I’ve been doing roofing since the early nineties, working with my father-in-law in the hot August and September sun. It seemed like all the roofs we did during those years were done during the hottest months of the year, and we would drink a five-gallon cooler full of water each day and not have to come down to use the restroom—it was so hot. But despite the conditions, it was my most fun trade to do back then.
Times have changed and now we do roof work year-round; I rarely have to get on a ladder myself anymore, Thank God! We have been installing composition roofs in Greenhaven, tile roofs in the gated communities in and around Greenhaven, and TPO roofs in Hollywood Park, Land Park, and Greenhaven; TPO stands for Thermoplastic Polyolefin, or olefin. This is the material we use on low-slope roofs and on commercial roofs. While we like to stay close to home for most other trades, we’ll do roofing projects anywhere in the Greater Sacramento area roofing market.
The Roof Investment
A roof is an investment that protects your single greatest asset, your home. I remember when I made the decision on my own roof back in the late 90s, and at that time the roof manufacturers rated their products as 30-year, 40-year, or 50-year roofs. I knew that I was going to be staying in my home as long as I lived, so it was a no-brainer for me to spend a little more for a 50-year roof. As I write this update today, it still looks good 25 years later.
We did a roof for a family back in 2013 or 2014, something like that. The family had no money and terrible credit, but they also had several major roof leaks. Every time it rained the kids would get the buckets and the towels out. They knew exactly where the water was going to come in, and they would place the buckets in the drip zones, wrapping towels around the area to catch anything that went over or missed. We helped them by using PACE financing, so they were able to get a new roof and the payments became part of their property taxes. When the economy goes south, and home prices drop, PACE financing is one of the few places that homeowners can turn to get their projects completed. I don’t advocate taking out loans of any kind for optional work on your home, but the outside envelope of the home (roofing, siding, and windows) are not optional projects—if you allow water to penetrate any of these three lines of defense, the dry rot repairs and other related repairs will compound the problem costing much more overall down the road.
By far and away most homeowners are selecting to replace their roofs with composition roofing, and now that “Cool Roofs” have gotten a much better range of colors to choose from, most of the roofing replacement jobs roofing contractors in Sacramento are doing these days are with cool roof technology. Prior to the expanded selection of cool roof colors, you could choose white shingles, off-white, a darker shade of white, etc. that met Title 24 energy requirements. If you wanted to replace your roof with darker-colored shingles, you also had to add R38 insulation to meet Title 24 regulations. Now that there is a full range of colors to choose from that meet Title 24 requirements, we can get quite creative with exterior paint and roof colors.
The biggest difference in composition roofing is in the thickness of the materials. The thinnest materials cover more square footage per bundle and are less expensive, but don’t last as long; thinner roofs also don’t have that dimensional look that is more appealing. Most manufacturers offer four or five levels of quality to choose from, and across the board, the prices between those manufacturers and their respective levels of quality are essentially the same. In the older Land Park area and Curtis Park area, we see a lot of steeper roofs, which look best with a Presidential level of composition shingle. Regardless of where your home is located, I consult my clients to select the right roofing material for the long-term goals of their home, considering their financial situation, the slope of the roof, neighborhood patterns and trends, etc. In short, I understand what my client’s needs and wants are and help them select the appropriate roofing materials to meet those needs.
Low Slope and Near Flat Roofs
Back in the day, we all remember the smell of someone getting a hot tar roof in the neighborhood. The tar trucks and trailers would go down the road emitting that foul smell and if you were out riding your bicycle, you could home in on it and see the men working on the flatter roofs in the neighborhood. Today, we almost never smell the hot tar work, unless someone is getting a bathroom remodel, and the remodeler is one of the “old school” tile guys that still uses hot tar to waterproof the showers. But there are plenty of flat and nearly flat residential roofs in the Greenhaven area, Hollywood Park area, and Land Park areas. Nowadays, we almost always use a product called TPO, or Thermoplastic Polyolefin.
Once the old tar roof has been removed, and the plywood decking inspected and repaired from any dry rot, a layer of FR 10 (Fire Retardant Slipsheet) is installed over the decking. In some cases, an additional layer of insulation is added over the FR 10 using a 4’x8’ sheet of ½” radiant barrier. And once that is ready, the TPO material is installed, using “welds” to fuse the sheets together. This technique can be used on residential and commercial roofing installations.
HOA Rules and Regulations
If you live in a gated community or an HOA with strict guidance on roofs, you may be “forced” to install a tile or metal roof. There are several gated and non-gated communities in the Pocket-Greenhaven area that require either tile or metal roofing; most of these houses were originally built with shake shingles but shake shingle roof projects are very rare these days due to overall cost and increased costs associated with homeowners’ insurance premiums. Riverlake Community Association oversees several of these gated and non-gated clusters of homes and they do have strict requirements for what type of roof you can install.
Tile roofs are very heavy and might require you to do structural support work on your trusses. When switching from a shake roof (yes, there are still some out there) to a tile roof, an engineer will need to come out and perform structural calculations based on the type of roof material you want to install. There are two weights of tile roofs, standard weight and lightweight. The benefits to the standard weight roofing material are that it is more durable, allowing you to walk on it, and it is less expensive than lightweight. The disadvantage is the weight, and you may have to perform structural support for your trusses. Additionally, lightweight tiles are much more expensive and much more fragile; typically, a roofer will have to order a lot more tiles just to complete your project because of all the breakage that occurs during the installation. Regardless of standard weight or lightweight, tile roofs are considerably more problematic than composition roofing, as debris builds up in the valleys and allows water to get behind the paper ultimately creating leaks in your home. Before you elect to install a tile roof, understand that there will be an additional maintenance requirement that cannot be ignored.
Metal roofs come in two main categories for residential roofing: metal shingles that look a lot like shingles, and standing seam metal roofs, the ones you see as you drive through the mountains covering most of the cabins. Each type of metal roof has its benefits, and each comes with its own downsides. The most common metal shingles are installed in HOAs that require either a tile roof or a metal roof. The potential problems that arise with metal shingle roofs are that you must know how to walk on them so you don’t damage the shingles and create dents that will be there forever; you just can’t hire any old gutter cleaner or window cleaner and have them get up on the roof to service the second story. The other negative is that debris can build up in the valleys (same problem as tile), and when that is compounded with the inability to get up there safely and clean the roof, potential leaks can arise. Standing seam metal roofs are rare in the valley, but very common in the hills and on the tops of schools and commercial buildings, even in the valley. Standing seam roofing is beautiful, efficient, and effective at keeping the rain and snow out. Whether you opt for a metal shingle roof (expensive) or a standing seam metal roof (very expensive), be prepared to pay a lot more than you would for a composite roof.