Roofing, know what you’re buying

Roofing Materials, Not All Created Equal.

Roofing Materials can vary greatly from one manufacturer to another even though they basically carry the same warranty. When a homeowner decides to actively acquire some roofing estimates, from a  variety of roofing contractors, they need to be clear that they are getting apples to apples comparisons.

For example some roofing contractors will be very specific with which manufacturer and shingles will be installed. Others can be quite vague in their estimates with or without bad intentions. Roofing contractors that are well established seem to be more likely to be specific with what exactly you can expect to be installed on your roof.

Roofing Job Requires Solid Sheeting?

If you’ll need to have solid sheeting installed it is important to understand that there are multiple options. Many roofing contractors will feature OSB (typically 7/16″) over 3 ply 1/2″ CDX Plywood. The price is quite a bit less for OSB than 3 ply 1/2″ plywood. It is entirely possible that some people may actually prefer OSB over plywood even if they were the same cost. That said, most of the reasons that OSB is a viable option is due to cost reduction. Plywood will cost more and drive up the roofing estimate accordingly. Here’s a link to an article by UMass Amherst on the comparison between OSB & Plywood. Nicely written and unbiased opinion.

For the record, we feature 1/2″ CDX plywood in our estimates as we are of the opinion that it is a superior product. That said, if the homeowner would like us to estimate using OSB we will do.

We recently performed a roofing estimate for a potential client. We were told from the beginning that price would be a big factor in determining which roofing contractor would be getting the job. We performed one estimate with 3 Ply Plywood and another with OSB. In this case the price was about $800 difference on the product that the homeowner selected. When meeting with the client they showed me an estimate done by a competing contractor. The contractor specifically wrote that they were installing 1/2″ OSB plywood AND could do it for $200 less than our 1/2″ CDX price.

Our roofing estimate clearly states the installation of CertainTeed’s Landmark and Presidential product plus wood shakes and lightweight tile options.

The competing contractor: “The installation of a 40 year warranty roof.”

Roofing Material Selection

As a homeowner you can prepare yourself for the selection process. Spending a little time on roofing manufacturer websites is helpful. Invest some time understanding their products that are available in your region. Most of the websites ask you for a zip code, it’s advisable that you add yours so that you can be sure to view the list of shingles and materials that are available in your region.

Identify a manufacturer or two that you liked more than others. It’s probably a good idea to ask the roofing contractor if they install the products you’re interested in. Some roofing contractors may not feature the product regularly but are happy to estimate it for you if you simply ask them to.

Here are two shingles that are expected to have the same life expectancy: These are linked directly from the GAF & CertainTeed websites.

Timberline Shakewood Roofing Product Image CertainTeed Landmark Roofing Resawn Shake Image

As you can see above, the differences are fairly trivial to the eye. Bottom line is if you sign a contract for brand X, brand X is what should be installed on your home.

One other bit of information and advice. Resist the urge to be one of the first to install the hottest new roofing product. It is advisable to wait and make sure the kinks are worked out of the new products before you jump in. Don’t make a large investment in the latest and greatest roofing product. Give it some time to find out that it is or isn’t very reliable and may very well not pan out long term. Stick with the manufacturers and contractors that are most likely to be there ever be an issue.

Some may remember the Cemwood situation of a decade ago. For those who haven’t heard of it here’s a link to article that appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle that describes the situation pretty clearly. The article was from the year 2000 but it explains the situation well. Many roofing contractors installed the Cemwood product on many homes. The roofing contractors can’t be blamed for what turned out to be a far less quality roofing product than was described. Your roofing contractor should hopefully work to avoid installing the next Cemwood product on your home.

In the end, the goal of everyone involved should be for the homeowner to be 100% satisfied. They want confirmation that they made the right choices.

We hope you found this article helpful.

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