After 40 years dealing with roofs on a daily basis, I still find all the considerations and choices confusing at times. For the average homeowner (who deals with roofing only a few times in their lives) it must be very challenging!

I never want to tell anyone how to spend their money. You the homeowner are the one that will be looking at your roof every day for many, many years. How important is economy…looks…long term reliability? All these considerations and more affect the choice of roofing materials. And everyone’s situation and preferences differ.

Decades of roof installations have given me some insights to share…


–Some manufacturers emphasize quality more than others. As a result, we repeatedly recommend 2 shingle brands…Certainteed, and Malarkey. Both these companies have impressed us with the quality of material coming out of their shingle wrappers and onto our roofs. When it’s time to select actual styles and colours, here’s some helpful info from our two favourite material suppliers…

–Premium shingles haven’t been around long enough to say conclusively how good a value they represent for the $ spent. One interesting “theory” is that the granules on the surface of the shingle are critical for the performance of the product…so the limiting thing could be simply how long granules remain on top of your roofing…no matter how thick the shingle material is underneath it. Hmmm, food for thought. We should know for sure in another 20-30 years! In the meantime, the best estimates from the folks that manufacture roofing suggest that the average asphalt shingle roof will last about 19 years. This seems to be a result of the basic chemistry/physics of roofing asphalt…which gradually degrades due to the heat/sun/temperature swings in the real world.

Around 1990, the Malarkey Company began marketing a rubberized asphalt shingle in the BC market. I installed this shingle on many roofs during the following decades, and can now go back and see how they are holding up. Turns out, these shingles look amazingly good for, in some cases, 25 years or older roofing! The best informed estimates are that this class of shingle will provide close to 35 years of service…compared to the “19 years” average lifespan previously mentioned for shingles composed of standard asphalt. If best value for your $ is your goal…have a look at this class of shingles. It basically targets “quality of asphalt” in the shingle, rather than “quantity of asphalt” like the heavier weight premium shingles have traditionally done. Here’s a bit of propaganda about this…again from our “favourite” manufacturer…

Another consideration in all this is whether anyone wants to keep the same shingle look “forever”…after 20 or 30 years will we just change the shingles for “a change”. That’s sometimes the reason we paint and wallpaper for example.

On the other hand, the extra thick shingles like the Certainteed Landmark TL create a dramatically textured effect that a cheaper shingle never could. As always…it’s you the homeowner that has to decide how to spend your hardearned cash.


–Waiting for the roof to leak before replacement…can be a very expensive “money saving” strategy. Water soaked drywall replacement seems to start around $1000 not to mention the mess involved in the repair process. Most of the asphalt shingle roofs installed from 1999 and earlier were the organic based material that seems to be lasting roughly 15 to 20 years. Try to have the roof looked at if it is getting to the end of this “life expectancy”.


This is kind of a fun topic for someone who’s been in the business for 4 decades. I’ve seen such a variety of people and companies that all tried to look like the “good guys”. At any given time, there are hundreds and hundreds of contractors in our area of the world, and honestly there are many good ones…and also some bad! Some contractors really don’t know their trade, others are capable but not as honest and reliable as they should be…how do you avoid those guys?

*Strategy #1–Go with the BIG COMPANY
I worked as a subcontractor for 25 years at Sears Roofing…the biggest residential re-roofing company in Greater Vancouver during those years. Homeowners paid hundreds even thousands more for a “Sears” guaranteed roof. A few years ago, with no warning, Sears Roofing went out of business. Today, Sears Roofing customers are left without the warranty protection for which they paid dearly.

So many roofing companies have come and gone over the years…many very small operations, but also some large and highly visible ones. Companies with fleets of trucks decked out with company logos, lots of advertising in the media of the day…(huge yellow pages ads, radio and TV spots, newspaper ads, flyers in the mail, and more…) Neither you nor I could have guessed which contractors would be in business a few years later.

Choosing a BIG roofing company does not protect you from making the wrong choice.

*Strategy #2–Go with the better CREDENTIALS
Whether it’s references, referrals from satisfied friends and neighbours, or certifications of various kinds…the better tradesmen will stand out from the bad ones when it comes to their credentials. And in more recent years, some of those certifications that demonstrate our competence, also allow us to provide warranties for the completed projects that are at least as valuable as the big company guarantees.

For example, as a Select Shinglemaster contractor with the Certainteed Roofing Company, Thomson Roofing Service can provide a 50 year non-prorated shingle warranty…the 4 Star Surestart Plus (covering necessary materials, labor, tear-off and disposal) and the 50 year non-prorated shingle and workmanship 5 Star Surestart Plus (covering the above, plus 25 years of workmanship warranty). These warranties are directly between you the homeowner and Certainteed Roofing Corporation…a much larger and older company than any roofing contractor you would ever find.

Nothing is 100% for sure in life, but this should give you as much confidence in your choice of roofer as anything.

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