Keeping A Roof Over Your Head

The roof on your house is exposed to the elements constantly and over the winter it can take quite a beating. Spring is good time to inspect your roof to determine if it needs repair or replacement.

When you look up at your roof do you see nice straight, flat lines of shingle? Or do you see cupping, buckling, loose or missing shingles? The latter are the basic indicators that you should look at re-roofing your house. Throughout the winter, if you saw snow rather than ice on the roof that's a good thing. But ice indicates melting snow caused by warm spots inside the attic. This process can lead to ice dams and eventual structural damage. The following information on re-roofing your home is courtesy of the Manitoba Real Estate Association and your local REALTOR.

Do-it-yourself or not?

If you have determined your roof is in need of re-roofing the first thing you will need to do is decide who will be doing the work. Depending on the size and pitch of your roof and, of course, your comfort level with heights, you may want to hire a roofer to do the job.

Regardless of whether you hire a pro or tackle the job yourself, you will need to choose what type of roofing material you will use. Also if you do decide to do-it-yourself, be sure to enlist a helper or two because roofing is a big job.

Types of roofing materials

Shingles come in a variety of materials and colors that can dramatically alter a home's appearance. The most common shingles are asphalt. Asphalt Shingles are reinforced with fiber-glass or paper and range in durability from about 20-30 years.

Asphalt shingles usually have three sections or "tabs" per shingle and an overall length of 3'. Most have dabs of tar or roofing cement on front to hold down the shingle that will lay on top of it.

Laminated shingles are becoming increasingly popular with homeowners. Designed to add character, color and depth to the roof, laminated shingles are made of multiple, staggered layers of material-usually asphalt.

From afar, some types of laminated shingles give the illusion of an expensive slate of shake covered roof by incorporating angled or rounded tabs and shadow lines.

Laminated shingles are becoming installed much like asphalt shingles, but because laminated shingles are often thicker, they usually require longer nails or staples to fasten them securely.

Other materials to consider depending on your budget and the look you are trying to achieve are slate or wood shake. Slate or stone shingles will probably last the longest-about 100+ years, but they weigh about three times more per square foot than asphalt. However, a slate roof can create a colorful, hand crafted look that adds beauty to the overall appearance to the house.

Because slate is a bit more difficult to work with and less forgiving than asphalt shingles because they break easily, you will probably want to hire a professional installer. Wooden shakes are typically made of cedar, spruce or treated pine. Hand-split shakes have a rough, textured look on the front and often smooth on the back. Wood shingles are machine sawed smooth on both sides.

Generally, cedar is the highest performing wood for making shakes. But, treated pine shakes also perform well. Shakes are brown or reddish in color when new, but usually fade in the first year to a gray color.

Shakes normally last about thirty years before needing to be replaced and throughout that time individual shakes/ shingles may shrink, warp, or splinter. How much shingle is enough?

The surface area of a roof is measured in "squares" of shingles. Each square covers 100 square feet. However, when you buy shingles, they're usually priced per bundle. Calculate the number of bundles needed by measuring the roof's square footage (length x width). Divide that number by 100 to get the number of squares needed. Multiply the number of squares by 3 (in most cases) or the number of bundles it takes to equal one square. Again, in most cases 3 bundles = 1 square.

Other tips

If you are going to "re-roof" you will need to strip the old shingle from the roof. Basically, this means prying up the shingles using a pitchfork or shovel. Before you begin however, protect trees and shrubs near the house by leaning up plywood sheets.

You will need a construction dumpster, pickup truck or other container close to the roof. Toss the shingles directly into the container to save from having to pick them up later and prevent nails from getting lost in the lawn. You may even want to build a temporary chute to funnel the shingles into the container. If you're using a pickup or trailer, be careful not to overload it. Pull up any exposed nails instead of pounding them down and replace any damaged or missing sheathing, fascia or soffits. Once the roof is exposed, time and weather conditions become very important factors. It's best to only tear off as much shingle as can be replaced before bad weather strikes. Be ready with temporary tarps to cover the roof in case of rain.

Finally, if this all seems like a lot of work and you've decided to hire a professional, be sure to shop around. Prices can vary from roofer to roofer, so get quotes from a few contractors before making the choice. Be sure to ask if the price includes disposal and clean-up costs, and have that written into the contract. Disposal costs for an average sized roof can be fairly hefty.

Also check into warranties offered. Generally, higher quality roof coverings have longer warranty periods, but compare carefully. Don't necessarily be swayed by the lowest quote. Look at the life expectancy and quality of the products being offered before making your final decision.




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