Today I was up on a roof, looking for a leak, when I came across these mismatched ridge caps. Maybe I shouldn’t be using the term, “ridge cap,” as only one of the products shown in this image is actually ridge cap. This is an all-too-common issue that I see constantly, but a home owner may not know the difference. In the image shown above, the contractor only used the architectural shingles as ridge cap in a few areas. This is usually an indication that the contractor did not order enough ridge cap and decided, rather than run back to the supply house, to use the architectural shingles instead. I have seen many instances where the contractor chose to use architectural shingles as all of the ridge cap.
Why would a professional roofing contractor choose to do this? They wouldn’t, but other contractors will because it will save them a few dollars. A bundle of ridge cap can range from $40 to $60 a bundle and the bundle will only cover 30 linear feet. A bundle of architectural shingles range from $20 to $30 and cover roughly the same linear footage. On a smaller roof where only one, maybe two bundles of ridge cap are needed, there isn’t a significant saving. But, on a hip style roof, like the one in the image above, you may need 4 – 6 bundles of ridge cap. With needing that many bundles, well, you can do the math.
The issue with using architectural shingles as ridge cap is they are not designed to arch over the ridge. Architectural shingles are a double-laminated shingle. The entire shingle is not doubled but specific spots of the shingle do have a second laminated area which gives the shingle it’s architectural design. Over time, the second laminated layer will start to become delaminated and peel apart from being arched over the ridge.
Another money-saving technique some contractors will use is cutting and installing three-tab shingles as ridge cap. Three-tab shingles are only a single layer of shingle and have no problem laying over the arch of the ridge. The problem with this method is that three tab shingles are usually only a 20-year shingle, whereas the architectural shingle may be a 30-year shingle or even a Limited Lifetime depending on the manufacture. With the ridge cap being a single layer of asphalt and granules, sitting at the peak of your roof to absorb as many UV rays as possible, it is crucial that the intended material is used for the job.
All of our estimates are material specific, so you know exactly what you are getting. If you are ever unclear as to what material will be used on your home, be sure to ask. Even call another contractor to see if this is a standard business practice. Because once it is done the wrong way, there is a good chance you may not be able to get ahold of that contractor by the time you find out.