Cover Story: Composite Shake Roofs

Synthetic Roofing Top Choice for Residences in Colorado

by Marcus Dodson, editor & publisher

From scorching wildfires to saturating snowstorms, every year Colorado gets hit with all types of extreme weather conditions.  To help prepare homeowners for these situations, many roofing professionals in the state rely on composite shake and slate tiles.

         “We’ve installed more than 70 composite roofing projects using DaVinci Roofscapes® products in the past five years,” said Trevor Cannon, president of Umbrella Roofing in Basalt, Colorado.  “I believe the growth of this type of product is a combination of the track record for synthetic shingle performance, attractive looks, and the need to replace older wood shingles.

         “Architects and specifiers can really gain some valuable insights into what works on the top of structures from on-the-scene roofing contractors.  While real wooden shakes may look attractive on a home, they open the door to future problems.”

Multi-Family Communities

         In Bachelor Gulch, Colorado, Cannon and his team completed the installation of composite shake tiles on 24 homes in the Buckhorn community in 2014.  Since that time, the area has seen almost 100’ of snowfall.  The composite shake roofs overhead have handled the snowfall beautifully.

         “We’ve had zero call backs on the DaVinci product, not even an ice dam pulling a valley shingle,” said Cannon.  “These big snowfalls mean we have to educate homeowners on how snow moves differently on a synthetic roof versus a wood roof.  However, even with the heavy weight of the snow, there have been zero problems.  This project was so successful that we were asked to reroof 26 luxury townhomes in the Village Walk community on Beaver Creek Mountain.”

         When snowfall isn’t a concern, Colorado residents turn their attention to the potential for wildfire spread.  “We had a major fire come within 20 miles of the Buckhorn community this past year,” said Cannon.  “It’s only a matter of time that a fire will move even closer.  When that happens, homeowners with composite roofs we install can rest a bit easier since they have a Class A fire rating.”

Farewell Real Cedar Shingles

         The threat of fire spread is very real in Colorado and roofing contractors are routinely responding to calls from homeowners who have done their research and are requesting fire-resistant roofing.

         For a recent project in Edwards, Colorado, the crew at Master Sealers, Inc., Vail, Colorado, installed composite shake tiles on a home adjacent to a golf course.  “This homeowner had 15-year-old real cedar shake shingles that were failing,” said Michael Boyd, owner of Master Sealers, Inc.  “She was concerned with the growing threat of wildfires in our state and wanted to upgrade to a product with a Class A fire rating.  I immediately thought of DaVinci.”

         Boyd wasn’t the only one who thought of DaVinci.  The homeowner had seen the synthetic shake roofs throughout her community, since they are well known in the area and approved for use by her homeowner’s association, and was looking for the same beautiful and reliable product.

         “Once I showed her sample boards of the product and explained it’s the only composite shake I install because of the features of the tiles, she was hooked,” said Boyd.  “For the installation, we created custom copper barrels on the roof, placed in more than 1,000 snow guards from Rocky Mountain Snow Guards, and created the perfect roof accent for her home.”

Protecting Structures

         Homeowners throughout Colorado have reason to be nervous about wildfire spread.  In 2017, there were 967 wildfires in the state burning 111,667 acres of land.  A year later, in 2018, almost a half million acres of land burned due to wildfires.  As residents in Colorado, and throughout the country, face growing concerns of wildfire spread, many are re-evaluating the roofs over their homes and businesses.

         “While certainly any structure, including its roof, will burn when fully engulfed in a fire, it’s comforting to know that wind-carried sparks and flames from a wildfire simply won’t catch hold and cause a building with top-quality synthetic shake roofing to ignite,” said Boyd.  “I’ve recommended composite roofs for many years in this area.  They give both beauty to a home and peace of mind to the homeowner.”

Making a Change

         As most architects know, time and weather are not friends of real cedar shake roofs.  Homeowner Pam Lariviere discovered this when she made the decision last year to replace her real cedar shingles with composite shake tiles.

         “We had to face facts,” said Lariviere.  “The home was built in 1995 with a beautiful cedar shake roof.  However, the age of the roof and extreme Colorado weather conditions had taken their toll and the roof needed repairs.  This summer we had an unusual number of damaging hail storms combined with high winds.  After each storm we found splintered bits and pieces of wood shakes on the ground.  We decided that rather than continue to use a makeshift approach to maintain the roof, it was time to replace it.”

         After doing a great deal of online research, Lariviere decided to invest in composite shake roofing.  “We discovered that DaVinci products most closely resemble the profile of a cedar shake roof without the costly maintenance issues of real cedar,” said Lariviere.  “We also determined that the composite shake roof delivered on performance with its Class A fire rating, Class 4 impact resistance, and 110 mph wind rating.  Those impressive features sold us on the roofing product.”

         After making the decision to invest in a composite shake roof, Lariviere next had to gain permission to install the synthetic roof from her homeowners’ association.  The Kissing Camels community in Colorado Springs, Colorado, is made up of 600 homes governed by strict rules and covenants.

         “I met personally with the Architectural Control Committee and explained what I’d learned about the benefits of a composite roof,” said Lariviere.  “I shared with them the aesthetics, performance, and improved home values of using such a product.  The committee unanimously approved our roof and is in the process of updating the guidelines to include these roof shingles as examples for other homeowners.”

         With a green light to move forward, Lariviere had Krueger Brothers Construction, Colorado Springs, start the reroofing process.  “Hail and wildfire concerns in our area are driving many roofing changes,” said Michael Krueger, vice president of Krueger Brothers Construction.  “We’re definitely seeing more communities and individual homeowners move away from old wood shake shingles to fire-resistant and impact-resistant composite roofing products.

         “Architects, roofing contractors, and homeowners all need to work together to help protect the investment a person makes in their home.  For all of us, that should mean specifying and installing a no-worries composite shake roof.”

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