Category: Roofing & Siding


Stone Veneer 101

Rock your home and garden makeovers with the natural look of stone veneer—a material that's surprisingly manageable for determined DIYers who have a little time or patience.

Installing Stone Veneer

Photo: jkandsons.com

The pharaohs capitalized on the beauty and strength of stone, overseeing the construction of architectural gems whose magnificence has endured into the modern age. Fortunately for do-it-yourselfers, stonework has changed a great deal since Ancient Egypt, and we no longer toil with monolithic blocks hewn from raw earth. Today, stone veneer is a lightweight and user-friendly option for home interiors and exteriors, and available in numerous colors and textures.

Application
You can add stone veneer to a host of surfaces, both inside and outside your home. One popular choice is to use stone veneer to cover a fireplace mantel for an earthy look of permanence. Elsewhere in the home, stone veneer can be used to stunning effect in kitchen islands, eye-catching backsplashes, and spa-like showers. Stone veneer succeeds equally well as a house siding material, imparting an Old World look even to new construction. Yet another area where stone veneer can be put to good use is the backyard, where it can soften the transition between natural surroundings and manmade features, such as the patio or pool.

Selection
There are essentially two types of stone veneer. The first involves genuine stone, so it comes at a relatively high cost. For those with deep pockets, however, it’s a gorgeous, long-lasting choice. Traditionally, natural stone veneer has been heavier than engineered products, but recent advancements have all but eliminated that issue. Manufacturers nowadays are able to cut the stone so thinly that its weight is not out of line with that of its artificial cousins.

Faux stone, sometimes known as cultured stone, is the second type available to homeowners. In years past, artificial stone veneer looked, well, artificial, but times have changed. To the eye and even to the touch, manmade stone veneer now convincingly emulates the real thing. (Sure, you can tell the difference if you look closely, but you really have to look closely.) Lighter and a little tidier to work with, cultured stone veneer is the more DIY-friendly of the two options.

Installing Stone Veneer - Fieldstone

Photo: crisparchitects.com

Installation
The process of installing stone veneer remains the same, more or less, whether you are applying a natural or cultured stone product, and whether you are working inside or outside the home.

First things first: The surface to which you are adhering the stone must be clean and free of paint, dust, or dirt. If the stone veneer is going to cover an installation of brick or concrete, it can be directly applied. Any other surface must be sheathed beforehand with metal lath. Note that on exterior walls, it’s recommended that a weather-resistant vapor barrier be installed behind the lath.

Next, apply a scratch coat of mortar composed of two parts washed sand to one part Portland cement. Layer on a thickness of about a half inch. While the mortar is still soft, use a metal scraper to lightly carve horizontal grooves across the surface. Then allow the scratch coat to cure for 24 hours.

You now have a masonry surface over which you can install stone veneer. Here’s the procedure.

1. Mix an appropriate quantity of mortar using two parts washed sand to one part Portland cement. Stir the mortar for at least five minutes, until it has a thick and creamy consistency.

2. Lay out the stones in the pattern you wish. If necessary, trim individual stones to a usable size by means of a masonry hammer (or a skilsaw outfitted with a masonry blade).

3. Remove all dust, dirt, and loose particles from the stones, washing with water if needed. Once the stones are clean and dry, moisten (but do not saturate) their rear sides with a masonry brush. Doing so helps to ensure a strong bond between the stone and mortar.

4. Spread a half inch to one inch of mortar over the back of the stone. Press the stone to the wall. As you press, rotate slightly, forcing some of the mortar to squeeze out around the edges of the stone. Before the mortar has a chance to set, remove any excess from the surface of the stone with a rag or brush. Keep the joint lines as narrow as possible between adjacent stones for the most attractive appearance.

5. Once you have installed the stone veneer over the scratch coat using the technique described in Step 4, proceed to grout any large gaps between the stones.

MAINTENANCE
Approximately four weeks later, apply a quality sealer to the stone veneer in order to protect the surface. Once applied, the sealer must be reapplied periodically, especially in an outdoor installation. Keep in mind that a sealer may change the coloring of the stone, so experiment with the sealer first in an inconspicuous area; if you aren’t thrilled with the result, try a different product. One great thing about stone veneer is how easy it is to clean: If the hose fails to do the trick—or if you’re cleaning indoors—water and a stiff brush will almost always produce satisfactory results.


How To: Clean Gutters with a Wet/Dry Vac

Believe it or not, you can use a wet/dry vac to make quicker and easier work of the fall maintenance task that homeowners love least—gutter cleaning.

A wet-dry vac is a great tool to have—and not just for cleaning up the workshop. They come in handy for those tedious seasonal chores, as well. With a few special attachments like these, cleaning the leaves out of your gutters becomes much easier, often eliminating the need for ladders, gloves, and an extra mess to clean up.

For more on seasonal maintenance, consider:

Gutters 101
Bob Vila Radio: Fall Checklist
10 Fall Home Maintenance Musts


Quick Tip: Metal Roofing

An alternative to asphalt shingles and other popular materials, metal roofing offers high performance under harsh conditions and can last as long as a lifetime.

When roofing your house, consider using a metal roof. Available in a variety of colors and styles, metal roofing is made of recycled materials and can be recycled itself, saving space in landfills. A metal roof lasts four to five times longer than asphalt and it performs better in fire, snow loads, hail and high winds.

For more on metal roofing, consider:

Metal Roofs 101
Metal Roofs on the Rise
Debunking 5 Metal Roof Myths


Bob Vila Radio: Siding Alternatives

Tired of the traditional vinyl and aluminum siding of the past? Look into these new eco-friendly and low-maintenance siding alternatives.

If you’re old enough to remember the aluminum siding that was all the rage in the 1960s, you may have an understandable bias against any home siding that’s not wood. But wood needs regular painting to protect it from the elements and keep it looking fresh. If that kind of upkeep is not in your budget, you may find yourself thinking about maintenance-free alternatives.

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Listen to BOB VILA ON SIDING ALTERNATIVES or read the text below:

Alternative Siding

Photo: shutterstock.com

One common option, vinyl siding, arouses environmental concerns, so what’s a homeowner to do? Fortunately, there are several good eco-friendly and low-maintenance alternatives for your home.

The material known as fiber cement is manufactured from cement, sand, and cellulose, and it can be made to look like horizontal lap siding, vertical boards, or shingles. Fiber cement is energy efficient and durable, and it comes prefinished in a wide range of colors that may never need repainting, or you can paint it yourself.

Stucco, an alternative to siding, can be applied to a home’s exterior, but it works best on certain styles of home, like Tudors. It’s virtually maintenance free once applied.

Stone and brick veneer have become more popular recently—they, too, provide insulation, are easy to install, and require almost no maintenance. It all depends on your style sense and budget—you really can have an eco-friendly, low-maintenance exterior!

Bob Vila Radio is a newly launched daily radio spot carried on more than 75 stations around the country (and growing). You can get your daily dose here, by listening to—or reading—Bob’s 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day.


Bob Vila’s Guide to Roofing

To help you decide which of today's many roofing materials will work best on your home, take a look at our quick, cut-to-the-chase rundown of the most common options.

Roofing Materials - Slate

Photo: advancedroofing.net

Whether you are building a new house or renovating your current home, the roof will be one of the most important choices you make. Aesthetics are important, but so too are your roofing material’s cost, weight, installation requirements, and suitability for your climate. More often than not, if you are remodeling, the existing roof will determine your choice of material. In addition, the condition and geometry of the existing roof may affect the cost. For example, if old roofing needs to be removed or the roof deck needs repair, or if your home has multiple chimneys, intersecting rooflines, skylights, or other elements, you can expect to pay for the additional work required for a quality installation.

As is the case with exterior siding, the style of your house will influence your choice of roofing material. Know, however, that many different types of roofing materials offer similar looks—composite shingles can look like slate, metal roofing can look like wood shakes, and some asphalt shingles can even provide solar benefits. Use this roofing guide to familiarize yourself with the options, then talk with a qualified roofing contractor who can explain the differences between the materials and outline their benefits and costs.

Asphalt

Clay and Concrete

Wood

Slate

Metal

Composite

Green

ASPHALT
Asphalt shingles have long been the go-to standard in residential roofing, and with their affordability, easy installation, and wide availability, their popularity hardly comes as a surprise. Although they used to be considered plain-Jane, these days asphalt shingles can be made to mimic the look of slate, wood shakes, or even tile.

  • Fiberglass shingles are made of a woven fiberglass base mat covered with a waterproof asphalt coating and topped with ceramic granules that shield the product from harmful UV rays. They are available in a full range of styles and colors to complement any home’s architectural style.
  • Traditional organic mat-based shingles are heavier, thicker, and more costly. They are also more absorbent and can warp over time; the additional asphalt content also makes them less environmentally friendly.
  • Manufacturer warranties generally guarantee a lifespan of 15 to 30 years, depending on factors like climate and roof pitch.

CLAY AND CONCRETE
Tile roofs, commonly associated with Southwest-style and Mediterranean-inspired homes, are extremely durable, lasting for centuries in some cases. Whether made of concrete or clay, individual tiles are often molded in barrel shapes for secure, interlocking installation.

  • Clay tiles are more colorfast, durable, and costly than their concrete counterparts.
  • Weight will be an issue, so be sure to ask a structural engineer if your roof framing will support a tile application.
  • While both clay and concrete offer top fire and impact ratings, they are more difficult to install and repair.

WOOD
Wood roofs are made from cedar, spruce, or treated pine, and are especially appropriate for older homes and those based upon historical styles. There are two types of wood roofing: shingles and shakes. Wood shingles are machine-cut and tapered for a trim, crisp appearance. Wood shakes are hand-split, giving them a more rustic appeal.

  • Wood shingles last about as long as asphalt shingles (about 30 years) but can cost six times more.
  • Shakes and shingles have their own specific installation requirements, making them more difficult to install but relatively easy to repair and replace.
  • Wood shingles and shakes require periodic treatments with preservatives and fungicides in order to keep from drying out, warping, cracking, and being attacked by mildew and fungus.

SLATE
Slate quarried for roofing is dense, sound rock, and is exceedingly tough and durable. Although it is labor-intensive and costly to install, a natural slate roof will give a building character that can’t be achieved by any other roofing material.

  • Slate roofing is noncombustible and waterproof, and it requires little to no maintenance over the course of its long life.
  • Most slate roofs have an extended lifespan; those from Vermont and Virginia can last more than 50 years.

METAL
Metal roofing is generally made of steel, aluminum, or copper, and can be stamped into many shapes and styles. There is no material more capable of protecting a structure from wind, rain, hail, fire, or rot than a durable and energy-efficient metal roof.

  • For decades, metal roofs meant corrugated panels, which looked like they belonged on sheds or barns. Today, metal roofing products are available in a variety of styles—from standing seam to shingles—to suit a wide range of architectural styles.
  • Metal roofs are lightweight, allowing them sometimes to be installed directly over old roofs.
  • They are effective in preventing the spread of fire when hot embers fall on them (for example, from brush and forest fires); some insurance companies will give you a discount if you have a metal roof.

COMPOSITE
Composite shingles are newcomers in the roofing arena. Made from poly-based products, they are lightweight, fade resistant, fire safe, and generally warrantied for up to 50 years. Some composites are so realistic that they have been approved for use in historic preservation.

  • Several companies have developed composite shingles that successfully mimic everything from slate to wood.
  • Top-tier manufacturers generally boast high fire ratings and impact resistance.
  • Composites can carry a high price tag, and in some regions you may find it difficult to locate a certified installer.

GREEN
Finding increasing use in both rural and urban areas, green roofs are living systems of soil, compost, and plants. In addition to filtering pollutants and offering added insulation, they absorb storm water instead of allowing it to run off. Their requirements are many, however.

  • A green roof system typically comprises as many as nine layers. These include structural support, a vapor-control barrier, thermal insulation, waterproofing, drainage, a filter membrane, a growing medium, and, finally, the vegetation itself.
  • Whether you are able to install and cultivate a green roof will depend on the slope of your roof, the amount of sunlight the rooftop receives, and the structural support available to hold up a living roof.
  • Depending on where you live, government grants may be available to help you offset the cost of installation, and some cities even offer a tax break.

For more on roof maintenance and repair, consider:

Inspecting your roof
Cleaning gutters
Avoiding ice dams
Repairing a leaky roof
Removing old shingles


How To: Install Gutter Flashing

Install gutter flashing to improve the performance, and prolong the life, of your old wooden gutters.

Here’s a tip on how to increase the life of old wooden gutters. The first step is to lay a new rubber liner along the inside of the gutter. Adding copper flashing along the edge seals the liner, adds extra durability, and allows water to run off easily. Finally, add a second strip of rubber on top of the flashing for extra protection.

For more on gutters and drainage, consider:

French Drains 101
5 Things to Do with… Gutters
Quick Tip: Cleaning Your Gutters


Bob Vila’s Guide to Exterior Siding

The siding of your home needs to look good and perform well over many years. If you are shopping for the material that will best suit your home (and you), this guide to house siding options will come in handy.

House Siding

Photo: sidinginnovations.com

The exterior of your home faces a ceaseless barrage of threats from the hot sun, strong winds, precipitation in all its forms, and the bitter winter cold. As such, your house siding must be strong and durable. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be beautiful even decades into its life. Advancements in the manufacture of siding materials and their installation have improved both the look and longevity of products for the exterior of today’s home.

Stucco

Stone Veneer

Fiber Cement

Wood

Brick (Masonry)

Vinyl

If you’re in the market for house siding but don’t know where to begin your search, this guide can help you learn more about the pros and cons of the most popular materials, so you can make an informed choice about which option best suits your house style and local climate, not to mention your availability or willingness to perform ongoing maintenance tasks as the seasons come and go.

NOTE: Some siding is better suited to certain house styles than others. But that doesn’t mean you can’t find a the look of traditional wood lap siding in a fiber cement or vinyl product. Do your research on house style before you set out choosing new siding. You’ll also want to consider your climate—including average temperatures throughout the seasons, proximity to salty ocean air, likelihood of exposure to severe weather, such as blizzards or hurricanes, plus other environmental factors like wind, rain and humidity.

Here is a list of the most popular exterior siding options, with features, benefits, pros and cons:

STUCCO
Don’t be fooled into thinking the only look you can achieve is that of the typical hacienda- or tudor-style house. Although stucco is most often whitewashed, a varied range of textures and colors is within reach.

  • While materials are not pricey, labor costs can be. Stucco application usually requires three coats. The initial “scratch coat” provides adhesion to the building. The “brown coat”, which comes second, is responsible for creating an even surface. Finally, the “finish coat” determines the stucco’s outward appearance.
  • The breathability factor of stucco allows moisture to evaporate quickly, making it ideal for areas of the country  with normal precipitation. Not so much in rainy parts of the country, where the wood framing can be susceptible to moisture and rot.
  • Stucco typically lasts between 50 and 80 years. When it’s time to refresh yours, sandblast away the old layer and start from scratch. Painting it can lead to a host of moisture-problems down the line.

STONE VENEER
Made from a mixture of portland cement, lightweight aggregate, and iron-oxide pigments, today’s manufactured stone veneer products have become a popular siding option for many homeowners. While the look is a dead ringer and the cost is considerably less ($5 to $10 a square foot cheaper), the product does not offer the durability of natural stone.

  • Manufactured veneer is less expensive to install than natural stone, and much lighter in weight.
  • Drawbacks include durability— because the siding is made of concrete, it breaks more easily than natural stone.

FIBER CEMENT
Fiber-cement siding composition may vary from company to company, but the basic recipe is Portland cement, sand, and cellulose (wood) fibers. Wood fiber helps prevent cracking, as does a special curing process that leaves fiber cement with a low moisture content. Fiber-cement siding is low-maintenance, impact-resistant, and available in finished or painted options.

  • Fiber-cement siding has the durability of cement, a class 1A fire rating, is impervious to wood-boring insects, does not rot, and is resistant to deterioration from salt and ultraviolet rays.
  • After about 15 years, refinishing becomes necessary, but maintenance duties are light otherwise.
  • A host of textures can be found as well, and the siding may be colored to virtually any hue the homeowner desires. Some fiber cement siding products are made to resemble wood, natural fieldstone, stacked flagstone, or brick.

WOOD
Wood siding boasts a timeless beauty, and many homeowners value the way its appearance gradually changes in subtle ways. Whether it is vertical siding like board and batten, or horizontal siding like clapboards, shakes, and shingles, there are various wood species and grades to consider. Wood will, however, require a high level of maintenance to retain its beauty and effectiveness.

  • Before settling on a siding material, ask your builder or installer about rot resistance, splitting, checking or cupping. The choices of wood will be many—pine, spruce, fir, cedar, redwood—but only a few might be good for your region.
  • Some companies offer pre-primed planks, shakes, and shingles. These boards come primed on one or both faces and are sealed and protected from the minute they arrive on site.
  • A good wood siding should last for many, many years, but it must be properly maintained. Proper maintenance includes power washing and staining and sealing whenever the heat of the sun fades the finish, or when moisture starts to turn to mold or mildew.

BRICK (MASONRY)
In addition to its aesthetic appeal, durability makes brick siding a popular choice. Under normal conditions, brick siding will last the life of the building with little more than an occasional wash with the hose. Although brick siding is considered permanent, masonry does deteriorate, generally at the mortar joints, which are the gaps between bricks that are filled with mortar.

  • Masonry veneer walls consist of a single non-structural external layer of masonry work, typically brick, backed by an air space.
  • Because the masonry veneer is non-structural, it must be tied back to the building structure to prevent movement under wind and earthquake loads.
  • Buildings with masonry veneer walls can be better at cooling down during extended periods of hot weather than framed and sided buildings.

VINYL
Long saddled with a bad reputation, today’s vinyl siding is weather- and insect-proof, fade-resistant, and virtually indestructible under normal circumstances. It also remains one of the cheapest materials to install.

  • It comes in a range of colors and designs, some of which closely resemble wood grain, suitable not only for new construction, but also for replicating the look of vintage siding in renovations of older homes.
  • Although it’s often touted as maintenance free, vinyl siding does require some occasional work. Depending on how your house is situated, mold or grime might accumulate. Vinyl siding will eventually fade, but usually only slightly.
  • Though colorfast and resistant to insects and rot, vinyl siding is not maintenance free: Its vulnerability to weather damage makes occasional repairs necessary. The price tag is low enough to have enticed many, and another big selling point is its relative ease of installation.

For more on house siding and exterior maintenance, consider:

10 Superb Reasons to Consider Vinyl Siding

Fiber Cement Siding 101

How to: Repoint Brick Walls


How To: Repoint Brick Walls

Repointing brick walls and chimneys with new mortar will not only enhance their beauty, but ensure that they remain secure, stable, and sound for years to come.

How to Repoint Brick

Photo: cottagelife.com

Brick houses are hard to damage. Anyone familiar with The Three Little Pigs knows that. Inevitably, however, there comes a time when the mortar between bricks begins to degrade. The process of repair, known as repointing, is pretty easy (if a bit time consuming). Undoubtedly, it’s a smart thing to do. That’s because crumbling mortar, if not fixed, allows water to seep in between the bricks, causing them to swell and crack and become generally blow-downable.

Here’s how to keep your brick walls standing tall.

Step 1: Remove The Old Mortar
Repointing is all about out with the old and in with the new—and working in small sections. You don’t want to remove all of the old mortar from a wall at once, because you may weaken its integrity. So, working along the wall in an area about three- to five-feel wide, remove the old mortar from both the horizontal and vertical joints. To ensure you don’t damage the bricks, you can use a cold chisel or handheld grout saw to tap it out. You can also use another hand tool known as a joint raker. If you’re confident in your abilities, you can use a 4-inch angle grinder, but be careful not to cut into the brick. You’ll want to remove the mortar to a depth of about 1/2 inch. Use a whisk broom, wire brush or hose to remove all the dust and wear a respirator to keep debris out of your lungs.

clearing old mortar

Photo: easternstate.org

Step 2: Wet The Wall
Give your brick wall a good soaking with a hose and let it sit overnight. This will ensure that the bricks and old mortar are hydrated and that they don’t suck the water out of the new mortar you’ll place between them the next day. When you are ready to put in the new mortar, lightly spritz the bricks one more time before beginning.

Step 2: Mix The New Mortar
If your house is less than 50 years old, you will likely be safe using standard portland cement mortar to refill the spaces between your bricks. If your abode is older than that however, you’ll want to use a different mix, consisting of lime and sand. This is what was originally used in brickwork and it’s best to use the same mix as a replacement. That’s because portland cement mortar is very hard when it dries and can cause older bricks to crack. The lime mix acts almost like disks between vertebrae in the spine: it cushions the brick and moves along with the wall as it flexes. If you want to be sure you’re using the correct mortar replacement, you can check with a mason specializing in restoration work, or you can send a sample to be analyzed to a company like LimeWorks. Otherwise, a general rule of thumb is to make a mortar mix from 6 parts fine white sand, 2 parts lime and 1 part white portland cement.

RelatedBrick Chimney Repair (VIDEO)

No matter the mortar mix you use, be sure to make it in small batches as it hardens quickly. Place the ingredients in a wheelbarrow and mix to a frosting-like consistency whereby the mortar holds its peaks when you draw it upwards with a trowel.

Tip: Mortar sets up best in temperatures between 50 and 80 degrees, so you might want to do this project in the cooler months of the year.

Pointing Trowel

6" Pointing Trowel. Photo: wickes.co.uk

Step 3: Insert The New Mortar
Pick up some mortar on a large trowel and then, using a pointing trowel, work smaller amounts into the horizontal and vertical gaps between the bricks. You might find it easier to fill the vertical joints with a tool known as a margin trowel. Use the flat edge of the trowel to even out your work and scrape off any mortar you get on the face of the bricks.

Step 4: Clean Up
Wait about an hour until the mortar has hardened a bit, then scrape off any mortar that’s remained on the brick face. You can do this with a sturdy wire brush, but be sure to use a horizontal sweeping motion so as to not pull the new mortar out of the joints. For the next three to four days, give the wall a daily misting to allow the mortar to dry slowly and not crack.

All in all, it’s a tedious, detailed job and you may find yourself huffing and puffing during it, but you’ll soon be satisfied that nobody and nothing will be blowing your brick house down anytime soon.


Should You Replace or Repair Your Roof?

Making the right decisions about your roof ensures your home's optimal performance and safeguards your peace of mind.

Repair or Replace Roof

Photo: CertainTeed Asphalt Shingles

Making good decisions is the key to minimizing near- and long-term costs related to any home improvement. This is especially true for large, complex jobs like reroofing. In this particular case, some of the most important decisions should be made before you hire a contractor or choose a shingle manufacturer.

The first decision is whether to simply patch leaks and damaged areas or whether partial or complete reroofing is in order. If you choose the latter, you’ll also have to decide whether to roof over your existing roof or whether to remove it. There are cost consequences either way.

Replacing shingles due to wind damage or a fallen limb is a relatively easy and inexpensive. Torn or damaged shingles can be removed, and new ones can be slipped in place. The downside is that unless your roof is relatively new and you happen to have saved some spare shingles from the job, your patch job may not match the existing roof. But that is a small price to pay if the repair would extend the life of your current roof for another 10 or 15 years! However, if you plan to sell your home in the next few years, ask your contractor to order shingles that match as closely as possible. A roof with a prominent patch is unattractive and will not inspire a potential buyer’s confidence.

Repair or Replace Roof - Asphalt ShinglesIf the damage is more significant but confined to one side of the roof, partial reroofing is an option that will cost thousands of dollars less than doing the entire roof. Repairing a section of roofing will also make it easier to blend new with old, because slight color differences will be less noticeable.

Counter to intuition, partial reroofing jobs are more expensive on a cost per square (a 10′ x 10′ area) basis. They can create added problems, too. For example, if an asphalt roof already has two or more layers, all layers will have to be removed in order for the partial re-roofing to proceed. So in addition to increased labor and disposal costs, you may face the possibility of a lopsided effect at ridges, with the old roof ending up a couple of inches higher than the new one. Even when built up with a course of shingles and covered with a ridge cap, the hump may still be noticeable.

A New Roof—Cheaper in the Long Term?
Even if only part of your roof is showing signs of wear, it’s wise to consider doing the entire job while the crew is on-site with its scaffolding, ladders, and equipment. This will likely be less expensive than doing one part now and the remainder in a few years. I recently had a quote to repair one side of a four-sided hip roof for $2,800. For the entire roof, meanwhile, the quote was $9,000, or $2,250 per side. Given that the previous owner had reroofed 17 years before with shingles that only carried a 20-year rated life expectancy, I decided to spring for a complete reroofing.

Slideshow: Asphalt Shingles: A Showcase of Roofing Styles, Colors, and Options

When to reroof depends on several variables, including the shingles’ wear and age, the climate in your area, and your home’s susceptibility to future damage. I patched my own roof after Hurricane Irene blew off six or seven shingles in 2011. The replacement shingles were off the rack at the home center and lightweight, but they matched the existing three-tab style, were somewhat close in color, and saved me from having to buy more shingles than I needed. Added a few extra dabs of roofing cement under the patching shingles, I hoped for the best. The job cost $160.

A little over a year later, Hurricane Sandy blew away another dozen or so shingles. Reroofing with a more durable shingle, one with vastly improved adhesives, held a lot of appeal. The fact that the new shingles would have six nails per shingle instead of four, as now recommended by the shingle manufacturer for high-wind areas, was also an incentive.

Tear Off or Roof Over?
Once you’ve decided to reroof, you’ll have to decide whether to install your new roof over the existing one or whether to tear the old one off. Once again, the choice comes down to saving a little money now and risking greater expenses down the road, or spending more now to do the job right and minimize future expenses.

Repair or Replace Roof - Removing Shingles

If you already have two layers shingles, the decision is made for you. The International Residential Code (R907.3) says that you cannot put a new roof over two or more applications of any type of roof covering. Part of the reason has to do with weight and its effect on the structure of your home. A shingle in your hand may not feel as though it weighs much, but cover a roof with 1,500 square feet of them, and it’s nearly the equivalent of parking a two-ton SUV up there!

If you have only one layer of asphalt shingles, you may decide to have them removed even though you’re not required to. Doing so may save you money in the future. For example, if you live in an area that is subject to high winds, keep in mind that shingles will hold better if fastened directly to the roof deck. In addition, removing the old shingles will allow you to inspect the roof deck or sheathing.

The opportunity to evaluate the condition of your roof deck is valuable, insofar as you can check for wood rot and the presence of inadequate sheathing fasteners. By making any necessary repairs and adding fasteners to sheathing (especially annular nails or screws), you will avoid the dramatic losses caused when sheathing blows off the roof, allowing rain to cause extensive interior damage. Beginning your roofing job with a clean roof deck (old shingles and roofing felt removed) also means you have the option of adding ice-and-water-shield membrane along the eaves. It can only be applied to a clean deck but will help prevent damage due to ice dams.

A new roof is a big expense but should last you for decades. Do it right and you’ll have one less thing to worry about when storm winds blow. In the long term, you’ll also end up with more money in your pocket.


Metal Roofs 101

With styles that now imitate the look of wood, stone, and clay, metal roofing is finding renewed popularity in homes of all types.

Metal Roofs

Photo: tamko.com

The metal roofing industry has taken a page from vinyl flooring manufacturers. They’ve started with a ‘plain Jane’ material—in this case steel or aluminum—and made it look like wood, stone, and clay. The introduction of metal roofing in shingle, shake, slate and tile styles has reinvigorated the metal roofing industry.

For decades, metal roofs meant corrugated panels, which looked like they belonged on sheds or barns, or standing-seam applications, which often had a commercial appearance. Today, metal roofing products are available to fit every architectural style, whether a Spanish Colonial in Southern California or a Victorian in New England.

METAL ROOFING MATERIALS
Residential metal roofing is generally made of steel, aluminum, or copper. Rolls of 24- or 26-gauge steel sheets are given a metallic coating to prevent rust, followed by a baked-on paint finish. Aluminum sheets don’t require the metallic coating but do get painted. Copper, often called a natural metal product, is neither coated nor painted, because it weathers without corroding. It is sometimes used for special features, such as the roof of a prominent bay window.

Steel roofing products are coated with either zinc (galvanized) or a mixture of aluminum and zinc (galvalume or zincalume). Of the two, galvalume offers the longer service. The coatings are offered in several thicknesses—the thicker the coating the longer the service, and the higher the cost.

The Metal Roofing Association (MRA) recommends a galvanizing thickness level of at least G-90 for residential applications and an AZ-50 or AZ-55 designation for galvalume coatings. In areas by the sea, opt for an aluminum-based panel. Paint finishes vary in quality, as well. An inferior coating may fade or chalk. Some manufacturers participate in a certification process developed by the MRA. Standard certified products may be used in most areas. In areas with high exposure to UV light, opt for a premium certified paint coating.

Metal Roofs

Photo: standingseamroofs.com

TEXTURES AND FINISHES
Metal roofing products can be stamped into many shapes and are typically installed as interlocking panels with hidden fasteners. Viewed from a distance, they offer fairly convincing renditions of shingles and tiles. Some ‘stone-coated’ products receive an acrylic coating, in which stone granules are embedded. These offer a less metallic look.

Slideshow: Debunking 5 Metal Roofing Myths

Standing-seam metal roofs look exactly like what they are–long sheets of painted steel with vertical seams. From a design perspective, they are a purer product but not suitable for every home. Standing-seam roofs are perhaps best matched to the simple lines of cabins and contemporary home designs.

BENEFITS OF METAL ROOFING
The primary benefit of metal roofing is longevity. Manufacturers routinely offer 50-year warranties and even lifetime, non-prorated warranties. They claim their products will last two to four times longer than roofs with asphalt shingles. By avoiding one or two re-roofing jobs during the life of the metal roof, you will more than offset the higher initial cost. Near term, a new metal roof recoups a bit more of its installation cost upon home resale (6% according to Remodeling Magazine) than does a new asphalt roof.

There are other advantages, as well. Metal roofs are lightweight, sometimes allowing them to be installed directly over old roofs. And when metal roofing is painted with specially formulated “cool pigments”, solar energy is reflected and emitted (rather than radiated as heat into the attic).

Additionally, metal roofs are effective in preventing the spread of fire when hot embers fall on them (i.e., from brush and forest fires). In fact, some insurance companies will give you a discount if you have a metal roof. In addition, metal roofing is made with a large percentage of recycled metal—often 95 percent—and when its useful life is done, it can be recycled again. No worries about it filling up dwindling space in landfills.

MYTHS ABOUT METAL ROOFING
Myths and legends get started about all sorts of people, places, and building materials…. Metal roofing has more than its share, perhaps because it has undergone so many transformations over the years. Here are the most common myths about metal roofing:

* It will increase the likelihood of a lightening strike. Metal conducts electricity, but electricity is not drawn to it.

* Metal roofs are noisy in the rain. Not so. They may even be quieter than other roof types.

* Metal roofs are susceptible to damage by hail. While extremely large hailstones can dent a metal roof, normal hailstorms will not. With textured roofs, minor denting is not readily visible.

* You cannot walk on a metal roof. You can, but you have to know how to do it without causing damage. Check with the manufacturer of the product you choose.

* A metal roof will make your house colder in winter. Actually, a metal roof has no effect on the temperature of the typical vented attic in winter. It’s the insulation under (or on top of) the floor of your attic that keeps you warm.