Here's what to consider if it's time for a new roof

Shingles or shakes: It's a huge investment, so do your research and get bids

March 30, 2011 

What type of roof is hanging over your head? Is it stained? Is it leaking? Or is it simply time to replace the old one?

“A new roof is a huge investment, and the roof you choose will depend on your budget and style,” says Tom Scott, residential manager at Performance Roofing in St. Louis, Mo. He adds, “Homeowners are choosy when it comes to style, and they want the roof to look great. It’s the part of the roofing system that’s visible to the eye.”

Roofs can cost from $3,700 to $7,500 on a 2,000 square foot standard roof.

Roofing experts say you should have an inspection on your roof 10 years after installation. And then, every three to five years after that. If your roof is 20 years old, it’s time for an inspection. Many older styles were constructed with staples, which don’t hold as well as roofing nails. Aging and weather conditions can cause staples to poke through the shingles.

Many homeowners can identify roofing problems on their own, just by climbing a ladder and taking a peek. If you see curling of existing shingles, or excessive granule loss in your gutters, it’s time to call in the pros. But Scott warns, “Homeowners will not see hail damage after a storm unless it’s softball size. Professional roofers can spot dime-size hail.”

Local roofing companies will come to your home and inspect your roofing system. If they find nothing, you’ll spend $100 and up for their inspection time. If they find damage, a free estimate will be provided.

“Homeowners have two options if they decide to reroof,” says John Andres, co-owner of Andres Roofing in St. Louis. The first option is a complete replacement, which involves a tear-off of the existing roof. Your second option is a re-cover, which is adding another layer of shingles onto your existing roof. Once your home goes through two roofing systems, that’s it. The third time, you’ll have to choose a complete replacement.

Color choices have been updated to offer homeowners new textures and patterns. For example, architectural shingles have three to four color drops and a variegated pattern with many different shades of your color choice. “When we write a contract, we compile a list of addresses for our customers to drive by,” Scott says. “This especially helps the customer who is making a drastic color change – a black roof to a red roof.”

The price of a new roof will vary depending on the material, labor rates and the contractor. To get a good idea of a price for your roof, Andres suggests getting three or four proposals from reputable contractors in your area.

For people who like the look of slate but can’t afford the cost of real slate, there is a more economical solution: faux slate tiles. They’re much more reasonably priced and they are durable.

In the near future, we’ll be seeing solar roofing shingles (not to be confused with solar panels that have been available for more than 20 years). This type of roofing system will help cut your heating bills. Some will look like shingles; others will mimic metal-style roofs.

Here are six types of roofing systems available:

ASPHALT AND ARCHITECTURAL SHINGLES

Asphalt is the most common choice for local homeowners. The shingles are composed of asphalt and fiberglass. It’s a budget-friendly choice and comes in a variety of colors. In recent years, architectural roofing shingles have become popular providing a three-dimensional appearance. Architectural shingles are also composed of fiberglass.

WOOD SHINGLES OR SHAKES

They’re made from cedar, redwood and other woods. Wood shingles are expensive and require high maintenance. Green moss can grow on the shakes, and clean-up involves power washing.

METAL

Metal roofs can be pricey and are available in panels and shingles. Roofing experts say metal can be both a money-saving and environmentally conscious choice. They come in a variety of colors and textures. A metal roof will last longer than an asphalt-style roof.

CLAY TILE

Clay roofing systems can be an expensive option, but they’re durable. Clay tile is heavy. If you’re thinking of replacing a shingle roof with a clay tile roof, you will need to check that the structure can support the load.

SLATE

You have two choices with a slate roofing system: natural slate and look-a-like slate. Natural slate will sustain a lot of damage, and it’s one of the most expensive roofing choices. Slate-like shingles have become popular for many homeowners. The look-a-like slate has the look, texture and tone of natural slate.

GREEN CHOICES

Talk to your roofing contractor about their “greenest” products. You have choices such as recycled metal roofs, reclaimed wood roofs and recycled shingles. Recycled shingles are durable and made from waste materials such as rubber, plastic and wood.

WHAT COLOR?

Kate Smith, DaVinci Roofscapes’ resident color expert consultant, recommends the following guidelines when matching roof colors with different style homes.

GREEN ROOFS: Best on homes that have natural wood siding, or are painted gray, white or a lighter green color than the roof itself.

BROWN ROOFS: Complement houses painted tan, yellow, cream, off-white or a different shade of brown. Brick homes that have a yellow or brownish color cast to the bricks can also look good with a brown roof.

BLACK ROOFS: Can provide an anchor for tall homes by helping visually lower the roof and making the home look wider in contrast to the siding color and trim. A black roof has a strong link to homes painted in gray, blue, green or white and can also be used with a brick exterior.

GRAY ROOFS: Ideal complement to more traditional style homes and can also be used on blue, green, black or white house colors.

TERRACOTTA COLOR ROOFS: Work well with stucco and brick homes, along with stone and those houses with a mixture of exterior materials. White is classic color to use with a terracotta roof.

RED ROOFS: Match up beautifully to accent gray or warm brown house colors. Consider a red roof for a white or cream exterior to create a country look for a home.

Source: DaVinci Roofscapes

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