As the Internet has grown in popularity the phenomenon of the educated consumer has grown along with it.

As the Internet has grown in popularity the phenomenon of the educated consumer has grown along with it.

I plead guilty to being a better-informed consumer when I am faced with the task purchasing a big-ticket item. Especially one that I have either never bought before or have not bought in a very long time. Most roofing consumers today fall into one or all of these categories:

1) It is a very “big ticket” for most folks.
2) Many have never purchased roofing before.
3) Most have not purchased roofing in a very long time - certainly since roofing systems and materials have changed (a lot).
4) To make what they feel will be a good buying decision, they spend some time on the Internet performing “research.”

The only problem I see with that is that while the Internet is full of great information (including improved graphics and even video), there is also a somewhat dark side. I’m not talking about porn or anything like that, but blogs and articles published by homeowner “experts” that know a little bit about all kinds of things related to construction but are suspect in the area of roofing.

It’s not only the Internet where you can find really bad advice on roofing, either. When one of my neighbors stick-built a screen enclosure over his concrete patio, he came to me after he had been to the home improvement warehouse store. He had done a nice job framing the enclosure and all, but he only gave it around a 1/4 inch in 12 inch pitch. Not a problem, but he called me to show him how to nail the shingles that he had just purchased.

After we got over the whole “Why in the hell did you not call me in the first place” discussion, I was able to determine that my neighbor actually told the home improvement warehouse employee what the pitch was on his addition! The guy at the store told him, “Yeah, you have enough pitch. All it takes is around 1/8 inch in 12 inches … like a bathtub.” We took the shingles back and put on an appropriate asphalt-based membrane covering.

Surfing around the Internet just the other day I ran into a “Q&A” type home improvement column from a local newspaper (the name of which will be omitted here to protect the guilty). This writer informed the readers that they really needed to focus on the dry-in since the felt is what really provided the waterproofing. The asphalt shingles were just there for looks and to protect the felt. I’ve been in this business since 1974 and I have never heard that one!

One thing I have learned since the dawn of the Internet: Just about anything you see here (including this blog, which is based mostly on my opinion) should be taken with a grain of salt. Some should be taken with a box of ice cream salt. Best advice - check it twice and then research it just a little more. If you find the same advice two or more times from reasonably reliable sources it may be that both sources are falling for the same bad information. If what you are trying to learn is really important, you need to check all the facts independently and then check again.

And roofing contractors out there dealing with John Q Public: It is a good service to refer them to trusted sites on the Internet so they can independently check all the facts you toss at them as part of the sales process. If you have your story straight, it will be borne out by the legitimate media, Web sites published by roofing manufacturers and professional roofing associations.