How you put the roof together is just as important as the materials you use. When framing and sheathing the roof, for example, how many nails you use and where you put them may determine how well your roof stays in place. Fasten your roof incorrectly and it may blow away in a high wind or collapse under a heavy snow load. The same applies to the roof covering itself. Whether you install asphalt shingles, wood shakes, slate, tile, or a low-slope membrane roof, the fastening details can make the difference between success and failure. Roofing details such as underlayment, flashing, and edge detailing must all be accomplished with care for your roof job to succeed. You must also be aware of underlying structure. Heavy materials like slate and tile need a beefier frame under them than lighter products such as asphalt shingles or sheet metal; so, be sure to have the supporting structure evaluated before reroofing.
You should inspect your roof at least once a year. Nothing beats getting up close, but a good pair of binoculars can give you the next best thing. Look for curling or buckling shingles, shingle granules in your gutters, and other signs of wear.
Since roofing shingles are brittle in winter, they may break if you handle or walk on them. This makes spring a good time to do an inspection. Look for loose or curling shingles.
Ice that may have formed over the winter in gutters can cause the gutter to pull away from the house as well as break seals in gutter joints and downspout connections. Loose or clogged gutters can allow rain to run over your fascia board, into your eaves, and ultimately into your house. Loose gutters can also allow rain to collect near your foundation causing your basement to leak. Gutter cleaning, inspections and repairs generally require using an extension ladder which can present a potentially dangerous situation. It is recommended that this task be performed by your local licensed handyman or gutter service.
Loose or sagging plastic gutters will not drain properly, and this may cause their contents to overflow. As a temporary measure, hammer in a wooden wedge between each bracket and the gutter to hold each section in place until you can replace it.
When inspecting or repairing gutters, take the opportunity to attach narrow gauge chicken wire along the length of the gutters to prevent them from becoming blocked with debris.
A myth of metal roofing is that it is noisy. Metal roofs with solid sheathing and insulation control noise from rain, hail and bad weather just as well as any other roofing material.
If you are replacing your old, worn out roof covering with new asphalt shingles, make sure they have a Class 4 rating under Underwriters Laboratories' (UL) 2218 standard. A Class 4 rating tells you a sample of the product did not crack when hit twice in the same area by a two-inch steel ball.
Here's a tip on how to increase the life of old wooden gutters. The first step is to lay a new rubber liner along the inside the gutter. Adding copper flashing along the edge seals the liner, adds extra durability, and allows water to run off easily. Finally, add a second strip of rubber on top of the flashing for extra protection.
When it's time for a new roof, you've got a lot of new choices these days, many of which will last more than 50 years. New engineered shingles are made to look like cedar or tile using recycled materials. Even metal roofs, the old standby for barns, have made a comeback with new colors, styles, and an unbeatable maintenance-free life expectancy.