Claudette Reichel | 6/24/2008 12:55:06 AM
Over the life of the product, more durable and longer lasting options are generally a better investment. They are also better environmentally because they reduce solid waste and resource waste.
Product warranty durations are a rough indicator of relative longevity that can help you compare options, but do not expect a precise prediction. For example, fiberglass and asphalt roofing shingles typically do not last nearly as long as their prorated warranties in this climate. Examine warranty terms and favor those with longer than average and more comprehensive warranty coverage.
Roofing manufacturers now offer both traditional prorated warranties as well as shorter term “total system,” “100%” nonprorated and wind warranties that may cover the full cost of replacement. A total system warranty may include the underlayment and even workmanship and require a certified installer. Such total system and nonprorated warranties is a stronger indicator of relative durability and longevity than are prorated warranties. Look for roofing with 40-50 years prorated and 12-15 year total system, nonprorated warranties; 50 year siding/cladding warranties; and window 10-year frame and 20-year glass or lifetime warranties (if available).
Materials: Compare the properties of a material with its use and type of exposure in mind. Some plastic and composite materials withstand the outside elements, moisture, heat or exposure to sun better than others. The checklist includes some, but not all, examples.
In general, metal, tile, concrete tile and slate roofing can last two to three times longer than asphalt or fiberglass shingles. Pressure-treated wood resists decay but should still be protected from the elements with finishes to prevent splitting and warping. Many composite materials are resistant to damage from moisture, decay, termites and UV. Brick, stone and concrete are very durable; aerated concrete is sensitive to moisture, however, and must be protected from weather. Metals are durable if sufficiently protected from corrosion. Fiber cement, protected metals and many plastic composites resist deterioration. Solid floorings (decorative concrete, tile, solid vinyl, linoleum, solid wood, bamboo, etc.) generally last longer than carpeting and resilient floorings with a surface-applied pattern.
Foundations: Before building, soil testing should be professionally done to determine the soil conditions of the building site. Expansive clays (that expand when wet and shrink when drying) are common and frequently cause foundation cracking, settling and structural problems when the foundations are not designed appropriately.