homeowner chemically sensitive, advice needed

Guest User
9/2/2001
My wife has severe MCS (Multiple Chemical Sensitivity), especially to petrochemicals. However, we need a new roof. Our research results are as follows. If we're wrong about something, please correct the misconception, and if you support our conclusions or have a different idea, we'd appreciate knowing your thoughts. We will use professionals to do the job. Current roof is from 1971, shake tiles, original roof. The house is a two story building, 1800 sq. ft, with an attached two-car garage. Location is an hour north of San Francisco. 1. We cannot use plywood or "felt" under the roof. We intend to use K-Shield Foil Radiant Vapor Barrier instead of the petroleum-laden felt, and poplar strips augmenting what's already there instead of plywood (too toxic - adhesives). Comments? 2. A composite roof looks nice, but it probably is too toxic because of what composite is made of, even with the foil vapor barrier. Comments? 3. We think a metal roof is the way to go. 4. We've been told we can place a metal roof right over the old one, but from other messages I've read on this bulletin board, oilcanning is a risk if we do that. However, fitting a new roof right over the old one would clearly be safest from a health standpoint. Comments? 5. A decra-tile metal roof look promising. We prefer the "shake" look-alike, but a house-painter friend has seen some that would allow water seepage at transitional points. The decra-tile looks safer in this regard. Comments? 6. One roofer suggested using "Skyline Roofing" from IMSA building products because he has tiles that "oilcanned" and is offerred us a discount on them. Comments? How much of a "deal" is this in terms of resale value, etc? 7. Pricing is tricky. We've been quoted from 11-15K for the job, including gutters. However, relatives in the Denver area put a composite roof on (had to scrape away 3 previous roofs) and it cost them under 4K (of course, they did the work themselves). Anyone willing to give a ball-park estimate or comment on the estimates we've received? Thanks so much for your suggestions. Steve
Todd Miller
Classic Products, Inc.
9/3/2001
Hello Steve. I am sorry to hear about your wife's MCS. I suffer from FMS so I can relate a tiny bit to dealing with a difficult and unusual chronic illness. I will do my best to answer your questions. As a manufacturer of metal roofing, I have worked with a couple of folks before who had MCS. 1) Make certain that the K-Shield is acceptable for use as a roofing underlayment. My biggest concern would be its ability to seal around fasteners. While metal roofing systems shed water, it still makes sense to use an underlayment that can also act as a back-up waterproofer. There are a couple of non-asphalt underlayments available today. One is polyethylene and is called RooftopGuard. It is manufactured in Finland but available here in the states and its manufacturer asserts that it has zero outgassing. There is also a polypropylene product made in Canada called TriFlex 30. I think you're doing the right thing by not using plywood. Filling in the gaps in your roof lathe with native poplar sounds good. 2) The folks I have worked with before with MCS had pretty much determined that standard shingles were not the thing to use, for them at least. 3) Metal roofing does not have the asphaltic base that would be dangerous for your wife. Most residential metal roofs have Kynar/Hylar coatings that utilize a fluorite-based material for the resin that bonds the paint together for maximum life. The pigments used are typically ceramics which I think would be fine for your wife as well. You could also choose a roof that just has a metallic finish with no extra coating at all. One other popular finish on metal roofing consists of "stone" or "aggregate" coatings. The stones have a ceramic coating on them and they use an adhesive to attach them to the metal. I do not know whether that adhesive might out-gas and be a problem for your wife. 4) Several of the shake, shingle, and tile facsimile metal roofs would probably go over your old shingles. They will not show oilcanning due to their rigid formation. Another option would be to build an airspace over your current roof (ventilated) and then put down the poplar boards as new decking and you'd have a nice smooth surface for the installation of any metal roof. (By the way, in all cases, make sure that you have good air ventilation through your attic. That should also be beneficial for your wife.) 5) As long as you adhere to the minimum pitch requirement, the metal roofs I am familiar with will perform well and be watertight. Some products have full interlocks and others have overlaps. You might want to talk to the manufacturers of some products you like in order to get details. The "Decra" products have stone coatings so you will need to also check into whether the adhesive might cause problems for your wife. I do not know. 6)I am not familiar with "Skyline Roofing." However, before purchasing any "secondary" materials, I'd ask to see a sample of them so you know what you're getting. Also, I'd make sure that the full manufacturers' warranty still applies. I would not give up the warranty in return for a little cost savings. That said, though, oilcanning in and of itself does not cause problems with product performance. 7) It is against the antitrust guidelines of the Metal Roofing Alliance for us to discuss pricing issues. However, I will say that you're in an expensive market for labor and that will have an effect no matter what type of roofing you choose. If you contact a manufacturer or two, they can can direct you to their local dealers who can help with pricing estimates. Good luck. Let me know if I can be of more help. Todd
Allan Reid
Dura-Loc Roofing Systems, Inc.
9/4/2001
I have worked with homeowners before with similar concerns with the addition of dust. Removing your old wood shake roof will definitely create some dust during the tear off and you may want to give some thought to leaving it in place and installing a new roof over. There are a number of our members like ourselves that offer batten mounted products that replicate shake or tile roofs that carry approvals from ICBO to install over the existing wood shake. As well some manufacturers carry product approvals with materials such as Tri-flex 30 underlayment which as mentioned by Todd does not give off gasses. I would suggest that you choose a style of roof, then contact the manufacturer to discuss application and pricing guidelines.
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