Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Back on the roof

Just as I was beginning to enjoy working indoors and building our stone fireplace, mother nature served a rude wake up call that our roof was not finished. During a rainstorm this past weekend, I went up to the top floor of our house and discovered not one, but two rapidly growing puddles of water inside the house. The water was coming in exactly where we quit roofing last fall when the weather turned nasty. Monday morning I called my bro-in-laws to warn them... "dress warm, we're going back up on the roof."
I have been dreading roofing the tower. The steep pitch of the roof is not really a concern, because we can work from the relative safety of a crane platform. (I'll take a 33 yr. old crane over a brand new ladder or rope any day.) What I dreaded was slating the hips - there are 8 hips on the tower roof. In case you missed the other roofing posts on this blog, we made a decision to use mitered style slate hips on the house. This means that each ajoining pair of hip slates must be precisely cut and fitted together, and that proper flashing must be cut, broken, and interwoven between the courses of hip slates.
As with the main roof, I chose to use terne-coated stainless steel. It is a little cheaper than copper and will probably last much longer. I must have done something right on the hips of the main house, because they weathered the entire winter without admitting a single drop of water and none of the hip slates shifted or moved - as far as I can tell. Rather than bend the flashing point-to-point as I did on the main house, for the tower I decided to bend the flashing right down the middle. The geometry of the corners of the tower is a lot different than the geometry of the hips of the main house. Also, because the slope of the tower transitions from 21:12 to 12:12, every one of the hip slates has to be scribed and cut to fit. Even with the added complications, slating the tower hips is going much easier than slating the hips of the main house. The dread was worse than just getting up on the roof and starting this job.
Getting the side lap on the hip slates and field slates to work out right is not something that just "happens." (at least not for me!!) Symmetry is especially hard to achieve when laying slate "by the seat of the pants." To avoid time consuming mistakes (the ones where you lay 3 or 4 slates and then decide you need to rip them off the roof!), and to make sure the style would suit my wife as well as me (i.e. to avoid ripping all of the slate off after the thing is done!), I laid out the pattern for the tower roof on my computer before laying the first real slate. It is not as important for the rectangular slate that you see here, but further up the roof, where the pitch of the roof is no longer changing, I plan to use "fish scale" shaped slates. I really don't want those to look random. Whereas the roof of the main house has an informal roof style created by "staggered butt" and "random width" slates, I want the tower roof to look somewhat more formal. I'm not worried that the styles will clash, because the color and texture of the slates are identical and should tie the two roofs together. In fact, I doubt most people will notice at first glance. That's what I'm after anyway!


Blogger Gene said...

What a beautiful roof! But it sounds like a royal pain in the behind to work on, at least a couple of orders of magnitude worse than putting cementious tiles on my hip-end roof.

April 17, 2007 at 8:53 PM  
Blogger oldmilwaukee said...

yep - a pain in the butt. But now it is done and hopefully this will last a couple hundred years.

Hmm... just had a thought... I wonder if the bits and bytes of this blog will still be floating around in the ether of the internet 200 years from now? Will the owners appreciate this blog? Will they use the pictures to faithfully reproduce all of my mistakes during their restoration of the house? Fun to think about.

August 12, 2007 at 8:04 PM  

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