Murphy Brothers Blog

It’s only a roof….. how hard can it be?



“Fix-up” season is nearly upon us and many homeowners are planning projects to be completed over the warmer spring, summer and fall months in our region.  One of the most common and seemingly simple projects is to replace an old and failing roof.  While there are literally thousands of roofing contractors to choose from, there are very few who have the overall construction knowledge and design experience to explore the related opportunities to consider when replacing your roof.  Most companies that specialize in roofing can be very good at removing and installing shingles and focus their attention on creating a water tight lid.  While this is critical to a good job, it is only part of the big pictue.After

After – The roof replacement opened up many opportunities to upgrade the exterior of this home.

Beyond the obvious inspections that should be done to the roof sheathing, gutters, chimneys, wall runs, kick-out flashings, etc. there are the bigger picture opportunities, like lowering your fuel bills and putting an end to destructive ice dams associated with snow and cold weather.

Opportunities of the situation

When planning any roof or siding replacement project, you should take some time to consider and research ALL of your long term home improvement plans, both aesthetic and/or practical.  The proper improvements can increase the value of your home more than the cost; not including the enjoyment of a more attractive and appealing space.  Changing roof lines, adding gables, porticos, porches or eyebrows can add both form and function and will be considerably more cost effective if completed in conjunction with your new roofing or siding project.  New windows, door replacements, or even a future porch, deck or addition can be planned for to save time and money when it is time to do that project.

Another opportunity is to thoroughly inspect the overall energy envelope of your home.  Weak spots in the home’s ventilation/insulation system can be easier and more cost effective to address when the roof is off.  Removing roof sheathing to add insulation, repair air bypass issues or install or correct venting are some common solutions to creating a healthier home.  Sometimes a problematic area can be over framed to increase the pitch or to add an aesthetic improvement to the roof lines.

A third opportunity is in regards to the financial aspect of your project.  There are the immediate returns of lower annual heating and cooling costs and there are long term benefits such as; protecting your home by making it perform better and age slower, lowering future maintenance costs.

The government may also contribute to certain improvements that lower your fuel consumption (or increase the performance of your home).  For those who qualify, there are programs with low interest loans available for energy saving improvements.  There may also be tax credits available for the improvements you should consider.  Your tax preparer should be able to help you identify the credits that might apply to your situation.

Back to your simple roof project.  The following roofing terms describe some of the common components of replacing a residential steep (over 4/12) pitch roof.   Make sure that you understand these components, where and how to install them as well as how they interface with the other building systems on your home. Then, you can order your materials and earn your cuts and blisters or you can manage that friend of a friend, who’s looking for work.  On the other hand, if you don’t have the time or interest to become a competent roofing installer or manager , contact a professional company who has a long list of satisfied clients and a history of proven projects.

Before you start you asphalt roofing project you should have an understanding of these common roofing terms and components as well as how they are properly used and installed.  There are many other types of roofing products that have other terms and products that are used in installations (follow manufacturer’s instructions). Some other roof materials often used in residential applications are clay tiles, cedar shakes, slate, standing seam metal, and granulated metal, among new products being introduced regularly.


  • Tar paper/felt
  • Engineered fabrics
  • Ice and water shield


  • Closed cut
  • Open cut valley
  • Woven


  • W-Valley
  • Chimney
  • Wall tins
  • Roll flashing
  • Counter flashing / Reglet
  • Roof edge
  • Kick-out
  • Plumbing jacks
  • Vent Jacks


  • Ridge vent
  • Turtle vents
  • Turbine vents
  • Gable vents
  • Power vents


  • Nail length
  • Nail Placement
  • staples
  • Use of roof cement/caulk


  • Starter Course
  • Spacing
  • Lap/reveal
  • Rain grooves


  1. Posted May 17, 2011 at 7:46 am | Permalink

    Great post – this is quality information. Homeowners will really benefit from reading this.

  2. Posted March 19, 2013 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

    Great post and congrats on the 2011 GuildMaster Award!

Post a Comment

Your email is never shared. Required fields are marked *