Providing shelter from the storm

If you've ever woken up to the sound of water dripping through leaky shingles, you know just how important your roof is. Aside from protecting everything inside your house from the elements, your roof is also a decorative element and aids in insulation. It's no wonder such a large surface has so many tasks.

Replacing your roof can easily be done as a do-it-yourself project - you just need to have plenty of time to do it. Reshingling your roof can take a week or more, so it helps to have some friends who can lend a hand.

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Reshingling Your Roof

Depending on the type of shingles you originally had on your roof, you'll likely only need to replace them every 20 years at the most. If your shingles appear to be peeling, lifting away from the roof, deteriorating or are missing in spots, it's time to replace them.

Before you start replacing the shingles on your roof, consider the different options you have for materials. Your budget, where you live and the construction of your house will all play a role in the type of shingles you choose. Some of the most popular shingle options are:

  • Asphalt shingles - You'll find asphalt shingles in both composite and fiberglass blends. Asphalt composite shingles are covered with ceramic granules, have a good fire-protection rating and are very durable. Asphalt fiberglass shingles are made from asphalt-infused fiberglass which is then coated with ceramic-wrapped granules. This option is best if you have a roof that needs to endure harmful atmospheric elements like acid rain. Asphalt shingles will last about 20 years before they must be replaced.
  • Wood shingles - Cedar and southern pine redwood are the most common materials for wood shingles. The wood can be fire-treated or preserved to make it safer, but it's quite costly and can be fussy to apply. Wood shingles offer a very aesthetically pleasing, rustic look. Wood shingles need to be replaced about every 25 years.
  • Clay shingles - These hardy and attractive shingles are best for warm environments. Clay tiles are very porous and absorb water that can freeze and crack in cold temperatures. Clay tiles are also very heavy and very expensive. Make sure your roof is properly framed to support the weight. Clay shingles last about 30 to 50 years.
  • Slate shingles - An attractive and incredibly durable shingling material, slate won't grow mold and is both fireproof and waterproof. Slate requires very little maintenance and adds to the value of your home. Because it's such a heavy type of shingle, slate roofs need to be properly framed to hold the weight. Slate can last for 100 years or more.
  • Fiber cement shingles - durable and inexpensive, these shingles stand up to fire, insects, wind and water. You'll usually find fiber cement shingles used as siding on houses, but they work quite well as roofing material as well. Fiber cement shingles usually last about 40 to 50 years.
  • Metal shingles - an inexpensive and long-lasting option, metal shingles are fireproof and made from environmentally-friendly recycled materials like steel, tin and aluminum. Metal shingles can help reduce your cooling costs in the summer as they reflect the sun's radiant heat. Metal shingles should be replaced every 50 years.

When you're reshingling your roof, you'll need to consider gutters as well. Gutters collect the water that runs off your roof in a rainstorm and direct it away from your house to protect the foundation from undermining. Clean your gutters every fall to keep them clear of leaves and debris that can block the flow of water and cause the gutters to overflow. In the winter, if you notice icicles hanging from your gutters, it's a sign that they're blocked and need to be cleaned when the thaw starts.

To save on irrigation costs, collect the runoff from your downspout in a rain barrel and use it to water your plants.

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