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Build a relationship with a certified roofing professional who can perform a thorough inspection of your roof, advise you on its condition and lifespan, help you create a preventative maintenance plan, and explain the different roofing materials available in greater detail.

Is it time for a new roof?

Don’t let a major leak be the first sign of trouble. A visual inspection of the roof should be done every year as part of a preventative maintenance plan. This can be done from the ground using binoculars, but physically getting onto the roof is best.

When making your visual inspection, look for:

• damaged shingles that are broken, loose, have curled edges or a noticeable loss of the granular surface

• metal flashings around the roof joints and edges that have holes, are buckled, bent or missing

• caulking and sealants that are missing, cracked or peeling

• mildew and moss covering the shingles

Early signs of a leak that can be identified in the home include: water stains on vent pipes, dark spots on ceilings and dampness around the fireplace. If you notice any of these problems, contact a professional to make the repairs and discuss whether it’s time for a new roof.

What kind of roof should I get?

There are several kinds of roofs to choose from that offer a range in styles, cost and durability.

• Traditional shingles

Composite shingles, made from asphalt or fiberglass, come in a variety of colors and styles. Higher-quality shingles can carry a lifetime warranty and are less expensive and easier to install than other roofing choices. Damage from high winds or extreme weather conditions is possible, resulting in maintenance costs during its lifespan.

• Metal

Metal roofing is a good choice because it’s durable, fire resistant and 100% recyclable. Every type of roof should be inspected yearly for potential damage, but a properly installed metal roof requires less maintenance than asphalt shingles. Styles include standing seam, metal shingles and metal shakes which come in different colors, giving the roof a traditional design that fits the look of any neighborhood. A metal roof can be more expensive than a traditional shingle roof because of material costs and a longer installation time, but can last 70 years which offers long-term savings.

• Slate

Slate roofing is made from stone, adding natural beauty to a home. This durable, fire-resistant roof can last 75 to 150 years. Installing a slate roof is more expensive than a shingle roof because it requires extra care when handling the fragile tiles. The weight of the slate is a consideration, with a 100 square foot area weighing between 800 to 1500 lbs. A structural evaluation is recommended to ensure the roofing truss system, load-bearing walls and foundation can handle the extra weight. However, there are modern materials and different methods of installation that can be used to reduce the overall weight of a slate roof.

• Cedar

A cedar shingle or shake roof can last up to 50 years and is made primarily from the Western Red Cedar. Although it’s not fire resistant, cedar is highly resistant to rot and bugs. Cedar shingles are thin and smooth; the cedar shakes are thick with a more rugged look. A cedar roof offers better insulation to the home than other materials. Studies have shown the red cedar shingle naturally reflects the sun’s rays but maintains warmth in cooler weather because of air cells within the wood’s structure.

• Tile

Clay or ceramic tile roofing is another natural choice but comes with its challenges. Although you’ll find tile roofs across the county, they are more popular in the warmer, drier climate of the Southwest. The tiles are hard and brittle which would not hold up well over time where falling tree branches and debris could cause the tiles to chip or break. The tile has natural cracks where rain water can gather, so mold and moss must be removed.

• Green roofing

Solar panel shingles, known as photovoltaic (PV) shingles, look like traditional asphalt shingles but contain solar energy technology. In the future, traditional roof designs using PV shingles will replace large solar panels sitting on top of a roof. A roofing contractor installs the deep-colored shingles in the same pattern as traditional shingles, and then an electrical contractor completes the installation by connecting wires underneath the solar shingles to a system supplying energy to the home. Use of PV shingles started in Colorado and will be available in a dozen more states across the country by the end of 2012.

It’s important to maintain and inspect your roof yearly to avoid costly damage such as a noticeable leak into the home. Build a relationship with a certified roofing professional you trust to create a preventative maintenance plan either you or the contractor can manage. When a leak or other damage is found, call the contractor immediately. If it’s time to install a new roof, there are various options based on design, cost and durability to choose from.

Protect your investment and your family with the best materials, proper installation and service you expect from a trusted professional.

The Roof Over Your Head: If It’s Time for a New Roof, What Type Should I Choose?

The Roof Over Your Head: If It's Time for a New Roof, What Type Should I Choose?