ROOFING & SIDING
Learn the Basics about these key components of your house
By Debi Bryant
If your home sustained water damage during Hurricane Harvey, two of your top priorities in reclaiming your house are to check the roof and to restore the walls around you. Here is some basic information about roofing and siding to get you started.
The most common roofing materials include composition shingles, clay tiles, concrete tiles, slate and metal material. In our part of the country, composition shingles are the standard.
Composition shingles, with warranties that range from 20 to 50 years, provide a neat, clean look at a reasonable price. They are usually made of asphalt or fiberglass, which accounts for their durability. Even the most expensive category, the 50-year-warranty shingle, is still one-third the cost of any other roofing material. A roof using 50-year-warranty composition shingles on a 2,500-square-foot, one-story house with attached garage costs about $5,100 for new construction and $6,300 for re-roofing.
The disadvantage of composition shingles is that they can be damaged by hail. Also, they are vulnerable to a black fungus in high humidity areas, a problem that is mostly cosmetic. Manufacturers have addressed the fungus issue by introducing an algae-resistant shingle.
Whether you’re a do-it-yourselfer or you’re hiring someone to fix your roof, here’s a helpful tip: Use ringshank nails — instead of plain roofing nails — to secure your composition shingles to the roof. The ringshank nail is ringed so it has more “bite” into the wood where it’s nailed.
Clay tiles are often chosen for houses with a Spanish Mission or modern design. Their lifespan is often longer than the material on which the roof rests. A clay tile roof requires little maintenance, is rot- and insect-resistant and comes in a wide range of colors and styles.
Clay tiles have two main drawbacks: If walked upon, they can break, making any kind of foot traffic — from regular maintenance to retrieving an errant baseball — a risk. Also, they are heavy and may require extra support, which increases the cost of the overall house.
SLATE & CONCRETE TILES
Slate and concrete tiles also add additional weight to a roof. Concrete tiles weigh about 1,000 pounds per square foot, compared to composition shingles, which weigh about 400 pounds per square foot. A concrete tile roof requires an upgrade in strength from the slab up.
However, it may be worth it. Both slate and concrete tiles have long lifespans with low maintenance and are fire-resistant.
Metal roofs have long been a favorite roofing material. They are durable, fire-resistant and relatively maintenance-free. Dealers call them nearly bulletproof with one caveat: You must clean the debris off of them. (This advice is true for all roofs, by the way.) The main disadvantage to a metal roof is the initial expense.
Whichever type of roof you choose, especially if your home was built before the 1980s, urge your remodeler to install hurricane clips or straps to hold the roof to the walls more securely and to secure the first floor to the foundation. Older homes in Houston were not required to have hurricane clips or straps.
For siding, you’ll find three broad categories.
1. Standard vinyl. Standard vinyl comes in several qualities, determined by thickness from 48 mils at the upper end of the scale to 40 mils, which is the lowest you want to go. They come in different grades, depending on such qualities as weight and UV barriers. Also, different vinyls come with different warranties, another indicator of quality.
2. Composite vinyls, like Crane’s SolidCore Siding and Alcoa’s Structure. These vinyls have a backboard that fits the profile of the vinyl like a hand and glove. Since they are bonded, they go up like single boards and, therefore, have a more authentic look.
3. Fiber cement, such as Hardiplank. These are good rigid products that are impervious to rot and termites. But they are more labor-intensive to install than vinyl and composite siding, since they must be painted. Some manufacturers make a pre-primed product, so all you have to do is apply the outer coat of paint.
As a general rule of thumb on pricing, standard vinyl is the most cost-effective, fiber cement products are the most expensive and the composite vinyls run somewhere in the middle.
Should you decide to hire a professional installer for your roof or siding work rather than do it yourself, find someone reputable. Ask for references and credentials. Check out what business organizations they belong to. Be careful about giving up-front money. At the very most, only agree to pay a percentage once materials are delivered, with the rest paid upon completion of the job. If your contractor won’t agree to that, then say you’ll go to the supplier and pay for the materials to be delivered to your house.
Don’t make a decision in a hurry just because you’re ready to have your home back. You could be back at square zero before you know it.