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Roofers go head-to-head in debate on metal & asphalt shingles

At eieihome, our goal is to educate our readers on all matters pertaining to home renovations. In case you missed it, we wrote a story on the benefits of a metal roof. An interested reader contacted us to offer a different perspective on the roofing renovation debate. Here’s what was said about asphalt and metal shingles. 

Jake Ionita from Anax Roofing Inc. wanted to chat with us about asphalt shingles after we ran a story on metal shingles. Here’s what he had to say.

In case you missed it, we spoke to Max Guerra from New Steel Roofers last month and wrote a story on metal roofs. In this piece, we give Max the opportunity to further state his position on metal roofs. The question is: where will you sit on the roof debate?

Asphalt roofs aren’t as strong as they used to be

Ionita says it’s actually quite the opposite. Our first article discusses how asbestos used to be a key ingredient in asphalt shingles that gave them its strength. Once it was banned by the Canadian government, the shingles became a less reliable product. Ionita says most asphalt shingles are now made with a fiberglass mat, which provides the strength it needs to last.

“It’s then saturated in a coat of asphalt,” he says, adding that the asphalt works like a glue to provide superior waterproofing and the granules on top provide protection from the elements.

Manufacturers have been increasing the amount of asphalt per shingle, making them heavier and more durable – the increased asphalt is making them last longer than they did in the past.

Max’s Take:

Most asphalt shingles are now made with a fiberglass mat, which provides the strength it needs to last: This is true, says Guerra of New Steel Roofers. But it’s the saturation of the asphalt that fails. Asphalt is an oil-based product which deteriorates the moment it’s exposed to UV rays and the elements.” Guerra says the oil dries off, leaving bare fiberglass. “The proof is in the product.”

Guerra says most companies that manufacture asphalt and fiberglass shingles are now involved in class-action lawsuits because the products are failing far sooner than they should. “Customers are fed up.”

Asphalt shingles are the most economical

Asphalt shingles are the go-to material for roofs because they are the most economical choice for a house, says Ionita. “All the other systems cost three times the price or much more than that. A new roof project can range from $5,000 to $80,000 for the same roof. It all depends on what kind of system you are putting down.”

Speaking of cost, Ionita told us he was speaking with a Toronto real estate agent who said most people stay in the same house for roughly 10 years or less. “If you are looking to purchase a more upgraded roof because it will last longer, it may not be worth your money because when you move, you aren’t able to reap the benefit of that roof anymore.”

Max’s Take:

“They [homeowners] think it’s the most economical because the cost is so low, but when you break it down, replacing your roof every 10 years is not the most economical solution,” says Guerra. While there’s a higher cost involved in installing a metal roof, it will last you 6 to 7 times longer, he says. “Think of it as a long-term investment as opposed to replacing – basically renting your roof with asphalt shingles and paying for it in x-amount of time. It’s cost versus value in the end.”

Furthermore, Guerra says it’s a common misconception that metal roofs are overly expensive. “They used to be 4 to 5 times more expensive, but because the price of oil has skyrocketed and the asphalt shingles are so expensive, a metal roof is not dramatically more than an asphalt shingle nowadays.”

In speaking with a real estate agent: “That’s like saying brick is not worth more than siding. That concept of conversation is kind of silly,” says Guerra. “A granite top is not worth more than a linoleum top? Hardwood floors versus vinyl flooring?”

Can you install a metal roof over asphalt?

We reported that one of the benefits of having metal shingles installed was they could be installed right over the existing asphalt shingles, but Ionita disagrees. “It doesn’t save that much money,” he says. “I don’t recommend it for that.”

He warns this will put more weight on the house than it’s made to withstand. “If there was anything wrong with the previous roof, then you will have to live with that,” he says.  Going overtop will also cause warranty-related issues, for a roofer will not warranty the new roof for existing problems that happen as a result of the old roof that’s still in place.

Ionita says an old roof can be ripped off within half a day, leaving installers plenty of time to begin a roof replacement project on the same day.

Max’s Take:

“Every bit you can do to save money is good,” says Guerra, adding the process of installing metal shingles over top asphalt ones is an environmentally-friendly initiative that keeps the shingles out of landfills.

When it comes to weighing down the house with added material, Guerra also disagrees. “Weight is not a factor because metal is less than half the weight of a fiberglass shingle. Adding weight from a metal roof is not a factor.”

Neither is it a rule of thumb, says Guerra. “If you have structural damage, I do recommend you remove it and fix the structure first.”

One point both roofers agree on is that if you were to install fiberglass overtop the shingles, the warranty would automatically be void. “But not if you go over with metal over top the asphalt,” says Guerra.

Warranty and Lifespan

Our previous story indicated that metal roofs come with a 50-year warranty and are built to last anywhere from 80 to 90 years, but Ionita disagrees. “Most roofs won’t last 80 to 90 years without leaking, seriously speaking,” says Ionita. “I’ve yet to see one roof today that lasted that long without any leaks.”

He suggests manufacturers give a 35-year warranty for a metal roof, 50-year warranty for shingles and 75 years for slate. However, a roof will barely last the amount of time it’s warranted for, he says. Canada’s weather conditions – severe winters, snow and ice – will lead to its deterioration.

Ionita stresses homeowners should be concerned about the warranty on the work, which is a written agreement between the installer and the client.

“There is a difference between the manufacturer’s warranty and the installers’ warranty. The standard warranty offered by roofing companies is 10 years for residential and 2 years for commercial and industrial, he says.

Max’s Take:

“There are homes in Ontario that have metal roofs that have been around for about 80 to 90 years and they’re still standing,” says Guerra. “For him to say that’s impossible – it’s out there.”

“Metal roofs come with a 50-year warranty and it’s a true warranty where it lasts beyond the warranty,” he says.

But Guerra stresses all homeowners should read the fine print when it comes to any home product warranty program.

Your roof will last longer if it was installed properly

Overtime, everything in our house needs to be either repaired or replaced. The same goes for the roof of our homes. However, the key to a lasting roof is proper installation. Ionita says a roof should last up to 25 years as long as it was installed properly and there is proper ventilation to prevent moisture from entering the attic, which can deteriorate any dwelling.

Homeowners should hire a company to do a yearly-tune up to ensure the roof is properly maintained. “It costs approximately $150 to $200 a year and it can save you thousands.” But Ionita warns: “If done improperly, it will break down in 10 to 15 years for sure.”

Max’s Take:

“Even the best roof in the world improperly installed will leak,” he says. “I have yet to see a 25-year fiberglass or asphalt shingle roof last that long.”

As for the yearly tune-up, that adds $5,000 to the cost of the roof. “Whereas you can purchase a metal roof and enjoy the long-term benefits of it.”

How do you choose the right roofing contractor for your renovation? Here are some tips:

  • Get a recommendation from a friend.
  • Ask for references and check out their previous work. Ideally, you want to visit a home that uses the same colour and shingle as the one you’d like to pick for your home so you can get a good visual.
  • Make sure they’ve been in business for minimum 10 years. “A lot of these people just work out of their truck, then you have an issue and find out they’ve changed their name. They give you a personal warranty, but you call them back in 2 years and no one answers the phone.”

But Guerra from New Steel Roofers offers one last piece of advice: “Check customer reviews on eieihome and the Better Business Bureau.”

More in Roofing

This roofer ditched asphalt shingles – here’s his story

Asbestos in asphalt shingles? Why you need a metal roof



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