- Home Improvement
Roof Shingles Installation Advice
Considering installing roof shingles yourself? You can save a lot of money over hiring a professional roofing contractor if you have the skills, time and resources to do this job yourself.
If you don’t feel comfortable about taking on this type of project, you’ll get some tips below to help you make the job go more smoothly.
There are a lot of good roof repair professionals around but it can be really disappointing if you wind up hiring a poor one.
Roof repairs can be done by most homeowners if they have adequate tools, a safety plan and a little bit of guidance. If you are afraid of heights or if attempting a repair project of this magnitude scares you, just relax and decide to hire a professional. As a safety precaution, homeowners shouldn’t attempt repairing any roof higher than a one floor ranch.
Save Yourself Some Money
If saving money is important to you, you’ll be happy to learn that you can pocket 1/2 to 2/3 the price that professional roofers give you. No, most roofers aren’t trying to rip you off. The high cost of running a business forces contractors to pass those overhead expenses on to you, the homeowner.
Just about every state requires contractors to carry an adequate workman’s compensation policy for their workers in the event that they fall or get hurt. Some municipalities make contractors pay for building or remodeling permits and an annual license fee. To qualify for licenses and permits, a contractor will usually have to show proof of adequate liability insurance coverage.
More expenses that a company has to pass onto you are, a secretary’s weekly paycheck, telephone bills, the cost of Yellow Page ads, rental expense for their office and warehouse, installers paychecks, payroll and unemployment taxes, workers medical insurance premiums, pension plans and vacation pay for employees. Most of these costs that are burdened upon a professional are not required by you if you do the job yourself. This is all money you can save by installing this job yourself.
Read on for some practical tips that will guide you along whether you decide to do this work yourself or if you plan on paying a pro.
Gable Style Roof
Which Roofing Shingles Should You Buy?
Which Roofing Shingles Should You Buy?
Whether you hire a pro or decide to do the job yourself, you will still want to take time to decide what color, style and type of roofing shingles you want to install on your home. The price versus the product manufacturers warranty is also a very important consideration.
Types of Shingles
Roofing shingles come in a large variety of styles and colors. Different manufacturers will offer different styles, colors and color blending. Each company tries to offer products that are somewhat different than competitors so they can have somewhat exclusive products.
Start at the large home improvement stores like Lowe’s and Home Depot. They will have color and style board displays of most of the products they carry. If you visit the contractors desk, you may even find other colors and varieties that are not displayed because they are special order products. If a particular color or look is important to you, this may be a worthwhile stop.
Other places to shop for materials would be listed in the local phone book yellow pages. Certain suppliers listed here may be wholesale only. The suppliers listed in the yellow pages are probably some of the ones that local roofers buy from. You can always just tell them that you are a professional roofing contractor and they might just give you a discount.
In general, shingles will come in 3 tab design which is most common, asphalt shakes which imitate wooden cedar shakes, asphalt with shadow lines to imitate the look of slate tiles and architectural grade products. Architectural grade materials are usually thicker and come with longer warranties.
Choosing Roofing Contractors
There are several ways to find professional roofing contractors who are both experienced and credible.
One way is to go on the Better Business Bureau web site and do a search for roofers in your area. One thing to remember though; just because a company belongs to the Better Business Bureau, doesn’t mean that they are the one you should completely trust. Although this is a first good start, you’ll eventually want to check potential companies further before deciding to hire any particular one.
Another good place to find some reputable installers is by asking the building department of your local home improvement store. They can give you names of some of the larger and more established companies.
Your local town’s building and licensing department can give you a list of licensed roofers in your municipality.
You can ask for contractor referrals from any of your friends or neighbors who have had this type of work done in the past. The last choice is also an obvious one; your local phone book yellow page listings.
Ash each company that you are considering for a free estimate and a list of their credentials. You’ll want to know how long they have been in business and names, addresses and phone numbers of at least 10 different customers in your area. Ask for a Certificate of Insurance from them. This is your ultimate protection if accidents happen or in something goes wrong. Make sure that their liability insurance covers completed operations. This insurance covers you after the installation is complete.
When you’ve narrowed your list down to just a few, check each one out with the Better Business Bureau, State Office of Consumer Protection ( State Attorney General’s Office) and with the past customer reference names they supplied you with. Lastly, drive by a few of their jobs to make sure that you think that their work looks professional
You will quickly learn that the price of the materials you are looking at rise and lower according to the length of the manufacturer’s warranties being offered.
When you consider that your largest expense will be for labor and contractor overhead, if you go with a professional or that your greatest personal time and effort will go into the installation process, it is your best buy to go with the product that carries the longest product warranty available.
Why go through the time, effort and expense replacing your roof again in another 15 years when you can buy a better product that is warranted for 30 years or even 50 years? The money you’ll save by buying cheap shingles that don’t last very long will be offset by the money it cost you next time for a new roof installation.
Are Labor and Materials Both Covered?
Read through each manufacturer’s warranty very carefully.
Read your document carefully to see if installation and repair labor is included in their warranty. This is an extremely important consideration.
Some warranties will require that you use one of “their” certified and trained installers. Other manufacturers will require that you hire an established roofing contractor with a certain minimum number of years in business. Some warranties will ask to provide proof of the above credentials before honoring your warranty. Consider these type clauses carefully before deciding on which manufacturer you plan to buy from and whether you or your contractors meet their requirements.
The roofer himself should also provide you with a warranty on labor. This is usually a completely separate document from the product manufacturer’s warranty. Read this also to see what is covered, not covered and for how long. It is unlikely that your labor warranty from the installer, will match the length of the manufacturers product warranty.
Installing Roof Shingles
Some of these recommendations are necessary whether you plan to do the work yourself or are hiring a pro.
Tools and Supplies Needed
You will need at least 2 ladders high enough to reach safely above the eves.
Ladder jacks and planks to set your ice dam membrane, starter course and first few courses near the edge.
Angled brackets to hold footing planks on the roof deck.
Hammers or an air nail gun, pry bars, utility knives, tape measures, carpenters square and assorted hand tools.
Safety equipment is a must. Check your local suppliers or online stores for safety harnesses and hooks that allow you to secure your rope or cable around a strong fireplace or eves edge. A retractable harness is great because you can adjust the rope length as needed to move about the job as it proceeds.
Should You Tear Off the Old Shingles?
If the old shingle edges are buckled, cracked or curled up, they are probable too brittle to go over without tearing off the old shingling.
Another concern that would prompt tearing off the old materials is if you need any rotted or damaged boards repaired. The nice part about asking several companies to come in and give you a free inspection and estimate is that you can get a lot of useful information for free. If they tell you that part of your roof needs to be repaired, ask them to show you which parts. This will be useful information when dealing with other companies of if you decide to do the work yourself.
If you have two or more layers of shingling on your roof already, tear the old layers off because your combined weight of adding a third layer could cause collapse.
Some companies won’t shingle-over existing shingles. A good reason is because the finished job won’t look as flat and neat as a brand new installation from scratch.
Ice Dam Membranes
Add rubberized ice dam membrane at least 3 feet up from the roofs edge. 5 or 6 feet up is bets. This will help prevent ice dams in the wintertime. This will add some expense but it is well worth it.
Installing the Roof Shingles
Depending on which type shingles you buy and each manufacturers recommendations, ask your distributer for the manufacturers installation instructions. Many times these instructions are preprinted on the bundles of shingles.
It is best to follow the manufacturers installation instructions because each product may have different set backs to start each row, nailing patterns, etc.
Ridge Vent Installation
If your home doesn’t have a ridge vet at the very top of your roof, it is best to install one before adding your top caps. Depending on the product you buy, you can generally cut a 2 or 3 inch strip of wood away on both top edges. This will allow hot and humid air from the attic to escape. This will make your roof last longer. The ridge vent material gets nailed over this opening and the top course of shingles on the roof will complete the installation.
Whether you take on this project yourself or not, you can use your knowledge to assure a great finish to your job. If you decide to hire a professional, you’ll feel better from all the homework you did in trusting your contractors roofing ability.