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Roofing Materials: From Shingles to Slate

A new roof is one of the most visible and expensive home improvements you can make. So, you need to choose carefully when it comes to both the materials you use and the contractor you hire to do the work.

When do I need to replace my roof?

Don’t wait until your old roof starts leaking. By the time you notice a leak, structural damage has already occurred. You’ll have more extensive work to do, and you’ll pay accordingly. Ask yourself these questions:

  • How old is the roof? Many roofs last 20 to 25 years or longer. If you don’t know how old it is, consider having the roof inspected.

  • What does the roof look like? Check for irregularities in shingle lines. A sag indicates rotting sheathing. Pay close attention to where rain and snow flow to gutters.

  • Do you see pieces of asphalt in the gutter? That is a sign that shingles are breaking down.

  • Does the flashing around chimneys, vents or skylights show damage?

  • What does the attic look like? Check for evidence of leaks or moisture, preferably during rain.

  • Are the gutters sagging?

If any of these warning signs, hire a qualified roof inspector.

How should I hire a roofer?

A new roof is a major, long-term investment. Take serious steps to vet your roofing professional before hiring:

  • Verify licensing, bonding and insurance.

  • Ask for references from recent customers and check them. Make sure to talk to people who have a roof similar to yours.

  • Be wary of anyone who knocks on your door offering a deal after a major storm.

  • Make sure contractors have an established local company office. You want to be able to find them if there’s a problem.

  • Ask what kind of warranty they offer.

  • Get everything in writing, including a detailed estimate covering both labor and materials.

  • When hiring, ask your roofer how they plan to approach the job. They’ll have multiple options to work with. You can save money by covering the existing roof with new shingles, for example. But this approach makes it easy to miss water damage on the plywood sheathing beneath the shingles.

Planning ahead can save you time and money. Emergency work limits your options. If you know your roof’s lifespan is coming to an end, reach out to a roofer weeks or months before you want to replace


What roofing materials are available and how much do they cost?

Three things make the biggest impact on the cost of your job. These include the size of your roof, the materials you use and the pitch of your roof. A deep pitch requires more safety equipment and takes longer to complete the work.

  • Asphalt shingle, the most common roofing material in America, costs between $120 and $400 per 100 square feet. It lasts 20 to 25 years.

  • Slate costs between $800 and $4,000 per 100 square feet. It lasts about 50 years.

  • Tile costs between $600 and $4,000 per 100 square feet. Expect a 50-year lifespan.

  • Metal roofing costs between $500 and $1,800 per 100 square feet. It lasts around 50 years.

When is the best time of year to replace a roof?

Roofing contractors work year-round, so you can find someone to hire no matter what month it is. Late summer through fall is the busiest time of year for most roofing companies. Rain showers limit roofing work, so this is best time to get things done. You’ll often have to wait to find a reliable company to repair or replace your roof in the busy season.

Roofing suppliers tend to raise their prices around April each year. And you’ll also see overall rates rise not long afterwards. For this reason, professionals sometimes recommend hiring in the spring and early summer to get ahead of the busy season and cost hikes.

Winter roofing projects come with advantages and disadvantages. Since most roofers aren’t very busy, you’ll have your pick of contractors and fewer delays. The downside is that new shingles need to undergo thermal sealing. This takes longer in cold weather. And it becomes extremely difficult as temperatures approach freezing.

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