Your choice in roofing

Yeah, you need to take the old shingles off before putting on the new. Postmedia Network

At some point in time, your home is going to need a new roof.

Whether the reasons for this expenditure are due to your present roofing showing signs of severe wear and tear, or simply because you ran out of pails this past weekend in a frantic attempt to control the drips leaking down from the ceiling, eventually, roofs need replacing.

Essentially, you’ll have two choices, them being steel or fiberglass asphalt shingles.

There are rubberized and composite type shingles out there, but they’re considerably more expensive, and are not so readily available locally. And, with this column being very much pro-local shopping, along with encouraging the pro-local hiring of tradespersons, we won’t be considering these products.

What about cedar shake roofing? Real, cedar shake shingles, whether they be hand-split (varying texture) or rough sawn (more uniform texture) look terrific, especially on a stone or colonial styled home. Unfortunately, and regardless of their traditional good looks, cedar shakes are probably not the best choice for our climate zone. Simply put, our climate is too wet, too cloudy, and we have far too many trees casting shadows over our roofs. So, with these cedar roofs rarely achieving even relative dryness, you can pretty well expect algae and mold growth within a year or two. Combine this with the three to four freeze and thaw sessions we experience over the course of a winter, and you’ve got all the reasons as to why putting a wood product on your roof is a bad idea.

If your budget has the wiggle room to accept the price of cedar shakes, then you should be considering a steel shingle. However, before choosing between steel and fiberglass shingles, let’s examine what’s underneath your existing roofing.

In the olden days, with ‘olden’ referring to the days of organic shingles, and otherwise recognized as the days when Canadian based teams won Stanley cups, shingles could be layered up to three thicknesses deep. Plus, it was very common to carefully remove the 1×6 planks of wood that served to form the foundation walls, once the concrete dried of course, then reuse this lumber as roof sheeting. When it came to steel roof application, the support, or underlay strategy back in those days had the installer simply installing lengths of 1×4 rough strapping at every 16 inches on-center over the roof trusses, and that was it.

Were these install strategies misguided or reckless? Not necessarily. They were simply justified practices in accordance with what was known and understood during those times, just like bloodletting was the treatment of choice in the 1700’s for those who had fallen ill with anything from laryngitis to an upset stomach.

Sometimes, even our most intelligent people get it wrong.

Today, we understand that both fiberglass asphalt shingles and steel roofing panels require stability. When things move, nails and screws will loosen. When that happens, the next Nor’easter wind will be forcing shingle tabs up, and peeling back your steel roofing panels like the skin on a ripe banana.

The answer to providing a stable roofing underlay is plywood. So, if you’re building a new home, addition, or garage, whether the finished roofing product is fiberglass shingles, or steel roofing, the underlay material must be plywood.

Can fiberglass shingles or steel roofing be installed over an existing shingled roof? Although this strategy will save you dumping fees, stacking one roof over another is going to cause a number of problems. One, the average roof requires about 65 bundles of shingles, which equals about 4600 pounds, or the weight of a 1965 Pontiac Parisienne. So, with every layer of shingles representing one 1965 Pontiac Parisienne left unnecessarily on your rooftop, you can see how this practice could eventually overwhelm an aging truss structure. Plus, a layer or two of shingles will have a certain sponginess to it, preventing the installer from effectively securing a new shingle tab, or tightening down the screws on steel roofing.

Next week, more on roofing.

Good building

As published by the Standard-Freeholder
Handyman's Hints Standard-Freeholder Cornwall Ontario by Chris Emard

Roofin’ it

Need some roof work done? Best to let the pros handle it, says our handyman. Postmedia Network

I remember going up onto a roof once, once!

I would frequent my roof more often if it didn’t require the use of an extension ladder. Understanding that every step upwards on an extension ladder exponentially increases the odds of the homeowner dying, I naturally avoid this otherwise key component to general roof repair. My only regret to avoiding extension ladders is that I’m now forfeiting the feeling of calm exhilaration one senses when your leading foot touches down on the grass after taking that last step down.

So, with my generosity in home repair responsibilities being sincerely unbounded, I wholeheartedly recommend that these moments of death defying exhilaration be unselfishly shared with licensed professionals. In other words, if you need your roof repaired, call a licensed roofer.

When should you be inviting a member of this fine class of tradespersons over to your home? Hopefully, it’ll be well before you experience a leak. That’s like waiting for a blowout in order to justify replacing your balding car tires.

Generally, asphalt roofing shingles last about 15-20 years. Today’s asphalt shingles have a fiberglass base, and are often referred to as “fiberglass shingles”, or simply “glass” shingles. Regardless, these fiberglass based shingles have the same ceramic coated rock surface, embedded into asphalt, as their organic (paper based) predecessors. So, even though the warranty on a fiberglass shingle may be 40 years, or a lifetime (considered 50 years), if you’ve gotten 20 years out of your shingles, without a hitch, they’ve served you well.

Why can’t a 40 or 50 year warrantied roofing product actually last 40 or 50 years? They can, of course, under the right conditions, such as the middle US states, where temperatures are consistently and moderately mild, and in the arctic, where things are consistently and moderately cold. In our part of the world, where weather conditions are about as consistent as Carey Price’s goaltending, there’s little hope for any product lasting more than 20 years outdoors, let alone a roof. Other than age, look for shingles tabs that have broken off, or curled up in a very obvious manner. Fiberglass shingles don’t curl so much, due to their more ridged backing. So, if you’re experiencing shingle curl, your shingles are most likely organic, and could be getting close to their expiry date.

Shingle curl, often referred to as ‘winter curl’ was relatively common in an organic shingle. However, the summer season would see this tab curl mostly flatten out. If the tabs aren’t going back, they’ve most likely dried to the point of no return. As a test, you could have a roofer attempt to push a curled shingle tab downwards. If the tab refuses to go down, or because of its dried leaf consistency, would likely crumble, then there’s no saving this roof. Be sure to wait until the outside temperatures are above 10 degrees Celsius before attempting this procedure, otherwise you risk breaking what was a healthy shingle tab.

If the tabs can be pushed down into position without effort, then consider putting a loonie sized dab of plastic cement under the lifted tabs. This will help settle the tab, prevent future wind blow off, and maybe secure you a few more years of roof life.

Are discolored asphalt shingles a problem? Essentially, no. Discoloration of asphalt shingles is normally due to moss and algae growth. Moss and algae growth on asphalt shingles, although unattractive, isn’t a detriment to a roof’s long term sustainability, unless of course things get to the extreme, whereby your home looks like it’s going to be swallowed up by some moss-like creature. If moss and algae are an issue, have your roofer install a strip of zinc metal, available in a 2-1/2 inch x 50 ft. roll, just under the tabs of the capping shingles along the peak of the roof. When it rains, zinc ions will trickle down over the shingles, and kill off the moss and algae.

Next week, more on roofing.

Good building.

As published by the Standard-Freeholder
Handyman's Hints Standard-Freeholder Cornwall Ontario by Chris Emard

The cutting edge

Using the right type of blade for the job is important. Postmedia Network

“That’s not a knife . . .this is a knife,” states Paul Hogan (starring as Crocodile Dundee) as he presents his 10-inch Bowie survival knife to a group of street hoodlums, and “We’re gonna need a bigger boat” as stated by Roy Scheider (starring as Chief Brody) to boat Captain Quint, as Brody backs into the cabin area in a somewhat bewildered manner, are a couple of memorable movie lines that exemplify persons showing up for a job with slightly less than adequate tools for the task.

One situation has a New York gangbanger looking to challenge a seasoned Australian outbacker with a simple six-inch switchblade, with the other having a mish mash crew looking to catch a 25 foot Great White shark while aboard the Orca, a 30 ft. aged wooden trawler.

So, with today’s theme relating to cutting and munching, we’re going to be looking at what type of blades are best suited to cut the various building products we do-it-yourselfers will be encountering over our amateur careers.

First rule of thumb to make note of? If there exists a building product or piece of material that needs cutting, then there also exists a specific cutting blade or wheel for that task. That being said, can some saw blades or knives serve in a multi-purpose role, having the capacity to cut or sever a number of building products other than then the one they’ve been specifically designed for? Absolutely.

A circular saw blade, or hacksaw blade formulated to cut steel, will eventually make its way through a piece of wood, eventually, just like Frank Morris eventually carved his way out of the Alcatraz prison in 1962 using a cafeteria spoon. Had inmate Morris had the luxury of procuring himself a cordless drill, with the appropriate concrete bit, I’m sure he would have jumped on the opportunity to save himself the six months of work. And, this is an important point for do-it-yourselfers to understand — don’t go for the spoon, or otherwise semi-adaptable saw blade or drill bit in the toolbox simply because it could perform the task at hand, although poorly, but save you the 10 minute drive to the local building supply center.

Using an 80 tooth finishing blade to rip lumber (cutting lengthwise), when a 24 tooth blade is the better choice, will actually cost you time. Furthermore, a finishing blade designed for cross cutting, but instead used in a ripping manner, will overheat, most likely warp, and certainly dullen the teeth beyond any further productive use. Then there’s the risk factor of forcing lumber into a finishing blade that was not meant to chew through wood at a rip pace. You know you’re tempting fate when pushing a piece of lumber through your table saw requires the same amount of force used to push an automobile out of the snow. In this scenario, the blade is heating up, and is moments away from swelling or warping slightly. When this happens, the blade jams itself into the plank, either shorting out the table saw, or as in most cases, causes a ‘kick back’, appropriately referred to as such due to the lumber jolting backwards, usually hitting the operator in the groin with a force equal to that of an annoyed Appaloosa.

Essentially, every circular or table saw blade will list the items it’s designed to cut on the blade itself. So, if you’re cutting melamine, or plywood, or ripping lumber, look for a blade that lists exactly the type of cutting you’ll be performing. Looking to cut re-bar, steel bolts, angle iron, or steel lath, then choose the appropriate metal blade. Avoid the grinder type of composite discs to cut steel or concrete. They’re certainly less expensive, but wear down quickly. A proper steel blade, designed for the cutting of steel, concrete, or non-ferrous metals (metals that don’t contain iron, such as copper or aluminum) is your best bet.

As always, wear tight fitting work gloves and eyewear when cutting anything.

Good building.

As published by the Standard-Freeholder
Handyman's Hints Standard-Freeholder Cornwall Ontario by Chris Emard

Raised gardens

A raised garden bed can be much easier on the back and knees. Postmedia Network

With spring in the air, the strategy of the raised garden bed will no doubt be the subject of discussion amongst those homeowners looking to grow their own prized tomatoes and zucchinis.

The raison d’être, or the “why’s” to building a raised garden bed, which is essentially a bunch of ground poured into a raised frame, lies primarily in the simple fact this structure raises, or elevates, the planted vegetables to a more accommodating height, thereby alleviating the knee joint and lower back pain normally associated with the task of gardening.

Psychologically, the raised garden bed, or box, is a good value because it makes gardening easier, with the good results rewarding the homeowner with sense of purpose and accomplishment.

Physically, the raised garden box delivers all of the health benefits associated with a person simply being outdoors, thereby allowing them to enjoy a little sunshine, while participating in a relatively light duty activity at their own pace.

Money wise? Well… and depending of course on several factors relating to the manor of construction, and the types of materials used, the ROI (return on investment) on the average raised garden box is not stellar. Essentially, you’d be better off putting your disposable income into a travelling petting zoo, the local Ponzi scheme, or a series of honor system, unmanned lemonade stand franchises. However, the pride associated with growing your own fresh vegetables usually outweighs the fact your cherry tomatoes are probably going to cost you about a buck a piece to produce.

If you’ve never built a raised garden box before, go small, making this first build something in the 4’ X 4’ or max 4’ X 8’ size. If this is your second or third build, then you’re obviously familiar with the process, and realize it’s probably time to go big, incorporating a screened-in, removable cage over a more permanent, beefier type of raised box made of 6 X 6 timbers. However, with this being your first attempt at a box, let’s not break the bank on this project, and perhaps choose a plan that’ll have you investing about an afternoon of your time.

A raised garden box could be made out of a number of products, including concrete blocks, stacked stones, or the very classy choices, and definitely worthy of front lawn display, old bathtub on legs, or tractor tire. Otherwise, 2” X 8” lumber is probably your best choice, due to it being lightweight, with a pretty easy assembly strategy. If this raised garden is to be something totally experimental, due to you being unsure of where to place it on your lot, your commitment to watering, or the fact you might be adding a deck or installing a pool in its place next summer, and all you might need is a couple of seasons out of this structure, go with spruce boards. If this is to be a longer term project, or more permanent structure, then cedar or BC fir would be the better choice. Although treated lumber would seem a logical choice, since the arsenic element in the treatment process has been replaced with a stronger copper content, which has been deemed an environmentally friendlier alternative by the powers that be, I would suggest avoiding the use of any chemically sealed or infused product around food. Retired railway ties would also be a poor option. Theoretically, treated lumber could be painted, or sealed from the ground with a plastic membrane, but why risk the chance of contaminating the soil.

Using 4” x 4” lumber for the corners, and pieces of 2” x 4” lumber every few feet along the perimeter, create a frame by stacking 2” x 8” planks, 2 boards high. Using 2” x 8” lumber, create a triangular seat in every corner, which will also provide strength to the structure. This plan provides you with about 15 inches of raised bed, a good start. Any higher will require a lot more ground, and a doubling up of the framework.

Good building.

As published by the Standard-Freeholder
Handyman's Hints Standard-Freeholder Cornwall Ontario by Chris Emard