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Installing a New Roof? Make It Last Longer!

Installing a new asphalt roof is a major improvement that you don’t want to have to repeat in 5 years. The best way to ensure that your new roof will last is to utilize quality materials and proven installation methods.

 

asphalt shingles nail gunPaul Tessier / Shutterstock.com

Understanding Roof Warranties

When you put a new asphalt shingle roof on your house, you should be able to predict how long it’ll last based on the warranties stipulated by the shingle manufacturer and by the roofing professional. It’s important to note that those are two separate warranties, each spelling out specific liabilities for the two distinct parties.

A manufacturer’s warranty—which can run anywhere from 15 years to “lifetime,” based on the shingle thickness and other aspects of their composition—assumes liability for failure due to manufacturing defects. Symptoms of manufacturing defects that lead to premature failure include:

Manufacturing defects are immediately visible to the trained eye, and roofing failures attributable to them usually occur within the first year or two after installation. Along with their product and warranties, all manufacturers offer detailed installation instructions with the caveat that the warranty will be void if the installer doesn’t follow them to the letter.

An installer’s warranty should cover defects that lead to roof leaks and/or premature shingle failure. Installer’s warranties generally provide roofing repair or replacement for a much shorter period than a manufacturer’s warranty—usually only one or two years. Typical shingle installation issues include:

    • Improper preparation of the roof deck
    • Inadequate flashing at valleys, eaves, rake edges and penetrations of the roof plane
    • Failure to properly install underlayment
    • Starter course not installed properly
    • Faulty assembly at valleys
    • Improper shingle fastening, including too few or too many nails, improper placement of nails, over- and under-driven nails
    • Roofing installed at a temperature below 40⁰ F or higher than 85⁰ F[GARD align=”left”]

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Installation defects may or may not result in roofing failure within the installer’s warranty period but are most likely to be revealed in the process of diagnosing the source of a leak. For that reason, it’s a good idea to have a clear spec in the contract on how each detail will be addressed during installation. Adhering to the best installation practices should prevent premature failures of an asphalt shingle roof assembly. Note, however, that not all “failures” are caused by manufacturing or installation defects. Some, especially stains, are sometimes caused by environmental factors and can be remedied before things go too far.

Best Roof Installation Practices

What follows is a guide to the best practices for each phase of asphalt roof shingle installation and maintenance tips that will keep a new roof from failing prematurely. Before hiring a roofer, take some time to familiarize yourself with these methods to get the most from your investment.

Old Roof Tear-Off

While some local codes allow the application of new roofing shingles over an existing shingle roof, it’s not a good idea, especially if the existing shingles are curled, fish-mouthed or otherwise not flat. Tearing off existing roofing to expose the sheathing allows thorough inspection of the deck itself and of flashing that may need to be repaired or replaced.

Before starting tear-off, be sure there’s a plan that protects the area surrounding the house from damage from falling debris. Be sure the plan minimizes possible damage to driveways and/or lawns by utilizing heavy trash containers. Don’t perform tear-off when rain is anticipated, and don’t expose more roof deck area than can be recovered with underlayment on the same day. If there’s a recycling facility for tear-off debris in your community, make arrangements to dispose of the waste there.

Roof Deck Preparation

asphalt shingle roofing construction©Don Vandervort, HomeTips

Asphalt-Fiberglass Roofing

Inspect the roof deck for decay and replace sections where needed. Some decks on older homes were created with spaced boards; fill the gaps with suitable material of the same thickness. Check the surface for protruding fasteners and other sharp items that could tear underlayment and/or cause shingles to not lie flat. Check the nailing pattern of the sheathing to verify that it meets current standards for your area.

For basic uplift for inland areas with winds up to 80 mph, use 8d ring-shank nails spaced six inches on-center at supported panel edges. Nails within the panel field should be spaced no more than 12 inches apart. For high-wind areas, apply 8d ring-shank nails no more than six inches on-center at panel edges and within the field.)

Drip Strips at Eaves and Rake Edges

Apply metal drip strips of suitable design to protect sheathing edges and prevent wind-driven rain from blowing under roofing along the eaves and rakes (click link for assembly details).

Overlap ends of drip strips at least one to one and a half inches where more than one length is required to protect a roof edge.

Self-Adhering Underlayment

Self-adhering underlayment—a.k.a. ice and water shield or peel-and-stick—is recommended for application along the most vulnerable areas, such as eaves, rake edges and valleys (click link for assembly details).

At eaves, successive courses should be applied over the drip edge and bonded to the bare roof deck, overlapped at the upper edges according to the manufacturer’s instructions so that the uppermost course extends at least 24 inches past the exterior wall supporting that part of the roof. Application of peel-and-stick is essential along the eaves of roofs prone to ice dams, and it’s also good insurance along rake edges and as valley flashing on all roofs regardless of climate.

Standard Underlayment

In standard asphalt roofing assemblies, the roof deck is covered with asphalt-impregnated felt before shingles are applied. No. 15 felt is usually the specified minimum; No. 30 is a bit heavier and more reliable. But organic felts are a bit fragile—prone to tearing under foot traffic and tend to wrinkle if they get the slightest bit wet. Synthetic underlayments, which are made from polyethylene or polypropylene, are waterproof, lighter, more tear-resistant and can be left to the weather for months without damage.

Well-Crafted Flashing

roof flashing©Don Vandervort, HomeTips

Joints between the roof deck and any feature that protrudes through or abuts it require special treatment—generally referred to as flashing. Note that more roof leaks originate from faulty flashing than any other aspect of a roofing assembly. The most reliable flashing is created with sheet metal—aluminum or copper—sometimes in combination with self-adhering underlayment and/or roof cement. The best flashing assemblies require exceptional craftsmanship and must be fastened in place with methods that account for expansion and contraction with temperature cycling. (Click links to see preferred assemblies for chimney, sidewall and vent flashings.)

Valleys formed where two roof planes meet need special treatment to stand up to the volume of rushing water that is channeled down through them. A number of assemblies can be considered best practices. (Click links for details of an open valley with metal flashing and a high-quality closed-cut valley.)

Proper Shingle Application

Shingle application begins with a starter course, which can be fashioned by cutting the tabs off of three-tab shingles and nailing the remaining solid strips in place with the self-sealing adhesive band oriented downslope, overhanging the drip strip at the eaves a half inch to one inch. Special starter-strip material is also available and sometimes used in applications of “architectural” or “dimensional” shingles, which differ from three-tab designs.

As successive courses are laid up, the first shingle in each course should be trimmed so that vertical butt joints are offset from the course above and below (click link for an illustration that shows trimming increments to keep aligned joints seven courses apart).

Proper nailing is critical (click link for illustrations of best and worst fastening practices).

Galvanized roofing nails with a 12-gauge shank and a minimum head diameter of 3/8 inch are preferred to staples. Shanks should be long enough to penetrate through the sheathing at least 1/4 inch.

Nail position and pattern requirements differ for three-tab and laminated shingles and also vary for normal and high-wind regions (click links for three-tab variations and laminated shingles in normal and high-wind conditions).

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Rooftop Conditions

Overheating and prolonged exposure to high temperature shortens the life of an asphalt-shingle roof. For generations, the common wisdom has been that a well-ventilated attic is essential to keeping roofing as cool as possible, but that notion has become controversial. For one thing, recent research suggests that ventilated attics in hot, humid climates may encourage condensation to form on the underside of roof sheathing, potentially leading to formation of mold and/or rot. The study also showed that attic ventilation didn’t actually mitigate the roof surface temperatures much during exposure to intense sunlight.

Current theory contends that orientation of the roof surface toward the sun and color selection of shingles has far greater impact on peak temperatures than ventilation. While you can’t do much about your home’s orientation, if you suspect that your roof might fail prematurely due to overheating, choose light colored shingles.

A roof can fail prematurely from an aesthetic point of view when it becomes stained with growths like moss, lichens, mold and algae.

Such stains can be easily removed with the application of a 50-50 solution of chlorine bleach and water.

The easiest way to prevent stains from organic growths, however, is to place a zinc or aluminum strip near the roof peak. Microscopic shedding of these sacrificial materials kills growths before they become visible. It’s also a good idea to trim tree branches away from roof surfaces and clear away leaves and branches that may accumulate on your roof.[GARD align=”left”]

While no roof will last forever, you can improve the odds that the manufacturer and installer can keep their promises by insisting on installation that observes the best practices. It’s of paramount importance to hire a qualified professional who understands your situation and will do the job right the first time and provide a solid warranty.

 

Michael Chotiner is a roofing expert who has many years’ experience in the construction industry as a general contractor. Michael writes on construction topics of interest to homeowners for Home Depot. You can view a full range of range of Home Depot roofing solutions on the company’s website.

 

How to Repair Asphalt Shingles

Step-by-step expert advice on repairing curled, torn, or damaged asphalt roofing shingles. Includes advice to stop a roof leak quickly.

You can tack down curled corners and use roofing cement to seal minor damage, but serious problems call for replacement.Suzanne Tucker / Shutterstock.com

You can tack down curled corners and use roofing cement to seal minor damage, but serious problems call for replacement.

It’s important to fix or replace torn or curled asphalt shingles before the problem gets severe enough to permit leaks or the pieces break apart and blow off the roof.

If you don’t have close-match replacement shingles for your roof, repairing a torn or curled shingle will be your easiest and best option. On the other hand, if you have replacement shingles that match your roof, entirely replacing the damaged shingle will result in better, less noticeable repair. For more about replacing a shingle, please see How to Replace a Damaged Asphalt Shingle.

Working on top of a roof can be challenging and dangerous. Unless your roof’s pitch is relatively low and you have the necessary experience, tools, and confidence to get the job done safely, you should leave this work to a professional. In this case, please see our affiliate partner, HomeAdvisor, to receive free bids from local asphalt shingle roof repair pros.

How to Repair a Torn or Curled Asphalt Shingle

Here’s how to repair a torn asphalt shingle:

1Carefully lift the torn piece or damaged corner, and, using a putty knife, carefully spread a layer of asphalt roofing cement under it. Be careful not to smear the cement on exposed portions of roofing.

2Tack down a curled corner with one roofing nail. If your are repairing a tear, tack down the two torn halves with two roofing nails on each side of the tear.

3Carefully apply roofing cement over the crack and on top of the nailheads to seal up any potential leaks. Keep the amount of cement at a minimum—this will be visible on the surface of your roof.

 

fix roof leak with flashing

Quickly fix a roof leak by slipping a sheet metal flashing up under the course above the hole.

Quick Fix for a Roof Leak

You can temporarily solve a roof leak quickly and easily, using a 12-by-12-inch piece of galvanized sheet metal flashing, available at most home improvement centers.[GARD align=”right”]

In dry weather, lift the damaged shingle with one hand while you slip the sheet metal flashing up underneath it to cover the hole.

It’s usually necessary to pry up one or more roofing nails in the row above the missing or damaged shingle so you can push the flashing all the way up under the course above the leak.

NEXT SEE: Replace a Badly Damaged Asphalt Shingle

Featured Resource: Find a Pre-Screened Local Roofing Contractor

Call for free estimates from roofing pros now:
[telnumlink] 1-866-342-3263[/telnumlink]

Replace a Badly Damaged Asphalt Shingle

When an asphalt shingle is beyond simple repair, it’s best to replace it. Asphalt shingles are relatively easy to replace, but the repair may stick out like a sore thumb if you don’t have an exact replacement for your type of roofing.

Badly damaged shingles call for replacement. Do your best to find a replacement shingle that closely matches the original roof.Ernest R. Prim / Shutterstock.com

Badly damaged shingles call for replacement. Do your best to find a replacement shingle that closely matches the original roof.

When you visit a roofing dealer or home improvement center, take along a small, broken piece of the shingle to help you find a good match. (It pays to store a few shingles for repairs when you roof your home.)

If you can’t find a suitable replacement and the repair is on a highly visible part of the roof, you might want to consider stealing a replacement shingle from a hidden part of the roof and replacing that one with the new replacement shingle. Obviously, this involves a little more work, but it may be well worth the effort.

To remove and replace a damaged shingle:

Gently pry up the damaged asphalt shingle

1Use a flat prybar to gently lift the two shingles directly uproof from the damaged one. Break the black, self-sealing strip that holds the shingles in place by sliding the prybar along the length of each shingle.

2Raise the shingle tabs, and carefully pry up the nails holding the damaged shingle and the shingle directly above it (this means you’ll have to go two shingles uproof).

3Slide out the damaged shingle. If it’s still in one piece, hang on to it for sizing the replacement.

 

4With a utility knife, cut off a small piece from the top corners of the replacement shingle, and then slide the shingle into position under the existing shingles, being careful not to tear the roofing felt.[GARD align=”right”]

Use a prybar and hammer to nail on the new shingle

5Nail the new shingle in place with galvanized roofing nails, hammering against a prybar placed on the nailheads, under the shingle above. Cover the nailheads with plastic roofing cement, and spread a little extra cement beneath the tabs that you folded back to help glue them back down.

Don’t remove a slightly damaged shingle from ridges; instead, nail each corner of the existing shingle in place and cover it with a new one. Likewise, if a ridge or hip shingle is damaged, nail down each corner with roofing nails, and apply a second shingle over the top after first coating the bottom of that shingle with roofing cement. Nail down the corners, and cover the roofing nailheads with plastic roofing cement.

If replacing asphalt roof shingles yourself is beyond your abilities, please see our affiliate partner, HomeAdvisor (below), to receive free bids from local asphalt shingle roof repair pros.

NEXT SEE: Repair a Torn or Curled Asphalt Shingle

Featured Resource: Find a Pre-Screened Local Roofing Contractor

Call for free estimates from roofing pros now:
[telnumlink] 1-866-342-3263[/telnumlink]

Asphalt Roof Installation

What’s involved in installing or replacing asphalt roofing? Here’s a look at some of the issues.

If you’re thinking about replacing an asphalt shingle roof, you may be wondering whether or not it is necessary to remove the old shingles before installing the new ones.

Is it necessary to remove old asphalt shingles before installing new ones? This article will help you decide.

The answer is…maybe. It depends on local codes, how your roof is built (notably how many layers of roofing it already has), and how pristine you want the new roof to look.

The main advantage of leaving the old roof on is obvious—you can minimize the mess, removal costs, and disposal expense if you can leave the old shingles in place. Other advantages are that you end up with an extra barrier against leakage and a little extra insulation.[GARD align=”left”]

But shingles are heavy. When roofs are built, they’re designed to carry a certain load. Every layer of shingles on a roof adds to the load the structure must carry. With this in mind, some states allow only one layer of asphalt roofing, some will permit two roofs, some allow three. Check with your local building department.

asphalt shingle roofing construction

Asphalt-Fiberglass Roofing    ©HomeTips

If any areas of the roof have become severely damaged, it’s usually better to remove the old shingles and start from scratch. This also gives the roofer the opportunity to examine the sheathing for water damage. Even if you’re going to add a roof on top of an old one, it’s a good idea to remove any loose shingles and apply a new layer of 30-pound roofing felt before laying the new shingles.

 

Featured Resource: Find a Pre-Screened Local Roofing Contractor

Call for free estimates from roofing pros now:
[telnumlink] 1-866-342-3263[/telnumlink]

Can You Re-Roof Over Your Old Roof?

What’s involved in installing or replacing asphalt roofing over existing asphalt shingles? Here’s a look at the considerations.

If you’re thinking about replacing an asphalt shingle roof, you may be wondering whether or not it is necessary to remove the old asphalt shingles before installing new ones.

© Anne Kitzman | Dreamstime.com

Is it necessary to remove old asphalt shingles before installing new ones? This article will help you decide.

The answer is…maybe. It depends on local codes, how your roof is built (notably how many layers of roofing it already has), and how pristine you want the new roof to look.

The main advantage of leaving the old roof on is obvious—you can minimize the mess, removal costs, and disposal expense if you can leave the old shingles in place. Other advantages are that you end up with an extra barrier against leakage and a little extra insulation.[GARD align=”left”]

But shingles are heavy. When roofs are built, they’re designed to carry a certain load. Every layer of shingles on a roof adds to the load the structure must carry. With this in mind, some states allow only one layer of asphalt roofing, some will permit two roofs, some allow three. The rules are based on the strength of the roof structure. So the only way to get an answer to this question is to call your local building department.

asphalt shingle roofing construction©Don Vandervort, HomeTips

Construction of a New Roof Deck for Asphalt-Fiberglass Roofing

However, even if your building department will allow another layer of roofing, you’ll want to make sure the surface is sound. If any areas of the roof have become severely damaged, it’s usually better to remove the old shingles and start from scratch. This also gives you or the roofer the opportunity to examine the sheathing for water damage. A new roof deck, as shown in the illustration, ensures that your new roof shingles will be firmly attached and will lay flat.

If you’re going to add a roof on top of an old one, it’s a good idea to remove any loose shingles and apply a new layer of 30-pound roofing felt before laying the new shingles.

 

Featured Resource: Find a Pre-Screened Local Roofing Contractor

Call for free estimates from roofing pros now:
[telnumlink] 1-866-342-3263[/telnumlink]

How to Repair an Asphalt Shingle Roof

How to repair an asphalt shingle roof yourself, including repairing torn or curled asphalt shingles and replacing a badly damaged shingle.

Asphalt roofing shingles requiring repair are marked on this roof. You can extend the life of a roof like this with basic repairs, but it ultimately will need to be replaced.Suzanne Tucker / Shutterstock.com

Asphalt roofing shingles requiring repair are marked on this roof. You can extend the life of a roof like this with basic repairs, but it ultimately will need to be replaced.

Roofing problems make themselves known in the form of leaks and drips. Repair leaky roofs before ceilings and walls are damaged; better yet, check your roof at least once a year before the storm season (and after a major storm, if necessary). If your roof is leaking but you’re not sure where the leak is occurring, please see How to Find & Fix a Roof Leak.

To test an asphalt shingle roof’s condition, bend over a corner of one or two shingles on the sunniest side of the roof; if they break rather than flex, or if they appear gray and bloated, the material is nearing the end of its serviceable life.

Wear is another factor—a collection of mineral granules in gutters or at the base of downspouts indicates that the protective mineral surface of asphalt shingles is wearing away.

Leaks often occur at the flashing in valleys or where pipes penetrate the surface. Seal these with asphalt roofing cement.Ernest R. Prim / Shutterstock.com

Leaks often occur at the flashing in valleys or where pipes penetrate the surface. Seal pipes with silicone, and seal the connections between the roofing material and the flashing with asphalt roofing cement.

Also check for bald spots, cracks, or curled shingles. Small tears, cracks, and holes can be repaired, but missing or severely damaged shingles must be replaced.

When your roof has multiple leaks or many damaged shingles, it usually means it’s time to replace the roofing entirely. When you put on a new roof, make sure to store a few extra shingles so you’ll have matching replacements for repairs.

To guide you step-by-step through making asphalt shingle roof repairs yourself, please visit the following articles next:

About Repairing a Roof Yourself

Repairing or replacing the most common type of roofing-asphalt or asphalt-fiberglass shingles (sometimes called “composition roofing”) is relatively easy, but be sure you can work safely and comfortably on it before you decide to make your own repairs.

Make your repairs on a clear, warm day, when both roofing and asphalt (or plastic roofing cement) will be more pliable. Take your time and stay safe when on the roof.[GARD align=”right”]

If repairing your asphalt roof yourself sounds beyond your skills, please check out our affiliate partner, HomeAdvisor, to receive free bids from local asphalt shingle roof repair pros.

Call for free estimates from roofing pros now:
[telnumlink] 1-866-342-3263[/telnumlink]

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