Your Complete Guide to Roofing with Expert Help from Spahn & Rose

While a roof over your head is considered a necessity, most people don’t really think about their roofs day to day. That is, until a storm comes through and you need a replacement roof. A new roof is a big investment, and a little information can go a long way toward avoiding problems throughout the roofing-material-buying process. You can ensure a quality roof by learning more about the different types of shingles, how roofing is installed and clues that your roofing needs an update.

That’s where the experts at Spahn & Rose come in. We’ve put together this comprehensive roofing buying guide, so you have solid advice every step of the way. We’ll start by reviewing the types of shingles and how they translate into different goals for your roof. Next, we’ll discuss all the different ways you can recognize what roofing is right for you as well as finding the best contractor for the job. Finally, we’ll share some FAQs just in case you have a few questions.

Part 2: How to Choose the Right Roof

Part 3: Making the Most of New Roofing


Part 1: Different Types of Roofs and Roofing Materials

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Because of how important a good roof is, some materials have been in use for hundreds of years. Others take advantage of modern techniques to create effective, yet low-cost, roofing. Here are a few of the most common materials in use today:

Asphalt shingles are the most popular roofing material in the United States, and for good reason. These simple shingles are affordable, easy to install, and can last up to 20-30 years with proper maintenance. Asphalt shingles come in dozens of colors and patterns to match any home’s exterior and architectural style. In some cases, you don’t even need to remove the old shingles before putting in a new roof, which will help cut down on installation costs.

Asphalt shingles are the most affordable roofing material.

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Architectural shingles are another type of roofing shingle designed to provide a more aesthetically pleasing look. Most architectural shingles are made from a fiberglass mat base with asphalt coating. Some also have ceramic granules embedded in the top layer to provide additional protection from the sun and weather. This shingle manufacturing process provides higher durability than traditional asphalt shingles, making them a good choice for areas with severe weather conditions. Architectural shingles typically last between 20 and 30 years.

Architectural shingles cost slightly more than average asphalt shingles.

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Metal roofing is a popular choice for commercial buildings, agricultural buildings and homes in areas prone to severe weather like hailstorms, tornadoes or heavy snowfall. Metal roofs are extremely durable and can withstand the highest wind speeds or debris from storms. Metal roofing is also fire resistant, energy efficient and can even stand up to fading from sun damage. Because of this durability, however, metal roofing can be expensive and requires professional installation. Spahn & Rose works with some of the best ag steel manufacturers and offers a complete line of metal roofing.

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Terracotta roofing is made from clay tiles and is a material that has been used for centuries in Europe and Asia. You’ll recognize terracotta roof tiles by their distinct copper or sandstone color. Terracotta roofing is extremely durable, with many terracotta roofs lasting 100 years or more. Like slate roofing, terracotta tiles are also environmentally friendly, as they’re made from natural and easily accessible materials. The tiles can be damaged during shipping and installation, which increases installation costs and encourages professional installation.

Terracotta roofing tiles are relatively expensive.

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Slate roofing is one of the oldest and most long-lasting roofing materials available. Roofing made from slate tiles can often last 100 years or more with careful maintenance, making them a wise investment for homeowners thinking about long-term benefits. Slate roofing is also environmentally friendly as tiles are made from natural stone. However, there are some drawbacks. Slate roofing is one of the more expensive roofing materials on the market and requires special installation techniques and expertise. This special handling is required because slate tiles are brittle and can be damaged during installation or maintenance.

Typically, slate roofing is the most expensive option.

If total life span is your top priority, a quality slate roof might be the way to go. But if you prefer minimal maintenance, metal roofing is a popular option too. Roofing specialists like Spahn & Rose can help you determine which materials are ideal for you. Let’s review the pros and cons of each roofing material:

Asphalt shingles: Lasts 20 years

  • Pros:
    • Inexpensive
    • Ease of installation
    • A wide variety of colors and styles to choose from
  • Cons:
    • Not as eco-friendly as some other roofing options
    • Can be damaged by high winds or hail
    • May leak if not installed properly

Architectural shingles: Lasts up to 20-30 years

  • Pros:
    • More durable than asphalt shingles
    • Often a class A fire rating (the highest rating)
    • Many color and style options available to match home exterior
    • Resistant to high winds and hail
  • Cons:
    • More expensive than asphalt shingles
    • Slightly heavier/bulkier than asphalt shingles

Slate roofing: Lasts 100 years or more

  • Pros:
    • Extremely resilient—can last 100 years or more with proper maintenance
    • Class A fire rating
    • Very energy efficient—helps keep your home cooler in summer and warmer in winter
  • Cons:
    • One of the more expensive roofing options
    • Requires special training to install properly
    • Heavy—may require extra support for your roof beams
    • May be damaged by debris

Metal roofing: Lasts 50 years or more

  • Pros:
    • Class A fire rating
    • Wind and storm resistant
    • Eco-friendly—can be made from recycled materials
    • Low maintenance
  • Cons:
    • More expensive than asphalt shingles
    • Can be noisy during a rainstorm
    • Requires special training to install properly
    • Not as many style options as other roofing materials

Terracotta roofing: Lasts 100 years or more

  • Pros:
    • Class A fire rating
    • Wind and storm resistant
    • Eco-friendly materials
    • Low maintenance
  • Cons:
    • A more expensive roofing material
    • Requires special training for installation
    • More limited colors

Part 2: How to Choose the Right Roof

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Now that you’ve familiarized yourself with a few of the most popular roofing options, it’s time to decide which one you want for your roof. If you’re still having trouble making a decision, there are some questions you can ask yourself.

How does the local climate factor in? Lots of severe weather encourages a sturdy roof to keep you and your family safe and dry.

How much square footage do you need? Premium materials are always attractive options, but costs can increase dramatically for especially large roofs. Spahn & Rose offers material estimating to help you get a firm sense of all the associated costs of a roofing project.

Do you want a customized look? Simpler roofing materials like asphalt shingles come in dozens of colors, while options like slate tiles are much more restrictive. Consider the architecture and your design goals.

Roof Pitch Influences Which Material Is Best

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The pitch of your roof refers to how steep the slopes or angles are before meeting in the middle. The higher the number, the steeper the pitch. Your roof’s pitch is illustrated by a fraction such as 4/12. The first number refers to the height while the second represents the width. For a 4/12 pitch roof, that means the roof rises 4 inches for every 12 inches of width.

Steeper-pitch roofs are attractive to look at while also keeping rain and snow off more easily. At the same time, installation and maintenance can be more difficult because the footing is less secure. It’s also usually more expensive because it takes more square footage for steep-roof pitches to meet in the middle.

The average residential roof is between a 4/12 and 8/12 pitch. If your roof has a greater pitch than that, it may be best to choose a lightweight and resilient material such as architectural shingles compared to a heavier option like slate.

Figuring Out When You Need a New Roof

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It’s not always easy to determine when your roof is ready for replacement. You or a roof inspector will have to climb up there just to look! Here are a few ways you can gather some information:

  • Find out when the previous roof was installed: When buying a house or commercial property, it’s common to include information about when the roof was last repaired or replaced. You may have even lived somewhere long enough to have replaced it once before. A common asphalt shingle roof lasts 20-30 years with maintenance, so keep an eye out for wear and tear as your roof approaches this age.
  • Are there obvious signs of damage/age? Look for broken or curled shingles as well as exposed roofing deck. If this is the first time you’re noticing damage, other problems may have worked their way in. It’s a good idea to do a spot check of your roof every time a severe weather event like a tornado comes through.
  • Take a closer look at the gutters: Over time, shingle granules and other debris can accumulate in your gutters. This is a good sign the roofing material is starting to deteriorate and you should consider replacement. You may even see the gutters start to sag away from the roof line.
  • Check upstairs for leaks: Leaking is a common problem with older roofs, and evidence may be difficult to notice. If you see water damage or damp spots in the rooms closest to the roof, it might be a good idea to have it inspected.

If you’ve noticed something that indicates you’re ready for a new roof, there are a couple more things to keep in mind. First, consider the possibility that tearing off the old roof may reveal additional problems. Any quality contractor will tell you that now’s the time to deal with surprise issues, as they may get worse if you just slap a new roof up and forget about them. Second, roofing manufacturers and contractors may be in the middle of a backlog. Even if your roofing project is a ways off, it’s a good idea to shop around and plan ahead for delivery of roofing material.

Part 3: Making the Most of New Roofing

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Once you have a better sense of the materials you’d like to use for your new roof, you should make preparations for the project itself. Find a trustworthy professional roofing contractor. A new roof is a big investment, so it’s always worthwhile to take the time you need to find a local expert. Not only do they have all the right tools and years of experience, but they can provide recommendations on how to make the most of a new roof.

Choosing the Right Roofing Contractor

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There are a few things you should look for in a roofing contractor: experience, good reviews and fair pricing. It’s always a good idea to ask your friends or family for recommendations, as well as looking online for reviews. Once you’ve found a few contractors that seem promising, you should get bids from them to see what kind of pricing they can offer. Be wary of any contractors offering prices significantly lower than the competition, as this could be a red flag of the overall craftsmanship. Ask for examples of completed work, preferred vendors or other details for a sense of how well the contractor understands roofing projects.


The best contractors will help you find ways to save on materials and installation costs. For example, some asphalt shingle roofs don’t need to be torn off before another layer is installed. Keep in mind that a contractor’s ability to do this can depend on where you live, as sometimes it’s required to tear the old roof off.


A quality contractor may also recommend replacing or upgrading the other parts of the roofing system depending on their condition. Many people think of their roofs as nothing but the shingles, but in reality a good roofing system is comprised of several other components.

Other Elements of Your Roofing System


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  • Roof deck: The structural core of your roof, roof decking is most often made from an engineered wood product like plywood or oriented strand board (OSB). Without the roof deck, there’s nothing your shingles could be attached to. Building codes dictate that you should always replace the roof deck if there’s signs of rot. This ensures the roof’s structural integrity.
  • Vents: Vents are necessary to ventilate your attic and allow hot air to escape. Unlike gable vents, which are placed under the roof, other types like ridge vents, soffit vents and turbine vents are placed on the roof itself.
  • Underlayment: Placed between the roof deck and the shingles, underlayment provides a secondary barrier against water and moisture. It can also help protect the roof decking from other weather, like strong winds and UV rays. Felt, rubber and synthetic are the three main types of underlayment material.
  • Flashing: Typically made from plastic or metal, flashing is placed anywhere on your roof where water might slip through a tiny gap. This includes around your chimney, near skylights or near the vents.
  • Drip edge: Strips of aluminum, plastic or other materials that resist corrosion make up the drip edge, which prevents water from running up and underneath your shingles.


After Installation: Inspecting and Maintenance


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When all the preparations have been made, your roofing contractor should be ready to begin! Typically, a roof can take anywhere from a couple days to more than a week to install. The timeframe will ultimately depend on the size and complexity of the roof as well as if any other part of the roofing system needs to be replaced.


Once the job is complete, it’s worth calling a roofing inspector to make sure the work was done properly. Remember, this is a big investment, so you deserve the peace of mind that the roof over your head was installed properly! A quality roofing inspector can complete a number of tasks for you, such as:

  1. Inspect the work area for leftover materials or debris.
  2. Check for any loose shingles and identify which ones need to be repaired or replaced right away.
  3. Make sure the gutters are clean and free of shingle granules, leftover nails or anything else.
  4. Inspect your chimney to make sure it wasn’t damaged. The inspector can also make sure the flashing was installed correctly.
  5. Check for any leaks. Water damage can quickly lead to rot in your roof decking, which puts the upper floors at risk of leaks.
  6. Schedule a maintenance checkup a year later to check on the condition of your new roof.


Should I replace my roof before selling my home?

If you’re selling your home, it’s important to make sure that the roof is in good condition. A potential buyer may be less likely to purchase your home if they see that the roof needs to be replaced. If you’re not sure if your roof needs to be replaced, you can contact a roofing professional for an inspection.

What’s the best time of year to replace my roof?

While there isn’t an ideal time of year to replace your roof, a good rule of thumb is to try and schedule the project when it’s least likely to be impacted by things like severe weather. This may be the spring or fall when temperatures are milder.

What roofing material is best?

Some roofing materials last longer, while other options resist water and moisture better. The best material will depend on your priorities for your new roof. Experts like Spahn & Rose can help you pair your goals with the perfect roofing material, like slate tiles or architectural shingles.

Should I always replace the entire roofing system?

With various other components making up your roofing system, it’s not a bad idea to replace everything at once. This way, you can ensure each component is installed seamlessly with the next, ensuring a stronger and longer-lasting roof. That being said, a trustworthy contractor will let you know if they think you can make do with your existing roofing system.

Is there anything I should do to prepare for installation?

There are a few tasks you can handle that can help the process go smoothly. Keep your driveway clear to allow plenty of room for the contractors’ vehicles and equipment. You’ll also avoid any falling roofing materials damaging your car. If you have anything hanging on the wall or on a shelf, consider taking it down beforehand. The work can sometimes produce enough vibrations to cause these items to fall.

Trust the Roof Over Your Head with Spahn & Rose

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The roofing experts at Spahn & Rose can offer their years of experience supplying the best materials and professionals for your next project. We work with some of the finest vendors around including GAF, Certainteed Roofing and Owens Corning Roofing. Our staff would be happy to help you figure out which material may be right for you.

If you’re ready to get started, contact your nearest Spahn & Rose location or fill out our online contact form.

Spahn & Rose would love to hear from you!

If you are interested in building a home or starting a new project, contact your nearest location and we will guide you in the right direction!