How Did We Get Here?

We’ve decided to share some of the “tricks of the trade” and expose some of the most common shoddy roofing tactics used by far too many so-called roofing companies. Home inspectors see this stuff all the time. Most legit “white hat” roofing contractors see this stuff all the time too. The irony here is that it generally doesn’t cost much more to just do things right. We suppose that at some point, a scammer duped the homeowner plain and simple. In many cases, we believe that shoddy roofing tactics or incorrect roofing practices taught to apprentice workers learn from senior roofers who learned the bad practices from their mentors. The roofers are merely passing along the roofing recipe taught to them when they got into the trade.

But They Did My Neighbors House

The terrible part is that most homeowners have no idea. The contractors they hire have a pile of satisfied references by other homeowners who don’t realize their roof is faulty and will fail prematurely, possibly catastrophically during a storm. The roofs mostly look pretty good after the crew leaves the job site. Most homeowners will give a 5-star review if the roofing crew cleaned up after themselves and closed all the gates, and stayed within the agreed price. The homeowner is none-the-wiser.

Educate Yourself and Ask Detailed Questions

Considering the following roofing terrible practices, it is incumbent on you, the homeowner, to ask specific questions of your prospective contractors. Your goal is to ferret out whether you are getting a real certified roof, or if you are getting shoddy roofing tactics garbage. You should specifically ask about the components and techniques that your contractor is using on your roof replacement project. You want details.

Great Roofers Love To Tell You About Their Practices

After reading through this article, you should be more than prepared. You will know what you expect to see and what you don’t want to see. Don’t be afraid to ask the roofing company directly about anything on your mind. Then, verify through the manufacturer’s materials list, or other means, to ensure the proper components used on your roof replacement or installation match up. Ask BEFORE you sign for clarification, it’s ok. Trust but verify. It helps if your contractor has been around your area for at least a decade or more and warrant their work unconditionally.

If you feel that you could use more information, by all means, visit the manufacturers’ websites. GAF, for example, certifies its contractors. It is in everybody’s interest to install the proper roof materials properly.

Bad Practice #1 – Using and Modifying Cheap 3-Tab Shingles

Among the shady practices – Cheapo 3-tab shingles used as a universal roofing component.

Multipurpose NOT!

Cutting Corners is definitely a shoddy roofing tactic. It is also a very unsafe practice when it comes to re-roofing.
It’s not uncommon for some shoddy roofing contractors to use a standard 3-Tab Asphalt Roof Shingle for more than just its intended purpose. In many cases, it’s how they learned by example when they got into the trade, never knowing that it’s inferior and potentially dangerous. You’ll read about this practice in more detail later in this article. The bottom line here is that using substandard shingles, for several non-intended purposes is cutting corners. The contractor buys bargain basement materials and “makes” it work. The average joe has no idea whatsoever, and the roof may even look great, at least to the untrained eye. But the roof is weak and will fail prematurely. Hopefully, the failure doesn’t come in the form of massive water infiltration, widely damaging your home and your possessions.

wind pressure exceeded roof shingles ability to adhere.

Now for some more not so welcome “tricks of the trade.”

Bad Practice #2 – The Re-cover Roof

The Re-cover Roof.

This first and very common shortcut the unscrupulous roofers will use is referred to as re-cover roofs. You meet with your roofing crew in the morning, sign off on the job then go to work. When you get home, things look great, and the roofers are gone. Fast forward a few months, and you start to notice curling shingles and what seems to be missing pieces from the roof. What went wrong?
Homeowners are victims of this more often than you may think. Especially after extensive hail and damaging wind storms pass through. Contractors will sometimes try to get away with laying your new roof shingles down over the top of the old shingles. Then they replace the drip edge, making it look like a brand new job.

Re-cover roofs are lazy, deceptive, and wrong. If you suspect foul play, HES recommends that you or someone you trust inspects your roof for this shoddy practice before making payment. To check, pick a random spot in the middle of the roof and ask the roofer to lift a shingle. Beneath should be an underlayment or felt affixed to the wood decking to which the shingles are nailed. If you see wood decking that indicates a lack of felt paper installed, and if you see the old shingles underneath, you’ve got a re-cover roof. Unless you agreed to this, you should consider reporting the company to your local BBB and call someone like HES to do it properly.

Bad Practice #3- No Starter Shingles

Starter Shingles
Shingles laid across the roof have adhesive edges that bond together in the heat of the sun. This bonding is so the individual shingles will hold each other in place. The exception to the above is on the eaves or near the roof edges where specialized starter shingles get used. Starter shingles get laid down as the first course to properly adhere in place, to prevent shingles from blowing off in a strong wind. The use of starter shingles is a standard that is too important to ignore.

Roof failure due to improper starter strip


Judging by roofs we remove, it is far too common to find no starter shingles at all! Instead, we find hacked up 3-tab shingles cut and adapted in make-shift fashion. Are you losing shingles and pieces off your roof? Likely, your roofer didn’t bother to use proper starter shingles with the perimeter adhesive. It’s time to call HES.

Bad Practice #4 — Staples Instead of Nails

faulty asphalt shingle installation

Staplers? Really? Roofing contractors that lay down roof shingles with a staple gun is a glaring sign that they don’t know what they’re doing. Staples are easily ripped out by hand, and most will rust and decompose quickly and should NEVER be used. Why on earth would one trust that staples will hold your roof together? As with any roofing contractor worth their salt, HES not only uses full-length specialized roofing nails on every installation, but the top quality nails we use are engineered specifically for roofing, and to hold tight for decades.

Improper shingle installation leads to premature roof failure.

Bad Practice #5 – Improvised Hip/Valley/Ridge

Another scenario derived from Bad Practice #1, is the improvised Hip, Valley, or Ridge shingles by using hacked up 3-tab shingles. ThAs previously stated, modifying shingles and using them for any purpose other than intended is a terrible idea and should never be done. This absurd practice will void any manufacturer warranty claim. And worse, your roof could fail you and your family when you need your roof most during a storm!

Bad Practice #6 – Using Old Boots and Flashing

Roof Penetrations are serious business. Vent stack boots and flashing materials are difficult and costly to replace on an existing roof if they begin to allow moisture to get under the roofing material. Sometimes, there may be an opportunity to save a few bucks if these necessary sealing materials are in excellent condition, but why chance it? Properly installed, the roof system is layered in a particular way to ensure the water cannot infiltrate your home. The perfect time to refresh these all-important seals is after the old roof has been removed and the decking secure. In our opinion, it’s a bad practice not to replace flashing and seals.

Educating Yourself Pays

We hope this article helps you avoid being ripped off. We feel that by sharing some of the most common shoddy roofing tactics, everybody wins. If you have been ripped off by a shoddy or unscrupulous roofing tactic that we have not mentioned, please let us know so we can update the article for others.

No roofing contractor worth their salt has a problem describing their process or their quality with you. Never feel bashful about asking. We in the trade love what we do and we are quite proud of every job we complete.

In Conclusion

If you ever need a second opinion, or any question about residential roofing answered, please contact us. And if you already know you’re going to need a roof replacement soon, we would be honored to speak with you about our roof replacement services at Home Exterior Systems (HES).