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Home Matters

Roofing materials can make or break your roof (and your budget)

Everyone knows roofs are a key component to your house. But how do you find a good roofing contractor? What's the difference between types of shingles? Lance Smith and Mike Farina from State Roofing give Pete and Rob advice for the care and keeping of roofs.

The life of your roof can depend a great deal on the material of your roof. "Metal," Lance says, "is good for just about anything now," depending on the slope and pitch of your roof. A shallower roof makes roofing with metal more difficult.

Mike says metal roofs nowadays are coated with a resin, "which has a very, very strong ability to retain the color," meaning your roof won't fade in the sun. Lance also adds that the material cost of a metal roof is about the same as the cost of cedar shake.

But Pete adds, the return on investment can be much higher due to the life of the material.

Concrete roofs, even though they are fireproof, can be difficult to maintain in the wet/dry cycle of the Pacific Northwest. "Concrete does soak moisture," says Mike, "so it does end up not being a lifetime roof."

Lance says that adding a concrete sealer, like the kind you would put on your driveway, can help protect your concrete roof.

He also adds that concrete roofs are primarily for new construction, and should be taken into consideration in the architecture and design of your house.

In the Pacific Northwest, Pete says, "we've got a long history, a lot of design elements revolve around the shake roof because it was such a cheap material back in the day." But what if you're environmentally conscious? How does shake stack up in comparison to other roof materials?

Lance says most shake materials are old growth and come from Canada, so if you want to steer toward a more eco-friendly material, you might want to look at rubber.

Mike says rubber is one of the best roofing materials for neighborhoods in Seattle, because it is the closest emulator of cedar shake. "[For] homeowners that live in homes that have a cedar shake roof now, it's a really easy transition," he says, "and you're not dealing with old-growth cedar, which is dying. But that look is something that's associated with the Northwest." He also says it's cost-comparable to cedar shake.

Rubber is also 80 percent recycled, coming from old truck tires, and has a manufacturer's warranty of 50 years.

If you have a low-pitched roof, Mike and Lance say the best material is vinyl or PVC, which is heat-welded to make your roof. Pete, however, worries about effects of temperature can have on your vinyl roof.

"In colder climates," he says, "it can become brittle and brushing up against it can crack it." Pete also says vinyl can also fade in the sunlight, which can't be repainted.

So, you need a new roof. How do you pick a roofing contractor?

Rob recommends vetting a contractor before hiring with the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries. He also recommends making sure your contractor has insurance, because "[just] signing a check doesn't relieve you of liability. If your property hurts someone, you're liable for that injury," he says. "They can come back and sue you."

Rob also says the L&I website indicates how safe a contractor is working, based on the rate of injury incidences. "If I see a contractor with a high rate of incidences," he says, "I'm not hiring that guy. That's telling me he's cutting corners, he's telling his workers to do things that aren't safe to try and make a buck."

"There's some big-name companies in the Seattle area," Pete adds about the L&I website, "you would be surprised what you can find in there. Just because they market well does not mean they're the best company. Be careful and do your homework."

State Roofing is a proud sponsor of Home Matters.

Home Matters can be heard on KIRO Radio Saturdays at 8 a.m. and Sundays at 6 a.m. Available anytime ON DEMAND at KIRORadio.com.

Cait Walsh, MyNorthwest Writer
Caitlyn Walsh is a regular lifestyles contributor for MyNorthwest. She enjoys reading and hiking, as well as perusing all the cat videos the Internet has to offer.
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