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Choosing the best roof

It’s not as snazzy as renovating a kitchen or landscaping your backyard ‒ and not exactly a place for cocktails when you want to invite the neighbours over. But sooner or later, your house is going to need a new roof.

You might decide the time is right when you’re in the midst of a renovation anyway, particularly if it’s an exterior renovation, so that you can synchronize or contrast colours and styles to complement your renovation.

There are many, many variables when it comes to a roof. Your renovator will explain all the options and possibilities, and it won’t hurt to do your own research before the big roof day arrives.

While there are a great many roofing products and systems available, here are some things to consider about the most common roofing systems in the meantime:

Asphalt shingles are the least expensive, basically just fiberglass sandwiched between layers of asphalt and ceramic granules. They can withstand hail, falling branches and fire but are susceptible to damage in high winds and they don’t last as long because they tend to dry out eventually. Asphalt shingles offer the choice of laminated shingles (architectural or dimensional shingles that look like slate or wood shakes) or single layer (three-tab shingles). Shingles can have a lifespan of 30 years or more.

Metal is a lovely look, almost indestructible, and metal roofs can last up to 70 years. The metals used can include steel, aluminum, copper and other alloys.   Metal roofs are about three times more expensive than shingle roofs, but they are much lighter and easier to install. Metal roofs are also fireproof.

Slate is a beautiful material, and you can get some lovely colours. Slate is fireproof, a good insulator, and amazingly durable. It can last up to 150 years, so a slate roof could be the last one you buy for your current house. The thing is, you pay for what you get: slate is probably the most expensive. It’s also much heavier, which could be a structural issue (ask your renovator). Imitation slate shingles are also available, made from a variety of materials but having the appearance of traditional slate at a lower cost.

Your renovator or professional roofer will likely remove your existing roof and inspect the underlying roof sheathing. They will also replace metal flashings and install ventilators to ensure that you have good attic ventilation.

When it comes to a new roof, be absolutely sure that you find a reliable contractor with current Workplace Safety and Insurance Board status as well as professional credentials and affiliations. And of course, as with any renovation, get a written contract that specifies products, materials, and warranties.

This is not an inexpensive project, but it will be part of your home for a long, long time. When it’s finished, maybe you will invite the neighbours over to take a look, with cocktails on the lawn.


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