Restoration Guide: Introduction to Roofing

Jim Mallery

Editor's Note: This is article 1 of 13 in Chapter 3: Roofing of Old House Web's Restoration Guide. This guide was developed and edited for old homes from original materials in the U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Rehab Guide.

We aim to give homeowners, architects, engineers and trades people relevent information on old house renovation. Where possible, we also provide links to articles on The Old House Web and elsewhere where readers can seek in-depth guidance.

This section, "Roofs," reviews the main types of roofs and roofing materials; how to keep the elements out and the heat (or cooling) in; new materials and technologies, and gutters and downspouts.

The content of the section emphasizes rehab of old roofs--that is, restoring them to good condition--especially looking at new materials, tools and technologies. It is geared to home renovation more than home remodeling.

Where appropriate, directed attention is given to the issues of:

  • Sustainability
  • Energy efficiency
  • Accessibility

The section on roof design considers issues aimed at preventing roof failures, both low-level and catastrophic. It also discusses alternatives to repairing structural problems, such as sagging roofs, improperly anchored trusses or rafters and decay caused by water infiltration.

The section on sheathing (Section 3) looks at modern materials that provide more economy and safety

The sections on flashing, underlayments, moisture barriers and insulation (Sections 4 through 6) will look at protective issues, such as ventilation, insulation and vapor retardation, areas that are undergoing reconsideration in the building industry and may not have consensus of opinion. Given the revised thinking on these issues in the past several years, these sections should be particularly relevant to old house owners interested in improving their energy efficiency.

Two sections (Sections 7 and 8) survey the status of the old standby roofing materials, cedar shake and asphalt shingle.

One section will look specifically at problems associated with low-slop roofing, including repairing existing systems, or replacing them with technologically advanced materials.

Three sections (Sections 10 through 12) will discuss less-used and newer materials, such as metal, slate, fiber-cement and composite tile.

The last section examines gutter and leader (downspout) systems.

Roofing Guide Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. Roof Design

3. Sheathing

4. Flashing

5. Underlayments and Moisture barriers

6. Insulation

7. Wood Shingles and Shakes

8. Asphalt Shingles

9. Flat Roofs

10. Metal Roofing

11. Slate

12. Clay, Concrete, Fiber-cement and Composite Tiles

13. Gutter and Leader Systems

Roofing Guide Sources

The content in this guide was gathered from construction professionals, suppliers, manufacturers, industry reports and publications that focus on home renovation. Other sources include trade organizations and building research centers.

Governing bodies that provided particularly useful information to the Roof Guide include:

  • The National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA).
  • The Asphalt roofing Manufacturers Association (ARMA).
  • The Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning National Contractors Association (SMACNA).
  • The Copper Development Association

Technical trade publications include:

  • Construction Specifier
  • Roofing Contractor
  • RSI: Roofing, Siding, Insulation

Publications related to residential construction include:

  • Journal of Light Construction
  • Old House Journal
  • This Old House
  • Fine Homebuilding
  • Environmental Building News
  • Energy Design Update

This information was adapted from the U.S. Department of Urban Development's Rehab Guide. For more information visit: http://www.hud.gov



About the Author

Jim Mallery, a semi-retired journalist and onetime registered contractor, has extensive experience remodeling, repairing, and rebuilding homes.

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