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The Ultimate Guide to Making Your Roof Last 20+ Years

The Ultimate Guide to Making Your Roof Last 20+ Years

A new roof is quite the investment and often requires planning, budgeting and research to determine how much money is needed for the project, the quality of the materials and the longevity that will be expected – not to mention who to hire for the job.

Because the roof is the first line of defense against the outdoor elements, the quality and expected lifetime play a huge factor in the decision. The roof is an investment worth making from the get-go to avoid having to paying for it later due to installing materials that weren’t durable enough for the home’s needs.

To better assist you with this venture, we have put together a detailed guide with 10 chapters of robust knowledge just for you. Here is what we will go into detail for you in this Ultimate Guide of How to Make Your Roof Last 20+ Years:

  1. Different Types of Roofs with Their Unique Strengths and Weaknesses
  2. Roof Inspections
  3. Protecting Your Roof from Environmental Damage
  4. Proper Roof Maintenance
  5. Gutter Maintenance
  6. Preventing Ice and Snow Damage to Your Roof
  7. Replacing Damaged Shingles
  8. When to Replace You Roof
  9. Roof Warranties
  10. Choosing the Right Roofing Contractor

Below we will get into the first section of this guide to introduce all the different types of roofing options. Knowing all there is to know about all the different options of roofing will help you to decipher the best choice for your building’s needs.

1. The Different Types of Roofs with Their Unique Strengths and Weaknesses

Based on environment, climate and elements, the type of roof you choose is going to matter. In this guide we will lay out all the roofing options for you as well as their pros and cons to better help in the decision making. A roof that is in your budget and made to last for your specific needs goes a long way in this investment.

Please note that the pricing information listed below is for the roofing material itself and does not include additional installation materials such as fasteners, underlayment material, flashing, and other material specific to the job.  Other factors to consider when pricing your roofing project would be any special delivery of supplies (materials ordered from another area) and labor for installation. Material allotment and cost will be determined by the size of the roof, the pitch and the slope. 

1 – Asphalt Roofs

Asphalt roofs are, hands down, the most popular and affordable type of roof to choose for a home. They also come in a variety of styles that will give the home a unique look with an increased curb appeal.

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Anatomy of Asphalt Shingles:

Asphalt Shingles are made of a layer of fiberglass that has a layer of asphalt coated with ceramic granules.

Types of Asphalt Shingles:

Three-Tab Shingles are the most affordable but also the least durable out of the three options for asphalt shingles, the reason being because they do not have the same thickness or layering as its counterparts. So, you will get what you pay for and can risk a shorter longevity of roof with this option depending on the environmental factors it will face. The expected lifespan is 20 years, but the average lifespan ranges between 10-20 years.

Our goal in this guide is for you to maximize the length of your roof, so keep reading!

Architectural or Dimensional Shingles are laminated, layered and textured specifically to look more like slate or wooden shingles, without having to pay for the price of either. With the added layering, these shingles are thicker than the three-tab option thus provide a longer lifespan, on average between 15-25 years.

Premium Shingles are considered higher end compared to the architectural shingles. They are primarily designed for luxury homes to exacerbate beauty and style and are slightly more durable due to thickness than the architectural option. This increased durability expands the lifespan to 20-30 years.

Strengths:
  • 3-Tab Shingles are cost effective coming in around $1.50 – $5.50 per square foot or $30 per bundle
  • Many design options including luxury designs without the same cost
  • Lighter in weight for easier installation
  • Proven durability
  • Class A fire resistant rating, the highest rating given
  • Architectural Shingles have increased wind-uplift over 3-Tab Shingles ranging from 110-130 MPH determined by installation products used
Weaknesses:
  • 3-Tab Shingles have a low resistance to wind-uplift at only 60-70MPH
  • Architectural shingles jump up in price to around $160 per bundle
  • Vulnerable to high winds
  • Environmental factors can easily decrease the lifespan
  • Compared to other roofing options it has the shortest lifespan

2 – Metal Roofing

Metal roofs are becoming more popular especially with their improved design and trendy appearance, plus their longevity. There are many different types of metal roofs according to durability and style preference. Metal roofs can have a potential life span of up to 100 years!

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Anatomy of Metal Roofing:

You guessed it, they are made out of metal and all sorts of different kinds with their own properties and qualities. The different metals used in roofing include:

  • Copper
  • Aluminum
  • Steel
  • Alloy – a mixture of metals such as copper and zinc

Types of Metal Roofing:

The lifespan of a metal roof will depend on the quality of metal used. Premium metals like stainless steel, titanium, copper and zinc can increase the lifespan up to 100 years. Average metal roof lifespan is between 30 to 50 years.  

Corrugated Steel Panels are the least expensive option at $1.20 – $5.00 a square foot and comes in a variety of metals like stainless steel, copper, zinc and aluminum. Coating this material in a zin aluminum alloy will provide further protection against rust and corrosion.

Average lifespan of this type of roof will depend on the metal’s durability and compatibility with the climate.

Standing Seam provides vertical sheet panels that are attached by concealed fasteners. This metal roof makes a bold statement as its style varies much from the typical asphalt shingles that are more common. Leaks are not as common with this roof as it could be a factor with the steel panels mentioned above. The seams provide protection over the fasteners and screws.

This option is more durable and thicker than the corrugated metal and more expensive at $9.00 – $12.00 per square foot.

Steel & Aluminum Metal Shingles are premium options for metal roofing. Steel roofing is the most common type of metal roof option as it is lightweight and very versatile for different projects. With a zinc-coating applied to the metal this product can also be referred to as galvanized. The cost range for steel metal shingles can range between $7.00 to $10.00 per square foot.

Aluminum is the lighter of the two options and is superior in maintaining resistance to corrosion. Painting an aluminum roof will help with the aesthetics especially as it ages. Aluminum shingles can range in cost between $3.75 and $5.50 per square foot.

Metal shingles provide a cheaper option than the more contemporary standing seam metal roof. They are a more durable option than traditional shingles and can withstand higher wind gusts.

Stone Coated Steel Tiles offer a lightweight and wind-resistant option with a lifespan of 30-50 years. They are much more durable than asphalt shingles and tile roofing. They are popular in areas that a likely to experience hurricane-force winds.

Copper, Zinc, or Alloy are the highest-grade metal roofs. Zinc is the lesser expensive option where copper can cost between $9.00 to $14.00 per square foot, zinc is around $4.50 to $8.00.

Helpful Tip #1 – Apply Kynar to metal roofs to reflect the sun’s rays and decrease air conditioning costs by 25-30%!

Helpful Tip #2 – Exposed fasteners vs. concealed fasteners can make a difference in the lifespan of a metal roof. Conceal fasteners offer more protection and offer 30 to 50 years of lifespan compared to 25 to 40 years with exposed fasteners.

Strengths:
  • Fire resistant
  • Keeps homes and building cooler by reflecting the sun’s rays = energy efficient
  • Many trendy styles to choose from
  • Economically friendly
  • Paint your roof with any finish you desire, repaint to spruce up dull areas over time
  • Longer life span and durability compared to asphalt shingles
  • Higher resistance to powerful winds
Weaknesses:
  • It will be more noticeable in a rainstorm since the sound of the raindrops will be amplified hitting the metal roof
  • Corrugated Steel Roofing – vulnerable to leaks and rust
  • Add additional costs for the underlayment and other accessories needed, including the quality of paint that is chosen
  • If not locally sourced, metal roofs can cost more
  • The cost of labor for install is typically more for metal roofing

3 – Wood Shingle Roofs 

Wood shingles can really highlight a home or building bringing character and unique appeal to the property. With proper maintenance and care, wooden roofs can last up to 50 years.

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Anatomy of Wood Shingles:

Wood shingles are made up of different types of wood which are broken down into tiny pieces and manufactured together to form the shingle. There are some shingles that are cedar based and some that are made of white pine. These shingles need to before they are installed to help preserve their integrity and preserve longer.

Types of Wood Shingles:

Wood shingles are highly durable even with their vulnerability to rot and mold. Proper maintenance will increase their lifespan and have the ability to last for 30 to 50 years and possibly more.

Composite wood shingles will offer similar qualities as asphalt shingles which are resistant to fire and rain. Composite wood shingles are produced in a factory using artificial material. The option may lack the natural characteristics of real wood but offers durability at a cheaper price. It will also maintain its chosen color as opposed to real wood which fades and turns silvery-gray overtime.

The average cost of composite wood shingles ranges from $5.75 to $13.50 per square foot.

Cedar is the most popular wood shingle as it lends itself to be better on the budget. There are many qualities of cedar that make it an acceptable choice for roofing material, such as it is a flexible material and can bend to fit the needs of the structure. It will maintain its characteristic even in humid conditions or with the fluctuation of temperature. It provides added insulation for the building and emits a pleasing aroma.

Cedar shingles are machine-cut and tapered for a trim, crisp appearance.

The cost for cedar shingles ranges from $1.75-$3.00 per square foot.

The wood shingle options below are often used in custom home building projects. Work with a developer to will help you better price out the options for Teak and Wallaba shingles if this sounds like the route you would like to explore.

Teak shingles provide an extremely durable option for a wood shingle. They prove to withhold against the elements as they are water and weatherproof.  They also resist deteriorating rot, fungi and mildew. Among these properties, teak wood shingles offer a beautiful high-class finish to any home or building.

Teak shingles have the ability to last for up to 80 years

Wallaba shingles would be a more cost-effective option compared to teak shingles and still offer resiliency against decaying factors such as termites and moisture. This wood shingle is preferred in areas that tend to experience hurricane conditions and high humidity. In its natural state, Wallaba is a reddish-brown color.

Wallaba shingles have an expected lifespan of around 50 years.

Strengths:
  • Enhances the aesthetics of the home or building with their natural element
  • Light weight and easy to install with a flexible characteristic
  • With added insulation, they are energy efficient in the colder months
  • Will maintain in high wind areas
  • Ideal for steep-pitch roofs
  • Higher-end wood shingles improve home’s value
  • Considered the strongest of roofing materials
Weaknesses:
  • A wood preservative is necessary to apply to the shingles every 2-5 years
  • Not as fire-resistant as compared to other roofing materials
  • Prone to algae, cracks, and rot without proper maintenance
  • The more durable wood options are very expensive

4 – Shake Roofs

A wooden shake is different than the wooden shingle. Shakes are thicker and are cut with more texture and character than wooden shingles. Wood shingles are smooth on both sides and are more tailored. They are recommended for buildings with steeper pitches. Wooden shakes are durable and long-lasting with the added benefit of a rustic look.

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Anatomy of a Shake Roof:

Wooden shake roofs are made from different types of trees such as western red cedar, cypress, pine and redwood trees. The most common shake roofing is constructed with cedar wood. The wood is hand cut to create a unique texture with physical characteristics that provide exceptional charm to the building.

Types of Wood Shakes:

Heavy split and resawn wood shakes will have the backside sawn smooth with the front that is patterned using the natural grain and elements of the wood. This is the heaviest option of wood shake and comes in thicker cuts.

Medium split and resawn wood shakes are a little thinner in thickness than the heavy split and resawn shakes though still offer similar texture appearance.  

A taper sawn shake is sawed on both sides for a more tapered, or tailored, look. This shake is more similar in appearance to a wood shake but still offers more thickness in girth. 

Cedar is predominantly the main type of wooden shake that is installed on roofs as it provides many benefits to the home or building. The lifespan of a wood shake roof is about 30-40 years.

Cedar Shake Roofing ranges from $1.75-$3.00 per square foot.

Strengths:
  • Adds value to the home
  • Eco-friendly with less impact on the environment to produce
  • Energy-efficient as it resistant to UV rays and insulates the building in colder months
  • Add unique, rustic and charming appeal to a home
Weaknesses:
  • Due to the unique nature of manufacturing with unstructured cuts, shakes are more difficult to install with their untethered design
  • The uneven installation will cause gaps and leave a vulnerability to the wind to be uplifted
  • Regular maintenance is required to keep the wood preserved
  • Not as fire resistant as other roofing options

5 – Tile Roofs

Clay tiles are more commonly seen in the southwest region of the Unites States. They offer a much durability and have a lifespan of up 100 years. There are different styles and colors to choose from with three different types of clay tiles as well.

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Anatomy of Tile Shingles:

Tile roofing is most commonly made out of terracotta clay. Ceramic tiles and concrete tiles have also been used in roofing projects as well. These tiles are very heavy and require a strong structured roof to hold their weight. The average weight of clay tiles falls between 600-900 pounds per square (roughly 100 feet of material) compared to asphalt shingles that are 250 lbs per square.

Types of Tile:

These tile roof options have very similar qualities to one another. The difference is the price and weight of each one. The clay tiles are much heavier than the concrete tiles though still offer many benefits as listed below.

Clay terracotta, for material and installation, the cost can be around $15 to $20 per square foot

Fired ceramic, for material and installation, the cost can be around $20 to $30 per square foot.

Concrete, for material and installation, the cost can be around $10 per square foot.

Strengths:
  • Class A Fire Resistant
  • Durable in high winds up to 180mph
  • Tested for Impact Resistance
  • Most tiles have a freeze and thaw protection
  • Very long lifespan
  • Cost-efficient with its extensive lifespan with little maintenance
  • Increase home’s resale value
  • Often a one and done install not having to worry about re-roofing
Weaknesses:
  • Very heavy and can are difficult to install
  • Clay tiles are more prone to crack and need replacing
  • Susceptible to efflorescence, discoloration of the tile that needs to be cleaned to restore
  • Required very skilled, knowledgeable and qualified professionals to install
  • Easily damaged by walking on them
  • Energy efficiency my decrease over time

6 – Slate Roofs 

Slate is a natural stone that provides a natural beauty on any architecture. More popular in the 1800s before asphalt shingles took off, the slate shingles are thin in characteristic but add up to be a heavy commodity on top of the roof. Nowadays homes of stature and elegance with be adorned with the natural eye-pleasing aesthetics.

heritage roofing shingles

Anatomy of Slate Tiles:

Slate shingles are comprised of metamorphic rocks from the sediment of volcanic ash and clay.

More on Slate Roofing:

Slate is considered a high-quality stone that will last on a roof top for about 50-100 years, and even up to 200 years. Higher quality slate stone will last longer than lower grade stone versions.  

The cost of a slate roof can range between $8.00 to $16.00 a square foot.  

Slate is very heavy, like clay, and cannot be installed on a home that has not been built or reinforced to support its weight. Slate is also relatively easy to repair one tile at a time, so homeowners who keep up with maintenance can extend its service life for a long time.

Strengths:
  • Fireproof
  • Eco-friendly
  • Very durable and long-lasting, up to a 200-year lifespan
  • Low carbon footprint and are recyclable
  • Adds much beauty and value to the home
Weaknesses:
  • Very expensive
  • Heavy to install and require a strong framed roof to support it
  • Well qualified and experienced roofers required for a proper install to eliminate any gaps or areas for leaks
  • Easily damaged by walking on them

What’s Next?

Now that we have thoroughly gone over the more popular types of roofing and all that they have to offer, as well as some drawbacks to look out for, we are ready to continue on with more knowledge on how to improve the quality and lifespan of your roof.

Bonus Tip – Understand the ratings of your roofing material and see if you qualify for a home insurance discount.

You may see on your roofing material the following letters and numbers and a designated class.

UL or FM 2218 Class 1, 2, 3, or 4

What does this mean? This is important!

This is the impact resistance rating given to the roofing material. Remember, your roof takes the first hit of anything falling such as hail, trees, branches, a misdirected baseball, soccer ball, frisbee, etc.

Quality roofing materials will receive the impact resistance rating which may qualify you for a discount on your insurance.

The UL and FM are abbreviations for the two qualified testing laboratories that test the impact resistance of the roofing materials, these are the Underwriters Laboratories and the Factory Mutual.

They will give the roof a rating between 1 – 4, 1 being the least impact resistant and 4 being the highest.

2218 is the standard test to judge the classification of the roofing material. Class 4 signifies the most impact-resistant, hence Class 1 is the least. All states except Texas require the roofing material to be in Class 3 or 4 to receive a discount. Texas will apply a discount for Class 1 and 2 as well.

Each product produced by the manufacturer will receive its own testing. The test considers the different design and engineering methods applied to each product produced.

Now that you are a pro in different types of roofing, let’s learn how to protect your roof.

2. Protect your home and wallet with an annual roof inspection from a professional roofing company

There’s a lot of things you cannot see on top of your roof when making your daily trek in and out of your home each day. Let’s face it, it’s easy for your roof to quickly become out-of-sight-out-of-mind because, for the most part, the roof is out of sight, but once a leak is sprung it is no longer out of mind, it now a major concern until it is fixed and you are faced with the bill for repairs.

Damage to insulation and the home’s internal structure, mold growth, and electrical are a few problems that can occur with a roof leak. Repairing these problems also cause you to have to fork out way more money compared to getting a roof inspection with any preventative maintenance that may be recommended.

What to expect with a roof inspection

A professional roof inspection from a qualified, insured, and licensed roofing contractor ensures quality work from someone with a trained and knowledgeable eye. The roofing contractor will inspect the roof for any leaks or areas that may become vulnerable to leaks due to damage to roofing tiles, underlayment, and weather flashing.

If your roof was worked on by another roofing professional, this work will get inspected for quality as well. Damage caused by wind, debris, and other weather elements will be inspected. Mold, moss, and algae growth will also be checked.

The contractor should also look around vents and the chimney, which are other areas that can be susceptible to leaks. Checking the inside of the attic will also help decipher if any leaks occurred.

Inspecting the roof’s integrity

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Inspecting for any structural damage, the roofing inspector will look for any warped wood or shingles and areas that look to be sagging and not holding original form. A thorough inspection of the fascia boards, the soffit boards and the area around the chimney and gutter is also important for maintaining the integrity of the roof.

The fascia and the soffit may be part of the ventilation system for your roof, as well as other vents that come out of your roof. Checking that these vents are working properly will ensure that no moisture is getting trapped in the attic that could cause damage from within making the roof more vulnerable to damage.

The rain and humidity in the warmer months will cause mold and other growth to occur, cause the wood to soften and make it weaker. If there is moisture present when the colder temps roll in, ice can form and cause ice dams on the edge of the roof. An ice dam prevents the ice melt from getting to the drainage system, thus will get backed up into the roof and attic causing internal structural damage to the home.

Other areas your roofing contractor will inspect

Fasteners, rubber seals around vent pipes, damage to the chimney, any stains or loose or missing shingles will all be tell-tale signs that the roof’s quality is deteriorating and will recommend repairs or replacement.

Checking the inside of the attic will also let the roofing inspector know if any damage has occurred to the roof as well. Mold, rot, and warped wood are signs of a roof leak that needs immediate repair to prevent further structural damage.

If another roofing company performed the work on your house, the roofing contractor will inspect the quality of work and the materials used. Recommendations for upgrades or replacements may be listed for the homeowner if any are needed.

When to schedule a roof inspection

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yearly roof inspection is highly recommended to ensure the quality and to increase the lifespan of your roof.

Other times to consider a roof inspection would be after a monsoon, hurricane, or thunderstorm with heavy driving winds and rain, or after a hailstorm.

The recommended time of year to schedule a roof inspection would be late summer, early fall. The warmer summer months tend to draw in more severe weather with increased temperatures and moisture in the air. After experiencing harsh and battering elements, you will want to make sure that your roof was able to sustain the stress it endured and is secure for the changing temperatures when the cooler months come.

As mentioned before, when moisture is present and trapped in the roof it can damage the roof structure and cause more damage if the moisture were to freeze. Preparing for the winter months at the end of the summer is recommended for a roofing inspection.

A DIY roof inspection

Staying on top of the health of your roof is always smart, that way if you notice any damage or deterioration you can call your roofing contractor before the damage becomes a bigger problem.

Here is what you can do:

  • Look up every once in a while.

From ground level, you can do a walk around the perimeter of the house to see if there is any damage or tell-tale signs of issues with the fascial boards and the soffit. Take a view from the street to see if there is any debris on the roof that may have caused damage. You may be able to spot some warped or valleyed shingles, or areas that seem “bald” or missing granules.

  • Hop on a ladder for a closer look

If it is safe to do so, throw a ladder up. Inspect the gutters to see if any granules are starting to collect in the drainage system. Getting on the ladder will give you a closer look for any other damage that may have occurred. Take a look around the chimney for any crumbling mortar or deterioration. Look around vents and piping for any deterioration as well.

  • Pop into the attic

If you sense there is any moisture in the attic, usually with an increased humidity or a musty smell, or see any stains or discoloration, or warped rotting wood, then it would be time to call the roofing contractor for a more thorough investigation.  

Continue reading for more information to protect from the damaging weather elements!

3. Protecting Your Roof from Environmental Damage

The weather can change drastically and a lot of times we aren’t prepared for the destruction it can cause. Here are some preventative measures you can take to provide as much protection for your roof from the unpredictable elements.

Trim back or remove trees that could be a threat to the roof

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Scan the perimeter of your property to see if any trees could pose a threat to your roof. Some trees have low hanging branches that could make contact with the roof under high wind and rain or heaving snow.

Older trees or trees that are diseased or infested with bugs that are weakening their structure should be removed to prevent from possible uprooting or broken limbs falling onto the house. Weak limbs can also fold under the weight of heavy wet snow. If your roof is underneath these weak limbs, then there is a risk for severe damage. It is best to remove a potential problem than to take a risk with your roof.

Clear the roof of any debris

Branches and leaves, if left on the roof, can start to break down and create an acid effect on the shingles that could damage the integrity of the roof. To protect against further damage to the roof, it is advised to use a leaf blower to remove the debris. A soft-bristled broom can also work as well.

Protecting your roof from heat and sun exposure

High heat and the sun’s damaging UV rays and infrared radiation can decrease the lifespan of a roof. The defense you can apply to your roof is a seal coating that protects against the sun’s damage. Coating the roof will draw the heat away from the roof and to reduce the surface temperature.

The UV protection coating will need to be reapplied every 10 – 15 years to ensure its effectiveness and protection.

If high heat and lots of sun is a concern for you where you live, there is a Cool Roof roofing system that can be installed which uses lighter-shade shingles, a more reflective material in the shingle and the UV protection coating is also applied.

Hail damage and how to protect your roof

check roof for hail damage

Hail is a very damaging natural element. These are heavy balls of ice that can range from the size of a pea up to the size of a grapefruit. They can leave a wake of destruction to your property and your roof is the first structure they’ll hit to cause damage.

After a hailstorm, inspect for any damage. Looking from the ground up, see if there is damage to the gutters, the windows, screens, siding, the A/C unit, and other structural damage around the home, chances are your roof has damage as well.

Hail damage will be apparent on the shingles by chunks of missing granules. It may look like the roof sustained the damage and only got a few bumps and bruises, but the roof may be more vulnerable than it appears. With each ding the integrity of the shingle is decreased and may have exposed areas to the roofing materials beneath that can trap moisture or be weakened and become more prone to a leak.

Vents and piping can also get dents in them which can open up gaps for improper sealing and allow for moisture to get into the roof structure.

The best bet to protect against hail damage is to have an impact-resistant roof installed on your home. Impact-resistant roofing is made out of material that is constructed and tested to withstand the damaging effects of hail. Another benefit to installing impact-resistant roofing is qualifying for a discount with your insurance if the right roofing materials were used. When the time comes to replace your roof, an impact-resistant roof should be a consideration if hailstorms are common in your area.

Otherwise, the protective method would be to have your roof checked by a professional roofing contractor after a hailstorm to see if any damage occurred and should be fixed right away before getting worse.

Wind damage and how to protect your roof

Wind can have a powerful driving force behind it that can cause much damage in the aftermath. Winds starting at just 50 MPH can cause damage including dislodging shingles from the roof by catching the corners of the shingles and getting air underneath them. This can loosen their hold onto the roof. Lifted shingles can also break the sealing that protects against water from getting underneath.

High winds can also blow debris, trees, branches, leaves and other items that can be destructive to the roof. Damage to chimney flashing may occur which looks like torn or missing pieces of the flashing which creates a vulnerable spot for further damage to occur.

Similar to protecting from hail, the best line of defense against wind damage is to install wind and impact-resistant roof that has been tested to withstand high winds. This is pertinent to those who live in an area that can see winds gusts over 50 MPH more often.

Also, during your annual roof inspection, your roofing contractor should inspect each of the shingles to ensure they are secured with the proper number of nails or staples. If any are missing the roofing contractor should inspect under the shingles for any water damage, vulnerabilities, or leaks. If damage has occurred that area can be replaced.  

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It is best to also have a waterproof underlayment installed under the shingles as well for more protection. As areas on your roof get repaired or replaced, the underlayment can be upgraded to be waterproof as well.

Rain damage and how to protect your roof

The rainy seasons of the year can cause havoc on the integrity of the shingles. For roofs that have any vulnerable spots due to wear and tear, age, or have not received regular maintenance can be easily affected by rain damage.

Buckling and curling of shingles can leave spots on your roof available for water to seep in and create mold, rot, and stains, which become noticeable on the ceilings in your home. Freezing rain or moisture trapped in the shingles and then freezes will expand and cause cracks in the roof, allowing for more spaces for water to get into to cause more damage.

To protect your roof from rain damage, it is best to perform the annual roof inspection to see if there are any curling or buckling shingles, or bare spots that would be exposed to water. Make the proper repairs and replacements to provide the best protection.

Here are some steps you can take to be proactive as well:

  • Clear your gutters of any debris to make sure the water can drain freely instead of pooling and pouring back onto the roof. This will also prevent ice dams in the colder months when pools of water can freeze leaving no place for the water to go except into your roof.
  • Protect your vents. With heavy, driving drain, exposed vents can collect water and get into your attic and creating moisture inside the home. Placing guards on your vents will prevent this problem.
  • Check your chimney. Your chimney is connected to the roof, if there are any cracks, missing flashing, or crumbling mortar, it will provide an open space for water to seep in. It is also recommended to put a hood on the chimney to prevent rain from running down its sides, creating moisture and deterioration.

With all the possible ways of damage to occur to your roof and with inspections, repairs, and replacements that may be needed, a very good question to ask is:

“How much can I walk on my roof without causing damage?”

Here is the max amount of times you or a roofing contractor should be on your roof and why:

Inspections – the annual roof inspection from your roofing contractor will require foot traffic up top to perform a thorough inspection.

Repairs – if during the roof inspection repairs are needed a second trip, or two max should get the job done.

Installations – sometimes other techs need access to your roof to make installs such as skylights, gutters, satellite or dish TV devices, etc. We will also consider the holiday-spirited homeowner who’s getting festive with lights on the house as well.

Removing Debris – if necessary and safe to do so, removing debris or snow from the roof may require you to get on top to gently remove damaging objects

With these scenarios, the max number of times feet should see the roof should be no more than 5 times throughout the year.

Excessive walking on the roof can cause more damage than one might think. The extra weight, pressure, and friction can create weak spots, dislodge shingles, tear underlayment, etc.

4. Preventing Ice and Snow Damage to Your Roof

check roof for hail damage

Photo by Solyanaya, Ir, from Pexels

Ice and snow have the capability to cause much damage to your roof. Here we discuss the preventive steps you as the homeowner can take to protect your roof.

Let’s get to know ice dams a little better. 

Ice dams form when heat from the rises and escapes through areas of the attic. The heat causes the shingles to increase in temperature which poses a threat when snow is present. With the warming of the roof, the snow will melt in this area, creating a concentrated amount of water to form. 

The water will then refreeze once the temperature drops below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, creating the start of an ice dam. As the melt-and-refreeze cycle continues the ice dam will continue to grow. Because the melting water has no place to go with snow and ice on top, its only option for retreat is through the shingles, through the roofing material and into the attic and the structure of the home.

What’s the harm in icicles?

Icicles may give your home seasonal character and charm but they can also mean damage is occurring to your roof and your gutters. With snow melting and running down the eaves of the roof, then refreezing, icicles are formed at the edge of the roof. A sign that water is getting under the shingles, cracks are forming in the roof, and the excess weight on the gutters could cause them to tear from the house. 

How Snow Can Damage Your Roof

Along with causing ice dams, the added weight of snow on your roof could wreak havoc. It is best to keep an eye on the weather channel to stay on top of predicted snowfall totals. 

With a fresh snowfall of 4 feet or an accumulation of 2 feet of compacted snow from other snowfalls, the added weight can cause a decent amount of stress on your roof, risking a collapse for older roofs, according to the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety.

Ice and Snow Damage Prevention Techniques for Your Roof

The most important piece of information listed above is what should be a priority to every homeowner before the next winter season, it’s to have the insulation and ventilation of the attic inspected for efficiency. 

When you heat your home, the preference is to keep the heat localized to the areas that need the warmth, which would be all the livable areas of the home. If your attic is not being used as a bedroom or spare room, then it does not need to be heated, thus the insulation needs to be checked to see if heat is getting in as well as proper ventilation to prevent condensation and excess moisture.

Another area to check is the flashing around the chimney. Make sure the flashing is in good condition, replacing with steel flashing if necessary. Also, plug any holes and gaps around cables and ventilation ducts to make sure no heat is escaping from these areas nor water seeping in.

With your attic inspected, another way to prevent ice dams forming on your roof is to rake off any amount of snow over 6”. Now, most homes in northern Arizona tend to be single-story, though if you have a multi-story home, or a steep-pitched roof where raking from the ground, or on a ladder won’t be sufficient, then hiring a professional snow removal company may be needed. 

5. Proper Roof Maintenance

Being consistent with the maintenance of your roof is crucial to extending its life. Many issues cannot be seen on the ground, and many issues cannot be seen with an untrained eye until it is too late.  

Where your roof takes the brunt of many beatings from mother nature ㄧ snowstorms, driving wind, rain and hail, extreme heat and sun exposure, and falling debris from trees ㄧ an inspection of the roof and the attic after a season of weather would be wise. It is more time and cost-efficient to keep up on repairs than to let a small problem become huge. 

Areas around the roof to inspect: 

Proper home drainage system

If your home drainage system (the gutters) are clogged and cannot drain properly then water will get built up in the gutters and overflow back into your roof, attic and into the structure of your home. Before the next rain or snowstorm, throw a ladder up to check the gutters to make sure they are clear of any debris and blockage.

Limit access to your roof

As stated previously, there are not many reasons why feet need to be on the roof. Limiting the number of times you, hired workers, or anyone else who has access to the roof will decrease the wear and tear on the shingles. With scuffing rubber-soled feet, shingles can easily get dislodged and granules can deteriorate. Of course, tile, slate and wood shingles are more vulnerable to cracking and breaks as well.

Seal the seams

Check to make sure all seams and joints are secure, and that sealants and flashings are intact. Inspect around vent pipes, skylights, ventilation systems, and the chimney to make sure everything is sealed up tightly so no water can seep in and no air can get out. Water damage can quickly grow into a big problem with mold and rotted wood, which can also attract unwanted insects, but mostly a weak roof prone to leaks.  

Check for growth

If you are noticing black stains on your roof, this is most likely blue-green algae. By itself, algae does not damage the roof but it does decrease the overall look of your home. To prevent algae growth, placing strips of zinc or copper under the row of shingles that are closest to the roof peak should help to keep this growth at bay. 

Lichen, on the other hand, can cause damage to your roof. Lichen is an invasive organism that is a combination of fungus and algae. Fed the proper diet of sunlight, water, air and nutrients, lichen will continue to spread. It is often seen on trees and rocks but can also grow on your rooftop. Lichen can weaken the integrity of the shingles on your roof and create open pathways for water to seep under the roofing materials. 

Prescott Roofing

Photo by Hughes, Elle, from Pexels

There are products on the market to help safely remove both algae and lichen without the use of bleach, which could also damage the shingles. Jomax, Spray and Forget, Wet and Forget are a few products to try by a method of a spray wash, not a pressure wash. 

Damage from Birds

Have you noticed or heard more activity on your roof? This could be a family of birds building a nest that can cause havoc to your shingles. With seeds, dirt and excess moisture on the rooftop, there is also a chance of vegetation growth to occur as well. If vegetation is taking root, the roots can penetrate through the shingles and membrane, creating a vulnerable area for leaks to sprout. 

Keeping your roof clean will help to remove debris from overhanging trees and birds. An easy way to clean off debris is with a leaf blower.

Routine Roof Inspections

We will emphasize it again, having your roof inspected by a professional roofing contractor will save headaches and money later on down the road. Your trusted roofing contractor has the training and experience to make necessary repairs in order to prevent a big replacement project later and to protect the structure of the home. 

6. Gutter Maintenance to Protect Your Roof

heritage roof tiles

Photo by Olichon, Adrien from Pexels

Keeping your gutters intact will help to increase the lifespan of your roof. Gutters provide an effective and very important method of keeping water away from the home, especially the roof. 

Keep Your Gutters Clean and Clear

Get out your ladder and pop around the perimeter of your roof to clean out all debris from the gutters. Throw on some gloves and a tool belt to bring up a trowel for larger items. Run a hose through the gutters to get any remaining dirt and grime flushed out. It is also a good idea to check the flow of your downspouts to make sure there are no blockages here either.

Repair Your Gutters

There are many causes of damaged gutters. A tree branch can fall and dent the gutter, nails can fall out and pull the gutters away from the house, leaks and cracks can cause faulty drainage, and ice, icicles, and snow can cause damage too. With dents, dings, cracks, leaks, or any defect that can interrupt the flow of the drainage, this can increase the risk of water not draining correctly and creating backflow into the roof and house. 

7. Replacing Damaged Shingles

If you are a motivated do-it-yourselfer then here are some tips to follow on how to replace your own shingles. Most likely you have some leftover roofing materials from when you got your roof installed and can easily match the shingles. 

Replacing damaged shingles will help to further protect your roof from water damage and other elements from growing or getting underneath the roofing materials. Here are the steps to take to replace damaged shingles:

  • Get a putty knife and slide its blade under the shingle to loosen the seal to the underlayment 
  • Use a flat bar to remove the nails or staples that are securing the shingle to the roof
  • Remove the damaged shingle from the area and prepare the new shingle for installation
  • Place the new shingle and secure with ⅞” roofing nails or roofing staples
  • Complete the replacement by placing roof cement under the shingle to securely adhere it to the roof

8. When to Replace Your Roof

Here are the signs to look out for that will make it evident that your home is in need of a new roof.

Look at the quality of your shingles, if you notice the majority of your shingles have any of the following:

  • Curled edges 
  • Cracks
  • Bald spots with missing granules

These are the signs that the integrity of the shingles is starting to deteriorate.  

Ask yourself when the last time was you or the previous homeowner replaced the roof. If it was over 20 years ago, then it is time to seriously consider a new roof installation. 

If you notice that others in your neighborhood, whose houses were built around the same time as yours, are replacing their roof, it may be time to consider doing the same. 

But, before moving ahead with searching for the right roofing contractor, first, check the warranty of your roof to see if you are still covered.

9. Roof Warranties

Read through the fine print of the warranty of your roof to see how long it is valid for and what it covers. If you are considering a roof replacement because of a recent leak, have a qualified inspector help you to determine the cause and help you to decipher whether to file a warranty claim. 

If a warranty claim is filed, the manufacturer or roofing contractor will visit to see if the leak and the repair are covered under the warranty. It is important for you as the homeowner to keep a diligent record of the warranty and to file it within a timely manner.

Understand Your Roof Warranty

There are two kinds of roof warranties that may be available to the homeowner. Roof warranties include the manufacturer’s warranty, such as GAF Timberline 50-year shingles, and the workmanship warranty offered by the roofing contractor. Understanding the terms and conditions of what is covered in each will protect you down the road and prepare you for any need to use these warranties. 

An example of the fine details would be having certain materials covered under the warranty but not the labor to install them. A workmanship warranty may only cover labor costs for repairs if s/he is the only one who has worked on the roof. The warranty may become invalid if another contractor or a handyman tried to make some repairs as well. 

Different roofing materials and their manufacturers will offer differing warranty lengths which typically range from 20-50 years. Typically, the higher-quality roofing materials will have a longer warranty, though cost a little more than the lower-quality, shorter warranty. 

10. Choosing the Right Roofing Contractor

After we’ve laid out everything for you to consider for your roofing options as far as types of roofs to choose from, roof inspections, roof protection, roof maintenance, roof repairs and replacements – how do you decide who is going to do the work?

We can cover that too.

Licensed and Insured Roofing Contractors

First off, only look for roofing contractors who can provide documentation of being licensed and insured. This is to protect you in the long run. Each state has its own requirements for a contractor to receive his/her license, this includes having valid insurance coverage for liability and workers’ compensation. 

Please keep in mind that if your contractor is not insured and you have workers on your roof who get hurt, you could be held responsible. 

Check What’s Covered in the Workmanship Warranty

What kind of warranty does the contractor offer for the work provided? Some contractors truly stand behind their work and will offer free labor for repairs that are needed. Some contractors cover limited labor and materials. Make sure you fully understand the warranty coverage and choose a contractor whom you feel is trustworthy to do quality work, including the team who will be working on your roof.

Read Through the Reviews

How to know if a contractor is trustworthy, check the reviews and testimonials. A happy customer who has had a good experience with a roofing contractor is willing to share a positive experience. And, the same goes for unhappy customers, who are three times as likely to share their bad experiences. Google reviews, Angie’s List, Yelp, and other sites are good to check out before scheduling an estimate for your project. 

Of course, friends and family are helpful to share their experiences and referrals too.

Experience Makes a Difference

Another area to check is the length of time the roofing contractor has been in business and the number of years working in the field. Usually, the length of time a contractor has under his/her belt is listed on the website. Though, this is a good question to ask when you make the initial call. More time in the field allows for more knowledge of the products and to fix any snafus that may come up.  

Hire Local

Hiring a local roofing contractor is easier for both homeowners and contractors. The contractor knows the area and climate much better than an out-of-town company that may be used to working with a specific roofing product meant solely for a different climate. A local roofer will give the best advice and guidance to what material should be used to extend the longevity of your roof per weather conditions common to the area. 

Also, if an emergency repair is needed it is more convenient and quicker for the local roofer to come over and assess the situation and get an order ready than a long-distance company. 

Your roof is a big investment and has a very important job of keeping you, your family and your home safe from the outside elements. Our goal is to equip you with adequate information to prepare you for this venture. This is not a task to go into blind-sided. The more information you have the more knowledgeable decisions you can make and feel good about, with quality roofing materials, a solid roof installed by a roofing contractor you trust.

Heritage Roofing, Your Trusted Local Roofing Contractors

Heritage Roofing is a local Prescott roofing contractor who has over 20 years of experience installing quality roofs suit to their customers’ desires. Watch their testimonials to see their satisfaction! 

For any roofing questions or concerns, they are happy to assist.

For more information on roofing materials, products, installs, maintenancerepairs and inspectionsHeritage Roofing are the local go-to pros who have the knowledge.

Give them a call today!

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