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Years of sun, rain, hail and snow can take their toll on your house - especially your roof. If you notice bare spots, curling, buckling or broken shingles, or damaged flashing on your roof, it's time to start consider replacing it.

Roof and Siding

What is a Roofing System?
For the best durability and beauty, a complete roofing system includes hip and ridge shingles, ventilation products, shingles and a water-resistant underlayment.

All roof systems have five basic components:
  • Structure: this includes the rafters and trusses that support the sheathing.
  • Deck/sheathing: these are the boards or sheet material that are fastened to the roof rafters to cover a house.
  • Underlayment: a sheet of asphalt-saturated material that is used as a secondary layer of protection for the roof deck.
  • Roof covering: these are the shingles or tiles that protect the sheathing from weather.
  • Drainage: the features of the roof system's design that allow it to shed water.
  • Flashing: this is the sheet metal or other material that prevents water seepage.
Synthetic roof products simulate various types of traditional roof coverings, such as slate and wood shingles and shakes. A point to consider: Although synthetic roof products may simulate the appearance of traditional roof coverings, they do not necessarily have the same properties.

Roof and Siding
Selecting Materials
Selecting the right roofing materials is the first decision you need to make when you decide to reroofing. You'll want to consider style and color, performance requirements and warranty protection. You'll want the roofing materials' style and color to complement your home's exterior brick, paint or siding. For example, if you have a Spanish-style stucco home, you'll want to choose a tile roof; if you have Cape Cod traditional, a composite shingle would be the best bet.

Take a look at other homes in your neighborhood to compare colors and roofing styles. Do the other roofs fit into your neighborhood? Roofing contractors will also help you choose the right color and style for your house.

Types of Shingles
Today, there are many types and styles of shingles to choose from. The choices range from asphalt shingles to wood shakes and clay tiles, from steel panels to rubber lookalike slate. There is an increasing trend towards engineered roofing materials since building codes mandate using fireproof construction materials.

Roof and Siding
  • Asphalt
    Probably the most common roofing material is the three-tab asphalt shingle. As a cost-effective roofing options, asphalt shingles are available in a dozen or so different colors both solid and blended. These asphalt shingles are guaranteed for 20 to 30 years, which makes them an excellent value.

  • Fiberglass Shingles
    These are comprised of a fiberglass mat, top-and-bottom layers of asphalt and mineral granules. They are available in architectural grades and a variety of colors that offer a textured appearance.

  • Wood Shingles and Shakes
    These shingles are generally made from cedar, redwood, and southern pine. Shingles are machine-sawn; shakes are hand-hewn and rougher looking. Their natural look is popular but brush fire concerns limit their use.

  • Ceramic Tile
    In sunny climates, you'll find ceramic tile roofs everywhere. Barrel tiles resemble half cylinders about 16 inches long. Remember that tile roofs are heavy, so your roof's framing must be strong enough to support the load. The process of installing a tile roof is labor-intensive, which makes an authentic tile roof more expensive than a three-tab asphalt shingle installation. In addition to ceramic barrel tiles, there are clay roof tiles options.

  • Slate
    Slate shingles are typically used in the Northeast and true slate can be very heavy and expensive. An engineered slate lookalike fabricated from recycled rubber and plastic is only about one-third the weight and cost of slate, and can be installed using standard tools and techniques.

  • Synthetic Roof Products
    These simulate a wide range of roof coverings, such as slate and wood shingles and shakes. And while they may look like the traditional materials, synthetic roof products do not necessarily have the same properties, such as color, texture and durability.

Roof and Siding
Roofing shingles are covered with their own limited warranties. Note that there are areas where shingle warranties can differ:
  • Are the covered products part of a complete roofing system's additional warranty?
  • Is replacement prorated on original cost?
  • Is replacement prorated on cost at time of claim?
  • Does the warranty include labor to repair/replace when prorating cost?
  • Is the warranty issued by a financially sound manufacturer?
  • Is there a toll-free number to call for claims?
The Importance of Ventilation
Ventilation is crucial to maintaining the long life of your roof. Heat build-up in the hot summer months, as well as cold winter weather, can accelerate the aging of asphalt shingles. Additionally, proper air circulation will greatly reduce the chances of having your roof leak, blister or curl.

Roof Destroyers
The following elements will, over time, destroy your roofing system:
Roof and Siding
  • Sun: Heat and ultraviolet rays can cause your roofing materials to deteriorate.
  • Rain: Water can work its way underneath your roofing to the deck and cause rot.
  • Wind: High winds can lift the roof edges and force water underneath the shingles or tiles.
  • Condensation: A poorly ventilated attic promotes decay of the wood sheathing and rafters.
  • Moss and algae: Moss and algae can grow on wood shingles and shakes if they are kept moist by poor sunlight conditions or bad drainage. Moss and algae holds even more moisture to the roof surface, causing rot. To prevent this, trim trees and bushes away from the house to eliminate damp, shaded areas, as well as clean your gutters for proper drainage.
  • Missing or torn shingles: Do not offer complete roof protection.
  • Shingle deterioration: When shingles get old and worn out, they curl, split, and lose their waterproofing effectiveness. They can also be more easily blown off, torn, or lifted by wind gusts.
  • Deteriorating flashing: Many roof leaks really are flashing leaks around chimneys, vents, skylights, and wall/roof junctions.
Roof and Siding
Roofing System Lifespan
How long can you expect a roof system to last? The condition and lifespan of your roof will depend on the type of roof system you have, the effects of the local environment. The American Society of Home Inspectors reports that asphalt shingles generally last 15 to 20 years; wood shingle/shakes, 10 to 40 years; clay/concrete tiles, 20+ years; slate, 30 to 100 years; and metal roofing, 15 to 40+ years.

Look for Energy Savings
ENERGY STAR roofing materials are available that lower roof surface temperatures by up to 100F, decreasing the amount of heat transferred into your home's interior. ENERGY STAR qualified roof products save money and energy by reducing the amount of air conditioning needed to keep a building comfortable.

Find a Local Roofing Contractor
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