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Basics of Shingling a Roof--Before DIY Roofing or Hiring a Pro

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GAF's TruSlate Line of Slate Shingles

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Unlike many other projects around the house, roof shingling is an entirely different beast. Most other projects can be puzzled out on the spot. Window replacement, door hanging, trim installation--all share similarities with other home remodeling projects.

That's why most homeowners choose to hire a professional roofer to replace their shingles.

Discover some basics of roof shingling before even calling that first roofing company on your list.

1. New Shingles Can Be Laid Over Old Shingles--Maybe

As long as the existing shingles are relatively flat and not too wavy/curvy/warped, and as long as their underlayment is sound, you most likely can install new shingles over old shingles.

That holds true mainly for composite or asphalt shingles. Wood shingles present more of a problem, as it is impossible for any other shingle to be laid on top of them.

How many layers of composite shingles can your roof support? As a rule of thumb, three layers of shingles are about the maximum that a roof can support. Three layers of composite shingles is about equal to one layer of slate shingles.

2. The Case Against Roof Re-Shingling

Homeowners who want to reshingle their roof--that is, laying down multiple layers of shingles without removing existing layers--often think that they are saving money.

You need to consider two things: 1.) Stripping a roof of existing shingles is a fast process. Most roofers can strip a roof of shingles in a half-day. 2.) Laying down shingles on top of existing shingles presents its own problems. Besides the weight factor mentioned above, subsequent layers of shingles can repeat the waves, bumps, wrinkles, and other imperfections of the first layer. By stripping the room, it is possible to make quick repairs that will allow the layer of shingles to lay down flat and smooth.

3. Buck the Composite Shingle Trend

Roof shingling has traditionally involved the installation of the familiar asphalt or composite shingles. But with the advent of newer materials, it is possible to purchase rubber shingles that look amazingly like slate or wood.

While it is true that composite shingles tend to be cheaper in the short term, concrete and fiber-cement shingles are other roofing options that equalize in price over the long term.

And don't be afraid of real slate shingles. Real slate has come down in price dramatically over the years and is available to the average homeowner who is intent on installing a quality roof. GAF's TruSlate line is one example of consumer-grade slate shingles.

Finally, did you know that you don't even need shingles on your roof? Metal roofing, in long sheets, works well because its fewer seams present less of an opportunity for water to come through. Not only that, metal roofing can be recycled when its livespan is over.

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