How to Double Roof Longevity Next Time: Install It Correctly!
Tidewater Cove is a beautiful townhome subdivision on Lake Lanier in Flowery Branch, GA, built in 2003. It’s close to the Atlanta Falcons training camp and is in one of the fastest-growing areas in the region. Unfortunately, the Tidewater Cove roofing systems didn’t last as long as they should have — several problems cut the roof longevity in half. After about ten years the roofing systems started to fail.
Sentry Roof re-roofed all 28 buildings late last year, replacing the 3-tab asphalt shingle roofs with architectural asphalt shingles. We also replaced the 47 metal awnings. Now, the complex looks completely refreshed. New colors and proper installation techniques do wonders for a neighborhood.
Here’s what we improved, what we installed, and how we progressed with the project. And one thing, unfortunately, we weren’t able to correct because of construction issues.
What we improved
The original ridge vents were not continuous. A ridge vent needs to run along a steep-slope roof peak from one side all the way to the other side. A continuous vent allows air to come in through the soffit and go out through the vent at the top naturally — this keeps the air in the attic at a steady temperature. Without a continuous ridge vent, on the other hand, air gets trapped inside the attic and gets very hot in the summer.
The original roof only had 10 feet of ridge vent, probably to save money. The felt paper had been installed so that it ran up one side of the roof, over the ridge and down the other side, which is normal, but there weren’t enough cuts at the ridge. As a result, the system didn’t get the airflow it needed, the shingles got dry and cracked, and the roofing system failed prematurely.
We installed the new ridge vents properly, of course, so not only will owners get a longer-lasting roofing system but they’ll likely save money on their energy bills from now on.
Drip edges had not been installed on the original roofs. A drip edge closes the gap between the eaves and the roofing shingles. Without a drip edge, wildlife can get into the attic. And that’s exactly what happened — owners were reporting birds in their attics. We installed aluminum drip edges to code this time around. Any wildlife visitors will now need to be invited.
Ice and water shield
There had been no ice and water shield installed in the roof valleys. Ice and water shield creates a water-tight overlap that prevents moisture from entering the roofing system. Valleys are especially vulnerable areas because water can accumulate there, especially if there are leaves and other debris in the valley. Now owners have a three-foot wide roll of ice and water shield protecting the valleys and the entire roofing system.
What we installed
The owners chose two colors of asphalt shingles from the GAF Timberline Architectural line — Barkwood and Slate. For the awnings, they chose 11 different colors of metal from MBCI Slimline. Deciding which colors looked the best with the subdivision’s various door and shutter colors involved a couple of days driving around in a golf cart with the homeowners association president filling in spreadsheets.
For the roofing system underlayment, we upgraded from 15 lb. roofing felt to synthetic felt. A piece of 15 lb felt is almost like paper — you can rip it. Which means if a shingle comes off during a storm, the felt will rip. But synthetic felt is much more durable, lighter, won’t absorb water and is tear-resistant. So if a storm rips off a shingle, the synthetic felt will stay in place and protect the roofing system. It’s also safer for the installers because it has more grip, making it more slip-resistant to walk on even on steep slopes. The price for synthetic felt is not that much higher than 15 lb. felt. It’s an excellent investment that pays off in roof longevity.
How we installed
Our strategy was to start at the back of the complex and work our way toward the front until all 28 buildings were complete. We notified each building occupant 48 hours in advance so they could remove their valuables from their porches and park their vehicles away from the work area. By working building-by-building and giving advance notice, we were able to progress quickly without inconveniencing anyone for too long.
We also used a magnetic sweeper every hour to pick up nails from the work site during installation and removed trash daily.
Once we completed the re-roofing, we installed the metal awnings. Awning installation was a less intense process and hardly inconvenience the owners.
The most surprising part of the project involved the dryer vents. Most of the townhomes had been constructed with the dryer vents penetrating the roofs. Usually, dryers are vented through walls. These particular roof vents were made of cheap plastic and needed to be replaced during the re-roofing process — we had to special-order 200 new vents from Colorado because they’re not a very popular option in the Southeast.
One thing we couldn’t fix
In all, we replaced a total of 180 sheets of bad decking — that’s a sizable amount but we didn’t have an option. The decking had to be replaced or the new roof would fail prematurely as well. One of the buildings had another problem. The framing hadn’t been completed properly so the roof was telegraphing, or revealing the humps and valleys of the trusses underneath. If trusses aren’t plumb then the roof won’t install flat and it will look wobbly and uneven. Even brand new decking installed on trusses that aren’t plumb will telegraph.
Fortunately, only one building had this structural issue so rather than remove the newly installed roof and start from scratch with new trusses, the owners decided to live with the telegraphing. The new roofing system on this particular building would still perform as intended and receive the full manufacturer warranty despite the telegraphing because it was installed properly.
We have to admit that we were dismayed by what we saw going on in neighboring communities while we were re-roofing Tidewater Cove. A nearby complex that was barely two years old already had deflection in the deck and the trusses were telegraphing. And the roofing system’s 3-tab shingles were already beginning to looking old. From what we could see, we believe the owners of these townhomes will also be faced with roofing systems that don’t last anywhere near as long as they should.
If there’s a moral to this roofing story, it’s you get what you pay for. Cutting corners leads to premature roof degradation — a roof lasting half as long as it should is not uncommon when installation problems are compounded. In the end, the money saved with the subpar roofing system is not worth sacrificing roof longevity and is not a good investment for a property owner.
And if there’s a silver lining to the story, it’s that Tidewater Cove is now better protected — and better looking! — than ever. Owners have roofing systems that perform the way they should and have a limited lifetime warranty and their new awnings have a 20-year paint and finish warranty.
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