applied with traditional nails. If water does get behind the tiles, it is important that you offer it a place to drain. Typically, space is left open at the bottom of the tiles, this area is referred to as a “bird stop”. This is critical for stopping critters from entering a roof structure. This covering does not only protect against critters but also act as a weep hole and allow moisture and water to drain out from under the clay tiles. A weep hole does not need to be made of metal but any hole at the bottom of a structure is important to allow moisture to drain out in the event of a high wind event. If multiple weep holes are not installed moisture and water can build up below the clay tiles and become trapped between the birds stop. This can lead to premature roof rot and other water damage issues that could be prevented by simply installing weep holes. Clay tiles are more resilient than standard shingles due to being heavier and thicker, but like all structures still, require attention for high winds.

Steel Roof

Steel as a roofing material is very similar to clay, with having to provide “bird stop protection”. The major difference with steel roofing is it is typically continuous from the whole vertical length of the roof with the only seams running where the sheets overlap. Steel is a common roof structure on pole barns and garages but just recently being seen in residential homes. Steel is an incredible roof structure with durability and has the potential to last a very long time, even through severe weather events. The major item to focus on for steel roofing is to follow the manufacturers fastening instructions and to use proper screws with rubber gaskets to ensure a watertight seal. If the proper screw is not used, this will create hundreds of micro-holes in the steel and is guaranteed to leak and cause damage, especially during wind and heavy rain events. It is important to install the proper style of screws, length of screws, and screw material to ensure they do not rust, blend in with the roofing material and provide a watertight seal. Again, always contact a local manufacturer if you have questions. Many would much rather ask questions mid-project, than deal with a warranty claim that their roof product is leaking, when it was simply installed wrong.

Flat Roof

Flat roof structures are most common in a commercial and industrial building, allowing roofs to create warehouse space for HVAC units and other process items. Because these roofs are flat, it allows for the maintenance work area but with this comes special concerns, especially in southern style climates. Contrary to their names, flat roofs do have a slope to allow water to drain vs becoming a large birdbath on top of a building. These slops vary depending on the area, below is a flat roof diagram to represent how this roof structure is constructed. The slope of these roofs is typically achieved by sloping the insulation layer between the metal decking and the roof membrane. This foam, similar to steel required special wide head fasteners to aim in holding the roof insulation down. This roof membrane is fairly thin and flexible but required the proper fasteners to be installed in order to maintain the warranty. For example, if a wide head fastener is not used, this may create a pressure point when the membrane moves and shifts, causing wear and tear and stress points on the roof of a building. Many suppliers supply fasteners or recommend certain styles and brands, we recommend staying with those products, especially in a flat roof situation. These roofs are known for being durable but are not meant for prolonged foot traffic, if on a roof for maintenance of installation of a roof, be sure to not only pay special attention to your tools for damage to the roof surface but also work boots! Often times a small rock, screw or metal shaving will get attached to workers boots or shoes and not only will there be one hole but now, hundreds of micro pin sized holes all created by a worker most likely trying to install the roof material. Typical to a standard roof, this style involves detail to insulation, fasteners and a waterproof membrane. Similar to steel roof structures, flat roofs important detail to note is the spacing of the fasteners. The fasteners aid in holding the roof insulation down and prevent lifting and tearing of the roof membrane. Fastener details are especially important in corner and edges where a roof sees the most stress catching wind from the face of the building. Flat roofs are great if installed correctly, but require special attention to manufacturer installation instructions and in many cases, manufacturers will have a local representative available to answer questions during installation.

Summary

All in all, there are many different types of roofing materials, with different architectural styles, durable & lifespan and different price points. Installing a proper roof material is key to a long-lasting home, that is watertight and protected from the elements. Finding the balance between convenience, price point and durability will help decide which material and installation are right for your next project or home roof installation. Always be sure to pay special attention to the geographical area in your next decision!

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