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Dear Jim: I need to install a new roof that will last longer than the previous shingle roofs. I saw some very attractive alternative roofs at a recent home show. What long-lasting roofing options do I have? - Ron J.
A: A typical shingle roof is a good low-cost option, but there are many alternative roofing materials that literally last forever and have lifetime warranties. Many of these have a raised profile that allows air to circulate beneath them. This helps reduce your air-conditioning bills during the summer.
Although not often considered from a style standpoint, a roof can dramatically affect the street appearance of a house. A colorful slate or tile roof adds a sense of elegance to a home. Installing a unique bent cedar shake roof creates a mysterious, old world look.
Fire resistance of some alternative roofing materials (tile, concrete, slate, fiber-cement, recycled synthetics) is a plus and required in some areas. This also may reduce your homeowner's insurance premiums. A burning ember escaping your own chimney can start your or a neighbor's house on fire.
Fiber-cement is an excellent roofing material. It has a Class A (best) fire rating and has a transferable limited lifetime warranty. It can be formed into almost any shape and colored to simulate other roofing materials.
Fiber-cement roofing is lighter weight than slate, concrete or tile, so you should not have to reinforce the roof structure. An extra lightweight concrete roofing material is also available, but it is not recommended for severely cold climates. Your local roofing contractor can advise you.
A combination of recycled plastics and wood fiber (from scrap pallets) is used to produce simulated cedar shakes and slate. This material has a Class A fire rating, withstands 150-mph wind, and has a 50-year warranty. Other larger recycled plastic roofing panels, which simulate shakes, install quickly.
Real split cedar shakes are durable and attractive. A unique variation is bent cedar which produces a rounded, soft appearance and it varies depending on the installer's techniques.
Slate is one of the most beautiful and durable roofing materials and is expected to last a lifetime. Slate roofing has slight variations in its thickness and texture. Also the color of some slate weathers over time. This increases the variation in the color and makes each slate roof unique.
Concrete is an excellent roofing material and the raw materials are in abundant supply. Similar to fiber-cement, concrete can be molded to simulate other materials. Pigments made from oxides of natural metals are used to color the concrete when it is molded to produce a large array of colors.
Instant Download Update Bulletin No. 776 - buyer's guide of 20 roofing material manufacturers showing material types, various styles for each material, warranties (up to lifetime), features, chart showing prices, fire rating, estimated life, weights and colors and many illustrations of the various types.
Dear Jim: There is a good size hole in the drywall behind my sofa, but it cannot be seen. It is a hassle fixing drywall properly. Do you think much outdoor air leaks in through that hole? My house is brick veneer. - Sandi M.
A: You really should fix that hole in the wall. Drywall is an excellent air barrier to block air leakage into and out of your rooms. Put your hand near it on a breezy day and I bet you will feel a draft.
It is not difficult to fix a large hole in drywall. Cut a piece of new drywall to fit in the hole. Use a product, such as Bear Claw drywall repair clips, to mount the new piece. Finish it with premixed drywall compound.