After the four walls of a given structure, the roof is sometimes referred to as the “fifth plane”—and just like the walls that hold it up, the roof is an all-important structure that can make or break a building’s performance. New Jersey’s changeable climate, which as we all know ranges from sweltering humid summer heat to bone-chilling cold in the winter months, often exacerbates trouble spots. If not properly maintained, even a minor roof problem can lead to costly repairs. Any New Jersey resident who experienced Superstorm Sandy can tell you, their roofs can be faced with unprecedented weather conditions.
The majority of residential roofs in New Jersey are either “flat” roofs or pitched roofs. “You're talking asphalt shingle in the 80 percent range, if not more. A lot of contractors are using asphalt now, because they're so reliable,” says Barry Scymanski, general manager of Alpine Roofing in Sparta.
Historic areas can cause restrictions on what roof contractors have to build, for the sake of a block or neighborhood's architectural continuity. “Sometimes you get a condo being built, sometimes they're being built in a historical district, you're not going to see the asphalt shingle as much. You're going to go to a historical product like slate, or metal,” says Scymanski.
There can be a lot of variation in life span and performance of flat roofs, depending on the quality of the original construction. Same goes for repairs. “When searching for a roofing company, it is really an apples-to-apples comparison,” says Dennis Cohen, vice president of National Roofing Corporation in Long Island City. Cohen’s company does work in Englewood. “Boards and managers have to do their homework and call references.”
Industry experts agree that the majority of problems with flat roofs usually occur around the drains, pitch boxes, flashing and electrical piping. “Anything that can penetrate the membrane of the roof has to be watched and inspected,” says Cohen.