10 Things You Need to Know Before Installing a New Roof

Replacing a roof is a costly and time-consuming project that all homeowners must undertake every few decades. Given the investment in time and money — and the essential role a roof plays in protecting your house — you want to ensure the job is done right, whether by you or professional roofers. By reading our guide below, you'll learn when your roof needs a replacement and how to prepare for a roof installation.

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Signs You Need a New Roof ASAP

Several situations call for an immediate roof replacement, and some of the signs are more obvious than others:

  • Your Roof Is Old: The lifespan of a roof is believed to be 20 to 25 years, so you should replace it once it reaches this age.

  • Your Shingles Are Buckling and Curling: Inspect the slopes of your roof that receive direct sunlight. If you see that shingles are losing granules and curling, they may need to be replaced.

  • Your Roof Valleys Are Showing Neglect: If shingles in your roof valleys are missing or breaking apart, it's time to get a new roof. These valleys are one of the most critical parts of a roof, as rainwater flows through them on its way to the gutters. If this area is damaged, it becomes vulnerable to leaks.

  • Your Chimney Flashing Needs to Be Replaced: If your flashing is made of tar or cement, it may be a good idea to replace it with a metal flashing system, which is water-tight and lasts longer.

  • Your Gutters Are Full of Shingle Granules: As roofs near the end of their lives, they start to lose more granules, which often end up in the gutters. Check your gutters to see if they are full of these granules. Another sign of granules wearing away is a darker or inconsistent color on certain areas of the roof.

  • You See Daylight Through the Boards of the Roof: Go up to your attic to check whether daylight is coming through the roof.

  • Your Roof Is Sagging: A sagging roof is a serious problem that requires immediate action and usually indicates a structural issue. The issue may be with the attic decking or perhaps even the foundation supports. While you are not necessarily in immediate danger, this issue is much easier to deal with when it is in a small area — not when it has spread all over the roof.

10 Things You Need to Know Before Installing a New Roof

If it turns out your roof is going to need a replacement, that doesn't mean you should immediately head to the hardware store to buy some shingles. You still need to consider several factors before the actual installation takes place.

1. Select the Right Material

One of the most important decisions is your roofing material. When deciding on a material, consider the appearance, price and lifespan of each available product. For instance, although asphalt roofing shingles are among the most economical options, their lifespan is one of the shortest for residential roofs. Concrete or metal shingles, on the other hand, tend to last longer and are usually a better choice if you're interested in making a long-term investment.

Apart from more traditional shingles like asphalt, shakes and slate, you can also buy beautiful metal roofs that mimic the look of other roofing materials and architectural shingles that are superior to traditional asphalt in both performance and looks. While some of these newer materials can be three times the price of standard 3-tab asphalt shingles, they will also last longer and enhance the curb appeal — and therefore, the resale value — of your home.

If your last roofing installation was 20 years ago, don't just go with the same material as before — take a look at new roof types, too.

Consider each option carefully and think about the advantages and disadvantages of each. If you're unsure about which material would best suit your home, hire an expert to take a look at your roof and figure out which materials would be the best investment for your house.

2. Choose Between Peeling Off or Layering On

Another critical decision to make is whether you will remove the existing shingles before installing the new ones or just layer it on. To comply with building code, you are not allowed to have more than two shingle layers on your roof.

Since the second layer of shingles will put a bit more stress on your roof, it is recommended that you peel off the old layer before installing the new shingles. If you're short on time or money, you can lay them over the original layer. However, if the old shingles are curling or the roof is uneven, taking off the original layer is highly recommended. It's also a good idea if you live in a region with high winds.

If you live in an area with a cold climate, peeling the old roofing off allows you to put in an ice and water shield, which is a rubber membrane installed at the eaves that prevents leaks from occurring if there is ice buildup.

Peeling off old roofing becomes more difficult if your roofing material is anything other than asphalt. For some materials, removing the roofing means replacing the plywood decking, as well, which can be costly.

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3. Examine the State of Your Roof Frame

Whether you've had problems with leaking in the past or not, it is highly recommended that you inspect the plywood that is supporting your roof. If you notice any areas where the sheathing is soft or broken — or if it appears to be disintegrating — you should replace it right away. It is also recommended to remove your existing layer of roofing and examine it before you begin the installation. If you can spot and fix a leak in the roof frame itself, it may prolong the life of your roof and help you avoid a more severe leak down the road.

4. Consider Installing It Yourself

If you're like the majority of homeowners, installing a new roof by yourself may not be the best idea. However, if you have the tools at your disposal and a fair amount of DIY experience, simple installations like asphalt shingles may be manageable. Figure out roughly how much DIYing will save you, then decide whether it's worth the risk of potentially building a leaky roof.

5. Choose the Right Contracting Company

While some ambitious DIYers may opt to install their roofs themselves, most homeowners choose to hire a professional roofing company to handle this project. Sometime early on in the planning process, make some calls to various roofing companies in the area. Request quotes for your project and make sure they can install the type of roof you need. While most companies can install asphalt shingles, for instance, many don't work with rubber, concrete tiles or other more unconventional materials.

Since you only need a roof installation once every couple of decades, roofing companies don't need to rely on repeat business. This means customer satisfaction is often not as much of a priority, so many people choose their roofing company based on cost alone. However, this can often be a mistake, as these companies can only deliver low bids because they hire low-wage workers. For these reasons, it is extremely important to be careful about the company you hire. Get references from friends and tradespeople you trust and check websites that list certified installers.

6. Remember That Roofing Is Noisy

Keep in mind that replacing a roof is a loud process. The stripping old shingles and hammering of new ones are going to cause a lot of racket. If you, your children or pets are sensitive to loud noises, it may be best for them to stay somewhere else while the roofing is taking place, if possible. It's also considerate to let your neighbors know ahead of time about this noisy project and when it will start.

It is also important to keep in mind that you will need a lot of shingles to cover a roof. If you have plans to go somewhere during the day, remember to get your car out of the driveway before the shingles are delivered. Otherwise, the delivery truck might block you in.

7. Ask for a Contract

Before any work begins, make sure to ask your roofing contractor for a contract that clearly includes everything you have talked about. Things that should be included are the shingle type, the color, the area of the roof that will be worked on and what exactly the work involves, such as layering, flashing, stripping, etc. Ask all the questions you feel you need to, get referrals and confirm that everything you discussed is included in the contract before the installation begins.

8. Obtain Other Essential Documents

In addition to a contract, you should also acquire two other documents. One of these is a building permit, which is most likely necessary for your warranty to be valid and may also help ensure that your contractor adheres to the building code. The other document is a letter from the contractor's insurance company addressed to you that confirms the project is covered.

9. Don't Pay Until the Nails Are Removed

If your old roofing was peeled off before your installation, this means thousands of nails were stripped off with it, and likely ended up on your lawn or driveway, which could cause injuries or flat tires. Luckily, contractors have a piece of equipment that can easily pick these up: an enormous magnet with wheels that they use to take around the yard to grab these fasteners. Sometimes, however, roofers fail to bring these magnets along. Make sure to ask them to perform this nail-collecting service before you make the final payment.

10. Prevent Needing Another Roof Replacement

As you understand by now, installing a roof is a complicated task you'd probably like to avoid for as long as possible. While all roofing materials eventually need to be replaced, their lifespan can be prolonged with proper maintenance. Here a few maintenance tips to help your roof last as long as it can:

  • Inspect and Clean Your Roof: Always keep an eye out for any damaged or missing shingles, and once you notice something, get it fixed quickly. Keeping dirt of your shingles is also a good idea, as it will reduce the growth of moss, algae, fungi and lichen, which can lead to the disintegration of your roof.

  • Replace Cracked Sealant: Look out for cracked or worn sealant. If you find any, first remove the existing sealant and then apply the new sealant in all affected areas.

  • Look for Rust: If your roof includes metallic parts, regularly inspect these parts for corrosion or rust. If you see any rust forming, wire-brush to remove it. Then, prime and paint the affected metal to prolong its lifespan.

  • Clean out Your Gutters: Clogged gutters can significantly damage your roof because water that accumulates in your gutters can easily get under your roof. Keep your gutters clear to avoid this undesirable situation.

  • Keep Your Chimney in Good Shape: Check your chimney for any missing or cracked mortar, and if you find any, replace it as soon as you can. This is very important because the mortar is responsible for holding the bricks of the chimney in place, and if a brick falls down, your roof could be damaged.

  • Prevent Ice Dams From Forming: An ice dam refers to the accumulation of ice at a roof's edge, which keeps melting snow from flowing off the roof. While you may find them attractive, they can cause severe damage to your roof. Make sure your house and roof are well insulated, so your roof remains the same temperate as the outside environment. If this is done, the snow nearest to the roof won't melt and then freeze on the colder areas of your roof.

Choose Huber & Associates for Roofing Needs

If you're in need of roof repairs or replacements, look no farther than Huber & Associates, the premier roof restoration company in the southeast U.S.

Huber specializes in commercial roof repairs and replacements, as well as historic roof preservation. We have worked on large residential roofing projects installing metal, wood, copper and a variety of other roofing material types. For the past 40 years, we have created roof solutions that are beautiful, long-lasting and in accordance with historical requirements and other local codes. Some of our notable work includes the Biltmore Estate's metal roofing in Asheville, N.C., and the Bryce Canyon Lodge's cedar roof in Bryce, UT.

Although we are headquartered in the southeast, we can also travel internationally for roofing projects. If you have any questions or would like to learn more about our services, feel free to ask by calling (386) 487-1040 or using our online form.