Choosing a Roofing Style
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Steve in North Carolina on the line with a roofing question. Tell us what’s going on at your money pit.
STEVE: Many years ago, my wife and I moved into a very small cabin way out in the woods. Very wooded. There’s a lot of debris and leaves and such. And we built onto the cabin a nice, 12×12 bathroom with a flat roof. And that was not really my idea; that was – a buddy just said this was the way to go.
We did that in 1995. But now, it is – with these last monsoons we’ve had here in North Carolina, we have leaks. And my – I guess my question is: is a flat roof a good idea, anyway? And then what are the pros and cons of a metal versus shingle roof?
TOM: OK. So, first of all, is a flat roof a good idea? Well, depends on your perspective.
Look, there’s a lot of commercial buildings that have flat roofs that last a long time but they’re also very, very well-installed and they don’t have any leaks as a result of that. I will say that a flat roof is one of the leakiest roofs, generally speaking, because very often, when they’re put in residential homes, they’re not put on by pros. Flat roofs require maintenance. And certainly, since you have a flat roof that’s 20 years old, that’s really, really old.
STEVE: I’m no pro but yeah, I put it in.
TOM: Yeah, in 1995? I mean you’re talking 20 years ago and that’s a really old roof at this point in time. It would be old if it was a pitched roof. It’s really old if it’s a flat roof, which generally lasts about half that time.
So, it’s time for a new roof. Your options are to install another flat roof, which there’s nothing wrong with that. The new materials today, especially the torch-down flat roofs, work very, very well. I just put a flat roof on my house. But what I did before I put it on there was I added a slight pitch to it.
You can buy foam underlayment that gives you a slight pitch and helps water run off the roof. Because you really don’t want anything that’s flat-flat; you really want to have something that’s got at least a low slope to it. So if you add a little bit of slope to it and then put a new torch-down roof on it, it should be fine.
You asked about metal. Metal is certainly an indestructible roof. And if that’s something you’re considering, I would also encourage it. Because if you put a metal roof down once and you do it right, you’re not going to have to do it for 100 years and then who cares, right?
STEVE: Cost analysis. Is a metal roof – and I’ve sort of looked at it. But is a metal roof more expensive than a shingle or – it is, isn’t it?
TOM: Oh, yeah. It’s about four or five times as expensive. So it’s very expensive, comparatively speaking.
STEVE: Is that labor or is it really the material?
TOM: It’s both. So if you’re going to do it yourself, you’re going to save some money. But it’s really the kind of thing that’s kind of tough to do yourself unless you really have some experience working with metal.
STEVE: OK. Great. And one request. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: I wish your trailer music – just let it play. We love it. We love it.
TOM: We’re going to have to put that whole – we’ll have to put the entire theme music online for those that care to listen to that.
STEVE: I wish you would. We love your show. Thank you.