First-Class Fin­ish­ing Touches:


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It’s easy to get caught up in how your new log home will “look.” Ev­ery­body does, and for good rea­son — aes­thet­ics are im­por­tant. But what’s even more vital is how well your home will func­tion, and your roof is a large part of its per­for­mance.

Though your roof makes up at least a third of your home’s curb ap­peal, it isn’t just some­thing pretty to look at. At its core, your roof pro­tects you from the el­e­ments, whether it’s rain, snow, blaz­ing heat, de­bris, etc. You need the best roof you can af­ford, de­signed and cov­ered to fit your home’s lo­ca­tion.

A key el­e­ment of a roof ’s per­for­mance is its pitch. As a builder, I rec­om­mend in­cor­po­rat­ing as much pitch as pos­si­ble, while keep­ing in line with the home’s over­all de­sign. A mantra in the log home in­dus­try is noth­ing less than a 3/12 pitch, mean­ing that the roof rises 3 feet for every 12-foot span. Per­son­ally, I ad­vise my clients to dou­ble that to a 6/12 pitch (in­clud­ing porch cov­er­ings and gables), be­cause it will shed fallen leaves, snow and rain more ef­fec­tively and give the home a bet­ter aes­thetic value with a neg­li­gi­ble cost in­crease.

Hav­ing a hard time vi­su­al­iz­ing it? Think of it this way: If a 6-foot-tall man holds a 12-foot-long stick so it’s at head level on one end and slopes it to the ground at the other, the an­gle that’s cre­ated is a 6/12 pitch.

If you’re plan­ning a ranch-style log home, don’t fear that a 6/12 will be too steep. It will still give you that long, low pro­file. Once you in­crease the pitch to an 8/12 or 12/12 ra­tio, that’s when it starts look­ing “peaked,” and you get more of the log-cot­tage vibe.

Ma­te­rial Choices

Once you de­cide how to raise the roof, so to speak, it’s time to choose how you’ll top it off. There are nearly as many ways to cover your roof as there are log home styles. Here are a few of the main play­ers:

As­phalt: A three-tab shin­gle is the most ba­sic as­phalt shin­gle you can buy. There is no di­men­sion to it. Once in­stalled, your roof sur­face will ap­pear to­tally flat.

Though not fancy, the three-tab shin­gle serves its pur­pose just as well as its em­bel­lished cousin, the ar­chi­tec­tural shin­gle. These di­men­sional as­phalt shin­gles are thicker than

three-tab and try to em­u­late the look of a shake-style roof.

Both types come in a va­ri­ety of color op­tions, but the three-tab shin­gle has the low­est price point — it’s the en­try-level shin­gle. An ar­chi­tec­tural shin­gle can cost 20 to 40 per­cent more than the three-tab.

As­phalt shin­gles come in “year” rat­ings, from 15 years to life­time. Keep­ing your roof in tip-top shape will ex­tend its life­span.

Metal: The key to buy­ing a metal roof is to keep its gauge in mind: The lower the num­ber, the stronger the ma­te­rial. The most com­mon (and eco­nom­i­cal) are 26- and 29-gauge roofs. Den­sity will im­prove func­tion, es­pe­cially if you’re build­ing in an area where fall­ing limbs, pinecones or acorns could vis­i­bly dent it. Dents won’t hin­der its per­for­mance, but they cer­tainly will mar the look of it.

Speak­ing of look, there are two pri­mary styles of metal roofs: ribbed (cor­ru­gated) and stand­ing seam. The lat­ter is con­structed of in­ter­lock­ing metal pan­els that run from the ridge of the roof to the eave and are fas­tened to the roof with hid­den or ex­posed an­chors that are lo­cated on the raised por­tion of the panel. (Ex­posed an­chors are less ex­pen­sive). Ribbed roof­ing costs less than stand­ing-seam, but lends a dis­tinctly “farm­house” look to a home.

Be­cause they hold up well to frigid New Eng­land win­ters, the hot sum­mers of the South and even salt-spray from coastal lo­cales, metal roofs are a pop­u­lar choice for log homes across the coun­try.

If as­phalt and metal don’t ap­peal to you, con­sider these al­ter­na­tives:

Coated metal: This is a metal shin­gle that has an as­phalt or stone coat­ing on it. It gives a di­men­sional look that’s longer last­ing than a typ­i­cal shin­gle roof.

Cedar shake: Pop­u­lar in the North­east, in­di­vid­ual split-cedar planks are af­fixed to the un­der­lay­ment, but they are more main­te­nance-in­ten­sive than other op­tions. You’ve got to pay at­ten­tion to them, es­pe­cially in ar­eas where there is sig­nif­i­cant mois­ture.

Slate: One of the most ex­pen­sive roof­ing op­tions out there. Not only is the ma­te­rial pricey, you need to en­sure your roof-truss sys­tem is re­in­forced to han­dle the weight, which adds to the cost of your struc­ture. On the flip side, slate is one of the long­est last­ing, most main­te­nance­free op­tions on the mar­ket.

Re­gard­less of what you choose, just re­mem­ber that no mat­ter how good-look­ing it is, you won’t be happy with your roof un­less it works. Do your re­search, trust your de­sign/ build team to guide you, and you’ll have a top-notch roof over your head.

Dan Mitchell owns Ea­gle CDI in Ten­nessee and has built close to 100 log homes in his 30-year ca­reer. He is the 2017 Pres­i­dent of the Greater Knoxville HBA.

Think a black roof will make your home hot­ter? Think again. Roof color has noth­ing to do with in­te­rior tem­per­a­ture. Ad­e­quate, qual­ity in­su­la­tion is the key to keep­ing your home com­fort­able, sum­mer or win­ter.

ABOVE: To get the best per­for­mance from your roof, Dan rec­om­mends a min­i­mum pitch of 6/12. A steeper 10/12 pitch gives this home a cot­tage vibe. Cedar­shake shin­gles re­in­force the look.

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