What is the best material to use on a roof replacement project on a typical Buchan style home in Seattle / Bellevue area?
There is probably no single answer to this question. A lot depends on the look of the house itself, and of course, what the prevailing neighborhood style is. On some streets, even in affluent Bellevue, for example, every house might have a composite roof. If you replace your roof with a shake or synthetic shake roof, it will definitely stand out. While shake can often look fancier than composite, your house may stand out in a way that might alienate your neighbors. So, the first place I’d start is, take a look at the neighborhood covenants, if there are any. If there are none, a simple glance at what your neighbors are using is the best place to start. Having said that, it might be good to actually talk with your neighbors. As a neighborhood increases in average property value, when work on a house becomes due, it’s often a significant upgrade. And if such an upgrade trend is about to start, you don’t want to be the last guy on the street who stuck with the older, low value option. Talking with your neighbors might uncover a general desire to go from that 70s style composite to a more modern – and likely more expensive – synthetic shake, for example. So ask around.
There are new roof materials coming onto the market every year
The second thing to consider is, while you might be very familiar with the roofing materials that were on the market when you last replaced your roof, you might be surprised to learn of what has been happing in the synthetic roofing materials department. If you are already working with a roofer, talk to them about the latest roofing material alternatives. There are, for example, synthetic shake pieces that not only look very good, they look better than the real thing, take less work to install, perform better, and last longer than regular, real shakes.
Go take a look, too, at what’s available in the major home supply store like Home Depot and Lowes. Synthetic materials can be picked up and examined in person too, so you get a better idea of what kind of stuff you are going to have over your head for years to come.
Consider the flammability of your roofing material choice
The Pacific Northwest does get a lot of rain, but that’s not to say we don’t have some epic house fires from time to time. It’s also common to see that every summer, we can get a prolonged dry spell. That’s just when a neighborhood house fire can get out of control. Everything in the universe can burn at some temperature, but there’s a lot you can do to buy time for your house while the fire department gets there. For example, in the old days, when every roof was covered in shake slates, a few weeks of sunshine would bake your whole roof dry as good kindling. Then when your next door neighbor hadn’t installed smoke alarm batteries for years, and his stoned teenage son sets fire to the house, it all suddenly becomes a problem for you, because your house roof is a mere ten feet from his. By the time the fire department gets underway, the sparks from your neighbor’s house have reached your parched roof. It doesn’t take long for it to catch fire. Even if it is not noticed at first, a lot of damage can be done to a roof that is partially burned.
New synthetic materials are so effective, some cities are banning the use of the original materials on fire safety grounds alone.
Longevity of roofing materials
It might seem like a long way off when your roofing company says your new roof will last twenty years. For some of us, we don’t even expect to live that long, but even if you don’t, a house that needs little re-doing for decades to come is worth more. If you change your mind and end up selling it, a roof that is set to last fifty years is a lot more valuable than one which has ten years left in it.
Reliability of roofing materials
Talk to your roofer about what materials might be both the easiest to install, and will give the most flexibility in terms of maintenance and reliability later on. Even though the new synthetic shakes may look perfectly real, they are in fact molded, and usually have a handful of variation, before they repeat their ‘individual’ pattern again. This makes their installation and effectiveness more predictable. With natural shakes, in contrast, every piece is unique, and you cannot always identify a ‘bad’ shake that might in some way be flawed, hidden from the naked eye.
Price of roofing materials
And then there’s the pesky issue of price. You might be scraping for cash, so a few hundred dollars either way can make a big difference.
Sometimes going for a lesser known brand might offer – to all intents and purposes – the same product as a more expensive one, and is therefore worth considering. You, a non roofing materials expert, are not going to know the difference, so it’s important to talk to your roofer about that, and/or pay a visit to your local home supplies store. Ask them the direct question: Can I get the same roofing material from a different manufacturer but at a better price? Do your homework before you ever ask for a bid, and work with a roofer that you trust.
Roofing Recommendation #1: don’t try this at home
Roofing may, in fact, be less complicated than laying down a Swedish maple floor in your living room, but it’s the consequences that count. If your dining room floor is a bit uneven after you made a few mistakes working out how to do it, you might be disappointed, but it won’t do real damage to your house. If you make a few small mistakes on replacing your roof, then you might have a real disaster on your hand.
My recommendation is not to consider doing the roof replacement work yourself. There might also be actual laws about it in your neighborhood, as well, but mostly because small mistakes can have huge consequences. Anyway, labor is only part of the cost. You would still have to buy the materials and rent the equipment to do the job. Reply on the experts. Blue Star Roofing, for example.
See you next week!