Time for a New Roof? 10 Signs Your Roof Needs to be Replaced

10 signs you need a new roof

Installing a new roof is a significant expense, and it’s one you don’t want to face too often as a homeowner. Whether your roof is leaking and obviously damaged, or it’s just approaching its expected lifespan, there are some tell-tale signs to help you decide if you need a roof replacement. Capitol Improvements has been installing and replacing roofs of all types for over 30 years. In this article, we’ll use our expertise to help you determine whether or not you need a new roof.



Top 10 Signs You Need a New Roof

How can you tell if you need a new roof or just a roof repair? Below are the top 10 ways to determine whether your roof is due for replacement.

 

1. Your Records Say So

whn do you need a new roof

As a homeowner, keeping accurate records can save you time and reduce unnecessary costs. If you owned your home when the current roof was installed, you might still have the work receipts and contracts, including any warranty information.

First, check to see whether you’re still within the roofing manufacturer’s warranty period. Typical roof manufacturer warranties last between 10 and 30 years and cover defects or failure of the materials, or premature aging.

You may have a manufacturer’s warranty that covers labor in addition to materials. In this instance, your warranty will cover certain types of installation errors, too.

Additionally, you may have a warranty from your roofing contractor. This type of warranty often lasts for a shorter amount of time (one to five years) but covers both material failure and contractor error.

If your manufacturer’s warranty period has expired, your roof is likely approaching its intended maximum lifespan. After this point, the roof can be expected to need replacing or repair at no fault of the manufacturer or contractor.

2. It’s More Than 20 Years Old

Not every homeowner is a master record-keeper, and that’s OK. If you no longer have the paperwork for your roof, you may still know the approximate age of the roof.

If you know your roof is approaching 20 years old or older, it’s a good time to have the roof inspected by a licensed contractor.

It may not be necessary to replace the roof quite yet, but having it inspected can help you repair minor problems and keep your roof intact as long as possible.

How long does your roof last? Below are the approximate lifespans of different roof types:

Roof Type

Average Lifespan

Slate, Clay, or Cement Tile 100 years or more (A tile roof can last the whole lifespan of your home.)
Standing Seam Metal 30-50 years
Rubber Roof (EPDM, PVC and TPO) 20-25 years
Asphalt Shingles 25-50 years
Fiber Cement Shingles 20-25 years
Built-Up Roofing (BUR) 15-20 years
Modified Bitumen Systems (MBS) 12-15 years
Asphalt Roll Roofing 5-10 years

Learn more about your roof’s average lifespan.

3. A Licensed Contractor Recommends It

As mentioned above, you should have your roof inspected by a trusted, licensed contractor if it is approaching the end of its expected lifespan.

You should also have a professional roof inspection performed as part of routine home maintenance, and especially if you have any concerns about your roof.

If your roofing contractor determines your roof is at the end of its life and cannot be restored with repairs alone, it’s likely time for a new roof.

As with any large home improvement project, it’s a good idea to have multiple contractors inspect your roof and offer bids for a new roof replacement. You may find that one roofing contractor recommends replacement, while another recommends holding off and making repairs instead.

Compare and contrast roofing contractors to find one that you trust to help you decide whether to replace your roof.

4. Your Attic Has Great Natural Light

hole in roof new roof

If your roof is approaching the end of its expected lifespan, or you have other reason to suspect that you might need a new roof, the first place to check is the attic or crawlspace.

It’s often much easier to tell if there are holes, cracks, or leaks in the roof from underneath than from above.

One reason for this is that accessing the crawlspace is usually safer and more straightforward than accessing the roof, especially if you have a sloped roof.

It’s also easier to detect sunlight streaming in through a hole or crack in the ceiling of your attic than to try and find small defects in the roof beneath your feet.

The first giveaway that you need a new roof will often be a leak in within the attic or top floor or your home. But keep in mind that a leak does not always mean you need an entirely new roof.

Take steps to manage leaks as well as you can before professional help arrives, and have the damage analyzed by a licensed contractor before more extensive damage occurs.

5. Your Shingles Are Deteriorating or Missing

Next to unwanted sunlight or moisture in the attic, the most noticeable sign of a roof that needs to be replaced is deteriorating shingles.

If you have a shingled, sloped roof, you can observe the most obvious damage to your shingles (like pieces that are missing entirely) from the ground.

To detect more subtle shingle deterioration, you’ll need to climb up onto your roof. (If you don’t feel safe doing so, or you don’t have a ladder that reaches above the gutter of your roof, call a licensed contractor to inspect the roof, instead.)

Once you’re there, check to make sure all of the shingles are lying flat. Look for patches that are cracked, lifted, bent, curled, or appear damaged. Smaller areas may be fixed with a quick repair. More extensive the shingle damage or aging will require a roof replacement.

Another sign that your shingles are at the end of their useful life is the shedding of granules. As shingles age, they begin shedding the granules which coat their surface, making them less effective.

To determine whether your shingles are shedding, look for bald patches—areas where the granules are missing—and check your gutters for the sand-like grains.

6. The Roof is Sagging or Drooping

sagging roof drooping roof

The most obvious sign that a roof needs to be replaced is sagging and drooping. This is a sign that you can usually observe from the ground—in fact, if your roof appears to be sinking, you likely shouldn’t climb up there yourself.

A licensed contractor will check the surface of your roof for trapped water and rotting boards and suggest either a repair or roof replacement before further damage is done to your home.

7. You Have a Rooftop Garden (But You Didn’t Want One)

Rooftop gardens are modern and in-fashion. One exception to this rule is unintentional rooftop gardens which consist of moss, mold, and fungus.

If you have unwanted foliage on your roof, you may be able to brush the debris away with a brush fairly easily. However, make sure to check for water damage and signs of decay underneath and around the mossy area, if you do so. Moss and fungus can trap moisture against the roof, which will eventually lead to more extensive underlying deterioration.

If you think your roof might be compromised by a buildup of moss or other plant life, call a roofer to inspect the area thoroughly.

8. It Was Installed or Repaired Poorly

new roof

You may not have known it when the roof was installed, or you may not have owned the home at the time, but your roof may have been installed hastily or incorrectly.

It can take years for a poor roof installation to manifest in damage to your home. Worse yet, poor roof installation often comes paired with the lack of a reliable warranty or guarantee.

You can check for the following signs that your roof may have been installed without the proper know-how or correct systems:

    •  Flashing

The flashing around roof fixtures and chimneys should fit perfectly into the rest of the roofing system to prevent moisture from entering the roof.

Poor flashing may be fitted improperly or made of cement or caulk rather than metal. If you suspect you have bad flashing, go into your attic or crawlspace after a heavy rain and inspect the area, or call a roofing contractor.

    • Gutters

Gutters are more critical to the integrity of a roof system than many roofers give them credit for.

If your gutters were put in poorly, or portions of the gutters are missing, water will flow to the underside of the roofing fascia and slowly cause moisture damage and rot.

    • Drill Holes

People purposely drill holes in their roofs for many reasons, such as satellite dishes and antenna mounting brackets. When these features are removed, it leaves drill holes that allow water to enter the roofing system and cause rot over time.

Drill holes are often left uncovered patched incorrectly. A small hole is easy to fix, but one that was filled with caulking or cement will still allow water to seep into the roof.

Drill holes need to be fixed with a proper spot-replacement, or they could result in roof damage that leads to an early roof replacement.

9. Your Flat Roof’s Seams Are Separating

Flat roofs have unique indicators that it’s time for a new roof. One of these is seam separation.

Separating seams is most common with seams that are sealed with adhesive—such as EPDM. TPO and PVC roofs are hot air-welded, which gives them added strength when done correctly. But seam failure can occur with these roof types, as well.

To check for seam separation, climb up on your flat roof and examine the seams for lifting, splitting, cracking, or curling. A separated seam will allow moisture to seep underneath and rot the underlying structure over time.

A separated seam is often an easy fix, but it can also be a sign that your roof is reaching the end of its useful life.

10. Your Flat Roof is Torn, Heat-Damaged or Has Pooling Water

Flat roofs are also prone to aging due to heat and UV exposure. If your flat roof’s membrane is discolored or cracking, it may be time for a full replacement.

Built-up roofing (BUR) and modified bitumen systems (MBS) are prone to tearing from impacts like falling trees, as well as wind damage that can lift the upper tar layer. Look for torn sections or pieces that may be missing altogether.

The most critical issue to look for if you have a flat roof is pooling water. If the roofing structure underneath the top membrane is beginning to warp, your roof may be suffering moisture damage from standing water. When this is the case, your roof system may need to be replaced, including both the underlying roof platform and upper membranes.

 

How to Pay for a New Roof

how to pay for a new roof

Determining whether or not you need a new roof is the first step. The next step is figuring out how to pay for your roof replacement.

Luckily, many roofers offer financing for new roofs, and your insurance may cover part of the cost depending on the age of your roof.

If you’re in the D.C. area, Capitol Improvements can help you pay for a new roof with flexible financing through Enerbank.

What is a Rubber Roof? Your Ultimate Guide to Rubber Roofing

rubber roof types

Rubber roofing has multiple applications—the most common being low-sloped and flat roofs.

Traditional shingles work well to repel moisture on steep roofs, with the help of gravity. But shingles don’t create the type of watertight seal needed to protect a low-pitched or flat roof from water.

On low-sloped or flat roofs, roofers often use specially-manufactured roofing materials made of rubber or PVC plastic. This type of roofing is known as rubber roofing. 



 

Benefits of Rubber Roofing

rubber roofing energy savings

Single-ply rubber roofing is the ideal material for flat and low-sloped roofs because of its durability and water resistance.

Each type of rubber roofing material—whether it contains synthetic rubber polymers or plastic polymers—was specifically designed to protect low-sloped roofs from water damage.

Rubber roofing has many benefits, including the following:

• Long lifespan of 20-25 years on average and up to 50 years in some instances.
• Easy cleaning and maintenance.
• Energy savings.
• Improved curb appeal.
• Relatively short installation time.

Rubber Roofing Applications

Rubber roofing has numerous applications and uses. Below, we’ll go over the three most typical applications for rubber roofs.

Flat and Low-Sloped Roofs

The intended application for rubber roofing is on flat and low-sloped roofs, where shingled roofing isn’t the best option.

Shingled roofing is the perfect choice for steep-pitched roofs, but it isn’t ideal for low-sloped roofs.

This is because shingled roofing uses a stacked formation (one on top of the other with overlapping ends) to repel water as it travels downwards off the roof.

On low-sloped or flat roofs, water can drift in different directions and seep in between the shingles, causing leaks.

For roofs where shingles aren't the ideal choice, rubber roofing is often the most practical solution. Rubberized roofing materials repel moisture and protect the structure underneath from pooling water.

 

On Top of Your Shingled Roof

Rubber roofing isn’t only relegated to the field of flat roofs. It can also be used on pitched roofs, as a way to extend the lifespan of the existing roof structure and add value to the home.

On sloped roofs, rubber roofing is typically applied over the top of the existing shingles. A roofer can apply a layer of insulation onto the shingles, followed by the rubber membrane.

This option can save you money in the long run since rubber roofs tend to last longer than other types of roof replacement.

As an added benefit, installing a rubber roof on top of your shingled roof can dramatically lower your energy costs by insulating and deflecting heat away from the home.

 

Fixing a Metal Roof

Metal roofing is another popular low-sloped roofing option. Metal roofing can last many years, but when it becomes rusted, leaky or damaged, it can be difficult and costly to replace.

If you have a damaged metal roof, a rubber roof may be a better solution. Rather than going through the process of tearing off the existing metal roof, you can install a rubber roof over the top.

Similarly to installing a rubber roof over the top of a shingled roof, topping a metal roof with a rubber roof can improve curb appeal and reduce energy costs significantly.

 

Types of Rubber Roofing

types of rubber roofing

 

Nearly all modern flat roofs are topped with one type of rubber roofing membrane or another.

But as mentioned above, not all rubber roofs are actually made of rubber, and not all are created equally. Each type of rubber roof material and system has its own pros and cons.

Below are the rubber roof options for installing or replacing a roof.

1. EPDM

Ethylene propylene diene terpolymer, or EPDM, is one of the most popular materials for flat roofs.

 

Pros of EPDM Roofing:

 

  • Long lifespan. EPDM has one of the longest lifespans of all rubber roofing materials.

 

  • Original rubber roof. EPDM is the original rubber roof product, which means it’s stood the test of time.

 

  • Lower cost. EPDM is one of the lower-cost options when it comes to rubber roofs.

 

Cons of EPDM Roofing:

 

  • Absorbs heat. EPDM is naturally black, so it offers less heat protection than rubber roof materials that are lighter in color. EPDM can be ordered in grey or white for an additional cost.

 

  • Potential weak seams. EPDM seams are sealed with adhesive or tape, which leaves them more prone to leaking than hot air-welded seams.

 

2. TPO

Thermoplastic polyolefin, or TPO, is a single-ply roofing material that is similar to EPDM but different in several key ways. First, TPO is a relatively new product in the roofing industry, which means it’s not as time-tested as EPDM and PVC roofing.

However, TPO was created as a more economical and energy-efficient alternative to these other rubber roofing materials, making it a popular choice.

 

Pros of TPO Roofing:

 

  • Durable and flexible. TPO is highly flexible, which means it can better withstand impacts and other types of potential damage.

 

  • Environmentally friendly. TPO doesn’t contain some of the chemicals used to produce other roofing materials, including chlorine. TPO is UV resistant (and can be ENERGY STAR rated), which means you can use less energy to cool your home in the summer. TPO is 100% recyclable.

 

  • Hot air technology. TPO is hot air-welded, making the seams strong, flexible, and highly water-resistant. The seams of a TPO roof are up to four times stronger than EPDM seams, which must be sealed using adhesives.

 

  • Color range. TPO is available in white, but it can also be manufactured in grey or black for aesthetic purposes.

 

Cons of TPO Roofing:

 

  • New technology. TPO was introduced to the roofing industry in the 1990s, making it a relatively new rubber roofing material as compared to the others.

 

  • Inconsistent formulas. TPO manufacturers are still working out the best formulations for their businesses and for their customers. Some manufacturers produce TPO products that are less expensive but more prone to failure. When you install a TPO roof, it’s essential to choose a roofer who uses a high-quality TPO product.

 

3. PVC

Polyvinyl chloride, or PVC, is similar to TPO in that it’s made of thermoplastic materials. It offers similar benefits in terms of flexibility and water-resistance, with similarly hot air-weldable seams.

However, PVC contains plasticizers and chlorine salts, giving it different benefits and drawbacks from TPO.

 

Pros of PVC Roofing:

 

  • Even more flexible. The plasticizers and other chemical components of PVC rubber roofing make it even more flexible than TPO. This makes it resilient and resistant to building-settling.

 

  • Time-tested product. Roofers have been using PVC for over 50 years. As a long-time industry favorite, it’s easier to find a roofing contractor who specializes in PVC roofing than in a newer product like TPO.

 

  • Energy efficient. Like TPO, PVC is energy efficient and can help reduce your cooling bills during the warm summer months.

Cons of PVC Roofing:

 

  • Chemical breakdown. The plasticizers and chemical components of PVC rubber roofing usually cause it to break down faster than TPO or EPDM.

 

  • Contains chlorine. PVC rubber roofing contains the chemical chlorine, making it a less environmentally-friendly option than TPO.

 

How Long Do Rubber Roofs Last?

how long does a rubber roof last

 

Rubber roofing, when installed professionally, can last 25 years or more. TPO and EPDM roof systems have similar lifespans of 20 to 25 years.

High-quality TPO roofing that is reinforced with fiberglass can last even longer.
Modified bitumen roofs last an average of 10 to 12 years, and built-up roofs (BUR) last between 15 and 20 years.

Compare these lifespans to the life expectancies of other common roofing materials.

 

Cost to Install a Rubber Roof

Many homeowners make the mistake of assuming that flat roof installation and work is less expensive than pitched roof work. After all, flat roofs are much less complicated to access, and it’s a lot easier to move around on a flat surface than on a sloped one.

However, many roofers will attest to the fact that working on flat roofs is more physically taxing than working on steep ones. Flat roof work may not call for a harness and brace system, but it does involve more stooping, bending, and lifting than pitched roof work.

Additionally, flat roofs require more elaborate installation processes that involve the handling of adhesives and the use of sophisticated application techniques.

For these reasons, installation and labor costs for a flat roof can be as high as—or higher than—those of a pitched roof.

Rubber roofing materials are typically more expensive than traditional composite shingles, as well. However, a rubber roof will last longer and offer more benefits than asphalt shingles or asphalt roll roofing.

 

Maintaining a Rubber Roof

maintaining rubber roofing

 

If you have a rubber roof, or you’re considering installing one, it’s important to know how to maintain rubber roofing correctly.

 

1. Regular inspection.

Inspect your sloped rubber roof regularly from the ground, if you can. If you can’t see the top of your low-sloped or flat roof, use a ladder to climb up onto the roof safely and cautiously. (If you don’t feel safe doing so, always call a professional roofer instead.)

Inspect the roof for debris, as well as any areas that look damaged or appear to be crumbling or cracking.

Check the seams for lifting—even what may seem like minor pealing—as well as the areas around flashing and roof fixtures.

 

2. Gentle cleaning.

Several times per year, you should clean your flat rubber roof to remove built-up debris. Use a soft broom to gently brush leaves and other small debris off of the roof. Use a mild detergent and wet mop to lightly scrub stubborn spots.

 

3. Gutter care.

An essential part of maintaining any roof system is making sure your gutter system is working correctly. Each year, gently clean debris out of the gutters and check for damage. If the gutter is cracked, sagging or leaking, call a professional to make repairs.

 

4. Professional maintenance.

If you notice any level of damage to your rubber roof, or if your roof has been impacted by a large tree limb or other large debris, call a professional roofer for a thorough inspection.

 

Alternatives to Rubber Roofs

rubber roofing alternatives

If you need to replace your low-sloped or flat roof, you have a few different flat roof options. The following are the most popular alternatives to rubber roofing.

 

Asphalt Roll Roof Systems

The most common rubber roof alternative for flat and low-sloped roofs is asphalt-roll roofing. Asphalt roll roofing is applied in sheets in a fairly easy installation process.

For this reason, asphalt roll roofing is popular for sheds and small buildings, as well as for do-it-yourself projects.

However, asphalt roll is only a temporary roofing solution, as it has a very short lifespan.

 

Modified Bitumen and Built-Up Roofing

Modified bitumen is also known as roofing tar, and it’s a popular choice for flat and low-sloped roofs.

Modified bitumen systems can be applied as a self-adhering compound or using torch-down application. It is also used in built-up roofing (BUR) systems.

Modified bitumen and BUR roofs tend to have a shorter lifespan than rubber roofs, and they don’t offer the same energy-saving benefits.

 

Composite Shingles

Shingles aren’t the ideal roofing material for flat roofs, as discussed above. But it is still possible to use conventional composition shingles on a low-sloped roof.

To do so, the roofing materials need to be installed differently than you would do with a sloped roof.

Although shingled roofs can be less expensive than rubber roofs, this intricate application process will raise the price, and the roof won’t last as long as a rubber roof would.

 

Sealing a Metal Roof

If you’re considering sealing a leaking metal roof with a rubber roof, an alternative option is to top your existing metal roof with a one.

This would involve covering the existing roof with a layer of insulation, followed by the new metal roofing. Depending on your roof, however, installing a rubber roof may be the more affordable option.

Another option if your metal roof is leaking is to reseal the roof with fiberglass webbing.

 

Hire the Right Rubber Roofer

As with any other type of roof, hiring the right rubber roofing contractor is the most important step.

When installed correctly by a skilled roofer, a rubber roof can last 20 to 25 years.

But an incorrectly installed rubber roof will need to be replaced within just a few years. More importantly, a roof that’s installed incorrectly can cause damage to the structure underneath.

If you’re in the D.C. area and in need of a rubber roof contractor, contact us at Capitol Improvements for a quote.

10 Tips for Hiring a Flat Roofing Contractor

tips for choosing a flat roofing contractor

Hiring any roofing contractor can be challenging, but a flat roof requires even more attention to detail. Capitol Improvements has been installing and replacing flat roofs in the D.C. area for more thousands of happy clients, and we’re here to help if you’re wondering what to look for in a flat roofing contractor.


Here is our list of 10 things to look for when you’re hiring a roofing contractor, and a flat roofer in particular. 



10 Tips for Hiring a Flat Roof Contractor

The following ten tips can help you in the search for any roofing contractor, and especially when you need to hire a flat roofing contractor. Flat roofers must have all of the skills and qualifications of a regular roof contractor, plus the specialized tools and expertise to install flat roofs correctly.

Continue reading to learn the top ten things Capitol Improvements recommends looking for in a flat roofer.

1. Insurance and Licensing

When you work with any contractor, it’s essential to make sure they’re appropriately licensed and insured.

Insurance is paramount when you hire a flat roof contractor. It protects you from liability in the event of an accident and helps ensure you don’t pay more than you need to. Installing and working on flat roofs is a precarious business and takes a lot of skill to avoid mistakes. Even the most experienced and adept roofers face hazardous working conditions, so insurance is a must-have.

If you’re receiving bids on a flat roof project from several different contractors, make sure to examine the insurance coverage of each one. This ensures all contractors are on the same playing field, in terms of pricing. (If a contractor’s bid is significantly lower than the others, make sure to double check whether they have the correct insurance coverage. They may be able to low-ball the cost if they’re not paying for proper insurance coverage.)

Complete insurance coverage for a contractor includes worker’s compensation and liability insurance. You can typically find this information on a reputable roofer’s website or in their estimate for roofing work.

As with insurance, licensing is usually a must-have for any roofing contractor. Each state, city, and county has different requirements when it comes to roofer licensing, with some more strict than others. Some states and cities may not require licensing for jobs under a certain dollar amount, while others may require a license to perform any roof work at all. You can call your local building department or check online to confirm the specific requirements in your city.

tips for choosing a roofing contractor

2. References and Reviews

A roofer can be amazing at one type of job and not so great at another. That’s why it’s so necessary to look at reference photos and reviews of the roofer’s work on projects similar to your own. If you find a roofing contractor who has stellar reviews on first glance, it’s still important to take a deeper look at what types of roofs they’ve worked on in the past.

Reference photos and client reviews are especially important when it comes to flat roofs. They take a great deal of skill and experience to master, and not every roofer specializes in flat roofing.

When you’re shopping for a flat roofer, make sure to look at written reviews from flat roof customers, as well as photos of completed work, if available. If the roofer doesn’t have pictures of their previous flat roof work posted on their website, you may ask for a list of references along with the quote for the job.

3. High-Quality Materials

how to choose a flat roof contractor

High-quality materials are essential for any roofing or construction job, but especially for flat roofs. The quality of the materials your roofer uses can either make or break a flat roof’s integrity and longevity. High-quality materials will protect your roof from water damage, which is an essential part of a functioning flat roof. The right roofing materials can also add value to your home and reduce cooling and heating bills.

The contractor should be able to tell you the brand and type of materials they’ll use to install or repair your flat roof. This includes the primary product—such as the brand of TPO, EPDM or torch-down roofing—as well as adhesives and insulation when applicable. Remember, lower-quality materials will come at a lower price up front, but they’ll cost you more in the long-term when repairs and replacements quickly add up.

Make sure your flat roof contractor uses only the highest-quality flat roof materials and installation techniques before you sign a roof installation or repair contract.

4. Manufacturer Certifications

Your flat roof contractor should be able to show their skill and experience in using their preferred flat roof products. Manufacturer certification (or approved applicator status) is the best way for a contractor to demonstrate their expertise in using a product line.

The roofer you choose should be manufacturer certified or listed as an approved applicator. When this is the case, you can usually find this information on the roofer’s website.

For example, a GAF Certification guarantees a roofer is skilled in using GAF manufactured products. Only about 5% of all roofing contractors have achieved GAF Certification.

Manufacturer certification, such as GAF Certification, also offers additional benefits to you as the homeowner. In the case of GAF Certification, it means the certified roofer is eligible to offer GAF’s Extended Warranty.

The flat roofer you choose should be an approved applicator or manufacturer-certified for one or more roofing material manufacturers. If you can’t find this information on the contractor’s website, be sure to ask if the material you choose (TPO, EPDM, etc.) has an approved applicator program.

5. Local Presence

The company you choose to work on your flat roof should be locally owned and operated. Not only should they perform work in your area on a regular basis, but ideally, they should have been there for some time.

Customers who choose non-local or not well-established roofers are often left high and dry when their roofs fail or show signs of improper installation. They may still be within their agreed-upon warranty, but the roofing company has vanished or no longer exists.

Make sure to choose a roofer that has an excellent local reputation and has been around for a while. You can check this out by asking around your workplace, talking to family and friends, and by using sites like Angie’s List and Yelp.

A locally owned and managed flat roofer is also more familiar with local rules and regulations, and is more likely to have valuable relationships with local crews and suppliers.

6. Quality Assurance and Warranty

how to choose a flat roof contractor

Before you hire a roofer, make sure to ask the contractor how they guarantee the quality of their roof services, and what the warranty on your roof will be.

The first part of this is quality assurance. The roofer should fully and thoroughly inspect the roof after completion to make sure it is installed correctly. Before you hire your flat roof contractor, check to make sure that a thorough post-inspection is included in your written contract.

Second, your roofer should offer an extended warranty for their roofing products. When a roof is installed incorrectly, it can take months or even years for damage to appear. When this happens, insurance won’t cover the cost of the damage done by a faulty roof installation. Even if a flat roof looks perfect immediately after installation, there could be a minor flaw that leads to significant problems in a few months. Before you agree to work with a roofing contractor, make sure you’ll have an extended warranty for your roof.

7. You Handle Your Insurance Claims

Never hire a flat roofing contractor who makes promises or claims that are outside of industry rules. A common claim that inexperienced or disingenuous roofers may make is that they can handle your insurance claim or perform a roof repair without your paying your insurance deductible.

For all roofing projects, steer clear of contractors who say they are a “claims specialist” or that they can handle insurance claims on your behalf. In most instances, it’s illegal for contractors to negotiate insurance claims on behalf of the homeowner.

It may be tempting to go with a roofer who promises to handle the entire process from start to finish, including everything insurance-related. However, in almost all instances, it is your responsibility to communicate with your homeowner’s insurance provider and file claims.

8. Integrity

When you’re choosing a flat roofer, steer clear of “storm chasers” and pressure-selling techniques. A roofing contractor should allow you to take all the time you need to make the most educated decision for yourself and your home. Sales tactics like cold-calling and canvassing after a big storm aren’t always backed by malintent, but it’s better to walk away if you feel pressured to commit.

Many roofers who use these techniques will evaluate your home for storm damage and ask you to sign a letter of intent. Never sign anything in these situations, and always wait to review contracts thoroughly.

The roofing contractor you choose should have a high level of integrity, which means they want the best results for you, rather than just a quick sale.

One of the best ways to check a roofer’s integrity is by checking their rating on Better Business Bureau (BBB). Roofers who do not exist on BBB.org are less likely to be reliable or have a track record of ethical business practices.

9. Financing is a Plus

flat roof financing

While not entirely necessary if you’re willing and able to pay in full, financing is a definite plus when it comes to hiring a flat roof contractor.

Because they involve more specialized equipment and training, flat roofs can be even more costly than pitched roofs. But financing can help you get the best quality at an affordable price.

When you work with a contractor who offers financing, make sure you fully understand the terms of your financing agreement before signing. The roofing contractor should work with a reliable financial institution that can provide you with flexible terms and a reasonable interest rate.

Always make sure the financing option through your contractor is the best choice by comparing it with your bank and several other loan options. Some flat roofers may offer financing at an inflated rate that’s not in your best interest.

10. Communication

Most of all, your flat roofing contractor should be easy to communicate with. This means they should be available to answer your questions from the moment you ask for a quote to the very last bill payment, and throughout the life of your warranty. The company should have a dedicated service staff that knows what’s going on with your roof and isn’t overwhelmed with other projects.

When you choose a flat roof contractor, make sure to choose one that is transparent in communicating with you and explains things in a way you can understand. Make sure to get the job details in writing, including a precise estimate and timeline. You should have a clear idea of how long the job will take and have a completion date down on paper.

If a roofing contractor isn’t able to communicate when they’re bidding for your business, things aren’t likely to improve once you hire them for the job.

Hiring a Flat Roof Contractor

Above all else, it’s important to remember that price isn’t everything when you’re shopping for a flat roof contractor. An inexpensive roofing contractor may look like the best choice at first, until you look in more detail at their services and product. Paying drastically less up front nearly always means you’ll end up paying more in the long run when you don’t invest in high-quality materials and skilled work.

Choosing a roofing contractor can be a highly involved process, but it’s one that you want to make sure to do correctly. Otherwise, you could end up with costly roof damage or damage to the rest of your home.

Flat roofs are one of the most specialized fields in roofing and in contracting in general. Make sure you get the result you’re looking for by following the above ten tips for hiring a roofing contractor.

Capitol Improvements Flat Roofing

If you’re in the Washington D.C. area and shopping for a residential or commercial flat roof contractor, contact us at Capitol Improvements for a quote.

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What is TPO Roofing? Everything You Need to Know About TPO


what is TPO roofing

If you’re shopping for a flat roof system that’s energy efficient and economical, TPO is one of your top choices. TPO roofing can offer many of the benefits of PVC and EPDM roof systems, minus some of the associated drawbacks. But what is TPO roofing, and more importantly, is it right for your roof?

Capitol Improvements has been installing and repairing TPO roofing for over 30 years. In this article, we’ll go over everything you need to know about this popular roofing material so you can make an informed decision.



What is TPO Roofing?

Thermoplastic polyolefin, or TPO for short, is a type of single-ply roofing material that is heat-reflective and energy-efficient. TPO roofs are growing fast, both commercially and residentially.

In laymen’s terms, TPO roofing belongs to the broader category of “rubber roofing” materials. It contains a blend of rubbers and other elements (fillers) that add to its durability and flexibility.

TPO roofing was introduced in the 1990s as an economical alternative to PVC roofing. Over the last several decades, TPO has become popular due to its superior performance as a flat roof system. Primarily, TPO is touted as a more energy-efficient alternative to EPDM and PVC. And as demand for more energy-efficient roofing increases, so does the popularity of TPO.

TPO Roofing Materials and Types

TPO roof materials and types

TPO roofing was designed to combine the benefits of PVC and EPDM, and to offer a more environmentally-conscious flat roof option. But what exactly is TPO roofing made of?

What is TPO Roofing Made Of?

TPO roofing is a single-ply roof system, which means only one sheet (or membrane) of TPO is installed. This TPO membrane is comprised of three bonded layers, which are as follows:

  • Thermoplastic polyolefin base layer.
  • Polyester-reinforced fabric center, aka “scrim”.
  • Thermoplastic polyolefin top layer.

Each thermoplastic polyolefin layer is made of ethylene propylene rubber, and manufactured with fillers such as talc, fiberglass, and carbon fiber. These fillers add to the TPO’s strength and flexibility.

The center layer of reinforced polyester lends the TPO membrane even more flexibility, and the ability to be rolled out easily onto the roof.

Unlike other roofing options like PVC, TPO roofing does not contain environmentally-harmful chemicals such as chlorine.

TPO Roof Options

TPO roofing has been a favorite in commercial applications since its introduction to the market. But in recent years, it has also seen a strong uptick in popularity in residential settings. One reason for this is TPO’s color range and curb appeal, as well as its energy-saving potential. Another is its variability in thickness and width, which allows it a broader range of applications.

  • Color Range

TPO roof membranes are designed to meet a wide range of application and design specifications. TPO is generally associated with a white color, but TPO membranes may come in white, grey, or black.

White TPO membranes offer the most benefit in terms of energy savings. The white surface works best to reflect UV rays and heat away from the home. However, you may choose gray or black for aesthetic or other reasons.

  • Thickness and Width

In addition to a range of color options, TPO roofing membranes also offer a range of options in terms of thickness and width. The availability of different thicknesses depends on the manufacturer of the TPO product. A wider range of options means you can better choose the type that suits your specific application context (i.e. commercial or residential, climate, etc.).

  • Commercial-grade TPO has a thickness of up to 0.080 inches, and it comes in 3-foot-wide or 12-foot-wide rolls.
  • Residential TPO can have a thickness of 0.045 inches to 0.060 inches and come in rolls of material that are 6.5 feet wide and 100 feet long.

If you have a flat or low-sloped roof on your home or commercial building, TPO is one of your top choices for many reasons. However, TPO roofing is still a relatively new product in the world of roofing materials, so it’s important to be aware of potential drawbacks. Continue reading to learn the pros and cons of TPO roofing.

TPO Roofing Pros and Cons

Pros

Flexibility. A TPO roofing membrane is highly flexible, making it more resistant to tears, punctures and damage from the building moving and settling.

UV Resistance. TPO can stand up to ultraviolet (UV) damage and chemical exposure, extending its lifespan. This quality can also help dramatically lower your HVAC costs in hot weather.

Environmentally Conscious. As more and more home- and business-owners begin seeking environmentally-friendly construction materials, TPO becomes more and more popular. This is for multiple reasons:

  • TPO membranes don’t contain chlorine, which is an environmentally hazardous chemical found in some other roofing materials.
  • White-colored TPO reflects sunlight, which can lower your cooling bill in the summer.
  • In urban areas, TPO contributes to cleaner air inside the home, free from the smog from outside.
  • White TPO can be ENERGY STAR rated (depending on the manufacturer), and it is considered a “cool roof”.
  • TPO is 100% recyclable. Used TPO can be reworked (ground up) and incorporated into new TPO roofing membranes for a second life.

Strength. The hot air-welded seams of a TPO roof are not only flexible but strong. In fact, they are up to four times stronger than EPDM seams, which use adhesive or tape.

Cons

New Product. The drawbacks of TPO roofing stem from the fact that it is relatively new, as far as roofing and building materials go.

Seam Failure. The major issue that can arise from a poor TPO product is seam failure. The most durable TPO membranes have high welding temperatures.

Heat Damage. TPO roofing can stand up to a great deal of heat and even lower your cooling bills in the summer. But it isn’t invincible to high temperatures, and some TPO products are prone to failure with extended exposure to heat.

Inferior Formulas. Not all TPO is created equal, and manufacturers are consistently changing their formulations to get the best results at the lowest cost. This means that you have to be choosy when you purchase a TPO roof system.

How to Choose a TPO Roof

how to choose a TPO roof

You can make sure to get the most out of your TPO roof by choosing the best possible product and the best roofing contractor. Here are some things to look for when you’re shopping for and installing TPO roofing:

Thickness

The thickness of the TPO membrane you choose should be at least enough for your specific application (i.e. residential or commercial). In particular, the top layer of your TPO membrane should be the thickest for the best performance and longevity.

Measurements and Calculations

Your roofing contractor should be able to take precise measurements in order to install your TPO roof correctly. The proper membrane width and spacing of fasteners must be determined by calculating the potential uplift load to your roof.

Weldability

The highest-quality TPO roofing materials are those that have a wide window of weldability. This means that each strip of TPO can be joined together more consistently, at many different temperatures, creating stronger seams.

Wide Sheets

One of the benefits of roofing materials like TPO is that they come in wide rolls, or sheets. The greater the width of your TPO material, the fewer seams your roofing contractor will have to make. This means the roofing will be stronger and more durable over all, and it will also be a speedier installation process with fewer mechanical fasteners and joining processes required.

Roofing Contractor

The most important aspect of purchasing a high-quality TPO roof is choosing the right roofing contractor. TPO roofing is a relatively new product, and less experienced roofers may not have the know-how required to choose the best formulation, brand, or type for your roof. It’s in your best interest to purchase a TPO roof from a roofing contractor who has been working with the product since it was first introduced (for at least 20 years).

TPO Roof Installation: What is Hot Air Welding?

TPO roofing has a unique installation process, which differs from that of other roofing materials.
Mechanical fasteners and plates are typically used to secure the TPO membrane to the roof deck. TPO membranes may also be attached to the deck, or to a layer of insulation material, using adhesives, but this is less common.

Each additional sheet of TPO is installed slightly overlapping the last (by a minimum of 1.5 inches) so that the mechanical fasteners are securely sealed and waterproof.

The overlapping membranes of TPO are seamed together using a technique called hot air-welding. This ability to fuse the sheets together using a hot air-weld is one of the benefits of TPO, since it doesn’t require additional materials or an open flame.

The roofing contractor uses a hot air welding gun (also known as a plastic welder or hot gas welder) to soften each TPO membrane and presses the two together using a roller, forming a secure seam.

Hot air-welded seams are also highly flexible, durable and waterproof, as well as resistant to uplift from strong wind conditions.

Rubber Roofs: TPO vs. EPDM and PVC

pros and cons of TPO roofing

Thermoplastic polyolefin combines many of the advantages of EPDM and PVC roof systems. But how does TPO really compare to EPDM and PVC, and what are the differences?

TPO vs. EPDM

EPDM (ethylene propylene diene monomer) is another popular “rubber roof” option for flat roofs, both residentially and commercially. EPDM is often touted as the more affordable option, and this may be true in many cases. However, this more affordable aspect of EPDM usually applies specifically to its primary color option: black. EPDM can be purchased in white, but it is more expensive.

The standard white color of TPO roofing makes it more environmentally-friendly and more economical, too. Most people also prefer the curb appeal of TPO over EPDM because of its wider range of color options.
TPO roofs and EPDM roofs have similar lifespans—about 25 years—but TPO roofs reinforced with fiberglass can offer more durability.

Because of its hot air-welded seaming technology, TPO often has stronger seams than EPDM, creating less potential for leaks.

TPO vs. PVC

PVC (polyvinyl chlorine) is a rubber roof that’s similar to TPO in that it is made of thermoplastic materials. Both roofing materials are energy-efficient and hot air-weldable. The installation for both roofing types also requires either mechanical fasteners or adhesives.

However, PVC and TPO have very different chemical makeups: PVC contains plasticizers, as well as chlorine salts. These materials and chemicals tend to break down faster than those found in high-quality TPO formulations. However, they also make PVC slightly more flexible than TPO.

The main difference between PVC and TPO is that PVC as a roofing material has been used for over 50 years. Roofing contractors are more likely to understand PVC roofing and how to install it correctly.

However, if you find a roofing contractor who has worked with TPO roofing for a long time, and works with only the highest-quality TPO, this difference becomes less important.

Is TPO the Right Choice for You?

If you’re in the market for a new roof or a roof replacement, you may simply leave the decision up to your contractor when it comes to which materials to use. However, it can never hurt to educate yourself about the pros and cons of different materials, and how they will benefit or negatively impact your home and future.

TPO roofing is a smart choice for flat and low-sloped roofs, residentially and commercially. While TPO is a relatively new product compared to some other roofing materials, it has gained a solid foothold and proven itself to be reliable in the industry.

Having worked with TPO for over 30 years, Capitol Home Improvements can help you get the best TPO roof if you’re in the D.C. area. Call 301-769-6909 for a quote on your TPO roof installation, replacement or repair.

 

 

Torch Down Roofing Guide: Materials, Installation, Benefits, and Disadvantages

torch down roofing

Torch down roofing—also known as “torch on roofing”—is one of the most common types of roofing for flat and slightly-sloped roofs. Torch down roofing consists of multiple modified bitumen membranes, applied with a propane torch. This installation process gives torch down roofing a uniquely watertight seal, making it a great choice wherever water damage is a serious concern.

This watertight seal—and many other advantages offered by torch down roofing—makes it a popular choice for homes with flat roofs. But torch-down roofing isn’t for everyone or every home. If you’re trying to decide whether a torch down roof is right for you, continue reading. We’ll cover what makes up a torch down roofing system, as well as its particular advantages and disadvantages, below.



Two-Layer and Three-Layer Torch Down Roof Systems

There are two different types of torch down roofing systems: two-layer and three-layer.

A two-layer torch down roof consists of one base sheet and one smooth cap sheet.

A three-layer torch down roof features the same base and cap sheets, as well as an additional cap sheet with a granulated surface.

Two-layer torch down roofing may cost less to install, but it doesn’t last as long and doesn’t offer as many benefits. The granulated cap layer of a three-layer roof adds to the roof’s energy efficiency, fire resistance, curb appeal and durability.

What is Torch Down Roofing Material?

 

Torch down roofing comes in the form of rolled sheets. Your roofing contractor will unroll each sheet individually during the installation process (two sheets for two-layer, three sheets for three-layer).

Each sheet of torch down roofing material consists of multiple membranes stacked and adhered together. These are the membrane layers of torch down roofing material, from the bottom up:

Layer 1: Thermo-fusible film.

Layer 2: Modified bitumen.

Layer 3: Reinforced polyester.

Layer 4: Modified bitumen.

Layer 5: (For the third layer of a three-layer roof) Granulated mineral surface.

A compound known as modified bitumen makes up the second and fourth membrane layers of each sheet of torch down roofing material. Bitumen is an asphalt compound. It is used in roofing and other construction applications like road construction and repair. Modified bitumen is asphalt bitumen mixed with a plastic or rubber additive. There are two main types of modified bitumen membrane that are used to create torch down roofing material: Atactic Polypropylene (APP) and Styrene Butadiene Styrene (SBS).

  • Atactic Polypropylene (APP)

APP is a type of plastic used to produce modified bitumen for torch down roofing. APP modified bitumen membranes are especially flexible. They respond well to both high and low temperatures.

  • Styrene Butadiene Styrene (SBS)

SBS is a type of rubber used to create modified bitumen for torch down roofing. SBS modified bitumen membranes are also flexible, and they have a lower melting point than APP membranes. This means that SBS membranes can be used in torch down roofing, as well as self-adhering and cold-processed roofing systems.

Torch Down Roof Application

Both two-layer and three-layer roof systems feature the same base and support components, applied in the same order. These are the steps your roofing contractor will take to install your torch down roof:

Step 1: Attach insulation.

Insulation is especially important in colder climates, but it’s an essential part of any flat or low-sloped roof system. Insulation may be attached with screws and plates, or it may be adhered using glue. This depends on the type of roof deck your home has and other factors.

Step 2: Lay down a moisture barrier.

On top of the insulation, your roofing contractor will lay down a vapor barrier. This will help prevent condensation within the roofing system.

Step 3: Install the overlay board.

Next, the contractor will put an overlay board in place. This acts as a support surface to which the torch down membranes will adhere. This step requires precision to make sure the overlay board is correctly installed. Otherwise, you could end up with a roof that isn’t level, causing water to pool.

Step 4: Apply the base sheet.

Next, your contractor will apply the first layer of torch down roofing material. They may attach the base sheet to the overlay board using a heat fusing method or adhesive.

Step 5: Apply the cap sheet.

Next comes the second layer of torch down roofing material: the smooth cap sheet. As this sheet of material is rolled out—on top of the base sheet—the roofer will heat the underside of the cap sheet material with a torch. As the heated cap sheet is pressed onto the base sheet underneath, the two will fuse and form a watertight seal. If installing a two-layer torch down roof, this is the final layer of rolled roofing material the contractor will apply. If installing a three-layer torch down roof, the contractor will install a third layer—with a granulated surface—in the same way.

Step 6: Install flashing.

After applying the rolled roofing, the process is almost complete. To finish up, your roofing contractor will apply flashing around any features that penetrate the roof.

Benefits of Torch Down Roll Roofing

benefits of torch on roofing

Water resistance.

The first job of any roof is to keep water out of the building below. With flat roofs, this job becomes much harder to do. This is especially true in regions where snow builds up on the roof and may melt off very slowly. Heat-sealed seams and ultra-waterproof membranes make torch down roofing one of the most highly water-resistant flat roof systems. When installed correctly by a roofing professional, torch on roofing prevents water from collecting and pooling on the roof and promotes drainage. Torch down roofing is also ideal in protecting structures from damage from snow buildup.

Flexibility and durability.

One of the most significant benefits of torch down roofing is its flexibility. The modified bitumen sheets expand and contract as the temperature changes, without cracking or splitting. Where other roofing materials are rigid and may be damaged by changing temperatures, torch on roofing works well in any climate. This flexibility makes torch down roofing durable and long-lasting. Torch down roofing also has a consistent thickness (about 3-4 mm) across the entire roof, unlike other roofing materials that may vary in thickness. This conformity across the roof surface makes for a more durable roof.

Energy efficiency.

Torch down roofing provides protection against UV rays and heat, especially with the added cap layer included in three-layer roofs. The surface of your torch down roof can help lower your cooling bill in hot weather.

Lifespan.

The lifespan of a torch down roof is one of its main selling points, at 15 to 20 years. Torch down roofing is more long-lasting than some other types of flat roof systems. This is due to its flexibility in hot and cold temperatures, as well as its resistance to water damage.

Fire resistance.

Especially with a granulated cap layer, torch down roofing can be highly fire resistant.

Less harmful fumes.

If you’re deciding between a torch down and mop on roof, one factor to consider may be the fumes. Torch down roofing isn’t free from unpleasant smells, but it emits much less harmful fumes than mop on asphalt roofing. With mop on roofing, your roofer may need to take more breaks to ensure they aren’t breathing in too much.

Easy repairs.

Last, but not least, torch on roofing is very easy to repair when compared to other roofing materials. Because it rolls on and can be sealed relatively quickly, the process is less intensive and less expensive than fixing different types of roofs.

Disadvantages of Torch Down Roofing

Fire hazard.

The primary downside of torch down roofing is that it is applied with an open flame and, therefore, always poses some level of fire hazard.

As a construction material, modified bitumen is highly fire resistant. However, if overheated during the installation process, the compound can break down and become flammable. Additional flammable materials, such as the wood frame of a house (and any residual sawdust from construction or repairs), or dry foliage add to the potentially hazardous nature of torch down roof application. When you work with a professional, licensed, and highly trained roofing contractor, all of these factors will be thoroughly inspected and resolved before the installation of a torch down roof. This makes the process relatively risk-free when you work with a roofing professional. Torch down roofing is not a safe DIY project!

Seam failure.

If the seams of torch down roofing material don’t seal completely, it can result in roof leaks. This is less common with a three-layer roof but may still occur. If this does happen, a repair to seal the roofing seam is relatively quick and easy.

Trapped water.

It is possible for water to get trapped between the layers of rolled roofing during installation or repair. For this reason, torch on roofing should only be applied or repaired during dry conditions.

Not resistant to scuffs and tears.

A torch down roof may be highly flexible and durable, but it isn’t impervious to scratching and tearing. The waterproof seal of a torch down roof is essential to its performance, and if it gets torn or scuffed, the roof system is compromised. This can be avoided with regular roof maintenance, inspection, and minor repairs when needed.

Disadvantages of a flat roof.

Torch on roofing is a flat roof system, which means it must be highly water resistant and durable. However, even with the most durable flat roof system, you have to make sure to maintain and inspect your flat roof regularly. Flat roofs are more prone to pooling water and piling snow, as well as built-up debris. If you have a flat roof, make sure you have it inspected by a certified roofing professional to make sure it is stable enough to withstand torch down roof application, as well as everyday wear and tear.

Cost of Torch Down Roofing

cost of torch on roofing

The cost of a torch down roof depends on the contractor you choose and the quality of the components they use. As with many other types of construction projects, there are lower-quality torch on roof materials and higher-quality torch on roof materials. With higher-quality torch down roll roofing, you may have to pay a little bit more at installation. However, you will also get a longer-lasting roof that needs fewer repairs during its lifetime, which will end up saving you money, in the end.

For a quote on your torch down roofing project in the DC area, call Capitol Improvements at 301-769-6909

Capitol Improvements offers flexible financing with Enerbank to help you with your torch down roof and other projects.

Is Torch Down Roofing Right for You?

A torch down roof system works best for slightly pitched roofs, where flexibility and water resistance is your primary goal. Torch down roofing stands up to harsh elements, including high and low temperatures, heavy rain, and even piled-up snow.

Torch down roofing must be installed by a roofing professional and isn’t something you can take on as a DIY project. However, if you want a roof that is long-lasting, highly durable, and easy to repair, torch down may be a good option for your flat roof.

How Long Does A Roof Last? Everything You Need to Know

 

how long does a tile roof last

As one of the most expensive components of a home, your roof isn’t something you want to replace more often than you absolutely have to. So, how long does a roof last? The answer may seem simple, but it is actually fairly complicated. Ultimately, roof lifespan depends on many things: what it’s made out of, how well it was installed, how well you take care of it, and more.

Read on to learn how long you can expect your roof to last. We’ll also cover what you should look for when it’s time to replace the roof, and what you can do to make sure your roof lasts a long time.



Average Roof Lifespan

Looking at the topic broadly, the average lifespan of a roof is about 20 years. However, roof lifespans vary a great deal. Your roof’s lifespan may be as short as 12 years or as long as 100 years.

Because you can’t use one average lifespan for all roofs equally, you have to look at all of the details of your specific roof to determine its lifespan. The biggest of these details is the materials from which your roof is made.

Roofing Materials

how long do shingles last

If you’re shopping for a new home and want to know how long the roof will last, or you want to know whether it’s time to replace your current roof, knowing all about your roofing materials is the best place to start.

Here are the 10 most common types of roofing materials and their average lifespans, in order from longest roof lifespan to shortest:

1. Slate

Slate is a type of natural stone used for roofing. Unlike clay or concrete tiles, slate roof tiles are made exclusively of quarried and hewn stone pieces, without any processing or fillers. Slate is one of the most difficult roofing materials to install, making it more expensive to install or replace.

However, slate is also considered the most durable of all roofing materials. If properly maintained, a slate roof could last the entire lifespan of your home.

The average lifespan of a slate roof is 100 years or longer depending on maintenance.

2. Tile

Clay, concrete or cement roof tiles are a popular choice for homeowners who want a long-lasting roof option. They’re especially popular in hot regions but can be found all across the United States and elsewhere. Tile roofs can be made of terracotta clay or fired ceramic, as well as concrete.

The average lifespan of a tile roof is 100 years or more when properly maintained.

3. Metal (Standing-Seam)

Standing-seam metal roofs are becoming increasingly popular, especially in areas prone to wildfire. Metals used in this type of roofing include steel and aluminum, as well as copper and zinc. Metal roofs are highly durable and can be very low-maintenance when professionally installed.

The average metal roof lifespan is 30 to 50 years.

4. Wood Shingles

Wood shingle roofs are made from thin wedges of natural wood. Woods used for roofing include cedar, yellow pine, cypress, and redwood. Wood shingles can add great curb appeal to your home, but they’re not a good choice for regions where wildfires are common, and they can require more meticulous maintenance than other types of roofs.

With professional attention and regular maintenance, the average lifespan of a wood shingle roof is 30 to 35 years.

5. EPDM & TPO (Rubber Roofs)

Ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM) and thermoplastic polyolefin (TPO)—aka “rubber roofs”—are popular materials for flat and low-sloped roofs. They are used to create a waterproof membrane that allows flat roofs to shed water more easily. EPDM and TPO roofs are highly durable but can be affected by high heat and damaged by debris.

The average lifespan of an EPDM or TPO roof with proper maintenance is 20 to 25 years, with EPDM roofs typically lasting longer than TPO.

6. Asphalt Shingles

Asphalt and composite shingles are the most popular type of roofing material in the United States and are found on the majority of homes. Composite shingles are made of an organic or fiberglass base, coated with asphalt and combined with small pieces of slate, quartz, or ceramic.

The lifespan of composite asphalt shingles is relatively short compared to other materials. But what asphalt shingles lack in longevity, they make up for in practicality. Asphalt shingles can be replaced relatively quickly (by a professional roofer) and can be more easily maintained than many other types. They also tend to be less expensive to install.

The average lifespan of a high-quality asphalt tile roof is 20-30 years.

7. Fiber Cement Shingles

Fiber cement shingles are considered a man-made alternative to wood shingles in their appearance and function. However, fiber cement shingles are more durable than natural wood shingles, better resisting damage from fire and moisture. Fiber cement roof shingles used to be made out of harmful asbestos, but have been redesigned using cellulose fiber, instead.

The average lifespan of fiber cement roofing shingles is 20 to 25 years. While this is shorter on average than wood shingles, fiber cement shingles can require less maintenance and meticulousness to reach their full expected lifespan.

8. Built-Up Roofing (BUR)

Built-up roofing is a type of layered roofing application. It’s made up of alternating layers of roofing felt and waterproof membranes, such as modified bitumen. BUR is normally used on flat roofs or roofs with very low slopes.

The average lifespan of a BUR roof is 15 to 20 years.

9. Modified Bitumen Systems (MBS)

Modified bitumen or tar roofing is used for flat and low-sloped roofs. Modified bitumen is lighter than built-up roofing, making it more practical in many situations. Modified bitumen may be applied “cold” as a self-adhering compound, or it may be applied using torch-down application.

The average lifespan of a modified bitumen roof is 10 to 12 years.

10. Asphalt Roll Roof

Like built-up roofing, asphalt roll roofing is used for flat roofs and low-angled roofs. It is easy to install, making it a popular option for DIYers and for small areas like sheds and garages. However, asphalt roll isn’t the best choice for most homes due to its very short lifespan.

The average lifespan of asphalt roll roofing is only 5 to 10 years.

Other Roof Lifespan Factors

how long should a roof last

  • Installation

The material that makes up your roof is key in understanding how long the roof will last. But something that is just as important to consider is how your roof was installed.

Even the most durable and long-lasting roof materials can fail long before their life expectancy is reached if they are installed poorly. This is especially important to keep in mind if you’re planning to replace your roof soon, or if you’re shopping for a new home and want to make sure the roof is in good condition.

A home may be built with serious structural oversights that can lead to roof failure and other damage. Mistakes like these can mean long-term frustration, no matter how high-quality your roofing materials may be.

For example, a faulty seal or caulking around a vent can lead to severe leaking and roof failure. Poor attic ventilation is also one of the most common causes of roofs failing before they’ve reached their full expected lifespan.

The best way to overcome these potential problems is having your roof inspected regularly. If you’re buying a new home, make sure to have your own contractor thoroughly inspect the roof to check its structural integrity.

  • Maintenance

Every type of roofing material has to be properly maintained. When you understand what your roof is made of, you can take the correct measures to maintain your roof properly.

The best way to ensure that your roof lasts as long as possible is by having it professionally inspected. You can check your own roof for signs of damage—and you should do so every spring and every fall. But a professional inspection by a certified contractor should still be performed at least every two to three years to check for more insidious damage.

If and when damage to the roof occurs, you can extend the roof’s lifespan by fixing those smaller problems quickly and correctly.

  • Climate

The last major factor that can affect how long your roof lasts is the climate where you live. Things like heat and moisture play a huge role in how your roof ages. For example, the average roof lifespan in Florida may differ greatly from the average roof lifespan in Nebraska, even if both roofs are made of the same materials.

If you live in a region that is very dry prone to extreme heat, your roof may age faster. Likewise, if your home is exposed to a great deal of moisture, you may have moisture damage that causes the roof to need replacement.

Do I Need A New Roof?

Inspecting your roof is something to get used to as a homeowner. After major weather events, and at least once per year, you or a contractor should inspect your roof for signs of damage. If you see any of the following signs, and your roof is at or near it’s expected lifespan, it may be time to consider replacing the roof:

  • Sagging roof deck
  • Leaking and water damage
  • Mold or rot
  • Missing or warped shingles
  • Dark spots
  • Visible holes in the roof or light from outside when you’re in your attic
  • Shingles that are wet and trapping moisture
  • Lots of granules from your shingles in the gutters

Things to Consider When Replacing Your Roof

how long do shingles last

Replacing the roof is one of the largest home improvement or repair costs you will likely face as a home owner. Before you dive into replacing your roof, make sure it’s in need of replacement. Missing shingles or a leak may not mean the roof needs to be replaced.

When it is time to replace your roof, it’s important to hire a professional and certified roofing contractor with experience in roof replacements. The structure of each home is unique, and special care has to be taken to make sure your new roof lasts as long as it should.

Depending on your homeowners insurance policy and the reason you’re replacing your roof, you may be able to get your roof replacement covered by insurance. However, homeowners insurance typically doesn’t cover roof replacement that is a result of normal roof aging.

Roof Replacement Financing and Warranty

If it’s time to replace your roof, it’s important not to wait. But the cost of replacing a roof can be formidable. Capitol Improvements works with Enerbank USA to help you finance your roof replacement. You could qualify for low-interest financing with no prepayment penalties, no collateral, and highly flexible terms to fit your needs.

How to Get Insurance to Pay for Your Roof Replacement

roof replacement insurance

The roof is your home’s first line of defense. Damage in the roof can quickly lead to damage elsewhere in the structure of the home, calling for more costly repairs in the future. Fortunately, most insurance companies appreciate the importance of an intact roof system. But roof replacement insurance is a complicated topic, and it isn’t always easy to tell whether your home insurance will cover the cost. So how do you get insurance to cover the cost of a roof replacement?



Roof Replacements and Insurance

Insurance companies have different rules when it comes to replacing or repairing damaged roofs. However, there are some general rules that apply to most policies. You will always need to check your homeowners insurance policy to confirm whether these are true in your case.

  • Most insurance companies cover severe damage that was outside of the homeowner’s control. This includes damage from fire, extreme weather like a tornado or hurricane, or vandalism.
  • Damage caused by a lack of roof maintenance is considered the responsibility of the homeowner and is not covered.
  • Coverage for damage from normal weather like wind, snow, and hail often depends on your roof’s age.
  • A typical homeowners insurance policy will only cover roof replacement if the roof has been damaged by an act of nature. Replacing a roof that has exceeded its intended lifespan is considered the homeowner’s maintenance responsibility and is not eligible for coverage.

Depreciated Value

Many policies base their reimbursement rates on a roof’s depreciated value. This takes the age and wear of your roof into account, meaning the value of your roof decreases over time. Other policies cover the full roof repair cost—whether that means repairing or replacing your roof fully or partially.

Deductibles

Your insurance policy may have a deductible, which can be a consideration when you file a claim. This means that even if your insurance covers the cost of a roof replacement, you could still end up paying a certain amount out of pocket.

A common deductible is 2% of the home’s value for inland homes or 5% of the home’s value for coastal homes. If the repairs to your roof will cost less than your deductible, you do not need to file a claim since you won’t be reimbursed.

Getting Your Roof Replacement Covered by Insurance

roof replacement insurance

Capitol Improvements recommends these five steps when you're filing a roof replacement claim.

1. Understand Your Policy

The first and best step in getting a roof replacement covered by insurance is making sure you understand your policy. The particular details of your homeowners insurance policy could surprise you, so it’s important to go over the fine print.

When you understand your insurance policy and what it covers, you can be better prepared to file a claim with all of the information they require.

Look for specific information in your policy about deductibles and depreciated value. Also look for information about their timeframe for filing claims and how they assign adjusters.

If you have questions or concerns about what your insurance policy covers, contact the insurance provider to clarify. You can do so after damage to your roof has already happened, but it’s even better to get those questions answered before you’re preparing to file a claim.

2. Take Pictures and Detailed Notes

When you file a claim for your roof replacement, you will need to provide certain information about the damage. This can include written information as well as photo documentation.

As soon as you notice roof damage, take down the date and time it occurred. Often, this will be after a storm or weather event, so it’s important to write down the exact date for the insurance adjuster’s reference.

If you can safely get a view of the roof damage, take a few clear pictures of the damaged area, as well as the surrounding area. If pooling water or debris (like a fallen tree limb) caused the damage, take pictures of the roof before removing the debris or soaking up the water. This will help your insurance company clearly identify and verify the cause of the damage.

It’s also important to pay attention to and document any potential damage below the roof. For example, if you have a leak that’s reached the attic or even through to the ceiling, take pictures of the leak and document when it began. Insurance companies appreciate the importance of a secure roof in avoiding more extensive damage.

This documentation can also include photos and written evidence you get from a roofing contractor.

3. Call Your Insurance Company

As soon as possible after any damage occurs, you’ll need to call your insurance provider. (If your roof or home has been damaged by vandalism or an illegal act of any kind, call the police to report the incident first.)

Contacting your provider will begin the claims process, and you’ll be assigned a claim number. Make sure to keep track of this number. In the case of roof replacements or extensive repairs, insurance companies will usually assign an adjuster to your case.

The adjuster is responsible for assessing the damage to your roof and estimating the cost of repair or replacement. While your insurer will likely assign an adjuster, it can also be a good idea to hire your own contractor to provide you with an independent estimate.

4. Call an Experienced Roofing Contractor

The next step is contacting a roofing contractor with expertise in insurance claims and policies. Like the insurance company’s own claims adjuster, a private contractor will come to your home to examine the damage and determine the cost of the roof replacement. 

If the private contractor’s estimate is higher than that of your claims adjuster, you will need to pay out of pocket. The insurance company will only replace the roof "as-is".  Roofs today are built differently than 20 years ago so you will generally have to cover the overages to get a Lifetime Warranty. 

Another reason to call a contractor you trust if you’ve experience roof damage is to make repairs. If the damage in your roof is causing damage elsewhere in the home, the contractor can make a temporary repair. This will help reduce damage while you wait for your insurance company to approve the claim.

Working with a locally-known and well-certified contractor when it comes time to have the roof replaced will also increase your chances of getting the cost of a roof replacement covered.

At Capitol Improvements, we’re experts in assessing roof damage and helping you file your claim, as well as in replacing your roof in a timely manner. If you’re ready to begin the estimation process and you live in the D.C. area, call us at 301-769-6909.

5. Hold Onto Receipts

Throughout the claim and roof replacement process, make sure to hold onto the receipts for everything. This includes anything you spend money on related to the roof damage, such as the following:

  • Temporary repairs or tarping done by a contractor.
  • Lodging bills if the damage made your home unlivable for any period of time.
  • Work invoices by your roof replacement contractor.
  • Receipts for anything else you paid for as a result of your roof’s damage.

You'll need to give these receipts to your insurance company to ensure you get a full reimbursement for the money you paid out of pocket.

Take Precautions to Get Roof Replacement Insurance

cost of a roof replacement

The steps above will help you prepare and file a claim if you want to get your roof replacement covered by insurance. However, one of the best things you can do to make sure your roof replacement is covered is take precautions ahead of time.

Taking precautions to protect your roof will not only show your insurance company that any damage was outside of your control, but it will also extend the lifespan of your roof. That means you won’t need to worry about replacing it as often.

Check for damage.

Whenever your roof goes through a storm or other weather event, it’s important to check and make sure the roof is still intact and undamaged. Look for any signs of damage to the shingles and other roofing materials, as well as debris and pooling water. You can also investigate your attic or crawlspace to make sure no moisture is coming through.

Have your roof inspected regularly.

While you can check for obvious signs of damage yourself, it’s still a good idea to have a professional roofing contractor give their stamp of approval on a regular basis. This can help show that you’ve been practicing good roof maintenance, improving your chances of having a roof replacement covered by insurance.

Take care of your trees.

Nearby trees can pose a big risk for your roof, and a fallen tree limb may or may not be covered by your insurance policy. This depends on whether the tree fell as a result of a storm, or whether it fell due to negligence.

If your claims adjuster finds that the tree was dead or unhealthy, and it did not fall solely as a result of severe weather, you could be stuck paying for your roof replacement yourself.

The best way to avoid this is to take care of the trees on your property and around your house so that they can withstand even severe storms. If a tree near your home is dead or dying, have it removed as soon as possible so that it doesn’t pose a liability to your home.

Fix small problems now.

The best way to avoid your insurance company denying your claim is to practice good roof maintenance. That means keeping an eye on your roof and taking care of problems as soon as they arise, no matter how small they are.

Piling leaves and debris, for example, can quickly lead to a leak, which can quickly lead to more extensive damage. If you notice debris on your roof or in your gutter system, make sure to fix the problem quickly.

Similarly, if a leak or other problem does occur, call your roofing contractor as soon as possible to fix the problem while it’s still fairly small. You may choose to file an insurance claim for the roof repair cost, but it’s only necessary to do so if the cost of repairs exceeds your deductible amount.

Take pictures after maintenance.

When you file an insurance claim for a roof replacement, you can provide pictures to show the severity level of the damage. It’s an even better idea to provide pictures of your roof before the damage occurred, alongside those pictures of the damage. That way, your insurance company can confirm that your roof was in good shape before the incident.

You should take pictures of the condition of your roof—or have your roofing contractor do so—on a regular basis. Make sure to take pictures after you or your contractor perform any maintenance.

How to Cover the Cost of a Roof Replacement

how to cover the cost of a roof replacement

Your roof replacement may not be completely covered by your insurance policy. Fortunately, there are still ways to make the cost for roof replacement more bearable.

If you’re replacing your roof because it has reached its intended age limit, you’ll most likely need to pay for the roof replacement yourself. Additionally, if your roof needs more minor repairs that don’t surpass your deductible, your insurance won’t pitch in to cover the cost.

Capitol Improvements offers special financing that can reduce the stress of replacing your roof when it comes time. To receive a free quote or learn more about how we can help you with roof replacement insurance, call us at 301-769-6909.

10 Tips for Managing Roof Leaks Until You Can Get Professional Help

managing roof leaks

The first thing to do when your roof leaks is to call a professional roofer to install a new leak-proof roof. Unfortunately, you may not always be able to get help to your home right away. So, what can you do to stop a roof leak and minimize damage on your own? Capitol Improvements recommends following these 10 easy-to-follow steps until your roofer is able to inspect and install a new roof.



Managing Roof Leaks

A leaking roof is nothing to take lightly. Even seemingly minor roof leaks can result in serious water damage down the line. If you notice your roof leaking, take action right away to minimize the damage as much as you can. More importantly, make sure you work with a professional roofing contractor to fully inspect, identify and install a new leak-proof roof.

As a homeowner, you might put off replacing that leaky roof for fear of a costly repair bill. With flexible financing options, Capitol Improvements ensures that you can replace your roof quickly and affordably before the leaks create more extensive--and more expensive--damage.

If you notice your roof leaking, don't ignore it! Call your roofing contractor right away, and follow the 10 steps below to manage roof leaks until help arrives.

1. Minimize Interior Damage

After you’ve called a roofer to schedule a professional repair (or if it's the weekend or after closing time), the first step in managing a leaking roof is minimizing the damage to the interior of your home.

This means rearranging the furniture, removing valuable or cherished items from the area, and covering floors and walls with waterproof materials such as a spare tarp or plastic garbage bags.

Soak up any standing water from the floor before covering the area with your waterproof covering to avoid trapping moisture against the surface. If water from the leaking roof is dripping down an interior wall, you can apply a plastic barrier to the wall, as well.

If you notice the ceiling dipping or bulging as though it is full of water, properly protect the surrounding area and poke a small hole in the ceiling to release the leak. This will help prevent further damage to the surrounding drywall.

Next, place a large bucket or other container beneath the leak to catch falling water. Make sure to surround the container with protective plastic, and don't leave the area unattended for too long. Even a large bucket can fill up faster than you might expect.

2. Investigate the Attic or Crawlspace

If you have access to an attic or crawlspace, grab a flashlight and climb up. You can track the leak within your attic or crawlspace based on where it appears in the ceiling below. However, keep in mind that the way water travels from a leaking roof can be deceptive.

Water from a leaking roof doesn't travel in a straight line. Instead, a roof leak typically causes water to travel from the damaged roof downwards towards the nearest joint. From there, the leak will find an escape route, where it creates the leak you see in your ceiling. This escape route is usually a weak spot in the ceiling's drywall or the opening for a fixture, such as a vent or ceiling lamp.

This makes finding the cause of a leak in the roof itself difficult, even if you find where the water appears to be entering the attic or crawlspace. But this step can still help you better pinpoint where the water is entering the home. It also gives you the opportunity to create another barrier to stop the water from reaching the ceiling.

To create the barrier, first lay a piece of plywood across the joists within your attic or crawlspace, and place a large bucket on top to catch dripping water. Don’t place the bucket directly on the drywall between joists, as it may break through the drywall when it fills with water. Remember to go up regularly to empty the water!

3. Redirect Leaking Water with a Bottle Funnel

fix a leaking roof fix roof leaking

If you’d rather not deal with emptying a bucket or other container every couple of hours, a bottle funnel can redirect water outside the house, instead. The bottle funnel solution can be used inside the home, where the leak is entering through the ceiling, but is best applied within the attic to most effectively deter water damage.

To create a roof leak funnel, grab an empty plastic jug or large bottle. Cut the bottle in half so that you have a wide opening on one end and the bottleneck on the other.

Next, grab a hose. It will need to be long enough to reach from the location of the roof leak to the nearest window or exit.

Using duct tape or other strong adhesive, attach one end of the hose to the bottleneck end of your funnel. Using the same strong adhesive, position the wide end of the funnel over the leak and attach it securely in place.

Now, you can place the other end of the hose outside via a window or door, and the water should flow through the funnel safely out of the house.

4. Examine from a Distance

After you’ve temporarily minimized the damage to your home’s interior, including the attic or crawlspace, it’s time to take a look at the roof from outside of your home.

Again, tracing the source of a leak from the point in the ceiling where water comes through can be difficult. Examining the roof itself can help you connect the dots. You may be able to spot potential problems from close up, or you may need to step back and look at the whole roof.

To do this, you can use binoculars to "zoom in" on your roof from across the street or across the lawn. This is easier and more effective for sloped roofs, since it can be difficult to see the top of your flat roof from the ground.

Signs of a damage may be obvious using this method—a tree limb that’s fallen on the roof, or a missing shingle—or you may need to go in for a closer look to examine the cause of the leak.

5. Look for These Causes of a Roof Leak

If you feel comfortable and confident doing so, the next step is going onto your roof to inspect the area and find the cause of the roof leak.

If you have an especially high-up or steeply-sloped roof, it’s best to manage a leaking roof from ground level and wait until professional help arrives. However, if your roof is relatively low to the ground, and you have the necessary equipment to follow roof safety precautions (see step 10), you may choose to investigate the situation yourself.

Once you’re on top of the roof, look for these potential causes of a leak:

  • Aged or brittle roofing materials.

Roofing materials naturally deteriorate as they age, gradually becoming less and less effective at protecting the home from water damage.

Look for patches of roof that look especially brittle or damaged by age (lifting edges, crumbling materials, melted tar).

  • Damaged flashing.

Metal roof flashing is used at roof joints and transitions where water flows heavily or where absorption may occur. Flashing is an important part of protecting your home from roof leaks, and aged or damaged flashing is a common cause of leaking roofs.

Look for flashing where your roof joins a dormer, where the chimney travels through the roof, and around the edges of features like skylights and vents.

Examine flashing for sections that have slid out of place due to missing nails, or portions that have lifted because of dried and cracked caulking.

  • Missing or lifted shingles.

If you have a shingled roof, it may be susceptible to damage from strong winds and heavy rain or snow. Severe windy weather can lift a weak shingle and even tear it off completely.

If a shingle is lifted or missing, your roof is susceptible to water absorption in that spot.

While examining your roof, look at your shingles to make sure they’re each laying flat and flush, and that none of them are missing.

  • Pooling water on flat roofs.

If you have a flat roof, your roof is made of waterproof membranes, and it is positioned at a slight angle (usually about a 1% slope) to help shed water.

However, waterproofing materials can age or become damaged, causing water to shed less effectively.

If you have a flat roof, pooling or standing water can be a major cause of a leaking roof.

  • Debris on the roof.

Another way windy and inclement weather can cause roof leaks is by creating a buildup of litter on the roof. Leaves, pine needles and twigs can create a layer of debris that traps water against the roof surface and eventually causes it to seep through. Look for piles of debris on your roof that could be causing a leak.

Additionally, look for larger debris—like fallen tree limbs—that could have punctured or weakened roofing materials upon impact.

  • Blocked gutters.

Your roof’s gutters are critical in keeping water from pooling and soaking through roofing materials. They keep rain and melted snow flowing the right direction—downwards off the roof.

If your gutters are blocked by leaves or other debris, water won’t be able to escape and may cause a roof leak.

6. Clear Away Leaves and Small Debris

If you notice any leaves or other small debris piling up on your roof or blocking gutters, gently sweep the debris off the roof, or reach into the gutter to dislodge the blockage.

Make sure to tend your roof and gutters carefully, as aggressive sweeping or shaking of gutters can cause even more extensive damage.

7. Remove Fallen Tree Limbs

Next, if you notice large fallen tree limbs, carefully remove the large debris while paying attention to the potential damage underneath. You will need to cover any holes or areas of damage caused by the fallen limb.

You may not always be able to remove large tree limbs or debris on your own, and that's OK. Some roof debris will need to be broken down into smaller pieces, which is best left to the experts.

If a tree limb cannot be removed safely--for example, if you can't lift the limb without becoming destabilized, or if moving the limb could cause more damage to the roof--simply cover the area as best you can (see step 9) to prevent further water from entering through the roof.

8. Sweep Away and Soak Up Standing Water

If you find an area or multiple areas of pooling or standing water on your flat roof (or low-sloped roof), carefully sweep water downwards off the roof. Remember to use a soft broom and not sweep too aggressively, especially if you have a flat roof that can be easily damaged by scratching and gouging.

Be mindful not to step or put pressure on the area where water has been pooled, as it may be weakened.

To further reduce potential water damage, you can use a mop or towels to soak up any remaining pooled water.

9. Use a Tarp or Plastic Sheet to Cover the Area

Whether you find a damaged shingle, pooling water on the roof, or a fallen tree limb, you’ll need to repair the area temporarily until help can arrive. The simplest and most effective way to do this on your own is with a tarp (or a sheet of polyethylene sheeting) and several two-by-four wooden boards.

First, sandwich each side of the plastic sheet between two boards. Nail the two boards together on each side so that the plastic sheet is help firmly in place. You should now be able to pull the sheet tight and set down the boards so that it lays flat.

  • If you have a flat roof, simply spread the tarp out evenly across the damaged area with plenty of room on each side. Set down the boards to hold the covering in place.
  • If you have a sloped roof, you can place one set of boards (one side of the tarp) over a peak in the roof to anchor the covering in place.

When placing a tarp over your roof to temporarily cover a leak, make sure to do so gently and without putting too much pressure in any one spot on your roof. Do not nail or staple the tarp directly to the roof materials, as this can create further leaks.

Make sure the boards are heavy enough on all sides to hold the sheet in place and prevent wind from lifting the sheet from underneath. Boards that are not firmly in place can be hazardous to both your roof and to your neighbors.

After placing the tarp, you will need to periodically check on the solution—especially if you have a flat roof—to make sure water isn’t pooling within the tarp.

10. Follow These Rooftop Safety Tips

roof leaks rooftop safety

Before going up on your roof to look for the cause of a leak or to temporarily fix a leaking roof, make sure to review and follow these rooftop safety tips.

If you don’t have the tools necessary, do what you can to manage the leak from inside the house and ground level until professional help arrives.

  • Don’t take risks.

If you’re fearful of heights or have a particular steep and/or high-up roof, or a roof made of slate or tile, it’s best to manage roof leaks as best you can from inside the house and attic without going up on the roof.

Fixing a roof leak isn’t worth the potential damage—to yourself and to your roof—you could cause if you’re not well prepared.

  • Wait for better weather.

When you notice your roof leaking, chances are high that it’s raining or has been raining heavily.

While it can be tempting to go up to the roof immediately to check things out, you should always wait until the weather clears up and is no longer rainy, windy, or showing signs of lightning.

  • Follow the buddy system.

We recommend never going up on your roof alone. If there’s an accident of any kind, you need someone there to help. A partner can also be helpful when you need materials passed up to you from below.

  • Use your ladder correctly.

Make sure your ladder is in good condition, and set it on a firm and level surface. Your ladder should extend at least three rungs above the edge of your roof so that it can be easily accessed on the way down.

Have someone hold the bottom of your ladder while you ascend and descend to help keep the ladder stable. You can also apply tie-down straps from the gutter spikes to the ladder to reduce movement.

Avoid carrying anything up or down the ladder.

  • Wear the right gear.

Any time you go on the roof, you need to wear solid shoes or boots with rubber soles and superior traction to help reduce slipping. In some states, a safety harness is required to work on roofs that are more than 10 feet high. If the sun is out, make sure to also wear a long-sleeved shirt and sunscreen to protect you from damaging rays.

What Happens if You Ignore a Roof Leak?

Knowing how to temporarily repair roof leaks and manage water damage until help arrives is important. But even more crucial is getting the damaged roof fixed by a professional as soon as possible. Here is what can happen if you choose to ignore a roof leak—even a relatively minor one—instead.

  • More expensive repairs.

Ignoring a leak won’t make it go away. On the contrary: ignoring a roof leak will inevitably mean more expensive repair bills later on, once the damage has become more severe.

  • Mold.

Adding onto those repair bills, ignoring a roof leak can lead to a costly and unpleasant mold remediation process. Mold is not only a hazard to your home, but if ignored, mold exposure can also lead to allergic reactions and illness in both people and pets.

  • Decreased roof lifespan.

Roof replacements are a taxing process, and not one that anyone wants to experience too often. While all roofs will have to be replaced at some point, a consistently leaking roof will have to be replaced sooner.

Professional Leak Management with Flexible Financing

fixing roof leaks with professional roof repair

The best way to manage leaks is with the help of professional roofers. While you can mitigate the damage from a roof leak in the short term, the only way to truly repair a leak is with professional materials and application.

Capitol Improvements is an award-winning roofing provider with more than 30 years of experience in roof repair. Best of all, we offer flexible financing to help you fix that roof leak right now, rather than later.

Our Comprehensive Guide to Flat Roofs: Materials, Application, Design and More

flat roof guide

Flat roof systems require special attention that pitched roofs do not. If you own a home with a flat roof, it’s important to understand flat roof materials and construction, maintenance requirements, and everything else involved in taking care of your roof.


  1. Flat Roof Materials & Construction (top)
  2. Maintenance
  3. Flat Roof Myths and Facts
  4. Flat Roof Financing and Warranty with Capitol Improvements

Flat Roof Materials & Construction

flat roof materials

Homeowners can choose from several different types of flat roof materials, each of which has its own application and construction process, as well as its own pros and cons. The three main types of flat roofs are:

  • Modified Bitumen Systems or MBS, including:
    • Torch-down systems
    • Self-adhering systems
  • Thermoplastic polyolefin or TPO
  • Ethylene propylene diene monomer or EPDM

1. Modified Bitumen Systems (MBS)

Modified Bitumen Systems (MBS)

Modified bitumen roofs are one of the most popular types of flat roof systems in commercial/industrial applications, and they're used residentially, as well. Modified bitumen systems (MBS) have become a popular alternative to built-up roofs (BUR) because MBS is lighter and more durable.

Modified bitumen is a type of bitumen (tar or asphalt) combined with a modifying compound, thus improving its performance. The two most common compounds used to modify roofing bitumen are: atactic polypropylene (APP) and SBS (styrene-butadiene-styrene).

The two common methods for applying modified bitumen flat roof systems are:

  • Torch-Down Application (Torch Application)

Torch-down roof application is the process of adhering levels of modified bitumen (APP type) through the application of high heat.

  • Self-Adhering or Mop Application

SBS modified bitumen can be applied “cold” or without the use of high heat because of the addition of the styrene-butadiene-styrene compound. This process consists of applying self-adhering sheets or mopping the bitumen onto the roof platform.

Lifespan

10-12 years when properly applied in appropriate settings.

Benefits

  • It comes in a variety of different types/applications to suit each home and homeowner.
  • It is less complicated and requires less labor time to install than built-up flat roofs.
  • Less complicated installation also means there is a smaller possibility of errors during installation.
  • It is relatively low-cost.
  • Modified bitumen is more flexible than built-up roofs, making it more elastic and durable against freezing temperatures.
  • It can be recycled at the end of its lifespan.

Drawbacks

  • Torch application requires an open flame to apply, which requires special safety considerations.
  • Extra attention must be paid to overlapping joints and pieces to avoid leaks.

 

2. Thermoplastic Polyolefin (TPO)

TPO roofing is a type of synthetic “rubber roof”, consisting of a single-ply layer or membrane of thermoplastic polyolefin material. TPO is a popular material used in residential flat roofing applications because it is light-weight, highly reflective, and weather-resistant.

It comes in a standard white color, which helps prevent the absorption of heat. TPO roofing is also a popular choice for homes and buildings which have low-pitched (as opposed to flat) roofs because it can improve curb appeal with a unique appearance and is highly energy-efficient.

Lifespan

The average lifespan of TPO roofing is 20 years with proper installation and maintenance.

Benefits

  • It has superior water resistance and leak protection.
  • It is resistant to heat and UV rays.
  • It is relatively cost-effective.
  • TPO is relatively low-maintenance and easy to repair.
  • TPO roofing is 100% recyclable.
  • It offers reduced energy costs, especially in cooling costs.
  • Relatively resistant to tearing and scratching.
  • TPO is very lightweight, so roof decks and joints do not need reinforcement.

Drawbacks

  • TPO will age faster in regions with hotter temperatures.
  • It’s important to make sure your TPO roofing product is high-quality and installed by a qualified professional, since many poor-quality TPO roofing products exist in the market.

 

3. Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer (EPDM)

Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer (EPDM)

 

EPDM, or ethylene propylene diene monomer, is another type of synthetic rubber roofing material. Like TPO, EPDM is commonly used as a single-ply membrane. However, EPDM differs from TPO in several ways.

EPDM is an older roofing technology than TPO, so it is considered more time-tested and trusted. However, EPDM does not offer the same heat-resistance and energy-saving technology as TPO roofing.

Over the years, EPDM roofing has evolved and is now available in peel-and-stick membranes, making for quick application.

Lifespan

The average lifespan of an EPDM rubber roof is 25 years when properly applied in appropriate settings

Benefits

  • EPDM rubber roofing is waterproof (leaks are rare) and highly durable -- EPDM roofing doesn’t scratch easily.
  • Repairs are relatively simple.
  • EPDM is lightweight, so the roof deck typically doesn’t require reinforcement.
  • EPDM roofing has a longer lifespan on average than either TPO or MBS.

Drawbacks

  • Exterior pipes, HVAC systems, chimneys, etc. can cause leaks unless properly flashed.
  • It can be damaged by branches and storm damage.
  • It is more prone to damage from foot traffic during and after installation.
  • EPDM does not reflect heat like TPO.

 

Maintenance

flat roof maintenance

One of the biggest reasons homeowners avoid flat roofs is because they require more maintenance than pitched roofs. However, if you know how to properly maintain a flat roof, you can mitigate this issue and enjoy the benefits of your flat roof without worry.

The following are the most important considerations when it comes to maintaining your flat roof.

1. Traffic Damage

This is number one our list because, to perform any type of maintenance or check on your flat roof, you’ll need to climb up and step foot on the roof. Your weight shouldn’t be enough to cause damage if the roof is properly installed. However, scuffing, scratching, or digging into roofing materials with sharp tools can damage a flat roof’s moisture-protectant layers.

2. Drains and Scuppers

Keeping the roof’s drains and scuppers clear is the second-most important step in maintaining your flat roof. Clogged drains make it impossible for water to drain off of the roof, forcing water to pool up on the roof instead.

3. Leaves and Debris

Gently sweeping the roof to prevent leaves and debris from building up can go a long way in maintaining your flat roof. Especially in the autumn months when leaves begin to fall, you’ll want to make sure you remove them from your roof before they turn to mulch.

4. Low Branches

Check the trees surrounding your house for low-hanging branches that touch--or come close to touching--your roof. These can easily begin to scrape and damage the roof before you have time to notice.

5. Caulking and Flashing

When you check your roof for damage, always check the caulking and flashing. These two parts are easy to replace, but if not maintained, can damage your entire roof system.

6. Professional Help

While some minor damage can be fixed DIY with patch kits from your local home center, larger or deeper cracks and splits require professional tools, experience, and equipment. If you’re not confident that you can seal any damage in a way that is completely watertight, call in a professional contractor for help.

 

Flat Roof Myths and Facts
flat roof myths and facts

 

Flat roofs improve energy savings.

Fact:

TPO flat roofs work to repel UV rays and prevent heat absorption, which means you can spend less money on cooling your home during the hot summer months.

 

Maintenance and repairs are easier on flat roofs.

Myth:

While it may be easier to climb up and walk around on a flat roof, they also require special equipment and knowledge to maintain and repair. Flat roofs also require much more regular maintenance than pitched roofs.

 

Flat roofs add usable space to your home.

Fact:

If you’ve ever been in the upstairs or attic space of a home with a steep-pitched roof, you know just how much space those roofs can take up. Valuable square feet can be saved by choosing a flat roof, which leaves all of the space underneath fully usable.

A flat roof also adds extra usable space to the exterior of a home, whether that means attaching the HVAC unit to the roof or installing a garden or rain buffering system atop your home.

 

Flat roofs are less expensive to install or replace.

Myth:

Because they require special training and expertise to install correctly, flat roofs are typically more expensive to install or replace than pitched roofs.

 

Flat roofs are perfectly flat, so they can’t shed water.

Myth:

Building codes usually require even “flat” roofs to have a minimum pitch of at least 1%, or ⅛” per 1’. Some building codes even require a slope of at least 2%. This minimum slope is enough to accommodate water runoff and to help prevent water damage. Flat roofs also utilize waterproof membranes to deter moisture.

 

Flat roofs don’t last as long as pitched roofs.

Fact:

Because they are more prone to moisture, debris, and heat damage over time, flat roofs must be replaced more frequently than pitched roofs. However, modern materials like TPO and EPDM have extended the lifespan a great deal in recent decades, and flat roof technology continues to improve.

Flat roofs are a bad idea in hot regions.

Myth:

While they may not last as long in areas of extreme heat, flat roofs made of materials like TPO can work well in even the hottest regions. We recommend TPO because it is white in color and works to reflect heat away from the home. Issues like cracking and blistering usually occur from improper application of roofing materials like modified bitumen and synthetic rubber.

You can replace a flat roof yourself.

Myth:

DIY sites may claim that installing new flat roof materials like TPO and EPDM is simple enough to do yourself, but doing so can result in leaks, damage, and a roof replacement that lasts no more than a few years. Correctly replacing a flat roof requires the proper equipment, as well as professional training and experience.

 

Flat Roof Financing and Warranty with Capitol Improvements
Flat Roof Financing and Warranty with Capitol Improvements

With Capitol Improvements, you can trust your new flat roof to last for years or decades to come.

 

Capitol Improvements Flat Roof Warranty

Material Warranty Period
Modified bitumen 12 years
TPO 20 years
EPDM 25 years

 

Capitol Improvements also offers easy financing for projects like flat roof replacement, with options for great and not-so-great credit.

If you live the DC area, contact us at Capitol Improvements to learn about how you can finance or get started on your flat roof project.

PVC-Coated Aluminum VS Vinyl Trim Wrap: Which is Better?

vinyl trim vs pvc trim

The world of trim and siding is ever-changing and evolving. With so many new options, homeowners are faced with some tough decisions when it comes to making over or maintaining their home’s exterior. One such tough decision you might be facing is the choice between vinyl trim wrap and PVC-coated aluminum coil wrapped trim.


  1. Why Do We Recommend Aluminum Trim? (top)
  2. What Are Vinyl and Aluminum Coil Wrap?
  3. Curb Appeal
  4. Durability & Maintenance
  5. Cost
  6. Aluminum Trim Wrap: Special Financing & 50-Year Warranty

Why Do We Recommend Aluminum Trim?

In most instances, we at Capitol Improvements has seen the greatest success with PVC-coated aluminum wrap, and most often recommend this option to our customers. While vinyl wrap will do the job of protecting your wood trim from moisture damage, PVC-coated aluminum coil-wrapped trim has several important advantages:

Vinyl

PVC-Coated Aluminum

Warps over time Will never warp over time
Smooth appearance that exposes flaws Emulates natural wood grain and hides flaws
Susceptible to damage from heat Stands up to even the hottest temperatures
Costs more to maintain over time Costs less to maintain over time.
Harder to protect natural or flawed wood trim from moisture damage Better protection for natural wood trim against moisture damage.

To learn more about the differences between aluminum coil wrap and vinyl wrap, read on below. To get started with your aluminum trim project today, call us at 301-769-6909.

 

What Are Vinyl Wrap and Aluminum Coil Wrap?

 

Trim capping--or “wrapping”--is a method used by homeowners and contractors to protect wood trim from moisture and other damage.

When you wrap your trim,  you are fitting the existing wood trim with a precisely-cut and shaped outer layer of more protective material. Two of the most popular materials used for trim wrapping are vinyl and PVC-coated aluminum.

Both vinyl and PVC-coated aluminum offer you the benefit of greatly reduced--or eliminated--trim maintenance, but PVC-coated aluminum offers additional benefits when it come to curb appeal, overall durability, and cost.

 

1. Curb Appeal

curb appeal vinyl trim aluminum trim

The first thing many homeowners think about when they’re considering exterior work is how it’s going to look. This is true whether you plan to stay in the home for the foreseeable future or selling the home soon, but curb appeal is especially important if you’re preparing to put your home on the market. Either way, by ensuring your trim has aesthetic appeal, you’re ensuring a greater return on your investment.

Both vinyl trim and aluminum fascia have benefits when it comes to curb appeal, as long as they are installed by an experienced professional.

Vinyl Wrap

Vinyl trim has become popular over the past several years because of its ability to protect wood trim from moisture and eliminate maintenance costs for years or even decades. Vinyl trim is also highly customizable and easy to keep looking like new.

  • Smooth appearance
  • Choose from a variety of colors
  • Lasting like-new appearance
  • Easy to clean

PVC-Coated Aluminum Wrap

Unlike vinyl wrap, which is smooth and synthetic-looking, PVC-coated aluminum offers homeowners the ability to keep the natural wood trim look they love. Many homeowners prefer PVC-coated aluminum wrapped trim for this reason.

Because of its more textured surface, PVC-coated aluminum also conceals imperfections better than vinyl wrap, which has a flat or shiny and smooth finish.

Aluminum coil wrap comes in a wide variety of styles and colors to fit nearly any style of home, from elaborate traditional to minimalist modern.

  • Natural wood-grain look
  • Variety of colors
  • Lasting like-new appearance
  • Flexibility to suit any style
  • Hide imperfections for a seamless look

Best Choice:

For homeowners who want their trim to look natural and seamless, PVC-coated aluminum fascia beats out vinyl-wrapped trim in this category.

 

2. Durability & Maintenance

maintenance and durability aluminum trim vs vinyl trim

There’s more to choosing a trim material that how it looks: durability is arguably the most important factor when you’re deciding between aluminum-wrapping your trim or wrapping your trim in vinyl.  Both PVC warp and aluminum wrap offer improved durability over wood trim, but there are also key differences between the two.

Vinyl Wrap

Vinyl wrapping your home’s trim adds durability, but often comes up short in this area when compared to aluminum wrap.  Vinyl has a higher impact resistance than aluminum, adding to its durability value. However, vinyl trim doesn’t hold up as well against severe weather like heat and freezing temperatures as aluminum does.

Vinyl-wrapped trim doesn’t need to be repainted regularly like wood trim, but its appearance may become worn down or more brittle  over time. This is because vinyl is susceptible to heat, so it can dry out and crack with extended exposure. Vinyl also attracts dirt more so than aluminum, but it can be pressure/ spray washed once a year or as needed.

  • Higher impact-resistance
  • Lower weather-resistance
  • Attracts more dirt and staining
  • Susceptible to cracking

PVC-Coated Aluminum Wrap 

Like vinyl, aluminum wrap holds up against moisture much better than unwrapped wood trim, which must be maintained every 4-5 years to prevent moisture damage from regular weather conditions.

Unlike vinyl, PVC-coated aluminum wrap can withstand high temperatures and extreme weather conditions.

On average, aluminum is sturdier and therefore easier to maintain than vinyl trim. If damage does occur, repairing PVC-coated aluminum wrap is generally easier than repairing vinyl wrap, too.

  • Higher weather-resistance
  • Lower impact-resistance
  • Better stain-resistance and color retention
  • Susceptible to denting/bending

Best Choice:

The best choice for your home will depend on your concerns as a homeowner, as well as the region in which you’re located. If you’re willing to put in some time cleaning your home’s trim every year or so to keep it looking like new, and you live in an area with limited heat and/or high winds, vinyl trim might be a viable option.

If you want less maintenance requirement overall, better protection of your wood trim (including imperfections), and/or live in a hotter climate, aluminum is the better choice.

 

3. Cost

cost of aluminum trim vs vinyl trim

If you’re making significant improvements to your home, chances are you’re working within a budget. Both vinyl and aluminum wrap offer great returns on your investment, whether you’re planning to stay in your home or sell it in the near future. But cost can still be a major deciding factor for many homeowners.

Vinyl Wrap

Although vinyl and PVC-coated aluminum cost about the same amount to install, vinyl trim wrap requires more ongoing maintenance than aluminum and is more easily damaged by weather conditions like high temperatures.

  • Potentially greater maintenance costs

PVC-Coated Aluminum Trim

PVC-coated aluminum costs about the same as vinyl wrap to install, and it also offers long-term savings compared to vinyl.

  • Install it and forget it for a lifetime

Best Choice:

In the category of cost, you can usually get the best return on your investment with PVC-coated aluminum wrap, which will offer lower maintenance costs for years to come.

 

Aluminum Trim Wrap: Special Financing & 50-Year Warranty

financing for aluminum trim

At Capitol Improvements, we’re confident in our aluminum coil wrap, and even more confident in our ability to install perfectly-cut and applied aluminum wrap that’s built to last.

That's why we offer special financing and a 50-year warranty on aluminum coil wrap installation, so you can truly install it and forget it for a lifetime.

Capitol Improvements is proud to offer financing through Enerbank USA, which allows us to offer these benefits (based on creditworthiness):

  • Low interest financing
  • No prepayment penalties
  • Financing for as low as $99/month
  • Finance terms from 60-120 months
  • Unsecured loans (no collateral required)
  • 365 same-as-cash

Rather than worry about regular trim maintenance like repairing cracks or repainting every five years, we recommend making worthwhile investment in aluminum wrap now.