ROOFING - sheet metal - roof REPAIRS - MAINTENANCE 

Robinson Roofing 


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We want you to feel informed

This page is designed for those of us who prefer to research their purchase decisions at their leisure in the comfort of their own home. We will do our best to keep the information concise and relevant, but if you feel the urge to research beyond our provisions, we have provided some very helpful and informative links Of course, if you would like to have somebody call or visit you at your home, please do not hesitate to contact us at 604 500 ROOF and we will schedule a consultation immediately.

If you've made the decision to go with composition shingles, one manufacturer - IKO has created a very useful tool called "RoofViewer" where you can select houses of different styles and apply different exterior finishes. You can even upload a photo of your own house to see how it would look with different shingle and siding styles. To use this tool, click here. 

If you haven't yet decided on your roof of choice, please continue to read below.

Let's get into it

As you likely already know, your roof is one of the most important investments you will make to ensure peace of mind, value, and years of protection for yourself and the loved ones in your home. In addition to protection from simple vertical raindrops, it must also be designed to protect against:  

Driving Rain 

wind driven rain

Ice Dammingfrost buildup under roofing material which forces condensed water back into the building
Pest Intrusionnests
Seismic Activityearthquakes

Humidity Buildup and Condensation

Hot, moist air and dew drops that can collect on interior surfaces

Fungusmould growth from leaks, condensation, or a combination of both
Ultraviolet(UV) Damagedamage caused by the sun's radiation, alike to our skin
Thermal Cycling Damagecracks, wrinkles, and splits from expansion and contraction during hot/cold cycles
Moss, Algae and Lychenunsightly stains and growths that may lift off the protective granule layer of certain products
Abrasionpokes cuts and gouges from branches, foot traffic, or tools
Standing and Backed up Waterdrainage issues from roof design, installation or debris buildup
Wind Uplift and Blowoffremoval of parts due to violent winds
Marine Atmospheric Corrosionmaterials used close to the ocean should be resistant to corrosion caused by the salty air

Each of these items has a varying degree of consideration necessary, depending on factors such as:

  • Micro-Region (E.g. Lower Mainland, Sea-to-Sky, Fraser Valley, Northern Interior, Vancouver Island) 
  • Materials Used
  • Roof Structure Design
  • Maintenance Considerations
  • Budget

Thankfully, in Lower Mainland BC, we don't typically have to worry about hurricane-force winds or some of the more disastrous effects of ice damming. The term "rain forest" is used widely in describing Vancouver's unique and challenging ecosystem. Therefore, the key areas of concern in weatherproofing one's home center around the focus of relieving dampness and humidity. Other concerns include heavy volumes of rainfall and often intense hot-cold cycles which can combine forces to cause extensive damage to the protective "skins" of roofing systems.

One of the primary and commonly overlooked methods of defending against moisture buildup in cold spaces is adequate ventilation. It's estimated that more than 60% of British Columbia's roofs are under-ventilated. This causes numerous issues in a climate like Vancouver. Primarily, when an attic isn't kept at a constant temperature it will collect moisture in the air when it becomes warm, which will create small drops of water on the back of the plywood or shingles. For demonstration of this process, one can look at the water droplets collecting on a cold glass of water in a warm room. In addition to moisture protection, ventilation will help maintain more constant and controllable temperatures within the roof system and the home. This adds valuable years to the life of the roof, since temperature fluctuation is one of the most formidable of the natural enemies to roofs. 

Ventilation of the attic space, or any cold cavity (such as the space between the insulation and plywood in a vaulted ceiling) allows the air to not only stay at a constant temperature, but also to circulate moisture out through natural air currents. The BC Building code recommends roofs have a ventilation ratio of 1 square foot of free ventilation area per 150 square feet of insulated attic space, measured horizontally (floor joists, not trusses). Although awareness is growing in the industry for the necessity of this ventilation, the ratio and equipment is quite often being applied incorrectly. When applying the ratio, is imperative to note that the amount of free ventilation space, as designated by the ratio is to be split evenly between intake and exhaust.

So where is the intake, and where is the exhaust? Well, most vents are of passive mechanics, and we know the flow of heat generally follows an upward direction, as does wind, when met with an obstacle protruding from the ground. Therefore, it should make sense that a properly vented soffit provides the intake requirements, and the remaining 0.75 square feet of free ventilation space (per 150) should be dispersed evenly throughout the roof sheathing. Although the logic seems clear, its simply amazing how often we come across fumbled attempts to meet the requirements.

As we move west toward the shores, the salty ocean air becomes a growing concern for some of the metals typically used in roof construction. Traditional galvanizing coatings used for steel nails, flashings, and roofing panels will no longer provide the protection necessary to ensure a sound roof. Where an electroplated nail would suffice previously, we must switch to a stainless steel, or at bare minimum hot-dipped galvanized nail. In addition, metal roofing products whose beautiful paints also serve to protect the sensitive metals beneath them, must receive upgraded coatings if their finishes are to be preserved.

Once we have ensured that the ventilation and corrosion requirements have been addressed, we can now turn our attention to the roof system. We will address a few of the main benefits of the roof systems we are most familiar with below, but encourage you to continue your research on your own if you feel ours to be insufficient. There is indeed a wealth of great information online to choose from and we are the first to admit that we may not always have the answer that you are looking for.

Composition Shingle Roofing

Composition shingles are a good choice for a clean look at an affordable price. Higher-quality versions made from asphalt or fiberglass offer a more durable option and may be available with recycled content. Composition shingles come in a large selection of types, brands and colors. Versatile, they adapt easily to different applications. They are relatively easy to install, require low maintenance and can usually be walked on without damaging the material. Most brands offer Class A fire protection.On the negative side, they can blow off in high winds, and Material is easy to scar if hot. Another key downfall of composition shingles, especially in lower mainland BC, is their susceptibility to staining. It is quite common for shingle roofs to appear old and weathered after five to ten years due to black, brown, or green stains created by algae, mold, and lichen. Although there are preventative measures available, such as chemical treatments and preservatives built into the shingles, there will eventually be staining on all shingle products. Robinson Roofing offers services to remove moss, algae and lichen from roofs but all processes regardless of their claims will shorten the life of the shingles somewhat. Our process is one of the least invasive of all techniques, although more labor intensive. Note: By no means, and under no circumstances should a shingle roof ever be pressure-washed.

Metal Roofing

Metal Roofs are coming back into vogue. In the late 1700s, zinc, copper, and lead were the most popular materials used for roofing - such famous historic buildings as the Washington Monument and Thomas Jefferson's Monticello have metal roofs. Standing-seam steel roofing is the most popular residential metal roofing today. (The term standing-seam describes the upturned edge of one metal panel that connects it to adjacent sections, creating distinctive vertical lines and a trendy historical look.) But metal roofs can also be made to resemble wood shakes, clay tiles, shingles, and Victorian metal tiles. Aluminum or coated steel is formed into individual shingles or tiles, or into modular panels four feet long that mimic a row of shingles or tiles. Metal roofs are durable, fire retardant and almost maintenance-free. They are also energy efficient; metal reflects heat and blocks its transfer into the attic. Research by the Florida Solar Energy Center in 1985 showed that metal absorbed 34 percent less heat than asphalt shingles, and homeowners switching to metal roofing reported saving up to 20 percent on their energy bills. Steel roofs offer other environmental benefits as well. They are made from between 60 percent to 65 percent recyclable material. Because they weigh very little, metal roofing can be installed over existing roofs, eliminating the need to dispose of excess material in a landfill. Installing some metal roofing can be an intricate process best done by a professional, and the initial cost of a premium metal roof is higher than most other roofing materials. You need to compute the lifecyclecost to see if paying more to begin with for a metal roof will prove to be a better investment than some other forms of roofing.

Wood Shake and Shingle

Wood shakes offer a natural look with a lot of character. Because of variations like color, width, thickness, or cut of the wood, no two shake roofs will ever be the same. Wood offers some energy benefits, too: it helps to insulate the attic, and it allows the house to breathe, circulating air through the small openings under the felt rows on which wooden shingles are laid.A wood shake roof, however demands proper maintenance and repair, or it will not last as long as other products. Mold, rot, and insects can be a problem. The lifecycle cost of a shake roof may be high, and old shakes can't be recycled. Most wood shakes are unrated by fire safety codes. Installing wood shakes is more complicated than roofing with composite shingles, and the quality of finished roof depends on the experience of the contractor as well as the caliber of the shakes you use. The best shakes come from the heartwood of large old cedar trees. Care should be taken when selecting shakes as the quality varies greatly from different shake mills.

Clay Tile

Clay roofing tile is a good choice for homes with a southwestern, Italian, or Spanish Mission design, or even for homes with a modern, clean look.Tile lasts a long time - its expected lifespan is greater than the lifespan of the material on which the roofing rests. Tile won't rot or burn, and it can't be harmed by insects. It requires little maintenance, and comes in a variety of colors, types, styles and brands. The biggest drawback to clay tile can be its weight. Depending on the material used to make it, tile can be very heavy - so heavy that extra roof support can be required. With some new materials, however, color is added only on the surface of the tile, and they can fade over time. Although, most modern color is kiln-fired into the tile making the color permanent. Tiles are fragile, so walking on them can break them. That makes it more difficult to accomplish maintenance like painting or cleaning rain gutters or chimneys. Initial installation can be more complicated than other roofing materials. Finally, tile can cost more than other roofing materials.

Slate Roofing

Slate - actual shingle-like slivers of rock - is another roofing material that shows up on more upscale homes. Although slate is an expensive choice, it offers a very natural look and can be laid out in a variety of patterns.The benefits of slate are identical to those of tile: a very long lifespan, good fire protection, low maintenance, and an invulnerably to rot and insects. It comes in a good selection of sizes and colors, although colors are limited to those found in nature.Like tile, slate can be very heavy, sometimes requiring expensive extra support. It, to, is breakable enough that walking on it is difficult for a non-professional, complicating such tasks as rooftop maintenance, gutter cleaning and painting.

Concrete Tile

Shingles, simulated wood shakes, lighter-weight tiles and concrete panels are manufactured from a variety of fiber-reinforced cement products. Some are coated with plastics, enamels, or thin metals, and some contain recycled material. Although the products themselves are not yet recyclable, they are a good choice for durability and resource efficiency. The advantages of concrete roofing vary from product to product, but generally they all have a long lifespan, require low maintenance, offer good fire protection and are resistant to rot and insects. Many tiles mimic the appearance of wood shakes, while improving on the durability and fire protection that real wood affords. It can approximate the look of clay tile or slate while mitigating the structural problems caused by the weight of the real material.Concrete is more expensive than some roofing materials, and early types of concrete roofing had problems with the material curling, breaking and changing color. Technology has improved, however, and these problems have mostly been overcome. Style and color choices are expanding, and by mixing the cement with additives, manufacturers and making lighter and lighter products.

Torch-on Roofing (SBS)

Torch-on roofing is arguably the best solution for roofs with less than 4" horizontal in 12" vertical slope. It is typically installed as a two-ply heated welded system to an asphalt impregnated overlay board which has been fastened to the substrate. Torch-on is the next generation of "tar and gravel" roofing, which has actually been hot asphalt and pea gravel since around 1960. It works on the same principle: layers of fibreglass or polyester reinforcement embedded in asphalt and welded together, topped with a protective aggregate surface. The only differences are in the application, and that some alterations have been made to the composition of the asphalt. Torch-on roofing is a much more aesthetically appealing product than its predecessor and is available in almost every color of the rainbow. In addition, the installation process is much less labor intensive. Because the application requires more finesse, care and attention, applicators tend to be much more diligent in monitoring quality. However, skillful torch-on roofing requires extensive experience and training. Selection of a torch-on roofer must be done with the utmost care. As the material itself doesn't come cheap, leak investigations and repairs can become very costly. In addition, always ensure the torch-on roofer has liability insurance with a hot work endorsement. Roofing fires can be tragic.

E.P.D.M. Roofing

E.P.D.M., or ethylene propylene diene monomer is typically referred to as "rubber" roofing. The single-ply sheet is available in 1.1 mm or 1.5 mm thicknesses and comes in roll sizes of up to 50' by 250'. This makes it the most cost effective solution for expansive buildings such as warehouses and shopping malls. Care must be ensured, however to protect the membrane from damage due to foot traffic or tools. Indeed, birds have even been known to wreak havoc on rubber roofs. Rubber roofs are usually quite easy to detect leaks on when they age, and are easily repairable. The process is similar to repairing a bicycle tube. Rubber roofs can be ballasted from above with river rock, glued with powerful adhesives, or fastened with screws and plates in the laps. Many rubber roofs that are protected and maintained have proven to last 30 years or more.

T.P.O Roofing

T.P.O. Roofing or thermoplastic polyolefin is the next generation of single ply roofing. The costs associated are in the middle between torch-on and rubber, closer to rubber. Again, TPO is available in sizes up to 50' by 250', and offers slightly more durability than E.P.D.M. Some warranties for T.P.O. are available up to 50 years. Many people question these claims, though, as the product has not been around for more than 20. T.P.O. becomes less cost effective with every penetration, or "detail" in a roof. Although it is quite cost effective for large, open areas, the details are a slow and meticulous process which can quickly drive up the cost of a project.