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A good roof can be comforting to both mind and body

It is, usually, about time time of year, when the first hints of changes in the weather hit, that most people start thinking "roof."

Too often, however, people think that as long as there is something overhead, all is well. But, there can be problems, even with new roofs."Usually, if you're going to have problems," says Ron Case, owner of Ron Case Roofing and Asphalt, "it will be within the first year. That's usually when problems show up. And, obviously, these problems show up when it rains and snows."

There are certain things to be aware of in roofing. One is the year, which can be anywhere from 20 on up to 50, and the second is the grade. The word often thrown around is "architectural" grade shingles.

Case will be one of the exhibitors in the Deseret News home show.

"What we recommend is anything that is at least a 25-year shingle. The difference is in the matting. A 20-year shingle has a lighter matting than a 25-year shingle, and a 30-year has a heavier matting than a 25-year. In this climate, though, a 20-year is too light. There's enough body on a 25-year shingle to keep it from blowing off or bending in this climate," says Case.

"Now, they even warranty shingles up to 50 years. But we tell people that trends change and granules are worn out before 50 years, which means they won't look good. In our opinion, we don't think the singles will last that long, anyway. For the money, what we recommend is anything between a 25- and 40-year shingle."

Architectural grade simply means that instead of the standard three-tab shingle, it takes on more of a random look like a wood shingle might.

"It's a much more attractive look," he points out.

He warns, however, that the very best shingles on the market will not make up for poor workmanship.

"All of the roofers can buy the very best shingles on the market. But the true test of a good roof is not how long the shingles will last, but how long the roof will go without a leak. And the quality of the roofer determines whether or not a roof will leak . . . if he pays attention to the valleys and the eaves, and the pipes protruding through the roof, the flashing around the chimney and the air conditioner," he says.

"We like to put an ice and water shield up the metal drip edge and valleys as a precaution, especially for this climate. All these things will limit the amount of maintenance that will be needed, and reduce the chances of leaking."

Case adds that if he were going to pick a roofer he would find a telephone book that dates back 10 years or more, "and look through it and see who's still in business.

"The average life of a roofer is three to five years. What happens is a lot of roofers will sell personal warranties. Some will even guarantee a roof forever. The problem is, they won't be around forever. And, in some cases, they're not around after the first year to service a warranty.

"We see this because we end up going back and doing so much service work. Like I said, poor quality usually shows up in the first year, and many times the roofer is not around after the first year. That's why it's important to find a good roofer and go with a shingle that offers a good warranty."

Today, there are more looks, more products, more designs than ever before. Case says it would pay new-home buyers to see what's available, especially with some of the new custom looks.

Another thing that has changed, says Case, is the roof line. Few homes, for example, are going with the flat roofs. Those that are, are typically custom homes. And, instead of the common pitched roofs, "People want to express more of their personalities in the curb appeal of their home. In order to do that they're going with some interesting designs, like a steeper roof line, with dormers and bay windows and different elevations."

To meet demands for different styles and designs, more and more manufacturers are coming up with some pretty creative things.

Like, for example, using two full-size base shingles to simulate the depth of a natural slate. Deep lines on larger than normal shingles go a long way in enhancing the appearance.

These shingles go back and reflect a time when slate tiles were painstakingly hand-crafted by master builders. These tiles are also random cut with shading for more definition, which makes them look much thicker than they really are.

The use of two shades of metal is also popular and gives a weathered look to a new roof that makes it look like shakes.

The use of cement and wood fibers is being used to manufacture a product that resembles the beauty and charm of hand-split cedar shingles.

The insulating qualities and tensile strength of these shingles make them especially popular with home owners. Not only will the shingles withstand walking on the roof to clean solar systems, skylights and chimneys, but they will also absorb the impact of such objects as baseballs, golf balls, tree limbs and hailstones.

Weight is another factor that is being taken into account these days. One report shows popular concrete tile weighs between 800 and 1,200 pounds, and wood shakes around 350 pounds per square (before water absorption), while the new concrete/wood fiber shingles weigh around 450 pounds, and absorbing water is not a problem.

Another popular shingle for Utah is made of fiberglass. Actually, fiberglass is used to coat both sides with a layer of weathering-grade asphalt for extra waterproofing protection. This product resists expansion, contraction, rotting, warping, blistering and oxidization.

Some 30 years ago, everything that went on a roof was asphalt. Then things changed to fiberglass and asphalt.

According to Case, about every six months manufacturers seem to introduce a new product on the market.

"What I recommend is the organic asphalt shingle. For this climate it is without question the best shingle available to home buyer," he said.

Different shades of green shingles, for example, are showing up now.

"You never used to see green roofs, but now green is very popular with new home buyers. `Hunter Green,' with dark shadows under each one of the shingles, is very popular right now," he notes.

For those in the market for roofing product, Case recommends buyers go with a time-tested and proven product "with a good track record. That way you know that if you have problems 10 or 15 years down the road, the company will be around to live up to the warranty."

As for colors and styles, people simply go with what they like.

A lot of people will tell you a lighter roof will last longer, but the difference is so small it shouldn't matter. They'll also tell you that a darker roof will absorb the heat and make the home hotter. Again, that's true, but we're only talking a degree or two, and with the way homes are insulated now, it likely won't make a difference. Go with what you like, Case suggests.