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Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Bricks and Water

The snow that fell yesterday melted quickly enough that we needed three buckets to catch the drip in the dining room. Our plans for brick repairs and a new (flat) roof hit a snag as 100 years of deferred repairs proved to cover too many problems for us to tackle without a second mortgage. We have misshaped parapets, a bowed back wall, concave and convex areas of brickwork, a leaning chimney, lumpy corners, cracked bricks and even a hollow section of a parapet wall. The house is three stories tall in front and two stories tall in the rear, making scaffolding a lot more expensive and the job generally more time-consuming. The rear wall, of course, has to be taken down entirely and relayed, with all of its windows and doors re-installed. A porch on the rear wall, which was deteriorated, has to be demolished and rebuilt.

We could simply tuckpoint some of the areas, but the structural deficiencies of the walls would catch up with us and the repair costs may be higher later. We don't want to do any brickwork after the roof is installed.

Ah, the pains of having architectural knowledge and preferences way out of proportion with income! By the time we get the place watertight, the dry season will be upon us anyway...

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

2 cents of advice: While definitely a notch up from granulated tar paper ( a 5 year roof product) torch down rubberroid roof is not quite " a high end product". Seams are difficult to seal, its installation represents a minor fire hazard, and its life expectancy is about 10 years. For a "high end" roof you might consider a single ply EPDM rubber roof. These roofs are about a 20-25 year product. Higher first costs but longer roof life. They tend to be dark colored and that does represent an added heat island effect which can be mitigated by installing rigid insluation board as an underlayment. The next notch up is PVC or TPO roofs which are light colored and therefor do not create added heat ( there are also coatings for EPDM that lighten the roof color to lessen heat gain)Lighter color also represents longer life as solar radiation breaks down roof material. Generally speaking these are all higher end roof products for flat roof. Metal generally speaking is not an appropriate material for large flat roofs.

Good luck with your project. You are taking on something truly admirable and you should be commended for embarking on such an enterprise.

Michael Allen said...

Thanks for the words of support.

Our roof product is a three-layer "single-ply" APP membrane over rigid fiberglass recovery board. We are coating the roof with a commercial-grade aluminum coating that has 26% UV blockage (other coatings I have found seem to offer between 13 and 15% blockage). This coating, as you know, will make the house more energy resistant and will prevent membrane oxidation. Not quite EPDM, which I neglected to mention, but as good as we can afford and better than most other roofing products we considered.

Anonymous said...

I had 3 torch down roofs applied 20 years ago and have silver-coated them with aluminum roof paint twice since. They have not leaked and show no visible deterioration of membrane. I believe that given proper maintenance an Awaplan or Ruberroid roof can perform alongside EPDM, PVC or TPO roofs.

The seams properly welded are quite secure. As for the fire hazard it is recommended to install a half-lapped 30 lb. base sheet over the recovery board. This will isolate the torch flame and protect the wood sheathing from exposure.

Think about it. All the above mentioned roofing materials are petroleum bi-products, every roofer has his preference, and opinions vary widely as to the best solution.

As to the appropriateness of metal roofs, both standing seam or soldered. Many have been installed on St Louis flat roofs, as well as gable and hipped roofs over the last 150 years. Metal roof performance to this day remains unequaled.