In the realm of home improvement projects, a roof replacement is one of the most important and expensive projects you’ll undertake. So you want to make sure to do plenty of research before laying a single shingle. To help you get started, we checked in with Tyler Sinclair, editorial manager at General Roofing Systems Canada.
Tyler offered his insight on trends in roofing materials, and shared tips for picking the right roof for your home and hiring a qualified contractor. Here’s what he had to say:
What do you specialize in?
General Roofing Systems specializes in accredited roofing. Our company services all roofing systems for commercial and residential sloped or flat roofing. We are a quality provider with Red Seal Journeymen that services customers from Vancouver, B.C., to Toronto, Ontario and everywhere in between. We expect to be in the U.S. in mid-2016.
What are the biggest trends in roofing right now?
The biggest trends in residential sloped roofing are architectural metals such as standing seam metal, recycled tile such as rubber roof tile, and designer laminate shingles with limited lifetime warranties. In commercial and industrial, the biggest trends are roof coatings for low slope metal roof restoration and single ply roof membranes such as TPO, PVC and EPDM for flat roofing (tar and gravel roofing is old-school now).
What roofing innovations are you most excited about?
The environmentally-friendly advancements in roof coatings, recycled roofing materials such as rubber roof tiles, and the advancements in nanotechnology that have improved the quality of roof coatings and shingles (polymers). Also, solar energy is an exciting part of our business – solar panels, the newer skylights and sun tunnels, etc.
What are your favorite roofing materials for homes? Why?
The newer designer laminate shingles have great street appeal. Many also are using rubberized polymers mixed in with the traditional bitumen products, which allow for the shingles to perform much better over longer periods because the newer polymers are so much more advanced.
The acceptance of architectural metals is also exciting (such as with standing seam metal roofing and metal roof shingles). Metal roofing is environmentally-friendly and offers a great high-end look to a home.
The newer recycled rubber products that offer rubber roof tiles are also exciting. They offer a high-end appeal for a nominal increase in price over traditional laminate shingles.
For the flat roof homes, the newer single-ply membranes are a great advancement (TPO, PVC, EPDM). They get rid of the high cost of traditional tar and gravel and perform much better.
What types of considerations should homeowners make when choosing roofing materials?
The most important consideration is actually how the roof is going to be installed. But as far as choosing the right roofing material, that is more preference than it is anything else. All roofing materials are good materials if installed correctly.
Consideration of price is a common theme I find when customers call us. Laminate shingles will be less expensive than designer shingles and various tiles (rubber, metal, composite, etc.).
Street view is important as is the neighborhood. Sometimes, there are architectural controls in planned communities, so it is important to check with your local civic authorities. The neighborhood is important because you want to be sure you are increasing the perceived value of your home and not limiting it. For example, you wouldn’t want to install a low-end shingle roof in an area that has high-end tile, metal or slate on most roofs.
The other consideration with materials is energy efficiency. Depending on where one lives, that can be a considerable point of decision.
What questions should homeowners be asking contractors when it comes to replacing roofs? How do they know that the contractor is qualified?
There are a few key steps to take when choosing a roofing contractor. If you follow the steps in the order below, you will be able to slowly sift out contractors that are not suitable for your job.
1. Decide what type of roofing material you are going to use. When you know what type of material you are going to use, then you will be able to locate the right type of roofer.
2. Narrow your search to roofing contractors that specialize in that specific material or have a division that specializes in that material. This can be done sometimes online by reviewing websites, but often calling the companies will be required. If they are members of the BBB, then the BBB website will tell you what their specializations are.
3. Compare the roofing contractor qualifications and experience specific to the material that is to be installed and who the installers will be. A roofing contractor should be able to share specifically who will run the job and what the qualifications and experience of that individual is. This is an important step.
4. Compare the actual specifications of materials that make up the whole roof system and the way each is installed. In other words, if you are settled on shingles, then be sure the accessory materials are good quality and make sure they are to be installed to the highest acceptable practice. For example, a shingle roof includes the metal flashing at the eave edge, chimney, skylights, step flashing at walls, and more. Then there is underlayment – what type is being used? How is it specifically being installed? Another consideration is the roof venting and attic ventilation; proper venting will see a shingle roof last up to twice as long as an improperly-ented roof.
5. Compare the company credentials, history, insurance, associations and Better Business Bureau report. This can easily be done online and by calling your local BBB.
6. Then you can compare pricing, warranties and performance guarantees. Be sure every detail is in writing, including the specifications of the materials, the scope of work, the work duration/schedule, payments, etc.
7. And finally, you will want to know how a roof is properly installed so that you (or an appointed person) can watch the process of installation. This is critical to ensuring your investment is sound. A new roof is expensive and it doesn’t take more than an hour or two of proper research on how a roof should be installed and a few hours checking on the install to secure your investment.
This article that is ongoing shows specifically what to look for in proper installation of shingles.
For homeowners who want to make their homes more energy efficient, what considerations should they make when it comes to their roofs?
That depends on where you live. It becomes an engineering question. The bottom line is really whether your home is in an area where you have more cold days than warm days annually or not. In California, for example, you will want to choose a material that is either reflective or as close to white as possible. In Alaska, a black roof is most efficient. It becomes a question of net-benefit.
Solar is obviously an energy-efficient choice. Solar panels are being offered in many jurisdictions throughout North America now on a lease or monthly purchase program. There are even shingles available now in some states that have solar built right in to them.
What are the most common problem spots in roofs?
By far, the problems are primarily a result of the installation practices of the original installer. There are so many areas of detail that installation can be done wrong that can cause significant headache and repair cost.
As time goes on, maintenance becomes key, such as maintenance of caulking and flashing; removing debris from gutters and downspouts; checking penetrations such as chimneys, vents, skylights, etc. and various other time-related problems. Also, if there is a significant hail or wind storm, one should have their roof checked for shingle blow-offs or damage.
What basic roof maintenance should homeowners be doing regularly? What should we be doing to make our roofs last longer?
We are currently writing a series on residential roof maintenance. We compiled photos from over the years of all the problems we’ve witnessed with install, maintenance and repair. The primary thing to do is either hire a roofing contractor to inspect your roof every spring or fall, or locate a document like the one we are currently preparing for our website that covers all the potential problems.