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Roofing - An Overview of What's Overhead
The type of roofing you choose can have a serious impact on your health and on the environment. Slope roofing materials, such as asphalt-based rolled roofing and shingles, will offgas toxins when heated by the sun. Flat roofing materials, such as tar and gravel, will continually offgas when heated by the sun, emitting known carcinogens such as VOCs from asphalt, including benzene, polynuclear aromatics, toluene and xylene. Although roofing materials are located outside the living space, odors can enter the home through doors, windows and vents.
78% of total annual roofing dollars spent in the US is spent on re-roofing. Re-roofing is not only expensive, but it sends used roofing materials to landfills, where the polluting contents continue to offgas and leach into the soil and groundwater.
Unfortunately, re-roofing your house is often a necessity. But a new roof with good air sealing, insulation, and ventilation will save energy and make your house more comfortable. Many unhealthy and persistent mold and mildew infestations began with an undetected roof leak. No type of roofing installation is foolproof, but the use of high quality roofing materials and skilled installers will reduce the risk of leakage.
Here are some tips to help guide your roofing decisions:
Consider the System as a Whole
In new construction, choice of roofing materials should be integral with other decisions about the building. The roof is your main defense against water leakage in your house. Early in the decision-making process, figure out your roofing and how it will integrate with the rest of the house.
Calculate How Much Roofing You'll Need
Roofs are measured in 100-square-foot areas, or "squares". Three bundles of three-tab shingles typically equal one square: laminates come in four bundles per square. It's a good idea to calculate beforehand how much roofing material you'll need so that you'll have an easier time comparing bid from contractors.
To calculate:multiply the overall length and width of each roof section to determine its area Add 10% to allow for waste, then divide by 100 to determine how many squares you'll need
If the roof is new or you're having the old shingles removed, you'll need an underlayment (roofing felt) to create a moisture barrier for the wood sheathing and rafters underneath. You may also have to install an "ice-and-water shield" along with the eaves and valleys where two wings of the roof intersect. New drip edges and metal flashing are often needed around pipes, chimneys, and the like.
Adhesives used in roofing applications can emit harmful VOCs. They are especially toxic during application and curing (drying) periods. Water-based adhesives are better because they only release water vapor as they dry, but they are not necessarily 100% safe. Use mechanical fastening, a range of processes that utilizes a variet...