Roof Repair: What to Know

from About.Com – Home Renovations
by Lee Wallender

roofing-11-150x150There is a category of home renovations which I call “Nice to Have, But Not Overly Exciting.” Replacing your roof falls into this category – though I admit, it’s much more than “Nice to Have.” It’s more like “Essential to Have.”

Replace Your Roof Before Doing Anything Else

Within the home renovation workflow, roof replacement is job number one. Every single home remodeling task you undertake, from drywall installationon down to the most delicate swath of paint, will be ruined if you do not protect it properly with a roof – first.

When Not to Replace the Roof

Only in a few instances, you may choose not to replace your roof before taking on a big home renovation project:

  1. A complete, overall strip-it-and-rebuild-it. Even then, at some point, the roof will come before other remodeling jobs.
  2. You are tearing the entire house down.

Types of Roofing Materials to Use

Your choice of roofing materialsoften depends on your locality, as much as on your own personal taste.

  • Asphalt Composition Shingles: Cheap and easily obtainable, but less attractive than other options due to “flat” appearance.
  • Wood Shake: a pricey, but attractive shingle.
  • Metal Roofing: Metal roofing is still rare, and few roofers know how to install it; special companies are required for this job.
  • Slate Roofing: highly attractive, and a high-end roofing option; extremely slippery to walk on.
  • Rubber Slate or “Faux” Slate – Recycled post-industrial synthetics gaining in popularity.

Interested in learning more about roofing materials?

Important Note: Roof pitch (angle) affects the kind of roofing shingles you can use! As an example, wood shake shingles can, and should, be used for steeper pitched roofs.


Roof Replacement Cost and Terminology

The cost to replace a roof, as you might imagine, varies. It varies according to your roofing materials (all the way from cheap 3-tab asphalt shingles up to architectural shingles or even slate), the roofing contractor, the pitch (or steepness) of your roof, the area to be covered, and a host of other factors.

Generally, you’re looking at costs of $5,000 or more. It is hard to imagine a whole-house roof replacement to cost less. Roofing contractors have a great deal of flexibility to negotiate on the cost, so you please feel that you have license to do so.

There are a few words you will need to know.

  • A “square” is a unit of measure equalling 100 square feet.
  • A “vent” runs along the ridge of the roof to expel trapped vapor and heat, so that the roofing does not buckle and deteriorate over time.
  • “Composition” is what is commonly referred to as asphalt shingles.

Is Summer the Only Time to Replace a Roof?

No. Roofers are amazing – and this is why we pay them to do our roofs. I have seen roofers here in my very wet state – Washington State – expertly shoehorn in a roofing job between rains. No, the weather conditions do not have to be perfectly dry.

However, any partially installed areas must be perfectly dry before any covering layers are installed. The trick behind “expertly shoehorning” in the roofing project is to have a large team of professional roofers who can knock out work phases in hours, instead of days. Yet another reason to perhaps think twice before doing your own roofing job.

The Roofing Process

Remarkably, a moderately-sized, professionally-installed roofing job might take only 3 or 4 days.

  • Remove all existing shingles, deposit them in a roll-off, and remove.
  • Make minor repairs on roof if in good condition. If not, replace bad wood with plywood or 1″x6″ boards, whichever is applicable to your roof.
  • Install ice dam protection, a barrier of synthetic materials to prevent backed up ice in the gutters which prevents ice-melt from draining away. The ice-melt will permeate under the shingles and cause damage to the inside of your house.
  • Lay down asphalt paper.
  • Apply the shingles – starting at the eaves and working upward.
  • Apply flashing around all areas where leaks might come into the house – against the chimney, stack vents, etc.
  • Install the ridge vent.

Lee Wallender
Home Renovations Guide