A roof is much more than simply decoration. Your home's roof is the first defense against damage caused by sun, rain and every other type of weather. When a roof begins to fail, leaks develop which, in addition to being annoying, can lead to severe structural damage if left alone. In this article, we'll take a quick look at some new trends in the industry, new materials and the latest in "green" roofing techniques. We'll also review some simple guidelines to ensure that you hire a reputable roofer.
There are several types of roofs which can be called "green". One of these is an eye-catching sod roof. Installing this roof...which is literally a growing expanse of grass...is not inexpensive, but there are many benefits. Over time, many owners of sod roofs report that they enjoy lower utility bills (due to the density of the roofing material), better air quality inside their home and even a discount on certain taxes (this varies by region). Additional benefits include a longer life for your roof, as green roofs don't wear out in the same ways or as quickly as traditional roofs do. A roof of this type can also drastically increase the resale value of your home. Sod roofs certainly aren't for everybody, but they're something to consider if you're truly dedicated to living green.
Even if you don't take any dramatic "green" steps, you'll want to take advantage of the new energy-efficient roofing materials available today. From the timbers and beams supporting your roof to the shingles which finish it off, green options are widely available. You'll see sustainable wood, materials created using energy-efficient methods, and materials designed to make your home more energy-efficient.
Different Types of Roofing
In most areas, the most prevalent type of roofing is composed of some type of shingle or tile. A tile is made of ceramic and is rot-resistant, although it is very brittle. Due to this lack of strength, ceramic tile roofing is not as popular as it once was.
Shingles can be made of many different materials. Wood, asbestos, slate and asphalt-covered paper have all been used. Due to the danger of fire, wood and paper-based shingles have fallen out of favor. Asbestos, of course, is now known to be very hazardous and is no longer used. The materials of choice in modern roofing are asphalt, synthetic slate and fiberglass. Synthetic slate is a polymer which can be made to resemble nearly any material desired, while retaining a very high degree of safety and durability.
These newer shingle materials have many advantages. They are heavier then shingles of years past, making them much less likely to become dislodged by high winds or heavy rains. They are also resistant to a common form of algae which can result in unsightly black streaks. You many have noticed this streaking on your own roof, or the roofs of your neighbors. While experts have differing opinions on whether or not this algae growth is detrimental to the strength of the roof, everybody can agree on the ugliness of its appearance. Newer shingles contain compounds which make them much less hospitable homes for this algae.
Fire resistance is more important in some areas than others, but it's something that every homeowner should take into consideration. Even if you don't' live in an area where wildfires are common, you can still suffer devastating fire damage if a stray spark from your chimney, or a neighbor's chimney, lands on your roof and ignites shingles or dried leaves. Constructing your roof from shingles which are fire-resistant is a great step to take, ensuring that if a spark does land on your roof, it will die out without causing a fire.
New Weather-Related Considerations
In recent years, severe weather has caused excessive insurance claims due to damaged or missing roofs. This has led to new ratings in the world of weather-resistant roofing. While some consider these new regulations a hassle, you should look at them as a bonus. They may cost more initially to comply with, but if severe weather should strike, you'll be glad you paid the money for a more durable roof.
Hurricanes, tornadoes and hail can do some truly devastating things to the roof of a house. The most extreme cases, of course, involve wind speeds which literally rip the roofs off houses. It's a myth that only cheaply-made trailer homes are subject to this phenomenon; if a storm is severe enough, it can rip off even a well-made roof from a strong, stable home.
Lesser damage is often seen in missing or damaged shingles. While this can seem merely annoying at first, these missing shingles are weak spots in your roof. Over time, they can lead to leaks, which can allow water inside and cause severe damage.
If you live in an area which receives a significant amount of snow each year, ask your contractor if you need additional strength added to a traditional roofing structure. Cave-ins from snow weight are rare, but when they happen they are devastating. Ensure that your roof is properly designed for the average amount of snowfall your area receives each winter.
Don't fall for the myth that your location makes you immune to weather-related damage. While it's true that homes in areas which are prone to hurricanes or wildfires or tornadoes are more likely to experience this damage, dangerous weather can occur anywhere.
Finding the Right Contractor for You
Using the home-improvement website which have become so popular in recent years, you're likely to find a large number of roofers in your area. So how do you pick the right one? Especially in larger areas, the number of potential roofers can seem almost overwhelming. However, if you follow a few simple steps, you can make the decision a simple one.
Know exactly what you want done before you contact a roofing professional. This will help to narrow down your search. For example, if you want to go green and use only the most energy-efficient materials available, you'll want to look for a roofer with experience in this area. On the other hand, if money is tight, as is the case for so many people these days, a roofing professional with experience in low-budget roofing will be a great help to you.
Ensure that any roofer you consider is properly licensed and insured. Licensing ensures that the roofer will comply with all applicable laws and regulations. Insurance lets you know that the roofer is concerned with safety. If an injury should occur, it ensures that the injured worker will be treated properly, and it also ensure that you won't be liable for any medical bills.
Read all the consumer reviews you can find before making a decision. These first-hand accounts of a roofer's work ethic and overall work quality can be invaluable. Everybody has bad days occasionally, but a record of less-than-satisfied customers should be a red flag. If you see that a roofer you're considering has more negative reviews than positive ones, take it as an indication to look elsewhere.
Once you have a smaller number of potential roofers, talk to each of them. Get an estimate, while keeping in mind that sometimes nobody can control how long a roofing job will take to complete. Weather plays a very large role in the length of any outdoor project. Beware of estimates which are either extraordinarily high or low. A low estimate may sound great, but be aware that many disreputable contractors use low estimates as a trick. They have no intention of completing the job for anywhere near the figure they've quoted you. This is another instance where consumer reviews can help you find honest workmen.
Hire based on your research, your desired end result, and your instincts. A conversation with each contractor, discussing what you want from your roof, can help you determine whether or not you will work well together. While it's true that you won't be an active part of the roofing job, any home project is simpler and more pleasant if everybody involved gets along. Finding a roofer you trust and like can make the process of installing your new roof a much more pleasant one.
Key Hiring Tips
Hiring a contractor is an important decision so it is best to get all the information you can on each company. This includes checking references, insurance and licensing information. On a larger project a designer or architect is required in order to get the permits. Smaller projects still require a plan and the job will turn out great with the a little organization.