What is a Shingle Roof?

When people think of roofs, they tend to picture one of three materials – ceramic tiles (for that Latin/tropical/old world aesthetic), utilitarian metal sheets, or the classic roofing shingle. However, a lot of people may not realize that shingles come in a variety of types, the traditional gray or black asphalt shingle just being one of the more common of them.

Today, we’re going to talk about shingles. We’re going to learn about what defines a shingle, what the more common diverse types of them are, and the advantages that make them such a go-to all over the world. When it comes to your roof, being well-informed can allow you to make the best possible decisions.

At JDT Construction, we have decades of experience working with all kinds of roofing materials, and one thing we’ve learned, and stand by, is that customers should be fully informed at every step of the process.

What is a Shingle Roof?

Shingles are not defined by the materials they are made of, nor by being flexible or exceptionally thin (those two attributes are served for a specific family of them, in fact). It’s actually in the cut of the materials, and the manner in which they’re laid out on the roof.

Shingles are roughly tile or rectangular sections (though they can have shaped edges for decorative purposes), laid out in a pattern of overlapping horizontal rows along the roof. The rows usually stagger to some degree from one to the next for optimal coverage. The closest analog in nature would be snake or fish scales, which have a similar stagger and overlap.

With some types of shingles, these overlapping seams are barely perceptible, or almost entirely invisible (as is the case with architectural shingles).

They’re affixed to a roof in various ways, depending on the materials. Thin, flexible shingles are applied using nails/staples as well as adhesive compounds (sometimes activated with heat). Other, more specialized shingles are affixed in unique ways.

Types of Shingle Roofs

There are many different types of shingle roofs, as we alluded to earlier. The asphalt shingles that most people think of, are just one of the older, more common types. Below are some of the most commonly-used types of shingles currently available. This is not an all-encompassing list, however, because new innovations in shingles occur all the time, while others vanish as quickly as they appear.

  • Asphalt/Polymer/Fiberglass – Asphalt shingles comprise a whole family of shingles, from the most traditional, old-fashioned asphalt shingle, to modern polymer or fiberglass-reinforced variations. However, on a casual glance or feel, they’re all relatively easily-identified by their rough feeling and their flexible nature. There is usually a granular surface (often made of actual pulverized stone). New, unused shingles of this variety will often have a tape backing called a “release film”. These shingles usually tend to be shades of gray or black, but different color variations do exist.
  • Wood – Wooden shingles are, unsurprisingly, older than asphalt shingles. The most common forms of these are the likes of cedar shake, which have a much more scale-like appearance, the edges and staggering much more visible, even from a distance. They can run a vast array of colors if stained, but natural ones have earth and wood tones, often becoming grayish if allowed to naturally weather. These are often associated with Victorian or maritime architectures in the US but have a heritage dating much further back, and across many more cultures.
  • Slate – Slate is a resilient, light-weight stone that’s easily “flaked” or cut into thinner, durable shapes. Slate roofs traditionally resemble cedar shake in form factor, with the same distinct edges and greater thickness, but some modern slate roof shingles can look a lot more like brick or even asphalt shingle. Slate tends to have a dark gray appearance.
  • Metal – Metal shingles are one of the less well-known shingles, and are a more modern solution. These often resemble the shake appearance of wood or slate but can be made in similar form factors to thin, a more uniform look achieved by asphalt shingles. Metal is diverse, with its ability to take on varied form factors, and taking on any desired color.

Advantages of Shingle Roofs

Why are shingles so much more popular across most of the world, than something like rolled material, or cement/ceramic tiles? They have a host of advantages across varied climates.

  • Overlapping design prevents water damage.
  • Modular form factor means they can deflect radiation more efficiently, the entire roof heating up less quickly.
  • They allow the roof to breathe easily.
  • Damage is easier to repair, due to the modular nature of shingles. A broken shingle is easily replaced, where a more solid material would be a greater undertaking.
  • Many varieties are very affordable.
  • Every roofing contractor knows how to work with them.

To learn more about shingles and other roofing materials, and why they’re worth considering, fill out our contact form below!

What Does Hail Damage Look Like On A Roof?

Hail is one of the most destructive common weather phenomena out there. Sure, tornadoes, hurricanes, and floods pack a bigger punch, but these aren’t daily occurrences in most parts of the world. Hail, however, can happen anywhere, seemingly out of nowhere. These chunks of ice, which can range from the size of sand grains, all the way up to golf balls or even worse, can wreak untold havoc on your property. We all know the damage this can do to your car, but a lot of people don’t realize that it can be just as destructive to your roof.

When you have a nasty hail storm, it pays to know how to determine how badly-damaged your roof is, so you can get with your insurance company, and a roofing repair provider right away. Every second the integrity of your roof is compromised, the damage worsens, and the elements can additionally damage your home. Your resale value and curb appeal will plummet, and as this damage worsens, the repair becomes more expensive and time-consuming.

Today, we’re going to learn about the factors that affect the damage hail can cause, and the effects that it can have on the most common roofing types in use. This so very important, so take heed!

Factors

First, let’s take a look at the factors that affect the impact hail can have on your roof. Like any other weather phenomenon, it’s somewhat complex and somewhat unpredictable.

  • Size/Density – This is the most obvious one. The size and density of hailstones directly affect the amount of damage they can inflict. Size alone isn’t the only concern, because if the structure of stone is especially pithy or lose, it’s basically an exceptionally hard snowball. This would hurt if it fell on you but probably wouldn’t do much to a roof. Similarly, very small, hard hailstones lack the inertia to deliver a strong enough impact to damage things but would sting when hitting you. The right ratio of size and density, however, can make for very damaging results (and when striking you, could even kill you).
  • Materials – All building materials in use in the modern world are designed to absorb some amount of impact from wind, debris, and of course hail. However, depending on the physical structure of the material, it can be easier for persistent hail to inflict damage. Materials like aluminum siding and gutters can be pretty easily dented by or cracked, and wood shake likes to split if the impact hits the surface just right. Asphalt shingles are among the more resilient materials in the face of hail, but they can crack, split, or buckle if the impacts are bad enough, and the shingle old enough.
  • Barriers – Location relative to other things can diminish the impact of hail. Trees, neighboring structures and the like can absorb a lot of the onslaught, depending on the direction of the wind carrying the hail. However, this can have secondary problems, especially in the case of trees, as stones can bring limbs down on your roof.
  • Wind Direction – Wind direction can affect hail as well. In some cases, very horizontal winds can slow the descent of hail to an extent, which can be beneficial – that is, if this horizontal wind doesn’t itself damage your roof. However, sometimes a very vertical impact is less damaging than an angled one, as angled impacts can be absorbed less effectively, and the stones can strike against the edging of shingles, chipping them, or even lifting them up.

What Hail Damage Looks like

Different roofing materials can manifest hail damage in different ways, as we alluded to a moment ago. We’re going to look at what the two most common shingles (asphalt/composition and wood) do when damaged in this way.

Asphalt/Composition Shingles

  • Especially dark areas (coating loss).
  • Soft, bruised areas (similar to bruised fruit).
  • Granule loss, exposing the underlayers.
  • Randomized damage.
  • Shiny mat (loss of coating).

Wood Shingles

  • Dents and splits.
  • Sharp corners/edges from splits.
  • Randomized damage.
  • Brown/orange discoloration.
  • Splintering.

It’s important to note that there are various types of shingle damage that can be mistaken for hail damage upon a superficial glance. The normal wear and tear of shingles follow a similar pattern of visible signs, though in most cases, this sort of decay will show a pattern that spreads not dissimilar to an infection from an initial weak spot.

Don’t wait for hail to surprise you, fill out our contact form today to learn more!

What Are Roof Shingles Made Of?

A common question we always have, when looking at a material we don’t personally work with, is “what’s that made of”. This is an especially common question roofers get, in relation to shingles. They’re referred to as “asphalt shingles”, but to non-roofers, asphalt is a more or less solid pacing material also commonly called “blacktop”. How can flexible, moderately-light-weight roofing components possibly be made of street-paving material?

Well, the truth is, they’re not just slabs of pure asphalt, but layers of specialized materials the topmost of which happens to be a specialized formulation of asphalt. The makeup of asphalt shingles is actually quite fascinating, so today, we’re going to take a closer look at them. Understanding the makeup of these materials will empower you to make the most informed decisions about your roof that you possibly can. Knowledge is power.

Variation

The exact makeup of roofing shingles varies from one manufacturer to the next, though there’s an overarching set of quality and fabrication standards they must comply with. Naturally, any given company is protective of their precise formula, but thanks to those standards, you can expect them all to be made of backing materials upon which there is a layer of asphalt coating. Most of these backings are reinforced with fiberglass or another flexible material with a high tensile strength, further enhanced by specialized resins and binding agents.

The Makeup of Asphalt

The first place to start is with the actual composition of asphalt itself. It’s a strange material. One of the reasons it’s so commonly-used for streets, parking lots, and driveways is the fact that, even once it hardens, it remains somewhat flexible. This reduces its ability to crack, crumble and erode when spread across long distances. It also, when applied conservatively, makes a good light-weight, weatherized coating.

Asphalt is, itself, a mixture of tars and rock, with additional additives to make it bind better, and harden more effectively, while remaining flexible. When applied to shingles, this is furthered even more by oxidation (blowing hot air through the shingle), which catalyzes all of this bonding even more. This extra process is not done to paving asphalt. The result is a coating that’s very resistant to temperature extremes, precipitation, and very good at absorbing and then radiating solar heat and UV once the sun sets.

The Surfacing of Shingles

The quickest way to spot an asphalt shingle is the slightly rough, granular surface, which is a bit different from other uses of asphalt. This is due to an extra, thin layer of crushed stone (usually lime stone), pulverized to a specific standard of size variation. Colorization of this stone is done either through special firing processes, or by adding an additional, thin layer of pigment polymer. The polymers are generally used in shingles designed to resist things like moss or algae in climates where such pests are exceptionally prevalent, with firing (a more affordable approach) done on less specialized shingles.

Bonding Elements

Of course, shingles must be resistant to water. Even in the desert, it can rain and even snow from time to time, and without bonding/laminates in place, they would become soggy, because asphalt is naturally semi-permeable. They would decay quickly when they became wet.

These bonding agents are very specialized compounds (and this is where a lot of companies are protective of their formulae), applied to the top, bottom, both sides, or throughout the many layers of a shingle. Since most shingles today are multi-layered, these laminates and bonding compounds are applied to each layer at the time of creation, which lets them not only resist water, but helps to unify the layers more effectively. These bonding agents are activated through heat and/or pressure, depending on the manufacturer.

The top layer of a shingle is commonly referred to as the “dragon tooth” given it has a somewhat toothy appearance, while the bottom is called the “shim”.

Backsurfacing

Shingle ingredients tend to be sticky, even if they don’t always feel like it to a passing touch. When packaged together, they’re under pressure, and often exposed to hot environments. To prevent them from sticking together, and to keep any adhesives/sealants from prematurely activating, a backsurface material is added. This powder is made of limestone generally. Finally, a one-sided tape, called release film, is added, to further prevent them from activating or sticking together.

Some shingles have an adhesive layer under this film, which is activated by pressure, chemically, or by heat. Others do not.

So, we can see that shingles are actually an intricate feat of chemistry, material sciences, and engineering. To learn more about them, and the other sciences of roofing, fill out our contact form today.

How To Convert Roof Pitch To Degrees

Measurement units are a pain, across all disciplines, fields, and walks of life. This is especially true in the United States, where we insist on adhering to the ancient Imperial (called Customary here) measurement systems, while still having to juggle the rest of the world’s metric system for compliance, and of course, there are all those lovely industry-specific units. It’s a headache, and when it comes to roofing and carpentry, no exceptions are to be found.

Take the roof pitch, for example. Roofers and carpenters work in slopes, pitches, and special angle ratios not found in most other disciplines (save some areas of engineering). Meanwhile, the rest of us think in standard 0-360 degrees or 0-180 radians. Those are what our high school math classes taught us. Today, we’re going to learn how to measure the pitch of a roof, and then convert it to a unit we understand better. Thankfully, with computers and scientific calculators, this is a lot easier to do than it would’ve otherwise been.

Measuring Pitch

First, let’s measure the pitch. Don’t walk out onto your roof, that’s dangerous, and makes this harder to do. Climb up on a ladder, and place a carpentry square so that the 12 lines up cleanly with the peak.

Observe the number, on the other side, where the edge of the roof intersects it.

This ratio is a standard roofing pitch, which is run (horizontal distance) per foot of rise.

Example: If the roof crosses the 9 on the other part of the square, you’ve got a ratio of 9/12, or nine inches of run per foot (twelve inches) of rise.

Understanding Things Better

When it comes to the mathematical conversion process, it’s far more beneficial to understand the result of a given equation, rather than how it actually achieves the intended goal. If you’re truly interested in how the math behind this works, there are a great number of quite well-constructed videos on the inner workings of trigonometry and linear algebra.

The question, though, is, why do we need this? Why do carpenters use a seemingly-obtuse measurement in the first place? Honestly, because it’s not actually as obtuse as it seems, and it’s far more practical for them, due to its direct relation to many other variables in their trade. To work in a generic mathematical unit like degrees, would actually require them to be running these conversions constantly, and honestly, they’ve little time for such things.

Note: In other parts of the world where metric is used, degrees are actually commonly used for roof pitch, because the base-10 nature of the standard units converts cleanly with a simple tool.

Running the Conversion

Since we have our pitch (ratio), we’re ready to convert it into degrees. That’s right, that trigonometry you had to take in high school, and swore you’d never use? It’s time to use it. Thankfully, it’s easy to do through a calculator. So, let’s use the Windows calculator since it’s a standard one most people have access to.

  • Press Windows+R, type “calc” in the box, and press enter. The calculator will appear.
  • In the menu, click “View”, and then “Scientific”.
  • Enter the number in your ratio that’s smaller than 12, and then divide that by 12. This will produce a number greater than 0, but less than 1, with several decimal places.
  • Click the “Inv” button, and then the “Tan-1” button, which will produce a lengthy decimal number between 1 and 2.

We’ve got a basic decimal/percentage figure now. However, this isn’t the degree unit we want. We have a few more steps ahead of us.

  • Take the number on the left-hand side of the decimal (the integer), and subtract it from the original. This will give you a decimal number less than 1. Multiply this by 60, to get your “minutes” component.
  • Subtract your “minutes” from that less-than-one decimal number, and multiply that result by 60 as well, to get your seconds. You may need to round this down.
  • Now, the initial integer is your degrees, the second number is your minutes, and that remainder, as a whole number, is your seconds.

You just successfully converted your roof pitch into degrees, with just a few simple tasks in the calculator. It’s surprisingly easy, and if you have a tiny bit of programming savvy, you could even write a quick little app that does the entire calculation from entering the ratio in one sweep.

To learn more about unit conversions, and the conventions used by roofers, fill out our contact form today. At JDT Construction, we think it’s important for customers to be in the know!

How To Evaluate Your Roofing Contractor’s Quote

When it comes time to update, repair, or replace your roof, there are a lot of very important steps along the journey, and every one of them is equally important. One of the biggest and most delicate steps in this process is the comparison of contractor quotes. However, this is something where a lot of mistakes are made, as people misinterpret quotes and estimates, and don’t know how to evaluate, accurately, a good quote versus a less than an excellent one.

Today, we’re going to talk about the difference between an estimate and a quote, factors to consider when evaluating them, and various factors that can impact a quote. Information is crucial when evaluating something like this, and can save you a lot of money, or prevent you from missing out on a quality contractor in an effort to save money you shouldn’t necessarily save, on such a crucial project as your roof.

Quotes Vs. Estimates

First, let’s clarify the terms of quotes and estimates. The first thing you tend to get is a cursory estimate on a project. This is a rough calculation which skilled contractors will make, based on experience, on what a given thing will cost. This is not a guaranteed price nor offer, but a preliminary estimation.

A quote is a bid for the job, at the price given. It does not become a contract until everything is signed, at which point it is no longer negotiable, and all things are set in stone. Bids for projects are a good thing, as competition prevents complacency, and tends to keep prices relatively fair.

Basic Quote Evaluation

Before you begin evaluating any quote(s) too closely, be sure to get multiple quotes from different contractors. Settling for the first quote, or one of the first few quotes you get, is an unwise idea, as you’ll miss out on better prices, or a better contractor by jumping the shark.

Once you’ve acquired multiple quotes (try for at least five or six if not more), you can begin to analyze and compare them. A good quote is very clear in where all costs are coming from and why, including skilled labor, materials, tools, additional overhead, and utilitarian concerns like dumpsters and other refuse disposal means that may be involved.

Such a quote is called itemization. All the listed individual numbers should add up to no more or less than the total quoted price. If these add up to a number lower than the total, there are hidden costs, which warrant questioning and further investigation.

Competent, skilled contractors know how to provide a clear, organized quote, but if it’s not up to standards, you should never feel bad or out of turn for asking it to be revised and redrafted.

Variables

You can expect quotes to vary from one contractor to another, no matter what. Extremely high bids are probably negotiable, while bids that are exceedingly low (and too good to be true) probably are just that – a scam that’s too good to be true.

Variables for Higher Bids

  • The better the contractor, the higher the bid will probably be due to better equipment, and higher overhead.
  • Warranties can impact total cost.
  • Shingles vary wildly in price, higher end ones obviously driving the total price up exponentially. However, before discounting this as a problematic cost, research your shingles’ lifespans.
  • Always check for those hidden costs, and ask they be explained in clear English.

Variables for Lower Bids

  • A lack of appropriate insurance can lower bids, but this is a trap, as injuries that occur are then your problem as the property’s owner.
  • Recent weather phenomena and other disasters can lower costs.
  • Desperation for work can cause under-bidding, but that’s a sign of problems.

Due Diligence

Always research your contractors, and find out what their history is. Today, with the internet as it is, nobody can outrun bad PR and disgruntled customers. If you feel unsure about a contractor, listen to your hunch, you have better business sense than you probably think.

Finally, remember that an initial bid is not a final offer unless that’s explicitly stated. Homeowners can always negotiate and haggle prices down, and most contractors will aim high in an anticipation of being haggled as such.

One last, very important thing, is to always keep your paperwork, for quick reference, and to back up any complaints or concerns you may have during and after the work is done. To learn more about roofing contractors, bids, and much more, fill out our contact form today.

What Is Roll Roofing?

When you think about roofing materials, you almost certainly think of tiles, panels or shingles of some sort. Along with this comes the expense and time in installing/repairing/replacing these, as well as the considerable expense this brings. For a home or commercial building, this is often just the way of things, because with a few exceptions, these are the only types of roofing ideal for occupied structures.
However, when it comes to some industrial complexes, storage units, sheds, garages, workshops or other places where nobody lives or needs the hospitality of a pleasant climate, there does exist the alternative of rolled roofing.

What is Rolled Roofing?

Rolled roofing is pretty much exactly how it sounds – material that comes in large rolls of about 100 square feet on average. It’s a mineral-surfaced roofing product (a category referred to as MSR). In composition, it’s not dissimilar to asphalt shingle, or the similar rolling material used for flat roofs, though it’s not identical to either.

Where flat roof materials are thermally bonded, rolled roof materials are merely nailed down. Also in contrast to flat roofing materials, these are intended for sloped surfaces, as they do not provide an appropriate seal on a flat surface.

Use Cases

Rolled roofing is a very affordable, very easy material to work with, which makes it popular for DIY projects involving sheds, workshops, garages and other unoccupied structures. A tutorial for applying this material can easily be found online, and if followed correctly, anyone who’s relatively handy can easily apply this material.

However, due to the nature of this material, it is far from appropriate for many cases, primarily residential structures. Primarily, this primarily due to three factors: first, it doesn’t have much in the way of insulation capacity, meaning anywhere with climate control will be fighting against the exterior temperature as well as to keep the interior temperature stable. Second, it doesn’t provide as good of a seal against water, having no thermal bonding, overlap or seam closure. When applied in the appropriate scenarios, it is unlikely to allow active leaks to form, but it really doesn’t keep all moisture out.
Finally, it’s not a very aesthetically appealing material, looking like nothing more than tar paper nailed to the top of a structure. It also doesn’t allow much in the way of color variety, being primarily black, though some green and red varieties do exist. On a side note, being an affordable, simple material, it also doesn’t last very long, meaning trying to maintain it on a residential structure would be untenable.

The ideal use of rolled roof material would be on slopes of 1:12-2:12 in pitch, where habitability isn’t a concern. Put buildings, barns, shops, sheds, tree houses, garages, other similar buildings with a sufficiently-pitched roof will do well with this material. If such a structure is visible from the street, however, it’s best to make the extra effort to use actual asphalt shingles.

Pros and Cons of Rolled Roofing

Pros

  • This material is very ideal for low-incline roofs, and is easily hammered down.
  • It can easily be cut into various shapes and sizes, making awkward surfaces easy to work with.
  • It’s a quick process to apply, compared to shingles or other materials, which have multiple steps that require caution and care.
  • It’s easily transported, not being heavy and bulky like roofing squares of shingles, tiles or panels.
  • It can be used to roof over damaged shingle roofs, at least as a temporary measure.
  • It can be used as a temporary stopgap if roof damage appears, should weather not permit the immediate proper repair of a roof.
  • Anyone somewhat handy can put this material down, if they follow instructions properly. It requires no significant experience with roofing nor carpentry.

Cons

  • You’re stuck with black, as other colors are rare.
  • It’s not as durable as shingles, nor is it as well-insulated nor does it provide as good a water seal.
  • It’s ugly; your resale value is going to decline if this is used on structures seen from the street.
  • It has a very short lifespan of five to eight years, which means that you’ll be repeating this project every half decade or so. This is one of the many reasons it shouldn’t be used on a house.

To learn more about rolled roofing and its appropriate uses, fill out our contact form or call us today.

What Is a Gable Roof?

Whenever you watch cartoons or see traditional illustrations of houses, you may notice a recurring theme, in the shape of the roof. That angular, “A” shape so strongly associated with a basic house shape is called a gable. Of course, we’ve all heard this term before, but we’ve rarely given it much thought as to what it actually meant, aside from “some part of a house” or “some style of architecture”. The term, somehow, has an antiquated sense to it that would lead you to believe it’s a very old style of something.

It is indeed old – gables date back to at least the Greek and Roman times (called, by them, the tympanum). Over the centuries, this basic shape, accomplished by placing triangular pieces at either end of the house, has seen different stylization applied to it, such as the very steep form of Tudor architecture, or the ornate gingerbread work done on Victorian homes.
The gable is common, timeless, and does shed water very well, bat as we’ll see with a closer look, they’re not the best design when it comes to standing up to wind.

Various Types of Gable Roofs

Gables take a lot of shapes, such as the period styles mentioned previously, but there are a few different modern styles for them too.

The simplest gable roof extends from one wall to the opposite one, ending flush with these walls, at the same height. Sometimes, they may extend a bit past either wall, at which point the underside is enclosed with soffit boards – an approach that seems to have caught on in the 1950s, and is still strong with some styles of house.

Another common style involves one wall being higher than the other, which is called a saltbox. This isn’t that common in newly-built houses but was once common when the style of New England architecture was in vogue.

They can, of course, become more complicated, with L or T shaped houses having two, three, or four sections converging with a central support. This is called a cross-gable and is very common with variations of ranch homes.

Finally, a less common style of gable roof on residences in North America is the gambrel roof, which resembles the roofs seen on barns. These have two sections of pitch, the upper being steeper than the lower.

Gable Construction

Gables are so popular and commonplace for three reasons. For one, they’re a timeless style, meaning a gable roof won’t become “outdated” any time soon, so your home’s resale value isn’t going to be impacted by it in most cases.

Second, they’re very effective and optimal for areas with lots of snow and/or rain. The steep pitch means water flows off of them very effectively, not pooling anywhere. Snow, while less of a flowing material, won’t pile on such an incline as easily, and when it does, the shape is very resistant to the weight. Ice dams are theoretically less likely to be as severe with this style of roof, provided you have a good gutter system as well.

Finally, gables are easy. Contractors don’t have to construct the framing of a roof on site, because pre-built roof trusses of a gable form factor can be brought in and installed. These are manufactured on assembly lines these days and are very affordable and standardized. This makes it a cost-effective solution all-around as well.

Some Advantages

The gable shape has some architectural and lifestyle benefits that many homeowners take for granted. The triangular shape of the roof allows for an attic space if a floor is built across the rafters. A steeper gable will allow for a more spacious attic as a result.

With enough area at the end of the roof, windows and/or vents can be installed, which allow a lot more air flow throughout this attic space. This adds to the longevity of your roof, as ventilation is something, they need to withstand the many temperatures they may be exposed to from either side.

Wind Problems

Unfortunately, like any design, it does have an Achilles heel – strong winds. If you live in an area with winds that often get above 60mph, a gable roof may actually be more trouble than it’s worth. With their pitch, these roofs can often lose shingles/tiles/panels very easily under these conditions.

If it’s severe enough, the wind can even get in under the soffit and lift the entire roof off of the house, as has been seen in severe tornado weather as well as during hurricanes. This is a bit of a rock and a hard place for some of the tropical coastal areas, where a lot of rain falls, but wind storms can get quite severe throughout the year.

In most climates, a gable is a practical, timeless and even advantageous type of roof to choose. To learn more about gables, and some architectural tricks they can allow for lighting and living space, fill out our contact form today!

What’s The Difference Between Stucco and EIFS?

If you’re interested in stucco, who can honestly blame you? It’s a beautiful material with lots of personality, without being excessive about it. It provides a solid, unified and form-fitting shell. It can even be detailed and etched into friezes and daises and other ornate decorations, which are solid parts of the overall structure.

It’s great at deflecting sunlight, it’s pretty durable, and it’s a very trendy material these days, even in places where you’d never expect to see it in the past. Yeah, stucco’s nice, but did you know there are actually to major types of this material, and when you approach a contractor, you’re going to be asked: do you want traditional stucco, or EIFS?

Well, unless you work with this sort of thing for a living, you undoubtedly won’t know what EIFS even is. Today, we’re going to point out the differences between traditional stucco and EIFS, and maybe lay out the pros and cons of going with one versus the other. They both have their strengths and weaknesses in that regard.

Please note there’s no right or wrong choice with this – it simply depends on some things we’re going to take a good look at today.

What is Stucco?

Traditional stucco is essentially Portland cement, some lime, sand and water. It creates a plaster-like consistency that can be spread across walls, ceilings and other surfaces. Once it cures, it creates a continuous, textured finish with a unique feel and look to it.

It is generally applied over a base mesh that will look something like industrial chicken wire (but, it is not chicken wire). This material is very old, but tried and true technology, and most skilled cement workers have experience with it, and have an excellent understanding of it.

What is EIFS?

EIFS is synthetic stucco siding. Unlike traditional stucco, EIFS is applied in layers. First, there is a layer of polystyrene board, over which a synthetic stucco is applied. After this, a fiberglass mesh is applied, and then a finishing coat. This produces a structured, layered material that’s got some structural advantages compared to traditional stucco, but we’ll get to that in a moment.
If you already have stucco, which was applied by a previous homeowner, you can distinguish EIFS by the presence of a fiberglass and foam backboard layer once damage does show itself.

Advantages of Stucco Siding

Traditional stucco has its appeal. It’s faster to apply, and given it’s been around for a long time, most contractors whom do cement, have this down to a science. It’s a lot more affordable than EIFS given it’s just specially-mixed Portland cement and some mesh.

It cures very quickly due to not being as rigid or dense as other cements, it’s easier to repair, and when remediation comes along (and given enough time, it will happen), it’s much less of an undertaking due to the above simplicity. It’s also easier to work with for decorative measures discussed earlier, because it’s more pliable than EIFS by nature.

Advantages of EIFS (Synthetic Stucco Siding)

EIFS is a more durable material. The polystyrene backing provides a more cushioned, insulator layer with more sealing against water damage. It also helps with flexibility, reducing tendency to crack or crumble as a home settles, or thermal expansion works its black magic on exteriors.

EIFS’ layered material and fiberglass also helps add to this flexibility and durability, as well as being more resistant to weathering, wind and impacts as a result. With its somewhat modular nature, remediation may also not require an entire wall be torn away, merely existing panel segments, as the continuity of the material is a bit of an illusion compared to traditional stucco.

Which is Best for Your Home?

Like we said a little while ago, there’s no one right answer for everyone with this. But, a general rule of thumb is what you want out of your house’s look (do you want etching and ornate designs?), what your budget is, and what your climate is both affect this.

Let’s look at a few of the cons of both materials, which help to apply either material to these concerns pretty clearly.

Cons of Stucco:

  • Stucco, when damaged, requires remediation of an entire wall most of the time. It is prone to cracks over time, which let water damage in, that spreads through a whole wall usually.
  • Stucco is more susceptible to rapid temperature changes and weathering, making it more of a maintenance headache in varied climate zones such as the northern and midwestern USA.

Cons of EIFS:

  • EIFS has a more arduous installation process, due to the multiple layers, which need to be very precisely applied.
    EIFS is more costly than traditional stucco, and not all contractors out there are that familiar nor experienced with it. You need to have a contractor that knows what they’re doing, through and through, if you want to work with EIFS. Fortunately, at JDT, we absolutely know what we’re doing!

To learn more about stucco and EIFS, fill out our contact form or call us today. We’re happy to share our years of experience and knowledge with you.

What’s The Difference Between Stucco Repair and Stucco Remediation?

If your home has stucco, then congratulations, you have one of the most rich-in-personality and presently trendy types of exterior finish out there. Stucco has found itself in places where nobody would expect to see it these days – temperate and even outright cold climates.

This concrete phase (one of four) used to be mostly associated with tropical and desert climates, due to its UV resistance and good insulation against heat. Insulating against cold isn’t, indeed, one of its strong suits, but other insulation materials have made it practical enough to use outside its comfort zone.

But, as a homeowner with stucco, you know how fragile the stuff can be. It’s the softest, most easily-damaged phase of concrete, and strong winds and major temperature fluctuations can cause it to chop away, fracture, or crumble over time. While repairing it may not be your number one priority if you have major home repairs on your dossier, leaving it to its own devices is a bad idea. Moisture can creep in, and the structure of your house can be further compromised as this protective layer is weakened.

When looking into this, you’ve undoubtedly been faced with two concepts – stucco repair and stucco remediation. What the heck is stucco remediation? It sounds like a legal term of some sort, doesn’t it? Well, it’s actually a simple concept, but it’s important to know that repair and remediation are vastly different things, when it comes to stucco. Today, we’re going to outline these differences, and get you up to speed on when either is called for.

Stucco Repair

Stucco repair is exactly how it sounds – finding a damaged part of the stucco, and simply repairing or reapplying the concrete layer. It’s basically patching the damage. In mild enough cases, this is actually effective, and obviously the more cost-effective choice. However, if stucco damage is deep or widespread enough, this would be something of a band-aid on the problem, so to speak.

If moisture has gotten in, the layers underneath have been damaged, or the overall structure of the stucco concrete layer has been weakened sufficiently, the damage will just persist, no matter how much patching you do. If you go this route with severe damage, it’s very much like the old cartoon trope of the character repeatedly plugging leaks on a boat or a dam, and running out of fingers comedically. Only, in this case, it’s not very funny, is it?

Stucco Remediation

Stucco remediation is a different creature altogether. With remediation, the entire surface is stripped down, including the underlying layers. If you have a cinderblock structure, for example, it would be stripped down to this cinderblock layer.

At this point, the entire stucco application process is done completely over, from scratch, placing a brand new infrastructure over this surface. Basically, it’s tearing it completely down and rebuilding it.
This is the only way to effectively, genuinely fix big enough problems where cracks are prevalent, the underlying layers have been damaged, or the overall structure has been sufficiently weakened, is to remediate the stucco. This has its disadvantages, obviously. It’s more time consuming, it’s costlier, and it’s a frustrating thing, to have to completely redo something. This of course also includes the paint job, which is a whole other, albeit less heavy project.

Repair vs. Remediation: Pros and Cons

Repair:

  • Pro – Repair is a light project, more affordable, which just involves mostly patching cracks and tears. It uses fewer materials, can be quickly done, and also requires minimal painting.
  • Con – If you simply go with repairs on what seems like minor damage, you may not get a full view of underlying damage, such as water intrusion and structural damage that will become worse when left unsupervised for protracted periods.
  • Pro – Repair requires less skill, meaning that there’s far less up-front cost involved in this process.
  • Con – Repairs are temporary, and the cracks and tears will reappear, elsewhere in the structure, over time. This is because there’s an underlying cause present that only remediation can fix.

Remediation:

  • Con – Remediation involves removing the entire siding structure, and replacing it with more modern materials.
  • Con – It requires a serious inspection of the sheathing, framing, and insulation, all of which may need to be replaced if mold has contaminated it (which water damage has a tendency to do).
  • Pro – This is a long-term fix, as the underlying cause of the problem has been addressed in the removal and replacement of the existing materials.
  • Con – It’s more expensive due to the skill required to perform it. This needs a skilled contractor who knows their stucco forward and backward.
  • Pro – It’s the best choice overall because even seemingly minor damage has an underlying cause that’s just going to become a bigger and bigger problem over time. It may be a hassle, but it’s a guaranteed fix, not a patch on an ongoing problem!

Ready to remediate your stucco, or just go with repairs due to budget? At JDT Construction, we know stucco-like nobody else in the industry. Give us a call or fill out our contact form today for a zero-obligation consultation!

What is Stucco?

So, you’ve undoubtedly seen stucco at some point in your life. It’s actually become a very trendy interior and exterior finish in recent years, even in climates and regions where people generally don’t expect to encounter it. Traditionally, people associate stucco with places like Florida, California or the general southwestern part of the United States, and of course, the Latin cultures of both South/Central America and Europe whence they originate.

Today, you see it everywhere, and why not? It’s a very charming, beautiful material with a lot of personality (without being overstated as a result). But what exactly is this exotic material? Nothing else out there looks or feels quite like stucco, so it must surely be some sort of alien material with no other comparable examples in the known world, right? Well, you’ll be surprised to find out otherwise.

What is Stucco?

Stucco is a type of cement, believe it or not. It has a texture and appearance that looks a lot like plaster, and this is partly due to its consistency and method of application. But, unlike plaster, it’s water and temperature resistant, while achieving the same textured, seamless application across one or multiple surfaces.

It’s glare resistant, very affordable, and mostly a good insulator as well. It’s excellent at deflecting heat. It’s not fantastic at trapping heat for the most part, but with modern formulae and additional insulation technologies, it can function just fine for that, hence its appearance in cold and temperate climes in recent decades.

Stucco Building Codes Standards

Actually, in almost all states, it falls within the same standard sets (Chapter 14 in most states) for interior and exterior walls.

The one exception is that in some cases, minor cracks, fractures or chips in stucco are less of a cause for alarm than in other materials, due to the consistency and nature of how stucco works, and how it is repaired or remediated. But in most cases, you simply need to comply with the same building codes applicable to other interior and exterior finishes.

However, this varies a good bit from state to state, so be sure to consult with local authorities in case you happen to be in a location with abnormal or specific code standards that aren’t the norm. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

The Advantages of Stucco

Stucco’s biggest advantage is that it’s a continuous structure once it’s applied. Being a form of cement, it’s a pliable coating that’s spread over a surface, at which point it cures into a solid shell. Its closest analog is plaster, which is applied in and for the same basic reasons.

Unlike plaster, however, stucco isn’t as fragile as egg shells. While it’s not as resilient as other forms of cement and concrete, it holds up to mild bumps, scuffs and other impacts inside the home, without needing to be repaired in most cases. It requires a hammer to be taken to it, to do immediate, hole-forming damage usually.

It’s also resistant to water, heat and cold, which means that unlike plaster, it can be applied to interiors and exteriors in pretty much the same manner. Really, you don’t need different formulations or types of stucco for either application, which means that if you’re choosing to go with this material for your indoor and outdoor surfaces, you can have a single contractor handle it all for a better price, and with a single standard of practice.

The Disadvantages of Stucco

Of course, nothing’s perfect, and that includes stucco. This material can be a bit of a hassle once it shows signs of fatigue – and all materials eventually do show fatigue, that’s the law of entropy. Unlike siding, if stucco is damaged, your best bet is to remediate it. This involves tearing down an entire wall’s stucco layer, sheathing and insulation, and rebuilding it from the ground up.
It’s not modular like bricks or siding, meaning that to get to the root cause of the problem (usually water damage), further damage has to be done initially. Stucco is also not the best at containing heat, versus deflecting it. Its popularity in hot climates is due to its ability to fight the sun’s heating of a structure. This is less of an issue with modern materials, but if you live in an area where it gets cold for protracted timeframes, you’ll need additional insulation measures.

Pre-Mixed Stucco Manufacturers

There are a great many manufacturers of pre-mixed stucco, which does save a lot of money due to the laborious process of mixing the stuff from scratch. It also holds everyone to similar standards for formulation and quality. Among them are Parex USA, Omega Products, Mission Stucco, Merlex Stucco, Eagle Building Materials, California Stucco, and BMI Products.

Can You Color Stucco?

Yes! It’s possible to add coloration to the actual material in some cases, though often, it’s given an acrylic or other finish, along with paint. But colored stucco mixes do indeed exist. Just know, you’re committing to the color with this, and built-in coloration can affect its integrity, cost, and ability to deflect sunlight.

How do You Keep a Stucco Surface Clean and Maintained?

Most maintenance is all about keeping the finish and paint intact, which adds additional shoring up against the invasion of water. Once cracks form, you need to seek professional help, it will probably need remediated eventually.

To clean stucco, merely hose it down, or use soap and lukewarm water. Use a soft sponge or soft-haired brush to gently scrub built-up dirt and other debris off. Don’t use abrasive materials or a pressure washer!

To learn more about stucco and more technical details about building codes (especially state to state), fill out our contact form or call us today! At JDT, we know stucco.

What is the Average Lifespan of a Shingle Roof?

Something homeowners are often mystified by is the lifespan of their roof. Different materials have significantly different lifespans, and the factors that play into this aren’t obvious to anyone who doesn’t have a lot of experience working with roofing materials. But, knowing the life expectancy of your roof is important, because as it becomes older, you’ll need to know when you need to perform increasing amounts of maintenance and need to schedule more frequent inspections.

Still, if you live in a place with a pretty stable climate, you don’t want to jump the gun on this. Today, we’re going to take a look at the different types of a shingle roof, their average lifespans, why they have such lifespans, and what factors can contribute to more or less longevity with them.

When we’re done, it’ll all seem pretty straightforward and obvious, believe it or not.

Standard Asphalt Shingles

These are the most common, oldest technology when it comes to contemporary shingles. They’re the most affordable, easiest to install, and are pretty hardy. Standard 3-tab shingles (which are the most common variety of these for residences) have an average lifespan of 15-18 years.

Compare this to architectural asphalt shingles (which provide a smoother, almost tiled appearance), which have a lifespan of 24-30 years. Why is this? Well, it’s partially material quality, which is higher on the more expensive to produce and install architectural version, but part of it is form factor as well. The more even seal of architectural shingles doesn’t get battered by wind, and temperatures and the elements don’t work their way underneath to mess with the adhesive as quickly.

Don’t let this deter you from going with the classic 3-tab shingle, though. They may not have quite the inherent longevity, but they are very affordable to repair and replace, meaning the shorter lifespan isn’t going to hurt your pocketbook nearly as much as you might expect.

Organic/Fiberglass Shingles

This is a newer technology, though it can be hard to spot them versus standard asphalt by a visual glance unless you have a trained eye. However, this material does mean it can have more customized shapes, looking like other materials such as shake or ceramics thanks to modern manufacturing processes.

These ten do last more or less the lifespan of architectural asphalt shingles, though given how new the material is, this isn’t a standard, on-the-books estimation quite yet. The reason for this longevity is their greater durability overall, and the increased amount of asphalt (up to 40% more) which makes them more resistant to wind and the elements as well.
These are costlier than regular asphalt, though.

Alternative Materials

A few other materials we’re only going to glance at numbers for, due to not being traditional singles, have varied lifespans. Metal shingles, due to their rigidity and temperature resistance tend to last 30-45 years. Concrete tiles, due to a similar resistance, last 35-50 years, EPDM (rubber) shingles, which are very rare, last only 10-16 years.

Factors for Longevity with Shingles

There are a multitude of factors that can affect how long shingles last in different scenarios. Let’s look the big ones below:

  • Temperature Extremes – Severe fluctuations in temperature, that of extreme cold or extreme heat, will gradually cause shingles to crack, buckle, or for the adhesive to eventually fail. This is mostly due to a phenomenon called thermal expansion, wherein something contracts when very cold, and expands when very hot.
  • Coloration – As most people know, darker colors absorb light, and as a result, also heat. This can cause fading and one side of the temperature extremes, making them come loose, buckle, or crumble. If you live in a very sunny climate, brighter roof colors are better, they deflect a lot of that solar energy.
  • The angle of Roof’s Slope – As a result of a steeper angle on a roof deflecting wind, not receiving as direct sunlight, and their better proficiency at letting water and snow flow off with gravity, you’ll see more longevity as a result.
  • Roof Orientation – The facing of the roof, directionally, affects the amount of sun. The more southerly it is oriented, the more sun it’s going to get, at least in the northern hemisphere.
  • Material and Installation – If you have a sloppily-installed roof, or go with the cheapest materials, you can expect it to have a far shorter lifespan. This one’s pretty obvious, but merits pointing out!
  • Ventilation of the Attic – If you don’t properly ventilate your attic, heat builds up underneath the roof that causes the same thermal problems.
  • Trees Nearby – Tree branches that crape or rub on the roof, as well as dropping smaller twigs and leaf material, can play havoc on your roof. They’ll encourage moss and mold, decay and abrasion. Keep your trees well-trimmed to where they can’t antagonize your roof.

Warranty

With good maintenance and frequent inspections, you can usually extend the lifespan of most roofs by a good factor, if the climate cooperates. Most warranties do cover defects or installation mistakes, but always ask for a copy of your warranty, and keep maintenance and inspection records. Look for materials and contractors with warranties for the roof in general for a time period – many offer them.

To learn more about roof longevity, proper maintenance, and the good warranties solid manufacturers should and do provide, fill out our contact form or call us today!

How To Get Insurance To Pay For Roof Replacement

Let’s face it, having to replace a roof, especially if it’s due to surprise damage beyond your power, is something of a nightmare you dread as a homeowner. It’s a lengthy process, requiring what’s there to be torn down and a new roof be installed – usually including insulation and other foundational layers as well. It’s disruptive to your day to day life, and it’s very, very costly.

Well, that’s why you have homeowner’s insurance, isn’t it? To protect you from those unpredictable disasters utterly beyond your control? A peace of mind should the worst befall you? Sadly, most are familiar with the veritable act of congress it tends to require, to get an insurance company to really pay for anything, let alone something as costly and serious as a roof.

It’s a real catch 22 that most homeowners will at some point have to contend with. In all honesty, insurance providers shouldn’t be allowed to make it as difficult as they do, especially considering the premiums they tend to charge. But it is what it is, so let’s look at the various factors, steps and precautions that any homeowner should take before and during a roof crisis, to ensure that their insurance provider actually does what they’re paid to do – pay for the roof.

Be Prepared for Scrutiny

Regardless of what type of roof you have, what contractor you wish to go through, or what the cause of damage was, you can count on your company scrutinizing your claim like a scientist pouring over a microscope.
They most likely will require all manner of additional data and documentation, including before/after pictures of the roof, documentation showing when the roof was installed and last repaired, and the most recent inspection it was subjected to. Of course, most policy holders don’t think to keep this information handy, or to take frequent pictures of their roof – insurance companies are counting on this lack of foresight.

Keep your documentation somewhere you can find it, and take a picture of your roof every 3 months if possible, labeling it with a date. If possible, use an old photography method like polaroid instant cameras, which can eliminate any and all questions of “photoshopping”.

Also, request, ahead of time, any and all documentation your insurance company can give you, on such a claim, so you know, before you need to, what additional conditions and documentation they need.

Coverage

Do frequent reviews of your coverage. Technically, coverage isn’t supposed to change unless you take an action to do so, and if it does, you’re supposed to be notified. Still, sometimes less ethical companies have ways of tweaking things to their favor. Every billing cycle, review your coverage, and be sure that you have, in no uncertain terms, coverage for your roof – most homeowner policies are supposed to cover a roof that is 10 years or less in age.

Roofs Over 10 and Depreciation

For roofs over the age of 10 years, things become less cut and dry even with the more reputable insurance companies. At this point, they depreciate in value. An inspector (which is always dispatched when a claim is made) will determine the degree of depreciation, and this varies from company to company, area to area.

Long story short, expect to only be reimbursed for a certain amount of the roof’s original value if it’s over 10 years old.

A further word of warning about depreciation – be wary of some policies which apply depreciation even on roofs under 10 years old. Avoid buying into such a policy, if it’s not too late.

Materials

Insurance companies are known to require roofing materials to meet specific local or national building codes, some of which can be somewhat obscure and not the end-all standards enforced across the board.

Reviewing your policy’s specifics, and talking to a roofing contractor about this to get the skinny on what these standards may be, is a good idea, before a crisis happens.

These specifications can apply to both the materials that were damaged, and the materials that will be replacing them – both, or just one or the other. It can be a bit of a mess in that regard.

Frequent Inspections

A yearly inspection of your roof is always a good idea. If repairs need to be made (which if just natural wear and tear, is seldom covered by your policy by the way), make sure they’re affected right away, to the highest standard.

Having documentation and proof of frequent inspections and maintenance will strengthen your case, especially if you’re fighting depreciation after the 10-year mark.

Knowledge is Power

Talk to roofing contractors, talk to others in your area whom use your insurance provider, and find out what they’ve had to go through, to see this handled the proper way. Be ready, with every piece of information, before something goes wrong in the first place!

To learn more about homeowner’s insurance and how it works with roofing concerns, fill out our contact form or call us today. At JDT, nothing surprises us, and we can help you stay inspected and ready!

What You Need To Know About Commercial TPO Roofing

Commercial roofing is very much a different animal from residential roofing in a lot of cases. While commercial buildings with house-like slanted roofs work with the same materials and concepts as residential, most commercial structures have flat roofs. This can be both a curse and a blessing, obviously.

With a flat roof, especially in an area with lots of precipitation, be it rain or snow, you have to provide solid drainage systems and preventative measures for ice formation considerably. But, most structures with flat roofs, are built from the ground up with this in mind – it’s only such a pain when you’re converting a building not originally flat most of the time.

However, there remains one other quandary – the material to use. Unlike slanted roofs, you generally don’t use shingles or tiles for a flat roof, partially because aesthetic isn’t important. The roof doesn’t affect resale value nor curb appeal the same way – if it’s intact and in good shape, it’s all good. It doesn’t have to be attractive.

This has led the common type of roofing material for these to be, overall, easier and safer to install. This is commonly known as membrane roofing, which is rolled and cut in a way kind of analogous to carpet, at least in an abstract sense.

The trick is, there are two types of commercial roofing membrane commonly used. One is a single-ply thermoplastic membrane (TPO), and the other is thermoset membrane. TPO is quickly becoming the more popular one for a number of reasons, so we’re going to take a minute just to talk a little bit more about it, and shed some light on the things you should know.

What Exactly is TPO?

So, we’ve called it single-ply thermoplastic membrane, but that means very little to anyone not in on “jargon”. So, what is it exactly? Well, it’s a synthetic rubber made via compound materials. This rubber is as durable and hardy as something like EPDM M-class rubber, but unlike such rubbers and other materials, you can thermally bond it together without taping or other adhesives.

This eliminates seaming, which, not unlike the tabbing in shingles, is the weakest spot of a membrane roof. This is where tar or other sealants has to traditionally be applied, and often, to keep water damage from working its way in and warping or buckling the membrane. With TPO, the application of heat can bond the sides of the sheets together, effectively eliminating this seam. But, that’s not the only benefit to this material.

The Benefits of TPO

We’ve pointed out the hot air welding that eliminates seams in the material, which reduces things like water damage and ice problems. However, the elimination of these seams isn’t just about sealing the material up.

By creating a continuous single layer of coverage, it becomes vastly stronger, which means it’s more resistant to wind and problems like thermal expansion.

If you’ve seen tile or shingle roofs on homes, you’re familiar with how thermal expansion can crack or buckle shingles, because they are small surfaces with less weight distribution and rigidity. With TPO, the entire surface of your roof is a single continuous and solid surface, which means even the hottest midday sun beating down on it, or the iciest winter, is not likely to buckle or crack this material if it’s installed properly.

Along with this, it’s an easy material for a skilled contractor like JDT to install. It rolls out, it gets stuck down, and then it gets the hot-air welding treatment, and then it’s done. It’s a lot faster, and a lot more affordable as a result.

Combine these two factors with its resistance to UV and solar heat absorption (which makes your building vastly more energy-efficient), and you have a nice, practical material that solves a lot of problems on roofs where aesthetics don’t matter.

Compatibility

Obviously, this isn’t ideal for residential roofing. If you have a home with a flat roof, it does work but is geared more for commercial structures, where code adherence is more strict, and the look of the roof doesn’t matter – the dryness and structural integrity of the roof does.

It may be costly to use this for a flat-roofed residential building aside from apartment buildings or condos, but this is likely to change if more owners of such structures continue to set the precedent of choosing TPO for its durability and practicality.

If you’re interested in TPO for your business or, as a forward-thinker, for your flat-roofed home, then consider having our skilled technicians at JDT install it for you. We’ve got decades of experience with residential and commercial roofing, and there’s no material we don’t know forward and backward.

Your roof is important, so don’t trust it to just anyone – trust it to the experts at JDT. To learn more about TPO and other roofing materials, or to schedule a zero-obligation consultation with our knowledgeable staff, fill out our contact form or call us today!

How To Prevent Ice Dams This Winter

Wintertime is one of the most dangerous times for your roof. The extreme cold can cause shingles to be brittle and more susceptible to adhesive failures and some forms of buckling. Snow can weigh down on shingles, and sheets of ice can do the same damage to your roof that glaciers can do to a landscape, if bad enough.

But, the worst thing to happen to your roof in the winter, comes in the disguise of one of the more charming common sights of this time of year – sparkling, majestic icicles. They’re beautiful, but they hide a serious potential threat to your roof that many people are unaware of.

Ice dams are a serious danger to your roof, and linings of ice and icicles along the edges of your roof are a strong indicator that these may be present. This winter, when you see these formations, don’t let their aesthetic charm lull you into a sense of calm – take immediate action, because the beauty of these formations is vastly outweighed by the damage these phenomena can cause!

What are Ice Dams?

An ice dam is when a formation of ice forms along the valleys of your roof, or along the gutters and edges. However, behind these thicker formations, meltwater from thinner ice and snow can occur, even when it’s very cold outside.

This happens because sunlight is very potent, and when it strikes either an absorbent or deflective roof, all of that energy is finding its way into softer ice and snow, converting it to very cold water. Normally, water on a roof can flow off the slopes, onto the ground, or into gutters where it’s properly disposed of, never to do any real harm.

When these ice formations fill gutters or block the edges of your roof, however, this water becomes trapped – hence the term ice dam. This water will sit, sometimes refreezing in the night, rebuilding the dam even worse, and constantly assaulting the shingles of your roof.

On top of this, while the meltwater is in its liquid state, it sits on the shingles, which can cause continuous water damage. This can result in buckled, crumbled or decayed shingles, adhesive failures, and of course, leaks that can ruin insulation and the internal structure of your house.

It’s a pretty nasty consequence, so deftly disguised by such an otherwise beautiful phenomenon isn’t it?

Disposing of Ice Dams

If you already see signs of ice dams forming, then you want to do something about them right away, before things get worse. De-icing existing ice dams can be tricky. Depending on your shingles and the safety at hand, you can get up on the roof (try not to walk on it – do this from a ladder), using salt to promote the breakdown of the ice formations. The salt used on driveways works well for this. Avoid salting the shingles directly though, as enough of the salt residue is bad for a lot of roofing materials.

If you experience a sunnier, warmer winter day, it’s also possible to use a roof rake or other long tool to gently pull down the ice dams. If you do this, be very careful, as icicles falling can be like raining daggers, chunks of ice like falling rocks, and the water that may break loose from behind the dam will be immensely cold – hypothermia-inducing cold in fact.

Be mindful that if the dam resists too much, not to force it, as this could rip shingles loose or pull your gutters down, and nobody wants this!

Preventative Measures

The best thing to do is, before winter really sets in, to take preventative measures. Cleaning your gutters once autumn’s rain of leaves is at an end is a big help – a lot of ice dams are made worse by gutters being full of muck for the ice to coalesce on, rather than flowing the way it normally should.

Whenever you have heavy frosts, or any kind of snow or rain, do a morning check of your gutters and roof ledges. If you see the beginning of what will become icicles and other ice formations, gently knock them down before they become thick, resistive ice dams.

Salting your gutters before winter sets in is a big help as well, as ice discourages the formation of strong, heavy layers of ice – this is why the surface of the ocean, even in the arctic, doesn’t really freeze as readily as lakes, rivers or ponds.

Finally – and this is a good idea for any time of year, you want to install proper insulation and attic ventilation. This prevents severe heat in the summer from warping and damaging your shingles, and in the winter, it helps keep a flow of warm air that discourages freezing on your roof. The shingles can absorb sun heat, but the ventilation can let this heat escape so it doesn’t further damage your roof.

This is costly measure on the outset, but compared to the damage ice dams can do, it’s a money saver in the long run – a significant one.

To learn more about ice dams, and things to do about them or prevent them, fill out our contact form or call us today!