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Roof repair and maintenance

December 13th, 2009 No comments

image5Slate and tile roofs are a important design feature of New Jersey homes. The homes were made so that the roofs help establish the character of the individual buildings and the community as a whole, going far beyond being just functional. Slate is the most often material used on New Jersey roofs but there are also several distinctive types of tile in evidence. Slate is a natural product and the appearance cannot be duplicated using substitute materials. It is one of the most aesthetically pleasing and durable of all roofing materials. Slate roofs can, and should be, maintained and repaired to effectively extend their serviceable lives.

Roof repairs

Broken, cracked, and missing slates should be repaired promptly by an experienced roofer  that has an experience with New Jersey roofing, in order to prevent water damage to interior finishes, accelerated deterioration of the roof and roof sheathing, and possible structural degradation to framing members. However, if installed properly, slate roofs require relatively little maintenance and will stay 60 to 125 years or longer depending on the type of slate that was used, the roof slope and exposure. Some slates have been known to last over 200 years. The natural weathering of roofing slate shows as a slow process of chipping and scaling along the layers of the stone. Paper thin layers flake off the surface of the slate and the slate eventually becomes soft and spongy as the inner layers begin to come apart, or de-laminate  roofing NJ contractor over time, the chemical and physical changes that occur as the slate weathers cause an increase in absorption and a decrease in both strength and toughness. Slate roof repair is viable for localized problems and damaged roofs with reasonably long serviceable lives remaining but the repairs need to be performed by roofers that are experienced working with slate. Slate is stone mined in quarries in several locations in the USA primarily in the northeast. Slate quarried in different areas has different color. The most common
colors are gray, blue gray, black, various shades of green, deep purple, brick red, and mottled varieties. All can be seen on different New Jersey houses. Color is no indication of durability or life span but slate quarried in different areas has different estimated life. There is a grading system for the various slate types and the grade of the slate should always be specified by a roofer when a roof is being repaired or replaced.

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Roof Flashing

Flashing is important to the roof’s function and like the roof itself is important to the appearance of New Jersey homes. It is, however, the weakest point in any roof and failure of the flashing system is usually a major cause of roof damage. Flashing is made of thin sheet metal formed to prevent water from entering a building at joints, intersections and changes of pitch. It is typically installed around chimneys, parapet walls, dormer windows, roof valleys, vents, and intersections of porches, additions or bay windows. Flashing often fails before roof surfaces, particularly with more durable roofing such as slate, resulting in interior leaking. If the flashing deteriorates, it is possible to replace it without replacing the entire roof. When replacing flashing or installing a new roof, it is important to select a flashing material that has an anticipated life span similar or longer than the roofing. Copper, terne, steel, lead and aluminum are all used for flashing. Total Roofing & Siding can recommend the right material for your needs. The longevity of each material is based upon its thickness and whether it is galvanized, treated or coated. Generally, copper or lead coated copper  has the longest life span, followed by steel, with aluminum being highly susceptible to punctures, tears and a galvanic reaction to other metals and some roofing materials. Given the permanence of slate, it is a poor economic decision to use anything but the most durable of metals and skilled workmanship for installing flashings. Copper is one of the best flashing materials and is used in most Guilford homes. Others have terne metal, also an acceptable flashing material, but it needs to be painted and therefore requires more maintenance. For Guilford homes, ridges and valleys on visible gabled roofs with slate covering are to be maintained or constructed in accordance with the historic common practice. They and other flashing connections between the roof and masonry surfaces are to be copper or terne metal.