Spokane Roofing Considerations


When should I replace my roof?
Many people wait until their roof leaks before they consider a new roof. However, most people would like to replace their roof just before that point.

What should you look for?
The age of your roof is probably the first clue. Your existing roof will likely last for 15 to 25 years if it is cedar shake or composition, much longer if it is metal or tile. With a cedar shake roof, blown off shingles are one, indication that the roof may need replacement. Another indication is water running down the face of your fascia rather than off the end of the shakes. This indicates that water is getting under the shakes and is being held out of the house by the felt paper. With a composition roof excessive granule loss, curling of the shingles, blown-off shingles, or patches of missing granules all are indicators that your roof may be at the end of its useful life.

Should my contractor be licensed?
Washington State law requires that roofing contractors be licensed. The licensing process is not very difficult. No particular knowledge is required. The only requirements are that the applicant fill out the form, pay the fee, show proof of a minimum amount of insurance and have a bond or cash deposit of at least $3,000.00. These requirements are easily met, so we suggest that you do not consider letting anyone work on your roof who is not licensed. In addition, we suggest that you check with the Better Business Bureau (455-4200) and the Department of Labor and Industries (324-2600) or lni.WA.gov, look up contractor and verify workers comp.

Insurance, How much is enough?
To secure a license as a roofing contractor you must show proof or at least $300,000.00 of liability insurance. We suggest that in today's litigious society this is not enough. Because we do a lot of commercial work (schools, churches, etc.) we carry $1,000,000.00 of liability insurance. This may be excessive in most residential re-roof situations but it should give you comfort to know that we are highly insured.

What roofing material should be selected?
There are many different types of roofing material available, ranging from a three-tab composition shingle to the highest end tile, slate, or metal. However, the selection process usually revolves around composition shingles, with the homeowner considering three-tab vs. laminated (also called dimensional or architectural). The three-tab shingles are a single layer of fiberglass shingle with three rectangles, approximately 13" long, cut in the exposed portion of the shingle. The laminated shingle is a two-piece fiberglass shingle with a long rectangular bottom piece to which an upper piece with "teeth" is laminated. The "teeth" and changes in color of the granules give this shingle dimension.

Most people feel this is a more attractive shingle than the three-tab shingle, and it is more resistant to curling and wind as it only has two corners and much of the exposed shingle is two layers thick. The laminated shingles typically come with 30, 40, or 50 year warranties and corresponding weights. We think that the 30 year laminated shingle is the best value. It is often difficult to tell the difference between the 30, 40, and 50 year laminated shingles at a distance. Some manufacturers change the color patterns between the different weight shingles. With these brands, you may have to buy a heavier/longer lived shingle to get the look you want. If there are special considerations such as high wind, covenants, or you expect to stay in your home for a long time, you might want to consider a heavier weight shingle.

Should we tear-off or recover?
The building code allows two layers of composition roofing on the roof. If you currently have a composition roof this is a consideration. If you have a shake roof it typically must be removed prior to reroofing. It is our feeling that recovering is usually a better option than tearing off, as the tear-off is relatively expensive. If your roof has a lot of curling or other visual defects you might want to consider reroofing with a heavier shingle, a 50-year shingle as opposed to a 30-year shingle, as this will help hide the existing imperfections. If yours house is older, if it was built before 1950, it may have an original layer of cedar shingles. If so, it probably has skip sheathing. Skip sheathing refers to the gaps that were left between the boards to allow the shingles to breathe. In this case, we would have to re-sheet the roof, cover it with 7/16th OSB (oriented strand board). The OSB gives the composition shingles a flat, solid supporting surface.

Should we use ice and water shield?
"Ice and water shield" is a generic name given to a modified bitumen underlayment that is designed to be added protection against leaks due to ice dams, wind blown rain, etc. The Building Code requires "Ice and water" from the eaves to two feet inside the exterior wall. "lce and water" shield is designed to stick to the sheeting and tighten around any nail or other fastener that is driven through it so water cannot penetrate.

Should drip edge be installed?
Drip edge is a metal flashing that is installed at the edges of the roof under the roofing. It can help divert water away from the fascia or into the gutter. However, it often introduces another color and material on the house. If your existing roofing is being removed and you do not currently have drip edge, installing new drip edge is probably not necessary. If you are going over the existing roofing the drip edge will hide the existing roofing. This results in a much nicer look to the new roof.

Does felt have to be used if the new roofing is going over existing roofing?
Felt is not required if your roof is being recovered as the existing roofing will act in place of the felt. Sometimes new felt will be recommended as it may help the new shingles to lay flatter.

Should new flashings be installed?
Typically flashings are metal pieces that are necessary to keep the roof from leaking where there is a penetration of the roof deck such as chimney, wall, vent pipe, etc. Many of the flashings, e.g. vent pipes, are replaced as a matter of course as they are inexpensive and, if a roof leaks, it often occurs around a flashing. However, some of the existing flashing is integrated into the siding that is on your house. It is often difficult to remove this flashing, typically called roof to wall and step flashing, so it is reused. In many older homes this flashing has deteriorated to the point that new flashing needs to be installed.

If this is necessary, new counter flashing, typically a 1"x4" or a piece of metal is added to the wall, chimney, etc. to stop water from getting behind the new flashing. This is expensive. An alternative is to butt the shingles as closely as possible to the wall, etc. and seal the resulting crack with mastic. This is a viable short-terrn approach. However, the mastic typically does not last for a very long period of time so the potential for leaking is much greater. We highly recommend new flashing/counter-flashing when necessary.

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