Friday, July 19, 2013

Wildfires and Home Design: Cladding and Roofing


Once your fire resistant structure is in place, it is time to decide on a roof and a cladding system that can protect that structure. Flying embers that can come at your house like rain is the number one cause for homes being destroyed by wildfires, so there are some simple design choices you can make to protect your home.

When it comes to cladding there are also many different options allowing you to achieve the look you desire, while still protecting your home from scorching destruction. Stone Veneer or Brick Masonry with fire rated mortar can give your home a strong defense while still providing a very natural look. Fiber Cement Siding that covers a piece of 5/8” x rated gypsum board and your structure can provide the look of vinyl siding while protecting your home for 2 to 4 hours. Stucco is an economical choice as a finish and provides a better fire rating than wood shakes, but not as good as brick, stone or fiber cement. Also, wood that is treated with fire retardant chemicals can provide a natural wood look of shake siding with a desired fire resistance. Lastly, the more complicated the joints in the siding, the less likely that embers will blow up under the siding and start the structure on fire.

Fiber Cement Siding


Want the log cabin feel for your home in the woods? Logs can easily burn, but there are products like Everlogs that look like real logs but are made out of concrete and protect your home against the destruction of wildfire. They even make their “logs” with knots and growth rings! Everlogs also specialize in cement “timber” if you are looking to create a magnificent wood entry into your home.

Everlogs provide the look of logs but could save your home from fire.

When choosing materials for your roof, there are many different materials that can be effective to prevent your home from burning quickly. Fiberglass-Based Asphalt Shingles provide an economical and popular option for the roof of your home. Recycled Rubber Tile can provide your roof with a top rated material without breaking the bank. Metal Tile, Clay Tile and Slate roofs can provide both elegance and the needed fire protection for your new home as well, but come at a little higher price.

Fiberglass-Based Asphalt Shingles

When designing your roof, it is important not to forget about the possibility of heat and embers getting trapped in eaves and getting into the attic. The best way to protect your roof is to have a fully enclosed soffit and a vent in the fascia which will deflect away heat and gases. Covering all vents in the roof should be a fine mesh screen that will keep out flying embers.

The roofs are only affective if they are clear of debris and flammable materials. This means that each year the gutters need to be cleaned out and dead leaves need to be removed from the roof’s corners in order to protect it from flames.

Did you know that the windows and doors you choose to use can make a difference in the effectiveness of your cladding and roofing systems? Stay tuned for some better window and door choices.  

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