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Q and A: Leaking roof

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Colin wants me to chat about different waterproofing methods

Q: M roof is leaking and I need to find a solution. I have read about applying liquid rubber or a torch-on membrane, but I don’t know which is the better method. Perhaps you could expound on the merits of each method and which is your preference regarding longevity, permanence and cost.

A: Colin has a roof with many different facets and finishes, with the main problem being asbestos slates terminating in box gutters. But he is asking for advice on different products. There are very few bad products on the market.

The problem is that the products are used for the wrong application by people who don’t know what they are doing. This is especially prevalent in the DIY market. Contractors often do more harm than good by applying products over damaged areas. Every type of roof covering is designed in such a way that it channels water along its surface down the slope of the roof to discharge into a gutter or just over the edge.

The minute you start impeding the flow of water, you are going to cause further problems. When it comes to roofs there are no cheap fixes. But Colin has got me thinking about writing on all the different products. It is a huge task. There are just too many to mention in a single column.

Liquid rubber is not a product I know much about and a check on the internet shows products ranging from cheap DIY products to top-of-the-range industrial applications suitable for flat roofs.

There are many different makes of torch-ons coming in from around the world with a range of different thicknesses, all with their own particular use. Then you can bring in cementitious products which in certain applications are a better fit than torch-ons.

This is a subject not to be experimented with by DIYers unless you are looking for a cheap, quick non-permanent fix. Complex roof-leaking problems are best left to an experienced roofing or waterproofing contractor trying to it yourself will often make the problem worse. 


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