One of the first things noticed on a house is the roof. Chances are that the average age of older roofs in Lake and Sumter Counties is about 20 years. In other areas of the country, the lifespans of roofs are much longer.
However, in Florida, a combination of harsh tropical weather and unreasonable replacement standards set by insurance companies who want to minimize hurricane exposure is forcing homeowners to replace roofs sooner. Roof replacements are rare events for most homeowners and a lot has probably changed since the last time the roof was replaced on your older home.
Because of changes in technology, building codes and material offerings, homeowners should be wary about paying a roofing contractor to install the same roof with the same method used 20 years ago. Here are the five big changes in roofing since your older roof was originally installed.
The first big change is the quality of roofing shingles. Twenty years ago, 3-tab strip shingles were used by many builders and these shingles as compared to today’s architectural style shingles are thinner and have less wind tolerance. Today’s architectural shingles are thicker, have higher wind resistance and are designed to camouflage imperfections in the roof.
The new lines of architectural shingles offer a huge variety of colors and shadowing to enhance your home’s curb appeal. When replacing your roof, do not settle for the same old shingle style and color on your roof — look at the different options available nowadays.
Shingle warranties have also changed. Twenty years ago, shingle warranties were for 20 years and the warranty typically only covered materials after the first year. Today, manufacturers offer limited lifetime warranties with very affordable upgrades to offer full replacements later in time. Before you commit to a shingle, be sure you understand the warranty and ask your roofing contractor if you can upgrade to a full long-term warranty.
The next change is underlayment. Twenty years ago, 90 percent of the roofs were constructed with 15-pound felt as an underlayment with better homes using 30-pound felt. Yes, 30-pound felt is double the thickness.
The big problem with rolled felt is its failure if the shingles are blown off during a windstorm. Felt paper will tear and rip in the wind if there are not any shingles on top of it. Roofing contractors are now using a synthetic felt, which does not tear if it is exposed to the weather elements. Synthetic felt is the most popular underlayment because a roll is lighter and covers more square footage, which cuts down on the amount of time to install it and accidents associated with it.
The most popular underlayment is peel and stick, which adheres to the decking and will remain in place and protect the deck even if the shingles are blown off. It is a great product that seals nail holes and provides a real moisture barrier for your home.
Not as glamourous but just as important in roofing are the nails and fasteners. In the past, most roof failures have been attributed to poor installation, especially in the area of fasteners. Staples used in the early 1990s were blamed for many failed roofs during Hurricane Andrew. Today, building codes require more nails per shingle and longer nails along with wind mitigation for decking. In most cases, if a shingle fails it is because of the use of incorrect fasteners.
The final big change is the use of metal roofing. Twenty years ago, the majority of residential roofs were constructed with asphalt shingles. Today, a growing percentage are being constructed with metal roofing.
With hidden fastening systems and a multitude of colors, metal roofing is a good alternative. Plus, this type of roof offers a much longer warranty and thus far has not faced the scrutiny from insurance companies as that of their asphalt counterparts. Before you re-roof your home, check into metal roofing — it might be worth the extra investment.
As a bonus tip, whenever you re-roof your home, replace all drip edge and valley metals. Some roofing contractors like to cut this corner; however, metal flashing on a roof after 20 years should be replaced due to rusting and pitting. Always ensure your re-roof quote covers everything, including new flashing.
If you are lucky, you will only have to replace a roof once or twice in your adult lifespan. If you do, investigate all the options before you buy.
Don Magruder is the CEO of RoMac Building Supply and host of Around the House, which can be seen at AroundtheHouse.TV.