Questions to ask when getting new roof

Experts say ask questions about products, material being used

HOUSTON - Most homeowners will only have to repair or replace a roof once or twice in a lifetime. Getting things fixed or replaced quickly is often a more pressing concern than trying to figure out what questions to ask the contractor about the products he will use.

Brian Slay sells roofing products to contractors. We asked him to suggest some questions you might consider asking your roofing contractor. Here is his list of questions:

  • Is the asphalt shingle being used algae resistant?

Our hot, humid climate is the perfect environment for algae to grow on your roof. Algae can darken or leave dark streaks on asphalt shingles. Shingles that contain copper resist algae growth and, according to Slay, should not be much different in price from those that don’t have copper.

“What you do get is an extra 10 or 15 years, and while the shingle is on the roof it looks like the day you bought it," Slay said.

  • What kind of starter strips will be used? 

Slay said some contractors skip the starter strip and instead just cut down a shingle, a method that doesn’t provide as nice a finish.

  • What type of underlayment will be used?

Underlayment is what goes between the wooden roof decking and the shingles.  

  • How much will it cost to replace portions of the wooden decking?

You don’t want new shingles installed over decking that is rotten, sagging or wet.

  • What does “limited lifetime warranty” mean?

Most shingles sold today have limited lifetime warranties instead of being rated as lasting 30, 40 or 50 years. The product may have a full replacement value for a period of time but, after that, the amount of coverage will be prorated and will decrease as years go by.

It’s also important to note that most warranties will not cover problems relating to improper installation.

  • What kind of pipe jacks will be used?

There are several types, and each has pros and cons when it comes to price and maintenance requirements.

  • What kind of roof vents will be used?

Your roof may require several types of vents. Here is a link to the Texas Insurance Department’s list of vents that meet TWIA requirements : http://www.tdi.texas.gov/wind/prod/indexrv.html.
Note that TDI spokesman Jerry Hagins said, “The product evaluations on the TDI website provide a list of products that comply with the building codes required to get insurance coverage through the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA). They are not a product endorsement or a guarantee of performance."

  • How often do I need to get my roof inspected?

A roof check every few years can spot leak-causing trouble -- such as loose shingles or cracked caulking -- before the issue results in water getting into your house. 

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