The often turbulent weather will have many folks in metro Atlanta contemplating whether to replace their existing roof system. Replacing a damaged roof is one of the most important projects a homeowner can do to protect their most treasured, and often most valuable, investment. On the surface, a roof replacement may seem to be a reliably straightforward project with very few options. In reality there are actually several things for a homeowner to consider before undertaking this type of project. Since this will likely be the last time you will replace the roof on your current home, it is worth a little extra time to consider all of your options.
See Big Picture:
Before you get too involved in selecting some of the items suggested below, you may want to consider a few high level factors that may influence your decision- making process:
Neighborhood – If you are considering replacing your roof, it is likely that some of your neighbors have already done so. Before you get too entrenched in the details of selecting a product and a contractor, take a walk (driving is expensive nowdays!) Down your street to see what your neighbors are doing. While you have the ultimate decision as to how you will improve your home, adhering to the norms of the neighborhood will typically help to optimize your return on investment for that project.
Covenants / HOA's – Some neighborhoods with homeowners associations may have restrictive covenants that specify the type of building materials you can use, including roofing.
Future plans – How long you plan on staying in the home may play a key role in the remodeling decision making process. While it never makes sense to sacrifice quality in any home remodeling project, your future plans may impact what kind of investment you are willing to make.
Once you have thought about these items, you are ready to move forward with the decision making process:
Type of Shingle:
There are two predominate types of asphalt shingles available today, "3-tab" and "Architectural".
3-tab shingles have two notches cut into the lower edge so that when it's laid on a roof it looks like three smaller shingles. When viewed on the roof, 3-tab shingles have a distinguishable, repetitive pattern. Architectural shingles (also known as "dimensional" or "laminate" shingles) have an extra piece of shingle laminated to it to give the appearance of thickness and texture when seen from the ground.
Architectural shingles also do not have the same regular pattern as 3-tab shingles and will give you a more custom look. When considering this type of option, you may also choose different variations of Architectural shingles called specialty or designer shingles that give the appearance of other roofing materials (Slate, Cedar Shake, etc.) while allowing you with the reliability and durability of an asphalt shingle. Many of these special shingles are engineered to last longer than standard Architectural shingles and so carry even longer product warranties.
If the slope your roof is shallow (20 degrees or less) the type of shingle is not likely to be a strong visual element of your home. From the ground, the most predominate feature will be the color of the shingle. So – for a shallow pitched roof a 3-tab shingle is a good choice. If you have a roof with a steeper slope (more common in newer homes), the roof is very likely to be a more predominate architectural feature. In this case, the shingle pattern will be very visible, and the roof itself may be the first thing people see as they drive down the street towards your house. So – for a steep slope roof, you may prefer Architectural shingles.
Color: Color selection for any home improvement project can be both an exciting and stressful decision. For the best results, your new roof color should compliment the rest of your home's exterior, including the siding or brick color as well as the associated trim. If you are unsure about shingle color, there are several methods to help ensure that you will be happy with your color decision:
- Look at homes similar to yours. Specifically look for houses with similar architecture and rooflines.
Simulation Programs – Many manufacturers and some contractors have access to computer simulation programs that can model various shingle types and roof colors on your house. While these programs are a useful tool for comparisons and narrowing choices, please remember the limitations in viewing colors on a computer monitor or printout.
Additional details to discuss with your contractor:
Attic Ventilation – A properly designed attic ventilation system keeps your attic cool and dry by allowing cool outside air to enter your attic through your eaves or soffits and hot humid air to be exhausted from the vents that are typically located at or near the ridges on the roof. An improperly ventilated attic can not only cause premature aging of your roof system, it can also cause damage to siding or exterior paint, warp the roof decking, allow for mildew growth, and even cause higher energy costs. In order to work properly, the intake and exhaust vents must both be operating properly to supply the cool, dry air into the attic while exhausting the hot humid air. A roof replacement project is a perfect time to reassess your ventilation system and make changes to improve it performance. A competent roof replacement contractor can help you determine your ventilation requirements and whether changes should be made to your current system.
Fungus Protection – What are those black stains on your roof ???? Those stains are actually an airborne fungus. This fungus grows and is attracted to roof areas with the following characteristics:
Areas of moisture or high humidity (everywhere in Middle Georgia!)
Areas of high shade (typically northern exposures or under trees) The good news is that many shingles are now manufactured with an algae inhibitor (typically copper granules) that will help protect your new roof from this fungus for years to come!
Processes and Products – If you have not guessed by now, installing a roof system is more than just nailing a bunch of shingles on your roof. How clear is the process that the contractor will use? Will they strip the existing roof shingles? Will they clean up when they are done? What products will be used as underlayment? What will be installed in the valleys? A good contractor will be thorough and explain the entire process.
Warranty – A new roof system should last 20+ years if installed properly. In the last several years, manufacturers and contractors have trained up to provide warranty programs that can give homeowners security through the life of your new roof. The fact is that roofing problems are rare, but when they occur they can be very difficult and expensive to resolve. A good warranty program should cover both material defects as well as improper installation.
Choosing the Installer:
While much of this article has been focused on the product choices that are available to you when you replace your roof, it is only part of the story. It is just, if not more, important to pick a reputable contractor to install your roof system. When looking for a contractor, here are some factors to consider:
Proper and Current Insurance Coverage:
- If you have been on your roof lately, you know that roofing can be a risky business !!! Check with the contractor's insurance company to make sure they have adequate and current coverage (check for both General Liability and Workers Compensation Insurance).
Experience / Certification:
- How long has the contractor been in business?
- Does the roofer have any certificates in the roofing industry?
- Is there a deposit required, or is full payment due at the completion of the project?
- How long will it take the contractor to complete your roof project?
Clear Proposal & Contracts:
- All contracts should be in writing and should clearly describe exactly what will be done.
Warranty – What kind of warranty does the contractor offer (both for product defects and workmanship)?