When building a residential home, the most valuable asset is the roofing. Your roof protects everything (and everyone) inside your home.
Poor installation, subgrade materials, or failure to maintain the roof can compromise the entire structure. Each roof on every home should be tailored to the shape, size, and climate where your home is located.
How a Residential Roof Differs From a Commercial Roof
A residential roof simply refers to a roof on a home rather than a commercial building. Residential roofing is usually more simple and has more variety of materials than commercial roofing.
You can create a beautiful, economical, and energy-efficient residential roof with shingles, metal, wood, slate, or tile.
Basic Roof Structure
Like any industry, there is some jargon that goes with the roofing industry. You should know what the basic structure of your roof system contains. This makes it easier to talk with your contractor and ask important questions throughout the process.
- Roof Structure: This is the frame for the roof. This is constructed during the initial home construction and usually has rafters, trusses, or beams. Heavier materials, like concrete or slate, must have reinforced roof structures to support their weight.
- Roof Decking (Sheathing): This is typically a flat material that covers the roof when it is constructed. Sometimes plywood is used, but most roof sheathing is made from OSB (oriented strand board).
- Roof Flashing: Flashing is a thin piece of metal used to protect any joints in the roof from water. Specifically, flashing is critical to areas around chimneys or ventilation.
- Roof Ventilation: Every roof needs to have an exhaust function and intake vents. Sometimes these are hidden, other times they are visible. Ventilation extends the life of your roof and reduces your energy bills.
- Roof Covering: This is the material you choose for your roof. The most popular option is asphalt shingles, however, there is a myriad of residential roof materials available.
- Roof Drainage: The job of your roof is to shed water off of your home. The drainage system on the roof typically includes gutters, downspouts, and slowing water to avoid any pools that can cause damage to the roof.
Common Materials Used on a Roof
Homes across the country use a variety of materials in their residential roofs. For example, if you visit Texas or Arizona, you’ll see mostly clay tile roofs that provide air circulation, natural insulation and work great in the heat.
In the southeast, you may find metal roofs because it isn’t affected by moisture or humidity. Those places with bitter winters often choose asphalt shingles because they are flexible and resilient.
There are 7 main types of roofing materials to choose from, each with its unique pros and cons.
- Asphalt Shingles: This is the most common residential roofing material. Shingles are popular for good reason. They are affordable, easy to install, and can be repaired without replacing the entire roof.
- Slate Shingles: These roofing shingles are made from real rock and stone. It is extremely durable and can last for over 100 years.
- Wood Shakes: This roofing system adds a naturally beautiful touch to any roof and lasts longer than asphalt shingles. However, they are high maintenance and can be a fire hazard.
- Metal: Metal roofing has recently spiked in popularity throughout residential neighborhoods due to its durability, longevity, and unique style.
- Clay Tile: Clay tiles are reinforced for strength and durability and have a natural thermal resistance which makes them a strong contender for eco-friendly building material.
- Rolled Roofing: This is a thinner material that is fast, convenient, and inexpensive but typically only used for small, low-slope outbuildings like shops and sheds.
- Built-Up Roofing (BUR): Built-up roofing or BUR is one of the oldest systems still in use today. It uses a combination of bitumen and fabric to create layers of membrane that are both cost-effective and durable.
5 Common Roof Designs
We typically don’t consider the design of our roof until we start to notice the variety of rooflines in our very own neighborhood. While each home is unique, there are five main residential roof styles.
- Gable Roofs: This is a basic triangular-pitched home and is the most popular roofline used across the country in all climates.
- Hip Roof: Hip roofs have four symmetrical slopes on all four sides. They are ideal for snowy regions and hurricane-prone areas because of their inherently strong shape.
- Jerkinhead Roof: Similar to a gable roof, a jerkinhead is more stable and provides more attic space with two sides are clipped, or shorter than the others.
- Mansard Roof: This is a French-style roof that can be flat or curved, with four double sloped sides. They are typically more expensive and have intricate details that other roof styles do not have.
- Gambrel Roof: Commonly known as a barn-style roof, a gambrel roof has a lower slope that is almost vertical and a gentler upper slope. This style of a roof typically features window dormers. It’s often used to increase the wall height and square footage of the home.
5 Types of Residential Roof Repairs
A professional roof installation with high-quality materials can last a lifetime. However, that doesn’t mean that all roofs are impervious to problems. There are a few repairs that are common across residential roofs.
- Shingle Repairs: This happens when shingles wear down over time. They are split, shrink, lift, or break. Oftentimes, the compromised shingles can be replaced without replacing the entire roof.
- Flashing Repairs: The flashing is that small strip of metal around chimneys and ventilation. When this is damaged, it can be repaired to ensure a watertight seal. Typically, flashing repairs are due to improper installation.
- Leaks: This is what most homeowners experience that indicates a problem with the roof. Because the main job of your roof is to waterproof your home, leaks are definitely a sign that something has gone wrong.
- Repair Due To Poor Ventilation: Roof ventilation is responsible for keeping your home temperature comfortable and protecting the materials of the roof. Poor ventilation can lead to mildew or mold growing underneath the roof.
- Storm Damage: It is always a good idea to have your roof inspected after a strong storm to check for any signs of storm damage, which could compromise the integrity of your roof.
When to Replace Instead of Repair Your Roof
The cost of a new roof is an investment, which is why so many homeowners jump to fix rather than replace it. However, there are some situations where a band-aid won’t work anymore and it’s time to completely replace the roof.
- The Roof Is Old: Asphalt shingles have a lifespan of 15-30 years. Metal can last up to 50 years and concrete or slate lasts even longer. Know the lifespan of your roof and when it’s getting close. Chances are if your roof is older than 20 years and not made of stone, it’s time for a full roof replacement rather than spending more money on repairs.
- You See Visible Dark Streaks: Anytime you see discoloration within the roof, it’s usually a sign of moisture. These problems can be far-reaching and the obvious discoloration is only the worst part. To fully remedy the issue, you need a new roof.
- It Fails Inspection: If your roof fails inspection, it is not safe to be living under and you’ll need to replace your roof as soon as possible.
- Sign of Algae, Mold, and Moss: If you’ve tried power washing your roof, and the mold and mildew remain, it’s time to start fresh.
- Rotting Roof: A rotting roof is not only unsightly but extremely unsafe. Over time, even a small amount of rot in a roof can quickly spread to other areas of the structure and compromise the integrity of the whole.
- Large and Small Cracks All Over the Roof: Cracked shingles caused by storms can be replaced, but if you have random cracks across the entire roof surface, that’s a different problem and you should have your roof replaced within the next 3-5 years. If the cracks are more than surface deep, and there is light coming through the attic, you should have your roof replaced ASAP.
- Outdated Roof Style: You may simply want to upgrade your asphalt shingles for metal or slate or make a color change. All changes to the materials or colors will require a new roof replacement.
Benefits of Installing a New Roof
Of course, a new roof will protect your home and alleviate repairs, but there are several hidden benefits of a new roof that go much deeper than surface-level aesthetics.
- Enhanced Energy Efficiency: Because your roof is your number one source of insulation, you can expect your heating and cooling bills to drop significantly with a new roof.
- Improves Your Curb Appeal: A new roof gives a polished and finished look to your home, and an upgraded design can give the exterior of your home a much-needed facelift.
- Higher Resale Value: If you can advertise a new roof – your home may sell for even more than estimated and will fly through a roof inspection without zero concerns about unexpected issues.
- Excellent Warranty Coverage: Today’s roofing materials carry different warranty benefits from 10-50 years or more depending on the material you choose.
- Ensures Long-Term Safety: Old roofs are a liability to the integrity of the home and to your personal health. A new roof ensures you and your family stay safe and protected.
- Improved Feeling of Stability: Enjoy the real peace of mind that comes with having a reliable, strong, and dry roof over your head.
Roof Repair and Installation Cost
The roof is typically one of the most expensive components of residential construction and is an investment to replace.
A simple roof repair may cost anywhere between $200 for a shingle or two up to $4,000 to replace a larger area. If your roof repair is close to 50% of the cost of replacement, it’s time to consider a new roof installation.
The average range for roof replacement costs is between $7,000 and $20,000. This can vary greatly if you choose expensive materials like copper or stone.
Some materials can be double or even triple that estimate depending on the size of your roof and the cost of labor, accessories, location, accessibility, etc. in your area.
Don’t Forget About Roof Maintenance
The best way to protect your roof and maintain the integrity of your roof warranty is through regular roof maintenance. Roof maintenance is simply checking all of the vulnerable areas of your roof on a regular basis to be aware of any issues you may have.
Checklist for Roof Maintenance
- Pipe Boots: When temperatures drop in the winter, pipe boots can crack and allow water to seep in.
- Debris: Any debris like branches, leaves, and sticks should be removed from the roof and gutters to prevent damming.
- Animals: If you live in an area where critters like to move in, check thoroughly for any small animals that may be burrowing inside.
- Ventilation Inspection: Make sure all fans or turbines are working and there is no significant condensation in the attic.
- Watertight Check: It’s important to inspect the roof for any loose or missing caulking and all flashings to ensure they are all watertight.
Why is Roof Maintenance Important?
Roof maintenance is the number one way to protect your investment.
Additionally, a few easy checks throughout the year and after strong storms prevent small problems from becoming large ones.
It can also maximize the life of your roof and the warranty while providing peace of mind that you’ve covered.
Why Should You Hire a Professional Residential Roofer?
Unless you have a professional license, you should not be replacing or repairing your own roof. Most homeowners who attempt a DIY repair will cause more harm than good to both the structure and themselves.
It’s critical to have the necessary experience, safety equipment, industry knowledge, and required licensing to repair or replace any roof.
- Expertise: It’s about more than a YouTube education. It’s about being prepared for the unexpected and understanding how to handle any problem that may arise throughout the process.
- Be Prepared: Once you peel off your old roof, there are often new issues you didn’t know about. Roofers save you significant time, money, and headaches by taking care of these issues quickly and correctly.
- Materials: Often, professional roofing companies have access to higher-quality materials you can’t find at the hardware store.
- Safety: A professional roofer always makes safety a top priority to protect your home and its employees. They have the equipment to keep their crew safe while on the roof.
- Permits: Your roof projects may require permits that you aren’t aware of. A professional roofer will obtain these permits for you and ensure the work meets all state and local requirements.
- Time: A DIY roof job can take significantly longer than you anticipated when you run into unexpected delays. A full professional roof replacement is completed within one or two days.
- Maintenance: If you’re concerned about the integrity of your roof, or you haven’t had a thorough inspection in the last 12 months, a roofing contractor can provide a free inspection of your entire roof and provide advice, recommendations, and peace of mind.
FAQ’s About Residential Roofs