Archive for Residential Roofing – Page 2

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.

 

Dangers Of Not Doing a Thorough Roof Deck Inspection

After a tear off is done on your roof, you’re left with bare decking and all the original wood is exposed. The next thing that needs to happen is a thorough roof deck inspection to check the plywood for potential problems. Skipping this step could mean losing big money down the road if there is a plywood failure.

Dangers Of Not Doing A Roof Deck Inspection

Your new roof will be attached with thousands of nails to your roof decking. Plus it will hold the weight of the roofing, roofers walking around, and any snow that accumulates in the winter. If there is even one point of plywood failure it will be very expensive to fix, especially when compared to the cost of replacing when the roof is torn off.

If the plywood is de-laminated or compromised in some way, the nails used to hold the roofing on will not stay in the damaged wood. Instead, they will start to back out and ruin the shingles above. Then, since the shingles aren’t attached well, they are at risk of blowing off and leaving the roof exposed for damage to occur.

To repair this kind of thing, a big area of shingles have to be removed. usually at least 50 sq. ft. depending on the size of damaged plywood found. Obviously if your entire roof decking failed and started having problems like this even 4 years after your roof was replaced, you would need to get your entire roof replaced again. There’s no other way to get at the plywood than to remove the roofing.

What Needs To Be Checked During A Roof Deck Inspection?

During the deck inspection every square foot of the plywood needs checked for problems. These problems could show up in the form of water damage, dry rot, de-lamination (if plywood), cupping (if ship-lap or 1 inch boards), and general damage. Roofing over any of these problems is asking for trouble later on in your home’s life.

Other places that should be checked during this inspection is anywhere there was flashing installed. At this point all your wall flashings should be removed so you can get a good look at everything.

After the inspection is done, any damaged or compromised plywood needs to be replaced to make the deck strong and ready for the installation of shingles. When replacing plywood, new pieces should never be smaller than half of a sheet of plywood (4’x4′). If just a 2’x4′ area is replaced it makes that spot weak since it’s not spanning across a truss.

Because a thorough roof deck inspection is so important, be sure that the roofing contractor you hire says he will do one (in writing!). If not, he may just blast through your project and you could be left holding the bag a few years down the road. REMEMBER: A “workmanship warranty” is only going to cover things that the contractor said he would do in writing, if there’s no mention of it, you can’t go after him for not checking.

How To Make Sure Your Roof Tear Off Is Done The Right Way

If you’re getting your roof replaced you need to tear off the old one before installing your new roof. There are lots of reasons for this, you can find a few of the biggest ones by reading “Do I Need To Tear Off My Roof?

Assuming you’re going to hire a contractor to tear off your roof, how will you know if he’s going to do it the right way before you hire him? The only way to be sure is to have (in writing) the steps he will take to tear off the roof. Compare what he has to the list below to be sure your roof tear off goes right so the new roof you install doesn’t have any problems. If any of these steps are skipped, there’s potential for leaks and other problems that will force you to spend even more money on your roof – after it’s installed.

How To Tear Off A Roof The Right Way

1.) Roof Tear Off Preparation

Tearing off a roof is a dirty process. There are literally tons of shingles up on your roof (average is around 3-4 tons) and they all have to be ripped off and put somewhere. Even if there is good truck and trailer access to back a dump trailer up to your home, it won’t all make it in the trailer.

To prevent debris from getting embedded in your flower beds and landscaping tarps must be laid out covering every square foot of the property near the side of the roof being torn off.

I also highly recommend putting tarps from the roof down so nothing can swing around and hit your home. Shingles can easily get caught by the wind and leave tar marks and scars on your siding, windows, and doors.

1a.) Preparation Inside The Home

This is a step that you can take to protect your valuables that won’t fall under the liability of the contractor tearing off your roof. I tell all my clients to take down any picture frames or other valuable items hanging on the walls to be sure they don’t fall off and get broken. The whole roofing process involves a lot of vibration and if a picture or piece of art is hanging on the wall loosely it could fall of and be damaged.

If you have items up in the attic they should be covered with plastic to prevent dust from falling on everything. If your home has plywood roof decking then the dust won’t be as severe as it would be with skip-sheathing or ship-lap. Still, to prevent your stuff in storage from getting dirty, this simple step can save a lot of cleaning later on.

2.) Tear Off All Existing Roofing Materials

One thing I’ve learned when dealing with contractors is that you can assume nothing. If someone tells you they will tear off your roof you may think they mean tearing off everything. However, maybe they just meant the shingles – and leaving the felt paper and existing flashings. This is one reason it’s very risky to just take someone’s “word” or go off a one-page estimate.

ALL Roofing materials should be removed when a proper roof tear off is performed. This includes all existing layers of roofing, all the layers of felt paper down to the original decking, and all the pipe flashings, step flashings, apron flashings, vents, fasteners, etc. Everything!

The only way you can be sure your new roof will not leak is to replace all the old components. Flashings in particular are one place that leak very often – if they aren’t replaced with new flashings installed the right way, they’ll keep on leaking well after your new roof is installed.

Properly tearing off a roof will reveal any water damage that has happened in the past, and allow for a proper roof deck inspection. Only after all these steps are performed should the new roof be installed. If not, you’re taking a big risk and could very well have to deal with your roof again in the next few years.

Do I Need To Tear Off My Roof Or Can I Roof Over It?

So you need to get your roof replaced. Can you just add a new roof on your existing roof? After all, it will save a few thousand bucks, does it do any harm? While Roof-overs (also called Lay-overs) can work in some cases, in other’s it’s a really bad idea. Reading the rest of this short guide will help you determine where your home lands and if you need to tear off your roof.

Legality of Not Tearing Off Your Roof

According to requirements in the building code, if you have more than 1 layer of existing roofing material it is illegal to do a roof over. I believe this is due to the weight of the shingles. The shingles on an average roof of about 35 squares weighs a whopping 7,000 lbs (at a minimum). If you had three layers of this plus snow weight on your roof, you can see why it would be a bad idea.

So according to law you must tear off your roof if you already have more than one existing layers of shingle.

With the legal stuff out of the way, let’s dive in and see when it’s a good idea to tear off your roof and when it’s OK to do a roof over.

When You Should Tear Off Your Roof

For residential homes, in almost all cases a tear off should be done when getting a new roof installed. Doing so will ensure your new roof will last as long as possible and you won’t have any unforeseen surprises pop out and cost you money in the near future. Here’s my top 3 reasons for tearing off your roof when reroofing.

1.) No wood deck inspection – Tearing off the roof will give you a really good look at the wood decking underneath, and you’ll be able to tell if it is in good enough shape to support the new roof for the life of the roof. If you just roofed right over the top of the existing roof, you could have a catastrophic plywood failure down the road and have to replace your entire roof well before the shingles were worn out.

2.) Flashings must be re-used – Flashings between the roof and walls, chimneys, and skylights are the most common place for a roof to leak. We usually don’t even find the leaks until we tear out the existing flashing system. Then evidence of water damage can be seen where no one even knew about it. If you don’t tear off the roof, the flashings will be re-used and the leaking could continue, turning into a massive problem down the road. This is also why we highly recommend replacing all your flashings when you get your roof replaced.

3.) Current roof leaks won’t be found – If your roof is leaking in places that you don’t know about, these spots will never be found. This will allow the leaks to continue and a new roof could be installed over top of spongy, water-damaged plywood that won’t hold onto fasteners. This will lead to further leaking and blow-offs in the near future.

When A Roof-Over Makes Sense

There are a few cases that it may make sense to install a new roof over the old one, most of the reason is purely financial though. If you are on a strict budget and have a very simple home you may be safe with installing a new roof over top of your existing one.

If you have walls that meet the roof, chimneys, skylights, valleys, or known leaks then you should avoid a roof-over at all costs. These will all work against you in the future and cause you problems.

If your home is just 2 flat sides with no complicated areas and you haven’t ever had shingles blow off or anything, you’ll probably be pretty safe doing a roof-over. Still, because of all the unknowns we don’t warranty roof-overs for very long (2 years), and we can’t cover anything other than the shingles we installed.

In Most Cases – Tear Off Your Roof!

In conclusion, we always recommend a full roof replacement, which includes a tear off and deck inspection, plus new underlayments. This will give you the best protection and open the door to some killer warranties so you won’t ever have to worry about your roof again. If you’d like to see what else is needed in every full roof replacement check out our guide to avoid hidden costs when reroofing.