Nine Ways Unscrupulous Roofers
Save Money At Your Expense

July 15, 2022

Why They Make These Choices –
And Why We Never Will

Most home remodeling contractors know they need to at least present you with a well-finished product, even if the work you can’t see is a disaster – but not roofers.

The average roofer knows that the homeowner who will climb up to the roof to check out their work is rare and easy to spot. These roofers know they can do almost anything they want during an installation so long as you can see a shiny new roof from your driveway.

Unfortunately, the fit and finish of your roof installation are 100 times more important than any other remodeling project – especially for homes dealing with Seattle’s endlessly wet climate, because it’s about LEAKS. “Water will find a way,” as the saying goes.

While poorly placed boards and skipped steps on your basic remodel can cause cosmetic issues after only a few years, the same actions with a roof installation can spell disaster within months.

So we’ve gathered nine of the worst decisions a roofer can make, how to spot them, and why they’ll cost you extra money in almost
no time at all.

Watch For These Nine Roofing Fails

1) Choosing Speed Over Quality

Roofing has always been a fast-paced environment, but there’s such a thing as going too fast. When all that matters is speed, mistakes don’t get fixed. Heck, mistakes are expected in that atmosphere, and cover-ups are the rule.

The industry has moved from going fast to avoid running into bad weather while the roof is exposed to going fast just to save on labor.

The results, however, can leave much to be desired.

Speed Over Quality One Seattle Roofsmart

Speed Over Quality Two Seattle Roofsmart

As you can see in the above images, pushing for only speed can cause serious errors to become acceptable.

At RoofSmart, we’ll take “behind schedule and done right” before we’d ever accept “on schedule and sloppy.” We have a Wall of Shame for roofing crews we’ve let go because they failed to understand that point.

2) Being Stingy With Ice & Water Shield

Your roof needs to fight off several enemies – water is the obvious one. And in that battle, ice and water shield is a roofer’s best friend.

Yet, many local roofers use ice & water shield rarely, if at all.



Ice & water shield isn’t cheap and takes a little time to install properly. And since the leaks the shield prevents are usually slow to show, those roofers prefer to save money and shorten their warranties accordingly.

Stinginess With Ice Shield Causes Leaks Seattle Roofsmart

Stinginess With Ice Shield Two Causes Leaks Seattle Roofsmart

In both of these images, you can see how moisture is allowed to slip
under the shingles to wreak havoc on your decking over time.

We prefer to err on the side of caution and place ice and water shield wherever it may be needed. It might cost a little more, but it’s a small price for peace of mind.

3) Going Cheap On Vents And Boots

Neoprene pipe boots cost your contractor about $6 to buy, and plastic vents around $20. But, after they’ve failed in six to ten years, they cost YOU thousands of dollars in repairs.

Over time, sunlight breaks down neoprene and plastic, allowing it to crack and deform and ruin the water-tight seal.

Cheap Pipe Boots Don't Hol;d Up Seattle Roofsmart

This pipe boot has broken down and is allowing water to pour into the roof.

High Quality Silicone Boots Last Forever Seattle Roofsmart

This high-quality silicone pipe boot is clamped to the pipe while its design
allows it to move with the pipe. It will never rip or wear down.

At RoofSmart, we use silicone pipe boots and metal vents, which are impervious to sunlight and will last over 50 years with no trouble at all.

4) Shorting Themselves On Materials

Ordering the right amount of material for a roof replacement takes foresight and some careful math. Any mistakes in that process can leave an installer short on materials.

Unfortunately, many roofing contractors operate so close to the bone that your deposit has already been spent buying material for the next job when they realize they need more.

Their answer to this little difficulty is to make do with what they have – which is no answer at all.

Short On Materials Making Do Failure Seattle Roofsmart

The roofer ran out of valley flashing, so they simply filled the
gap with random shingles guaranteed to cause leaks.

Our Egghead roof designs are carefully planned, so we rarely run short on materials, but if the improbable happens, we don’t just ‘make do’ – we go get what we need.

5) Re-Using Old Flashing

Except for rare occasions when there is no choice, roofers should avoid reusing old flashing. After decades of wear and decay, that old flashing will never last as long as the new roof.

Plus, removing and reseating the old flashing ruins its structure, forcing the worker to use caulking to cover gaps that wouldn’t exist if new flashing were installed.

While high-quality caulk is an acceptable tool for creating a seal, it’s not nearly as resilient as sheet metal, so we limit its use as much as possible. Sun and caulk aren’t friends!

Reusing Old Flashing Is Nuts Seattle Roofsmart

No, this isn’t a ‘before’ picture – this is what some roofers
consider a finished installation. Beyond unacceptable!

At RoofSmart, we always fabricate new flashing. To be honest, the expense is so small and the required effort so low that reusing the old doesn’t make sense on any level.

More From Jim

6) Using Felt Paper Underlayment Instead Of Synthetics

Felt paper has been used in roofing for decades and decades, but it is a woefully out-of-date material for underlayment – especially in a wet climate. Yet, its relatively low expense makes it a favorite among many cheap-o roofing companies.

Those same companies are also more likely to sell you the cheapest possible shingles as well.

When you combine felt paper (which can buckle just from high humidity) with inexpensive and light shingles, you get a new roof that looks like it was installed 30 years ago.

Felt Paper Over Poly Bad Idea Seattle Roofsmart

This is a young roof and a prime example of what will happen when you use felt paper and cover it with the type of shingles sold by those who use felt paper.

We always use polypropylene synthetic underlayment. It does a better job of protecting against moisture and will never buckle.

7) Not Using Starter Shingles

The first thing you need to know is that all shingles have adhesive on the undersides to seal them to the next row and keep the wind from peeling shingles off your roof.

Starter shingles are specifically designed with shortened tabs to maintain the shingle pattern while sealing the leading edges of your roof. They are used on all roof edges, including gable edges.

But many roofing contractors hate the expense of specialty starter shingles and just cut down standard shingles to make their edge. This process removes the adhesive portion of the shingle, leaving your roof edges completely vulnerable to the wind.

No Starter Shingles Big Mistake Seattle Roofsmart

Not only are there no starter shingles along the gable edge, but they also used cut-down shingles at the roof edge. This roof will fail with the first big storm.

It feels silly to need to say it out loud, but we place starter shingles at all open edges of our roofs. We’re just crazy that way. It’s in the directions (we read those).

8) Insufficient Training

Many Seattle roofing contractors are just grateful they have bodies to throw at their roofing projects and aren’t concerned about whether they know more than how to press the trigger on a nail gun.

So, when these poor workers come across anything the least bit challenging, they just guess their way through as best they can. The results of near-zero training range from comical to dangerous – but the real loser is you, the homeowner.

Paying full price for work like that shown below is not fun, especially when you’ll be paying for it again when your roof fails immediately – but the effects don’t show up for a few years.

Poor Training Creates Hazards Seattle Roofsmart

Nothing to seal the bolt holes and nothing to keep movement from destroying the shingles under the bracket. Either they don’t know, or they just don’t care.

You can bet your bottom dollar that any member of any RoofSmart crew knows how to handle the occasional curveball, much less something as simple as an awning support bracket.

9) Creating A Culture Where Errors Must Be Hidden

When a contractor only cares about finishing on time so they can move on to the next roof, pointing out problems can cost a roofer their job.

So, when a roofer for one of these companies sees a problem, they’re far more likely to cover it up than fix it. And if they accidentally put a tear in the underlayment or a pipe boot, it’s a safe bet that they’ll hide it before ever considering admitting their error.

Eventually, you end up with a company culture where nobody, even their own inspector, is willing to mention anything that might hold up the job or cause an extra expense.

Culture Of Hiding Problems Two Seattle Roofsmart

We uncovered these rotten joists when we had to redo a full roof installation.

Culture Of Hiding Problems One Seattle Roofsmart

This is why we were replacing the decking on the roof above. The previous crew
knew better than to tell their boss the decking was rotten – so they hid it.

At RoofSmart, our culture demands excellence at all times, no matter the expense or time it takes to resolve an issue. And our inspectors SEARCH for errors, no matter how slight, before they sign off on a roofing project.

We’ve torn off entire roofs and had them reinstalled rather than allow one of our customers to live beneath a substandard roof. We guarantee our work for life, and we mean to stand by that guarantee no matter what, so covering up mistakes or ignoring errors is totally unacceptable.

Our Unbending Standards Are Why We Offer
A Lifetime Workmanship Guarantee

None of the issues mentioned here can be spotted from the ground. And some can’t be found without lifting shingles to see what is happening underneath. All of them can only exist in a setting where warranty periods are short and the language filled with exceptions.

One great way to judge the quality produced by a roofing contractor is to read their workmanship warranty. Every roofing company, including RoofSmart, only offers warranties they are confident will expire before your roof begins to have problems.

So, most workmanship warranties are fairly short in duration, often no longer than what is required by law.

At RoofSmart, and ONLY at RoofSmart, your workmanship guarantee is good for life. If that doesn’t spell confidence in the quality of our work – well, then nothing does.

Expect The Best


If you need a new roof for your Seattle area home and want it guaranteed to last for life, contact us at RoofSmart for a free estimate.

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