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Roofing Materials better be Waterproof.

Updated on April 3, 2015
Roof waterproof underlayment in place.
Roof waterproof underlayment in place.

Improved Roofing Materials

by George Bogosian

"Up on the Roof" and other sing along tunes!

Roofing is just not one of those subjects that get us going, but it can keep us up at night if your roof is leaking! There are some new products out there and you need to pay attention if you're putting new roofing on your existing home or on a new home.

The biggest improvement in roofing has been the use of various self-adhering modified bitumen (rubberized) underlayment membranes with or without a granular surface. "You don't say!" Don't stop reading here, it gets better!? Tamko Company calls it "Moisture Guard". Grace Company calls it "Grace Basik Shield". Some of these products have a granular surface, while others do not. Grace calls its non-granular surface product "Ice & Water Shield". The main use of these products is to prevent damage caused by ice damming, driving rains and leaks created through nail holes. All low-sloped areas over heated spaces should be entirely covered with this type of product. It works by creating a seal around a nail that is applied through its surface that is holding down shingles. So when shingles are nailed over this product, the underlayment material will seal that nail hole. This product is great for a flat adds extra protection. Good thinking guys! Normal asphalt-fiberglass shingles will not seal a nail in place. When used properly the product becomes a god sent. It's the biggest deterrent to roof ice dams. Water may still get up under the shingles because of a ice dam but the water will then roll down on top of the bitumen product.

The non-granular material is more flexible and will follow the contours, i.e. around wall and roof connections, with “some" degree of ease. It is also about 30% more expensive than the asphalt-covered products. One of these products is now normally used at the eaves of the roof, at the valleys, around skylights and windows. The non-granular product needs some experience to use in warm to hot temperatures. If the product sticks to itself, it cannot be pulled apart. In the early days I have seen large balls of this product on the ground thrown there by the frustration of first-time users. There are some tricks, so follow directions (which is not the same as asking for directions!). The product comes in 75' rolls and 12", 18" and 36" widths. Many Architects are calling for its use on the entire house. The product can solve many potential leak problems. Goodbye felt paper!

I believe this is a must product for any new roof. How much and where to use is up to the builder or homeowner. It's worth its weight!

Roofing shingles are now made of either fiberglass or asphalt material with different thicknesses adding to the quality or longevity and cost of the product. Metal roofing has creates other options and there are some that look like traditional roofing materials. Roof repair allows an opportunity to to put some exterior roof insulation to improve the R-value of the roof system. Be sure to speak with a number of roofing contractors and get some comparative pricing.

The conventional 3-tab shingle comes with a 20, 25, 30, 40, and even 50-year limited warranty with each progress having its price increase. A 30-50 year shingle is the standard. Most shingles now come in what's called "blended" colors. Instead of being a solid brown, black, etc., they will consist of a range of the color chosen. There is quite an extensive palette of colors to choose from these days so it's easy to find something that compliments your house colors. It's an effect that adds some texture to the roof system. These shingles are available with or without the 3-tab system.

For more texture, there are the architectural shingles styles.

These shingles are a double or triple layer shingle to give the effect of wood shingling. They are most popular because of the extra look of texture they create. Installation is slightly easier because they only come without tabs.

Are we confused yet?

Another choice is to use wood cedar shakes. Delightful and expensive to purchase and install. The are labor intensive to apply. These days they can be applied over a material that allows air to flow behind them. This replaces the old strapping method that was needed to create air space and nailing surface. A fire retardant material needs to be applied to make them safe.

All these shingle styles are personal choices with one style not outweighing the others when it comes to keeping the water out of your house. The life of the shingle is based on the warranty, the pitch of the roof, (shallow pitches not lasting as long as steep pitches) and the weather conditions for your area. Lots of sun and high temperatures dry out the shingles and will lessen their longevity.

George's tip of the month:

Remove old shingles before installing new shingles. There is no two-layer rule! The new shingles will last longer because they lay flatter. Also, most warranties are void if you don't remove old shingles. It also gives the roofers an opportunity to refasten or replace sections of the old roof substructure if it is needed. Refastening with today's nail guns make the job quick and easy and secures the roof for the next generation.

Depending on your choices the going cost is around $225 per square (100'X100') to apply 50-year shingles. To remove and discard old shingles and apply new is around $350 per square. Other considerations that affect the costs are the complexity or simplicity of your roof. Disposal costs need to be considered, shingles are heavy, whether new or old.

Metal roofing is making a fashion and maintenance statement these days. Standing seam metal roofing have hidden fasteners and comes in many baked on color options. It's a job for professionals and its making its way onto many homes these days. Many DIYers (do it yourself) can handle the job, but more complexity probably requires some professional help. Metal roofs come in a variety or styles; metal shake, metal shingle/slate, metal tile and the one most of us see the vertical panel. Metal roofs will cost twice the cost of asphalt/fiberglass shingle but will last 40 to 60 years plus. Most new asphalt shingles have a 50 year warranty. This compares in price with tile or cedar shake roof systems. Type in "metal roofs" in your computers search engine to view varies styles. Some new “metal” roofs are designed to look like shingles. From the ground you would be hard pressed to know it was a metal roof.

There is really no maintenance with roof shingles so you pay up front for the quality and look with this product. They're meant to last from 20 to 50 years, so do some homework and make a choice that you'll be happy living with for a very long time.

OK everyone, lets sing the chorus one more time, “Up on the roof”!

Up on the Roof

A little help from our friends.
A little help from our friends.

Waterproof underlayment for roofs.


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