Fi­bre­glass lam­i­nated shin­gles best roof­ing bang for buck

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - HOMES - DAVID SQUARE

IF you’re a com­mit­ted or about to be a com­mit­ted DIY ren­o­va­tor, you likely have con­ver­sa­tions with your­self about the pros and cons of which ma­te­ri­als to re-roof your cot­tage or home. I like to think of my­self as com­mit­ted ren­o­va­tor, which brings us to a dis­cus­sion of the pros and cons of roll roof­ing, as­phalt shin­gles, me­tal roof­ing and cedar shakes. As­phalt roll roof­ing, the fore­run­ner of three-tab and ar­chi­tec­tural shin­gles, was in­vented in the US in 1893 in re­sponse to a de­mand for less-com­bustible roof­ing ma­te­ri­als such as wood or tar-soaked felt. Roll roof­ing con­sists of a nat­u­ral fi­bre mat coated with as­phalt and cov­ered on the weather side with min­eral or ce­ramic gran­ules. It is sold in rolls that are about three feet wide and 36 feet long, with a non-gran­u­lated band along one edge. N.I.S. ad­he­sive, a brush on form of as­phalt re­pair ce­ment, is ap­plied to the band to ad­here each sheet of roof­ing to the next. Roof­ing felt — cost­ing about $30 for a 400 sq. ft. roll — is rec­om­mended as an un­der­lay. The pros for roll as­phalt are that it is quick to ap­ply and be­cause it does not have mul­ti­ple cut outs like shin­gles, it is one of the few prod­ucts on the mar­ket that will seal a low pitch roof. It is also the least ex­pen­sive roof­ing ma­te­rial at about $40 per 100 square feet.

The cons are that it is avail­able in a lim­ited num­ber of colours, has a short eight to 10-year life ex­pectancy and is es­thet­i­cally un­pleas­ing. How­ever, on low-slope roofs it is dif­fi­cult to see from the ground. It’s par­tic­u­larly use­ful for small backyard gar­den sheds that might of­fend the artis­tic sen­si­bil­i­ties of your neigh­bours but won’t di­min­ish the curb ap­peal of your cot­tage or home. At some point in the early 1900s, a roof­ing afi­cionado de­cided to in­crease the es­thet­ics of roll roof­ing by hand-cut­ting it into in­di­vid­ual three tab shin­gles to em­u­late cedar shakes or slate. The pop­u­lar­ity of the new de­sign spread so quickly that a cookie-cut­ting-like ma­chine had to be in­vented to mass pro­duce the shin­gles. They were even­tu­ally man­u­fac­tured in var­i­ous in­ter­lock­ing shapes that pre­vented them from be­ing torn off roofs by wind shear. The mod­ern ver­sion of three-tabs are about 39 inches long by 13 inches wide and can be pur­chased with a felt or fi­bre­glass mat, though felt shin­gles are mainly used nowa­days to cap less flex­i­ble fi­bre­glass ones. Home Hard­ware in Selkirk sells 25-year three-tab fi­bre­glass shin­gles for about $66 per 100 square feet of cov­er­age, this price is com­pet­i­tive with big box re­tail­ers. The pros for these shin­gles are their low price and the fact they are gen­er­ally avail­able in a greater va­ri­ety of solid colours than lam­i­nated ones. The cons are their shorter war­ranty and thin­ner pro­file, lead­ing to pre­ma­ture curl­ing of corners if a roof over­heats due to in­ad­e­quate ven­ti­la­tion. Also, the labour cost to in­stall three-tabs is sim­i­lar to that of more ex­pen­sive lam­i­nates. Con­sid­er­ing this, it pays to go with the bet­ter qual­ity shin­gle. Which brings us to 35-year, 40-year and longer war­ranty ar­chi­tec­tural lam­i­nated shin­gles. We’ve had 35-year BP lam­i­nates on our house for about five years. We love the two-tone cedar colour and how the shin­gles re­sem­ble cedar shakes, par­tic­u­larly ap­pro­pri­ate to our house as it is built of logs. More­over, de­spite weath­er­ing ma­jor down­pours and high winds, our lam­i­nates have never leaked or been torn off by wind shear, nor has their fi­bre­glass base cracked in win­ter. For a trou­ble-free roof that will more than likely last me the rest of my life, lam­i­nates are my pick for the per­fect, af­ford­able roof­ing ma­te­rial. Ex­pect to pay about $84 per 100 square feet unin­stalled. Pros are at­trac­tive­ness, avail­abil­ity in 13 or more colours to match wood, stone or man­u­fac­tured sid­ings, dura­bil­ity and de­pend­abil­ity, less li­able to heat de­for­ma­tion due to their thick­ness and although a lit­tle more ex­pen­sive than cheaper as­phalt shin­gles, much less ex­pen­sive than me­tal or shakes. Cons are few. The only knock I’m aware of is that BP and IKO lam­i­nates have had wind shear prob­lems: ap­par­ently cus­tomers are con­sid­er­ing law­suits be­cause they have had to re­peat­edly re­place shin­gles af­ter wind storms. A spokesper­son for KC Build­ing Sup­plies in Gimli said his com­pany has stopped selling BP and IKO be­cause of too many war­ranty is­sues, switch­ing in­stead to GAF 35-year lam­i­nates which have been trou­ble-free. Ac­cord­ing to this source GAF also makes its own cap­ping shin­gles which are iden­ti­cal in colour to their lam­i­nates and there is no dis­cernible colour dif­fer­ence be­tween the capped edges and the roof shin­gles. I’m not go­ing to say very much about me­tal roof­ing, ex­cept, in my opin­ion, it is ugly, ex­pen­sive and leaks at the val­leys. It also re­quires main­te­nance ev­ery ten years to tighten screws that hold it in place. (Ap­par­ently there is a new cap­ping sys­tem that pre­vents the screws from be­com­ing loose, but I’ve heard far too many hor­ror sto­ries from peo­ple who have me­tal roofs to con­sider them an op­tion to lam­i­nated as­phalt.) Fi­nally, me­tal causes spring avalanches and those bright red, green and blue colours will fade within ten years. If I could af­ford a cedar shake roof, it would be my op­ti­mum choice be­cause of its nat­u­ral warmth, longevity and low main­te­nance re­quire­ments. Shakes (of­ten con­fused with cedar shin­gles which are thin­ner and shorter) are also re­cy­clable in that they can be used as fire­wood at the end of their 40-year life ex­pectancy. Un­for­tu­nately, only the re­ally wealthy or re­ally ded­i­cated DIYers handy with froes and shin­gling ham­mers can af­ford such per­ma­nent beauty.

DAVID SQUARE / WIN­NIPEG FREE PRESS

Fiber­glass-based lam­i­nated ar­chi­tec­tural shin­gles em­u­late the look of cedar shakes or slate and are avail­able in a va­ri­ety of colours.

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