Raindrops falling on your head?

By Vivian Astroff

Even before that trusty old roof springs a leak, shingles that are curling or buckling mean it won’t be long before the roofing needs to be replaced.

According to the experts, traditional shingles installed in the last few decades typically have a lifespan of about 15 years. Materials have changed over the years, and now offer more choice and better quality at a competitive price.

The old standard shingles are called three-tab or flat shingles, backed by a layer of waterproofing called roofing felt. This base consists of heavy paper soaked in asphalt and rolled into sheets. The shingles are thin, with two slots per shingle, creating three tabs. Because of this design, there are numerous corners subject to curling, while portions of the roof have only one layer of covering.

So the arrival onto the market of multi-layered “architectural shingles” gave buyers a welcome option. Architectural shingles are backed with a fiberglass base and two to four pieces are glued together to make the shingle the way it is. Since it has no slots, there aren’t any corners to curl up and expose the single layer beneath.

Although there is a price gap between three-tab and architectural shingles, supply and demand have reduced the cost difference, says Claude Taillon of Olsen Home Exteriors, a major roofer in the region.

“The architectural shingle is your advantageous choice,” he says. As of January 1 this year, most manufacturers have given these laminated shingles a lifetime warranty – typically 40 or 50 years in practice, pro-rated from the time of purchase. “You won’t see three-tab on the market any more in a few years,” Taillon predicts.

Nuden Vinyl

Metal is also a relatively new roofing material becoming more visible in the residential market, despite its relatively high initial cost. Durable, strong, lightweight and easy to install, modern metal roofing is almost indestructible, say its suppliers, so they can offer a true “lifetime warranty.”

Nuden Vinyl Products Inc. has been selling aluminum roofing for 18 years, with more than 1,000 Ottawa area homeowners among its satisfied customers.

In fact, Nuden’s business in aluminum roofing has doubled almost every year for the past five years, says Joseph Piquette, Nuden owner. The reason — the far superior quality and long life of the product, which far outlasts laminate shingles, he says.

“Aluminum shingles don’t fade, rot or rust and save 20 to 25 per cent of household energy costs over the year,” he comments. In summer, the metal reflects the sun and during a snowy winter the snow slides off, so you never have to worry about snow accumulation, he adds.

“Our aluminum roofing is an investment that increases the value of your home. The warranty is good as long as the original owner lives there, and is transferable when the home is sold, extending for another 40 years.”

Besides the materials, other considerations when thinking about a new roof are: Do I tear off the existing roof and also replace the metal roof flashing in the “valleys”?

Generally the answer is “yes”.

If there are defects — like warping — in the roof deck, they will be exposed and should be repaired before new roof covering is installed. Then properly designed attic ventilation can be installed to eliminate condensation or warping. The new “tower-style” vents help to pull heat out of the attic that could dramatically reduce the life of the shingles. In fact, manufacturers will not warranty their shingles without proper attic ventilation.

OLSEN Timberline_HD_40_Large_House_WeatherWood

When the old materials are torn off, roofers also offer the option of installing a new perimeter membrane underlayment extending at least three feet inward from the roof edges and into the roof valleys as an added “ice and water shield”.

When shopping for a new roof, your first and most important step is finding a reliable contractor. Look for an established business with a good reputation and track record, and a permanent business location. Ask about credentials and affiliations, such as membership in the Greater Ottawa Home Builders Association (GOHBA) and in RenoMark.

Up-to-date, valid status with the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) is very important, Claude Taillon counsels. “By terms of the Ontario Health and Safety Act you become the ‘constructor’. As such, you could be sued if a worker is injured on the job and the contractor’s company is not covered by WSIB.”

Ask potential contractors for a written estimate that specifies the products, type of materials and various warranties, including labour.

And avoid those cash deals.