Q: How can a home owner recognize when a roof system has problems?
A: All too often, roof system problems are discovered after leaking or other serious damage occurs. Periodic (twice-a-year) inspections often can uncover cracked, warped or missing shingles; loose seams and deteriorated flashings; excessive surface granules accumulating in the gutters or downspouts; and other visible signs of roof system problems. Indoors, look for cracked paint, discolored plasterboard and peeling wallpaper as signs of damaged roof areas.

Q: My roof leaks. Do I need to have it replaced completely?
A: Not necessarily. Leaks can result from flashings that have come loose or a section of the roof system being damaged. A complete roof system failure, however, generally is irreversible and a result of improper installation or choice of materials or the roof system installation is inappropriate
for the home or building.


Q: What will a new roof system cost?
A: The price of a new roof system varies widely, depending on such things as the materials selected, contractor doing the work, home or building, location of the home or building, local labor rates and time of year. To get a good idea of price for your roof system, get three or four proposals from reputable contractors in your area. Keep in mind that price is only one factor, and it must be balanced with the quality of the materials and workmanship. For each roofing material, there are different grades and corresponding prices. There also are a variety of styles and shapes. You need to look at the full product range and make a choice based on your budget and needs. Within the roofing profession, there are different levels of expertise and craftsmanship. Insist on a contractor who is committed to quality work.

Q: What are my options if I decide to reroof?
A: You have two basic options: You can choose a complete replacement of the roof system, involving a tear-off of your existing roof system, or re-cover the existing roof system, involving only the installation of a new roof system. If you've already had one re-cover installed on your original roof system, check with a professional roofing contractor. In many instances, building code requirements allow no more than one roof system re-cover before a complete replacement is necessary.

Q: How long can I expect my roof system to last?
A: Most new roof systems are designed to provide useful service for about 20 years. Some roof system types, such as slate, clay tile and certain metal (e.g., copper) systems, can last longer. Actual roof system life span is determined by a number of factors, including local climatic and environmental conditions, proper building and roof system design, material quality and suitability, proper application and adequate roof maintenance. Roofing product manufacturers offer a variety of warranties on their products. Take a close look at those warranties to see what responsibilities and financial obligations manufacturers will assume if their products fail to reach their expected lives.

Asphalt Shingles

There are a number of things to consider when selecting a new roof system. Of course, cost and durability head the list, but aesthetics and architectural style are important, too. The right roof system for your home or building is one that balances these five considerations. The following roofing products commonly are used for steep-slope structures.

Asphalt shingles possess an overwhelming share of the U.S. steep-slope roofing market and can be reinforced with organic or fiberglass materials. Although asphalt shingles reinforced with organic felts have been around much longer, fiberglass-reinforced products now dominate the market.

Organic shingles consist of a cellulose-fiber (i.e., wood) base that is saturated with asphalt and coated with colored mineral granules.

Fiberglass shingles consist of a fiberglass mat, top-and-bottom layers of asphalt, and mineral granules.

Asphalt shingles' fire resistances, like most other roofing materials, are categorized by Class A, B or C. Class A signifies the most fire-resistant; Classes B and C denote less fire resistance. Generally, most fiberglass shingles have Class A fire ratings, and most organic shingles have Class C ratings.

A shingle's reinforcement has little effect on its appearance. Organic and fiberglass products are available in laminated (architectural) grades that offer a textured appearance. Zinc or copper-coated ceramic granules also can be applied to organic or fiberglass products to protect against algae attack, a common problem in warm, humid parts of the United States. Both types of shingles also are available in a variety of colors.

Regardless of their reinforcing type and appearance, asphalt shingles' physical characteristics vary significantly. When installing asphalt shingles, NRCA recommends use of shingles that comply with American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) standards-ASTM D 225 for organic shingles and ASTM D 3462 for fiberglass shingles. These standards govern the composition and physical properties of asphalt shingles; not all asphalt shingles on the market comply with these standards. If a shingle product complies with one of these standards, it is typically noted in the manufacturer's product literature and on the package wrapper.

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