Subject: Roofing Materials, Wooden Shingles

Question: I am interested in replacing the wooden shingles on my roof. Are wood shingles safe? How should I go about getting them installed?

Answer: Speaking as a 28 year member of the fire service (and a former assistant chief) wood roofs are generally safe (asphalt burns too- as do most forms of siding). If there is a concern about fire, wood shingles can be treated to be fire resistant. The only wood shingle we will install today is Alaskan Yellow Cedar since they are quarter sawn and without sap edge. This type of shingle is hard to find in Maine and quite expensive ($200+ per square). Wood shingles must be installed on strapping. If installed properly a wood roof will last fifty years. Only use a contractor who has verified experience installing wood roofs on old houses. I have seen badly done wood roofs last only 15 years, yet cost as much as a properly done roof. If the roofer won’t do it on strapping and wants to put felt (tar) paper under the wood shingles, find another roofer fast!

Subject: Dampness

Question: How can I fix the perpetual problem of dampness in my cellar?

Answer: The first, and most crucial step is to insure your cellar is structurally sound. Dampness can cause timbers to deteriorate until they fail. When your house is lived in year round, the furnace will keep the cellar dry throughout the heating season. The further steps to dry out the cellar are:

Subject: Paint

Question: My husband and I have a home that is 90 years old. We tried to paint the cedar siding, but the paint peeled off after only six months. What are the possible causes and solutions to this problem?

Answer: Your problem with paint not adhering on older, unpainted cedar clapboards is not unique. The suspected causes are:

Some solutions that have worked for others are:

The general recommendation is that you go to a good paint store and ask their advice. The technical representatives of the paint companies have certainly confronted similar problems in the past, and should therefore be able to give you sound advice.