If a few shingles get blown off my roof in Redmond WA, can I just nail a few new ones in their place?
The short answer is probably no. Depending on what type of material exactly your shingles or shakes are made of, they could be attached to your roof in one of many different ways.
Over the decades, roofing materials have changed considerably. Much of what you see out there that looks like wood shakes is actually synthetic material. Just like Trex and other synthetic materials that are made to look like real lumber – mostly, anyway – roofing materials have come a long way, too. What might look like real wooden shakes on your neighbor’s roof could well be long-lasting material made in a factory.
The advantages of synthetic roofing materials
The problem with natural materials is that they are more combustible and they do not last as long as synthetic materials. On the combustible issue, a shake roof can burn fast under the right (or should I say wrong) conditions. After a long and hot summer with no rainfall, even here in the Seattle area where we’re famous for our rain, an old, untreated wood shake can catch fire from a simple spark in the right place.
They might not be real, but they’re a great price
Synthetic roofing materials are now competitively priced when compared to natural materials. They last longer, and are far less likely to contribute to a fire. In fact, many cities around the country ban traditional wood shakes these days, and this has the benefit of reducing the number of emergencies fire departments are expected to handle.
Synthetic roofing materials can be made to look like anything you want
When Trex and products like it first come out into the market, they were more expensive than their equivalent wood products. The advantage was, they would basically last forever. And I can vouch for that because I got a whole new Trex deck installed a few decades ago, and it’s as good now as the day it was installed. It does look a little like wood, but you can easily tell that it’s synthetic with a close look. It also feels better underfoot, and doesn’t contain splinters. It gets moldy over the winter, but that’s easily taken care of with a few hours of pressure washing on a Saturday morning.
Always hire a roofing company, even for a small fix
The problem even with a small roof repair is that a small repair, however insignificant it might appear, can cause catastrophe if it’s not done right. One little leak – and it’s the little ones that get you because you don’t notice the damage for a long time – can eat away at your roof infrastructure. All the joists, rafters and beams have been treated, of course, but water is an amazing thing if it is combined with time.
WATER + TIME = DESTRUCTION
Like most professions, expertise in roof installation and repair takes years. A good roofing professional will have years ago worked side by side with an experienced roofer, and taken all that experience to each job in the future. You don’t want your roof to be the learning model for a roofing novice, or for that matter, for you to learn the trade. And all for the purpose of saving a few dollars! The best advice, therefore, is to hire a professional. And for small jobs, the price will be small.
Roofing companies are licensed, bonded and insured. The state of Washington has ever more strict rules about how roofing companies go about their business. It’s all about whom they can hire, how they do a job, and they follow contractors to their job sites for unscheduled inspections. Any transgression results in fines and penalties. All of that is for the benefit of the consumer, so take advantage of a well-regulated industry and trust that roofer with a good reputation.
A few pieces falling off might be a sign the roof needs to be replaced
If you’ve lost a few pieces of your own roof, I have a few questions for you. Has it been a long time since the roof was installed? Was there an exceptional storm, and did it also affect your neighbors’ roofs? If not, then it might be time to get your roof re-done. A roof is installed pretty tight now, and it should take an exceptional storm level to budge a few pieces, unless the roof material was not installed correctly. You can get a roof inspection for a relatively low cost. It might well be just a few shakes needing replacement, but if there is systemic weakening, you’d be wise to take care of it sooner rather than later.
“...never pinch pennies on brakes or tires”
This old adage might be expanded a little: “Never pinch pennies on brakes, tires or roofs”. That’s because each of these investments can have a big impact on your life. Well, perhaps that third one is not life-threatening, but it sure can destroy your investment. So take care of the little roof problems before they turn into big ones.