A Log Home Roof Tune Up

Our clients live in a classic log home made by local log builders when the revival of these iconic wooden structures was just getting started in North America. Set deep in a forest so thick you can barely see the lake in front, the home has gothic qualities. It is tall, heavily shaded and has a medieval "castle like" feel. The roofs are steeply pitched and the ceilings are high and vaulted. The interior is anchored by a massive stone fireplace that one must walk through to get to the second floor. The interior trim, furniture, and art all point to work done by fine craftsman. We learned that much of the work in fact was done by the owners.

In spite of the fine workmanship displayed throughout the house the roof had been a problem for many years. Heat was escaping through the ceiling and was melting snow on the roof causing ice build up and water leakage into the house. The skylights were the greatest offender and the client was frequently making trips to the roof to remove snow around them before it could melt and trickle into the house. He had a ladder mounted permanently on the roof to facilitate his regular trips up the steeply pitched roof.

Our job was to remove the weathered cedar shakes and the tired fiberglass batts that were filled with mouse galleries and bats. Two leaky skylights were removed and a large dormer was framed over one of the skylight holes. Striving to significantly improve the energy efficiency of the roof system we sprayed a 2" layer of polyurethane foam against a layer of 2" expanded polystyrene board that the original builder had placed above the drywall on the cathedral ceilings. The roof trusses were netted from above and a 12" layer of blown-in-blanket (BIBS) fiberglass was placed above the foam. The insulation value of the roof was raised to R60 and the 2" layer of sprayed polyurethane provided a superior vapour barrier to the original 6 mil poly that had many penetrations.
The roof was buttoned up just before the snows came and our client was delighted to know that he wouldn't have to continue ice climbing on his roof this winter to keep his home dry.

In the next phase of the work a timber frame porch will be wrapped around 2 sides of our client's home in the spring. We are now cutting the timber frame in our shop in preparation for our return. In a future article I will describe the gothic style frame that we are building in our shop as I write.