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

There is lots to consider, including tools, materials, cost and accessories
The first step is to address some important questions, says Jack at Heritage Home Hardware.

Certain home improvement jobs you need to last for years. Perhaps the biggest one is replacing your roof—it’s a huge job, so you want to make sure to do it right. 

The first step is to address some important questions, says Jack at Heritage Home Hardware. To start, what type of roof works with your home’s exterior and style? What material would be best to use, given the weather where you live? How does cost affect your choice? 

Types of Roofing 

The two most common materials used for roofing are asphalt/fibreglass and metal. Each has different characteristics, as you’ll see below.

Asphalt/Fibreglass Shingles

These are the most popular shingles used in roofing projects and they’re also the most affordable. They’re easy to find too. If you have some experience with DIY projects, they can be installed relatively easily. This type of shingle has a manmade fibreglass core that is sandwiched between two layers of asphalt. 

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

The most common style—which are also the most affordable—are three-tab asphalt shingles made in a single thin layer. 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 durable, they’re 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 shed water and snow easily. 

The most popular types of metal roofing are steel and aluminum. These are energy-efficient because they reflect heat; purchasing them may even qualify you for a tax credit. Because metal roofing contains recycled materials, they are an environmentally friendly option. Clean and modern in appearance, metal roofing can be quite the chameleon, mimicking the textural look of wood, clay, slate and more.

Be sure to take into account the slope (also known as the pitch) of your roof, Jack recommends. 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 will need to be topped with seamless materials to prevent water from pooling and causing a leak. 

Tools & Materials 

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

Shingle/Roof Rippers

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

Synthetic Underlayment

This is a water-resistant or waterproof weather barrier that is installed directly onto the roof deck. It works as a shield to keep ice and water out. It is lighter than a felt underlay, so it adds less weight to the roof. It’s also tear-resistant, wrinkle-free and resistant to fungal growth.

Felt Underlayment

This is an older type of material used for roof underlayment. It is water-resistant, though not waterproof. Easy to install, it is low-cost and comes in two thicknesses (15-lb and 30-lb). Beware, though, that over time, volatile compounds will dissipate, and it can absorb more moisture and become more fragile.

Roofing Nails

Roofing nails come in different sizes and are made from different materials, according to the type of roof you have. The right nails are needed when installing shingles, fastening underlayment and attaching roof flashing.

Flashing/Drip Edging

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

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


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


You’ll need to install eavestroughs along the edges of your roof to collect the rain. They’re essential, as they help protect your walls from mould and rot.

Roof Vents 

Roof vents perform a number of valuable functions. They assist with the air ventilation in your attic, which helps regulate temperature throughout your home. They also regulate condensation, which can help prolong 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, which melts the snow and ice that would otherwise become quite heavy, cause damage or fall and cause injury.

Small repairs

It’s entirely possible that your roof is faring well overall and just needs a little bit of TLC. Keep in mind that you can use the materials and accessories listed above to make minor roof repairs or to replace individual parts as well.

One last tip from Jack: repairing or replacing your roof requires handling a number of rough materials. Make sure that you wear safety gloves and safety glasses at all times throughout the process.

You can tackle big projects such as roof replacement and roof repair on your own, as long as you have all of the right information, tools and materials at your disposal. There’s no reason you can’t DIY a stylish and functional roof that will last for years, thanks to the wide selection of roofing products available at Heritage Home Hardware. 

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