Roofing 101

Do I need to replace my roof?

A tree fell on your roof, that mysterious black stuff (it’s mildew, ew) is spreading, you’ve noticed a new leak spot growing on your ceiling, your attic is constantly hot and humid, there’s a sunken in section you can’t ignore anymore, or maybe it’s just simply not up to par with the neighborhood appeal. Whatever happened to make you consider a roofing remodel, what matters is that there’s no easy solution, and problems will compound until a proper, professional re-roofing is completed.

Should I hire a professional?

Not all home improvement tasks are created equally; and a job that requires climbing on top of a building, walking on a slanted surface that isn’t intended to be walked on, and perfectly assembling and sealing every single inch of a material is more daunting than most. Even if you know what it is about your roof you want to improve or repair, the abundance of solutions and contractors available can be enough to just put the project off until next spring. Unfortunately, putting it off until next spring will not give you the outcome you’re looking for.

What kind of roof is best for me?

The best roof for your house is mainly determined by climate and weather patterns. Some materials have a longer life expectancy in certain climates than others, but any roof will eventually live its life and need to be replaced. Using cheaper materials or simply shingling over an existing roof can keep costs down, but only a trained and insured roofer will know what is best for the conditions around your home. As a perk, an Energy Star rated material will cut down your air conditioning bill by 10-15%.


Asphalt shingles are cheap, popular, easy to install, and come in a variety of colors. They do have a shorter lifespan than other materials at only 20 years and don’t offer as much insulation as other options, but they are the most common roof for suburban architecture and some high quality asphalt shingles are reinforced with fiberglass or cellulose to improve durability and insulation. Asphalt is one of the materials that will allow algae growth, but if it’s especially bad in your area, then something to consider is algae-resistant asphalt infused with tiny scraps of copper.


Metal has been an unconventional choice for homeowners but new options have made it worth giving another look. It will last 40-75 years, is recyclable, extremely durable, lightweight, and is the best material for reflecting the sun. One of the downsides is that the paint will wear over time, but metal panels are designed to be able to be repainted, which is cheaper than starting over from scratch. The unmatched structural strength of metal means you will never have to worry about snow build-up or a stray branch damaging your roof again.


You’ll instantly recognize these tiles from any Mediterranean or Spanish Colonial-style architecture. The red hue, the whimsical wavy pattern–you can’t miss it. They’re popular in the Southwest because of the excellent fire resistance and will last up to 50 years with proper maintenance. If you are looking to recreate this regional look, you’ll want to be sure your roof’s frame can handle the heavier weight of clay.


A legacy material, wood shingles and shakes were the main product used for centuries. Obviously they aren’t intended to excel at fire prevention, but new fire-resistant shingles get treated with a coating to solve that. With a 30 year expectancy they don’t compare well in lifespan and some fire codes don’t even allow them, but a rustic cottage or Tudor just wouldn’t feel right without this iconic look.


Slate is expensive, heavy, wildly labor-intensive to install, can’t even be walked on by non-professionals, and not all professional roofers are capable of working with it. The answer to why anyone would even consider slate though, is found after just one look at its absolutely breathtaking elegance. Slate gets good marks in fire protection, amount of maintenance required, and has a complete invulnerability to rot and insects. But where it really earns its price is its lifespan. Good slate can last over 100 years and can even be reclaimed from an old house and reused.

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