Welcome to our blog. This page is important because many people in the roofing business have absolutely no business being in the roofing business. The huge amount of negative customer reviews on the Internet is mind boggling. You need to stay away from these folks (aka Cowboy Roofers*) and know how to get the best roofing job for the best price possible. This blog will help you do that with fun, informative, and educational factoids about all aspects of roofs and roofing.
*Cowboy Roofers are the folks you should avoid hiring because they put their interests above yours and are marginally to moderately skilled at best. Cowboy roofers give a bad name to the roofing trade and worse yet they give a bad name to the large number of quality-oriented roofing contractors out there. Check out our Hall of Shame for examples of what happens when cowboy roofers get on your roof.
If you have a question that you would like SuperRoofer Joe Sardotz to answer in his blog or FAQs, please complete the Ask SuperRoofer form. Visit Joe's Contact page if you would like Joe to provide roof consulting and inspection services for you.
We recently bid on supervising a partially completed roofing job for a resort on the coast of Oregon. During the bidding process, we offered the property owner some free advice about nailing, protrusions, pipe jacks, rake edges, and starting roof jobs late in the season when they might encounter rough Oregon coastal weather.
Probably the most crucial aspect. So far this year, I have had two brand new roofs torn off because of very bad nailing. If you hear the roofers going super-rapid-fire with the nail guns, that is a big red flag. ALL nails must be perpendicular to the deck and flush with the surface of the shingles. Use six nails per shingle and use stainless steel nails. Sides of roof facing ocean should also be hand sealed. Nails must be placed at certain points, not just anywhere. Nails that are tilted, raised, or pushed in too far are not acceptable and could void the blowoff portion of your factory material warranty.
All roof protrusions should be double sealed, meaning that sealant should be used both between the top of the shingles and the bottom of all fixtures/protrusions as well as the shingles that cover the tops of all fixtures/protrusions.
I hope they are using two piece lead plumbing pipe jacks and not the rubber/NCF "no-caulk" jacks. And, they should be using continuous ridge vent or copper attic vents; no steel vents as they will soon rust. Plastic vents most economical approach but keep in mind that the plastic vents will fail and need replacing before the shingles do.
Rake edges (if any) should have a bleeder strip that is sealed between the gable/rake edge flashing and the underneath side of the bleeder strip. Shingles and bleeder strip should extend a good quarter inch past the edge of the rake metal.
Weather in Coastal Oregon:
We have been blessed with this dry run weather wise, but it will end soon and what is in store for us at the end of that rainbow? When the weather goes south, it may REALLY go south. You may want to consider stopping the roof work at a certain point and finish next year. It will soon get to the point that for each step forward, you may very well take two steps backward and expose yourself to weather related 'issues'. Your roofing company should have manned the job with more guys; but then again, they would have if they could have. I know how these guys think. I am kind of surprised that such a large project was started so late in the year.
This roof in Lake Oswego had to be redone. The specifications for the install were clear and the contractor knew it would be inspected. The ball was really dropped here. (Click images below for larger views in new window. Scroll down to read the rest of the story.)
Removal of damaged plywood overhang due to use of too-long nails
Replacement of damaged overhang plywood
New roof (second install)
New roof (again)
What was wrong? Lots!
The contract specified 30lb felt, 15 lb was used.
Edge flashing used was not as specified.
Vents and pipes were not laid in sealant.
At least 85% of nails were either set too deep, blown through (indication of air gun malfunction), at an extreme angle, and/or improperly placed. This does not occur if a roof is hand nailed.
All manufacturers are very specific about fastening, and even though a little 'wiggle room' is allowed, this was not even remotely close. Way too much wiggling! Also, the roofers used nails that were too long at the exposed overhangs, which damaged the plywood such that the owner demanded it be done again. Two days after the job was completed, the new roof was torn off and done again. The difference between the two installs was like night & day.
This incident created a lot of unnecessary stress for all parties, cost the roofer a lot of money, and was an embarassment for the company and the roofers themselves. Just a bad situation all the way around.
Do it right: First time, every time!
The moral of this story is: "Do it right the first time! Do it to manufacturer specifications. Do what the contract says."
Don't let this happen to you. I hate to think of how many badly done new roofs are out there and how many property owners have no clue about it. Have Oregon Roof Consulting inspect your new roof!
Which is better? Hand nailing or air nailing? That is the question. Here is the answer: Hand nailing is far superior. Air nailing not even remotely close in quality to hand nailing. Too bad almost nobody does hand nailing anymore. I hand nailed everything, including plywood. I didn't even bring an air compressor to the job unless it was for blowing dust off the roof or my clothes.
98% of 'roofers' use air guns, which is the main reason at least 85% of all roofs are installed incorrectly. By using air power, it is very possible that the blowoff portion of your manufacturer's warranty will be void.
Air nailing is beneficial to both the contractor and the installer, but NOT the property owner! Good for the contractor because the job goes faster. Good for the installer beacause nearly all companies pay PIECEWORK, which encourages speed; so the more the installer does in a day the more they earn. Natural inclination.
If you hear an air nailer going so fast that you cannot differentiate between the individual trigger pulls, then your roof is likely being installed IMPROPERLY. All manufacturers are VERY SPECIFIC about nailing. EVERY bundle of shingles made by EVERY manufacturer includes a diagram regarding nailing. The nails MUST be perpendicular to the deck. The nail heads MUST be flush with the shingle surface and not raised above or pushed through. The nails MUST be precisely placed. You cannot put them just anywhere.
I was a special witness for a homeowner who caught the roofer not abiding by the contract. He refused to pay for the roof. Lawyers became involved. The huge production-oriented local company was pulling out all the stops. I was asked by counsel to take 100 photos of the improper nailing. I pried up 100 shingles and found nails pushed through, applied at an angle and incorrectly placed, as well as not the correct number of nails per shingle.
I marked each black shingle with my yellow crayon. Each was numbered 1 through 100. I made documents explaining what was going on in each photo. One day before the case was to go to trial, the 'roofer' threw in the towel. We prevailed. The homeowner got a free roof and all attorneys costs paid. True story. The homeowner's testimonial is on the Testimonials page.
Another negative about nailing guns is that you cannot 'feel' whether the nail is going into wood or air. With hand nailing you can. Many roofs are installed over 1X8 shiplap boards, which were used in the old days before the introduction of plywood. These boards have wide gaps and many knot holes; therefore, a percentage of the nails will not go into solid wood. The likelihood of blowoff increases.
Any roof with 1X8 shiplap should be covered with plywood. By doing this, you know every nail is hitting solid wood; but most roofers will not do this because the other way IS CHEAPER. Another benefit of 1/2" plywood over 3/4" thick shiplap is that you end up with a total of 1 1/4" of wood for the fasteners to bite into. Walking on a roof deck with these two layers of wood feels like you are walking on the ground. Installing plywood raises the price of the job, reducing the contractor's chance of getting the job when the competition omits plywood. However, installing plywood is the right way to do it!
Virtually nobody will lay it out for you as I just have. Either they don't know this or they don't care. I see it ALLTHE TIME. Production and profit trump quality. And really, a good hand nailer can nearly keep up with a gun user. But most important, with hand nailing you know that 99% of all nails are correctly applied.
If you ask most roofers about hand nailing, just wait for the funny look they give you. Nearly all installers have never done it with a hatchet (roofing hammer). The idea terrifies them. Pay a little extra. GET IT HAND NAILED.
* About Roofing Hammers
Roofing hammers (aka hatchets) are funny looking. They have a round pin at the end, which is the 'gauge'. The gauge makes the rows straight. Althought bottom liners and General Managers look at you like you're nuts if you bring up hand nailing, any architect or (real) builder will tell you hand nailing FAR superior for all the reasons I laid out.
Residential and commercial roofing project consulting in Oregon; Portland Metro, Oregon; Bend, Oregon; Seattle, Washington; Washington State; and the Pacific Northwest area. Offering professional roof consulting, inspections, project monitoring, and certifications for property owners and homeowners.