Four Commonly Used Home Roofing Designs

maryland home roof
If you are in the process of planning a new home, you will have to confront the topic of the roof at some point along the way. It should go without saying that the roof is one of the most important components of a house. Without a solid roof design, the rest of the effort that has gone into building the house will be wasted. In this article, we are going to look at four of the commonly used residential roof designs you will want to consider during the planning phase.

Gable Roof

This is probably what you picture first when you think of a roof. Basically, a gable roof is an upside-down ‘V’. However, since the pitch of the roof can be varied within a gable design, this option is actually capable of creating many different looks. One of the best features of a gable roof is its ability to deflect water away from the home. The relatively steep slopes of the roof mean that rain and snow will likely be gone in a hurry. On the downside, this kind of roof doesn’t always hold up well when faced with high winds. Geography will play a big part in determining whether or not a gable roof makes sense for your project.

Hip Roof

If you want to add some architectural interest to your roof, you may want to consider the hip roof option. This kind of roof has four sloping sides which come together at the hip. On larger homes, it is common to see multiple hips integrated into a single, complex roof layout. Strength and durability are selling points of this type of roof. In addition to their toughness, many people find them to be visually appealing. If there is a downside here, it is the cost. This is a complicated design, and therefore a complicated and expensive installation.

Mansard Roof

This is an option which is not as popular as choices like gable or hip. There are a total of four slopes included on this type of roof, which two on each side of the house. One of the main reasons this roofing option is used is to maximize interior space. Attic space will be maximized in this design as there are no steep slopes to deal with. However, since there is limited slope on the roof, snow can build up quickly (if you live in a snowy area).

Flat Roof

Just as the name sounds, this is a roof which has a flat design. Relatively few residential buildings opt for a flat roof, but it is an option to at least keep on the table. Of course, you won’t be surprised to learn that the simplicity of this kind of roof is a major selling point. They are rather easy to install, and take very little effort to design. Of course, water is going to have a hard time finding its way off of a flat roof, so repairs are common. This is another roofing option that is going to more useful in certain parts of the world than others.

All About That Slate: The History of Slate Roofing

classic slate roof on a house
Nearly everyone would agree that slate is one of the most beautiful materials you can use to cover a roof. But where did this idea come from? At what point did it become possible to use slate as a roofing material? As slate is a natural material – unlike many of the products used for roofing today – you will probably not be surprised to learn that it has a long history as a reliable roofing option. As you are considering your options for the roofing material you are going to use on your own home, it may be interesting to learn a little more about the history of this beautiful rock.

It Goes Way Back

To find the roots of slate roofing, you have to go way back in the history books. More than 700 years, in fact, as there is evidence that slate was used as a roofing material in North Wales, England during the early 14th century. As is often the case when a material is used for a new purpose, it was too expensive for most people to acquire initially. However, it was commonly seen on castles, where the budget would allow for such a high-end product.

Although slate can be dated to many centuries ago as a roofing material, it really didn’t pick up steam until just a couple centuries back. It was actually the Spanish who developed a way for slate to be harvested in a relatively affordable manner, such that it could be used on homes. Spain has carried on a tradition of slate mining, and most of the slate roofs seen in Europe were born somewhere in Spain.

A Natural Fit

So why would slate be chosen as a roofing material, when there are so many rocks in nature to pick from? It comes down to composition. Slate is naturally a good fit for roofing because of the characteristics that it offers. On the one hand, it is breakable, so it can be formed into thin sheets with relative ease. Yet, on the other hand, it is also extremely tough, so it works as a covering for homes and other structures. Where other rocks would be too hard to break, or too soft to provide protection, slate perfectly falls in the middle of those extremes.

Coming to America

In the United States, it was only in the late 1800s when slate roofing would become available to more than just the elites. Much of the slate roofing produced today comes from the state of Vermont. One of the things that separates Vermont – and other Northeast locations – from the rest of the world is the unique colors which are found in the slate throughout that region.

Recently, slate has largely been overtaken by cheaper asphalt shingles in the residential market. However, plenty of homebuyers still love the look and performance offered by slate, even if it does require a greater upfront investment. If you decide to go with slate on your home, you can be sure that you will have a beautiful roof which will stand the test of time.

10 Tips to Help Homeowners Find the Best Roofing Contractor

md home roofer
Is your home in need of a new roof? If so, the first task on your to-do list should be to find the best home roofing contractor. While there are plenty of roofing contractors to consider, you will want to make sure that you settle on one who has demonstrated an ability to do this kind of work. To help you find the right person or team for the job, please review the tips below.

#1 – Start with the BBB

While a good rating with the Better Business Bureau is not a sure sign that you are dealing with a great contractor, it is a good place to start. At PJ’s, we are proud to be recognized with an A+ rating by the BBB of greater Maryland! If the contractor you are considering is in good standing with the BBB, you can feel free to move on to other points.

#2 – Find a Designated Contractor

If a contractor has earned a designation from a manufacturer, you can feel good about that contractor’s ability to handle the job. Those designations are not given out for free, as the company needs to prove that they can meet certain requirements in order to gain this endorsement.

#3 – Safety Matters

You always want to place a priority on safety when anyone is working on your home. Should you find that a specific contractor has a questionable record when it comes to safety, you will be better off going in a different direction.

#4 – Ask for Referrals

If you happen to know anyone in your life who has recently had their roof repaired or replaced, ask them about their experience with the company they selected. Or, even if you don’t know anybody in this category, consider asking neighbors for help if you notice they have had work done.

#5 – Insurance Issues

When filing an insurance claim as part of your roofing project, be sure that the contractor is willing to play by the rules with regard to the insurance policy. If, for example, the contractor says that you don’t need to pay your deductible, you should be suspicious.

#6 – Deal with Your Own Insurance Company

Speaking of insurance, you should be dealing with the insurance company personally, not going through the contractor. Not only is this often illegal, but it also doesn’t make any sense. The claim is a matter between you and the insurance company, so you should be the parties involved.

#7 – Watch for Pressure Tactics

There are too many contractors out there to allow yourself to be pressured into a decision by an overaggressive salesperson. If you aren’t yet comfortable with the terms of the contract for this project, don’t sign anything and don’t give in to pressure.

#8 – Study Up

Before you even contact any contractors about this work, do some research and learn about things like roofing materials. If you know your stuff ahead of time, you will be better prepared to negotiate successfully.

#9 – Always Work with Licensed and Insured Contractors

This one is an easy decision. Anytime you are hiring a company to do any kind of work on your home, you should confirm that the contractor is both licensed and insured. It’s just that simple.

#10 – Get a Warranty

Is the labor going to be covered under warranty, in addition to the roofing materials? Be sure to ask this question, and only work with a home roofing contractor who can offer a warranty on their workmanship.

All You Need to Know About the Three Types of Skylights

house kitchen
If you are looking to bring natural light into a specific room in your home, a skylight may be the way to go. There are many benefits to opting for a skylight, as they can improve lighting, offer natural heating and cooling, and they can even make your room feel larger. Whether you are planning to sell in the near future or you will be living in your home for years to come, the addition of a skylight will add value to your property.

When the time comes to pick a skylight, you will need to sort through three options. The three types of skylights commonly found on the market today are fixed skylights, ventilating skylights, and tubular skylights. Below, please find more information on each of these three possibilities.

What is a Fixed Skylight?

When you picture a skylight in your mind, this is probably what you are seeing. A fixed skylight is the most common option, and it is also one of the best ways to go when seeking additional light. As the name would indicate, a fixed skylight does not open – it is simply a window in the ceiling. You may choose to add a fixed skylight in your attic, or maybe even a stairwell. The installation process for this kind of skylight is relatively simple and straightforward.

Feel the Breeze with a Ventilating Skylight

It should be no surprise that a ventilating skylight is a unit which can be opened to allow air into your home. Frequently these kinds of skylights will be used in areas of the home which are in need of air flow, such as the kitchen and the bathrooms. Of course, since skylights are often out of reach, many modern models are operated with a remote control. Or, you could have your skylight controlled by temperature, as the unit itself will respond to the temperature in the home and open or close accordingly. Picking a ventilating skylight is not going to be the right choice for every situation, but this option may be perfect in certain areas around your house.

Tubular Skylights are an Innovative Option

To bring light down into a relatively compact space, you may want to turn to a tubular skylight. Again here, the name says it all – these units are tubular in shape, as they stretch from the ceiling of the room in question on up to the roof of your home. When installed properly, the effect of a tubular skylight can be impressive. You will be able to light up a room just as you could with electric lights, except all of your switches will be off. As an added bonus, tubular skylights are relatively affordable and they are rather easy to install as well. Although they do not look the part of a ‘traditional’ skylight, they certainly have a lot to offer in the right situation. Before you proceed with a skylight installation, be sure to consider tubular options along with the fixed and ventilating models.

The Benefits of Installing Slate Roofing

maryland home roof
If you are preparing to add a new roof to your home, you have many options available to you in terms of materials. Before you make your final selection, you should at least consider the use of slate. This type of roofing has become quite popular thanks to a number of distinct benefits, some of which are listed below.

Impressive Longevity

As compared to something like regular shingles, slate roofing is an easy winner when it comes to longevity. In fact, if you put a slate roof on your home, it is a good bet that you will never again need to worry about another roofing project. It is possible that you could have to replace your shingle roof a couple times if you live in your home long enough, but that will not be the case when it comes to slate. This is a material which is often referred to as a ‘lifetime roof’ because of its incredible durability.

Color and Texture Options

One of the great things about using slate for your next roof is the many color and texture options you will have available. As a natural material, there will be a unique look to your slate roof which is not matched identically by any other roof in the world. Even if there are plenty of slate roofs in your very own neighborhood, yours is still going to have its own character and personality. If you are interested in creating a look that is all your own, slate is a great way to go.

Relatively Simple Repairs

Should your slate roof become damaged for some reason, you will be happy to know that repairs to this kind of roof are typically quick and easy. You will want to bring in a qualified professional to carry out the repairs, however, as it is important that they are completed properly. Also, in addition to promptly addressing any repair needs, it is smart to have your roof inspected annually to make sure no small repairs are needed. As viewed from ground level, you may not always be able to see minor issues developing on the roof.


Since they are made of natural stone, slate roofing tiles will not burn. This is nice peace of mind to have as a homeowner, knowing that your roof will not be contributing to the problem in the case of a house fire. Of course, there are still other parts of your home which may burn, so it is important to follow common sense when dealing with any items that could cause a fire.

Insulating Properties

Slate roofing tiles do a good job of insulating the home they are protecting, so you should be able to look forward to lowered energy costs after your roof is complete. Energy efficiency is a prominent topic these days, as more and more people are trying to be as environmentally friendly as possible. With slate installed on your roof, you will be in a great position to operate an efficient home for many years to come.

The Best Roofing Materials for Spring Storms

rain on rooftop
If many parts of the country – including here in Maryland and around the mid-Atlantic – spring means that storm season is here. As the winter weather gives way to warmer patterns, the convergence of the two can lead to nasty storms which offer rain, wind, and even the occasional snow. While many people enjoy the wild weather that comes along with the spring season, it can be hazardous to the health of your house. Specifically, spring storms have the potential to damage your roof. To give your home the best possible chance to survive some difficult conditions, it is important to have the right roofing material in place.

The material used on your roof will go a long way toward determining how well your home fares in a storm. As you consider your own needs, weigh the pros and cons of the three following options.

Metal Roofing

If the ability to stand up to a storm is one of your top concerns, you are certainly going to want to consider metal roofing. Few roofing materials are able to perform as well as metal when faced with howling winds, so you should be able to expect your metal roof to stay firmly in place until the storm has passed. Of course, the roofing needs to be installed properly from the start if it is going to work as intended, so be sure to work with an experienced and licensed roofing company.

Tile Roofing

Also known as slate roofing, tile is more popular in certain parts of the country than others, as it is best in specific environments. The best feature of a tile roof, when faced with a storm, is its weight. Tile roofing is extremely heavy, meaning it takes a major gust to move these tiles out of place. A properly installed slate roof can be expected to do well in high winds, and it will also hold up nicely in a hair storm. So what is the downside? Cost. Slate is expensive to purchase, and it is rather expensive to have installed as well. Choosing tile for your roofing material is a strong option for fighting back against storms, but you will need to be prepared to make a significant investment to add this material to the top of your home.


Asphalt shingles are the most popular roofing material in the country, and it is easy to see why. Often the most affordable option, shingles bring a nice combination of performance and low cost. An asphalt shingle roof which is in good condition should hold up nicely when faced with high winds, although any damaged shingles may lift up and fly off the roof. Unlike with some other roofing materials, shingles can typically be replaced one at a time, meaning storm damage may not result in a need to redo the entire roof. As long as storm damage is localized, a roofing company should be able to come out and repair/replace the damaged shingles for a modest price.

Three of the Best Home Roofing Materials for High Wind Areas

house with metal roof
If you live in an area that is prone to high winds, you should think carefully about the materials you are going to use to cover your roof. The wrong roofing material can quickly be blown off the roof in a high wind event, leaving your home susceptible to damage and leading to expensive repairs. On the other hand, the right material can give you a great chance of coming through the high winds without any damage to your home. Fortunately, there are at least three options which are particularly well-suited for the job of protecting homes where high winds are a factor – especially for roofing in Frederick and other areas of central Maryland!

When you are ready to pick out a roofing material for your home in a high wind area, be sure to keep the following three options in mind.

Fiberglass Shingles

You are certainly familiar with shingles as a roofing material, as they are one of the most popular choices in the world. Fiberglass shingles are a particularly good choice in high wind areas, as they are a strong product which is unlikely to come apart. Not only is it important to pick a good product like a quality fiberglass shingle, but you also need to be sure that those shingles are installed properly. Many roofing problems develop not because of poor materials but rather due to poor craftsmanship. Installing shingles in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations is the best way to receive optimum performance from the product.

Metal Roofing

Metal roofing is not used as commonly in residential applications as shingles, but it is a smart choice for high wind regions. When installed correctly, metal does a great job of keeping water out of the house, and it will hold up quite well against high winds. Many metal roof designs have a limited number of seams and overlaps, meaning there are few places for the wind to get in and cause havoc. As long as your metal roof has been installed correctly, and it is then maintained correctly as well, it should do well when faced with high wind speeds.

Clay Tiles

There is a lot to like about using clay tiles for your roof, although they might not be the first thing you think of when roofing in a high wind area. After all, a clay tile that gets loose and is blown off of the roof can create a dangerous situation. However, if your clay tiles are installed correctly, they should remain secure for years to come. When clay tiles are used in a windy area, it is typically best to secure them to the roof deck with a foam adhesive. This adhesive will help to prevent the tile from flying away, meaning you can enjoy long-lasting performance from this type of roof. If you do go with clay roofing, you will enjoy a number of non-wind related advantages, such as energy efficiency, visual appeal, and water resistance.

Six Benefits of Installing Cedar Roof Shakes & Shingles

hand split cedar
There is just something about a cedar roof that demands attention from nearly everyone that walks by. The look of cedar shake roofing is something that really can’t be replicated with any other kind of product, and there are plenty of performance benefits to this kind of roofing which run beyond the aesthetic appeal. If you are thinking about using cedar shakes and shingles on your roof, review the following list of benefits to confirm that you are making a great choice.

#1 – Strong

You obviously want your roof to be as strong as possible, as it has the important job of protecting your home. Cedar is one of the strongest woods around, meaning you can trust it to keep weather out of your home for many years to come. When installed properly by a trained professional, there are few options that beat a classic cedar roof.

#2 – It Can Be Flexible

There are an incredible number of options available when talking about a cedar roof, thanks to the flexibility of the product. If you would like to have it finished in a certain shade, or if you would like to even have it painted, there are a number of possibilities in play with cedar. It is also relatively easy to work with, so roof installers generally appreciate dealing with this material.

#3 – Insulation

Energy efficiency is a big topic these days, and cedar roofing can go a long way toward making your home more efficient. That is the case thanks to the way cedar can insulate your home, causing it to feel cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. Overall, you should find that you have to spend less on heating and cooling when you have a cedar roof over your head.

#4 – Holds Its Shape

Unlike some other roofing materials on the market, you shouldn’t expect much in the way of shrinkage when you turn to cedar. Even in a variety of weather conditions, cedar shakes and shingles do a great job of holding their shape long after they have been installed.

#5 – Dealing with Elements

Most roofing materials have at least one weakness when it comes to the elements, whether it be bright sunlight, wind, rain, or something else. However, that really isn’t true of cedar. A cedar roof will stand up to just about any kind of weather you throw its way, and it can even be treated to make it fire resistant. Also, moss is less likely to grow on cedar as compared to other roofing materials, which is a nice bonus for those living in parts of the country where moss is a problem.

#6 – That Great Look

It would be a mistake to finish this article without touching on the great look that is provided by cedar roofing. It is the appearance of a cedar roof that first draws most people to this option, and they are then sold when they learn that the great looks are also accompanied by a long list of performance benefits. Don’t try to replicate the look of cedar with some other kind of artificial shingle – go with the real thing and enjoy that timeless appearance for years to come.

How to Protect Your Home’s Roofing System Against Ice Dams

snowy house roof
Your roof is one of the single most-important parts of your entire house, as it has the job of keeping the weather out of your home year after year. A healthy roof can do wonders for the condition and longevity of your home, while a faulty roof can be an expensive and time-consuming problem to fix.

If you live in a cold part of the world, you will need to worry about the possibility of ice dams forming on your roof in the winter. What is an ice dam? Simply put, an ice dam is an accumulate of ice near the edges of your roof. It is natural for ice to form during the course of a cold winter, and these large chunks are commonly found on many different kinds of residential roofs. However, while they might not look like a big deal from street level, they can actually be extremely harmful if ignored.

A Pooling Problem

The problem with allowing ice dams to exist on your roof is the possibility of water backing up behind those dams during warm parts of the day. For instance, if the temperatures are well below freezing overnight – but warm into the low 40’s during the day – there will be water on your roof that can pile up behind an ice dam. When that happen, the water may work its way back up under your shingles, doing damage to the roof below.

So how can you protect your home from this quiet but serious problem? Surprisingly, one of the best things you can do is to keep your roof as cold as possible in the winter. The water that develops on your roof is often the due to a warm attic, which can head the roof up to a temperature above that of the outside air. This kind of warming from the inside will accelerate the melting of ice and snow on your roof, and you will suddenly have a pool of water that can cause trouble for your structure.

Proper Insulation is Key

To avoid heating your attic during the winter, make sure your insulation is in good shape heading in to the cold season. Most building codes call for at least a foot of insulation in an attic, so check with your local regulations to make sure you are in compliance. By checking on the thickness of your insulation, you can then add more if necessary to keep your attic and roof colder in the winter.

A Manual Fix

If you aren’t able to keep your roof as cold as necessary, or if there is water pooling due to the air warming during the daytime hours, you may need to manually pull snow off of your roof from time to time. Of course, this can be a dangerous job, so be sure to take all necessary precautions, and look into the possibility of purchasing a snow rake which can allow you to do the job while standing on the ground (for a single story home). Never pull snow down toward you while standing on a ladder, and the snow could potentially knock you down.

Ice dams are a serious problem in cold parts of the world, but there are steps that can be taken to prevent them from doing damage to your roof. Plan ahead for this potential issue and you should be able to avoid any costly repairs down the line.