Replacing a roof can be one of the most important decisions a homeowner will have to make about their home.
A roof replacement is certainly not the most glamorous of home improvements. Most people would much rather remodel their kitchen or bathroom than plan a new roofing project.
Though it may not be as fun as some of the interior areas of your home, no component is more important than the roof over your head. It’s literally what keeps you and your family safe from the wind, rain & snow!
There are many decisions to make when planning to have a new roof installed. The most important decision is hiring the right roofing contractor to do the work. You’ll want to make sure the company you choose is licensed, insured and has a great reputation in the industry.
After finding the right roofing contractor, the next most important decisions you’ll need to be making will be deciding which specific materials you’ll want to have installed on your roof.
Here, we’ll break down each of the major types of roofing materials, in the order in which they are installed on a new roof and lay out the benefits and any potential drawbacks of each.
Like any big decision you make with your home, it is important to weigh all the factors of each of the options and make the best choice for your budget, your style, your home and, most importantly, your family.
The vast majority of the population in New Jersey will choose to go with an asphalt shingle roof. Yes, there are other materials that can be used like metal, slate & cedar shakes but they are much more expensive and don’t provide any more in terms of life expectancy.
The main two types of asphalt shingles are 3-tab shingles & architectural shingles. 3-tab shingles have been around for many decades and have a flat rectangular appearance and fairly uniform colors.
3-tab shingled roofs were typically expected to last about 20 years. These shingles are still produced and used today but most people and builders nowadays are moving more and more towards architectural shingles.
After the type of asphalt shingles is decided on, you’ll want to decide on which manufacturer or brand you’ll want to be using.
Some of the major manufacturers are:
Prices will vary and quality can be debated but it’s important to use the same manufacturer as much as possible for the singles as well as all of the other roofing components that get installed underneath.
These other components include ice & water shield, underlayment, starter shingles, ridge vent and ridge cap shingles.
Ice & water shield is an essential component on a new roof in Southern New Jersey.
It is a fiberglass reinforced leak barrier that gets installed directly onto the plywood at all eaves (areas above your gutters), valleys, roof/wall intersections and around any protrusions like chimneys & vent pipes.
Ice & water shield protects these vulnerable areas of a roof and prevents damage caused by ice damming.
Ice damming occurs when there is snow on a roof that melts from the heat loss from a home rather than the sun. The water from the melted snow re-freezes at the gutters and forms an ice dam. As the water continues to melt and hit the ice dam, it gets backed up and gets underneath the shingles.
Without ice & water shield, ice damming can cause major damage to a roof.
Drip edge is an essential roof component that many contractors often skip.
Drip edge protects water from curling underneath shingles and getting absorbed into the edge of the plywood underneath. Drip edge also gives the perimeter of the roof a clean, finished look.
When choosing drip edge, white is usually preferred to match other white trim, but brown can also be used if there is brown trim on the home.
Starter course shingles are important to install around the perimeter of the roof before installing the shingles.
If no starter course is used, the shingles become subject to being lifted up by winds and allowing in moisture from rain.
It is important to use real starter course shingles as opposed to just using another shingle underneath the first course because starter shingles have more adhesive, lie flatter and are less wasteful than using regular shingles.
Roofing underlayment can be a water-resistant or waterproof roofing material that is installed directly onto your home’s roof.
It’s applied under all other roofing materials as an added layer of protection from severe weather.
In our part of New Jersey, we recommend a synthetic material that is waterproof since the storms can be so fierce. A material derived from paper is the natural choice, but it can rip, so for us it’s not always the best option for our customers.
Ridge vents are a critical design component of any home’s roof when snow can be expected in the winter.
The purpose of ridge vents is to control air flow from the bottom of the roof and allow it to exit from the top. Hot air in the attic forms pressure and won’t allow outside air without a vent.
Some shingle manufacturers don’t offer a full warranty when their products are used over an unvented roof so it’s an easy decision to make once you’ve chosen your shingles.
The ridge cap shingles are specially designed to cover the angles on the top of your home or at pronounced edges. They provide style and add a layer of protection of the main layer of shingles.
New roofs with architectural shingles need ridge cap shingles but the high winds near the coast of Southern New Jersey make the decision to add ridge cap shingles smart too.
On older roofs, contractors used to cup up 3-tab shingles, but this method did not hold up well over time. Today specialized ridge cap shingles are built to withstand the high winds over the long term.