Argo Metal Roofing is your one-stop source for aluminum and steel roofing products . . . Argo Metal Roofing is your one-stop source for aluminum and steel roofing products . . . Argo Metal Roofing is your one-stop source for aluminum and steel roofing products . . .

Interesting Articles


Quest for Authenticity

As far back as the 1700s, some of the nicest American homes were topped with metal roofs. Architects say the recent resurgence stems from high-end clients' desire for materials that are somehow more historically authentic than asphalt, yet are less apt to induce sticker shock than slate, tile or wood shakes. "There's a tremendous appetite for traditional, high-quality materials well applied. Metal roofs fall into that category," says Dale Overmyer, a Washington, D.C., architect and principal of Dale Owen Overmyer. He most often uses metal roofs on residential projects in historic Georgetown.

Barb and Edward Nilson couldn't agree on the roof for the house they built 20 years ago in the Seattle suburb of Renton. Mr. Nilson wanted metal because it would last; Mrs. Nilson said it looked too "tinny." They settled on asphalt for the main house and cedar shakes for the guest house. But when it came time to replace the roofs last year, Mrs. Nilson was all for metal. "The new ones look wonderful," she says. "They're more finished." The couple spent $50,000 for the two roofs that they believe will last 50 years.

But they offer limited resistance to fire and high winds, and they usually need to be replaced after about 20 years.In an era when custom-built countertops, cabinetry and woodwork are routine, more homeowners want their roof to make a statement, too. "It used to be that a roof was a roof was a roof. People didn't care," says Diane Gola, marketing manager for GAF Materials Corp., which makes asphalt roofing and recently expanded into slate.

Materials used on neighboring houses often influence a homeowner's roofing decision. Many developments restrict the use of materials, and in California, some counties disallow wood-shake roofs to contain the potential spread of wildfires. And then there's social pressure. "If you're in a suburb where everyone else has an asphalt roof, you'd look silly with metal," says Jim Haughey, chief economist for Reed Construction Data, of Atlanta.

Metal roofs have other drawbacks. They are slippery, so snow slides off -- but so do people who might venture onto a wet roof to clear off debris. (The Nilsons had trouble finding someone to clean the leaves and pine needles off theirs.) Rain and hail sound louder. It is important to find experienced contractors, since metal roofs are harder to install than asphalt. These shortcomings aren't lost on competitors. "We're aware metal roofing is being used more now, but we're not sitting around chewing our fingernails over it," says Joe Hobson, spokesman for the Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association.

Metal roofs still tend to cost about twice as much as even the most expensive fiberglass-asphalt shingles, with prices varying by metal type -- steel, aluminum, copper or a combination. Still, asphalt roofing prices are rising, too, along with prices of petroleum, from which the roofing is made. Mike Iannone, product manager for Marjam Supply Co., in Farmingdale, N.Y., says asphalt-roofing makers have raised prices 10% since September and are expected to do so again soon. 

Regional Preferences

Historically, big slate quarries in Virginia, Pennsylvania and Vermont meant more slate roofs in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic. Abundant forests in the West made wood shakes the cheaper option there. The emergence of low-cost, mass-produced asphalt shingles in the 19th century changed the economics of the U.S. building industry and helped erase some of the distinctions in regional architecture.

Asphalt shingles dominated for most of the 20th century. In the 1970s and '80s, the industry took steps to make a less oil-dependent product, reducing the asphalt content and increasing fillers. The result is a fiberglass-asphalt product known as laminated architectural shingles. Thicker and with more definition, they are supposed to look more like slate, tile or wood. But not all of them are convincing.

This year, Tommy Oswalt considered his options when it came time to replace the asphalt shingles on his 1,500-square-foot 1877 farmhouse in Heflin, Ala. The house is his retreat for hiking, hunting and fishing, and he liked the idea of never having to reshingle or repair the roof again. Metal would certainly cost more than asphalt, but what finally sold him was style. "Metal seemed more historically correct," he says.

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The Roofing Report

So what do you know about re-roofing your home? Unless you’re a roofer, builder or architect you probably don’t know too much.

Before we go too far, here’s an interesting tidbit that you need to know right up front: Of all of the complaints filed with the BBB and other reporting agencies for home improvement remodeling trades, one of the highest (if not THE highest) number of complaints are lodged against roofing contractors. Not to worry, this report provides you with what you need to know (except specific pricing data) to make a sound decision. Your roof is responsible for keeping everything underneath it (your largest single investment) dry and safe. Many times it is the roof that dresses up your home and sets it apart as a more desirable piece of real estate. You would be well served to give it proper attention when it comes time to replace it. There is no reason to be fooled or intimidated.

Sticking around or, moving soon?

This is not a cliché—every situation is different but almost everyone’s buying decisions revolve around these factors: Staying or Leaving.

How long are you planning on living there/owning the property? If you are just looking to “pretty-up” the home quickly for sale, and all you want to do is put a new roof on at the minimal cost, go with as cheap an asphalt shingle roof as possible doing the minimum to get the house sold and then let the other guy worry about it after you’re gone.

On the other hand, if you plan on living there longer than 5 years then there are other factors you must consider. These would include the “street appeal” of the roof itself, its cost, warranty, cost of utilities and insurance. All of these factors will have an impact on the price you will pay for your new roof.

Comparable Scenario

A new car purchase can range from $7,500 to over $100,000. Let’s say that the car was for your son or daughter to take to school. or for basic personal transportation. You would focus on an inexpensive, small, 4-cylinder compact with cloth seats and with few bells and whistles. You could find something to satisfy them at a very low cost. As long as they didn’t drive it too hard for too long, you would expect to get 5-10 years usage. No frills. But then it was not designed to be a limousine.

For your own personal or family use, the car would be better than your kid’s — say a mid or full size, or maybe an SUV. It would be a workhorse that would carry bigger loads, provide more comfort, and it would at least look as nice as the other cars on the block. Naturally, you would expect to pay more.
You would buy the finest car that money could buy because you are into status just as much as function.

Glossary of Roofing Terms

Let’s get a basic understanding here. A typical roof is built with the following components:

Rafters/Trusses — the main beams under it all and supporting what is on top of it.
Decking/Sheathing —normally plywood which provides a flat surface covering your home.
Underlayment — a layer of moisture protection between the decking and exterior roof covering. In northern climates an ice and water shield helps to minimize ice damming problems.
Roof Covering — most common are asphalt shingles, wood shakes, metal, tile or slate.
Flashing —materials used to prevent leaking/seepage at certain vulnerable spots like valleys, endwalls and chimneys.
Drainage — shape, layout and slope of roof for the purpose of shedding snow and water.
Venting — proper venting is necessary for maintaining air-flow and overall roof “health.”

A Good Foundation

Your roof may need some minor structural repair such as new plywood decking in certain areas. Or you may need major repair work due to “dry rot” in your support structure. Unless your roof is bowed or has a gaping hole, it is not possible to detect this damage from the ground. Unless there is a tear-off done (removal of all covering materials down to the bare plywood), you can’t see what your decking looks like. In most instances, the cost of a tear-off is minor compared to overall costs of replacement. These issues must be dealt with before your covering material can be applied. Most local codes throughout the Midwest allow for 2 layers of asphalt shingles before you must tear-off.

Your decision will come down to looks, price and performance. There is a wide selection to choose from. You will get what you pay for. A longer term, eye-appealing solution will generally cost more initially but is a much better value over time. So consider for a moment what is important to you. If price alone is all that matters, then get as many asphalt shingle bids as you can. Accept the lowest bid and be done with it.

Your Roofing Choices

Asphalt Shingles—on the low end of roofing materials are asphalt shingles. They are on more homes across North America than any other product. Primarily, the reason for this is their low entry price and availability. The shingle usually carries a pro-rated warranty from the manufacturer. The replacement cost provided to you rapidly decreases in the first 7 years and does not normally cover the labor costs involved to repair or replace. It is not uncommon to experience deteriorating shingles after only a few years. Often it is less of a hassle to buy a whole new roof rather than go through the warranty disappointment.

People continue to buy asphalt shingles because they are usually the least expensive short term solution and folks often assume they will not be living in the house long enough to worry about a future replacement issue. Consequently, if you are looking for a longer term solution (beyond 15-20 years), you need to look at solutions other than an asphalt shingle roof.

Wood Shakes—Who does not like the striking appearance of a newly-installed wood shake roof? Wood shakes do provide the next step up in your roofing experience. It is an upscale look. Unfortunately, it is not much more of a longer term solution. Wood deteriorates in the elements much like asphalt shingles do. It is said that today’s wood shakes are less durable because they come from predominately “new growth” trees. This means that wood shakes made in older times came from trees that had been growing a long time. Every year a tree grows it adds another ring and typically becomes denser and more compressed. For the last 50 years, farming trees in the lumber industry has utilized technology for the tree to grow more rapidly in size but not necessarily with more density. Thus, newer growth trees tend to be more porous than “old growth” trees.

To gain maximum life you need to treat and maintain the wood on a regular basis. As the wood ages it certainly does change colors. Some people like the change. Some do not. It’s your home. You decide. But know this going in: If your roof has a lower slope and you live in an area that gets snow, your wood shakes will deteriorate faster because the snow will accumulate. When it does melt the wood will get wet. Leaking, mold, mildew, rotting, splitting, cracking, fire resistance, bugs — these are all maintenance and safety issues you will be dealing with over the life of the roof.

As to the difference between wood “shakes” versus wood “shingles,” the shingles are normally more machine-sawed while the shake is usually hand-cut.

Metal Roofing—Most everyone can remember driving past a farm and seeing the old tin roofs. The farmer didn’t put them on for their good looks. It was strictly a matter of practicality . . . he did not have time to keep repairing and replacing his roofing. Metal roofs are designed to be a no-maintenance, long term solution. Many historic and artistic buildings were capped with aluminum or copper over 100 years ago.

Fast-forward to today. Metal roofing is no longer an ugly duckling. It represents your next step up the price and performance ladder. Most people are familiar with the “standing seam” look found on many commercial buildings. However, technology has brought many different styles and colors to the residential marketplace. For instance, metal roofing has been available in configurations that closely resemble the shake and shingle “look.” Tile and slate “looks” are also available. The colors can be matched to your liking. High-tech coatings provide fade-resistance and energy efficiencies. By its nature, you don’t have the mold, mildew, rotting, cracking and fire issues to worry about. Snow usually slides right off. It will not increase your chances of a lightning strike. It is no noisier in a rainstorm than your existing roof. Most metal roofing products available today offer the highest fire and impact (hail) resistance ratings available. This can mean a discount to you on your homeowners insurance.

Typically, metal pricing goes from steel on the low end, to aluminum (mid), to copper (high end). Steel is heavier than aluminum. Some steel roofs offer stone granules for a nice look.

Aluminum has been called the “miracle” metal. It is rugged yet very light and has been used to build airplanes for years. Worldwide demand for aluminum has caused the price of this metal to rise in recent years. Nevertheless, its properties are such that it is an ideal building material in many industries. Like steel, it is available in the most popular styles (shingle, shake, tiles and slate) and colors. Before you dismiss metal roofing as too expensive, contact Argo for a quote.

As a semi-precious metal, copper is at the high end of the metal roofing market. Nowadays you can see copper flashing being used in the valleys of upscale homes. However, it is rare to see a new copper roof being installed today. As nice as it looks, the price of copper makes it prohibitive to the average homeowner. Also, as copper ages it turns green (patina) . I have seen a simulated “aged copper” color on an aluminum roof. It is a stunning look.

Clay tile and Slate—While they are definitely “high end,” few people will choose this option to reroof their home. Other than price, the main reason for not choosing this option is that both clay tile and slate are very heavy. They may be long term solutions but your home needs to be reinforced to hold all that weight. Not a good option for re-roofing.

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Homeowners on a Hot Metal Roof

The Wall Street Journal, February 22, ‘08
By: Nancy Keates
Edited for space consideration.

More home builders and renovators are saying no to asphalt-shingle roofs, heralding a revival of interest in slate, clay tile, wood shake and other historically popular materials that we considered both aesthetically pleasing and less harmful to the environment.

But most of these options are impractical. Slate and clay tile are heavy and may require structural reinforcement. Wood isn’t durable and offers limited fire resistance. And next to mass produced asphalt shingles, all of them cost a small fortune, even on a moderate-size home.

There is one asphalt alternative whose resurgence is on a fast track metal. Most often associated with quaint New England tool sheds, metal roofs are increasingly appearing on new homes and renovations because of their style and relative affordability. Some even mimic the look of slate and wood shakes.

Architectural metal roofs in new-home construction reached a projected 30% of the market in 2007, up from 23% in 2004, according to the National Roofing Contractors Association’s latest member survey. Meanwhile, fiberglass-asphalt shingles were used in a projected 44% of new residential projects in 2007, down from 50% in 2004. Slate roofs slipped slightly in that period to a projected 5.1% of new homes, while clay-tile roofs grew slightly to a projected 4.6%, and wood shakes slipped to a projected 2.1%.

Metal roofs can boast of a number of advantages. They are regarded as more fireproof than wood shakes and traditional asphalt shingles, and they last as much as twice as long, contractors say. They can withstand high winds. And when treated with coatings and finishes. they reflect heat, helping keep the house cool and utility bills down in hot climates. As concerns mount over used asphalt shingles clogging up landfills, many consumers like having a roof that is often both recycled and recyclable.

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