Roofing in Oklahoma

A solid roof is a concern in any storm heavy region of the country, but in tornado country the concern is even more urgent. Not only do tornadoes come packing winds comparable to a hurricane — over 200 mph for those infamous EF5 rated storms, but 110-160 mph for even the relatively mild EF2 and EF3 ones — but the very nature of a tornado, including its shape and movement, can lift a roof from its structure faster than any other kind of weather event. In the very first second a tornado hits, it blows so hard against a home that the roof begins to be affected by “uplift” — powerful winds pushing up under the shingles of a roof. And just one second later, those forces can enter the home itself and begin pushing up against the ceiling in an effort to escape. Those combined wind pressures act exactly like wind does under the wings of a bird or a man-made aircraft. And what happens then? Why, it flies into the air, of course. Tornadoes are notorious for lifting roofs off their structures, and this is why.

So what material should you shingle with to prevent such a catastrophe? Well, slate is one option; it lasts longer than any other type of shingle and is appreciably heavy, but in a high-wind area you’ll need a ton of nails and cement to even begin to secure it. Concrete (don’t even think of clay!) tiles are also very durable but require clips and sealant to stay put. Same goes for metal tile. Good old-fashioned wood shingles may look great, but you’ll be replacing them often.

Truth is, if you’re looking for lightweight, attractive shingles that wear well and don’t require much for installation, while still offering maximum wind resistance, you need to consider asphalt. Asphalt shingles are rated to 130 mph of wind protection to most cases, and also provide great hail and, obviously, fire protection, giving you an extra layer of security for your home. The best part is that you don’t have to sacrifice either your wallet or your taste to get that protection: asphalt is the most flexible of roof tiles, available in many colors and textures, so you can get that slate or wood or tile look without any of the headaches. Asphalt also turns out to be the most cost-effective and least labor intensive material to work with on a roof. Most Oklahoma roofs are tiled with asphalt, and if you’re gonna live in the Sooner State, so should you. After all, once your roof is compromised, so is your entire home.

Underground Storm Shelters

Why don’t people in Oklahoma have underground storm shelters okc? That was the question on many Americans’ minds after the historically damaging tornadoes that demolished much of Moore in May 2013. It seemed like a fair question at the time, but there have, also historically, been some very good reasons not to build them.

For one thing, Oklahoma has a high water table, meaning that the natural level of water in their soil resides fairly close to the surface. It’s not as high as, say, the water table in New Orleans, but it’s the same principle: the same reason that those folks make those cool above ground cemeteries is more or less the same reason Sooners don’t have basements.

But there’s more. Oklahoma has a problem Louisiana doesn’t, at least not until you get north of the swamps: red clay. The technical name for them is utisols, and they’re noted for having two properties — they contain no lime whatsoever, unlike most soils, but they also contain much more iron than normal. So much, in fact, that it accounts for their red color. The soil is literally rusting, and that makes it impossible to mix with water. Red clay is, however, very porous. Water goes in and around it without getting absorbed. That means that any structure buried deep in the Oklahoma soil would expand and contract with it, and that’s never good for any wall or foundation.

Finally, there’s another line that causes concern, and that’s the frost line. This is the line where the soil freezes in winter, and thetefore it’s where the foundation of any structure has to be dropped beneath. In Oklahoma it lies fairly close to the soil,  again, which makes digging a basement a bigger proposition than it would be somewhere colder, where a deep hole would have already been begun when the house was first built.

The good news is that modern-day advances in science have made it easy to waterproof and crackproof an Oklahoman’s basement. Unfortunately, the historical bias against basements in the state prevails, even against tons of new evidence to the contrary, and that’s why the events of Moore caught residents unprepared. Since that tragedy, however, Sooners have started to revisit that opinion, and the idea of the underground storm shelter — which at this point is no less leaky than an aboveground one — is no longer forbidden.

Outdoor Decks

If a man’s home is his castle, then his outdoor deck is its finest expression – there’s something about leading your guests out back to grill and having them walk on your expertly laid out, beautifully constructed response to the elements. Your lawn might be beautiful, but it’s just a truce with Nature, when you think about it. A fine deck is a victory. It tells folks you subdued this land.

Given all that, you wouldn’t want the elements to fight back and ruin the effect if not the efficacy of your creation, especially in a state like Oklahoma, where tornadoes,  hailstorms, and other rain events are common. Everyone agrees that there’s nothing like a deck made out of wood, but even treated lumber requires a lot of maintenance – the whole deck has to be stained every two years to resist the damage all that rain can do to your deck’s looks, and waterproofed to help stave off warping, splintering, and rotting. That also means that you’ll need to strip and sand the wood every six years for the staining to keep working. And even then, your wood deck won’t be able to resist decay forever, which can lead to insects infesting the wood and, depending how your deck is placed next to the house, your home itself.

Same goes for the water runoff, which without proper flashing installation will allow that rotting and warping to affect your door jambs and walls as well. Red cedar, Southern pine, and Brazilian hardwoods are options for a natural look,  but that look won’t last very long no matter what you do, and you’ll pay more, especially if you’re not a DIY kind of guy (or gal) and want to hire someone to do the upkeep. And while tornadoes don’t affect decks much, as long as they’re relatively near the ground, debris can damage them, turning them into debris themselves.

Composites are an option that’s become popular in the last decade or so, a mixture of wood and other man-made materials that resists rain, hail, and insects and requires no maintenance. It’s not as cheap as lumber, but whem you factor in maintenance costs, the price evens out. Vinyl decking, while more expensive, doesn’t need to be stained at all and offers even better skid resistance for your guests. Screws can also be hidden easily in non-natural substances, and while some composites look man-made, they get better every year at drainage, leak containment, and generally imitating wood in general. Without all the headaches, of course!

Status update:

In 2014, I had an unfortunate accident on a construction site due to my drinking. I am no longer able to walk, as my leg was crushed. I am, in fact, lucky to be alive!

I started this blog after I had numerous friends and family come to me for advice on how to do certain things, or buy a truck, a house, even paint a dog house! My reviews are of anything and everything, with a dash of personal quotes, commentary and maybe, if you are lucky, pictures.

Stay tuned. Lots of good stuff coming soon!