Get Your Free Residential Roofing Estimate in Seconds. Click Here For Free Instant, Online Roof Estimate

Save Money & Boost Home Value: Ultimate Roofing Material Guide Unleashed!

GAF Armorshield II Shingles

Hey there, West Michigan property owners! As an experienced roofing contractor specializing in residential roofing services, I understand the unique challenges our region’s climate poses for roofs. In this article, we’ll dive into answering the top seven common roofing questions you may have, providing expert advice and some personal anecdotes to help you make informed decisions about your roof. So, let’s get started and ensure your roof is ready to weather the storms!

How often should I inspect my roof in West Michigan?

When it comes to the harsh weather conditions we experience in West Michigan, regular roof inspections are crucial.  If you are able to safely inspect your roof or complete maintenance on this area of your home be sure to take photos of areas of concern to watch overtime. 

Areas to keep an eye out for are any areas of high water flow (valleys, eaves, transitions) and flashings (chimneys, wall lines, etc.). If you’re not regularly on your roof or this area of your home I would recommend scheduling a professional inspection at least once every few years, this can help in addressing common roofing questions before they evolve into a larger issue. However, that’s not to say you should ignore your roof for the rest of those in between years.

Conducting visual inspections every few months can help you catch any potential issues early on, including being sure gutters are properly draining.  Water drainage off of your roof is key and we need to be sure the water distribution system is working properly.  Contact Character for more information and a free evaluation on both the roof and gutter systems.

What are the most common roofing issues in West Michigan?

West Michigan is known for its unpredictable weather, and our roofs bear the brunt of it. Snow and ice damage are common culprits during winter, causing leaks and structural damage as they form and find ways between roofing layers.

After a severe storm, wind damage can result in missing or loose shingles, this can look like a lightning bolt in a zig zag pattern also known as zippering. Algae and moss growth may also become problematic due to the damp conditions, as they form on roof materials they degrade the roof and force the layers to ware and become compromised. Additionally, condensation and ventilation issues can lead to premature aging of your roof due to our swing in temperature and moisture during the seasons. 

Ventilation is one of the biggest factors with your conditioned structure as it can help extend or be the cause of shortening your roofs life cycle.  Being aware of these common roofing questions will help you address them promptly, and as always you can contact Character for questions or an evaluation to discuss concerns. 

All of these items relate to the freeze and thaw of our West Michigan weather and can be addressed in some ways pre-emptively while others would be completed during roof replacement.  It is important to know some of these basics that may affect your roof so that you know when it may be time for repairs or replacement without having to have water dropping on your head to know its time to call a professional roofing contractor.

What are the best roofing materials for West Michigan properties?

When it comes to roofing materials in West Michigan, there are a few reliable options to consider. Dimensional Asphalt shingles are a popular choice due to their affordability, durability, and ability to withstand our region’s climate.  When it comes to shingles I believe GAF offers a product second to few possibly none. 

The GAF family of roofing products are competitively priced and offer longer more robust warranties backed by a family owned North American based manufacturer.  With these benefits and a plethora of options GAF is usually my first recommendation when discussing roofing replacement with a property owner.  GAF HDZ and ULTRA shingles both look beautiful and provide significantly more warranty coverage than the majority of similar priced competitive options.  Both shingles provide a unlimited wind warranty and carry a 25 year algae warranty! 

Metal roofing (depending on the structure) is another great option, known for its longevity and energy efficiency when properly installed.  There are many options now for metal roofing including standing seam metal roofs (those that are hidden and non-hidden fastener), stone coated steel shingles, tile style steel, and so many more. 

We often purchase our metal roofing from a company called Graber Post.  Metal roofing can be a great choice and depending on the structure the roof is being installed on.  This comes down to the slope of the roof, the amount of transitions, and areas like dormers or odd additions that could make metal work more difficult.  All of these factors also come into play with pricing on metal roofing more so than a shingled roof system and will drive up the cost for installation. 

This often surprises a property owner if a friend or family member recently had metal installed and they are surprised in the difference in cost between “houses similar in size”, size yes but not style of roof and that is where metal can be more expensive than its “worth”.  “Worth” is in the eye of the beholder as they say and to me now that the shingle manufacturers have extended their warranties to 50 Years its hard to go with metal that is often more than twice the cost of a shingled roof, unless…. that’s the look you want, then warranties be damned! Haha! 

There is a new class of roofing that is hitting the market in the last 10-15 years and that is rubber.  If you’re looking for a more unique and upscale choice for roofing replacement rubber roofing options like Malarkey or GAF Armorshield II can also add protection long term to your home, with their Class 4 Impact resistance against hail or other damage.

These products I used to tell people and honestly now I feel almost silly for doing it used to be considered “just for Texas and Oklahoma”…yes I literally said that often before the last five years.  That is due to the amount of hail we have seen in West Michigan (reference this blog article for more info) which is more than the first 15 years of my 20 year roofing career all here locally. 

Consider factors such as cost, durability, and aesthetics when selecting the best material for your property but also contact a professional or multiple to get more information from a material and installation expert as your structure may have factors that would lead to one recommendation over another.

How can I extend the lifespan of my roof in West Michigan?


Maintaining your roof properly is key to maximizing its lifespan. Regular maintenance practices, such as cleaning gutters, removing debris, and trimming overhanging tree branches, can prevent damage caused by clogged gutters or falling branches.

Additionally, addressing any ventilation or lack of insulation are huge for the life cycle of your homes roof.  The build up of excess heat and moisture on the underside of the roof can and will cause the roof to fail faster and can cause energy loss and possibly mold if air does not properly circulate and ventilate out of the structure.

For instance, I once had a homeowner who had a new vent fan installed during a bathroom update with a handyman… The handyman did not properly connect the vent fan to properly exhaust out of the roof causing mold in the attic from the bathroom exhaust and hot wet shower air being blown into the attic 5 times + per day.  The bottom of the roof deck and the framing inside the attic of this home looked like they were wrapped in old brown shag carpet. 

Don’t make the same mistake—nipping problems in the bud saves you time and money in the long run so stay diligent with maintenance items and if needed call in a professional for help with the high up stuff!  Character offers service and maintenance for exactly this type of work and we have the training and tools to safely work on high or difficult to access areas of your residential home.

Can I install a new roof over my existing one in West Michigan?

While overlaying a new roof over an existing one can seem like a cost-effective solution, it’s essential to consider the specific circumstances of your West Michigan property. In some cases, it may be feasible and approved by local building codes. However, in almost all instances it’s better to remove the existing roof before installing a new one.

For example, if there are multiple layers of old roofing or significant damage, a clean slate is required to get back to building code compliance and manufacturer warranties.  When you add an additional course to the roof of the home you are failing to address and update the roof using technology that did not exist 25+ years ago or was not commonly used.  If cost and longevity are not items you are concerned with then a layover can be done and will often last 8-15+ years depending on the quality of the installation, the structures ventilation, and current condition of the roof. 

Consult with a professional roofing contractor to determine the best course of action for your roof, ask for photos and get multiple estimates so you can understand different approaches to your roofs needs before moving forward with roof replacement.

How can I improve the energy efficiency of my roof in West Michigan?

Energy efficiency is becoming increasingly important, both for the environment and your wallet. When it comes to your roof, proper insulation is vital to reducing heat loss during the cold winter months.

Adequate ventilation also plays a significant role in maintaining an energy-efficient roof and home. A well-ventilated roof prevents excessive heat buildup in the summer, reducing the strain on your cooling system. Consider energy-efficient solutions that can be retrofit into an existing roof such as ridge venting a gabled roof, mechanical fans to cycle out warm air, adding insulation to the attic of the home, opening and ensuring good air flow in from the soffit under the eaves of the home into the upper levels of the roof.

I remember a customer who noticed a significant decrease in their energy bills after upgrading their insulation and installing what are called sleepers or a cool air cavity above the roof deck and before the roofing materials are applied.  This systems creates a thermal envelope for a home with no attic space and cathedral ceilings, this has been a huge reduction in heat during summer months for this home—proof that investing in energy efficiency pays off in the long term. 

We use basic building science mixed with some cool new tools like thermal cameras and more to help identify issues and opportunities to increase efficiency.  This can sometimes be expensive but can also be a very simple inexpensive fix depending on the structure and the homeowners ultimate goals.  Contact Character for more information or a free evaluation on your home we work with many local HVAC companies for these types of upgrades and projects.

What should I look for when hiring a roofing contractor in West Michigan?

Character. Professionalism. Reliability. Local. Quality.

When it’s time for roof repairs or a full replacement, choosing the right roofing contractor is crucial and there are many great ones out there. Look for state licensed credentials and manufacturer certifications to ensure the contractor is qualified and licensed to work in West Michigan.

Local experience is also valuable since it demonstrates their understanding of the unique challenges the homes in our area present as well as building code.  Quick side note after the hail storms in Vicksburg a local roofer (not us) hired crews from down south like Texas south…and during their roof installations the Texas crew did not know to install Ice & Water shield.  This is a crucial component and is building code required to be installed, the roofer who thought he would get rich quick ended up replacing multiple roofs as word got out. So don’t be shy about asking for references and testimonials to gauge the quality of the roofing companies work. A reliable contractor will be happy to provide them, and it’s worth the extra effort to ensure you’re making the best choice for your roof. 

Ensure your roofing contractor has General Liability and Workers Compensation insurance and that the policies are active and not just printed on a piece of paper.  Checking these references to be valid is huge and not something that any homeowner wants to deal with on the bad end… I’ve seen it and it’s a bad situation. Use local reputable roofing companies and you’ll be fine!


West Michigan property owners, I hope this article has addressed some of your common roofing questions and provided you with valuable insights, please check out our other blogs for more information.

Remember, regular inspections even visual inspections from the ground, addressing common issues promptly, and choosing the right materials are key to keeping your roof in top shape and saving you money. By taking care of your roof, you’re protecting your investment and ensuring your home remains safe and comfortable for years to come.

If you’re ever in doubt or need professional assistance, don’t hesitate to reach out to a reputable roofing contractor Character Exteriors. Thanks for reading and check out our videos on Youtube or our other blogs for other information about projects and home maintenance.

Read more: Metal Roofing vs. Shingles Comparison: Make the Right Choice

Read more: Top 7 Common Roofing Questions Answered by Experts: A Guide for West Michigan Property Owners

No Payments for 12 Months

Zero percent down, low monthly payments, and affordable solutions to help you finance your exterior remodel in West Michigan. Just give Character Exteriors a call today to request more information!

Character Exteriors
Based on 101 reviews
powered by Google
Get Started Now
Your message was sent!

Schedule a Consultation