In­stalling pro­tec­tive layer be­neath shin­gles al­ways a good idea

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - HOMES - ARI MARANTZ

Ques­tion: I’m go­ing to be build­ing a new 1,700-square-foot bun­ga­low in Win­nipeg and I was hop­ing you could help me with a few is­sues. I’m won­der­ing if it’s worth the cost to have roof­ing pa­per put on my roof be­fore the shin­gles. There are dif­fer­ent types of sheath­ing avail­able and it seems there is also a va­ri­ety of opin­ions as to the cost ver­sus value of that ac­tiv­ity. I’m also con­sid­er­ing do­ing a wrap on the out­side of the base­ment walls for bet­ter in­su­la­tion and to re­duce pos­si­ble fu­ture crack­ing. I have no­ticed that most cus­tom builders ap­ply both these prod­ucts dur­ing their build cy­cle but most lower-cost builders do not. Your opin­ion would be most ap­pre­ci­ated. Thanks, James Lewicki An­swer: Yours is one of the most prac­ti­cal in­quiries I have re­cently re­ceived, so it will have the most straight­for­ward an­swer. Yes, to both items. Both of these sim­ple add-ons will im­prove the life ex­pectancy and dura­bil­ity of two main sys­tems in your new home. Roof­ing ma­te­ri­als and tech­niques vary con­sid­er­ably with ge­o­graphic dif­fer­ences, even in a coun­try like Canada where weather con­di­tions in all four sea­sons dif­fer con­sid­er­ably. The rea­sons for this are not fully un­der­stood, but one con­sis­tent item is con­sid­ered a best prac­tice in all ar­eas. In­stalling a pro­tec­tive layer over top of the roof sheath­ing is a good idea be­fore in­stalling bi­tu­men-based shin­gles. This can vary from com­mon bi­tu­men-im­preg­nated roof­ing pa­per, of­ten known as felt, to newer high­tech poly­mer mem­branes. The right ma­te­rial for your home should be the ques­tion. The an­swer to that ques­tion will de­pend on the type of roof­ing, the lo­ca­tion, the opin­ion of the roofer and bud­get con­sid­er­a­tions. My own opin­ion is adding any of these thin sheath­ings will help ex­tend the life of the new roof­ing, and pre­vent leaks should pre­ma­ture de­te­ri­o­ra­tion oc­cur for any rea­son. Another item to con­sider, but which should not be to­tally re­lied upon, is the man­u­fac­turer’s war­ranty for your new shin­gles. Many roof­ing sup­pli­ers will re­quire some form of roof­ing mem­brane un­der­neath their prod­uct for the war­ranty to be valid. This may vary from com­pany to com­pany, but with the newer life­time war­ranties on many prod­ucts, it is best to fol­low their in­struc­tions should you run into prob­lems. There are nu­mer­ous cases of de­fec­tive or sub­stan­dard roof­ing prod­ucts show­ing up, and giv­ing the man­u­fac­tur­ers ex­tra am­mu­ni­tion to deny a le­git­i­mate claim for com­pen­sa­tion is poor plan­ning. If they state that roof­ing felt or equiv­a­lent is re­quired for a war­ranty to be valid, you had bet­ter spend the ex­tra money to in­stall it, just in case a prob­lem oc­curs. As pre­vi­ously stated, the choice of mem­brane(s) will de­pend on the style or roof, lo­ca­tion and roofer’s pref­er­ence. You may choose sim­ple felt if your roof has a medium pitch and no fancy con­fig­u­ra­tions or ob­struc­tions. If your roof is low pitch, has a very com­plex de­sign with dif­fer­ent pitches or you are us­ing dif­fer­ent roof­ing ma­te­ri­als such as me­tal, cedar or tiles, then a higher qual­ity, or thicker, mem­brane may be re­quired. Most roofers are now in­stalling a self-ad­he­sive eave­strough pro­tec­tion mem­brane along the bot­tom of the roof and in val­leys, which should also be used in con­junc­tion with the other sheath­ing. Ask the builder or the roofer for op­tions and choose the one which best suits your bud­get. As far as foun­da­tion mem­branes ver­sus sim­ple bi­tu­men coat­ings, in­stalling a mem­brane is the su­pe­rior choice. These may dif­fer in com­po­si­tion from flex­i­ble blueskin style, self-ad­he­sive rub­ber­ized types to semi-rigid dim­ple sheath­ings. The main ben­e­fit of the self-ad­he­sive mem­branes is the flex­i­bil­ity, which may al­low for tremen­dous ex­tremes in tem­per­a­tures with­out los­ing its in­tegrity. Be­cause of this prop­erty, the sur­face may be easily punc­tured, so adding a pro­tec­tive layer of poly­styrene in­su­la­tion or other sheath­ing may also be needed. The semi-rigid type of sheath­ings are much more durable, but have to be ad­hered to the foun­da­tion with me­tal fas­ten­ers. These should not re­quire added pro­tec­tion from the back­fill, but may re­quire a damp-proof coat­ing on the foun­da­tion prior to in­stal­la­tion, depend­ing on the area of con­struc­tion. When build­ing a new home, tak­ing ex­tra mea­sures to en­sure cer­tain ar­eas re­main prob­lem free for many years is al­ways a good op­tion. As you have stated, the higher-end builders all seem to in­clude the ad­di­tional roof­ing and foun­da­tion mem­branes, while the tra­di­tional builders have them as op­tions. That is be­cause the true cus­tom builders are us­ing best prac­tices, while the tract builders are only do­ing enough to meet the build­ing codes. Al­most all items like these, which go above and be­yond the nec­es­sary, will im­prove the longevity of the ex­ist­ing sys­tems. When it comes to roofs and foun­da­tions, where pre­vent­ing mois­ture in­tru­sion is crit­i­cal, the added pro­tec­tion should be well worth the ex­tra cost. Ari Marantz is the owner of Trained Eye Home In­spec­tion Ltd. and the past pres­i­dent of the Cana­dian As­so­ci­a­tion of Home & Prop­erty In­spec­tors — Man­i­toba (cahpi.mb.ca). Ques­tions can be emailed to the ad­dress be­low. Ari can be reached at 204-291-5358 or check out his web­site at trained­eye.ca.

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