Shingles can hold up

Apart from the big screen TVs, lawn furniture, toys and other household goods that littered the island after Hurricane Ivan, scattered roof shingles added considerably to the collage.

Studies of house damage in Florida following hurricanes found, however, that shingles do very well if they were attached correctly, especially the three-tab self-sealing fiberglass asphalt. These shingles have a nearly nonexistent (flat) profile that gives the wind no hold on them, and their leading edges are glued to the shingles in the lower course, a plus in withstanding hurricanes, states a GIS press release.

Local building contractor Lee Maragh agrees.

‘We have found that properly installed shingles held up well against Hurricane Ivan.’

He advises people to employ a certified contractor when repairing shingles as there are many different brands that might require different ways of installation.

Some brands of shingles have an adhesive strip that will give the shingles extra staying power. The heat of the sun activates the adhesive, but it needs time to cure, which is why some new roofs that were installed just before the storm, sustained damage, Mr Maragh says.

‘One big misconception is that one needs to remove the strip of cellophane paper from the shingle before installing it. This strip of paper is only there to keep the self-sealing cement along the edges from gluing the shingles together in the shipping bundles.’

However, Public Works’ Chief Engineer Mr Colford Scott, emphasizes that people should carefully read the manufacturer’s requirements as some shingle brands may require the removal of these strips before installation. In those cases, failure to do so will undermine the shingles’ ability to stick and make them vulnerable to high winds.

Other advice: take down the old shingles when it is cooler – in the mornings or early evenings – and install new shingles when the sun is out, as shingles are more pliable when they are hot. A flat felt surface also makes installation easier, adds Mr Maragh.

The US Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association recommends that asphalt shingles should be glued to the drip edges with roofing cement along the eaves and the gable ends. The exposure of shingles should also be reduced to four inches and the shingles should be attached with six nails instead of the usual four.

As a result of Hurricane Andrew, Dade County no longer allows contractors to use staples when installing shingles as there have been too many cases of overdriven staples passing right through the shingles.

The association also recommends that all flashings should be cemented down and nailed on four- inch centres.

With the proper overlapping and nailing down of shingles being a skill that requires experience, it is always better to use a certified contractor to install a new roof.

However those who choose to fix their own roofs can do so successfully if they do enough research, says Contractor Dan Morisseau.

‘Shingles usually come with the proper installation instructions. If not, these instructions can be found on the company’s website. The biggest mistake people can make is to rush into a project without researching the job specifications and techniques required by the manufacturer.’

Mr Morrisseau advises people to pay special attention to the following when installing shingles:

• Proper nailing pattern of shingles

• Proper overlapping of shingles

• Type and composition of nails used to install shingles

• Spacing of nails when installing shingles

Although some shingles come with a guarantee of up to 20 years, people should be mindful that all roofing material has a certain life cycle and when it exceeds that, it will become vulnerable.

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