Don’t Replace Your Roof Until an Expert Inspects It Completely…
The more you know about your roofing options, the better choice you will make for your home and family. That’s why GF Sprague is pleased to have compiled this helpful “Roofing Information Center” for you. Here you will find helpful terms and explanations about your roof so that you can become a more knowledgeable buyer.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions! Your home’s roof is an important investment, and you want to be sure you get the best product and service. We are happy to help. Call us toll-free at 781-455-0556 or email us at email@example.com.
Types of Roofs
The most common types of roofing materials for residential structures are: asphalt shingles, wood shingles and shakes, metal roofs, tile, and slate.
ASPHALT ROOFS: This is the most commonly used and least expensive roof covering material. Asphalt roofing materials consist of either a rag fiber (paper) or a fiberglass mat impregnated with asphalt and covered with colored mineral granules. A wide variety of designs, weights, colors and sizes are available.
Asphalt roofs show their age when the mineral granules wear off, reveal the black asphalt and the corners and edges of the shingles begin to curl and crack. This is an indication that the asphalt composition has begun to dry out and lose its weatherproof seal. When only a few shingles show the above type of wear, the simple and less costly replacement of worn out shingles may be all that is needed. If one out of every five to ten shingles shows this wear and aging, it is may be time to re-roof.
WOOD SHINGLES AND SHAKES: Shingles made of cedar, cypress or red wood are highly rot-resistant and may last 30 to 35 years if properly installed and maintained. The best wood roofing materials are pressure-treated with wood preservatives. When considering home safety, it is wise to note that wood shingles and shakes are more highly combustible than the other roofing materials available. If a wood shingle is your choice, look for one treated with fire-retardant chemicals.
As wood shingles and shakes age they may shrink and form gaps between each shingle. They may also become brittle and offer less protection from the elements. As is the case with asphalt shingles, if only a few wooden shingles show this wear and tear, replace the individual shingles.
METAL ROOFS: Metal roofs are highly resistant to damage from the elements and may frequently last 40 years or more. They are highly fire resistant and require little maintenance. Small damaged areas can be repaired with patches of similar metal. The materials used in a metal roof may include copper, tin, steel, aluminum, lead or an alloy combination of one or more of these metals.
SLATE ROOFS: Slates are made of ¼” stone, but can be thicker. Slates are considered the most traditional and attractive system available. Slates are highly fire resistant. Slates last about 50 – 200 years, but require regular maintenance. When one of these roofs does needs replacement, however, the cost can be very high.
TILE: Roofs made of slate or tiles composed of either clay or concrete. They frequently survive more than 50 years, but require maintenance. In addition these materials are extremely fire resistant. When one of these roofs does need replacement, however, the cost can be very high.
Tiles are cosmetically pleasing, and both slates and tiles are offered in a variety of colors, textures, shapes and sizes. Tiles can be glazed or unglazed. Slate typically comes in only black, grey or dark red.
What goes into a complete roofing system? It is a more complex structural component than many people realize. Here is a list of the key parts of a roof system, all of which must work together to successfully protect your home from the elements.
• Roof Deck: The flat panels to which exterior layers are attached. Most commonly made of plywood or planking
• Ridge: The uppermost, horizontal external angle formed by the intersection of sloping roof deck panels
• Flashing: Pieces of metal or membrane used to prevent seepage of water into a building around any intersection or projection in a roof such as vent pipes, chimneys, adjoining walls, dormers and valleys.
• Eaves: The horizontal, lower edge of a sloped roof
• Hip: The inclined external angle formed by the intersection of two sloping roof planes. Runs from the ridge to the eaves
• Soffit: The finished underside of the eaves
• Gable: The upper portion of a sidewall that comes to a triangular point at the ridge of a sloping roof
• Rake: The inclined edge of a sloped roof over a wall from the eave to the ridge
• Rafter: The supporting framing member immediately beneath the deck, sloping from the ridge to the wall plate
• Gutter: The trough that channels water from the eaves to the downspouts
• Plumbing and Kitchen Vents: Any outlet for air that protrudes through the roof deck such as a pipe.
• Roof Ventilation: Any device installed on the roof, gable or soffit for the purpose of ventilating the underside of the roof deck
• Drip edge: A non-corrosive, non-staining material used along the eaves and rakes to allow water run-off to drip clear of underlying construction
The Roof Deck
A deck is the structural base for the roof system. The most common substrate of a steep-slope roof system is wood decks, such as plywood, planks and non-veneer decking.
When replacing your current roof system you need to determine the integrity of your decking. Deteriorated areas should be cut out and replaced with new material that closely match’s the existing thickness. The roofing deck should be smooth and sturdy with fasteners flush to the deck before the installation of the new roof system. If deck fasteners have backed out you should have new fasteners installed .
Flashings are the most common place for a roof leak. The flashings at the penetrations and the perimeter must be inspected every year. When re-roofing your home, the proper installation of flashings and edge flashing is one of the most important steps to a successful roof system. Failure to provide for adequate flashing height at the design stage may result in serious problems that cannot be subsequently corrected.
On a steep-slope roof system, where a roof system is terminated at a wall, the use of appropriate base flashing and counter flashings, such as metal, cladding or siding, is necessary. If the height of the wall does not allow for proper installation of termination details, alternate flashing details will be required. For example, installation of a coping cap that acts as counter flashing may be an appropriate alternative detail
The most common flashing sites are:
Valleys need sturdy flashings because they receive more water then other parts of the roof system. The most common valley flashing is aluminum or copper metal which comes in 10-foot lengths. Counter flashings are embedded with the mortar joints extending and overlapping the lower flashings.
Flashings for drip edges and eaves
A drip edge flashing keeps water from entering back under the roofing material along the eaves and rakes. Installing flashing on the drip edges and eaves is important factor to reduce damage from ice dams and snow build-ups.
Usually, chimney flashing have several parts: solid base flashing along the top and bottom, overlapping step along ascending sides and continuous saddle at the base on upper side of chimney.
Gutters & Downspouts
Gutters and downspouts protect structures from ice and water damage. They help carry water off the roof and away from the house.
Gutters usually are made of three different materials: aluminum, copper, wood.
• Aluminum: least expensive of the three, can be ordered in many baked enamel colors, not requiring regular painting, most prone to damage due to heavy snow and ice loads
• Copper: attractive, requires little maintenance, can be custom fabricated, more expensive, most cost effective
• Wood: very attractive and are traditional in New England, needs proper assembly and installation, time consuming and expensive, quality of wood gutters has dropped significantly
The underappreciated importance of downspouts
Downspouts are typically rectangular and of the same material as the gutter.
Downspouts direct water away from your foundation. Proper water management around the foundation of your building or home can be very effective at keeping the water from entering your basement. The most serious problem with heavy rain is downspouts that discharge the water next to the foundation.
Maintaining your gutter system is important:
• Your gutters should be cleaned out at least once per year
• Dirt, leaves, tree limbs and other debris slowly decay gutters and prevent proper water drainage
• If you need to replace your gutter, it may be because you did not have it cleaned on a regular basis
Do you need to replace your roof? Should you repair it instead?
We have found that many customers who call us to replace their roofs are pleasantly surprised when we tell them all that is necessary is a repair. However, sometimes replacement is the best option. Some roofs have reached the end of their designed lives and the best option is replacement with a new roof system.
Roofing system failure can be caused by a number of factors; including age, severe weather, poor workmanship, defective materials, improper specification of a roofing system, abuse and failure to maintain the roof. You should perform re-roofing only when all repair and restoration alternatives are deemed incapable of bringing a roof back to serviceable condition, or at your own discretion.
Some questions to ask:
• How old is your roof system? If your roof system is older then 20 years you might want to consider a new roof system rather than repairing your existing system.
• How many areas in your roof system leak?
• If the shingles on your roof are excessively curled or buckled they are probably starting to fail.
• Are you happy with the aesthetics of your roof system?
• What is your financial situation?
• Do you repair now and budget for a new roof system?
• Does your roof have two or more layers? (If more than two layers you might have to rep lace it because of State code.)
• Is your insulation level adequate? (Achieving adequate R-Value )
• Has your decking become rotted from long term leaking? (Replacing rotted decking is crucial.)
If your roof is dark in color you may have algae. If algae is the only symptom your roof is exhibiting, it may be professionally cleaned to add years to the life of your roof system.
If you are not able to make a decision between repair or replacement on your own, contact a professional roofing contractor for advice and an inspection.
Maintaining Your Roof to Protect Your Investment
Roof maintenance is an important part of overall home maintenance costs. Much like a heating system that needs to be regularly cleaned and “tuned” for peak efficiency, roofing systems must also be maintained for maximum protection from the elements. Saving money on maintenance is nearly always shortsighted. It typically costs more in the long run-as the cost of replacing major components and internal damage. Also the inherent disruptions rapidly mount and become greater in scope.
There is no such thing as a “maintenance-free” roof. However, there are roofs that require less maintenance than others. Even so, preventative maintenance greatly reduces the likelihood of leaks, damage and premature roof failures.
• On the ground, walk around your home with binoculars and inspect your roof for cracked, curled or missing shingles, as well as any excessive loss of the protective mineral granules.
• In your attic, take a flashlight and look at the underside of the roof deck and rafters for any stains or wet spots indicating water leaks.
• Remove debris from gutters.
• Trim back any overhanging tree branches.
• Look for loose or damaged shingles.
• Check the open valley metal for rust.
• Prevent snow and ice dams from forming.
• Check the mortar on chimneys and parapet walls .
Restoration involves the major repair of the roofing system, including the repair of all penetrations and re-surfacing of the roof to restore it to serviceable condition. The opportunity to perform restoration work normally exists years prior to the end of a roof’s life cycle and before significant damage can occur. As many as 10 years can be added to the useful life of the roof through restoration and ventilation. Typically the cost of restoration is one-half the cost of re-roofing.
Millions of dollars a year are spent on replacing roofs that may have years of life left in them. Owners today need to recognize the importance of their investment and protect the home and its contents from damage, both in terms of the roofs cost and its replacement value.
Areas we service in Massachusetts:
Needham MA | Wellesley MA | Weston MA | Wayland MA | Sudbury MA | Newton MA | Brookline MA | Cambridge MA | Arlington MA | Boston MA | Concord MA | Lexington MA | Canton MA | Dover MA | Duxbury MA | Winchester MA | Cohasset MA | Hingham MA | Beverly MA | Swampscott MA | Scituate MA | Prides Crossing MA | Framingham MA | Natick MA | Quincy MA | Carlisle MA | Ipswich MA | Gloucester MA | Manchester MA | Newburyport MA | Westwood MA | Sherborn MA | Belmont MA | Lincoln MA | Milton MA | South Natick MA | Wellesley Hills MA | Newton Corner MA | Auburndale MA | Newtonville MA | Forest Hills MA | Waban MA | Newton Highlands MA | Newton Centre MA | Chestnut Hill MA | Waltham MA | Watertown MA | West Roxbury MA | Dedham MA | Norwood MA | Medfield MA | Milford MA | Wenham MA | Rowley MA | Marblehead MA | Georgetown MA | Hamilton MA | Medford MA | Sharon MA | Jamaica Plain MA | Walpole MA |