Question: I am interested in what I can do about my roof. During the heavy winds we had here in the San Gabriel Mountains foothills in January, I lost quite a number of wood shakes--enough to warrant recovering the roof. There have been many articles in The Times about different roofing materials; which do you recommend? My home was constructed in 1963 and cannot withstand anything heavy. On the other hand, I really like the shake look of my old roof.
Answer: I've investigated many of the alternatives to wood roofs and found that several of them have features that would appeal to you. One of the best products is made by Cal-Shake, 5355 N. Vincent Ave., Irwindale 91706. This lightweight product looks very much like a wood shake but comes with a Class A fire rating. Furthermore, it can be applied over many existing roofs. If you have a heavy wood shake roof--and, judging from your comments, you're probably due for a new one--it might be necessary to remove the old shakes. The Cal-Shake people have a reroofing guidelines brochure or you could check with your local building department.
If you want to go for a roof that looks like tile and is supposedly virtually hurricane-proof, Gerard Superoofing might be for you. The Gerard firm is based in New Zealand and is part of the worldwide Alcan group. The local installer is Walker Roofing Co., 3251 San Fernando Road. Tony Skorupski of Walker Roofing tells me that this product is wind-resistant and bears a Class A fire rating. What makes it unusual is that it's made of galvanized steel with stone chips of various colors bonded to the steel. I'll report further on this unusual product, but it sounds like something you might investigate.
Yet another product worth investigating--this list cannot be as comprehensive as I'd like it to be--is Cal-Pac, Cal-Pac Regional Center 618 N. Eckhoff St., Orange 92668. The material from this firm says that it can go over wood shakes and provides a tile appearance.
Dale Baldwin will answer remodeling questions of general interest on this page. Send your questions to Home Improvement, Real Estate Department, Los Angeles Times, Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles 90053. Baldwin cannot answer questions individually. Snapshots of successful do-it-yourself projects may be submitted but cannot be returned.