The exterior of the house is what "welcomes us home". From landscaping to new siding to upgraded window or replaced roofing, the view from the street can be just as exciting as the interior space. When the roofing of the house is a significant architectural component, materials other than asphalt shingles have often been used. Many who love houses especially love those old slate and tile roofs. Some more rustic houses may sport a wooden shake or shingle roof though many such roofs are forbidden in fire prone areas.

The asphalt shingle roofing of old may not even be a close resemblance to what is available today. Certainly the newer architectural grade asphalt shingles cost more but in many cases they provide an appearance resembling slate, tile, and wood.

For more information and helpful tips scroll down and check out our selection of articles. And if you have a question that you can't find an answer to, head on over to our Ask Us section and let us know about it.

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The vast majority of garage doors in the U.S. and Canada are the roll up type, and for good reason - as you pull up to your garage, with just the press of a button, you’re welcomed back home. It’s especially welcoming during downpours or snowstorms. It wasn’t always so convenient; early automatic garage door openers had no automatic reversing mechanisms in place to prevent deadly accidents. More than a few children had been caught beneath closing doors and some suffocated. To deal with this problem, the next generation of openers included a mechanism which would cause a closing door to reverse when it encountered a significant resistance through its travel. Later generations of openers incorporated a laser light and photo cell mounted on opposing tracks which reverses a closing door if the light beam is interrupted (see below).

The vast majority of door openers are mounted on the ceiling above an opened door. That is a relatively easy retrofit when there is adequate clearance between the top of the opened door and the garage ceiling framing. However, professional home inspectors often report finding major damage caused by amateur installers cutting through structural framing members to accommodate openers when there is insufficient clearance to accommodate conventional overhead openers.

For those with insufficient overhead clearance, a side mounted automatic opener is now available (see left).

Another potential hazard with roll up garage doors is when the springs that run parallel to the upper track break (see above and right). Those springs make it a whole lot easier to roll up the door, but if they break, these springs can whip around and seriously injure people near them (see left). A solution to this problem is to run a stout cable, cord or rope through the length of the spring so that if it breaks it can't whip around (see below).

Some “roll-up” garage doors are vulnerable to break-ins. The mechanism that disconnects the opener from the lifting chain lets you manually open the door in the event of a power failure (see below).

This same mechanism can be disconnected from outside the door in less than 10 seconds. Thus, we recommend other locking mechanisms for these doors.

Roll up garage doors are made of many different types of materials. Stained wooden doors are generally considered the most attractive available. This type of garage door is usually stained and varnished but requires maintenance or “restaining” every year or two (see right).

Those who have these doors can take a hint from the boating community - a product called "Cetol" mimics the appearance of varnish but last much longer. This is primarily due to its superior ability to resist sunlight penetration.

There are fiberglass doors which can be stained or painted and require far less maintenance than the wooden doors. These fiberglass doors are generally lighter-weight as well (see left).=

They won't yield the deep rich appearance of varnished doors but they will satisfy all but the “perfectionists”. Metal and fiberglass insulated doors are additional options and these doors are especially useful should you wish to use your garage as a conditioned space. Some of the

older particleboard doors were often problematic due to water seepage around trim pieces, among other issues. While considerably less expensive than other doors, they are also considerably less durable. As usual, you get what you pay for.

For further information on garage doors or garages in general, please use our SEARCH utility or feel free to send an inquiry using our ASK THE EXPERT feature for any unique or custom topics.


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