Ask Jack: I’m ready to replace my roof. Where do I start?

Certain jobs in the house that you have to keep up with for years. Perhaps the biggest is replacing your roof – it’s a huge job, so you want to make sure you’re doing it right.

The first step is to answer some important questions, says Jack at Heritage Home Hardware. For starters, what type of roof will suit your home’s exterior and style? Which material is best to use, given the weather where you live? How do the costs affect your choice?

Types of roofing

The two most commonly used roofing materials are asphalt/fiberglass and metal. Each has different characteristics, as you will see below.

Asphalt/Fiberglass Shingles

These are the most popular shingles used in roofing projects and they are also the most affordable. They are also easy to find. If you have some experience with DIY projects, these can be installed relatively easily. This type of gravel has a man-made fiberglass core sandwiched between two layers of asphalt.

Asphalt girders are durable and easy to maintain and repair. They are also lightweight. Coated with ceramic granules for UV protection, they are an affordable roofing material, both in terms of material and installation. They are known for giving your finished roof a textured look and you can find them in a variety of colors and styles.

The most common style—which is also the most affordable—are three-tab asphalt shingles, made in a single thin coat. For shingles that are thicker and have a more textured appearance, look for laminated or architectural versions. They can also closely resemble wood or slate.

Metal roofing

Metal shingles or panels are known for their strength. While they are durable, they are also light, long lasting and require minimal maintenance. They are resistant to fire, insects, rot and mildew and are ideal for winter climates as they easily repel water and snow.

The most popular types of metal roofing are steel and aluminum. These are energy efficient because they reflect heat; by buying them, you may even qualify for a tax credit. Because metal roofing materials contain recycled materials, they are an environmentally friendly option. With a clean and modern look, metal roofing can be a chameleon, mimicking the textured look of wood, clay, slate and more.

Be sure to take into account the slope (also called the slope) of your roof, advises Jack. How steep your roof is can affect the cost of the project, as well as the type of material used. If you have a low or relatively flat roof, it should be covered with seamless materials to prevent water from building up and causing leakage.

Tools & Materials

Of course you also need tools to install your new roof. Some help with the preparation, others with the installation itself.

Clapboard/roof rippers

These help you to remove existing shingles and nails easily and efficiently, without damaging the roof.

Synthetic Underlay

This is a water resistant or watertight weather barrier that is installed directly on the roof terrace. It acts as a shield to keep out ice and water. It is lighter than a felt underlayment, so it puts less weight on the roof. It is also tear-resistant, wrinkle-resistant and resistant to mold growth.

Felt underlay

This is an older type of material used for underlayment. It is water resistant, but not waterproof. Easy to install, inexpensive and available in two thicknesses (15 lb and 30 lb). Keep in mind, though, that volatile compounds will dissipate over time, allowing it to absorb more moisture and become more fragile.

Roofing Nails

Roofing nails come in different sizes and are made from different materials, depending on the type of roof you have. The right nails are needed when installing shingles, fixing subfloors and fixing gutters.

Flashing/drip edge

Flash and drip edges are metal plates that drain the water, extending the life of your roof. It is critical in certain areas, such as vents and chimneys. Drip edge directs water away from the fascia and into the gutter; it also helps give your roof a more finished look.

Before you buy any of your roofing materials, make sure you’ve determined how much you’ll need, Jack suggests. Roofing materials are usually sold in “squares”, with 100 square feet = 1 square in terms of roofing material. Simply measure your roof in square meters and let the store staff do the calculation for you. A typical bundle of shingles covers 32 square feet, which is equal to one roofing sheet (plywood). It’s also a good idea, he suggests, to add 10-15% extra material just to allow for waste.


For a hassle-free roof replacement, you also need some accessories. Don’t leave these out of your budget.


You will need to install eavestroughs along the edges of your roof to catch the rain. They are essential as they help protect your walls from mold and rot.

roof openings

Roof vents perform a number of valuable functions. They help with air ventilation in your attic, which helps regulate the temperature throughout your home. They also regulate condensation, which can help extend the life of your shingles.


Sealants are another necessary element. They act as an important protective barrier to extend the life of your roof.

Roof Heat Cables

Installing heat cables can help prevent snow and ice from building up on your roof. They heat the roof, melting the snow and ice that would otherwise become quite heavy, causing damage or falling and causing injury.

Minor repairs

It is very possible that your roof will generally perform well and only need a little TLC. Please note that you can use the materials and accessories listed above to make minor roof repairs or to replace individual parts.

One last tip from Jack: to repair or replace your roof you need some raw materials. Always wear safety gloves and goggles throughout the process.

You can handle major projects such as roof replacement and roof repair yourself, provided you have all the right information, tools and materials. There’s no reason you can’t build a stylish and functional roof that will last for years to come, thanks to the wide selection of roofing products available from Heritage Home Hardware.

For more information visit Heritage Home Hardware or call 705-759-5101.

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