LSU AgCenter Housing Specialist
(09/04/20) If your home was damaged by Hurricane Laura, the tremendous work, expense and stress can mean a daunting and difficult ordeal ahead. But it is possible to extract a silver lining from this disaster. If you restore for more than before, you can return to a better home — a stronger, more-resilient, comfortable and healthy home to enjoy with peace of mind.
Take control of your future by making your home more resilient for the next hurricane with these wind-hardy restoration improvements. Today, many wind-resistant products are widely available. It’s a great investment to upgrade when replacing damaged materials, even if your insurance won’t cover the incremental cost.
Roof: When reroofing, remove all of the existing roof covering and specify a wind-tested and -rated roof system. It must be installed according to the manufacturer’s high-wind instructions to perform as rated and be covered by the wind warranty.
For more detailed information to share with your roofing contractor, get the Fortified Roof checklist at www.disastersafety.org. You can also learn more by viewing the LaHouse Resource Center “Get a Storm Ready Roof” video at www.youtube.com/myLaHouse.
— Make sure you have a minimum roof decking thickness of 7/16 inch. If replacing the entire deck, consider upgrading to 5/8-inch plywood for a stronger and more resilient roof.
— Reinforce both existing and new roof decking with 8-penny ring shank nails (at least 0.113-inch diameter, 2 3/8 inches long with full round head) spaced every 6 inches, and every 4 inches along gable ends. Do NOT fasten roof decking with staples or screws.
— Add a secondary moisture barrier to prevent leaks at decking seams if roofing is lost to high wind. This can be created by taping the decking seams with a roof flashing tape. (Do not use window flashing tape.)
— Use wide adhesive membrane flashing in roof valleys and along eaves and gables. Properly install new flashing at all penetrations and roof/wall intersections. Install new drip edge over the underlayment and fasten every 4 inches.
— Upgrade the underlayment. Use at least 30-pound roofing felt. Even better options are a tear-resistant 30-pound synthetic underlayment or an adhesive membrane (peel-and-stick) underlayment for greatest protection (no need for taped seams if this is used).
— Select a wind-tested roof system rated above the local code wind speed. Wind-and-hail-resistant asphalt shingle, metal, slate and tile systems are now readily available, but you must specify them. For shingles, use at least Class F (ASTM D3161) or choose Class H (ASTM D7158 rated for 150 mph) for highest wind resistance. High wind-rated shingles usually require matched starter strips and six nails per tab to perform as tested and be wind-warranted. Note that shingle life warranties (number of years) are not an indicator of wind resistance, so a high-cost 40-year architectural shingle that is not wind-rated might not perform well in high wind.
— Use only TAS 100(A) tested ridge or roof vents. Securely fasten strong soffit panels and vents to the framing under roof overhangs. Perforated fiber-cement soffits are a sturdy, one-step, low-maintenance option.
Structure: If walls are open or siding is removed, add metal hurricane hardware to strengthen connections of wall framing to the foundation, to the roof rafters or trusses, and between levels to resist uplift forces. Consider adding corner hold-downs and reinforcements of narrow wall sections to resist racking forces. Also strengthen accessory structures (screen porches, tool sheds, etc.) that could become flying debris. Remove trees and limbs near the house that pose a risk of breaking or uprooting.
Windows, doors and garage doors: High winds and flying debris can break windows and push in or pull out a standard garage door or entry door, allowing pressure to build inside, push on the roof and surrounding walls, and cause major structural damage to a home. If in a high wind zone and replacing any windows, doors or garage door, invest in wind- and impact-rated units. If not replacing them, consider adding easy-to-use wind-borne debris protections such as impact-rated shutters, screens or lightweight removable panels.
Weather barriers: When replacing windows, doors, siding or any wall penetration, upgrade the weather-resistive barrier and flashing system. Make sure everything is layered shingle-fashion with no gaps or tears. Use high-performance caulks and sealants to reduce wind-driven water leaks. Find detailed guidance on the Building America Solution Center website (basc.pnnl.gov, search “fully flashed”).
Learn more about resilient, high-performance home construction and restoration by visiting the LSU AgCenter LaHouse Resource Center website (www.lsuagcenter.com/LaHouse), particularly the “My House, My Home” pages. LaHouse Resource Center, on the LSU campus in Baton Rouge, is an educational showcase of solutions for the Southern climate and natural hazards. It is temporarily closed due to the pandemic, but you can see tour videos, building system videos and home improvement videos on its YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/myLaHouse).