Sunday, May 22, 2011

BEST ROOFS: Pick The Best Roof And Contractor For Your Home

Need a new roof? Your choice of a roofing "system" will determine how much you spend, how well it protects your home and how many years it lasts. Of course, it will also have an impact on how your home looks. The National Roofing Contractors Association offers some valuable advice for homeowners who face a new roof installation or replacement.

Taking into consideration your home's architectural style and the local climate, your budget will certainly be the major factor in your decision about what type of roof to purchase. Here are the types usually installed on "steep slope" structures--those with a slope of 25% or more. (Note that all roofing materials are given a Class A, B or C fire resistance rating.)

Need a new roof?

Asphalt Shingles

This is by far the most commonly used material for steep-slope roofs due to its low cost and relative ease of installation. There are two types:
• Organic shingles have a cellulose (wood) fiber base, saturated with asphalt and covered with colored mineral granules. Most have a Class C rating. If purchasing this type of shingle, the NRCA recommends you make sure it meets ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) D 225 standard.
• Fiberglass shingles (more frequently chosen these days) are made from a fiberglass base with top and bottom layers of asphalt and a top covering of mineral granules. Most have a Class A rating. Look for products meeting the ASTM D 3462 standard.
Some asphalt shingles are manufactured to have a textured appearance so they look like wood shakes or slate. You can also purchase them with imbedded zinc or copper-coated ceramic particles to help battle algae growth.

Wood Shingles/Shakes

Usually made from cedar, redwood or southern pine, this material gives a natural look to the home. Their fire-resistance rating, however, is often Class C or none, which is why some local building codes prohibit their use. Some manufacturers, however, apply a fire-resistant treatment to the wood at the factory, which earns them a Class A rating.


Made either of clay or concrete, tiles come in the round-topped Spanish style or flat English/French style. It is an extremely durable roofing material that comes in a number of colors and finished. It is heavy, however, and requires a strong roof structure (rafters and trusses) to support its weight.


This expensive but very long-lasting roofing material comes in a variety of colors and grades. It also needs a strong roof structure, and its installation requires a skillful, experienced crew.


Another good choice for longevity, metal roofs come in panels and shingles. A variety of metal panel shapes and configurations are available. Lightweight metal shingles are manufactured to look like other roofing materials such as wood shakes, shingles and tile. They have good weather resistance and some have Class A fire-resistance ratings.

Once you determine the kind of roof you want to purchase, you'll want to go shopping for quotes. Be careful, however, not to assume that the lowest quote is the best deal. Check to ensure that your roofing contractor has:

• a permanent place of business.
• a business license (and a roofing contractor license if required by your state).
• proper liability and workers' compensation insurance.
• a proven track record and references you can speak with.
Get at least three written quotes for materials and installation. And be sure that the materials that arrive at your door match the grade of materials you specified in your contract.

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