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What Are the Elements of a Good Roof Installation? – Part 1

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To most consumers looking at a roof installation estimate, it may seem simple.  It’s just replacing old shingles, right?  Shingles are shingles, so I’m just going to go with the lowest price.

Well, there’s a lot that goes into a good roof installation.  Let's look at the many different elements that leave you with a positive experience and a safe and secure home.

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1. A Licensed Contractor with Insurance

A good roof installation starts with hiring a professional who knows what they’re doing.  When you hire a contractor, they should be able to produce both a local business license, and most importantly, a state contractor's license, and be able to show they are bonded and carry both general liability and workers compensation insurance.

A professional roofing contractor will be happy you asked for these documents and certainly happy to get you a copy.  Another thing to look for is if the roofing contractor you are hiring is a certified installer for a particular manufacturer.

This means they are trained and certified to install the material and will be able to register a warranty with the manufacturer once the job is complete. (Pro-Tip – Also check social media reviews like Google, Facebook, Nextdoor, and even the BBB.  Most homeowners are going to tell you how it is!)

2. Protecting Your Home, Inside and Out

The number one complaint about roofing is the big mess it creates and the damage it can do to landscaping, siding, gutters, window screens, and outside condensing units.  When removing the old shingles, it’s extremely important to protect all the aspects of the exterior of the home with tarps, plywood, ladder stand-offs, and even heavy-duty mesh that allows plants and grass to breathe, especially during the hot summer months. 

However, an often-over-looked area to protect from shingle debris removal is the attic.  Removing or covering items stored in the attic is important because many roof decks have gaps from 1/8” and larger between the boards, and when the old roofing material is removed, granules and debris from the old roof fall in-between those gaps and into the attic areas and make for a huge mess and cleanup job in the attic. 

Protecting the attic areas and the items in it will go a long way to making sure the cleanup in the attic after the new roof is installed goes much smoother.

PRO-TIP: Keep an eye on any HVAC, plumbing or electrical lines that be may installed too close to the roof decking.  Sometimes if those lines are installed too close to the roof decking, during the re-roofing process, a nail may hit an air conditioning line, plumbing line or electrical line if it’s installed to close to the roof decking.

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3. A Roof Installation is more than just new shingles

The best way to approach a roof installation is to remove everything to the bare roof decking and start all over again.  Most local building codes allow one extra layer of shingles to be installed over the original layer.  Although this may save a little money, it may not always be the best idea. 

If it’s the original layer of roofing on the house, a new construction installation is typically bare-bones, and may not include all the right underlayment and flashing details in the right locations to make sure the roof performs well over time.

4. Repairing or Replacing Roof Decking

A good and solid nailing surface is often one of the most overlooked aspects of a good roof installation.  If the roof decking is not in good shape, nailing a brand-new roof system to bad decking is going to reap very poor long-term results.  Once all the old roofing material is removed, examine the roof decking, and replace any bad roof decking material where needed. 

A typical home that just has one layer of shingles may incur a few hundred dollars in wood replacement of either boards or planks that need to be replaced.  Just as important is always making sure the existing roof decking planks or boards are nailed securely to the rafters of the house.  The roof material removal process of prying the material off the roof decking often times loosens the roof decking fasteners from the original rafters of the house. 

It’s important to make sure than not only bad roof decking is replaced, but that all the roof decking is examined, and that all loose nails are removed, and that the entire roof decking is nailed securely to the rafters of the house.  In some instances, the roof decking is so bad, all the roof decking needs to be replaced, or a thin layer of plywood or OSB is laid over and fastened to the original decking.

5. A Quality Shingle System

Most material manufacturers have a complete roof system to install which includes not only quality shingles, but synthetic underlayment, leak barriers, starter shingles, ridge cap shingles, and ventilation options.  It’s important to install the full manufactures recommended roof system, because all these components go together like a recipe for the roof system to perform well for its complete lifecycle.

Leak Barrier

The first thing to be installed on the roof is the leak barrier that goes into all the critical areas and transition points where roofs typically leak, such as the valleys, roof penetrations, and roof to wall transitions.

Underlayment

A good synthetic underlayment is installed as a secondary layer of protection if shingles ever blow off or water gets under the shingles. 

Starter Shingles

Starter shingles are installed at the rakes at the eaves of the house to provide secondary support and extra wind resistance protection. It is critical that the shingles are installed on the roof with correct spacing and nail patterns. 

Attic Ventilation

Fifth, attic ventilation is installed such as ridge vents, turbines, powered exhaust or gable vents and even solar fans. (Pro Tip – Did you know that intake ventilation is just as important if not more important that exhaust ventilation. 

If there is no air coming into the attic, there will be no air coming out to circulate or exhaust.  Also, do not combine two different kinds of ventilation.  More ventilation does not mean better ventilation. This is called short-circuiting the ventilation system, and leaves you with literally no ventilation).

What's Next for My Roof Installation?

There are many different elements that go into a proper roof installation. Whether you are in need of repair, replacement, or just have questions. You can speak with a professional about your roofing, gutter, or siding needs. Please contact us or schedule a free estimate

Continue to Part 2 of "What Are the Elements of a Good Roofing Installation?" >

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