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Maintenance Roofing Tips

Ten Tips to Maintain Your Roof

When was the last time you took a good look at your roof? Unlike the windows and doors, porches and decks, the appearance of the roof is often left to chance. However, a roof is what keeps the people inside warm and dry, and without proper care, that overlooked roof can be the cause of major damage and disruption. Keep your roof in tip-top shape with regular preventive roof maintenance and it will reward you with decades of protection. 

At Pacific West Roofing we have been inspecting, repairing, installing, and maintaining roofs since 1980. Along the way we’ve learned what small steps can be done to maintain your roof and prevent big problems. Whether your roof is shingled or metal, shake or tile, residential or commercial, we’ve compiled a checklist to help you ensure you’re doing all you can to give your roof a long life. 

A Checklist: 10 Tips For Preventative Roof Maintenance

  1. Trim branches:

We all love trees, but trees that are too close to a house can cause damage to the roof. Branches that extend over a roof can scratch the roof each time the wind blows lifting, breaking, or even removing shingles. They also become a direct source of debris that can clog gutters. Trees are beautiful, but put some space between them and your home.  If you have trees with overhanging branches, have them trimmed and be on the lookout for newly sprouted branches each year. 

Moss Removal

  1. Remove moss:

Moss makes a regular appearance in our damp Pacific Northwest climate. It looks great in a forest, but not so nice on a roof. Moss doesn’t just sit on top of the roof it grows between shingles where it can eventually lift the shingles away from the roof. That allows water to seep inside and rot the wood. A good preventative is to sprinkle zinc sulfate granules across the roof each year to inhibit moss growth. But if you do look up and see a carpet of green, call in experts to clean your roof and remove the moss. 

  1. Clean off debris:

Regular roof cleaning can go a long way in extending the life of your roof. Leaves and fir cones in the fall, layers of pollen in the spring, and twigs and branches after any storm can all end up on your roof. A leaf blower or a broom might do the trick for do-it-yourselfers, but sometimes a bit more scrubbing may be involved and professionals should be consulted. 

  1. Clear the gutters:

Clearing gutters is a chore homeowners may choose as a do-it-yourself project and it’s an important part of roof maintenance. Gutters that become blocked by leaves and other debris don’t allow rainwater or ice melt to run properly from your roof. The blockage will begin to decompose and eventually rot leaving a prime location for mold to grow and thrive. Not only will growing mold turn your gutters and likely a bit of your home’s exterior black, mold can cause health issues if it seeps its way inside. Another risk of not doing regular gutter clearing is that the rainwater will overflow and can soak through your shingles causing damage to them and increasing the chance of leaks. If you like hauling out the ladders and examining what’s hiding in the gutters, it is a job you can carefully do, but you can always leave it to the experts. 

  1. Prevent ice dams: 

If your roof isn’t properly ventilated and insulated you run the risk of ice dams forming after a heavy snowfall. If warm air is escaping the attic it will melt the snow. As the snow melt moves to colder parts of the roof, like towards your gutters, it refreezes forming ice dams that prevent melting snow from draining off the roof. If an ice dam forms in the gutter it will weigh down the gutter eventually causing it to break away from the roof. A water backup behind the ice dam can become a leak into your attic. Ice dams can be visible from the ground so take a walk around after heavy snow and check your roof for signs of frozen ridges. If you see any, call a professional to get rid of the dam and inspect your attic ventilation and insulation. 

  1. Inspect for attic leaks:

Take a walk through your attic and look for signs of leaks like staining, mold, and mildew on the plywood roof deck or rotting wood. Any of these are a sign there is a roof leak that needs to be addressed. 

  1. Ensure ventilation is working:

Ventilation in an attic provides a place for the warm, moist air that forms in your house and rises to the highest point, to escape through an exhaust vent or fan.  Without proper ventilation, that heat and moisture have nowhere to go and begin to encourage the growth of mold and mildew. Attic ventilation should be part of a regular roof maintenance plan to ensure vents are working correctly and not damaged. 


  1. Check insulation:

Roof insulation helps prevent both heat loss and heat gain within the attic and really within your entire home. Whether glass wool sheets or blown-in loose fill, insulation is an essential part of a roof installation as it can significantly decrease the energy demands of a home’s HVAC system. If your energy bills seem to be rising, if you spot patches of melted snow on your roof after a snowfall, or if you inspect your attic and find insulation missing, damaged, or starting to fall, it’s likely time to have some insulation repaired or added. 

  1. Inspect shingles:

Shingles, no matter what type you have, are what protect your roof from weather. A regular part of roof maintenance should be to look at your shingles from the ground. The easiest problem to spot is missing shingles or ones that have become loose. A closer look from the roof will be needed to identify lifting or damaged shingles, damaged flashing, missing fasteners, or piles of granules that have come off of the shingles. 


  1. Check flashing:

Along the edges of your roof and any roof additions like chimneys, vents, or skylights, there are thin strips of metal called flashing. Flashing diverts water away from those edges where shingles can’t quite cover the space. Overtime flashing can rust, crack, lift, or separate leaving areas for water to seep through the roof. A visual inspection of the flashing will show if the flashing needs to be replaced to block out the water. Either way, regular inspection and maintenance of sealant is an essential component to extending the life of your roof. 

There are several ways that homeowners can inspect and maintain their roofs, but we recommend at least an annual if not seasonal roof inspection be conducted by a professional whose trained eye can spot even the smallest of problems that left untreated could damage your roof. Plus roofing contractors follow strict safety protocols and have lots of experience climbing ladders, setting up fall protection, and walking on roofs. Why risk a fall, when you don’t have to? 

If you have any questions about roofing repair, damaged shingles, roofing home improvements, or your roof system in general, please contact Pacific West Roofing. We’re happy to guide you through the best solutions for you and your home.

Homeowners Residential - Shingles Residential Roof Repair

Beat Back the Weather with SBS Modified Asphalt Shingles

It’s been a heck of a winter so far with tropical force winds, atmospheric rivers, ice storms, and record-breaking cold. All of this may have taken a toll on our good moods, but it also may have caused some serious damage to your roof. If your roof is showing signs of losing the battle to Jack Frost, it might be time to consider having a new roof installed.

We humbly suggest contacting Pacific West Roofing for your roof installation. There are several roof options to choose from and your decision should be made based on how durable, wind and impact resistant, eco-friendly, and cost-effective you need your roof to be, and, of course, what you want it to look like. Over the next few months, we’re devoting our blog to examining the different types of roof materials that are available. 

What are Rubberized Asphalt Shingles

Because the rough weather has been at the forefront of our minds lately, we’ll start with SBS modified asphalt shingles. Pacific West Roofing is a Malarkey Roofing  Shamrock certified roofing company, so we will discuss their product here. And we may be biased, but since Malarkey invented SBS modified asphalt shingles in Florida as a solution to damages hurricanes caused to roofs, we think their product is the best. We’re not alone as State Farm Insurance now requires Malarkey shingles on new homes in not just hurricane-prone areas, but also in tornado alley. 

There’s good reason to consider SBS modified asphalt shingles. They are extremely durable and wind and impact resistant, but they are also eco-friendly, made from upcycled rubber and plastics. That means using these shingles helps keep waste out of landfills. In addition, the shingles are coated with smog-reducing granules that actually help clean the air or emission pollutants. Each roof we install keeps about 5 tires from going to the landfill and the granules provide the emission fighting ability of about two large maple trees. 

Technically speaking, high-grade asphalt is combined with virgin rubber polymers, and recycled rubber and plastic polymers, to form Malarkey’s proprietary  NEX® Polymer Modified (Rubberized) Asphalt technology that chemically rubberizes the asphalt core of the shingle. The result is a shingle that has more adhesive bonds than standard shingles reducing the risk of shingle delamination, and doubling the rain seals to provide extra protection from wind-blown rain. In fact, rubberized asphalt shingles offer 35% greater tear resistance and 65% greater granule adhesion than industry standards require. 

The harsh rays from our summer sun can cause regular asphalt shingles to peel and curl, while rain increases the moisture content that can spark mold and algae growth. Asphalt shingles are simply more susceptible to damage from the weather. Plus rubberized asphalt shingles require minimal maintenance. Asphalt shingles can be prone to cracking and will need more regular attention. The end result is that rubberized asphalt shingles will save money in roof maintenance costs and longevity. 

Types of Rubberized Asphalt Shingles

Rubberized asphalt shingles are made to last even withstanding year after year of the sometimes punishing weather of the Pacific Northwest, but even within this shingle category, there are still choices to be made. Three types of rubberized asphalt shingles are available: 3-tab, architectural, and designer. The most popular option is architectural shingles which have a dual-layer construction giving them added weight and strength to better withstand harsh environments. The dual layer also gives the roof added dimension improving how it looks from the ground. 

Designer shingles have a similar dual-layer construction but these are formed in a cedar shake pattern making them larger and even heavier and stronger than architectural shingles. And, as the name implies, they give the roof a nice designer look. Of course, the price is higher for the designer shingles, but the added protection may well be worth the added cost if you live in some of our higher elevations. 

As with any roofing product, how it looks and lasts will only be as good as the company that installs it. Finding a roofing contractor that is licensed, bonded, insured, and has a highly trained and skilled team is key as is their use of the best quality products. There are some home projects a handyman or do-it-yourselfer can tackle, but your roof is not one of them. Call a professional like Pacific West Roofing, for all of your roofing needs. 

Residential - Leaking Roofing Tips

Ice is Not Nice: Preventing Ice Dams and Icicles

You may have noticed that it is no longer possible to predict what the weather in the Pacific Northwest will be season to season. It used to be that ice dams on roofs were a rarity in the Willamette Valley, but now they may be something to worry about and certainly something to prevent. Pacific West Roofing has been around long enough to have seen our share of ice dams and we can work with you to prevent or repair damage from ice dams.  

What Causes an Ice Dam

An ice dam occurs when the upper areas of a frozen roof start to thaw while the lower areas are still frozen. Thawing occurs when heat collects in the attic warming the roof but not the eaves. Asphalt shingles are particularly susceptible to ice dams. The melting ice and snow flow down and refreeze along the eaves, as well as in the gutters, creating an ice dam. As that meltwater reaches the dam it pools leaving it likely to start leaking into your home through cracks and joints in the roofing materials. Even without the presence of an ice dam, the expansion and contraction of roofing materials as temperatures fluctuate can worsen any existing roof leaks or cause new leaks.

Another problem with melting and freezing water on roofs is icicles. Sure the look of icicles cascading from a roof makes for dramatic photos, but the extra weight they add to gutters and the roof can be damaging. Not to mention falling icicles can injure people and pets. The main reason icicles form is that water is not being directed through gutters and downspouts, most often because the gutters are clogged with leaves, needles, or other debris. Instead of running through the downspout, the water floods over the edges of the gutter and freezes. 

Any roof leak can cause damage ranging from a build-up of mold and mildew to rotting supports. 

How to Prevent Ice Dams

A simple way to prevent ice dams and icicles is to ensure your gutters are clear of debris. This prevents water from building up and freezing and also helps when spring thaw occurs and inevitably the rain returns. But it’s not just debris that’s the culprit. In the winter, snow and ice can build up in gutters and impede the flow of water. If you’re not comfortable on a ladder or on your roof, Pacific West Roofing is happy to come to your home to ensure the gutters are properly cleared and maintained

Keeping gutters free from ice and snow is easier if snow on the roof is kept to a minimum. Removing heavy snow loads from the roof reduces the chance of ice dams and roof collapse. 

Aside from gutter cleaning, the best way to minimize the risk of ice dams is to ensure your home has adequate insulation and a proper attic ventilation system. Your home should have enough insulation to prevent heat transfer from inside the home to the roof, and also have venting that keeps attic air cold enough to minimize freeze and thaw cycles. Air should flow under the eaves or soffit along the underside of the roof and out through the vents. In addition, any air leaks that might warm the underside of the roof should be sealed. Together, these systems slow or stop snow and ice from melting on your roof. 

If you live in an area where the chance of ice dams is greater, like in some of our higher elevations that are colder and get more snow and ice, there are options like modified rubber underlayments such as Ice and Watershield that can help. The downside is these shielding membranes need the heat of the sun to properly adhere to the roof deck, so they must be installed well before or after winter freezing. 

While it may be tempting to tackle snow and ice on the roof yourself with a shovel, hammer, or chisel, using these tools can damage roof shingles or even the roof structure itself. And salt might be another option but we all know the hazards salt poses to the environment and no one wants to kill off their shrubs and trees with salty runoff. Why not stay inside where it’s warm and dry and let the experts at Pacific West Roofing take care of your winter woes? Better yet, call us well before the first snow falls to inspect your roof and make sure it’s ready for another season of frozen precipitation. 

Homeowners Residential - Leaking Roofing Tips

Find and Fix Roof Leaks for a Drier Winter

It may have taken some time to arrive this year, but we are now officially in the Pacific Northwest rainy season. We appreciate the rain falling outside since it returns our natural world to green and healthy. What we don’t appreciate is that same rain falling inside! If the rainy season has introduced leaks into your home or business, it’s time to call in the professionals at Pacific West Roofing to repair those roof leaks

Roof Leak Risks

No matter how small a leak is, allowing moisture into your home where it should not be can lead to mold and mildew buildup that can penetrate your home’s structure and even get into the HVAC system. Once the mold spores enter an HVAC system they can be distributed throughout a home through the air vents potentially leading to health problems — especially for those with allergies or asthma. 

While movies and television often poke fun at roof leaks with homeowners scrambling to put buckets and pots and pans under persistent leaks, having water dripping from a ceiling is no laughing matter. A small leak can cause a puddle to form over time making the area slippery to walk on. A large leak can damage furniture, carpets, appliances, and really anything the water hits. 

A roof leak can allow water to reach the rafters, ceiling joists, and even wall frames of a home leading to wood rot and decay. That water can deteriorate and weaken the framing posing a danger of collapse at worst, but also leading to an expensive repair at the least.  

Signs of a Roof Leak

The key to avoiding major damage from roof leaks is to catch the leaks before they have time to grow too big. Ideally, professional roofing contractors should be hired to conduct a complete roof inspection annually, but there are also signs of roof leaks that homeowners can look for. 

#1 Brown discoloration in the attic or on ceilings could be a sign of a roof leak. Because rainwater travels along lumber and roof panels before it hits your ceiling, the site of the discoloration may not be exactly where the roof leak is. 

#2 After heavy rain, you may notice water spots on exterior walls. The flashing where the roof meets the wall may be in need of repair and more than likely, the home’s siding will also be impacted. 

#3 Skylights are notorious for sprouting roof leaks. Look for water stains at the header of the skylight or the side toward the peak of your roof. Those stains can be from faulty flashing that allows rainwater to seep in between the window frame and roof structure. 

#4 Mold and mildew buildup around heating and air vents. If a roof leak has been persistently allowing water to seep into an attic, mold and mildew may have built up and penetrated a home’s HVAC system. 

#5 Unexplained puddles or drips from the ceiling are no-brainer signs that there is a leak somewhere in your home. Depending on where the water is found, the problem may or may not be from a roof leak, but the problem is certainly worth another look!

What Causes A Roof Leak

There are several causes of roof leaks, some that can be easily addressed and others that may require more challenging repairs. 

Skylight Leaks

  • Rain that seeps through the flashing around a vent can work its way through a roofing system and ‘escape’ through a skylight. Leaks surrounding roof penetrations such as skylights, vents, or chimneys, can be explained by poor installation of flashing or faulty/deteriorated materials.
  • Moisture around the bottom of a skylight glass could be caused by condensation. Condensation is caused when warm air hits the cold glass. Because of this, skylights are made with condensation channels around the edges to capture and drain water, but the weepholes that drain the water can become clogged and overflow the channels. 

Roof Leaks from Trees and Branches

  • Trees can be a big culprit to roof damage. Branches that are too close to a roof can scrape away shingles, damage gutters, and even damage framing. 
  • Those twigs, leaves, pinecones, and other assorted tree parts can cover a roof and clog gutters allowing for water to build up and seep into the roof structure. 
  • An easy way to prevent these roof leaks is to take the time to trim branches and clear the debris each season. 

Roof Leaks from Pest Damage

  • Pests can also cause roof leaks. There are birds that like to peck at shingles making holes that destroy the shingles. Birds sometimes choose to nest in gutters causing rain to back up in gutters and overflow to areas where it shouldn’t be. 
  • Wasps and bees also like to nest on roofs, often in the corners.. These pests can work their way behind shingles and flashing which disrupts the materials from laying as they should causing damage.
  • Finally, rodents can cause roof leaks because they like to chew and those teeth can work their way through roof vents, shingles, and right through to the wooden framing. All of the activity from pests can lead to cracks, holes, and structural damage that weakens the roof and increases the likelihood of leaks. 

Inadequate insulation

  • Inadequate insulation in the attic can also cause a roof to leak. If insulation is lacking, the heat from a home penetrates the roof causing built-up snow and ice to melt leading to a build-up of moisture and water. 
  • The same can happen if a roof is not properly ventilated. Over time this excess moisture can weaken the roof structure leading to roof leaks. 

Inspecting a Roof for Leaks

There are lots of places on a roof that can spring leaks, especially if the roof was not properly installed or if it’s showing signs of age. Over time flashing may become cracked or warped, shingles may go missing or be damaged, or years of wear and tear may finally be taking a toll. While homeowners can do a visual inspection from the ground for missing shingles, identifying damage or signs of a pest invasion is best done by a close-up look at the roof. 

We recommend regular roof inspections. Pacific West Roofing’s expert roof inspectors will walk every inch of your roof, closely examining all potential entryways for water from the areas around chimneys and vents to skylights to shingles that just don’t look right. Once they are done they will provide you with a checklist of their findings and discuss your options as well as roof maintenance tips like keeping gutters and the roof clear and clean. We understand the need to replace a roof is something no one wants to hear so we’ll offer cost-effective repair alternatives to replacement if we can, but also assure you a quality replacement that will last for decades if you need it. Contact us to see how we can help. 


The Ins and Outs of Roof Exhaust Vents

Winter rains have arrived and the summer’s warm, dry air has been soundly replaced by cold moisture. This can prevent a problem in your home if your roof isn’t properly ventilated. When you turn on the heat in your house in the winter that now warmed, moist air accumulates at the highest point in your home, and without an escape route through a roof exhaust vent or attic exhaust fan, that trapped air encourages mold and mildew growth and creates a stale odor. 

To avoid these problems, it pays to ensure your roof exhaust vent is properly installed and maintained. 

Types of Roof Exhaust Vents

There are different types of roof exhaust vents:

  • A box vent is a hole that is cut through the roof that has a box cover over the opening. Box vents are positioned near the roof peak for maximum exhaust ventilation. 
  • The ridge vent is a continuous strip of plastic material covering a strip of removed roof deck about one inch on both sides that allows continuous airflow due to convection. There must be an equal intake to output ratio in order for air to convect upwards and out of the building. 
  • A stem vent is used to connect your bathroom, kitchen, or dryer fans to allow the moisture to escape properly and reduce moisture in the attic and in your home

All of these roof exhaust vents are non-powered or passive, working in tandem with soffit vents that sit at the lowest point of the roof to draw in outside air. The two types of vents together circulate the air keeping the heat and moisture to a minimum and your attic properly ventilated.

Power Fan Exhaust

In addition to roof exhaust vents, there are also attic exhaust fans. They work under the principle that hot air rises, but here instead of the hot air simply escaping through vents, it triggers an electric-powered fan to switch on to push the hot air outside. This creates a powerful suction drawing up the warm air and blowing it out through the roof. Removing heat in the attic stops the heat from radiating down into the house which then keeps the air conditioning unit from turning on, making it more efficient. While a very efficient solution for keeping a house comfortable, the fans are installed below the roof and can be quite heavy, so they cannot be installed on every type of roof. 

Attic roof vents are similar to bathroom and kitchen roof vents in that they all suck “bad” air up and out of the house. However, bathroom and kitchen exhaust vents are smaller and powered by exhaust fans that you turn on when needed. Kitchen and bathroom vents can also be directed to release air through the home’s siding, not just the roof. Those metal protrusions you see on the sides or tops of houses are usually exhaust vents that have a type of protective covering to keep moisture and pests from getting inside.

Inspecting Roof Exhaust Vents

Having roof vents is a critical part of keeping your roof in good shape and your home comfortable, but having them is just part of the solution. Regular inspections and maintenance of roof exhaust vents, and ensuring they were installed correctly, are also part of the effort. 

Contrary to popular belief, warm weather doesn’t produce moisture on nail heads, but cool weather outside and warm attics will. This is because the cold transfers through the steel nail, putting a cold rod into a warmer attic, creating a dew point where the warmer air carrying moisture meets the cold steel and condensation begins. This is the same as when you put a glass of ice water on the counter and it collects dew on the outside of the glass. The moisture in the room gravitates to the colder surface. This is exactly the same process on the nail in the attic.

The best way to ensure proper roof exhaust venting is to hire a professional roof contractor to conduct an inspection. Pacific West Roofing offers roof exhaust vent service starting with having our expert inspectors assess your roof, attic, and vents for signs of damage or blockage. Then repairs and replacements can be made to ensure your roof is sound and sufficiently ventilated. Hiring the best and most experienced  professionals to install your roof exhaust vents in the first place can go a long way in keeping your roof, your home, and the very air you breathe inside your home in tip-top shape. Contact Pacific West Roofing to find out how we can serve your roofing needs. 

General Homeowners Replacement - Residential Roofing Tips

How to Find a Residential Roofing Contractor

No one wants to hear the news that their home’s roof needs repairs or worse, replacing. But a roof will not last forever and keeping it in top shape is essential to your family’s comfort and safety. If you find yourself in need of roof repairs there are strategies for finding and hiring the best residential roof contractors to get the job done right. 

Word of mouth is a good place to start. Friends, family members, co-workers, and neighbors may have had great experiences with local residential roof contractors and be more than willing to share contact information. Get as many details as you can on timeliness, cost, courtesy, and results. Be aware, however, that all roofs are not the same, so if your sister hired a residential metal roofing contractor, but you have a PVC flat roof, you may not see the same results. Further research will be needed to gauge the options among residential roofing companies. 

Research Residential Roofing Contractors Online

Even with a solid recommendation, doing online research on any residential roofer before you call them, can help you find the best person to do the work required whether your roof is metal or shingle, flat or pitched. 

Do you ever purchase anything online these days without first checking the reviews? Reviews are just as important when looking for roofing services. Read the comments to look for clues as to how easy the roofing company was to communicate with, how fair the pricing was, and what was the end result. 

Do a full investigation of the residential roofing contractor’s website. First check whether they are licensed, bonded, and insured. Most roofing companies will highlight that information on their website, often with the license number listed. If this information is not available from the website, you can also check the Oregon Construction Contractors Board (ORCCB) site which tracks licenses and complaints and shares information on how you can verify the validity of a contractor’s license. Let’s face it, you can’t be too careful these days when fraud seems to be everywhere. 

If your research shows the residential roofing contractor is properly licensed, next check how many years they’ve been in business and what professional associations they belong to. Pacific West Roofing carries memberships with the Western States Roofing Contractors Association (WSRCA) and the Associated Roofing Contractor Group (ARC) which allows us to easily access continuing education on safety, products, and practices which not only benefits our team but benefits our customers. 

Questions to Ask a Residential Roofing Contractor

Once you’ve exhausted the information found online, it’s time to contact a potential roofing contractor directly and ask some critical questions. 

Every roof is not the same, so make sure your residential roofing contractor is experienced working with whatever material you have or want. Ask what roofing products the roofing company is certified to install and what type of ongoing training installers and repairers have undergone with the product. If certified, the residential roofing contractor should be able to tell you all the details on the product’s performance, installation processes, and warranties. 

Make sure to ask about product warranties since residential roofing contractors who are certified for specific products are often able to offer the best warranties. For instance, Pacific West Roofing is a 5-star Certainteed SelectShingle Master which means we can offer the highest-rated warranty on this product for the roofs we install. This particular warranty also covers workmanship, which is another area to ask questions. Find out how long the product is guaranteed, but also if and how long the work is covered. 

Gathering Estimates from Roofing Contractors

You’ve asked the basic questions about residential roofing services offered, but what every homeowner wants to know is how much the roof repair or roof replacement will cost. How to get an estimate from a roofing contractor is not mysterious, but there are some fine points to consider. There are many steps and products that go into any roofing project and all of these items should be reflected in an estimate. A few specifics you should see on a bid are the types of ventilation and flashing that will be used, where they will be used, cost, and assurance the materials will be new. Look for all materials to be the same quality. Using high-end shingles with low-rated flashing is sure to eventually produce leaks. Every product used, and every activity the residential roofing contractor will undertake should be written into an estimate so there are no surprises. 

Doing your homework and research before you choose a residential roofing contractor is essential. But while the on-paper results can look perfect, there is always the variable of how well the people who will do the work will perform. While you can never know for sure if the workers pounding the nails are the best in the business, ask about their skills and training well before they are on your roof. The technicians and installers at Pacific West Roofing have undergone extensive training to ensure they are qualified to deliver the best workmanship. We’re always happy to talk to potential customers about our ongoing training requirements because we’re proud of the team we have and the beautiful work they do.  Contact us to see if Pacific West Roofing is an option for your residential roofing company needs.


The Importance of Attic Ventilation

If you’ve ever spent any time in your attic—even just to poke your head in to take a quick look—you have no doubt noticed the difference in temperature from the rest of your home. Depending on the time of year, your attic space will be either warmer or cooler, which is just as it should be. The air in your attic should also feel dry, and with properly balanced attic ventilation, it will be.

Why Balanced Attic Ventilation Matters

The ventilation system in your attic is meant to regulate the temperature and the humidity level (moisture) in your attic. And while temperatures may vary through the season, properly balanced ventilation will ensure both optimal temperature and humidity levels and will prevent condensation and mold.

The benefits of properly balanced attic ventilation:

  • Prevents excessive heat in your attic, which can lead to the plywood in your roof deck (the attic ceiling) delaminating and causing your roof shingles to degrade faster. An attic that is too warm in the winter may also cause faster snow melt and ice dams that can lead to leaks or gutter damage. 
  • Prevents excessive humidity and moisture that will create the perfect environment in your attic for mold, mildew, and rot, which can damage a roof and shorten its life span.
  • Keeps energy costs down by regulating the temperature in your attic. The constant flow provided by the intake and exhaust vents prevents your attic from ever becoming too hot. In the heat of summer, this means your air conditioner is not going to work as hard to keep your house cool.
  • Prevents thermal cycling, the hot and cold contractions that weaken roof material—shingles, sheeting, plywood—and cause them to degrade more quickly.

Attic Intake and Exhaust Vents

Proper attic ventilation includes both intake and exhaust vents, which work in concert to pull air into, through, and back out again, providing continual airflow. Intake vents should be located at the lowest point in your attic to allow cooler outside air to flow in. Conversely, exhaust vents should be positioned at the highest points so rising hot air and damp air can escape.

Depending on the size and configuration of your attic and roof, different types of attic vents are necessary. 

Intake Vents

  • Soffit Venting. The soffit is the part of your roof overhang that meets your siding and is the lowest point in your attic. Soffit vents come in two types—rectangular and continuous—and are intake vents that work to draw cooler fresh outside air into your attic.

  • Rectangular soffit vents are holes that have been cut into the blocking between the rafters of your roof. The holes are covered with a screen or vent cover, which allows air to flow through but prevents birds and insects from entering your attic, depending on the size of the vent or screen openings.
  • Continuous soffit vents run along the full length of your home’s closed soffit and incorporate a perforated material or wire screen that allows continual airflow into your attic at the lowest point. This type of venting can only be installed in closed soffits where the roof rafters are not visible.
  • Gable vents, which may be positioned on the exterior wall of an attic, allow air to flow in or out but generally do not help even airflow throughout the attic. 

Exhaust Vents

  • Roof Venting allows rising hot air and moisture to escape from your attic, preventing heat build-up and condensation, depending on the season. There are two primary types of residential roof vents: Box Vents and Ridge Vents.
  • Ridge vents are attic exhaust vents installed along the peak of your roof. As they are positioned at the highest point, ridge vents are extremely efficient at allowing hot or damp air to escape. Continuous ridge vents also help create a bit of a vacuum that enables the desired air circulation. This type of attic exhaust venting is visually appealing as it blends well into the roofline.
  • Box vents are another common attic exhaust vent positioned near the top of the roof to provide an outlet for warm air. These vents are comprised of a hole that has been cut into the roof and essentially a  box cover over the opening.

  • Turbine vents, although not as common on residential roofs, are another type of passive (non-powered) exhaust vent. Rising heat in the attic causes the turbine vents to rotate, creating a drawing effect that pulls air through the attic.

Attic Fans

A properly installed attic ventilation system with the optimum number of intake and exhaust vents results in a highly efficient passive system that does not require any electricity or power to run. Most homes are constructed with passive attic venting comprised of intake and exhaust vents.

Attic ventilation fans are sometimes installed to aid in air circulation and may help the energy efficiency of a home’s HVAC system. Attic fans are typically installed on the attic ceiling (to help circulate and draw warm air up) or gable (to help draw cooler air in or push warm air out). 

Attic Thermostats and Humidistats

Power attic fans will often have a dual thermostat and humidistat to measure the temperature and the humidity in the attic and automatically adjust the fan to maintain optimal levels. This automatic control can help improve the performance of the home’s heating and air conditioning system as well as mitigate condensation and delamination of plywood.

Attic Ventilation Installation and Maintenance

While the best time to install an attic ventilation system is at the time of a new roof installation or roof replacement, ventilation can be modified with additional venting later on if necessary. Old or damaged roof vents should be repaired or replaced to prevent leaks or other damage to the roof.

You can do a quick visual assessment simply by walking around the exterior of your home to determine the number and type of vents your home has, but this will not tell you if the ventilation is balanced or working as it should. Touching the ceiling of any room immediately below your attic can help determine if the attic is too hot (the ceiling should not feel warm).  You can also do a visual check for moisture and signs of mold or rot in your attic. But the best way to know if your attic is properly vented and that all vents are in good condition is to have your roof and attic inspected by a professional roofing contractor. 

The roofing and ventilation technicians at Pacific West Roofing are experienced with residential ventilation and what compromises a properly balanced system for optimal airflow. We can also identify damaged vents or even broken seals where new caulking is needed—the little details that are often overlooked can lead to costly repairs.

If it has been a while since you’ve inspected your attic, roof, or vents, don’t wait for another season to pass and risk developing leaks or other problems. Contact us today to schedule an inspection. We’ll give you an honest assessment and top recommendation to maintain the health of your roof, attic, and home.


Roof Maintenance Essentials

Roof maintenance is a lot like going to the doctor. A regular check-up will identify and prevent future problems and help ensure longevity. Unfortunately, a lot of homeowners view getting up on their roof a lot like a trip to their physician–they only do it when there’s a problem.

Why does roof maintenance matter?

All roofs, no matter the age, should be inspected annually and should receive regular cleaning and care. It won’t prevent you from ever having to replace your roof, but roof maintenance is your single best method for prolonging the life of your roof and avoiding costly repairs. As professional roofing contractors, we have seen first-hand the effects of a neglected roof: leaks, mold, rot, damaged roof sheeting (aka roof decking), and even structural damage. In some cases, the damage is severe enough to warrant a complete roof replacement

Regular inspections and maintenance are your best defense for extending the life of your roof and protecting your home or commercial building. So we’ve compiled the top professional roofing contractor tips for roof maintenance.

Roof Maintenance Checklist

  1. Annual Roof Inspection

A healthy roof relies on a regular check-up–an annual inspection to ensure everything is in tip-top shape, and if anything is amiss, identify potential problems before they become costly roof repairs. So what is included in a roof inspection? Roof inspections vary a little between residential roofs and commercial or flat roofs, but a roof inspection should include:

  • Structural inspection to assess the condition of the roof system overall and the main roofing components. Signs to look for that indicate trouble include:
    • Cracked, splintered, rotted, or broken rafters or trusses
    • Missing or damaged collar ties or rafter ties
    • Exterior walls that are tilting or leaning
    • Sagging ceilings


  • Materials inspection to assess the condition of the roofing materials (shingles, tiles, metal, etc.). The most common residential roofing material in the pacific northwest is asphalt composition. When inspecting roof shingles or tiles, look for these signs of damage:
    • Missing, lifted, or damaged shingles or tiles
    • Shingles with granular loss (asphalt composition shingles)

If you have a flat or low-sloped roof, your roof will likely have a different type of roofing material. You can learn more about flat roofing materials here, but the material will be a  type of membrane. Any signs of damage will likely be seam splits or membrane punctures.


  • Interior inspection to confirm if there are any signs of leaks and that the attic ventilation system is working properly. Signs to look for that indicate a leak or moisture problem include:
    • Water stains on ceilings or walls
    • The presence of mold on the attic plywood sheeting
    • A musty odor in the attic or rooms


  • Inspect all roof penetration points: vents, pipes, chimneys, and skylights to ensure there are no problems like
    • Broken seals or cracked grout
    • Damaged or improperly installed flashing
    • Cracked or damaged pipe boots


  • Look for signs of pests. Birds, raccoons, squirrels, and insects all find roofs to be ideal nesting sites, especially roofs that have not been well maintained. If left unchecked, pests can cause a lot of damage to a roof, leading to leaks and other costly problems.

For peace of mind and to ensure nothing is missed, we recommend hiring a professional roof inspector to perform your annual roof inspection. An inspector will know what to look for and can give you expert advice on any necessary repairs your roof needs.

  1. Timely Roof Repairs

Take care of any needed roof repairs that are found in your annual roof inspection. The best approach to keeping your roof in tip-top shape is to address damage and make roof repairs as quickly as possible before the damage leads to costlier problems or even premature roof replacement.

  1. Roof Cleaning and Debris Removal

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, as the saying goes. This is especially true when it comes to maintaining your roof.

  • Remove any debris from the roof, valleys, and gutters, and from around any roof penetrations
  • Remove moss and treat your roof to prevent future moss growth
  • Clean gutters and downspouts
  1. Trim Trees and Branches

Trimming branches that hang over your roof and gutters is an important part of protecting your roof and serves multiple purposes. Tree branches can be a problem during storms if they break and fall on your roof, but they can also drop smaller twigs, leaves, and other debris that can accumulate in your roof valleys and gutters. Debris accumulation not only traps moisture but it also provides a welcoming environment for pests and becomes a fire hazard.

Professional Roof Inspection and Roof Maintenance Services

We won’t deny that there is plenty you can do yourself when it comes to inspecting and maintaining your roof. But, with more than forty years as professional roofing contractors, we can tell you that most homeowners tend to let roof maintenance slide until it becomes a big problem requiring extensive roof repairs or replacement. We have even seen this with commercial roofs, which is why Pacific West Roofing specializes in residential and commercial roof inspection and maintenance.

Pacific West Roofing Cleaning & Maintenance Services:

  • Evaluation of roof condition, including roof sheeting
  • Complete roof cleaning
  • Debris removal from the roof, including roof valleys, behind chimneys, around vents and skylights, and from gutters
  • Moss removal
  • Moss treatment to prevent future moss
  • Evaluation of all roof penetrations, caulking, and flashing
  • Repair flashing as needed
  • Seal/re-seal all roof penetrations as needed
  • Repair nail pops and secure loose shingles as needed

If your roof is due for an inspection, or you already know your roof needs cleaning or repairs, contact us today. Our friendly and knowledgeable office staff can answer your roofing questions and schedule your roof inspection. We will also give you an honest assessment of the condition of your roof, what repairs may be needed, and how you may be able to extend the life of your roof. Come next winter’s storms, you’ll be glad you did!

Homeowners Roofing Tips

Best Types of Residential Roofing for the Pacific Northwest

Your roof is the single most important investment you will ever make to protect your home. So it stands to reason that you would want to use the best residential roofing materials you can get. But what makes one type of residential roofing material a better choice than another?

As any experienced residential roofing contractor will tell you, climate and weather are your first considerations. Roofing materials run the gambit when it comes to the different options available and, while many are top-rated for durability and lifespan, they are not equally suited to different climate conditions. With more than forty years of experience installing, repairing, and replacing residential roofs, we’ve come to understand what types of roofing materials perform best in the Pacific Northwest. We break them down for you here.

Asphalt Composition Roof

Asphalt composition shingles are found on 80% of homes in the US and are the most common residential roofing material used in both new roof construction and roof replacements. Their popularity stems from the fact that modern asphalt composition shingles are durable, holding up well in a wide range of weather conditions and climate extremes, with an average lifespan of 17-30 years depending on the grade of materials and if the roof was properly installed. Asphalt composition shingles also come in a variety of colors and styles and are often the most economical option, making this type of roof a popular choice for both new residential roof installation and residential roof replacement

Our Top Asphalt Composition Recommendation: Malarkey SBS Modified Asphalt Shingles. These shingles incorporate a relatively newer technology that rubberizes the shingle’s asphalt, resulting in a better hold on to their UV protective granule, creating less opportunity for the shingle to crack. When well maintained, the average lifespan is 22 to 35 years.

Metal Roof

One of the fastest-growing segments of residential roofing is metal residential roof replacement. And it’s no wonder. Metal roofs hold up extremely well to the elements and can last 35 or 45 years. Metal roofs are also available in a wide range of colors and profiles, can help you lower your energy costs, and are non-combustible with a Class A Fire Rating. Don’t be surprised that this roof system is about 3X more cost than a standard composition roof system. 

Our Top Metal Roof Recommendation: Standing Seam Metal Roof from Standard Taylor Metal These metal roofing products have a color coating system that is ENERGY STAR® listed and many are also certified by the Cool Roof Rating Council. The cool rating certification signifies that a metal roof will help lower a home’s solar heat load, equating to lower energy expenditures for cooling during the summer months. 

Cedar Shake Roof

Cedar shakes have been used in residential roofing for hundreds of years and are almost synonymous with the traditional Pacific Northwest roof. Although the cost of a cedar shake roof is much higher than other residential roofing materials, there are a number of benefits that make this one of our top choices for residential roofing here in Oregon. The natural Northwest aesthetic is very appealing and cedar shakes are more durable than traditional asphalt offering 5 to 10 more years of roof life when properly installed and maintained. The main deterrent to using cedar shake for most homeowners facing a roof replacement is the cost, as cedar shake tends to be 5 times more expensive than asphalt composite shingles and 3 times more expensive than standing seam metal. Then add in maintenance costs over its life.

Concrete Tile Roof

Roofing tiles have been traditionally made from fired clay (terracotta), and while very beautiful, roofing tiles of this type tend to be expensive and are prone to cracking in extreme weather conditions. Concrete tile on the other hand is better able to withstand extreme weather conditions and is roughly 20% less expensive than its clay or slate counterparts.  Concrete roofing tiles are often made from molded, tinted concrete and can come in many styles and shapes—curved, flat, fluted, or interlocking–giving homeowners a broad selection.

While concrete tile roofs are well suited to our climate, there are other considerations when it comes to roof replacement. Even modern lightweight concrete tile is still heavier than the traditional composition or shake roof and the weight must be taken into account. If you are considering replacing your roof with concrete tile, you will want to start by having the structure of your home certified by a structural engineer for the weight it can bear.

Synthetic Plastic Shake, Slate, and Tile

Modern residential roofing materials continue to expand with newer synthetic products available that mimic the look of slate, shake, and tile but are much lighter in weight, averaging just 4 lbs per square foot. Modern synthetic roofing products are also durable with longer lifespans than some traditional residential roofing products. Synthetic shake, for example, looks the same as cedar shake but lasts 2-3 times longer. Opting for synthetic roofing materials can also add up to significant savings. For example, synthetic slate, besides being a much lighter product than traditional slate tiles is 2 to 3 times less expensive.

Low Slope and Flat Roofs

It might seem counter-intuitive to consider a flat or even low-sloped roof here in the rainy Pacific Northwest. Modern residential roofing products and expert installation, however, make these types of roofs a viable option. So much so, that we devoted an entire blog to this topic. If you have a low-sloped roof or a flat roof, check out our blog on The Best Flat Roofs for the Pacific Northwest.

Choosing the Right Roof for Your Home

When it comes to residential roofing—whether new construction and new roof installation or roof replacement—today’s homeowners have more options than ever before. Selecting the right roofing materials for your home will come down to these key considerations: the climate where you live, the structure and style of your home, your personal tastes, and your budget. 

We’ve outlined our top recommendations for residential roofing materials that are best suited to our climate. Our final recommendation is to work with a qualified and experienced residential roofing contractor who can give you an honest and reliable assessment of the condition of your current roof, who can provide necessary roof maintenance and repairs to prolong the life of your roof, and who can guide you through the selection process when it comes time to replace your roof.

At Pacific West Roofing we have been performing residential roof inspections, maintaining roofs, and installing new and replacement roofs in the greater Portland Metro area for more than 40 years. If you have questions about your roof or you already know you need a new roof, contact us today

General Roofing Tips

Nine Steps to Hiring a Quality Roofing Contractor

It is always important to vet any contractor, including any roofing contractor that performs work on your home. It is common knowledge to inquire if the contractor is licensed and bonded, but what else should a homeowner do to ensure they receive the highest quality product and services? In reality, there are many ways you can protect your home improvement investment, especially when it comes to the roof of your home.

By following this simple nine-point checklist for hiring a quality roofing contractor, any homeowner can rest assured they have done their due diligence to protect their family, their home, and their investment.

  1. Licensed, Bonded & Insured

Is the roofing contractor licensed, bonded, and insured? The Oregon Construction Contractors Board (ORCCB) is an excellent resource to research any contractor in Oregon. The Board tracks licenses and complaints, and provides educational services, to help you verify the validity of the contractor’s license prior to engaging them for services.

  1. Number of Years in Business

How many years has the roofing contractor been in business? Make sure any potential roofing contractor is qualified to perform the work you are seeking and ask how long they have been in business. While there are many qualified new contractors, a history of providing quality service and products cannot be underestimated.

  1. Product Certifications

What roofing products is the roofing contractor certified to install? Most homeowners don’t know that roofing contractors can get certified to work with specific product lines whether pitched roofs or flat roofs. Inquire about any product certifications or training the contractor possesses to ensure they are knowledgeable of the product’s performance, installation processes, and warranties.

  1. Warranties

What warranties are available and what product warranties is the roofing contractor certified to offer? Warranties are another variable homeowners don’t always know to ask about. For example, shingle manufacturers like Certainteed and Malarkey offer multiple levels of warranties, and roofing contractors basically earn the right to offer the highest-rated warranties for these products. Pacific West Roofing is a 5-star Certainteed SelectShingle Master and a Malarkey Emerald Premium Contractor, which means we are able to offer the highest-rated warranties for these products on the roofs we install, including workmanship warranties. You can find a deeper explanation of warranties here to learn how to understand warranty agreements.

  1. Professional Associations

What professional associations does the roofing contractor belong to? Professional associations, like the Western States Roofing Contractors Association (WSRCA) and the Associated Roofing Contractor Group (ARC), are great resources for the contractor, but they are also great resources for the consumer. Check to see if your contractor belongs to any professional associations. Association memberships provide contractors with continuing education on products, methodologies, safety, and other industry-specific information, so make sure to ask if they possess any current memberships. Pacific West Roofing is a member of both ARC and WSRCA and we sit as actual board members.

  1. Supplier References

Do suppliers like working with the roofing contractor? Another great untapped resource for homeowners is the contractor’s suppliers. Ask your contractor who their roofing product suppliers are, then contact them directly for a reference. It’s possible to find useful information like if the contractor is current (invoices paid) with their supplier and which contractors the supplier likes to work with. Even roofing product manufacturers’ reps may be able to provide additional references.

  1. Online Reviews.

In the age of the internet, reviews and online forums are a great way to learn about the quality of a company’s workmanship and customer experiences. Don’t forget to use that powerful tool we call Google!

  1. Detailed Cost Estimate and Bid

Confirm any bids you get cover all the details! Most homeowners don’t know everything that goes into installing or replacing a roof or how the total cost is calculated. Here is the list of items you should find on a proper roofing bid:

  • Ventilation – How the roof will be ventilated and the associated cost.
  • Flashing – What flashing materials will be used around any vent, pipe, or skylight openings? Ideally, the quality of the flashing should match the quality of the roofing materials. It does no good to use top-rated shingles and then install sub-par flashing, vent, or pipes–failures (aka leaks) are almost guaranteed to happen.
  • Confirm all materials used will be new: new vents and new flashing. 
  • Does the bid call for peel and stick membranes around penetrations like chimneys, pipes, skylights, and vent pipes? Details like this should be included in the bid.
  1. Qualifications and Training of Crew

Shopping around for the lowest bid may help your wallet in the short run, but a lower price does not always mean a better deal. Labor, which represents the quality of workmanship, should be the biggest deciding factor. There is no substitution for quality labor and training. At Pacific West Roofing, our roofing technicians and installers undergo extensive and ongoing training to ensure they are fully qualified to do the work and deliver the utmost in quality workmanship.

This checklist is meant to be a resource for homeowners so they can protect themselves and have peace of mind that they are investing their home improvement dollars responsibly when they hire a roofing contractor, but Pacific West Roofing is always here to answer your questions. We pride ourselves on our customer service and customer education.  

Don’t rely on just one of these points to make your decision about a roofing contractor. Do your homework, be thorough, and make a fully-informed decision before you sign any contracts.

For more information about Pacific West Roofing, you can check our website, give us a call, contact our suppliers, and ask us for references–we will be happy to provide you with all the information you need to make an informed decision. Below you will find a quick list of credentials that will help you immediately answer some of the questions above.

Pacific West Roofing is:

  • A Trained Professional Residential Roof Contractor with 40 Years of Experience
  • Beter Business Bureau (BBB) Accredited
  • Malarkey Roofing Shingle Certified
  • CertainTeed Shingle Certified
  • Duro-Last PVC Membrane Certified for Flat Roofs
  • A Member of the Western States Roofing Contractors Association 
  • A Member of the Associated Roofing Contractor Group 
Residential Roof Replacement Roofing Tips

4 Signs You Need a New Roof

Your home is one of the most significant investments you will make in your lifetime, and the roof is one of the most important elements to maintain and monitor to protect that investment. Your home’s roof shelters you from the elements and provides proper ventilation and air quality within the home. The roof is also one aspect of homeownership that many don’t understand and it is often overlooked until obvious signs of trouble—leaks—are finally noticed. But leaks aren’t the only sign your roof may be in trouble.

How do you know when to replace this critical piece of our investment?  Well, that’s an excellent question, and we will set out to explain here 4 key signs that your roof is ready to be replaced.

Sign #1: Missing Shingles

This is a common sign that you should consider roof repairs or replacement. While a missing shingle or two is not a surefire sign your roof is failing, it is a key indicator of possible problems in the future. Missing shingles can lead to an increased risk of leaks, moisture problems in attic spaces, a saturated roof deck that can cause delamination and rot, and possible structural damage to the framing. 

It is important to monitor the integrity of your roof shingles for these reasons, but also for your property value. Curb appeal is real, and missing shingles on an otherwise intact family home can curb the enthusiasm of potential home buyers when it comes time to sell.

Sign #2: Granules Missing from Shingles (Discoloration or patchy appearance)

Granule loss, within reason, has been a natural part of the aging process of a roof.  But there are several factors that can speed up this process and cause your roof to age prematurely.  Premature granule loss can be caused by improper pressing of the granules during the  manufacturing process or an aging roof usually on the south side, but it can also be caused by storm damage or improper roof cleaning, and foot traffic. 

If you begin finding excessive deposits of granules in your gutters or notice discoloration or a patchy appearance on your roof, it is time to consult the professionals. Pacific West Roofing has over 40 years of experience in roof installation and maintenance, and we are always happy to consult on whether your roof needs to be replaced or simply maintained in order to prolong its life. 

Sign #3: Signs of Leaks

It almost seems like this one should go without saying, but there are many homeowners that ignore this telltale sign that their roof needs repair, replacement, or maintenance. The most common incursion points for water to enter your house due to roof problems are skylights, chimneys, pipes, vents, and the valleys where the pitch of your roof changes direction. Water entering a home can be a driving force of expense, so any signs of a dark discoloration on ceilings or walls due to water should be addressed immediately. 

The locations listed above are the most common locations where leaks occur, but it is often the quality of the installation that causes leaks within these weak points in a roof. It is critical to hire a trusted and experienced professional roofing contractor to protect your investment.

Sign #4: Signs of Mold in the Attic Space

It is common knowledge these days that mold in a home can be a dangerous condition for you and your family. Attics can create ideal circumstances for mold to grow. Without proper ventilation, they can be overly hot or overly cold, humid spaces that provide just the right conditions for mold to propagate and thrive. 

A properly vented and installed roof can help you minimize the conditions that allow mold to grow in these spaces. Proper ventilation allows your attic to maintain an optimal amount of airflow minimizing potential condensation and discouraging the development of mold. If you have moisture or mold in your attic, this is a sign your roof ventilation is not working properly and could be a sign that you need a ventilation evaluation or possibly a new roof.

If you have questions about the health of your roof, Pacific West Roofing is ready to assist you. With our team of professional inspectors, we can offer you a fair and honest assessment of what your next steps should be in order to either extend your roof’s life or to help you navigate the replacement process. Contact us today to get started and gain peace of mind regarding your most important investment.

Commercial Flat Roofs Flat Roofs

The Best Flat Roofs for the Pacific Northwest

Flat roofs have long had a reputation of being unsuitable for the Pacific Northwest. Traditional built-up asphalt roofing (BUR) commonly used in flat roof construction may be well suited for desert climates, but does not hold up well to our rainy climate and is prone to leaks. The modern flat roof is another story, though. Advances in technology and the development of new roofing materials have expanded the options and extended the life span for residential and commercial flat roofs.

There are six common types of flat roofs, which we break down for you here. Of the six, we recommend two flat roof types for commercial or residential buildings here in the Willamette Valley. 

Common Types of Flat Roof Materials

  1. Built-up roofing (BUR) consists of alternating layers of reinforced fiberglass fabric and asphalt or tar, finished with a top layer of round rock or cap sheet.
    Pros: Fire-resistant, waterproof, excellent ultra-violet protection.
    Cons: Susceptible to wind and water damage, loses elasticity quickly, leaks can be difficult to find, not a good option for the Pacific Northwest climate.
  2. Modified bitumen roofing is similar to BUR and is made of asphalt combined with polymerized rubber or plastic, reinforced with fiberglass to create a flexible and durable waterproof membrane.
    Pros: Versatile, flexible, durable, waterproof, ideal for the rainy and temperate Pacific Northwest climate. Can be very fire resistant with the proper coating.
    Cons: Absorbs heat in the summer.
  3. Ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM) roofing is an extremely durable and waterproof synthetic rubber membrane.
    Pros: Extremely durable, lightweight, flexible, fire-resistant, easy to repair.
    Cons: Absorbs heat in the summer, seams tend to break down as the rubber expands and contracts, prone to leaks if not installed properly and often isn’t.
  4. Spray polyurethane foam (SPF) roofing consists of applying a liquid sprayed onto an existing roof, which expands into foam, creating a solid layer across the roof surface, then a white latex or acrylic coating to waterproof the foam.
    Pros: Good insulation, energy-efficient, easy to install and maintain, waterproof, versatile, and relatively low-cost.
    Cons: Requires warm, dry weather and clean surface conditions for proper installation, highly susceptible to damage from wind-blown debris, requires frequent care, too short of a season in the NW to complete.
  5. Thermoplastic Polyolefin (TPO) roofing is a single-ply white synthetic membrane with a fabric reinforcing scrim that stabilizes and strengthens the membrane.
    Pros: Durable, UV, water-resistant, versatile, light-weight, and flexible, available in a few colors, mid-level maintenance, least expensive of the membranes.
    Cons: Highly flammable like most other single-ply membranes, does not perform well in high heat, seam edges need to be resealed with edge sealant every so many years, 90% carbon and can’t be welded after a couple of years of UV exposure.
  6. Poly Vinyl Chloride (PVC) roofing is a single-ply membrane consisting of two layers of membrane with a fabric reinforcing scrim in the center that stabilizes and strengthens the membrane.
    Pros: Durable, UV, and water-resistant, versatile, light-weight, and flexible, available in a variety of colors, relatively low maintenance, fire-resistant with self-extinguishing properties, chemical resistant, holds up well in strong winds, can be welded for decades if needed. Lasts for decades.
    Cons: It’s more costly than TPO.

Our Top Flat and Low-Pitch Roof Recommendations

As roofing contractors with more than 40 years of roofing experience in the Portland metro area, we have come to understand which roofing materials perform well over the long-term in our climate. The Willamette Valley experiences wide fluctuations in temperature and moisture and seasons can range from searing heat and drought-like conditions to perpetual sogginess or even deep freeze. High wind is also common at certain times, and fire is a growing concern. 

These seasonal temperature variances and weather events can wreak havoc on flat roofs and certain materials will fare much better than others. Our top recommendations for residential or commercial flat roofs in Portland and the Pacific Northwest are 3-ply, cold process modified bitumen roofing and single-ply polyvinyl chloride (PVC) roofing.

  • 3-Ply, Cold Process Modified Bitumen Roofing

Modified bitumen is one of the most highly reliable and long-lasting options for flat roofs. It is extremely durable and tear-resistant making it an excellent choice for commercial buildings with high roof-top foot traffic, and when properly installed, it offers nearly fail-safe waterproof protection. Modified bitumen roofing is also a very flexible material that can withstand thermal expansions and contractions–even deep freezes–without losing its shape, becoming brittle, or cracking. This is also a relatively low-maintenance roofing material that is easily repaired if it is ever damaged. Repairs usually only amount to simply putting another sheet or patch of bitumen roofing over the existing sheet. With proper care and maintenance modified bitumen has a life expectancy of 20 years.

An added benefit we appreciate is the cold process our roofing installers can employ for installing this 3-ply roofing material. This method does not require the application of hot tar or the use of hot torches, which is a nice bonus, especially in the heat of summer.

  • Single-Ply, Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) Roofing

Single-ply polyvinyl chloride (PVC) roofing is another excellent choice for flat roofs in the Pacific Northwest. Like modified bitumen roofing, PVC roofing is a highly durable, waterproof, low maintenance, and long-lasting material. One of the top attributes of PVC though is its superb fire performance. The PVC material is self-extinguishing, once the source of the flame is removed, and radiates less heat during combustion which helps prevent the spread of fire to other materials. It also generates less smoke, as compared to other common building materials. 

Another reason we like PVC roofing is the flexible nature of the material and how well it stands up to temperature fluctuations, as well as wind. It comes in different colors, including white, charcoal, and light gray which can offer better UV reflection and less heat absorption in the summer.  PVC roofs also have a long life span of up to 30 years requiring relatively low maintenance

All of these characteristics–whether we are talking about 3-ply modified bitumen roofing or single-ply PVC roofing–add up to a very appealing flat roofing system for residential and commercial properties. They are both highly durable, long-lasting, low maintenance, roofing materials. As roofing contractors, we appreciate being able to give our customers this peace of mind. 

As with any roof installation, the quality of the materials and the roofing contractor’s workmanship play an equal role in how well your roof will perform and how long it will last. An improperly installed roof will be prone to problems from day one, regardless of the materials used. Different materials and different types of roofs also require different expertise, technical knowledge, and specific skill sets. This is why it is important to make sure the roofing contractor you hire has the requisite experience.

Pacific West Roofing has been installing flat roofing systems for both residential and commercial properties throughout the greater Portland metro area for more than forty years. Our roofing installers, technicians, and repair crews are experienced with installing and maintaining both 3-Ply, Cold Process Modified Bitumen Roofing and Single-Ply, Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) Roofing. 

If you have a flat roof in need of inspection, repair, or replacement, contact us today. Our friendly office staff will be happy to set up a time for us to come out, inspect your roof and give you an honest recommendation and cost estimate.

Portland Roofing Contractor Since 1980

CCB# 169414