The time to replace your old roof might be approaching. Perhaps you’re wondering about the best roofing upgrades that are available to maximize the life of your new roof. Well, here they are—the five best roofing upgrades:

  1. Ventilation
  2. Shingles
  3. Warranty
  4. Ice and water shield
  5. Underlayment

Ventilation—Ventilation is the most important, yet the most overlooked, component of the roofing system. A lot of homeowners will be solely concerned about how the roof is going to look, but I can tell that’s not you. That’s why you’re reading this article. A properly ventilated roof is going to help cool down the attic in the summer and get harmful moisture out of the attic in the wintertime. Before we take a look at what an upgrade in ventilation looks like, it’s important to know that a truly ventilated roof should have an intake and an exhaust. Intake will be located at the bottom of the roof or the underside of the soffit. The exhaust would be located at the top of the roof. An upgrade for intake would include:

  1. Soffit vents or
  2. Edge vent

Soffit vents —Soffit vents are installed underneath the roof’s overhang. The number of soffit vents needed will vary based not only on the size of the roof but also on the size of the overhang. Soffit vents come in a variety of sizes and styles. The standard is an 8”x16” and a 4”x16.” The price range will vary depending on if you have wood or vinyl soffit or if the house is 1-story compared to 2. Prices can range from $50 to $100 per vent.

Edge vent—An edge vent is installed on the roof but usually right at the edge or 1 or 2 ft from the bottom edge. The edge vent is an alternative to the soffit vent. Some houses do not have an overhang to install soffit vents. That’s where the edge vent comes into play. Pricing will range more based on the pitch of the roof. A lower-pitched roof will be easier to install an edge vent on compared to a roof with a steep slope. Most of the work may have to be done off a ladder.

Let’s take a look at the exhaust component of ventilation. With exhaust, there are a few upgrades to consider:

  1. Installing additional vents
  2. Converting to ridge vent
  3. Filling in gable vents

Installing additional vents—In most cases, vents will be included in the price to replace the roof. The question I would ask is, “Are there enough?” Following the 1/300th rule will determine how many you’ll need. Will there be an additional charge for installing 6 vents to 12 vents? Maybe…but this depends on the contractor.

Converting to ridge vent—A ridge vent is the best option for ventilation. The main reason why is that it vents continuously. Roof vents, on the other hand, vent only the immediate area where the vent is installed. The ridge vent will vent continuously from a roof end to end or across the entire surface required by the 1/300th rule. To convert to a ridge vent, the following have to be done:

  1. Existing roof vents must be filled in.
  2. Any gable vents must be closed off.
  3. Intake must be installed. If any of the three are not followed, the ridge vent will not work. The cost involved depends on how many of the three items need to be done. In the end, the ridge vent is the best choice.

Shingles—A shingle upgrade would be another great option to consider. Shingles can range from 25 years to 50 years, have a wind warranty of 60 mph to 150 mph or even unlimited, and be classified as having no hail impact rating to a class 3 or 4. There are many options to choose from, and the price difference may not be as much as you think. The cost of a shingle upgrade could cost $10-$70 per square. If you upgrade your shingles now, you could be saving yourself money in the long run in that you shouldn’t have to necessarily replace your roof again after the next wind or hail event.

Warranty upgrade—Shingles come with a limited lifetime warranty. This may sound good, but it’s a little deceiving as well. The common laminated shingle also called the dimensional or architectural shingle is rated for 40 years. That length of time is a good amount of time. However, it’s only during the first ten years that most items are fully covered. After that, the warranty is prorated. Every shingle manufacturer’s limited warranty is going to have some variance. Fully covered items may only include the shingles and the labor charges to install them. Items such as labor to remove the shingles or the dumpster charge to haul waste might not be covered. A warranty can be provided or purchased through the shingle manufacturer. A better warranty can be provided based on two factors:

  1. Using all a shingle manufacturer’s roofing products that comprise the roofing system and
  2. The company installing the roof has met testing requirements and is certified through the shingle manufacturer. This warranty will include a non-prorating of the shingles of up to 50 years. Additionally, the warranty will include all materials and labor including the tear-off of the roof and the removal of debris. The price for this warranty can vary from a couple of dollars to $10-$30 per square.

Ice and water shield—Ice and water shield is a great product. As we discussed in previous articles, ice, and water are normally applied in the valleys here in Tulsa, Oklahoma. However, ice and water are rarely applied to the eaves. The point of ice and water is to prevent water from backing up, mostly from snow and ice. Upgrading ice and water to the eaves of the house will add a great level of protection against that snowstorm that occurs every 5-10 years. Ice and water are going to range from $1-2 per linear foot, but remember ice and water need to be installed a minimum of 2’ past the wall where the house starts. If you have a 2’ overhang, you’ll need 2 runs of ice and water.

Underlayment—Underlayment is one of those overlooked items. The underlayment is installed on the entire roof deck except where ice and water are installed. If your contractor wants to install tar paper, there are better options. Synthetic felt is the best product on the market. Shingle manufacturers also make a breathable synthetic felt. Over time, tar paper will start to dry out and will lose its effectiveness. Tar paper, if wet, will start to bubble and could cause a shingle to not lay flat. Also, be sure to avoid generic brands of synthetic felt. The cost is not that much more than tar paper. The cost difference between tar paper and synthetic felt is about $20-40 for every 10 squares. Upgrading further from synthetic felt to a breathable synthetic felt can easily double in price.

We hope that this article has given you some ideas about possible upgrades you can make to your roof to get the maximum life out of it. If your budget allows, upgrading in all these areas would provide you with a solid roof. Even one or two upgrades can enhance the quality of your roof.

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