Is the roof of your home in good condition? Don’t feel bad if you don’t know the answer—many homeowners are often unaware of the state of their roof. Out of sight, out of mind, right? Unless there are obvious damages, such as cracks or leaks, it’s easy to forget about this exterior part of your home.
Whether you’re buying, selling, or you’re a homeowner who simply wants to know how to keep your roof in good shape, you’ve come to the right place. Here are three of the most asked questions about roofs.
What are the different types of roofs?
Roof materials come in different forms: metal/tin, asphalt, wood, cedar, slate, and clay are the most common types. With a plethora of options, it gets tricky when trying to choose the best option for your home and wallet. The type of roof installed on your home depends on a variety of factors such as location, environment, style, budget, building codes, and maintenance requirements. In Canada, asphalt, wood/cedar, and metal roofs are among the most popular.
Life expectancy: 15 to 20 years (or more)
Pricing: $2 to $6 per square foot
Pros: There are a few types of asphalt shingles, but the two main varieties are basic or architectural, with architectural being the more durable of the two. Asphalt roofs are the most popular type of roof in Canada because of the material’s ability to withstand the damp and snowy weather. This type of roof is typically the most affordable of all the options. Additionally, asphalt shingles are relatively easy to install and repair, and they’re fire resistant. Asphalt shingles come in a variety of colours and styles (for example, fibreglass and organic asphalt), so it can be customized to fit any home’s exterior aesthetics.
Cons: Harsh Canadian winters can cause chips and cracks on the asphalt. The material is also prone to mildew and can incur granule loss if not properly maintained. Be prepared for repairs before the 15 years are up.
Wood or cedar shakes
Life expectancy: 35 to 50 years
Pricing: $8 to $15 per square foot
Pros: Wood or cedar shakes are extremely durable, not to mention resistant to harsh weather and insects. For these benefits and more, this type of roof can include a warranty of up to 50 years—depending, of course, on who you buy from. For homes in colder climate and heavy rainfall areas, wood or cedar shakes are an excellent choice because they prevent moisture buildup and they’re naturally insulating.
Cons: In addition to high upfront costs, the material is not fire resistant (Class C rating), so you’ll need to apply additional treatment to get a Class A rating. Moss buildup can also occur on wood or cedar shakes if they’re not cleaned on schedule (usually every two to three years). Another con for wood or cedar shakes can be their appearance, as many people don’t find them as visually appealing as other materials.
Life expectancy: 40 to 70 years
Pricing: $6 – $20 per square foot
Pros: Metal roofs, whether aluminum, tin, copper, zinc or steel, can offer unparalleled longevity. Unlike asphalt shingles, metal roofs require little to no maintenance. You may never have to repair or replace this type of roof, providing it’s properly installed. Metal roofs are great in high snowfall areas because the ice can easily slide off, reducing risk of collapse.
Cons: Metal roofs, because of their premium quality, are expensive. They cost slightly more than wood or cedar, and can be 10 times the price of asphalt shingles. They’re also prone to being noisy during some extreme weather conditions, especially if the installation, or your attic insulation, isn’t top notch. On the curb appeal front, metal is not always favoured because it can be difficult to maintain colour consistency across the entire roof.
Adding solar panels to your roof
Certain provinces and municipalities offer incentives for energy efficiency, which can help offset the upfront cost of installing solar panels on your roof. The cost will ultimately vary depending on the size of your system and equipment you use, but on average, the price of solar power in Canada is $3.01 per Watt. Adding solar panels can help reduce your monthly energy bills, not to mention help lower your impact on the environment by using a renewable source of energy. Curious to find out if adding solar panels will affect your resale value? We’ve taken a look at whether that’s the case, or you can reach out to a local REALTOR® for their insight on what current trends are in your neighbourhood.
What upkeep is required to maximize a roof’s life expectancy?
Keep it clear
Make sure your roof is always free of debris, including leaves, sticks, branches, and other naturally occurring particles that can, over time, contribute to the roof’s wear and tear. Make sure your roof is also mildew, mould, and moss free.
Don’t ignore the landscaping
If you have trees near your roof or shrubs close to your gutters, make sure to keep up with the landscaping. Falling branches and other parts can cause premature damage, while shrubs and bushes can block the gutters. Also, trees can make it easy for rodents to access the roof and make it their home, so it is important to keep branches trimmed.
Clean the gutters
Keep your gutters clog-free by getting them cleaned at least once a year. This will prevent water (from rain and snow) from pooling on your roof and causing damages.
Depending on the type of roof and warranty it comes with, you may need to get your roof checked annually. If you know what to look for, you can do it yourself, but it’s always best to leave it to the professionals with trained eyes and special tools.
How can you tell if your roof needs repair or replacing?
There are a few indicators something is wrong with your roof. It’s time to call a professional if you see:
- water spots, streaks, or discolouration on ceilings and walls;
- a sagging ceiling;
- cracked or curled shingles;
- decaying or paint peeling from eavestrough;
- missing asphalt granules;
- mould or moss growth;
- spots without snow, which could indicate a leak;
- light coming through from outside;
- damaged roof deck or flashing (the material that directs water away); or
- loose roof tiles.
In many cases, the above issues can be easily fixed. Problems like leaks can be repaired by sealing the crack or replacing some shingles. However, you may want to consider replacing the roof altogether if the damage is extensive, if it’s more than 20 years old, or out of warranty.
A roof replacement may be costly (between $4,700 and $25,000, according to Alpine Credits), but it could save your home from further structural damages and even more expensive repairs in the future. A new roof can also help increase the value of your home because of the safety and curb appeal it adds.
“Roofs are a big ticket item, and significant repairs or replacement count as a major renovation that will help increase the value of your home, similar to upgrading of the windows, furnace, etc.,” says Maniza Khan, a sales representative and REALTOR® with Ottawa-based Rasooli Real Estate Group. “You should take into account the age of the roof, the material used to build it, and what direction the house is facing.”