A roof replacement is one of the most valuable investments you can make — it adds curb appeal to your home and keeps your family and possessions protected from the harsh elements. But like many other construction projects, doing it right requires time and preparation. If the time has come for your rooftop makeover, read our guide to learn what a roof replacement involves and how to best prepare for it.
The Roof Replacement Process
Replacing a roof involves the following 10 steps:
1. Determine If Roof Replacement Is Necessary
Even if you think you need a roof replacement, sometimes a simple repair is all that’s necessary. For instance, if you just lost a few shingles in a severe storm, but the rest of the roof is sound, a repair is probably the more efficient solution. You will likely only need a repair if your roof is 15 years old or younger.
If the damage is more widespread, your roof may need to be replaced. Here are some other situations that would likely call for a complete roof replacement:
- When the roof is nearing the end of its life: The typical lifespan of a roof is 20 to 25 years. If your roof is around this age, you should get it inspected — especially if it hasn’t been properly maintained up until this point.
- When excessive amounts of moisture are entering your home: This could cause the wood to rot and affect the structural integrity of your roof.
- When leaking is extensive: If you are experiencing leaks throughout your roof, replacing it is probably the best course of action.
- If you are looking to boost the curb appeal of your home: If you’re planning to sell your home soon or simply want to give it a new look, a roof replacement is a great idea.
2. Find a Contractor
If you do need a roof replacement, the next step you should take is hiring a licensed roofing contractor. Hiring a contractor with experience is critical for a proper replacement. Whether someone recommends a contractor to you or you find one on your own, make sure that they have good credentials and offer competitive rates. It is also important to confirm your contractor is licensed and insured in your state. Checking for customer reviews at the Better Business Bureau is another good idea.
3. Have Your Roof Inspected
After you hire a contractor, they will inspect your roof and provide an estimate. In the estimate, the contractor should give a breakdown of the expenses, discuss areas of particular concern and give a rough idea of when the project will be started and completed. Ask the contractor about any other expenses, such as clean-up costs, dumpster rental costs or other charges if you do not see them noted in the initial estimate.
4. Choose a Material
When meeting with your contractor, they should provide samples of different roofing materials based on your budget, needs and preferences. The most common materials are:
- Asphalt shingles: Shingles are the most popular roofing material for residences in the United States, in part because they are affordable and can be easily installed. You can also reinforce them with fiberglass or organic materials without altering their appearance. They are widely available, come in many colors and work with a wide variety of architectural styles. The cost of a square foot can range from $70 to $120. Asphalt shingle roofs can last 20 to 25 years if well maintained.
- Metal: Metal is a lightweight roofing material that does an excellent job of withstanding extreme weather. It’s also attractive and looks great on cabins, cottages, bungalows and contemporary-style houses. Metal roofs have an impressive lifespan, lasting from 40 to 75 years. You’ll pay more for all these advantages, as a square foot can run anywhere from $100 to $800, depending on the style.
- Wood shingles and shakes: For many centuries, people have been attracted to the rustic look of wood shingles and shakes and the gray color they turn. They are typically made from redwood, cedar or southern pine and go particularly well with Cape Cod, cottage, Craftsman and bungalow-style houses. They cost $100 to $150 per square foot and have a lifespan of 25 to 30 years.
- Slate: Slate is a beautiful, elegant and durable material that goes well with Colonial, French chateau and European styles. It is available in various shades including black, green and purple. It’s also fire-resistant, sustainable, recyclable and can last 100 years or longer. Because of its high quality, slate costs at least $600 per square foot.
- Clay and concrete tiles: These materials add an interesting texture to your roof and go well with Mission, Mediterranean and Spanish-style houses. They’re also exceptionally durable and last 40 to 50 years, but are very heavy and require a specialist to install. A square foot runs from $300 to $500. Concrete tiles are a less pricey and more versatile alternative to clay tiles.
5. The Old Roof Is Removed
Before your contractor can install your new roof, they will normally remove the old one. The roofing team will take off everything down to the plywood, including the tar paper.
6. The Old Wood Is Inspected
After the everything down to the plywood has been stripped away, the roofing team can inspect the framing underneath and assess its condition. If they find boards are rotting or contain holes, they will repair or replace these damaged boards before installing the new roof. This inspection ensures your roof deck is in good shape and new shingles will lay flat and adhere correctly.
7. Moisture Barriers Are Installed
Once your contractor confirms the plywood is in good condition, they will install an underlayment. An underlayment is a moisture barrier that will cover the entire area of the roof. Your roofing team will also install flashing in certain areas to prevent leaks. They can install drip edges and ice and water shields for extra protection as well.
8. The New Roofing Material Is Installed
It is now time to put down the new roofing material you’ve chosen. If you’ve chosen shingles, shakes or tiles, the roofing team will place the first row along the eaves and rakes. This row is known as the “starter course.” Experienced roofers can lay shingles quickly.
9. Finishing Touches Are Added
Once the shingles are installed, your contractor will add a few other things such as ridge vents, which provide ventilation.
10. Your Property Is Cleaned
Once the roof is completed, the roofing team will make sure that they haven’t left any nails or other debris lying around your property. Metal items are often collected using large magnets.
What to Expect When Your Roof Is Replaced
Here are some general tips on how to prepare for your roof replacement:
- Expect noise: Construction work is usually noisy, and roofing work is no exception. Just how loud is roof replacement? While the noise level depends on the nature of the work, if you’re particularly sensitive to loud noises, being home during a roof replacement is not recommended.
- Protect items inside: Roofing work may create vibrations that travel throughout the house, causing items to fall or break. It’s a good idea to remove fragile and valuable items before the roof work starts.
- Protect items outside: You should move items outside your home that are susceptible to falling debris, such as potted plants, chairs, garden equipment and grills. You should also relocate cars, boats and other vehicles, whether you usually park them in your driveway or your garage.
- Keep kids and animals safe: Keep children and pets indoors or whenever the roof is being worked on.
- Protect items in your attic: As you might imagine, dirt and debris also make their way into attics during roof work. Take the time to protect any valuables you have stored there.
- Watch for debris: When walking around the outside of your house, be aware of nails and other items that could fall or may have already fallen.
- Prepare for material delivery: Many roofing materials will be delivered to your house during the roofing project, which means large dumpsters and trucks will have to use your driveway. During the contracting stage, make sure to communicate any special instructions so that materials can be safely delivered and unloaded.
Sometimes, after the existing roofing material has been removed, more damage is discovered, and the scope of your project may have to change. Here are some examples of hidden damage that cannot be detected during the initial inspection:
- The flashing is insufficient.
- The chimney or roof vents are leaking.
- The wood supporting the roof is rotting.
Discovering hidden damage will usually affect your roofing project’s budget and timeline. If additional issues are found once work has begun, your contractor should inform you of this damage discovery right away. From there, you’ll review with them what actions to take and amend project agreements and budgets as needed.
The Time It Takes to Complete a Project
As a roofing replacement can disrupt your daily routine, many homeowners want to know how long a roofing replacement will take. The average replacement takes one day, but depending on a variety of factors, it can vary anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks.
Some factors that can affect the length of the replacement include:
- The size of your home: A small residence can be completed in a few days, whereas larger homes could take weeks.
- The type of work being done: Partial reroofing can sometimes take only a few hours, especially if the area being replaced is small. A complete roof replacement — which includes removing the old roof, laying a new one and adding trim, gutters and other finishing touches — usually requires a few days.
- The materials: Some materials require less time to install than others. Shingles require relatively little time, whereas installing slate or tile is more time-consuming.
- Where you live: Every municipality has different building regulations and inspection rules. Getting a roofing project approved could take more time in some places than others.
- Your roof’s shape: A steeper roof is more difficult to replace than a shallow one. If the shape of the roof is more complex and has unconventional features such as multiple chimneys, this could also require more time.
- The weather: Inclement conditions such as high winds or torrential rainfall can create dangerous conditions for roofers and will likely prolong the length of the project.
In addition to boosting your home’s curb appeal and providing more protection against inclement weather, replacing your roof provides the following benefits:
- Insurance discount: The increased protection that a new roof provides may save you money on your homeowner’s insurance. Before beginning your project, speak with your insurance agents to confirm whether a new roof that uses specific nail patterns will get you a discount.
- Return on investment: A new roof will increase the value of your property and will attract more buyers. In fact, many potential buyers will walk away from a home in need of expensive roof repairs.
- Longer lifespan: Roofing materials can last from 20 to 100 years, so a new roof is a major selling point.
- Environmentally friendly: Provided that your home is well sealed with no air leakage, a new roof will increase the energy efficiency of your home.
- Better for your health: New roofs help prevent health hazards such as mildew and mold.
- Safer: If your roof is exceptionally old, there is a chance that your roof is structurally unstable and could collapse. By replacing your roof, you will avoid this catastrophe.
- Potential to create a new look: Installing a new roof gives you the opportunity to add windows and skylights, which can make your house brighter. You can also transform the exterior of your home with a new roofing material.
Roof replacements pay for themselves in many ways, and if you hire an experienced contractor, it can be a relatively stress-free experience.
Leave Your Roof Replacement to Brothers Aluminum
Although a strong and well-maintained roof will protect you and your loved ones for many years, the time will come when you’ll have to repair or replace it. If you live in any of New York City’s five boroughs, Westchester Country or Long Island, let Brothers Aluminum handle your roofing project. Our roofs use only the highest quality materials and are installed by a team of GAF Master Elite-certified contractors.
Our roofing materials come with our Golden Pledge and System Plus warranties and feature cutting-edge protection technology. Our GAF Timberline High Definition shingles — which are the most popular shingles in North America — are exceptionally sturdy, flexible and resistant to winds and fire.
Learn more about our services by calling us at 800-639-5665 or filling out our online form.