Staying on Top of the Roof Question

Stephen Friedland was unhappy with the answer (Feb. 9) to the question of whether to repaint a tile roof. Our roofing and concrete-coloring experts said not to do it, and we’ll stick with that as our on-record answer, because there is the risk that sandblasting could destroy the tiles, and the paint not last as long as the homeowner would expect.

But we’re willing to give the other side of the story, so we sought out a painter who says he wouldn’t hesitate to paint a tile roof that’s in good condition.

Here’s what Friedland writes:

“Painted black Spanish tile roofs are ugly and destroy the character of the house and the neighborhood. Your recommendation to leave it ‘as is’ takes the easy way out.

“I just completed renovation of a Spanish Colonial Revival-style house in the South Carthay neighborhood. The gray-painted roof destroyed the looks of the house.

“After shopping, I found a sandblaster who tackled the job and then a roofer who replaced and repaired broken tiles and reset a portion of the roof. It was a great success--and not that costly.”

For a first-hand experience, we visited a site where Peter Matussek, the stepson of painter Karl H. Eckner, was spray-painting the tile roof of a four-unit apartment building. There’s no question about it, the newly sprayed tile looked much better than the mousy gray, weathered tile. I asked how long it was expected to last, and he responded: “It will at least last until the whole house needs painting again.”

Eckner says he has been painting tile roofs for about 20 years, and some paint jobs have lasted 15 years.

Knox Price, a district sales manager in Southern California for Dunn-Edwards, says the company doesn’t have a product designed specifically for tiles, and believes the product used by Eckner must be Tuff Floor, an acrylic epoxy that’s manufactured to paint concrete decks.

Frank Peters, a technical director for Dunn-Edwards, said it probably would do the job, but both pointed out that the company does not recommend it for tiles, because it has not been tested for that purpose.

Eckner, Price and Peters stressed the importance of a roof being free of dust before painting. And there’s danger of causing leaks if you walk on the tiles.

Although sticking with the company’s line of “no recommendation of Tuff Floor for tile roofs,” Price said: “But we have a lot of products that are used successfully for purposes other than those they were designed for.”

Q: I bought an antique chest with about 20 small drawers in it. Each drawer has two brass pulls on it that someone has put on it recently. The style of the pulls is fine, but the problem is they are too new looking, making it obvious that they aren’t original. I hate to spend more money replacing the pulls with antique-looking ones. Any ideas?

A: Remove the pulls from the drawers and rub them with lacquer thinner. That should take the shine off.