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Concrete Roof Tile Meets Challenges in Historical Renovation Project

Bayer MaterialScience AG : 08 May, 2001  (Company News)
For the owners of a historic home in need of a new roof, colored concrete roof tiles have provided a solution that has satisfied the city's historic district commission as well as the owners' desire for beauty and affordability.
Del and Susan Hughes purchased their historic Anderson home in early 1999 and soon learned that a historic renovation can be both thrilling and trying. The thrill is preserving the charm and grandeur of a piece of architectural history, and the trial is being able to do it cost effectively in a way that stands the test of historic accuracy.

'We always wanted to live in a historic neighborhood,' Del Hughes said. 'They have so much character, because all of the properties are unique and the owners take quite a bit of pride in them. Of course, there are challenges, too.'

The Hughes' home is situated in the city's West Eighth Street Historical District, where it comes under the purview of the Historical and Cultural Preservation Commission. Historical districts, wherever they're located, are sometimes viewed as a mixed blessing by residents. They preserve history and can increase property values on one hand, but on the other hand they can create additional expense for renovations that must be historically accurate.

There's no question that Anderson's West Eighth Street district, which is also on the National Register of Historic Places, has the historical significance to make the additional challenges worth the effort.

One of two historical districts in Anderson, the West Eighth Street neighborhood includes many stately homes built in the early days of the city, which was incorporated in 1827. The city's original attraction was the presence of underground natural gas, which was used to light attractive gas lamps that have been restored in the modern historical district, although today they operate with electricity.

The city even supplied steam heat to its residents' homes through underground pipes that connected to the basement of the homes, including the one purchased by the Hugheses.

Built in 1876, the Hughes' home was initially the residence of a prominent local construction contractor. Its longevity is not surprising, given the quality of the construction. The home's interior and exterior walls, Del Hughes noted, are made from brick that is four courses.

Although the walls are all original, today the Hughes' home doesn't look anything like it did when it was built. That's because the home was converted sometime after the turn of the century into a Mediterranean-style residence with stucco exterior walls and a striking roof made of Spanish clay tiles.

That uniqueness was what attracted the Hugheses, but they discovered that the home also needed some repairs. The original roof was in poor condition and leaks had stained the second-floor ceiling, making it obvious that a replacement roof would be required.

The owners realized that the historical commission would likely insist that the new roof closely match the original, since the roof was one of the predominant architectural features of the property.

After learning the high cost of replacing the roof with Spanish clay tile, the Hugheses discovered a much more cost-effective alternative - colored concrete roof tile manufactured by Vande Hey-Raleigh Architectural Roof Tile in Little Chute, Wis.

In addition to being significantly less expensive than clay tile, the Vande Hey-Raleigh tile met the appearance requirements of the Hughes' project. The shape of the tile selected was the Spanish Mission high-barrel tile. The color of the chosen tile was Vande Hey's French clay. It closely matched the original clay tile. Vande Hey uses Bayferrox? iron oxide pigments supplied by Bayer Corporation as the colorant for their tiles.

The roof's appearance was critical, because property owners in the historical district must apply to the city historical commission for permission to undertake external renovations. The aim of the commission, explained Lori Sylvester of the city planning office, is to preserve the historical character of the neighborhood. Roof replacement normally is considered a maintenance item, rather than a renovation, but due to the prominence of the roof, the Hughes project was different, she said.

'The colored tile roof is perhaps the most dominant feature of the house, from an appearance standpoint, so the historical commission was interested in seeing that characteristic preserved,' Sylvester said. 'It's a magnificent roof. look and consistency of the new roof is very close to the original.'

Concrete tiles offered the durability to withstand the wide temperature ranges of the midwestern climate. Concrete tile has a high cement content and is manufactured under high pressure. The result is a material with very low moisture absorption and the ability to endure repeated freeze-thaw cycles. Their long life, with a warranty of 50 years, gives concrete roof tile favorable life-cycle costs in comparison with other materials. What's more, concrete roof tile has an Underwriter's Laboratory Class A fire rating.

The new roof was installed by David Mench of All Around Improvements during the winter of 1999. The tile was fastened to one-by-two-inch furring strips, notched every 16 inches, rather than being attached directly to the roof deck. The resulting air space between the roof sheathing and tile prevents direct heat transmission, which will keep the home cooler in summer and reduce ice damming in winter.

Appearance, cost and durability all played a part in the decision to use Vande Hey-Raleigh colored concrete roof tiles, Del Hughes said, and the results have supported the wisdom of that choice.

'We've been very pleased,' he said. 'And we've had many positive comments from our neighbors and other people who have seen the house.'
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