Residential Roofing: A Guide For Your Next Roofing Project

man putting shingles on roof

Be it commercial or residential roofing, every roof has an expected lifespan, and at some point in time, you’ll surely need to replace it. As a homeowner, when you’re exploring the type of roof you want to install, there is a lot to consider. You’ll be bombarded with so many questions that will often leave you overwhelmed:

  • Which is the best residential roofing?
  • Should I get asphalt shingles or slate roofs?
  • What design will match my house?
  • Metal roofs are on the trend, should I install that?

Whatever your questions may be, this article will help give you the answers you need to know about your new roof. Here, you will find a complete overview of residential roofing. Whether you need a roof for a new home, an existing repair, or a complete replacement, we cover it all!

What Are Residential Roofs?

If you’re a pure novice to the construction industry, you may assume that there is not a difference in residential roofs. However, all roofs are not the same. There are different types, depending on the building, material, and demand of the homeowner.

Residential roofing is basically a roof used on regular residential buildings. Among all the types, it is the simplest, easy to create, and install. However, it still needs a professional contractor to be installed.

Residential roofing comes in different designs and materials. Depending on the type of material, design, the need for maintenance, repair, and replacement, the cost may vary.

Parts of the Residential Roof System

Like every industry, the construction and roofing sector also has its own terms and jargon. Most of the time homeowners don’t understand half of the things a contractor is explaining. Here are some basics about the different parts of a roof that you need to know:

  • Roof Structure – The structure is the frame that defines the shape of your roof. When you contact a contractor for a new design, the first thing a contractor will talk to you about will be a roof structure. The structure/frame is either made of rafters, trusses, beams, lumber, or steel. Depending on the types of material you use, the structure will differ.
  • Roof Sheathing – Sheathing is a bare sheet of flat material right on top of the roof structure. The purpose of sheathing is to secure the structure, basically the frame of the roof. The most common material used for sheathing is oriented strand board (OSB) and plywood.
  • Roof Flashing – A flashing is a thin strip of metal used around walls, chimneys, ventilation, and valley to direct water away from it.
  • Roof Ventilation – A vent is crucial if you want to extend the lifespan of your roof. Most residential roofing has ventilation at the ridge and edges. There are two parts of vents, one acts as an exhaust function and another as an intake ventilator. Vents not only extend the roof life but also reduce energy bills and lower indoor temperature.
  • Roof Covering – Roof covering is the top layer of the residential roofing system. Covering can be of asphalt shingles, wood, clay, slate, concrete tiles, metal, PVC, rubber, spray foam, and more. There are lots of options you can choose from, but among all metal roof covering is the most durable and long-lasting.
  • Roof Drainage / Gutters – Now comes the drainage system. Drains are the last thing that is installed on a roof. A drainage system is installed to shed maximum water off the roof. It helps protect the material, the wall of the house, and sidings.

Materials Used in Residential Roofs

The material you use has a lot to do with how often you have to replace your residential roof. Here are material options that you can choose as per your need:

  • Asphalt Shingles: The history of asphalt dates back to the 1800’s. It first became popular as asphalt paving and 100’s of years later started being used as a roofing material. Since then, it has been one of the most common residential roofing materials in the United States. Most homeowners opt for it because, compared to all other materials, it’s inexpensive and is simple, and easy to install. The minimum life expectancy of asphalt shingles is 20 years. It’s durable, resistant to wind damage, hail damage, and comes in a wide variety of colors and styles. They consist of two different types of base materials – organic and fiberglass.
  • Slate: Slate shingles are for those homeowners who are looking for rot and fire resistance roofs. Slates are made out of concrete and thus have a life expectancy of 100 years if maintained well. Compared to asphalt shingles, slates are extremely durable but when it comes to price, it is expensive. On top of that, slate needs a high degree of expertise and experience for installation. On the other hand, It gives off a natural appearance but at the same time, it’s heavy compared to asphalt.
  • Cedar Shakes: Cedar shakes are commonly known as wood shingles. There is nothing like wood shingles if you’re looking for a natural and distinct look. Wood shingles are one of the oldest shingles which have been around since the colonial era. A wood roof keeps your home cool as it does not absorb heat, can withstand harsh weather, and is the best eco-friendly material on Earth. On the other side of the spectrum, fire resistance might be a concern, can only be installed by a professional, and is a bit costly compared to asphalt shingles.
  • Clay Tiles: Clay tile is another eco-friendly material. Talking about the lifespan, they last anywhere from 50 to 70 years. As clay tiles are made of molded clay, they’re resistant to fading and fire. They come in all shapes, sizes, colors and are visually very appealing.
  • Metal: Metal roofing is one of the fastest-growing materials in the US and around the world. Once metal roofs were only used for warehouses and on farms but today it’s gaining popularity among homeowners for residential roofing.

What makes metal roofing so appealing is its low maintenance, lightweight, longevity, durability, and eco-friendly. The average lifespan of a normal metal shingles roof can go up to 50+ years. Though the upfront might be a little expensive, in the long run, the expenses are low compared to any other residential roofing materials.

The residential roofing material mentioned above falls under the category of expensive material. If you’re looking for a cheaper option, below are some materials that you consider.

Rolled Roofing

Rolled roofing is common among homeowners who have low-slope residential roofing, it is also used for out-buildings like shops, sheds, and other utilitarian structures. Rolled roofing is made up of long rolls of mineral-impregnated and asphalt-impregnated material topped with mineral granules.

This type falls under the category of inexpensive material, as it can be installed fast and with convenience. If you’re looking for style and appearance, rolled roofing is not for you. On average it could last up to 10 years.

Built-Up Roofing (BUR)

BUR is the best option for a homeowner who has a flat roofing system or very low pitch roofing. Built-up roofing is built by overlapping several layers of roofing felt impregnated with asphalt. On the final layer, a finely crushed stone is embedded in hot tar.

This type also falls under the category of inexpensive materials. They typically cost $2.50 to $5 per square foot and could last anywhere from 20 to 30 years with proper maintenance.

Membrane Roofing

Another inexpensive choice for flat and low pitch roofs is a membrane roof. Some of the most common membrane roofing includes:

  • Neoprene (polychloroprene)
  • EPDM (ethylene propylene diene monomer)
  • PVC (polyvinyl chloride)
  • Chlorinated polyethylene and chlorosulfonated polyethylene sheets
  • Polymer-modified bitumens

If we had to choose a membrane for our roof, we’d choose EPDM, as it is the best membrane similar to rolled asphalt roofing. The cost is also similar, which ranges anywhere from $3 to $4 per square foot, and could last anywhere from 20 to 35 years depending on how you maintain it.

Residential Types and Designs

The type and design you choose for your roof greatly determines the beauty of your overall house. If you are planning on building a home, getting a new roof, or buying a new home anytime soon, here are some residential roofing designs and types that might help you make a decision.

  • Gable – Gable roofs are one of the oldest residential roofing styles not only in America but all over the world. It not only gives your house a unique look but a classic look that stands out from the rest. Gable roofs have 3 different variations: cross gable, dutch gable, and front gable.
  • Hip – A hip roof is another popular residential roofing design that most homeowners opt for. If you live in a snowy area, a hip roof might be the best option for you. In terms of cost, hip roofs are more expensive than gable roofs.
  • Jerkinhead – Jerkinhead is not as popular as gable and hip roofs, but it’s much more stable. Another good thing about jerkinhead is, it can be crafted with nearly any residential roofing material, including wood shingles, metal, slate, asphalt, and even composites.
  • Mansard – If you’re looking for a detailed roof finish, a mansard roof could be the best option. But this type is a little more expensive than the roofs mentioned above because it has a range of silhouettes, such as concave, convex, straight angle. While the best material for a mansard roof is copper and zinc, you can still use asphalt, slate, clay, and wood.
  • Gambrel – Gambrel is one of the most versatile residential roofing styles out there. The rustic feel or a more elegant look makes it so versatile. This roof type also offers more stages for attic, loft, or garret.

The Most Common Types of Residential Roof Repairs

Most of the time your roof problems can be solved with just a repair. Instead of trying to replace your entire roof, try replacing some part of it. Here are some common types of roof repairs that can be done on residential roofing:

  • Shingle Repairs – Shingle repair is needed when there is a problem with your shingles such as broken shingles, splitting, curling, shrinking, lifted shingles, or weathering of shingles in valleys caused by UV exposure, heavy rain, and high wind.
  • Flashing Repairs Due to Improper Installation – As we have discussed earlier, flashing is a metal strip used to direct water away from chimneys, walls, or ventilation. Poor roofing jobs, high winds, or storms can cause problems with the flashing and might need repair.
  • Leaky Roof Repair – The main cause of leakage is deterioration and poor roof jobs. Other factors might also cause a leak, whatever might be the reason. If you see a leaky roof, immediately reach out to your local contractor. A leak could lead to serious damage if not taken care of in time.
  • Repair Due to Poor Ventilation – Ventilation is an important part of the roof, If it’s not installed correctly, the heat from the ventilation can cause shingles to blister. And poor airflow will encourage mildew and mold, which will lead to the rotting of wood parts of a roof.
  • Storm Damage – Storm damage can be in the form of wind damage, hail damage, or broken trees. Whatever be the case, if there is damage on your roof due to a storm, contact your contractor and your insurance company right away.

6 Signs You Need to Install a New Roof Instead of Repair

Every roof has an expected lifespan and won’t last forever. It will need repair from time to time and at some point, you will have to completely replace it. Here are 6 common signs you to replace it.

  • It is Old – If your roof has given its year of service, it’s time you need to replace it. Depending on the type of material you used for your residential roofing, it could last anywhere from 20 to 100 years. The most common sign of an old roof is curling, cracking, growing mold and severe water leakage from multiple spots.
  • You See Visible Dark Streaks – Visible dark streaks could possibly be caused by airborne algae or roof water leakage, Steaks are generally not the sign of a replacement, but the chance is possibly high. If you have dark streaks all over your roof, it’s definitely time to change it. Hire a local contractor for inspection before you have it replaced.
  • It Fails Inspection – There is a checklist for inspection recommended by National Roofing Contractors Associations (NRCA). Using the NRCA checklist for inspection is the best way to inspect your roof. If it fails the NRCA inspection, you might need a replacement. Nevertheless, contact your local contractor and see if you can repair the damaged part to hold the roof for another 4 to 5 years. Replacing a roof is expensive, why replace it when you can solve the problem with repairs.
  • Sign of Algae, Mold, and Moss – Signs of algae, mold, and moss might not necessarily mean you need a roof replacement. But still, have your roof inspected by a professional to see if there are any serious problems.
  • Rotting Roof – Rotting is a direct indication that you need to replace your roof. You may try to repair your rotten roof but there is a high chance of collapse. No matter what you do with it, the rotting roof will get weaker each day.
  • Outdated Roof Style – Everything gets outdated at some point in time. The roof that you have installed for 20 years has been outdated by now and the roof that you installed today will be outdated in the coming 20 to 30 years. So, if you have a roof that is quite old and if the style won’t match your neighbor’s, it’s time to get a new one.

Benefits of Installing a New Residential Roof

Sure, a repaired roof can save you some money but it can be a wise decision to install a new roof when needed. You might need to burn your wallet a bit but in the long run, new residential roofing pays off. Here are some benefits that you’ll get from a newly installed roof.

  • Enhanced Energy Efficiency – There’s a major advancement in the design and manufacturing of today’s modern residential roofing. Most are designed to reflect sunlight rather than absorb it. Installing a new roof will keep your inside house cooler and your HVAC system won’t have to work that hard to cool the room. Which in turn, saves you money on your electricity bills.
  • Improves Your Curb Appeal – At first sight, the beauty of a house is often determined by the roof. No matter how beautiful your house is from the inside, the first thing people notice is the roof of the house because that’s the most visible part of a house. A new roof can automatically improve the looks of your house.
  • Higher Resale Value – If you are planning to sell your house, repairing the roof is the best way to attract potential buyers. A new roof adds a considerable amount to the resale value of your home.
  • Excellent Warranty Coverage – Most roofing companies nowadays provide excellent warranty coverage for all residential roofing. Some contractors offer warranties for up to 50 years.
  • Ensures Long Term Safety – Apart from cool inside temperature your roofs also need to be safe. An older roof that has reached its lifespan can collapse at any time in the event of thunderstorms, heavy snowfall, and high wind.

Residential Roof Repair and Installation Cost

The cost of a roof repair and installation depends on several factors such as material, style, location, current damage, and much more. On average, the cost of roof replacement could be anywhere between $5000 to $15000 depending on your roof. Most companies charge between $3.50 and $6.00 per square foot or $350 to $600 per square (100 sq.ft.) to install or replace an asphalt shingle roof on a typical house.

What to Expect When Evaluating Estimates?

A typical roof replacement quote will normally include the removal and disposal of up to two layers of old shingles. Installation of a new underlayment, chimney reflashing, ice and water shield at the eaves, roof valley, and a 5 to 10-year workmanship warranty.

Residential Roof Maintenance 101

Roof maintenance is the periodical checking of all the vulnerable areas on a roof that could be susceptible to having a problem. Depending on the type, residential roofing should be inspected and maintained at least once a year. Below is a list of the 5 most common ways your contractor maintains your roof:

  1. Check pipe boots for cracks and wear.
  2. Remove debris from the roof, valleys, and gutters including sticks and leaves.
  3. Inspect for animal intrusion.
  4. Chimney, valley, and ventilation inspection.
  5. Inspect loose or missing caulking and all flashings.
Why is Roof Maintenance Important?
  • Roof maintenance prevents future problems. Tiny issues can cause a huge problem if not taken care of in time. Roof maintenance helps spot tiny issues which you can fix before it’s too late.
  • The best way to increase the lifespan of a roof is to take care of it. By providing periodic inspection and maintenance, you’re adding extra life to your roof.
  • When you maintain and keep your roof healthy, the roof problem won’t be a concern anymore. You will be calm and have peace of mind.
Why Should You Hire a Professional Residential Roofer?

Roofing might seem like an easy task but if you take a close look at it, you’ll be overwhelmed by how complex it is. A minor repair can be handled at home, but for a major repair and replacement, hiring a contractor is a wise decision.

  • Residential Roofing Contractors are experts and they know what they are doing. If you are looking for quality installation and repair, hiring a contractor is the only option.
  • Professional residential roofers can find issues you may not have known existed.
  • Hiring a certified contractor ensures that the job will be done correctly the first time.
  • Roofing work is notoriously dangerous as even a brief moment of inattentiveness can lead to a potentially fatal fall. By hiring a certified contractor, homeowners can protect themselves from these risks.
  • Each state in the US has its own repair/construction code and legal requirement. Most homeowners don’t know about it. Trying to repair or replace a roof on your own without understanding the legal code can lead to potentially expensive fines in the future.
  • They will give you advice. The contractor will suggest to you the type of material, roofing style, and more.
  • A professional knows the ins and outs of the roofing system. They can usually finish the work in less than half the time as you.
Ready to Get Your Project Started?

With a variety of options available, trying to choose ideal residential roofing might be daunting for some homeowners. In order to choose the right roof for your home, you must consider every possible aspect – the climate, the position of your home, the surroundings, and your house’s inherent structure and appearance.

Instead of trying to figure out everything by yourself, hiring a qualified contractor will be a better and wise option. When picking a roofing company, be sure to select one that is willing to take the time to explain things you don’t understand and don’t feel bad for not knowing them.

Your residential roofing system is a critical part of your home, and a significant investment so take the time to make sure you understand what contractors are doing to your home and what approach they are using. In this article, we covered some basic but in-depth information about residential roofing, which we think every homeowner should know.

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