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HANDYMAN Q&A

Roof Held Up Well, but May Need Replacing

March 31, 1991|From Popular Mechanics

QUESTION: I have a 21-year-old home with a built-up flat roof topped with white gravel. The roof was coated about four years ago, and it needs coating again. Although I've patched it twice in the last three months, I've been told the life of this type of roof is about 20 years. Should I keep patching or replace it?

ANSWER: Probably you'd like to be told to keep patching it up, but unfortunately a lot has changed over the 20 years since your home was new. Now, most makers of built-up roofs talk of a 10-year warranty. This would indicate how lucky you are with the roof you have.

You have to weigh patching and repainting the water-damaged rooms under the leaks against the cost of a new roof. When you've finally had it with painting, the new roof can be applied over the old one. First the gravel must be removed (spudded).

Gravel over a built-up roof is strongly recommended as it helps to retard the breakdown of the roofing materials by protecting them from the sun's ultraviolet rays. Single-sheet roof applications are available now. They have a mop-on coating to protect against deterioration caused by the ultraviolet rays, but gravel helps the roof last longer than it ever would without it.

Repainting Textured Ceiling Takes Care

Q: We are repainting our textured ceiling and we're having a difficult time trying to get an even finish. Are there special considerations to be aware of when doing this type of job?

A: Yes, there are. Here is some background on this type of ceiling and some tips to help you with your job.

Spray-textured ceilings became the most popular ceiling finish about 30 years ago. Early texture materials were odd blends of taping compounds, perlite or vermiculite and whiteners, all mixed with water. The resulting texture finish was a super-porous material that absorbs paint unevenly. It is this porosity and unequal paint absorption that makes textured ceilings difficult to paint when they become soiled.

All spray texture finishes are, even today, mill mixes, meaning they are a blend of powder ingredients that must be mixed with water. Painting such finishes is about equal to painting a sponge: There is heavy and unequal paint suction. The result is that, if you apply ordinary latex or oil paints, you will see roller marks or lap marks where the paint lies unevenly on the finish.

To overcome this paint suction you must apply a good sealer. Use an alkyd (oil) sealer and apply it with a long-nap roller. The long nap of the roller will reach into the valleys in the texture pattern and insure complete coverage of the sealer.

The easiest way to seal--or to paint--a ceiling is to cover the entire floor with a canvas cloth or tarp. These are available in living-room size for about $30 each at your local paint store. Buy a roller and extension handle to apply the sealer or paint. Set the roller pan on the floor and dip the roller into the pan, working from the floor with the extension (4-foot) handle. Drape all walls with a masking product such as Tape N' Drape, which has plastic sheets with adhesive along the edges.

Apply a generous coat of sealer, and check the ceiling from several angles. Sighting from various angles will help you detect any missed spots or "holidays" in your sealer or finish coats. Don't remove the plastic wall covering until the ceiling paint is dry; then inspect the job to be sure the coat is even, with no lap or roller marks.

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