Question: I am considering reroofing my house in Thousand Oaks and am attempting to compare the advantages and disadvantages of the myriad of roofing materials now available. I’m seeking data from objective sources comparing, for example, life expectancy, durability, robustness against climbing and walking, fire resistance, permeability, colorfastness, weight (including water absorption), underlayment requirements, flashing requirements, failure modes, ease of repair, etc. So far I have not been able to find such a source. Can you help?
Answer: Whew! You must be an engineer--or a member of some other logic-driven profession. Seriously, there are a number of special interest books from do-it-yourself publishers that list the advantages and disadvantages of various roofing materials. What might serve your purposes better would be a look at the general building and renovation edition of Sweet’s 1988 Catalogue, a multivolume publication from McGraw-Hill that may be available in a large library but is probably more commonly found in an architect’s office.
Under the roofing category, you’ll find data sheets and promotional pieces from various manufacturers. Since the information is geared to the needs of professionals (ordinary mortals can’t even obtain Sweet’s), it is generally free of hype. I’ve sent you names of cooperative architects who will let you take a peek at their catalogue and I’ve given a copy of your letter to Marv Harris, a roofing/waterproofing expert currently with So-Cal Waterproofing Inc., 16629 S. Avalon Blvd., Carson.
Your letter also asks about some acronyms used in a manufacturers brochure, namely “ICBO” and “UBC.” The former is an abbreviation for International Conference of Building Officials, based at 5360 S. Workman Mill Road, Whittier, while the latter stands for “Uniform Building Code.”