How to choose the right roofer?

The roof on our house is about 11 years old. The shingles are some really cheap and thin 3 tabbed shingles that the original contractor put on the house in 1996 when it was built. We bought the house in 2002 and I have recently started to notice some small leaks in the attic when it rains. Right now the leaks are not such a problem, but I’m sure they won’t get any better so I figured it’s time to replace our roofing shingles. I spoke with a few friends that have had roofing shingles installed, and I was very surprised to hear that many people recommended the same company, and these recommendations came independent of one another. Another good sign is that they recommended a local company owned by an older gentleman. The owner of the company came out to our house and provided a price quote for 30 year, 50 year, and lifetime shingles. The prices were not cheap, by any means, but I don’t mind paying for a quality job. What I do mind is paying good money for poor workmanship. What questions should I be asking this roofer to make sure that I get a quality product? I asked him if he uses staples to secure the shingles or nails. He said nails. I asked if he uses a nail gun or an old fashioned hammer. He said a hammer. He uses Certainteed brand products and at least 25 percent of his workforce are master shingle applicators, whatever that really means. I’m planning to ask him if he will be on the jobsite supervising. Are the Certainteed brand of products good quality and do they have a good reputation? What weight rating underlayment should I ask for? Thank you in advance for any information you can provide. Thank you for your time and courtesy.

In mymind, IF you have many other recommendations, all independent of each other, what do you have to worry about?

Whether or not he is on-site should not matter if he has qualified skilled, professionals working for him. Remember, the best roofing is not built by the cheapest roofers. The really skilled guys are in high demand, and do not work cheap.

To be a professional, efficient company, the owner is almost never able to do it all himself. Make sure he is a reputable guy, properly licensed and insured (MANY WILL LEAVE THIS OUT IN ORDER TO LOWER SELLING PRICE), has a proven trrack record, and stands behind his work. The only way to know for sure if he stands behind his work is to ask som eone that has had a defect, and had it remedied per the written warranty.

I hope this helps.

Yep. Aaron nailed it. One extra measure of protection is to hire an independent consultant ( like myself :wink: ) to represent you and ensure a quality installation. If it worries you that much, and you are willing to spend the money. Companies like mine are usually hired for large estate projects, HOA, commercial and institutional projects. Almost never in private residential market.

I get calls to consult on residential roofs, in fact here are a couple photos:

Hehehehe! So they happen to be big residential roofs! :stuck_out_tongue:

certainteed shingles are the #2 selling brand in the world behind GAF and are ranked #1 by consumer reports. the underlayments shouldnt matter that much. just make sure you get felt paper or a synthetic barrier and ice & water barrier (depending if you live in a cold climate)


I have a crew doing shingles
One crew doing seamless gutter
One crew doing low-slope
One crew doing repairs
One crew doing slate, tile, copper, metal

Nope, I will not be on the job supervising.

I have been in business 26 years. If you are not satisfied. We will make you satisfied.

as long as we are bragging. in progress residential

Give us a few particulars about your situation:

What state are you located in?
What’s the size, pitch & is it multiple stories? Did you get 3 bids & is the one you seem to like most ‘right in the middle’ on price?

Do you have any specialized issues to worry about, i.e. chimneys, dead valleys, transitions from the house to a lower patio?

What is the ‘oldest’ referenceyou could use? All of this might help.

Hi RanchHandRoofing,

Why should he pick the price in the middle?

I maybe the low price and best value.
I maybe the middle price and the best value.
I maybe the highest price and the best value.

During the year, I will fit in all of those catororys. I would be the best choice for your roof. No matter what my price was.


I often make this suggestion to my friends & family when it comes to anything, be it auto repair or painting… anything that is ‘quoted’ as close to a final price.

If all things are 100% equal in product then there more than likely is something about process to make a difference in price. Obviously there are differences that can’t be explained & one person out of those “three” will possibly make a better impression than the other two. There are too many esoteric & subtle differences & sometimes, it’s merely how well one customer fits with one person providing an offer.

& Of course this is somewhat dependant on price being ‘close’. If you get a bid on a 35 square house & the price difference swings $ 1K from high to low out of 3 quotes, then something is off somewhere - again, product being similar - & that’s the hard part, where a customer might not be well educated as to what makes a short cutted roof vs. a good roof vs. a great roof. & When you try to educate them, some people just won’t understand or they aren’t really the type that do well with the finer details (or don’t care).

& That’s my .02 cents.

…and don’t forget that insurances (or lack thereof) can make a big difference between a legit company paying insurances, all taxes and labor burdens. Workers comp, PROPERLY CLASSIFIED, and PROPERLY CLASSIFIED Libility Insurance in an amount high enough to cover the replacemnt cost of your home in case of catastrophic loss can be the difference in price. MANY MANY MANY “contractors” (and I use this term loosely) will pull any number of well-known scams with insurance, work comp, pay structure (resulting in tax fraud), etc. to lower selling price.

If everybody cared enough to make sure their customers were covered, prices would be more in line, and the difference in cost would truly be the skilled worker.

Unfortunately. most “contractors” are out for one thing…the quick buck, and do not care what they leave in their wake.

it is important to get a roofer that has roofed in your town for many years.
sounds like your in good hands.


Hi RanchHandRoofing,

If all things are equal. You should take the lowest price. So you are costing your friends and family with some bad advice.

You are saying the highest price is a thief. The middle guy is honest. the lowest guy is a hack.

Bad advice.

You are putting words into my mouth.

There are a lot of things that the intarwebs just can’t communicate adequately, so I won’t go any further on this subject than this final post:

If you’re in a situation where you are an uneducated consumer, whether it’s roofing, High Def televisions or running shoes, then who do you trust to give you the right information & not sell you a TV that will do OK but in reality isn’t the best purchase?

Anyone here ever try to steer someone towards GAF because they had a buck per square rebate & the rebate information wasn’t communicated or even paid out to the customer?? I’m not saying this is dishonest, because in many cases we don’t really want the consumer to know what our cost is for materiels, labor & overhead, & profit. Ever ask someone who owns a restaurant how much of a taco dinner they make in profit? Not unless they are a friend, that’s for sure.

My point in all this is to suggest that a person who is uneducated is relying on US in the trade to educate them (but not to the point of overload) & every customer is going to be different in how much they:


So if you were to get 3 quotes on something you are completely unaware about or had little to know knowledge of, how can you make a good decision?

I am not suggesting that any of the 3 price points are being provided by a hack or a thief; on the contrary, I have come across all kinds of work & price wasn’t a factor in how some of this work was performed.

But again, if you’re a customer who has no idea who to trust then it’s (in my opinion) a good idea to go with the price in the middle unless there is something about the low or high price that just hits you in the right spot & makes you want to pick them over the other two.

& Now that’s my .04 cents. :o

Thanks to everyone for the replies. I’m located in Rhode Island. This one roofer is the only roofer we’ve called so far, but his price quote is just about, or slightly above, what I’ve heard others paying for a similar roofing shingle on a similar home. The house is a two story 1900 square foot Gambrel, sometimes called a Cape Ann. Very simple roofline with no low pitches or flat roof areas. There are two dormers in the front and a larger single dormer in the back. No garage.

I asked the roofer again, and he says that his staff uses nail guns, not a hammer and nails. He said we won’t find anyone that uses a hammer and nails anymore. He does have roofer’s insurance, and seemed to emphasize that in our meetings. His company has been roofing for 30 years, and has been roofing in our area of RI for twenty years, according to his brochures. The roofer said the job would be started and completed in the same day.

The main reason I’m worried, even with the recommendations, is that many people will recommend someone for different reasons. If the roofer gets the job done quickly, that may impress people. We just want a good job done and don’t mind if it takes a while. So my criteria for judging a roofer might not be the same as someone elses. One recommendation came from a friend that had this roofer put a roof on her house a year ago. Another recommendation came from a retired friend that used to be a carpenter. He’s never paid anyone to put a roof on his house, but he heard from some of his friends that this roofer we called is pretty good. That was the recommendation that impressed me the most.

So are the nail guns really inferior to a hammer and nails? Do the nail guns shoot the same nails, with a large head, that are hammered by hand? How many nails per shingle are normally used?

Are the longer life shingles really worth the extra money? On our current roof, the shingles look almost like new, but we’ve got some small leaks and the roof needs to be replaced. Is it common for something else to go before the shingles? We were leaning towards the lifetime shingles. They were not much more than the 50 year shingles and they come with a guarantee from Certainteed that also covers workmanship for this roofer, I believe for twenty years. If the lifetime roof lasts 30 years with no leaks, we would be happy. Thank you again for your help and replies.

Hi Tube guy,

From what you have written and the referrals you have gotton you have a good roofing contractor.

Everything about him speaks "Professional from the office to the installation.

Roofing guns are common practice. Nothing to worry about. There are people that hand nail. We do some.

If you really are not sure about the roofer, ask him to tell you where he is doing work, and go see his team in action. A professional team works like clockwork. They know what they are doing, each member of the team has a job, and they don’t need someone yelling at them to do it right. The difference between the really good ones, and the wannabees, is that the good ones know how to handle all the details, while the not-so-good, either improvise, or coverup and hide. We’ve gotten jobs just because people saw us work, watched us for a while, then called up the number on the truck to get an appointment.

My advice has always been, find the best roofer you can afford, and let him explain to you what he thinks should be on your roof. If you are not sure of his explanation, ask to see homes similar to yours that he has done and have him explain what issues he found and how his team handled them. As for the tools his team uses (nail gun or hand hammer), it again depends on their skill. Either method will give you a good result if done correctly.

I’d definitely consider the advice that Lefty and Aaron gave you already. They know their trade and they both have been around for a long time.

I agree with lefty on this one.

pick your roofer.
trust him/her.
dont ask him/her a million questions.
you should be just fine.


Ask him as many questions as you like until you are comfortable with him.