Bob & RodMan Home Show — ROOFER

Bob & RodMan Home Show - ROOFER

I like the analogy I refer to as the Chevrolet, Buick, Cadillac option. All are dependable automobiles that will get a driver from point A to point B with equal facility. But there are obvious differences in cost, appearance, and, in some cases, warranty. Roofs are very much the same. A professional roofer will do whatever is required to explain the options available so the customer can make an informed, intelligent decision.

Roofing is not rocket science. But the average homeowner is not really familiar with the ins and outs of roofing, so they have little choice but to depend on whomever they choose to do the work. This is a trust professionals take seriously. It is not enough that they are concerned and personable – they must also have sufficient resources of experience and knowledge to insure that their professional obligation is discharged to the homeowner’s advantage. That is why professionals are easy to spot. If you feel educated, as well as comfortable after your visit with a roofer, and the other criteria outlined below are satisfied, then you are as assured as possible that your job will meet your expectations.

This discussion is not intended to be an exhaustive exploration of all that could be gathered up under the subject of roofing. We are, however, going to do our best to address the principal conditions that must be met in installing a durable, trouble-free roof that meets or exceeds the manufacturer’s specifications, industry standards, and local building codes. Anybody who calls themselves a roofer ought to know this stuff!


The most important point on your checklist is that you be protected from liability should a roofer, or anyone else be injured on your job.

To assure your protection a professional roofer will carry Worker’s Compensation and General Liability insurance. A professional will be happy to give you the name of his or her insurance carrier and agent. You can then independently verify that a policy is in force. Call the carrier and ask them to send you a Certificate of Insurance. They will be glad to. It is part of their job. Do not accept a letter or certificate directly from the roofer as proof of insurance. That’s simply not the way things are done.

Anyone who claims they are exempt from carrying insurance, or that your homeowner’s insurance will cover you, or that they are self-insured, may or may not be telling the truth. Do not take a chance! The consequences are too great. Do business who care enough about your welfare to insure your job in a professional manner.


A dirty job is an inefficient, dangerous job. We’ll clean up when we’re done, is not an acceptable attitude. Does the crew you are considering have climbing gear to work safely on steep roofs? Do they use roofing jacks or do they resort to the common, incorrect, unprofessional use of 2×4’s serving as toe boards? Do they have a roofing magnet to pick up nails? Do they dispose of roofing debris at a recycling location or an approved landfill? Do they act like professionals?

It is unfortunately true that some contractors pick up the best of the half-sober unfortunates on the corner and bring them to the job as temporary labor. Professionals have a permanent crew.


Everyone has to start somewhere so do not disqualify a roofer who has just gotten into business. Do, however, hold them to the same standard as others you are interviewing. Is the person who comes out to talk to you a trained roofer or a trained salesman? A salesman tends to promise more than the crew can deliver. There is no conspiracy here. It is just the nature of the beast.

A professional roofer, on the other hand, will get on the roof and conduct a close inspection of decking, ventilation, flashing and so forth. Some will take Polaroid pictures of any problem areas so that you can see what they see.

When you get a proposal from a professional it will specify in great detail what problems exist in your roofing system and exactly how they will be corrected, including a clear understanding of cost. You can have confidence in the proposal you get from a professional roofer. He knows exactly what he is talking about. He has done it.


There are many ways roofs get installed. There is only one right way. That is the way specified by the people who manufacture roofing system products. Directions are printed on every bundle of roofing shingles sold. Every single one. You might go to a local supply house and take a look. Jot down some notes. See if the roofer you are interviewing has a good grip on what the manufacturer’s have to say. If your roof is not installed to the manufacturer’s specifications, your roofing material warranty is toast.

Once again, we are not talking rocket science. Spend two or three hours getting information on roofing systems and you’ll know more than 90% of the people who come out to sell you one. I dare not say most people spend more time investigating the merits of a new television than they do learning what goes into a good roofing system. And the roofing system costs a lot more! These are some of the things for which you need to look:

  • If the old roof is unacceptably deteriorated, the manufacturer won’t honor their product warranty. An experienced roofer can advise you on this point. A salesman cannot.
  • It is hard to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. New shingles are thinner due to advances in technology. They tend to telegraph imperfections under them. Even if the roof is sound, it will look shabby unless you roofer knows exactly what they’re doing and takes the time to do it.
  1. Specify the use of drip edge, step flashing, and counter-flashing unless your budget is tight and your roofer agrees these measures are not absolutely necessary in your particular situation. Cut-counter flashing with a V-Lock drive should be used on masonry. If the person you’re interviewing isn’t familiar with these concepts, and can’t give a clear explanation, be polite and do not do business with them.

  2. Roofing felt is recommended by ALL roofing manufacturers for the following reasons:

Felt is an integral part of the system that protects your home from water

  • Without felt your roofing system does not qualify for a UL Approved Class A Fire Rating.

  • Felt provides a slip shield or buffer between your shingles and the deck of your roof.

  • And in the old days, felt protected organic shingles from pitch that leaked out of knots in the wood. Fiberglass shingles still have organic petrochemicals. In my opinion, they need to be protected.

  • Want to know why some roofers don’t like to install felt? As we were saying earlier. Modern shingles are thin. Any wrinkle in the felt will telegraph through. A professional can install felt so wrinkles are not a problem. For others it is a time consuming process to be avoided. If budget is not a critical issue, be sure to stipulate 30 lb. felt attached with simplex nails. 15 lb. is standard and is OK.

    Valleys should be protected with metal as per manufacturer’s specifications and industry standards. I personally like double valley liners. I think the result looks better. Unfortunately for me, its not what the manufacturers recommend. Valleys should be built with the shingles either woven or cut in the closed valley system. I prefer the closed valley system or California cut because the line of the valley is cleaner and the shingles lie flatter than the woven application. Another consideration is that debris tends to collect in the junction of a woven valley which can possibly cause a leak.

    One final note. When shingles are California cut, the cut is on the side of the valley from which the greatest volume of water is likely to come, not on the side of the steepest pitch as some maintain. Remember, valleys are a weak point in your roofing system. Installed properly they’ll last the life of your roof. But if they are built incorrectly, they will be a headache until they are torn out and put right.

    Make sure your roofing shingles will be installed with the proper nailing pattern. This is not a trivial point. The manufacturer’s warranty is voided if your shingles are not nailed down properly. And it is no picnic when shingles start blowing off because they have not been nailed down according to specifications.

    Galvanized roofing nails should be used: four per shingle on typical installations, six per shingle on mansard roofs. A nail should be placed 1 in from each side and directly over each of the two tab cuts. The nails should be 5/8 above the top of the tab cuts, but not in the tar strip.

    Specify that your roof be applied by hand, not with air tools. There are several good reasons for this provision:

    Air tools do not let the roofer feel the solid attachment of the shingle to sound decking.

  • If not precisely adjusted, air tools can shoot a staple or nail completely through the shingle.

  • The use of air tools tends to encourage speed as opposed to the careful adjustment of each shingle roofing hammers have a gauge built in for ready reference.

  • Finally, there are few things more pleasing to the eye than professional roofers working with their tools. Watch and you’ll see what I mean.

    Adequate ventilation should be designed and installed if necessary. For starters, your manufacturer’s warranty is void if specified ventilation is not provided for your roof. But that is just the beginning of the ventilation story. Peeling paint, mildew, dry rot, insulation problems, and warped framing members often result from poor ventilation. A professional roofer can how to best ventilate your particular home in both summer and winter. He should discuss the merits of power vs. passive systems as well as explaining how humidistats and thermostats operate. In my opinion, ventilation is the most important aspect of a roofing system. Make sure the roofer you choose knows the score with ventilation.


    A quality skylight, properly installed, is a neat accessory that will last as long as your roof. The problem is that there are a lot of bad skylights and poor installations out there. Pella, Velux, and Exarc are three very good units, but even they will give poor service if installed improperly. Self-flashing and flush-mounted units are going to leak sooner or later in my experience. And some of them cost a lot.

    Good skylights are curb-mounted with side saddle and skirt flashing at top and bottom along with step flashing details on each side. Insulated units that also block UV light are a good idea. A quality unit requires no adhesives or caulks save in rare instances. Be on guard if the installer or repairman lugs a bucket of roofing cement or a box of caulk up the ladder. Those materials have no place in a professional skylight installation.


    Water does its best to get into your home, and your roof is a prime target. Roof leaks usually result from one of four causes:

    Improper installation of shingles and flashing around chimneys, at plumbing and HVAC vents, or at the junction of a roof into a wall.

  • Roofing materials not installed to manufacturer’s specifications.

  • Roofing that has deteriorated through age, mechanical damage (fallen tree limbs or high winds for example), or inadequate ventilation of the attic or in the case of a vaulted ceiling, the rafter bays.

  • Valleys that have not been installed properly.

  • Whatever the cause, few leaks can be permanently fixed with caulk or roofing cement. In the vast majority of cases, leaks can be fixed only with flashing. Caulks or cement may hold up for a while, but they will eventually deteriorate with heat and UV light, and the leak will return.


    A good contract is the key to avoiding a misunderstanding between you and your roofer. If you select a professional who knows his stuff, and you get a clear understanding about the money, and you specify exactly what you want done and what you want it done with, then getting a good roof installation is as easy as falling off a log. By way of review, make sure your contract contains the following provisions:

    The existing roof(s) should be torn off so that flashing and decking can be inspected and repaired unless the existing roof is in good enough shape to permit a roof-over and budget concerns dictate that opinion.

  • An adequate ventilation system should be designed and installed if necessary.

  • 30 lb. felt should be laid with simplex nails if budget permits. Otherwise, 15 lb. felt should be applied. In no case should a roof be applied without felt.

  • The roof should be installed to manufacturer’s specs. Fiberglass shingles have specs on the packaging.

  • Flashing details on chimneys, crickets (a little structure that diverts water to each side of the chimney), eaves, sidewalls, headwalls, vent stacks, and so on should be applied to industry standards with 26 gauge galvanized or paint grip metal. New boots should be installed on vents. These measures are critical for a leak-proof roof. A professional roofer can determine if existing flashing are adequate.

  • Your roof and grounds should be clean and neat at the end of each day. A magnetic nail pick-up should be used.

  • Costs should be specified for repairing unanticipated damage like rotted decking or fascia.

  • You should be given the name of your roofer’s insurance carrier so that you can verify Worker’s Compensation and General Liability insurance. THIS IS A VITAL PRECAUTION FOLKS.

  • A water test and through cleaning should sew up a good job and a happy you.

  • Leave a Reply