3 Common Scams To Avoid When Hiring A Roofing Contractor

To get roof work done on your home, you must hire a contractor. But how do you know if you’re going to get scammed or taken advantage of by the roofing contractor? Here’s 3 common ways homeowner’s get taken advantage of when hiring contractors.

#1 – Asking For A Large Down Payment

This is one of the most obvious scams that is the easiest to spot, but also the most devastating. However, this can be a little harder to spot if you’re hiring someone to work on a home that is located out of town. Basically it goes like this:

The contractor will give you a price that is very tempting – low enough to get you hooked, but not so low that it’s unreasonable. Then they will ask for a decent down payment, usually around 50% or more. Everything usually sounds really good up front, so you hand them a check. But then when they come to do the work, nobody shows up. Then you can’t get them to answer the phone. That’s when you get that feeling in the pit of your stomach that something isn’t right, and you may have been conned.

This is usually employed by fly-by-night companies that change their business names every year or so. They work “under the radar” and move from place to place. Thankfully, this can usually be averted by hiring a company that has a good reputation and has been in business for at least 5 years.

#2 – Not Installing Your Roof To Code

Much less devastating, but still costly, is the second common way homeowners get taken advantage of. Many contractors have a system for doing things and don’t bother with continuing education to make sure their crews are installing everything to code requirements. Building codes are put in place for a reason – to protect you, the homeowner.

While there are may code requirements that need to be paid attention to, the most common violations I see are on drip-edge metal, ice & water shield, and ventilation. These show up by using a drip metal that’s too small, not enough ice & water shield (or not in the proper areas), and not updating ventilation to meet code.

One of the biggest way these things can hurt you is if you go to sell your home and the home inspector catches these code violations. Before you can sell it, you’ll have to hire someone to come out and modify your roof so it meets code requirements, even if it’s brand new!

#3 – Not Using The Materials You Agreed On

Some contractors will talk a good game, but when they actually start doing the work things may change. Maybe you and the sales guy talked about getting a premium shingle put on your home, but when they go to install the new roof it looks thinner than it should. Or maybe you talked about one brand and end up with another that you didn’t want.

The bottom line is that if it’s not in writing, it doesn’t exist. If you hire a roofing contractor off a 1 page estimate that says “Install architectural shingles on home” without specifying brand, weight, or type, you will have recourse if something isn’t what you thought it was.

The best way to protect yourself against this is to hire a contractor that uses a real contract that states in detail the materials you’ll be getting and every step the contractor is taking to ensure you get taken care of.

To learn more about hiring a roofing contractor without being taken advantage of, please look through other guides on this site, like our Roofing Contractor Hiring Guide.

 

How To Disqualify a Roofing Contractor BEFORE Hiring Them

Hiring a roofing contractor to replace or repair your roof is tough. Hiring the wrong contractor to do the job can end up in lots of headaches and wasted money both during and after the job is done. Finding an excellent contractor will ensure your roof job goes as smoothly as possible with no surprises. Plus they will help you out in the future if any defects or problems spring up.

When you’re first starting the process of hiring, what should you look for?

I recommend taking every contractor through a process to find the best one to give you a proposal to compare to the others you get. It’s important to be proactive from the beginning and weed out contractors from the start who aren’t worth your time. If you wait to vet them out of the running, you’ll end up wasting time and could end up hiring someone that should have been booted out of the process at the start.

After you take the first steps of finding a few contractors through various sources, the next step is to see how they hold up to the reviews they’ve gotten. Sometimes even companies with good reviews can give poor service – maybe they’ve restaffed some positions for the worse, they’ve fallen on hard times and have changed the way they do things, or new ownership has come in and shuffled things around. Whatever it may be, using reviews is a good way to screen initially, but now it’s your turn to take it the rest of the way.

The fastest way to vet contractors out at this point is to call them up and see how they handle your potential business. They should be kind and helpful through the whole process. The last thing you want is to hire a contractor that does good work but is abrasive and a pain to work with.

REMEMBER: Just like in a dating relationship, a contractor is on their best behavior before the sale. After you give them money and signed a deal they have you locked in and some think they can act however they want after that point. Which may mean putting your cares about your home last on their priority list.

This is what you look for:

  • Do they answer the phone the first time you call?
  • If they didn’t answer your call did they call back in a reasonable time frame? (1-2 hours or at least that day if it’s a business day)
  • When you talk to them are they interested, courteous, and willing to listen? (If a contractor won’t listen to your concerns at this point, good luck getting him to listen when your roof is torn off)
  • Do they give satisfactory answers to these questions:
    1. Are you licensed to work in my zip code?
    2. Are you bonded according to state laws?
    3. How much are you insured for? ($1,000,000 minimum)
    4. Do you carry workman’s compensation insurance on your workers?
    5. Can you provide proof of all this at our first meeting?
    6. Can you bring a list of references with phone number of the last 10 jobs you’ve done? (Get the most recent, not the ones cherry picked by the company)

After the phone call:

  • Did they show up on time (or preferably 5 min early)?
  • Did he bring the documents you asked for? (from above)
  • If he had to come into the home did he wear boot covers to avoid tracking dirt on your carpets? (This will show you how much he cares about your property)
  • Did he check in your attic to determine sheathing type? (to avoid extra costs after the roof project starts)
  • Did he provide any pictures to show you what’s going on up on your roof? (to prove what he’s saying is true)

An excellent contractor will do each of these things to the T, if just 1 is missed (and there’s a good reason) there’s still a chance he is a good one. But the closer a contractor can stick to these guidelines the better. Remember this is just part of the process, if you take each contractor through each step you’ll be sure to hire a legitimate, competent contractor that will do a great job on your roof.

Back to the Roofing Contractor Hiring Guide

12 Questions To Ask A Roofing Contractor Before You Hire

You need to get a new roof put on your home, so you call a contractor. You get him on the phone, he comes out and gives you a price, then offers to do the work next monday. But hold on…

  • How do you know if he does good work?
  • How do you know he won’t charge more after the job is started?
  • How do you know if he’s even licensed, bonded, and insured to work in your area?

If you don’t have the right questions prepared before you start calling contractors, you won’t be able to properly qualify them to make sure you’re protected through the whole roofing process.

Below is a list of 12 questions that I recommend you ask every roofing contractor you consider hiring. In fact, when I help close relatives who
live out of state find a roofer, these are the exact questions I give them to ensure they don’t get ripped off, scammed, or taken advantage of.

It may seem like a lot to ask, but think about it…you’ll be writing a big check to whoever you hire, so it’s well worth their time to make sure your questions are answered. If a contractor gets hostile or acts like you’re being unreasonable just move on, he’s likely hiding something and you wouldn’t have been happy with hiring them anyway.

So before you hire any contractor to replace the roof on your home (or even repair it) be sure to ask these 12 key questions:

  1. Are your laborers certified & trained by the manufacturer to install the products you sell?​ (if a roof is installed incorrectly it may not be covered by the manufacturer warranty)
  2. When you get busy do you hire temporary workers?​ If yes, can you provide proof of liability and workman’s compensation insurance?​ (If a worker falls off the roof and is not covered by workmans compensation insurance one of the targets for a lawsuit will be you, the homeowner)
  3. Do you offer a limited lifetime or a lifetime warranty?​ (A limited lifetime warranty is usually very restrictive, only a real lifetime warranty will cover you 100%)

  4. Does the contract I sign lay out your workmanship warranty?​ How long is it? Is it limited?
    (The manufacturer warranty only covers defects in the material itself, if there is a leak caused by the installer’s workmanship the manufacturer will not cover it)
  5. What hidden charges are there that aren’t on your estimate? If “none” ­ Can I get that in writing?
    1. Put this clause on their proposal…“The total cost for a new roof installed according to manufacturer specifications and local and national code requirements is $_______. No other costs or charges will be incurred from permits, extra materials, labor, or any other reason.” (Please be aware that if the contractor did plan on adding these and now legally he can’t, there’s nothing stopping him from taking other shortcuts that you may not notice until he’s  paid and gone)
  6. Will you clean up the job site every day before you go home?​ (Old shingles and nails left around your home can be a hazard for kids and pets)
  7. Will my home be completely waterproof at the end of every day before you leave?​ (Water damage caused by rain on a roof left open is not covered by a roofer’s liability insurance)
  8. Do you guarantee you won’t damage my home or landscaping?​ If so, will you pay to fix it?​ (If you have a window broken or siding damaged you’ll want the contractor to be liable to replace it)
  9. Can you provide me with the addresses and phone numbers of the last 5 homes you’ve roofed?​ (ask them if there were any surprises, hidden costs, how they were treated)
  10. Does your contract outline in detail each process you use for re­roofing my home?​ (Without detailed explanations shortcuts may be taken against which you’ll have no recourse)
  11. Does your contract outline in detail the materials that will be used to replace the roof?​ (If it’s not in writing, it doesn’t exist)
  12. How much does your shingle weigh?​ (lbs/square – the lighter the shingle the faster it will wear out)

Getting a good answer to each of these questions will almost guarantee the contractor you hire will do a good job and stick to his word.

Your Guide To Hiring A Roofing Contractor – Where To Start

Seemingly out of nowhere, something calls your attention to your roof. You notice a shingle in your yard that blew off, water dripping into your home, a letter from your insurance company saying you need a new roof to keep your insurance, or maybe you wake up in a cold sweat from a nightmare that your entire roof blew off.

Whatever it is, you’re now faced with the next step – finding someone to come help you out. For most homeowners, this means hiring a roofing contractor. Depending on your experiences in the past, this may or may not bring up a flood of emotions about how you’ve been treated by other contractors you’ve hired.

As disheartening as this thought may be, hiring a roofing contractor is a necessary part of getting roof work done, so I’m going to do my best to make it as easy as possible for through this guide.

Hiring a Roofing Contractor – Where Do You Start?

You may think the best place to start is rifling through the phone book and looking for trustworthy company. But before you launch right in, here’s some other things to try first:

  1. Ask your friends if they have any recommendations (Facebook is good for this). You’ll likely get a few good and bad recommendations that will help narrow down your list.
  2. Use Google – Look up “Roofers in [Your City]” – Browse some websites, look for reviews wherever you can find them – Google, Facebook, Yelp, etc. Reviews are by far one of the best ways you can see how companies treat people. I would pay particular attention to bad reviews – most people are happy until something bad happens and you can see how the contractor reacts when there’s a problem
  3.  If both of these methods fail, then the next step would be the phone book. The main problem with the phone book is you can’t learn about the contractor before you give him a call – all you have to go on is an ad created by their marketing department.

After searching for roofing contractors with the methods above, choose the top three that you like and start the process. Here’s the steps you’ll take them through to see if they qualify to work on your home:

  1. Call and ask qualifying questions
  2. Get a bid and lock them into a guaranteed price if you can (hiring them off an “estimate” is very dangerous)
  3. Review their proposals with a fine-tooth comb
  4. Ask final questions
  5. Hire them!

I know what you’re saying, “That’s going to take a ton of time!” And yes, it will take some time, but you only want to do this once. The last thing you want is to flippantly hire a contractor, have the roof fail, then have to do this all over again. Not only will it waste more of your time, but you’ll be flushing a lot of money down the toilet as well!

So take your time, bring each contractor through the process, and you’ll have a much better chance of hiring a roofing contractor that will do a great job.

Even The Best Roof Can Fail If This Step Isn’t Taken

After going through our guide to the best roofing materials, you may just think you need to simply find a contractor and tell him what you want. But it’s not that simple. Like all products that matter, the workmanship matters just as much as the actual raw materials themselves. A roof is no different.roof-349886_640

Even if you found a contractor capable of offering a 100% Lifetime Guarantee on the roof itself, you’ll still run into trouble if they don’t offer a comparable workmanship warranty. As soon as a leak springs up or a shingle blows off, the manufacturer will send their rep out there to see if the materials were installed right. If not, your 100% Lifetime manufacturer warranty means nothing – zip, zilch, nada.

The problem will fall back on the contractor who installed it, and if he didn’t provide a comprehensive warranty on the work itself, you’re outta luck. You’ll end up forking out all the money to fix the problem that you probably thought was covered by a warranty.

How Do You Find An Excellent Contractor?

To find a contractor that will do great work and provide an excellent warranty to back it up, there are several things you should look for.

Is the company credentialed by the manufacturer of the shingle you want?

Some of the bigger manufacturer’s have credentialization programs that roofing contractors can qualify for. These can help you weed out poor contractors who don’t have much stability. Just make sure you find a contractor that is credentialed for the shingle you want. Obviously it won’t do you any good to find a GAF credentialed company if you want CertainTeed on your roof. (We use CertainTeed almost exclusively for these reasons, and are credentialed to give out their best warranties)

Does the contractor employ only roofers certified by the manufacturer?

After being credentialed, it’s up to the contractor to make sure their roofers are trained and certified to install a roof according to the manufacturer’s specifications. If a roof isn’t installed to meet their requirements, your warranty could be voided. (We require all our installers to pass CertainTeed’s test and become certified)

How long is their workmanship warranty?

If a contractor touts credentials and certified roofers, it doesn’t mean much if they aren’t willing to stand by their work for a long period of time. Look for a company that will cover defects for at least 20 years. 10 years may sound like a long time right now, but it is also a critical point in the life of the shingle where enough time has passed to start revealing possible defects. (We guarantee our roofs will have no problems for the life of the roof – usually 30-40 years)

What does their workmanship warranty cover?

This point is critical. If you find a roofer that gives you a one page estimate that says “20 year workmanship warranty” you’ll need to gather some more information. What does their workmanship warranty cover? In a lot of cases, the warranty will cover anything the company installed, which sounds good right? The only problem is some things may not be covered – like if your rubber pipe flashings crack and start leaking, or a plastic vent cracks and lets water in, but the most dangerous one by far – if the wall flashings (the most common leak spot) were reused and start leaking, it will not be covered. (Instead of a workmanship warranty – we offer a No-Leak Guarantee for the life of the roof)

In the end, doing your research to find the best contractor in your area for your project will be well worth your time in the long run. Yes it will take some time and be a little painful now, but it can save you years of headaches, hassles, and dollars down the road.

A Lifetime Roof Is MORE Than Just Shingles

When replacing a roof, most people believe that the only thing that really matters is the shingles installed on top. However, a lifetime roof is much more than just shingles. There are many components of your roof that work together to keep the rain out. If just one of the parts in the system fails, water can start draining into your home instead of off the roof where it belongs.

Because the roof on your home is so important, having just one layer of protection is not a good way to guarantee you won’t have water in your home in the future. Each part needs a system of redundancy that will act as back-up protection just in case the top layer fails.

Here’s a few examples…

When reroofing a home, first an underlayment is installed on the wood decking of your roof. Then the shingles are installed over the top. If the underlayment is damaged and won’t keep water out on it’s own, then the only thing protecting your home is the shingles. If one shingle were to blow off you will have water running into your attic the next time it rains. Since old-fashioned organic felt paper is vulnerable to wrinkling and tearing, we use synthetic felt paper to ensure the shingles have adequate back up protection should something happen.

Another extremely vulnerable area on a roof is the flashings around walls, chimneys, & skylights. Since water can flow right along flashings, if one gets damaged all that water will flow right into the home. As a back up, a high quality ice & water shield should be installed behind each piece of flashing. So if one fails, the water still can’t get in.

Ventilation is a key part of a lifetime roof system as well. If a roof is under-ventilated or not ventilated at all (as I’ve seen before) it will eventually destroy the plywood used in the roof deck. Shingles will also age quicker due to the intense heat trapped in an un-ventilated attic. Plus you’ll end up paying more to cool your home if the attic is storing all that heat in the summer time.

Because of all these variables, it’s very important to make sure every part of the roof system is there and installed right. If anything is missing or done wrong, you’re almost guaranteed to have problems later on down the road. The only thing worse than having to replace your roof once, is being forced to replace it again if something was missed or fails prematurely.

To see our process and what should be in every roof bid you get, check out our guide on how to avoid hidden costs when getting your roof replaced.

 

Best Ridge Cap To Put On A Shingle Roof

Best-Ridge-CapAfter a new roof is installed, something needs to cover up the seams between the different surfaces of the roof. These areas are called hips and ridges. So what is the best ridge cap to use to cover these seams to finish off the roof?

Types of Ridge Cap

In the old days when 3-tab was a popular choice for shingle, the roofers would simply cut apart the shingles and use them as a ridge cap. This did a good enough job, but now with architectural shingle, using cut shingles is no longer a good solution. The second layer of the laminant will stick up and collect debris, also it just looks bad.

For newer architectural roofs the best ridge cap to use is a specialized one created to be used as ridge cap. A specialized ridge cap shingle comes in strips and is perforated so you can just break it apart before installing. This makes for very even pieces without irregular sizes or cuts making your roof look bad.

Specialized ridge cap also has a tar strip on it to hold the pieces to each other and prevent blow-offs. Because they are made for this particular installation, they will perform much better than anything else. Because of this, CertainTeed will increase the wind warranty of any roof that uses their shingles, starter, and ridge cap to 130 mph. Around here, this basically means if you ever have a blow-off during the wind warranty period it will be covered, as long as the shingle was installed right (if not, then it is a workmanship problem).

When it comes to specialized ridge cap, however, there are a lot of choices now that can make your home stand out and look even better.

Styles of Specialized Ridge Cap

We use mainly CertainTeed shingles, which means we give our clients a choice between their different ridge caps. The two main styles of ridge cap that we put on the most are Shadow Ridge and Mountain Ridge. These will work well with any shingle from a regular architectural shingle to CertainTeed’s luxury shingle called Presidential.

The difference between these two ridge caps are the profile. The Shadow Ridge cap is one layer of fiberglass shingle, so it is very flat looking. The shadow on each shingle is made to give the appearance of a higher profile ridge cap.

Mountain Ridge, on the other hand, is a high profile shingle that makes it really stand out and trim out a roof very well. Each piece of Mountain Ridge cap is 5 layers at the front so they sit up quite a bit on each other. Many homeowners ask me if Mountain Ridge will catch the wind and blow off, but they also have a nice thick tar strip to prevent blow-offs and each piece weighs significantly more than the regular Shadow Ridge. These two things make it stick down and hold on really well – I’ve never heard of Mountain Ridge having a problem with wind (and if it did, it would be covered by warranty).

There are also other styles of ridge cap that go with particular shingles. Basically if you are using a high end shingle like Carriage House or Grand Manor, you’ll want their Shangle Ridge cap, which is designed to fit these styles of shingle. If you go with their synthetic “slate” shingle Symphony, you’ll want the specialized Symphony Ridge cap to blend with your roof.

Which Is The Best Ridge Cap

When picking the ridge cap you want for your roof, it all comes down to personal preference. If you opt for a luxury shingle like Presidential or Landmark TL I recommend going with Mountain Ridge since it will match the thickness of the roof better and enhances the look of the home. If you’re on a strict budget and just going for a Landmark shingle, then Shadow Ridge cap does just fine. Check out the picture on this post to see the two compared with each other.

What Is The Best Architectural Laminant Shingle? And Why?

When it comes to buying a new architectural shingle for your roof, you’re left with many choices. Up here in the northwest there are 5 major brands you can choose from: GAF, Owens Corning, Pabco, IKO, and CertainTeed. So which is best? What’s the difference? Is one actually better than the other or are they all the same? Let’s dive into how shingles are made, which will help you understand why we use CertainTeed over any of the other competitors.

The Makings of a Architectural Laminant Shingle

At it’s very basic, an architectural shingle is made up of 3 parts:

  1. The Fiberglass Mat
  2. Asphalt
  3. Granules

It’s a little more complicated than that, but those are the most important components. Let’s dig into each and see what they do…

Shingle Fiberglass Mat

The shingle fiberglass mat is the starting point for every shingle. It provides the “backbone” for everything else to be laid upon. If the mat is weak or poorly manufactured, it will compromise the rest of the shingle.

Even though the fiberglass mat makes up about 2% of the overall shingle weight, just a small difference in it’s weight can make a big difference in the life expectancy of the shingle. One of the most important characteristics of the fiberglass mat is it’s tear strength. To meet ASTM D3462 the mat must be able to withstand up to 1700 grams of force.

Asphalt and Stabilizer

The asphalt is the most important ingredient in the shingle making process. It acts as the waterproofing agent as well as holding the granules in place, and adding to the overall strength of the shingle. One small problem with the asphalt of a laminant shingle can mean huge consequences for the homeowner whose home it’s installed on.

Because asphalt can vary widely depending on the crude oil source it comes from, rigorous testing must be done to only choose the highest quality asphalts to put into shingles. This testing process is expensive, but can mean the difference between getting a new roof that will be worry-free for 20-30 years, vs. one that will give you trouble a few years down the road.

The “best” asphalt will stay flexible and not “dry out” or become hard and brittle for the life of the shingle. Only the most durable asphalts will stay strong until the end of the shingle’s life. Then once a good asphalt has been found it must be processed properly to make sure the final product meets strict performance requirements of:

  • softening point (temperature when it softens)
  • viscosity (keeps it from flowing when hot)
  • durability (resisting erosion)
  • toughness (heat/cold and crack resistance)

All these factors work together to make a shingle that is both flexible and resilient. If even one of these performance requirements are lacking you can have problems. For example, shingles made with asphalt that softens at too low a temperature will get scuffed up during installation. On the other hand, shingles made with brittle asphalt will be more likely to crack and will have a much shorter life.

Shingle Granules

Granules are the little rock-like pieces attached to the top of the shingle. Shingle granules have two functions:

  1. They protect the asphalt from the UV light of the sun – to perform this function granules must be completely opaque and not let any light through. If a shingle has granules that allow light through at all it will severely shorten the shingles lifespan (even if they don’t look transparent when you look at them)
  2. They give the shingle it’s color – Granules are colored by a ceramic coating. Most shingle colors are a blend of 2-3 different colors of granules.  Though it is personal preference – out of all the different brands available, I personally like CertainTeed’s random coloring the most, as other brands tend to “pattern” or have stripes in them after installation.

Shingle Weight

The last factor to look at is weight. If 2 shingles use the same high quality components, but one weighs more than the other – the one that weighs more will last longer and perform better over the years. On the other hand, if a shingle weighs more but uses lower quality ingredients, it will be more likely to crack and break down, and the extra weight won’t give it much life.

While other manufacturers have lowered their shingle weights considerably when they switched to the “limited lifetime warranty,” CertainTeed has kept their shingle weights high and have no plans to change them. Currently CertainTeed’s regular architectural shingle – Landmark – weighs in at 240 pounds per square, while other competing brands have lowered theirs to 195-205 pounds per square (and have since unpublished their weights to avoid comparison if possible).

That means going with the CertainTeed shingle will give you about 40 pounds more product per 100 square feet for your money – 20% more!

What’s The Best Architectural Shingle?

The main reason we use CertainTeed almost exclusively is because they combine all these factors to make a really high quality shingle. They use very strict standards and keep a close eye on their production.  Unlike some other companies that simply manufacture their shingles to meet certain code requirements, CertainTeed has the UL (Underwriters Laboratory) inspect and evaluate their shingles on a routine basis to ensure code compliance in all of these areas.

Because of all the defects that can happen if even one component of the shingle isn’t quite right, it’s important to get a shingle installed on your home that uses the highest quality components to ensure it lasts as long as possible.

 

What Is Starter Shingle And Where Is It Needed?

On your roof there are a number of materials used that hide beneath the surface and play a very important role in the roof’s ability to shed water and protect your home. One of these materials is starter shingle.

Starter shingle should be installed around ALL edges of your roof. To meet code, technically it only needs to be installed on the bottom eaves, but there are some big benefits to installing it up the rake edges as well (also known as gable edges).

What Is Starter Shingle And What Does It Do?

If you’ve ever seen a roof being installed you’ll notice that the roofers install them in a “staircase” pattern. This is to prevent water from seeping through the seams between each shingle and into your home. The top half of the shingle below catches any water that flows into the seams between shingles and directs it down the roof rather than letting it into the home.

Starter shingles go on under the first row of shingle. Since that row doesn’t have a shingle below it to protect the seams, the starter shingles act as that barrier.

On the rake (gable) edges of the roof, starter has 2 functions:

First, to provide a nice straight line to cut shingles on. This will give you a nice straight edge when looking up at the roof from the ground. Without a starter strip on the edges, you can see each shingle and the cuts can appear more jagged and less finished.

Second, starter shingles up the rake edge will help prevent blow offs. As we’ll explore a little further down, a good starter shingle will have a tar strip located on one side of it. This will adhere to the shingles installed above it and hold them down, preventing wind from lifting them up and potentially blowing them off.

Differences Between Starter Shingles – Which Is Best?

In the past, many have used the tops of shingle as starter. They just cut the tops off of shingles and laid them down. Or some would even put on a shingle upside down to save the labor of cutting each one. While this may work to keep the water from flowing through the seams of the bottom shingle, it’s not the ideal solution.

Ideally, starter shingles used should be specially made to be used as starter. These starter shingles will have a tar strip on the bottom to help hold the edges of the roof down and prevent blow-offs.

Also, the best starter shingles to use should run at least 2″ up the roof under the bottom of the second shingle. This will prevent wind-driven rain from traveling up the seam in the first shingle and up past the starter into the home. This is one of the main reasons we use CertainTeed’s starter shingle. It is 7 5/8″ wide, which gives a good 2″ of headlap to prevent wind-driven rain from getting into the home. Other products like GAF’s starter is only 6 1/2″ wide, which leaves less than an inch of overlap between the shingles.

Plus since we use CertainTeed’s other products, using their starter as part of the whole roof system will automatically upgrade the wind warranty they give you to 130 mph – which will cover you in anything short of a hurricane!

Curious about what else we put on roofs? Read about the best roofing materials here.

 

What Is Ice & Water Shield & Where Is It Needed On A Roof

If you live in an area that accumulates snow and gets cold enough for ice to build up in the winter, chances are you need the proper amount of Ice & Water Shield on your home to meet code requirements. Plus, a high quality ice & water shield will protect your home from damage caused by ice dams.

What Is Ice & Water Shield?

Ice & water shield is a thick, sticky-back underlayment (also known as felt paper) that will adhere to your roof deck and prevent water from seeping into your home if it gets under your shingles.

If an ice dam occurs on your roof and water backs up under the shingles it will seep down into your home through the nail holes holding the shingles on and into your attic. Once there it will saturate plywood, insulation, and drywall, which will lead to interior home repairs on your walls, ceilings, paint, and insulation.

Ice & water shield acts as a gasket around each of those nail holes, creating a water-tight barrier that won’t let any leaks happen. If water does get under the shingles, it will stay on top of the ice & water shield and run off your roof where it belongs.

Where Is Ice & Water Shield Needed?

Ice & water shield should be installed anywhere there’s a chance of water getting under the shingles. These spots are…

  1. On the eaves of your home up to 24″ inside the exterior wall (this usually means at least 2 rows or 6 feet)
  2. In every valley (1 row or 3 feet)
  3. Around every pipe before the flashing is installed
  4. Along every wall, chimney, or skylight where flashing will be installed.

Ice & water shield acts as an excellent back up protection in case any of these areas has a small leak or failure. We install ice & water shield in all these places and make sure it won’t leak before any roofing is installed. With the new roof over top there is 2 layers everywhere on the roof for water to get through before it gets into your home.

Like any important system you need redundancy to be sure there’s no problems. Even if there was a problem with the top layer, the second layer will do it’s job and keep water out of your home.

Is All Ice & Water Shield Created Equal?

Like all things, ice & water shield comes in different qualities. While some contractors may claim that the cheap stuff they use is just as good as the higher quality more expensive version, it’s just not. The amount of rubberized asphalt adhesive on the underside of the ice & water shield will determine how well it will seal down and protect your home against water intrusion.

Cheaper versions of ice & water shield have much less of this asphalt adhesive on the back side and don’t stick down nearly as well as the premium products like CertainTeed’s WinterGuard. Plus you’ll find many of the quality versions even come with a warranty that you’ll never find in the cheap versions.

If you do get a cheap version of ice & water shield installed on your home and get a severe ice dam on your home, you may find water dripping into your home – even though your new roof was technically installed according to code requirements. The cost of upgrading to a high quality ice & water shield is minimal when compared to the massive damage that could be caused without it.