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.