Welcome to our Homeowner's Information Guide. We realize what an important project this is for you. The roof over your head is not just for protection of your loved ones and your valuables, it's an investment and a critical part of your property. You're really making an investment on your biggest asset; your home. A roof is more than just shingles. It's a system of layers that work together to protect your home. When it comes to roofing, there are a number of areas homeowners need to be aware of, from selecting a contractor to the actual start of work.
Here are some tips provided by the California Contractors State License Board:
- Only hire licensed contractors.
- Contact the CSLB to verify their license.
- Get three bids. Each contractor should provide three references from past work.
- Get a written contract and don't sign anything until you completely understand it.
- Don't let payments get ahead of the work. Don't pay in cash.
- Don't rush into repairs or be pressured into making an immediate decision.
- Don't make the final payment before the job has been completed to your satisfaction.
You can also contact The National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA.) The NRCA is an excellent source of information for homeowners looking to learn everything they ever wanted to know about roofs.
When you're looking to hire a roofing contractor, it's best to conduct an interview and ask the right questions. You can determine his reliability, reputation, experience, and knowledge with just an interview. The most recommended way to find a roofing contractor is by referral. Our family, friends and neighbors are the best way to find a contractor. Ask if anyone has recently had their roof replaced and was happy with the work done. Don't hire them without first conducting your interview and following up with two other contractors, even if you're leaning towards the referral.
The second best place would be to ask your local roof supplier. We're not referring to the large home center or retail store chains, but rather the professional roofing material distributors. That would be us, G & F Roof Supply, we work with reputable contractors on a regular basis. The last place that you should try is the yellow pages or on the internet.
You should always interview three different contractors, even when they're a referral from a trusted source. Ask for references and make sure you check their license with the CSLB, California State Licensing Board. https://www2.cslb.ca.gov/OnlineServices/CheckLicenseII/CheckLicense.aspx
Upon receiving your three estimates, base your evaluation on the likelihood that the contractor can be located within the next five years. You want someone that will stand behind his warranty and will provide the service he promised. Most imperfections in the roof system occur within the first couple years.
Protect yourself from involvement in worker injuries, third person liabilities, and damages. A low price can signal a lot of discrepancies and shortcomings in the reliability of the contractor. Get all their insurance coverage information. Never judge the value of various proposals from the lowest bid received.
You should always be advised of any changes which affect the contract agreement. A well-drafted, professional contract will anticipate unforeseen problems such as hidden deck rot, etc. These conditions can be incorporated in “not to exceed price” or “time and material” clauses. Before signing the contract or agreement, make sure the price covers all materials, gutters, ventilation, cleanup, completion date, etc..
Make sure that you understand the details of the contract, the roofing materials used, the pros and cons of the material, how long the job will take to complete, who will haul away the mess, and how long the roof should last, to what you should do to maintain your new roof.
Here are some suggested questions that could help you in hiring the right roof contractor for your project:
Is your company licensed? Insured? Vendor history?
A. Licensed contractor YES/NO and always get their License number.
B. Proper insurance, General Liability/Worker's Compensation? Are they doing the work on their own or are they hiring a subcontractor?
In which case you should have all information on that subcontractor as well.
C. Do you have a good pay history with vendors? This could save you from liens on your house down the road. Can I see a list of your vendors?
Local contractor? What percent of your business is from referrals?
A. How long have you been here in the city? Do you have an address?
B. BBB member? Since when? Number of complaints?
C. Have you been in business more than two years?
You can check your contractor's license here:
How can you make sure this job flows smoothly?
A. Will you call to confirm order and set installation date?
B. Who will answer all my questions during the installation?
C. Will we have a final walk through inspection before we write a final check?
Do you have some recent referrals we can call on?
A. How about a job where a customer had a complaint? How was it handled?
What are the company's warranties? Workmanship and product?
A. If I have a leak would I be responsible for the drywall/paint repairs or the company?
B. What if I move, can I transfer my warranty to the new owner?
If this job is an insurance claim, does the company have the proper credentials to represent me?
A. What role should the company play in your claim? What role should you play?
B. Does this company have complaints from our insurance company for insurance fraud? Check it out.
C. Is this company a storm chasing company? Do they work in multiple states? This could be a red flag.
Does this company feel like a good fit?
A. Did they answer questions to my understanding?
B. Do they have a professional look and feel to them?
C. Do they have a good standing in the community?
D. Bottom line: If there's a problem do I believe I can trust they will make right?
Is this contractor qualified to understand the problem? How many projects like mine have you completed the last twelve months?
The number one problem is determining your contractor's qualifications before you select one. In fact, if you choose a qualified, experienced contractor, you don't have to worry about asking the rest of these questions. If they have done similar jobs, they will be familiar with each step of the process.
The ideal contractor already has the right answers to your problems; they already use the right products and follow the correct specifications; they already employ the right people; and the right contractor also comes at the right price.
Does this contractor use quality products?
Even the best contractor can't do a satisfactory job with inferior materials. It's essential to combine proper specifications, materials and application with quality craftsmanship.
Does this contractor employ qualified, experience people to do the job?
When it comes to products, the quality, the manufacturer and the length of their warranty doesn't matter if it is installed by an incompetent contractor. Unless products are installed properly, it will never perform as intended or as you anticipated. It is not uncommon for a homeowner to pay twice for a project because they failed to carefully qualify the contractor before beginning the project.
Will we need a permit?
Most cities require permits for building projects. Failure to obtain the necessary permits or to arrange obligatory inspections can be illegal. A qualified remodeling contractor will be conscious of the permit process, and ensure that all permits have been obtained before initiating any work.
Residential Roof Maintenance
Simple maintenance and prevention can extend the life of your roof and prevent costly replacement before it's time.
There are many things you can do to prolong the life of your roofing material and prevent leaks, additional damage or even the replacement. Inspecting your roof twice yearly and after every storm, you can easily prevent some of the top ten most common roofing problems. Use a pair of binoculars to conduct this twice yearly exam, because even walking on your roof can cause damage. If you must get on the roof, wear rubber-soled shoes, brace the ladder, and be very careful not to slip and fall. Many roofers install walkways to double a layer of roofing materials to allow access to HVAC or other areas in order to prevent damage.
To prevent additional damage like water leaks, rotting, mold, mildew and more, you should promptly replace broken or missing roofing materials like shingles, tires, or shakes. A weak spot will allow the elements free access and most likely more material will break loose.
If you notice mold and mildew stains on your roof, don't use a power wash to remove the unwanted growth. The pressure from a power washer can cause unseen damage and drive water in under your shingles or tiles, blazing a path for future problems. There are roof cleaning products out there to remove mold, mildew and stains, but it is usually best to hire professionals to take care of the problem and to clean your roof. Wind, rain, hail, snow, ice, and debris can all lead to moisture getting under the layers of roof and causing everything from leaks to mold and rot.
Trees and branches are serious culprits for roof damage. Branches leaning on the roof will scratch and gauge roofing materials when they are blown by the wind; falling branches from overhanging trees can damage, or even puncture shingles and wearing away the protective top layer and roofing materials. The falling leaves can clog gutter systems causing water to backup into the attic or living spaces, or to run down behind the fascia. Take the time to trim your trees to prevent damage to your roof. Water that sits on your roof is a sure sign of a problem. Common causes range from debris buildup to improper drainage of HVAC units and gutters.
Clear the roof and gutters of leaves, branches and other debris. Debris can block water from properly flowing into the gutters, or clog the gutters themselves. Since gutters are designed to channel water from your roof, down, and away from the foundation of your property, debris and improperly working gutters are big trouble. Missing or blocked gutters, as well as gutters that drain too close to your home or business, will saturate the soil near the foundation. Wet ground provides a perfect breeding ground for mold and mildew. Moisture will eat away at foundations and basement walls. Leaks and cracks will develop and will worsen quickly in the winter months when the ground freezes and expands. This type of damage can cause interior and exterior walls and floors to warp and bow, or become wet or moldy. The gutters you select for your home should be fire resistant and water proof. Gutters should also be strong, durable and able to handle harsh elements like snow, sleet, hail, intense heat, and must be able to channel heavy rains. The shape of the gutters is often dictated by the slope of your roof, the fascia and your roofing materials. The style is a little more open ended and more often than not, you can choose from copper, aluminum, galvanized, vinyl, synthetic, welded, seamless, etc. The installation is vital. You can select the highest quality gutter materials in the world, but if it is improperly installed, your gutters won't work. That's why it is so important to have a professional roofer handle the installation of your gutter system.
Down spouts should not discharge onto roof surfaces, but should be extended to the eaves-troughs of the lower roof. Backed up gutters can cause damage to shingles, shakes or tiles along to the edge of your roof, so be sure to keep them cleaned out. Clear out any debris that may accumulate in the valleys where two roof surfaces join. Debris holds moisture and can cause mold and moisture to eat away at your roofing material.
Roof and attic ventilation is an integral part of making a roof last, and occurs naturally when vents are placed at the base of the roof (at the eaves or in the soffits) and near the top of the roof (the ridge) so that warm air can leave through the top, and cool air can be drawn through the bottom. Since warm air naturally rises, no mechanical process is necessary to create this air movement. Adequate ventilation regulates temperature and moisture levels in the attic. Left unchecked, heat, and moisture can build up causing damage to rafters, sheathing, shingles, insulation, and raising energy costs, any may also lead to some ugly mold and mildew problems.
Shrinkage is caused when the roof membrane (the stuff under the tiles or shingles) shrinks, most often causing cracks or crazing in the upper layer. Blistering, ridging, splitting, and surface erosion of shingles can eventually lead to bigger problems. Small animals, birds, bats, and insects can cause a surprising amount of damage. It's best to evict them before they you end up with a costly tenant.
Lack of roof maintenance is probably a roof's worst enemy. Many problems start out as minor, such as the need to remove overhanging tree limbs or cleaning backed up gutters. But when not corrected these problems can create serious damage. Routine inspection and maintenance can extend the life of your roof and that can save you a lot of money.
Roofing Terms Glossary
We hope this information will provide an additional learning tool for you. It's important to educate yourself before beginning such an investment. Let's become familiar with the words used in this industry, so that we understand when speaking to our future roofing contractors. Here's a glossary of words we borrowed from one of our manufacturer's GAF.
Algae: Rooftop fungus that can leave dark stains on roofing.
Angled Fasteners: Roofing nails and staples driven into decks at angles not parallel to the deck.
Apron Flashing: Metal flashing used at chimney fronts.
ARMA: Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association. Organization of roofing manufacturers.
Asphalt: A bituminous waterproofing agent used in various types of roofing materials.
Asphalt Concrete Primer: Asphalt based primer used to prepare concrete and metal for asphalt sealant.
Asphalt Plastic Cement: Asphalt based sealant material, meeting ASTM D4586 Type I or II. Used to seal and adhere roofing materials. Also called mastic, blackjack, roof tar, bull.
ASTM: The American Society for Testing and Materials. Organization that sets standards for a wide variety of materials, including roofing.
Back Surfacing: Granular material added to shingle's back to assist in keeping separate during delivery and storage.
Blistering: Bubbles or pimples in roofing materials. Usually moisture related. In shingles blisters are caused by either moisture under the material or moisture trapped inside the material.
Blow-Offs: When shingles are subjected to high winds, and are forced off a roof deck.
Buckling: When a wrinkle or ripple affects shingles or their underlayments.
Closed Cut Valley: A shingle valley installation method where one roof plane's shingles completely cover the other's. The top layer is cut to match the valley lines.
Cobra® : GAF's respected brand name for ventilation products.
Counter Flashing: The metal or siding material that is installed over roof-top base flashing systems.
Country Mansion®: GAF's limited lifetime warranty shingle.
Crickets: A peaked water diverter installed behind chimneys and other large roof projections. Effectively diverts water around projections.
Cupping: When shingles are improperly installed over an existing roof or are over-exposed, they may form a curl or cup. May also be due to a manufacturing defect.
Deck: The substrate over which roofing is applied. Usually plywood, wood boards, or planks.
Deck Armor™: - premium breathable roof deck protection. It provides a critical extra layer of protection between your shingles and your roof deck — to help prevent wind-driven rain (or water from other sources) from infiltrating under your shingles and causing damage to your roof structure or to the inside of your home.
Dormer: A raised roof extending out of a larger roof plane.
Drip Edge: An installed lip that keeps shingles up off the deck at edges, and extends shingles out over eaves and gutters, and prevents
Dubl-Coverage Mineral Guard®: Roll roofing material with 19" selvage edge for double coverage over roof deck.
Eaves: The roof edge from the fascia to the structure's outside wall. In general terms, the first three feet across a roof is termed the eave.
End Laps: When installing rolled products in roofing, the area where a roll ends on a roof, and is overlapped by the next section of rolled material.
EWA: Engineered Wood Association. Tests and sets standards for all varieties of plywood used in the U.S.
Exposure: The area on any roofing material that is left exposed to the elements.
Fasteners: Nails or staples used to secure roofing to the deck.
FHA: The Federal Housing Authority sets construction standards throughout the U.S.
Fiberglass Mat: Fibers condensed into strong, resilient mats for use in roofing materials.
Flange: Metal pan extending up or down a roof slope around flashing pieces. Usually at chimneys and plumbing vents
Flashing: Materials used to waterproof a roof around any projections
Flashing Cement: Sealant designed for use around flashing areas, typically thicker than plastic cement.
Gable Roof: Traditional roof style; two peaked roof planes meeting at a ridge line of equal size.
GAFCant: GAF cant strips for deflecting water away from flashing areas. Typically used on low slope roofs.
Golden Pledge®: GAF's strongest limited warranty for shingles. America's strongest steep slope warranty.
Grand Sequoia®: GAF shingle with wood shake appearance.
Grand Slate™: GAF shingle with slate appearance.
Granules: Crushed rock that is coated with a ceramic coating and fired, used as top surface on shingles.
Hand-Sealing: The method to assure sealing of shingles on very steep slopes, in high wind areas, and when installing in cold weather.
High Nailing: When shingles are nailed or fastened above the manufacturer's specified nail location.
Hip Legs: The down-slope ridges on hip roofs.
Hip Roof: A roof with four roof planes coming together at a peak and four separate hip legs.
Ice Dam: When a snow load melts on a roof and re-freezes at the eave areas. Ice dams force water to "back-up" under shingles and cause leakage.
"L" Flashing: Continuous metal flashing consisting of several feet of metal. Used at horizontal walls, bent to resemble an "L".
Laminated Shingles: Shingles made from two separate pieces that are laminated together such as GAF Timberline® Series, Country Mansion® and Grand Sequoia® Shingles. Also called dimensional shingles and architectural shingles.
Laps: The area where roll roofing or rolled underlayments overlap one another during application (see also side laps and end laps).
Liberty™: Self-adhering low-slope roofing. Liberty™ systems are applied without torches, open flames, hot asphalt, or messy solvent-based adhesives.
Low Slopes: Roof pitches less than 4:12 are considered low sloped roofs. Special installation practices must be used on roofs sloped 2:12-4:12. Shingles can not be installed at slopes less than 2/12.
Mansard: A roof design with a nearly vertical roof plane that ties into a roof plane of less slope at its peak.
Mats: The general term for the base material of shingles and certain rolled products.
Modified bitumen: Rolled roofing membrane with polymer modified asphalt and either polyester or fiberglass reinforcement.
Mortar: Mixture of sand, mortar, limestone and water used in bonding a chimney's bricks together.
Nail Guide Line: Painted line on laminated shingles, to aid in the proper placement of fasteners.
Nail-Pop: When a nail is not fully driven, it sits up off the roof deck.
Nesting: Installing a second layer of shingles aligning courses with the original roof to avoid shingle cupping.
NRCA: The National Roofing Contractors Association. Respected national organization of roofing contractors.
Open Valley: Valley installation using metal down the valley center.
Organic Mat: Material made from recycled wood pulp and paper.
Organic Shingles: Shingles made from organic (paper) mats.
OSB: Oriented Strand Board. A decking made from wood chips and lamination glues.
Overdriven: The term used for fasteners driven through roofing material with too much force, breaking the material.
Overexposed: Installing shingle courses higher than their intended exposure.
Quarter Sized: Term for the size of hand sealant dabs, size of a U.S. 25¢ piece.
Racking: Method of installing shingles in a straight up the roof manner.
Rake Edge: The vertical edge of gable style roof planes.
Release Film: The plastic sheet installed on the back of WeatherWatch® and StormGuard® underlayments. Used for packaging and handling. Remove before installation.
Rigid Vent: Hard plastic ridge vent material.
Roof Louvers: Rooftop rectangular shaped roof vents. Also called box vents, mushroom vents, airhawks, soldier vents.
Roof Plane: A roofing area defined by having four separate edges. One side of a gable, hip or mansard roof.
Sawteeth: The exposed section of double thickness on Timberline® Series shingles - also called dragon teeth. Shaped to imitate wood shake look on the roof.
Self-Sealant: Sealant installed on shingles. After installation, heat and sun will activate sealant to seal the shingles to each other.
Selvage: The non exposed area on rolled roofing. Area without granules. Designed for nail placement and sealant.
Shed Roof: Roof design of a single roof plane. Area does not tie into any other roofs.
Shingle-Mate®: GAF's shingle underlayment. Breather type with fiberglass backing to reduce wrinkles and buckles.
Side Laps: The area on rolled material where one roll overlaps the rolled material beneath it. Also called selvage edge on rolled roofing.
Side Walls: Where a vertical roof plane meets a vertical wall. The sides of dormers etc.
Soffit Ventilation: Intake ventilation installed under the eaves, or at the roof edge.
GAF Shingle & Accessory Ltd. Warranty: GAF's standard shingle limited warranty.
Starter Strip: The first course of roofing installed. Usually trimmed from main roof material.
Steep-Slope Roofing: Generally all slopes higher than 4/12 are considered steep slopes.
Stepflashing: Metal flashing pieces installed at sidewalls and chimneys for weatherproofing.
StormGuard®: GAF waterproof underlayment. Film-surfaced rolled underlayment, 1.5 squares coverage per roll.
Tab: The bottom portion of traditional shingle separated by the shingle cut-outs.
Tear-Off: Removal of existing roofing materials down to the roof deck.
Telegraphing: When shingles reflect the uneven surface beneath them. Ex: Shingles installed over buckled shingles may show some buckles.
Timberline® Series: GAF's trademark name for laminated wood-shake-style shingles.
TimberTex®: GAF enhanced Hip and Ridge Shingles.
Transitions: When a roof plane ties into another roof plane that has a different pitch or slope.
Underdriven: Term used to describe a fastener not fully driven flush to the shingles surface.
Underlayments: Asphalt-based rolled materials designed to be installed under main roofing material to serve as added protection.
Valleys: Area where two adjoining sloped roof planes intersect on a roof creating a "V" shaped depression.
Vapor: Term used to describe moisture laden air.
Warm Wall: The finished wall inside of a structure, used in roofing to determine how far up the deck to install waterproof underlayments at eaves.
Warranty: The written promise to the owner of roofing materials for material related problems.
Waterproof Underlayments: Modified bitumen based roofing underlayments. Designed to seal to wood decks and waterproof critical leak areas.
Weather Stopper® Integrated Low-Slope Roofing System™: GAF's complete roofing system and components.
Weather Stopper System Plus Ltd. Warranty Plus Limited Warranty: GAF's next grade of enhanced warranty. Extended coverage for owners.
WeatherWatch®: GAF's granule-surfaced waterproof underlayment.
Woven Valleys: The method of installing valleys by laying one shingle over the other up the valley center.