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Installing a New Roof: The Systems Beneath Your Shingles

When it comes to installing a new roof, many homeowners believe it’s as simple as throwing a few new shingles on top of your old ones. Believe it or not, the process of installing a new roof is a bit more complex. Your roof has drainage systems, ventilation systems, membranes, and waterproofing barriers beneath all those shingles. 

Your roof has a big job on its hands: protecting your home from all sorts of weather and debris; providing insulation to help conserve energy; and enhancing the overall curb appeal of your property! When it comes time to install a new roof, you want to be sure all of your roof’s systems are being checked as well. 

DIY or Don’t You Dare? 

While you can install a new roof yourself, you should be aware of both the physical demands and the overall complexity of the process. Installing a new roof is hard work. Are you afraid of heights? Are you able to get your roofing materials to the top of your house? Are you aware of how much weight your trusses can handle? Do you have means of discarding your old roof? 

If you’ve answered “No” to any of those questions, you might be better off hiring a professional. After all, installing a new roof is not something you want to have to re-do. In the end, it’s best to research different companies and find a roofing crew that fits your needs. Some things are better left in the hands of specially trained professionals.

Overlay vs. Tear Off:

When it comes to roof installation, there are two methods: Overlay and Tear Off. While the overlay method (installing new shingles on top of old ones) is cost-effective and time-saving, it is not the same thing as installing a new roof. Although this roof installation method seems the easier option, there are plenty of cons to think about:

  • Lifespan. When you install new shingles on top of your old ones, the new shingles won’t last quite as long as their natural lifetime, because extra heat builds up and is trapped by the multiple layers.
  • Weight. Installing a second layer of shingles adds quite a bit of weight to the structure of your home. You want to be sure this extra weight won’t compromise the structural integrity of your roof or your house’s support system.
  • Aesthetic. Installing new shingles on top of old ones is like putting up new wallpaper on top of old, worn, damaged wallpaper. Without having a clean slate, you run the risk of having a new roof that is not level and generally not as attractive as a brand new roof would be.
  • Value. Choosing this method of roof installation can have a negative effect on the resale value of your home.
  • Leaks. If water gets into your new roof, it can travel between the layers and come out in an entirely different area than where the leak originated. This makes it difficult to find the original leak and fix it in a timely manner.
  • Condition. The condition of the decking of your roof is difficult to check with this installation method. If something is leaking, rotting, or otherwise in need of attention, you might not find out about it until later, and the cost of fixing these issues can outweigh the savings of choosing this roof installation method.
  • Replacement. Initially, overlay roof installation is cost effective and takes less time. But eventually, the entire roof will need to be replaced. When that time comes, you will have two layers of roofing to remove, so this option for roof installation will probably cost you more in the long run.

The tear-off method is what you’ll be looking at if you are installing a new roof. Though it is more expensive and time-consuming, it is also the best investment for your new roof installation. This method adds value to your property, which is a major selling point when the time comes to sell. This new roof installation allows you the chance to see any damages to your roof that might need to be fixed, giving you a clean slate for your brand new roof. The quality of the roof is also increased because you aren’t putting new shingles on top of worn ones, meaning your new roof will last longer. With the tear-off method, you and your roofers can ensure the roofing systems in place –like air circulation and water protection– are in top working condition!

Installing a new roof is a big endeavor, so it’s important to know exactly what you’re getting into and what all of your options are for the process.

Choosing Your Roofing Material:

A quick internet search will result in lists upon lists of various roofing materials. It can get overwhelming. You want to find a roofing material that will fit your budget and your property. While metal roofs and roofing felt are on the easier side of roof installation, their lifespans aren’t quite as long as some other roofing options. Whereas polymer modified shingles are a great choice if you’re looking for a flexible, durable, affordable roofing material. Here’s a list of some popular roof choices for residential roof installation:

  • Wood Shakes or Shingles. Expensive but attractive, these shingles are long lasting. However, they are not the best choice for areas with greater risk of fire.
  • Asphalt Composition Shingles. The most popular roofing material, given their low-cost and easy accessibility. Although not as attractive as other roofing materials, they are definitely the most popular.
  • Metal Roofing. Being fireproof and long lasting has made metal roofing a popular option in roof installation in recent years. Although initially expensive (and requiring specialty contractors for installation), their long lifespan makes them a good choice for the long run.
  • Standard Slate Roofing. This roofing material is very attractive, but it comes at a cost. Not only is slate roofing an expensive option, but it is also a heavy option, which adds stress to the structure of your home. They can also be dangerously slippery, making damages difficult to repair.
  • Composition Slate Roofing. This synthetic and eco-friendly roofing material is made of 95% recycled materials (including rubber). And, though they provide the look of slate and stone, they are surprisingly light and less vulnerable to damages.
  • Clay/Ceramic Tiles. Popular for its Spanish-style look, these red tile roofs are common throughout many of the warmer regions of the U.S because of their fire-retardant abilities. However, there are now other roofing materials out there which resemble the Spanish aesthetic and durability without the added weight of a traditional clay or ceramic tile.

Budgeting Your Roof Installation:

There are a lot of factors that affect the cost of installing a roof. The choice of roofing material, choice of roofing contractor, the steepness (or pitch) of your roof, and the overall square footage of your roof combine to determine the actual cost of installing a new roof. You also must consider the cost of permit fees, disposal, demolition, and cleanup.

Something you might consider to potentially help reduce the cost of installing a new roof is off-season work. Roofing season throughout the U.S. is typically from late spring until early fall. However, some crews are able to extend their working season, and the lack of demand during these times can mean savings for you! You’ll want to find a highly skilled crew who can work in hours (not days) so they can take full advantage of good weather conditions.

The Process:

Now that you’ve established the type of roof you want to install, and the general cost, it’s time to get an idea of the general process. Even though you are hiring professionals, it never hurts to know about the process. A greater understanding of roof installation can even help you determine which roofing crew you want to choose!  

New Roof Installation:

Whatever roofers you choose to install a new roof will probably follow a process like this: 

  1. Start Fresh: Remove all old shingles and place them in a dumpster. Valley flashing and drip edging (the parts of your roof that lead water to the gutters) are removed as well. Repair any damages to the roof. New plywood sheathing or sheathing boards might be used at this time to make larger repairs to the roof decking.
  2. Phase One: Install your underlayment, either an ice guard membrane (a synthetic and waterproof barrier made to stop melting ice/snow from pooling under your shingles) or asphalt roofing paper over the roof decking. These add a layer of protection against water damage.
  3. Phase Two: Install new valley flashing (over joints) and drip edging (around the edges) over the roofing paper. Replace old valley flashing where needed. Seal with roofing caulk
  4. Phase Three: Install ridge vent (the vent at the peak of your roof which provides air circulation) or gable vents to help your attic “breathe,” and reduce buildup of hot air and preventing winter ice dams. Install tab shingles, working from the eaves up toward the peak. Install flashing around ALL areas that might leak (skylights, chimneys, vents, etc.)
  5. Complete and Clean: Apply roofing adhesive around exposed nails to create a watertight seal. This protects the nails and helps them stand up against violent weather conditions. Clean up remaining debris. Let your new roof dry and enjoy!

Yes, installing a new roof can seem overwhelming at first. With numerous options for materials, different methods of installation, and the general size of the project, it’s definitely no small task to install a new roof. However, with the right roofing crew and an idea of what to expect during the roof installation process, you can rest easy knowing your roof and its systems are working their best to keep your home protected and attractive! 

At Honest Abe Roofing, we will take the time to inspect your roof and make sure it is installed correctly with only the best, most reliable materials. Contact Honest Abe Roofing today and Never Roof Again!

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