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"Long-life architectural asphalt shingles are attractive too"

Click here to see a descriptive illustration showing several types of architectural roofing materials.

Dear Jim: I want to install a high-quality, attractive roof on my home that will last. I was thinking of using laminated or dimensional asphalt shingles. Which is better and is the color an efficiency factor? - Joe S.

A: Laminated, dimensional and architectural asphalt shingles are just different names for the same thing. They are basically standard roofing shingles which are thicker. This is accomplished by using a thicker mat (base) during manufacturing or laminating several layers together.

These thicker architectural shingles are high-quality and some carry up to a lifetime warranty. They are also very attractive because their depth and slots create interesting and distinctive shadow lines. Most of them are installed similarly to standard shingles, so it is not a difficult job to do yourself. Make sure to wear adequate safety clothing and harnesses.

Some of the most attractive shingles simulate cedar wood shakes. These shingles are quite thick with random slots similar to real shakes. Another new unique shingle design has the surface texture and shape to simulate slate. These thick shingles do not require any additional roof support as slate would.

Light-colored shingles are most efficient because they stay cooler in the summer sun and reduce heat buildup inside the attic. With adequate attic ventilation (soffits and ridge) and radiant barrier foil under the roof rafters though, the heat variation among shingle colors is not a major factor.

In humid areas and with roofs where tree leaves and debris fall on them, algae and mildew growth may be a problem. You will notice this as dark areas or streaks on light-colored roofs. If you had this problem in the past, select algae-resistant shingles. They have a slight amount of copper in the surface granules. Copper ions retard the growth of algae.

With greater thickness, architectural shingles have better wind tear-off resistance. Some are rated at 120 miles per hour. Look for names such as "Stormfighter", "Hurricane", etc. Interlocking shingles are also available. In addition to nails, the top of one locks into the bottom of the next one.

Depending on where you live, the fire rating of the architectural shingle may be important for safety and reducing your insurance premiums. A heavy layer of top coat granules provides the highest fire rating of Class A. Check your local building codes for the required fire rating for shingles.

Another durable (lifetime warranty) asphalt shingle option is corrugated sheets which have a tile appearance on the home. They use an organic fiber base instead of fiberglass which most others use. These are available in many colors and may be installed on top of old shingles without tear-off.

Instant Download Update Bulletin No. 515 - buyer's guide of 12 attractive architectural and other unique-looking asphalt roofing shingle manufacturers listing base mat, styles, fire rating, wind resistance, weight per square, exposure, warranties, features, installation instructions, suggested advantages of using asphalt shingles, illustration with description of styles of shingles.

Dear Jim: My old sliding glass door is leaky. I plan to install a new one. The old door is mounted near the outer edge of the wall opening so I can install the new door inside of it. Is this a good idea? - Jerry N.

A: This sounds like a perfectly good idea. The old door, even though it leaks air, will act as a storm door over the new one. This also will eliminate the work involved in removing the old door first.

Since the old door is leaky, there should not be a problem of moisture being trapped between the two doors. Leaving the old door in will protect the new door from the elements and increase its life span.

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