4 Roof Replacement Options for Bay Area Eichler or Midcentury Modern Homeowners

Atria Real Estate November 7, 2022


4 Roof Replacement Options for Bay Area Eichler or Midcentury Modern Homeowners

Since Eichler roofs are distinctively designed to be flat and minimally sloped, homeowners tend to have more difficulties when it comes time to replace or renew the roof of their home. Whether the need for a replacement is due to leaks, weather damage, renovation or old age, homeowners must sort through a range of conflicting options to find the roofing solution that best fits their needs. While water will naturally drain off of a pitched roof because of gravity, with flat and low-sloped roofs there are both ponding and draining issues which can lead to leaks and other water damage over time. It’s no wonder that many roofers surveyed in the Bay Area say on average that owners of these homes wind up re-roofing every 12 to 15 years.

Before diving into your options, it’s best to ask yourself some key questions:

  • How old is your roof?
  • Does your current roof need to be completely removed or is it still repairable? If it’s still repairable, what types of damages are there?
  • Is energy conservation important to you?
  • How important is retaining the midcentury modern design esthetics to you?
  • Are you looking for more of a short term fix rather than a long term one?
  • Is price a primary concern for you?
  • Do you need to add insulation? Is the home losing a lot of heat through the roof?
  • Will you be adding skylights or replacing the electrical?

Once you get a clearer image of your goals for this roofing project, you’ll be able to filter through your options with greater ease. As your Eichler real estate experts, we’re here to make this process as fluid as possible for you since we know it can be a stressful undertaking for homeowners. However keep in mind that there is no perfect roofing solution. Each type of roof offers tradeoffs with respect to cost, insulating properties, longevity, and other elements. Therefore the ‘best’ choice for you may not be the same as for your neighbor next door.


Cost: $2.50 to $4.50 per square foot
Life expectancy: 10-15 years

About: Tar and Gravel roofs have been around for centuries and is one of the oldest roofing types in residential construction. It is generally the most cost efficient option to replacing your roof, though the cost can rise with add-ons such as insulation and topcoats. Although virtually all modern home roofs were constructed with tar and gravel in the 1950’s, it seems to be losing a lot of market share with a host of newer technologies emerging. A tar and gravel roof consists of built up layers of asphalt and tar paper (or newer, more sophisticated materials) adhered with applications of molten asphalt. The laminated layers get a top finish of gravel, some of which becomes embedded in the hot asphalt, and some of which lays loose on the surface of the roof. The purpose of the multiple layers is to create a watertight seal over the roof.

Pros: The gravel protects the felt from the ultraviolet (UV) rays of the sun, improves aesthetics by providing an attractive and uniform surface, and aids in water evaporation by increasing the amount of surface area. If properly done, this layering process results in a roof that is watertight.

Cons: T&G roofs can be very heavy which means the joists sometimes have to be strengthened. Because of the dark color (and poor reflectivity) of tar-and-gravel roofs, adding insulation to them is strongly recommended. Although this will make it more flexible to low temperatures, it could also hike up the cost by up to 50 percent. Gravel can clog gutters and scuppers, and it’s overall messy to install.

Bay Area Specialists:
– Eastman Roofing (http://www.eastmanroofing.com/)
– Cosmos Roofing (http://www.cosmosroofing.com/)


Cost: $3 to $12 per square foot
Life expectancy: 50+ years

About: Polyurethane foam roof, a favored option amongst Eichler homeowners, is unique in the sense that it is the only roof type that can both insulate and protect against leaks as a single monolithic barrier. Although it is one of the more costly options, it is known to be a worthy investment due to the reduction of long-term costs. SPF-based roof systems are constructed by mixing and spraying a two-component liquid that forms the base of an adhered roof system. SPF can be installed in various thicknesses to provide slope to drain or meet a specified thermal resistance. A protective surfacing is then applied to the foam to provide weatherproofing, protect the foam from UV exposure, offer protection from mechanical damage and assist with the fire-resistant characteristic of the roof system.

Pros: A gray base coat serves to protect the roof from the UV rays of the sun, while a white topcoat adds reflectivity, making the roof more energy efficient. Another advantage is that the spray foam can be applied over existing roofs, which means you can prevent your roofer from dumping old tar in the landfill. Essentially it provides leak-free performance with little to no maintenance.

Cons: SPF has to be applied with exactitude since spray foam roofing has rigorous specifications and requires steady expert hands for effective application. Therefore it’s important to find a quality installer for this type of system in particular. Since it takes a lot of time to master this highly specialized system from a contractor standpoint, it tends to be initially costlier than other systems.

Bay Area Specialists:
– Abril Roofing (www.abrilroofing.com)
– Dura-Foam Roofing (www.Dura-foam.com)


Cost: $3 to $5 per square foot
Life expectancy: 25-30 years

About: Single-ply roofing membranes have grown in popularity over the past 30 years, and due to their flexibility, relative ease of installation, and competitive price, it’s no wonder that building owners and facilities professionals are interested. With a single-ply roof, sheets of plastic membrane (for example, TPO or PVC) are rolled out over the roof’s surface and then welded together using hot-air tools. It creates a permanent, watertight covering that protects the roof from leaks.

Pros: Since single plies are highly reflective which means they reduce heat gain and have a proven ability to withstand ultraviolet rays from the sun. While some homeowners opt for installation without additional insulation, others prefer it to gain cold-weather protection. It’s also energy efficient due to its light color and reflectivity, which can lead to potential HVAC savings and a more environmentally friendly solution. Since the lightweight materials make it cleaner and much easier for contractors to install, it tends to be an affordable option for homeowners.

Cons: The biggest drawback to single-ply roofs is that they only have one layer, whereas BURs and modified bitumen roofs have multiple layers. Therefore, if the single-ply membrane punctures or tears, the entire underlying structure is at risk.

Bay Area Specialists:
– CalPac Roofing (www.cal-pacroofing.com)
– Wedge Roofing (www.wedgeroofing.com)


Cost: $1.50 to $3 per square foot
Life expectancy: 12-20 years

About: Known as the “hybrid” system made up of built up roofing felts and MB sheets, modified bitumen roofing systems were developed in Europe in the 1960s and first used in the United States in the 1970s. Modified bitumen is a membrane-style roof that can be installed as a one-, two-, or three-ply system, though most are two-ply applications. The roof is generally comprised of a base sheet, plus two modified ply layers. Each layer is attached to one another and sealed using heated asphalt. Like other forms of built up roofing, modified bitumen roofs offer an economical flat roofing system. It is important to remember to cover the top of modified roofs with a protective layer to block out the sun’s ultraviolet rays. The roof can be covered with gravel or with a UV reflective granulated surface, with the granulated surface being the lighter of the two. (Homeowners considering a gravel top layer should first be certain that their home can structurally support its weight.)

Pros: Polymer-modified bitumen, compared to traditional asphalt, provides increased strength, flexibility, and ultraviolet resistance in addition to better resistance to aging and weathering. The modified material can handle high and low temperature extremes better than BUR. Peak performance depends on quality installation, so be sure to choose a contractor who has extensive experience working with bitumen roofing.

Cons: One of the biggest drawbacks to modified bitumen is that extreme heat is needed to properly weld sheet seams, unless using cold-process adhesives. Heat is typically applied with open-flame torches, but if not used properly, these flames can start fires on the roof and in the underlying structure.

Bay Area Specialists:
– Aussie Roofing Inc (www.aussieroofing.com)

For more information on Roof Replacement Options for Eichler or Midcentury Modern Homes, contact your Eichler Real Estate Experts today.

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