roof regrets?
March 17, 2016 9:00 AM   Subscribe

I'm shopping for a new roof. Can you tell me what you DON'T like about your roof?

How should I be thinking about what to look for in a new roof? Everywhere I turn it seems like people just want to validate their own choice of what they have... So I'm asking you guys - in considering your roof - what DON'T you like about yours? Maybe that will help me figure out what the real differentiators are?

Some things I'm interested in are fire safety (most important), durability for walking on, wind-proofness, attic temperature effect... and I'm sure there's lots of other stuff I don't know about.

(Also totally fine if you want to hate on your neighbor's/relative's/ex's roof!! Go for it!)
posted by fingersandtoes to Home & Garden (19 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: If we'd been a little smarter when we had our roof re-done, we'd have extended the eaves a bit. It's not a huge deal in our environment (Northern California), but we have almost no eaves on the sides, and could use more on the front and back, and having 12"-18" of eaves all around would ease the weather load on our siding.

Seems like the only reason to not have big wide eaves is wildfire danger.
posted by straw at 9:17 AM on March 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

I don’t like having to replace mine, so next time, I’m going with metal. Some people don’t like the noise that rain makes on metal roofs, but my neighbor has one and my parents have one at their cabin and it doesn’t bother me.
posted by metasarah at 9:19 AM on March 17, 2016 [2 favorites]

Best answer: When we next replace our roof, we'll also strongly consider metal (difficulty level: solar panels on existing roof). As we've decided this will be the house we die in, having one last roof makes sense. If you're likely to move in the next 15 years, spending the extra money isn't likely to raise the resale value of the house as much (I.E. it's not as good of a financial decision).

When you replace your roof, you'll likely need to touch up / redo the interior walls on the top floor of your house due to new cracks appearing. At least that was our experience.

If you're still going with standard shingles, go with a super light colour. Cheaper to cool in the summer, and they tend to wear longer as they don't get as heated.
posted by nobeagle at 9:37 AM on March 17, 2016 [2 favorites]

I know it's not one of your major considerations, but color. Our house has a really chocolatey brown color on the roof, probably because the house is currently painted brown. We need to paint and I would love to change the color to grey, but it would look awful with the brown roof. So (depending on your siding) something that wouldn't clash with most colors.
posted by thejanna at 9:45 AM on March 17, 2016

Can you tell me what you DON'T like about your roof?

There's not enough ventilation in general -- and specifically, it doesn't have a solar-powered attic fan -- and it doesn't have built-in zinc strips.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:49 AM on March 17, 2016 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I don't know whether you have this problem in California, but here in New England in the last 10 years we've been invaded by the bird-poop-born algae that creates long black streaks on asphalt shingle roofs and eventually turns it completely black. To prevent this, any new shingle roof hereabouts should either have zinc or copper granules in it, or a strip of zinc installed just below the ridge line. Zinc in the rainwater running down kills the algae and prevents the stains.

If you want a roof to last for your lifetime I'd go with 50-year shingles. I would only do standing-seam metal if you really like the look of it enough to justify the extra expense. To reduce attic temp, use the lightest color you can find. If metal, go for unpainted galvanized steel which would reflect the most (and costs less than painted metal). But insulation inside will do a lot more to reduce heat gain, if you have living space directly under the roof rather than an unfinished attic.
posted by beagle at 9:50 AM on March 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: We didn't like our old asphalt shingle roof because it was a weird brick red color; it was due for a replacement so we went with a dark gray that will work with whatever exterior color we may decide to paint in our house in the future.

The new roof itself is fine; what we didn't expect was the incredible amount of asphalt grit from the new roof that rained down through the cracks in the sheathing into the semi-finished attic when it was put on. I don't plan on another roof anytime soon, but I'd cover the entire attic space in tarps if I did.

Hundred-year-old Colonial with plaster walls; no cracks appeared during installation, but maybe we got lucky.
posted by bassomatic at 9:53 AM on March 17, 2016

Response by poster: BIRD POOP BORN ALGAE. God help us all. Does anyone know if that's an issue in California?
posted by fingersandtoes at 10:17 AM on March 17, 2016

Best answer: All I have experience with so far is shingle roofs, and everything I don't like has been installation issue related . So whatever roofing you choose, work with a reputable company and keep an eye on the work being done.

At our last house, the "new roof" advertised by the previous owner turned out to be new shingles put on without addressing roof decking problems (100+ year old house = boards, not plywood sheathing). A lot of nails had gone into gaps between boards, and the nails that did hit a board often didn't hold anyway because the wood was so deteriorated. Shingles slid off the roof at random. We had to have it torn off and redone with new plywood sheathing.

At our current house, there is inadequate flashing where a lower level roof meets a second story wall, so rain could get in. We haven't seen issues yet, knock on wood. Also the shingles were trimmed sloppily; there's a visible wavy edge where they hang over the side of the roof.
posted by superna at 11:08 AM on March 17, 2016

Best answer: I don't know if this is common practice or not, but our new roof is shingle and the new shingles were just laid down right over the old shingles. Seems like a sloppy way to do a roof and it adds unnecessary weight. My dad and I put a roof on his house once and we removed all of the old shingles first.
posted by WalkerWestridge at 12:58 PM on March 17, 2016

Best answer: When my house was roofed, no one put in anchors for future workers to clip into. Since the house is over 40 feet off the ground on one end, and the roof is steep and slippery, this terrifies me.

Other random comments about roofing:
- I love our metal roof. I love that it's recyclable, long lasting, pretty, and won't be landfilled.
- I hate the gutters. Doesn't anyone make interesting-looking gutters instead of the exact same kind all over the country? Is there any effective way to prevent them from getting clogged?
- While the crew is up there, can they add outdoor lighting, or anything else that would go up there, if you need it?
- I'd love a green roof, can't afford one.
- Ventilation is key to the survival of your home. A rental house I lived in had zero ventilation, and black tarry stuff oozed out between the boards after several decades. It was gross.
- I'd love to extend my roof over the door to the deck a few feet. Too late now!
posted by Capri at 1:16 PM on March 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: If you have gutters, install covers on them. That'll keep leaves and other junk out of there, keeping the gutters unclogged. The cheap screen-like ones that just snap-in are fine.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:00 PM on March 17, 2016

If you (or future owners) are going to get solar panels put in, it can be easier/cheaper to do it while the roof is getting done rather than retrofitting afterwards.
posted by soylent00FF00 at 2:01 PM on March 17, 2016

Best answer: While I love our standing seam metal roof, which we put on in 2011, replacing a traditional asphalt shingle roof, all radio reception went to shit as soon as the were done.

TV and radio now require external antennas, and cell service needed an external antenna with indoor amplifier/antenna.
posted by tomierna at 2:07 PM on March 17, 2016 [2 favorites]

Best answer: BIRD POOP BORN ALGAE. God help us all. Does anyone know if that's an issue in California?

Apparently. See map here.
posted by beagle at 2:09 PM on March 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: If you're anywhere fire is a danger, avoid shingles. In videos of burned-over wildfire areas it's noticeable that the houses which survive mostly have either tile or metal roof.
posted by anadem at 3:17 PM on March 17, 2016

Best answer: I've nad a few different roofs. I was not a fan of The terracotta tiles, because they cracked a lot. I was not a fan of the flat metal roof, because you couldn't walk on it to clean gutters without, over time, creating dips where rain pooled. Also it was loud.

Dark coloured roofs attract too much heat.
Painted roofs need too much upkeep.

The best one I've had was plain concrete tiles. They never broke, could be pushed aside to get into the ceiling space from above when necessary, and didn't need painting or other upkeep.
posted by lollusc at 3:54 PM on March 17, 2016

Possible alternative to traditional gutters: inground gutters.
Martin Holladay's rules.
You want as few penetrations as possible, and you want the ones you do have to be flashed properly. Eliminate penetrations if you can, for instance by replacing a furnace that requires a chimney with a 96%+ efficiency gas furnace that doesn't.
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 8:05 PM on March 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

To Capri's "I'd love a green roof, can't afford one.":

My workshop has a living roof. The building was designed specifically for the extra weight and relatively flat slope. There are ways to build a moderaly light living roof, but not as light as asphalt shingles.

Beyond the additional maintenance (getting up and weeding the roof), the big issue here in Northern California is that the living roof takes water, even during the rainy season, because the rains are infrequent and that sucker dries out quickly. So it's cool to say I have, but if you're headed that way I've got a bunch of "things I wish I'd known" to lay on you...
posted by straw at 5:02 AM on March 19, 2016

« Older NewParentFilter: Timing of a housecleaning gift   |   Name my app Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.