|Choosing the best materials, installation method and contractor for your roof is more important than ever.|
You probably don't spend too much time thinking about your roof, until after it leaks after that big rainstorm. In reality, though, those layers of shingles, paper and fiberglass are all that protect your home from the elements, so it's essential to get that roof just right.
And aside from practical considerations, the appearance of your roof affects the look of your whole house. With all of today's available options, choosing the best materials, installation method and contractor is more important than ever. Here's how.
Selecting the Right Shingle
From wood to asphalt to engineered materials, when it comes to shingles, the choices range far and wide. The most commonly used shingle across the U.S. is made from asphalt. Known as the three-tab asphalt shingle or composition shingles, these roofing materials are inexpensive, come in a range of colors, and last from 20 to 30 years.
Also made from asphalt, the architectural shingle is heavier and thicker than the three-tab model. With a staggered construction that adds visual interest to the roof and a range of colors, from slate to wood-lookalikes, architectural shingles are a cost-effective way to add to a home's aesthetics. Architectural shingles also stand up to heavier winds than the three-tab shingles.
Then there's the classic wood shingle. Woods such as yellow pine and red, yellow and white cedar are cut into rough shakes of uniform thickness and varied width. Wood shingles look great and last up to 50 years, but cost more to install and require regular maintenance.
Finally, engineered shingles crafted from man-made materials are becoming more common as municipalities across the country require roofing materials to be fireproof. Made from materials such as plastics, rubber, polymers and cements, these shingles are long-lasting, require little maintenance and resemble natural materials such as slate or wood. Many are eco-friendly, as well.
|The most important step is preparing the surface that underlies the shingles.|
No matter which type of shingle you choose, proper installation is key - and the most important step? Preparing the surface that underlies the shingles. Before starting the process, any potential problems must be identified and fixed, from cracking boards to rotting wood, so that your roof lies on a sound, strong deck.
Proper under layers are essential to protecting your home from damage. Depending on your region's climate, these sub-surface layers may include leak barriers, felt paper, ice and water guards, and starter strip shingles. However, these materials' effectiveness depends on their correct application, which is why it's so important to hire a reputable contractor.
Selecting a Contractor
Word-of-mouth means a lot, so start your search by asking your family, friends and co-workers if they have any recommendations. Once you've found some candidates, do a bit of background research. You want your contractor to be experienced, reputable, licensed and insured. Interview several contractors to compare their responses, experience and rates.
First, you'll want to ensure that the contractor holds all the business licenses required in your area. Even though not all states require insurance, it's best to hire a contractor that has it, so ask to see proof of liability coverage and worker's compensation insurance.
Ask the contractor to provide a list of references with past clients you can contact, and make sure that they have approval from the roofing manufacturer to work with the type of shingles you've chosen. Go over the warranty for your project with the contractor, paying special attention to any actions that could render it void. Finally, get a written proposal or contract before agreeing to anything.
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