Re-roofing shakedown

No good alternative to OSB sheeting

By Inman News Feed
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 1 | Posted Mar. 4, 2010

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No good alternative to OSB sheeting

Bill and Kevin Burnett
Inman News

Q: A while back, you wrote a column about replacing a wood shake roof with asphalt shingles. You said it was necessary to install new plywood or OSB (oriented strand board) sheeting over the one-by-four skip sheeting to provide a surface to nail the asphalt shingles. I would like your opinion on an alternative to the OSB. I thought I might fill the spaces with one-by-fours.

A: Skip sheeting is used primarily with the installation of wood shake roofs. The one-by-four or one-by-six boards are nailed to the rafters, leaving a gap between each board. This allows air to circulate under the shakes.

Years ago, Kevin watched with amusement while a couple of workers stripped the old roof from his next-door neighbor Al's rental house, filled in the skip sheeting with salvaged wood and put on new three-tab asphalt shingles.

Al's middle name was "frugal." He stockpiled material salvaged from work he did on his apartment buildings for use elsewhere. The stockpiled casework and baseboard he'd salvaged found a perfect place on the roof and saved him from buying new plywood sheeting.

The workers weren't happy, as they had quoted a fixed price for the job and spent the bulk of their time with a circular saw cutting and fitting the old material. When all the gaps were filled, the sheeting was every color of the rainbow because of the use of old painted casework and baseboard.

To answer your question, filling in the gaps with one-by-fours is a bad idea. Don't do it. It's more work, gives you a lower-quality job and costs more money. These days, a 4-by-8-foot sheet of 7/16 inch OSB costs in the neighborhood of $6. Even if one-by-four pine costs 30 cents a foot, you'll spend more than $10 in material to fill in the 32-square-foot section covered by one sheet of OSB, and it'll take at least twice as long to install.

It's much easier and more cost effective to nail down OSB panels over the skip sheeting. Just make sure to nail through the one-by-fours and into the rafters. Doing it this way will also create what is essentially a one-piece roof deck, providing added protection in case of an earthquake.

And now to a bricklayer's lament: Several weeks ago we told a reader how to remove a brick chimney located in the center of her house. Our advice prompted reader Sam Phillips to send us the following tongue-in-cheek story. While it's most certainly an urban legend, it's a reminder to put safety first and be careful out there.

"The Bricklayer's Lament," as told by Gerard Hoffnung at the Oxford Union, Dec. 4, 1958:

"Respected Sir,

"When I got to the top of the building I found that the hurricane had knocked some bricks off the top. So I rigged up a beam with a pulley at the top of the building and hoisted up a couple of barrels full of bricks.

"When I had fixed the building, there was a lot of bricks left over. I hoisted the barrel back up again and secured the line at the bottom, and then went up and filled the barrel with extra bricks. Then I went to the bottom and cast off the line.

"Unfortunately the barrel of bricks was heavier than I was, and before I knew what was happening, the barrel started down, jerking me off the ground. I decided to hang on, and halfway up I met the barrel coming down, and received a severe blow on the shoulder. I then continued to the top, banging my head against the beam and getting my fingers jammed in the pulley.

"When the barrel hit the ground, it burst at its bottom, allowing all the bricks to spill out. I was now heavier than the barrel, and so started down again at high speed.

"Halfway down I met the barrel coming up, and received severe injuries to my shins. When I hit the ground I landed on the bricks, getting several painful cuts from the sharp edges.

"At this point I must have lost my presence of mind because I let go (of) the line. The barrel then came down, giving me another heavy blow on the head, and putting me in (the) hospital.

"I respectfully request sick leave."

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