Steel vs Asphalt?


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Old 11-21-03, 05:43 PM
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Steel vs Asphalt?

I'll be replacing our roof next spring and have noticed a few houses around that have new steel roofs.
I like the look of them and they seem more fitting for an 1870era house like ours.

a few questions for those in the know?
1:
What are the advantages of one over the other?
2:
Is one easier to install?

3:
Cost difference between the two?

4:
Life expectancy of both?
 
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Old 11-21-03, 06:37 PM
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They are both excellent roofs. Asphalt roofs are less expensive and easier to install. Not all roofers can install a steel roof. A steel roof will last about 50 years, an asphalt roof about 30 years.
Good Luck
 
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Old 11-21-03, 06:50 PM
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Thanks for responding Jack.
I was hoping to do the work myself, but obviously I've had no experience in steel roofing.
Can you tell me why all roofers can't install steel roofs?
I would have thought that it'd be an easier install from observing guys working on a house a few blocks away.
I would think that perhaps the cutting might be a little tricky though. My roof has 4 peaks, so there'd be a fair amount of cutting involved.
 
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Old 11-21-03, 09:00 PM
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I'm not a roofer but my experience has included helping on metal roofs. Some things to consider--will you be able to work on it fast enough to avoid a rain shower or two? Summer might be too hot. You'll prob need a helper or two. At least one on the ground to do the cutting. Buy yourself a nibbler as part of the cost of the job. Though in some instances you can use a circular saw with a NON-carbide blade put on backward. Get instruction from your supplier. There are several types, do your homework. Do you have a backup plan if you get discouraged in the middle of the job? If you're handy and agile I say go for it!
 
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Old 11-22-03, 06:23 AM
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I agree that a metal roof is better than a traditional shingle roof and metal roofing is within the realm of most DIYer's provided they're handy, comfortable with heights, and have ample agility. But you mentioned this was a 1870's home, I'm picturing this as having high steep pitched gables, definitely a liability there with a helper getting hurt.

I don't recommend someone without experience getting into a situation they're not comfortable with. Before you decide to take on this job yourself, get a ladder out and do a walk over inspection of your roof yourself. If you're comfortable getting around on all the roof, next thing line up your helpers, at least 2, 3-4 would be better. A word of warning, not every buddy that says "Yeah I'll be there at 8am Sat" will actually show-up. And alot of people just aren't comfortable doing this kiind of work even as a favor.

If you decide to go with a metal roof, check around for a manufacter of wholesaler in your area. I can drive 40 miles and get the panels for half of what I can buy them at any lumber yard.
 
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Old 11-22-03, 08:55 AM
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Are we talking about a standing seam roof, or steel shingles? It seems like your talking about a standing seam roof so I will comment on this.

Metal working can be tricky. Expect minor cuts and lacerations on your hands and arms. Personally I dislike the look of a standing seam roof on a whole house.

Awesome gives very good advice.
 
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Old 11-22-03, 04:29 PM
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Thanks for your input gentlemen.
You're right Awesomedell..the house does have a steep roof, but I was up there while putting up the Xmas lights last week and I felt fairly comfortable crawling around.

Perhaps if I start getting commitments for help now, they'll actually show up come spring.
When we moved here last August, we had 2 out of the 6 "volunteers" show up for the job so i know all about the "no-show" syndrome.

I'll hunt for material prices long before install time comes around.
 
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Old 11-22-03, 06:41 PM
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Always add 10% for waste when ordering material and be aware these types of roofs are slipperier than asphalt shingle roofs so consider some no slip boots and fall protection. You may be comfortable on a 8/12 shingle but an 8/12 smooth steel is tricky.
 
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Old 11-22-03, 07:45 PM
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There is something everyone is missing. I am surprised it was not brought up. Check with your local building permit department, and make sure they will allow you to do your own metal roof. In many parts of the country, only a licensed contractor can install this type of roof. You may live in an area that will allow it. The next step is also in many parts of the country, unless you are a licensed contractor, you cannot even buy the roofing materials.
Last of all, if you read the information that comes with the metal roofing, I think you will find that there is no warranty unless installed by a licensed professional. Just some things to check out before you get in it too far. Good Luck
 
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Old 11-23-03, 05:22 AM
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Jack's got a point there, at least as far as the USA is concerned. However our original poster is in Canada, that may be a whole different kettle of fish. But still a good idea to check with local officials concerning code in your immediate area.
 
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Old 11-23-03, 05:26 AM
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Jack's got a point there, at least in the incorporated areas down here in the states, but many tiimes there are no codes unless you're within the city limits, here locally in the county, no codes or inspections are necessary, in fact you don't even need a bus license to operate a contracting company. A fact a few of us are working to change without much success, but we're still trying, cuz the hacks are killing us.
However our original poster is in Canada, that may be a whole different kettle of fish. But still a good idea to check with local officials concerning code in your immediate area.
 
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Old 11-23-03, 09:30 AM
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Canada's building code is pretty lenient as it applies to roofing. However, local municipalities can (and do) impose their own requirements. In some areas you can only replace like with like, or like with better. So if you have a slate roof, you can only replace it with slate (no imitation). But even in a municipality with such a stringent code, the chance of an inspector catching a violation is relatively slim, so people often take their chances, and replace "heritage" materials (Slate, hand-made steel, copper) with cheaper materials. Changing the structure of a roof requires a building permit almost everywhere, while re-roofing does not. Unless local ordinances prohibit it, there is no restriction on homeowners doing their own thing on roofs.

In Quebec, we have the "Regie de Batiments" which is a government agency regulating all construction trades. In theory, every company operating a construction-related (this includes renovations) business is required to have a permit. In practice, there is a huge underground economy with unlicensed contractors operating everywhere. However, if homeowners are unsatisfied with the quality of work and try to sue the unlicensed contractor, they find that the first thing the court will establish is that the contractor is unlicensed, and therefore the homeowner engaged someone who is "unqualified" to perform the work. Not only will the homeowner not be able to collect, they will also probably be fined for having work performed by unqualified personnel, and may even have to their "improvement" taken out if it doesn't meet the code.

Ontario is not as stringent, but there is a move afoot to more closely regulate the building trades due to the number of horror stories of poor (even dangerous) construction and renovation, and to cut down on the number of people who basically have a truck and a ladder and call themselves "contractors".

Since this is a DIY forum, remember that a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing. There's theory, and then there are some hard lessons that get taught in the school of experience. You can do DIY roofing, but if you are doing it for the first time, hire someone with experience (and the "scar-tissue") to be by your side. It only takes one unforseen screw-up to wipe out the savings of doing it yourself. That word of wisdom by your side will be easily worth anything you pay them. Comments?
 
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Old 11-23-03, 02:29 PM
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Originally posted by pgriz
Since this is a DIY forum, remember that a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing. It only takes one unforseen screw-up to wipe out the savings of doing it yourself.
That is so valuable. I'd like to incorporate that into my signature.
 
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Old 11-24-03, 06:43 AM
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You can go right ahead. Just don't claim copyright on it if I have to use it again. And we can discuss the royalty arrangements later...
 
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Old 11-26-03, 05:21 AM
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Very insightful words of wisdom pgriz, and as I alluded to in a earlier post, all you need is one misstep on a high steep roof to lead to a disaster and most homeowners policies do not cover helpers on diy home improvement projects.


Reputable contractors and their subs carry insurance which cover them , their workers, and the home owner in case such situations arise. It's also an expense that's figured into the cost of the jobs they bid, something alot of homeowners don't take into account when looking a bids for home improvement projects. People should understand that when you hire a contractor, you're paying him not only to do the job, correctly, safely, and in a timely manner, you're also paying for the piece of mind that if by any chance something goes wrong, your contractor's insurance co is on the hook, instead of you!
 
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Old 11-26-03, 12:47 PM
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Thanks for the kind words, Awesomedell and Grumpy. I'm hoping that this forum will contribute in educating homeowners in what goes into making a good product (roof in this forum), so that they ask the right questions and have a clear idea of what needs to be done. Then they can assess whether they have the skill-set to do a project, or whether they should bring in expert help. If the homeowners choose to bring in a contractor, they can also ask the right questions and hopefully select a qualified and competent contractor. Few things bother me more than being called out to do an estimate, and then find out that I am competing with someone who pays no insurance, has no licenses, and proposes to my prospective customer a quote that does not meet the minimum level of work that needs to be executed. Of course, anything I propose will be much more expensive than the "other guy". However, when homeowners have done their homework, those wanna-bees get shown the door. Oops, I think this qualifies as a rant.
 
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Old 11-29-03, 08:55 PM
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This is an offbeat thing to say but I never recommend home owners do a full roof job them selves. It's just too big of a project with too many variables to consider, and it's dangerous. Typically repairs can safely be done but if you have any option don't try the whole job.

As a roofer I have fixed many of these jobs. I've replaced 3 year odl roofs. I've been asked to pick up where a home owner left off in the middle of the project because it was too much for him. Replacing a roof is not the same as replacing a window, or even siding, which can turn out all wrong too.
 
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Old 12-01-03, 06:51 AM
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As a homeowner who's done his own roof and been part of two other DIY jobs, I support Grumpy's statement. Yikes, it is a huge effort and committment, without a lot of margin for error.

However, the reason that's not for the faint of heart is the same reason roofing will always be attractive for DIY, the majority of the cost lies in the labor, not the materials. So the homeowners will keep rolling the dice, and the contractors will continue to get a steady stream of work from those of us who botch it.

What I wonder is--are more DIY roof failures the result of poor workmanship or poor material selection? The last time I helped a friend with a roof, he cut all the corners--no drip edge, no ice&water shield, no flashing in valleys, just closed cut valleys. Sure, those 40-year dimensional shingles look nice. . . for now.
 
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Old 12-01-03, 08:00 AM
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As a business, we offer local homeowners the choice of buying the material and doing it themselves, or letting us the the full installation. We also work with the homeowner to show them how to measure, how to estimate the material required, and to identify the work to be done. Usually, most homeonwers look the the difference in price between the two (material only or full-install) and say they want to go the DIY route. As we go through the estimate and work definition, they begin to see what's involved, and by the time we get to the end of the process, most tell us that they didn't know how much went into making a proper roof, and that the price we charge for labour is actually quite reasonable. So about 80% end up having us do the actual install. The 20% that go the DIY route are usually dealing with simple situations (Gable-to-Gable roof, no dormers, no valleys, walkable pitch).

As Grumpy has noted, we also get called out to fix or finish roofs that someone else started. In some cases the homeowner didn't do the homework and got into a project that was beyond his skill level. In others, we get to fix up after "contractors" who gave real "good deals" disappeared before completing the job properly, or after it was "completed" but leaked. I really believe that homeowners need to do a much better job informing themselves whether they do it or have someone do it for them.

As mrchris noted, homeowners want to save money but trying to make those decisions without sound knowledge ends up being pretty dumb. The usual advice I give is: 1) know in detail what it takes to do it right, and 2) is this within your skill level and ability to do it SAFELY. If you answer yes to #1, and #2, then go for it. If #1 is No, then #2 is irrelevant. If #1 is Yes but #2 is no, then hire someone qualified.
 
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Old 12-04-03, 12:02 AM
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DIY roof

We did mine last summer. It took allmost 2 months but it came out great because I hired a professional roofer to roll the felt and nail the shingles. That part took him just over 1 day, we did everything else: tear off, sheeting, facia boards, vents, leveling, flashing, gutters. I even put all the shingles and felt up on the roof for him. Because of this I was able to get this guy to come in a few weeks ahead, point out all my mistakes and then come back and install over my work. It took 20 squares to do my roof and with all the sheeting, gutters, facia boards, siding, replaced rafters and everything else I was into it for way less than 4k, including $500 for the roofer. And it came out PERFECT.
 
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Old 12-04-03, 06:08 PM
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Scott it sounds like you did it right.

Once I was called out for an estimate. Since I was SOO busy I went out on a holiday. The home owner who called me 3 days earllier was installing the roof. He was doing it all wrong and I tried to tell him just out of courtesy. I even tried to show him a picture of how it is supposed to be done.

He told me I was telling him that because I wanted the job. Sure I wanted the job but he WAS doing it wrong. I said my good bye's and moved along tot he next job. I drove past a few weeks later and it is terrible. I won't go into details but I have to be sure he has leaks.
 
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Old 12-04-03, 10:12 PM
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The first time it rained I was up in the attic with a flashlight for an hour. People thought that was funny for some reason.
 
 

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