The Roof, the Roof, the Roof is on Fire . . .

13 Apr

During installation of the house infrastructure inside, activities continued on the exterior. One of these activities was replacement of the roof. Prior to renovation, our house had a standing-seam tin roof. Although a standing seam roof is great, the materials coating ours roof were decidedly not.

The roof originally had been coated with traditional, red paint appropriate for metal roofs. However, at some point before we acquired the place, an owner began to coat the thing with what those in the roofing trade call “alumination.” (Based on the appearance over time, we suspect that this is an etymological hybrid of the words “aluminum” and “abomination” . . .)

Below are some pictures of the roof at different periods during the last decade. Here’s a shot of “alumination” at its best, shortly after an application of the sticky stuff:

Nice, eh? In addition to the freshly coated standing-seam roof, you can also get a gander at the kick-ass chicken wire-embedded glass on top of our old gable-style skylight. We’re still in mourning over its loss. RIP, gable guy.

The photo above shows our old roof at its best: on school picture day, with all its blemishes covered up and cowlicks matted down. But it had another side, this roof of ours. Over time, it would skip school, start hanging out with the wrong crowd, get hooked on meth, and begin a steady, progressive decline toward utter decrepitude.

Below is a shot of the roof condition that would emerge 3 – 5 years after every application of the wondrous “alumination,” the unguent of the roofing universe. (To be clear, this crap was just a tar-based paint with aluminum flakes that would rise to the surface as it dried to provide a reflective quality.)

The old stairwell skylight is at left. The access panel to the roof that used to be accessible through the sleeping porch (and had been drywalled over inside only to be revealed during demolition) ( is at the right rear.

The old bathroom skylight at its crapulent worst makes an appearance in the picture below (I don’t mean to speak ill of the dead, since we really loved this gable-style skylight from the inside, but just check out the exterior). At this point, the prison bus-style, chicken-wire-embedded-glass is sliding off the gable structure like melting snow on a pitched roof. We actually used to go up there occassionally just to shove that freakin’ piece of glass back into place to keep it from falling off completely. There was no clear way to secure it since the glazing was deteriorating, so it would just slide down again and this became an occassional, bizzare household maintenance item.

Household chores for some people entail activities like cutting the grass and trimming hedges. Us? We periodically head up to the roof to manhandle crazy chicken wire glass panels on top of our roof to prevent gaping holes from forming. Yeah – seems normal.

The roof coating would flake off over time, requiring another coat every 3 – 5 years. And, once you start down the path of using this coating, there’s no going back to normal tin roof paint, so were were stuck in this cycle. We could always tell when the roof needed another coating because the flakes would begin to appear in ones and twos in the backyard after it rained, increasingly accumulate, and finally achieve critical mass in little piles. Here’s a picture from several years ago (prior to the back yard hardscaping project), where you can see the this collection of the-roof-needs-a-new-coating indicator flakes in the center of the photo at the edge of the brick patio:

For what it’s worth, here’s a shot of the other houses in our block, which were all built at the same time and were all identical in 1925. Many have successfully pursued the sustainable roof paint route. You can see how things have evolved for each owner (the insides, of course, are more dramatic). Two original, gable-style skylights still remain.

Roof replacement was part of the renovation project for two reasons: one was to permanently eliminate the maintenance requirement associated with the roof coating; the other was to address the roofing need of the bumpout in the back. As part of the renovation, we’re installing a fully adhered membrane roof. In addition, the membrane is white, enhancing house cooling in the summer and reducing energy use.

The roofing sub arrives to remove the old roof and install a new one:

In addition to the roof, the old air compressor for the AC needs to go (which is actually a little annoying, inasmuch as it’s not too old – we replaced this in 2006). Such is life. Here’s a pic of it right as it was lowered from the roof while we were at the house for a site meeting:

By the end of the day, they had removed all of the old standing seam roof and filled a dumpster with the results, as well as other demo debris that had been accumulating. However, it was filled to overflow capacity, so additional conveyance was used:

A piece of the old roof:

Cram that baby full, boys!

In addition to the membrane roof, the sub also started to install the Azek trim boards on the top and side. What they do on the left is actually pretty cool, and will appear in a future post.

Here’s the new roof looking north. At this stage (this was taken a couple of weeks after the roof went up) the skylights have been installed, as well, which is the subject of the next post. You can see the copper lines from the air handler on the second floor, which penetrate the roof about half way up on the right to meet a to-be-installed compressor unit.

Here’s a closeup, per Sandy’s comment:


Posted by on April 13, 2012 in Exterior


2 responses to “The Roof, the Roof, the Roof is on Fire . . .

  1. mom

    April 14, 2012 at 9:30 pm

    maybe YOU can see the copper wires from the 2nd floor unit………

    • Kevin

      April 15, 2012 at 6:37 pm

      C’mon now – right over there, near the brick wall . . . (updated, cropped pic now on post).


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