Should you replace your roof?

Sunny, warm weather provides the ideal opportunity to replace your roof. If you haven’t re-roofed before, you’re likely to have a number of questions: What type of preparation is required? What materials are most appropriate? Should re-roof yourself or hire a contractor? Use the following dos and don’ts to answer these questions and guide your roofing project.

Don’t replace your roof if it’s not necessary. If you can squeeze two or three more years out of it through simple repairs, you may want to delay the expense. However, if repairs won’t prevent water damage once winter rolls around, don’t postpone replacement. A conventional asphalt-fiberglass, or composition, roof is over the hill when the shingles are brittle and worn on the surface.

Do explore your options for roofing materials. Composition roofing is the most commonly used, but other options such as tile, concrete-masonry and metal roofing are worth considering.

Do be sure your roof is applied over the type of surface recommended by the manufacturer. Some materials, such as composition roofing and tile, should be applied over a base of solid sheathing such as plywood. Others, such as wood shingles, require open sheathing (spaced boards) so the surface material can “breathe.”

Don’t add a layer of roofing on top of your existing roof without checking your roof’s structure and conditions, and understanding the requirements of the new material. The structure must be able to handle the added weight. If you’re not sure it can, get recommendations from qualified contractors.

Do coordinate new gutters and downspouts with the roofing installation. The best types of gutters are those that are integrated into the roofing system.

Do be sure to install any skylights before new roofing is applied. Proper flashing insures that your skylight won’t leak, and it’s best to install the flashing during roof installation.

Do evaluate whether you should re-roof yourself or hire a contractor. Most roofing contractors are happy to come out and take a look. They will give you their opinions and you can decide once you get estimates.

Do shop around if you decide to hire a contractor. If possible, find three or more through personal referrals and ask all three for bids.

Do ask your contractor to protect your house and yard before old roofing material is torn off. Lean plywood sheets against windows and doors and over the tops of tender shrubs and plantings. Be sure debris is hauled away promptly. Be especially careful to watch for nails around your home as they can injure your family or damage vehicles.


Bob Beisbier, owner of BK Home Inspection, is a Certified Master Home Inspector who has been providing professional and thorough home inspections in southeast Wisconsin for over 12 years. Bob is Infrared certified, DILHR Certified, and provides Home Energy Tune-ups, Environmental Data Reports, Pre-sale Home Inspections and Pre-offer Home Inspections.