Right from the Top

Right from the Top

by Mike Shephard / Published January 2015


Your roof is the most important element to be installed during construction, and often it is the last item to be improved upon after installation. As events happen during the years, it is easy to forget that the roof is exposed to the environment on a daily basis. These elements wear down the most expensive part of the building structure. The old saying, “out of sight, out of mind” is an apt description to describe what often occurs when it comes to the roof. How can this be changed so the roof isn’t forgotten about?

All roofs should be inspected regularly in order to prevent a small failure from becoming a substantial failure. Inspect your roofs at least twice a year to look for ponding water, to make certain flashing details are secure, to have the roof inspected for loose tiles or shingles, and to remove any debris that could cause gutters or drains not to work properly. Have a regular maintenance program and keep the findings documented so you can budget yearly for the cost of replacing a roof. Most roofs can last longer if they are maintained, just like your car! 

When the time comes for a new roof, here are a few tips that help in the process:

• Qualify your roofer.

• Must be insured and licensed in your state (your state codes might be different than others).

• Can they produce a bond?

• Run a background check and reference check.

• Set a meeting and visit their company. You must feel comfortable and confident that you are choosing the right partner in your decision. 

Ask a lot of questions.

• Set the expectations from the job start to its completion and from materials to clean up. Be specific in your expectations.

Secondly, the types of roofs can be expensive. Roofing should be considered as an investment that is going to last 20 years or more. When buildings are designed, the roofing structure is chosen. The trusses are built to handle the weight of certain types of roofing choices. Often people will ask, “Can I change my shingle roof to concrete tile?” The answer is “no” because the trusses were built to handle the weight of a shingle roof, not a concrete tile roof. It is important to know the different types of roofing products and what options you may have on the different types of roofs. So, let’s put together types and cost outlines to help guide you through the process. 


Low Slope Roofs

• Single ply (known as TPO and EPDM)

• Modified bitumen (common types APP & SBS)

Steep Slope Roofs     

• Asphalt shingle •   Steel tile

• Cement tile •   Metal roof

TPO and modified bitumen roofs are mostly used on commercial buildings. They provide energy efficiency, excellent durability, and strength. Modified bitumen will be a bit more expensive. The durability is greater.

The least expensive roofing option in the steep slope roofs category is asphalt shingles. It is a good roofing system with a predictable lifespan of 15–20 years in Florida. A shingle roof can be put on any building. 

The upgrade from shingles is cement tiles, which again can last 20-plus years. Concrete tiles come in many profiles and colors. They can be installed by attaching with foam adhesive or screws. Florida has many communities with cement tiles as their choice. Stone-coated steel tile is more ex-pensive than concrete, though it has virtually the same appearance. The chief advantage is that it has a much higher resistance to windstorm events. A steel tile has more fasteners per tile, and the tile itself is the primary waterproofing element of the roof. The underlayment provides only a secondary role as all the water by design stays on top of the roof tile.

Metal roofing is the most expensive of the steep slope roofs. Trending in popularity, metal roofing is not just for the commercial buildings now. Homeowners are choosing this look too! With many colors and a long life span of 20-plus years, it’s on the rise. Commercially, schools are using this for the energy efficiency and the long-lasting warranty. This is a great product without a noise issue. 

Overall when selecting and investing in a roofing system, you must do your homework. Invest your time wisely in choosing your roofer and the type of roof you want on your business or home. Great success in all of these roofing systems has been seen. They have performed well in most cases and some have done better than others during our Florida hurricanes or tropical storms.