Our Blog

October 11, 2021

Keep Tabs on Roofing and Siding

An article by Melinda Rizzo of the Bucks County Herald for The Area Guide to Homes September 2021 issue

When it comes to roofing and siding out of sight should never mean out of control.

These backbone home structures are vital to a property’s well being, value and longevity so keeping them well maintained or replaced will ensure many years of comfort and security.

“Low interest rates at 2.5% mean people can take out home equity loans and have work done they haven’t done before,” said Melissa Eiseman, owner and president at Eiseman Construction Inc in New Britain Township.

Americans are spending more time at home

Eiseman attributed the surge in home maintenance to the coronavirus pandemic because many working professionals are working remotely and spending more time at home.

“They’re taking a closer look at things,” Eiseman said.

According to a 2020 NPR.org report home improvement projects since last spring have skyrocketed across the US.

And while landscaping, gardening and other outdoor home improvement projects like decks and structures have soared, homeowners are taking a closer look at what keeps the inside safe and sound, like siding and roofing structures.

Jason March, a regional account manager at James Hardie in Honeybrook, Chester County, said siding should be a top priority for homeowners.

Know the signs of damage

Top triggers to pay attention to siding issues include:

  • Damage to the outside, or moisture issues, especially with cedar siding or stucco. Moisture damage between the exterior and interior sets up problems like mold, mildew, and rot.
  • Visible mold or mildew on exterior surfaces.
  • Evidence of leaks on interior walls.

Any evidence of these telltale signals should prompt a close, professional examination.

Types of roofing products

While roofing may be among the most silent structures in the house – once it fails, it is silent no longer.

From cedar shakes or shingles (the terms are interchangeable) to metal, slate and premium or composite products, Shawn Eltz recommends buying the best roof you can afford. He is the owner of Eltz Home Improvements Inc. in Allentown, Lehigh County.

Cedar roofing can decay, and moss can grow on the shingles,” Eiseman explained.

Because of the cost of conventional shingle roofing has exploded, rising 5 times over the past year, cedar shakes are now a more affordable option, and newer manufactured products offer great product warranties, she explained.

Mills in Canada manufacturing cedar shake products may carry 50 year warranties, she said.

“For a home you know you’ll stay in forever, a standing seam metal roof will last, and it will perform. You don’t see seams or fasteners. Meta roofing is very labor intensive, but it will be well worth the cost,” Eltz said.

Eiseman likes the look of metal roofing on a garage, a pent roof – which slopes in one direction, on a portico, porch, or a pet extension beyond the garage.

“A metal alternate color is a really sharp look,” Eiseman said.

While slate roofing can last 100 years or more, it benefits from an annual inspection and prompt repairs, Eiseman said.

Eltz recommends twice yearly maintenance inspections for slate roofing – in spring and again in fall.

“Heavy winter snow and ice can pull the slates down. After winter a check and repair will fix them before spring rains come,” he said.

Loose, cracked or slipped slates may not be obvious until someone is on the roof and taking a closer look, or until they end up in the yard or flower bed.

Cedar and composite engineered siding products gain traction

Cedar may also be used as siding, known as cedar horizontal lap siding. The warm look is attractive, but it is higher maintenance and must be either painted or regularly maintained.

“With natural cedar creatures can get into it, mold or moss can grow and damage it,” she said.

The advantage of newer engineered cement products provides the look without the maintenance, offering homeowners additional siding options, Eiseman said.

Among the biggest benefits to new engineered siding products is the authentic appearance of tried and true materials, like wood, offering the appearance without the routine maintenance and regular upkeep.

Engineered products offered by James Hardie include fiber cement siding, which is specifically made to withstand temperature swings – like 40 degree nights and 80 degrees or more during the day. The product was created with harsh weather conditions specific to the northeastern United States, March said.

“With colors and the appeal engineered siding products increase the value of the home and update the house. Siding is a real home improvement upgrade,” Eiseman said.

Engineered stone façade products provide the look of masonry without the expense of natural stone and expertise of a mason for installation and alleviate concerns over trapped moisture between wood framing structures and the exterior.

Brian Regan, territory manager for CertainTeed in Malvern, Montgomery County, said the company’s new STONEfaçade is a perfect example of an engineered product designed to be installed by window, roofing and siding contractors.

“CertainTeed STONEfaçade is an easy-to-install stone veneer product that replicates the beauty of real stone with screw in installation,” Regan said.

Made of concrete with an integrated metal rain screen, STONEfaçade is designed to protect the wall because installation is set off the wall. Moisture has airspace to dry out, which prevents damage to wood framing structures, he said.

Contractor hiring considerations

Hire a contractor who is insured, licensed, trained on the manufactured product being installed and able to offer the manufacturer’s warranty, according to Eiseman.

Clear, understandable two-way communication is key to a successful project.

She said many homeowners don’t understand the hands-on work involved in roof or siding replacement, so it’s important to get a sense of what the work will involved upfront.

From tarps to protect landscaping to equipment noise, ladders and old material removal, to how your pets or young children might respond to the process and disruption, Eiseman recommends asking a lot of questions. Ask about anticipated work timelines. Make sure you understand what to expect.

Something as simple as how to get out of the house while work is underway becomes an important issue if doorways and exits are blocked, and accessibility isn’t clear before the work begins.