A roof over our heads.
How can something so simple get so…complicated? It’s hard to even know where to begin when it comes to choosing a new roof for our homes.
Why the pressure? Well- you know it’s important.
Your roof is the first line of defense against the elements. If you’ve ever had a pinhole leak caused by hail or a fallen branch from a storm, then you know exactly how anxious a compromised roof can make you feel. There’s nothing worse than hoping your temporary tarp or the bucket in the attic holds while you wait for your insurance approval.
When your roof is solid, you never think about it. But a little damage? Suddenly, something you’ve never thought about becomes the reason you can’t stop checking the radar.
If you’re replacing your home’s roof, or choosing a material for your new build, it’s tempting to just ‘go with what you know’. But a little research can have big payoffs.
Longevity, Protection and- ultimately- your home’s value when it comes time to sell.
- Maintenance Costs Money. The life expectancy of your roof can vary from material to material- but climate also plays a role in maintenance and longevity. It’s no surprise that in rainy Pennsylvania…some materials hold up better over time! Choosing the best material for your location can lead to hassle-free home ownership.
- Your roof makes up about 40% of the visual appearance of your home. Whether you’re looking to replace your existing roof or choose a roof for your new build, thinking about your material and design can have a big impact on your home’s look- and future value. This article will show you the trade secrets our own designers use when helping our clients choose a roof that adds style and value to their home.
- Professional Installation Means Protecting What You Love. You’d never knowingly put your personal pieces- family photos, furniture, tools, etc- at risk from water damage but that’s exactly what happens when a new roof isn’t professionally installed. In this article, we’ll cover the most important questions you need to ask when you choose a contractor to oversee your roof’s installation.
You’re here because you want the best for your home and your budget. We get that. Ready to discover just how to get it right the first time?
Roofing Types: Choosing the Best Material for Your Home
Want to make the most of your budget? Finding the right material for your new roof is top priority.
But smart homeowners know, ‘budget’ isn’t just about how much you spend now on install. It’s also about how much time you spend on maintaining your roof and how long it will last before you need a replacement.
What’s the Best Roofing Material for the Money?
The short answer: It depends.
Let me ask you a question…
What’s your current lifestyle – and – how long will you be enjoying this home?
If you’re crafting a new build that you plan to enjoy for decades to come, spending a little more upfront for high quality and low maintenance materials will pay off. Likewise, if you’re continuing your family’s legacy in a historic home or on a family property, choosing a higher-cost- but higher value- material like slate shingling can bring out your home’s stately beauty.
Replacing the roof on your starter home and think you’ll be moving in a few years? You’ll want to balance your current budget with finding an option that will add to your home’s resale value.
Here are the five most common roofing materials requested by our clients at Martin Carpentry- and how to choose the best for your home.
#1: The Budget Winner: Asphalt Shingling
If you’re looking for the most affordable option, asphalt shingles are the answer. Our materials + install typically run between $5-$8 per square foot.
There’s more than price that makes asphalt shingles the most popular roofing material. Asphalt shingles are also easiest to install- and most contractors feel comfortable with the process. The shingles themselves typically come with a material warranty of 30-50 years- depending on the quality- which makes them a popular choice for starter homes that change hands more often.
But when it comes to durability in harsh weather? Asphalt shingles can be susceptible to premature failure.
Their porous nature makes them susceptible to mold and mildew (if they don’t have Stain-Guard included) in rainy and high humidity climates. Even direct sunlight can pose a threat, wearing down the adhesive that bonds the asphalt together.
#2: The New Contender: Residential Metal Roofing
Metal roofing is known for being storm resistant and durable. At $6-$13 per square foot, it’s a mid range cost option compared to other materials.
The price might be a little higher than asphalt shingling- but metal roofing makes up for it with it’s durability. Metal roofing lasts 40-70 years on average and is also fire and wind resistant.
Metal roofing has long been a favorite in commercial applications but with the expansion of style and color options it’s popularity in residential applications is on the rise. (Want to know what we think? Read more what Vern has to say on residential metal roofing here!)
A mid-range price, a huge bump in durability, and the range of style availability is why metal roofing is on the rise. So what are the cons?
Much like a car, metal roofs are susceptible to denting, though it is very difficult. Against very harsh hail and storming, it is possible for puncturing to occur. Depending on the damage, repair might be more involved than replacing a few shingles.
Second- Metal roofs also have a reputation for being loud. If you have an unfinished storage attic separating your roof from your living space, most homeowners typically don’t notice the sound of the weather.
But if your living space is right below the roof? The sound of those spring showers can be a little intense. That’s one of the advantages of Martin Carpentry’s method of installing metal roofing. We install our metal roofs with a structural system that adds both strength to your roof and creates a sound barrier. The result? The sound level on our metal roofs are negligible compared to other roofing systems.
If you’re considering a metal roof but concerned about the noise, talk to your contractor about a sound reducing structural system or using materials designed to combat loud weather.
#3. Strong and Beautiful: Stone Coated Steel
Both strong and beautiful, stone coated steel roofing is an architectural wonder. Stone coated steel is great in areas that experience high winds. They are made to withstand hail storms and hurricanes.
Stone coated steel is a type of metal roofing. The materials are made to resemble asphalt shingles, terracotta, or other types of roofing while keeping the durability aspects of metal roofing.
Materials and installation for stone coated steel have a wide range of price because there are so many design options. Expect the cost to fall between $7-$21 per square foot.
Sound pricey? Here’s the good news: Installing this low maintenance, high style roofing will add to your home’s value when it comes time to sell. And if you consider the cost of the roof in direct relation to how long it will last- it’s actually less expensive than an asphalt roof.
Adding curb appeal isn’t the only advantage to stone coated steel. This material is resistant to heavy storms and water damage. These roofs are consistent with time, retaining not only their coloration and appearance, but also their strong exterior.
Stone coated steel is a fantastic option for a family home you intend on living in and improving with time, but also selling when the kids move out. Why? You’ll enjoy decades of low maintenance and still get the pricing benefits when it comes time to sell. It’s also a popular option for historic renovations- where you can replicate the “look” of another natural material without the costly upkeep.
#4. Natural Beauty: Cedar Shake Roofing
Cedar shake is a popular choice for luxury homes- and it’s easy to see why. The material is absolutely stunning!
‘Shakes’ differ from ‘shingles’ in thickness. Split from logs, the ‘chunky’ appearance has great contrast and a completely unique beauty from every angle. Costing anywhere from $9-$16 per square foot (materials + installation), cedar shakes are a less durable alternative to stone coated steel.
Cedar shake roofs offer natural insulation, saving you money on your energy bill. The materials are also recyclable, making them one of the most eco friendly of roofing materials.
But- much like asphalt shingles- heavy rainfall affects their life expectancy. Because of this, cedar shakes must be inspected annually.
That’s the downside to cedar shake.
Maintenance can be too much worry for some homeowners. Cedar shake roofing requires a thorough power wash every four years or so- and washing it improperly can damage the roof.
Also, keep in mind some insurance companies require a premium for cedar shake roofs. The wood materials used make this roofing a liability, so if you live in a dry area or anywhere prone to wildfires, this is not the option for you.
#5: Traditional Strength: Slate
Looking for a luxury natural material? Slate makes up for everything that cedar shake is lacking in. Made out of metamorphic rocks formed from volcanic ash, this roof is the most durable of all roofing materials, lasting 100+ years.
At $15-$25 per square foot, it’s also costly to install. Part of the reason? While it’s the most durable roofing once in place, it’s very fragile before installation. The sheets are heavy and susceptible to breakage during the installation process. Installing slate is a specialized skill and not all contractors are up to the task.
The heavy weight of slate also comes into play when considering installation. Before installing, your roof needs to be evaluated to verify it can carry the increased weight over the roof’s lifetime.
However, the sleek appearance of slate adds to your home’s beauty- and valuation on the market.
Slate roofs withstand any kind of weather and are almost impossible to damage. Unlike cedar shake, they are fire resistant and are ideal for areas with heavy rainfall.
At Martin Carpentry Inc, our team has the training and experience to install complex materials like cedar shake and slate. Talk to us if you’d like to know more about using these materials in your project.
Style Choices: What’s the Best Color Roof for Your Home?
You’ve chosen the material for your home’s new roof. Next step: color.
Sometimes choosing the material makes your color choice easy. With natural materials, like slate and cedar shake, your colors options are limited to mother nature’s choice.
Cedar shingles come in hues of brown and grey. They can range from a warm, redwood amber to light, cool oak or even an aged pewter. But, all of these options will have some connection to the material’s natural origin.
In the same way, slate can have a range of warmth and depth in it’s color…but your options will all be some variety of its natural grey.
With natural roofing materials, you won’t have dozens of different colors and contrasts to worry about. Many clients find the limited choice a relief. After all, if you’re replacing a cedar or slate shingle roof, you know the traditional material already looks amazing on your home. The slight differences in color choice come down to personal preference, and there isn’t a way to really go wrong.
But asphalt shingles and metal roofing? That’s where choosing a color can get…exciting.
If you find narrowing down your options overwhelming, here are three tips to point you in the right direction.
#1: Think About Your Home’s Location
Here’s a surprising fact: Your roof’s color can change the temperature of your attic by up to 40 degrees!
How does that change what color you choose for your home?
In general, the lighter color your roof is, the more it reflects heat. This means it’s absorbing less heat and putting less strain on your AC during the summer. If your home’s roof is in full sun, or your house is in a part of the country where the AC runs nonstop, opting for a light colored roof might make sense for your utility bills.
Likewise, dark roof = more heat. If your roof is already shaded or you find yourself turning up the thermostat in the winter, a darker color might make sense for you. Another bonus: dark roofs melt snow faster, taking the strain of the weight off your home. Something to think about if you’re in a northern climate.
But what if you’re in Pennsylvania, like us? You’ve already chosen a roofing material that stands up to our heavy rainfall, but temperatures here are moderate compared to other regions in the United States. What’s the right answer?
For homes in our area, both light and dark roofs work well. If your home is in a historical district or part of a HOA, check the color choices allowed in your area. Then, go to Step Two: Matching Your Roof Color to Your Home’s Style.
#2: Matching Your Roof Color to Your Home’s Style
Tell me if this sounds familiar…
You’re driving through a neighborhood filled with beautifully restored Victorian houses. But you come across one that…seems out of place.
The yard looks great- and it’s obvious the owners have painstakingly stripped and restored the original wood siding. Then you see it: the roof. When the owners repainted the outside, they must have not thought about the roof. The home’s pristine white exterior makes the cool, light grey of the shingles look…dingy. And the color? Looks out of place for the home’s architectural style.
Matching your roof’s color to your home’s style means making sure your roof doesn’t clash with its period or architecture and looks good within the context of your area. When in doubt, take a look at your neighbor’s homes. Do they have a cohesive style? No one wants to stand out for the wrong reasons!
And slate tile homeowners: Just because you’ve chosen a certain roofing material doesn’t mean you can ignore color. Choose a hue that matches the warmth- or coolness- of your home’s exterior.
(Don’t know how? No worries! Talk to our team here!)
#3: Should You Blend…or Contrast?
Find yourself stuck between great looking light color…and a great looking dark color?
Here’s a ProTip:
Contrasting Colors will draw attention to your home’s architectural features and bring focus to your home’s exterior. Think: classic white home with black or dark grey accents.
Blending or Using a Similar Color for Both Your Roof and Exterior softens the ‘break’ between the side of your house and your roof, making your home appear larger. It also helps equalize the balance between your house and your yard- a good choice if your landscape or view is stunning.
If you’re still having trouble choosing a look for your home, most professional contractors (like us!) can help you see the difference between colors with a visualizing program. We can load photos of your home into our program and let you see the possibilities you’re considering side by side.
We can also bring samples to your home so you can see what your roofing material and color look like when matched to the exterior of your home. Our in-house designers can help you make the most of your budget and elevate your home’s style- all by helping you choose the best fit for your build.
Hiring A Contractor: 3 Tips on How to Make Sure You Hire The Right Contractor For Your Roof Installation
“My friend recommended them…but once they got on the job, it was instant regret.”
“I can’t believe I paid so much for this project- only for them to leave a giant mess behind.”
“It’s impossible to find a good contractor!”
Hiring a contractor is one of the most stressful things a homeowner will ever have to face.
But does it have to be that way? Is it really just impossible to find a great contractor to work with?
Before we dive into how to hire a contractor to install your roof, let’s talk about your expectations as a homeowner. You see, the reason why so many homeowners have trouble finding a contractor they love is pretty simple- but it goes against conventional wisdom.
Before we talk about the right way to find a contractor…let’s look at what most people get wrong:
Why the Conventional 3-Quote Method WON’T Get You the Best Contractor
When most people need a contractor, they do this:
- Get three quotes
- Hire the lowest bidder
It’s so ingrained in us, even the government bids and awards projects like this!
But this method alone doesn’t work. And worse- it’s the reason why so many people are dissatisfied with the contractors they hire.
Because, when you hire a contractor, you aren’t buying a product…you’re hiring a service.
What does this mean? It means there’s a huge difference between how one contractor might handle your project vs. another. Did you expect your contractor to take care of permits? To provide design support? To only work on your house during certain hours? Or to make sure the worksite is spotless after completion?
If you’ve gone with the lowest bidder but have expectations on how your project will be handled, chances are you’ll wind up disappointed. There’s truth to the saying “You get what you pay for!”
Does that mean you have to shell out top-dollar just to get a team that not only installs your roof professionally but treats you- and your home- with respect? No. Choosing the highest bidder doesn’t automatically guarantee top-notch treatment, either.
So how does a homeowner find a contractor that’s not only a great value, but who runs a professional team?
Do this instead:
Tip #1: Shop Around.
Yes- you should always get multiple quotes!
Getting multiple quotes for your project is a good idea- even if you’re leaning towards your neighbor’s suggested contractor.
When your roof is damaged and you’re worried about your home, it can be tempting to skip this step. Some homeowners make the mistake of just asking a friend for a recommendation and going with it. After all, scheduling appointments with 3-4 contractors, receiving bids, and vetting your best options takes time- a luxury you might not have during the rainy season.
Trust us: you should always talk to more than one contractor- especially when it comes to something as big as replacing your roof.
You’ll want to look for more than just the bottom line when you make your final decision. Check to make sure your contractor is licensed and insured, has experience in installing the type of roofing material you’ve chosen, has the availability you need and- most importantly- is reliable.
How do you make sure you choose a contractor who brings a professional competence and reliability to your home?
Tip #2: Check Credentials and Customer Feedback
When you’re looking for a roofing contractor, you want to find someone who can
- work within your budget
- can professionally install your chosen materials
- And brings a clean, friendly, trustworthy attitude to your project. After all, this is your home!
After you’ve collected bids, take a moment to look up your top choices on the Better Business Bureau, and check those Google and Facebook reviews.
Remember- cost isn’t the only thing you’re looking for. You want to make sure your contractor has a record of professionalism and won’t put your home at risk for future problems as they install your roof.
Tip #3: Make Sure Your Contract is Clear Before Signing
Congrats! You’ve found your perfect roofing material, decided on a color, and chosen the best contractor for the job.
One more thing before signing- read your contract.
Sounds simple. But you’d be surprised how many people go through the work to set up a big project, like a roof replacement, only to skip this!
Prevent costly project unknowns by making sure your contract is clear. A great contractor will be happy to take the time to answer any questions before, during, and after your project. But getting as much information as you can before you commit gives you peace of mind knowing you’ve made a great choice for your project. Talk to your contractor about your timeline and budget before you get started.
Replacing Your Roof? Let’s Make It Easy.
We understand that repairing storm damage, replacing your roof, or choosing the best roof for your new build can seem like an endless string of decisions. Even clients who love the process of customizing their home come to us overwhelmed.
If you’re thinking, “All I want is a solid roof that looks good- without a lot of install hassle…” we get it! That’s why we are happy to give you as much help as you need to make the best decision.
Do you already have an idea of the look you want but need help deciding between materials or product lines? Let our design team take your Pintrest board and layout all of your options with straightforward answers on product pricing and quality.
Schedule your free project call with our team here and let’s get your project started!
I was interested in the part of your article that mentioned how cedar shake roofs by themselves have natural insulation properties that can help a household save money. Using a heater to put up with the harsh winters in my area can get extremely pricey, and I wanted to find a more sustainable way to help my house stay warm. Getting a cedar roof can help me with that along with making the top of my house look nicer, so I’ll find any roofing contractors in my area that can get me one.