Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Master of None

I was reminded several times last weekend that despite nearly two years of owning the Einsel House, I’m still very much an amateur at this home improvement stuff. I’m typically confident enough to jump into a project, but unlike some other DIY blogs you won’t find any detailed tutorial posts here. I’m too busy reading other people’s "how to" advice to write my own.

This realization came afresh last Saturday afternoon as I was shingling the new shed awning and had the sudden inspiration to title my next post "Butt Scoot". Obviously, I resisted that impulse. But let me explain. About once a week, always in the evening just after the kids have been tucked in, while Charles is reclined in his papa chair and I’m stretched out on the couch with a book, Tiny the Cat will walk into the middle of the living room, sit down with her absurdly long tail pointing straight behind her flat against the threadbare Oriental rug and, well, butt scoot. 

I remember getting home from work the day the new roof went on the kitchen and seeing six men walking around on the kitchen roof. And I remember watching our mason walking on the highest portion of our metal roof to inspect the old chimneys. I felt more than a twinge of anxiety watching, but he looked confident enough to dance up to the peak and pirouette.

And then there’s me. I’ve come a long way since my first tentative forays onto the awning I built earlier this summer. But when it’s time for me to make my way from my perch back to the ladder leaning against the awning’s lowest edge I don’t walk. I, well, butt scoot.

There have been other telltale signs that I’m not a very experienced roofer. When I ordered shingles, the Carter’s employee asked me if I needed roofing felt. I told him no, but while driving home I began to worry. I had tar paper, but I suddenly I had this nagging fear that roofing felt and tar paper might be two totally different things. A brief session with Google seemed to confirm that roofing felt and tar paper are interchangeable. So, tar paper down, I returned to the computer to learn how to make starter strip from full shingles.

The next issue came when I noticed the shingles have small strips of plastic on the back that cover the tar. My first instinct was to remove the plastic strips to expose the tar. But on closer inspection I noticed a faint stamp on each strip that seemed to say "Do Not Remove". So back to the computer I went and Google confirmed that it is indeed not necessary to remove the strips, the tar is supposed to seal right through them.  Laying the actual shingles has been pretty straight forward so far.  It's nice and repetitive, with just some constant attention to making sure everything is straight and evenly spaced.  I suspect the trickiest part will be the last 14 inches where the shingle roof will join with the existing standing seam roof.  I should find out in the next few days.  And I promise to share some pictures of my handywork soon!


  1. Don't quote me, but I think roofing felt is a better quality material and more likely to keep the wet out than old-fashioned tar paper. The latter will do for the shed, but I wouldn't want it under the shingles of my house.

  2. You could easily be right about tar paper vs. roofing felt, Kate.

    And you're definately right about shed roof vs. house roof. This project has been great for me to tackle on my own, but there's a very good reason we hired a roofing contractor when we replaced the kitchen roof!

  3. There's a medical problem when a cat does that. I forget if it's tapeworms or what.

  4. We were worried about that at first, too, Karen Anne. But our veterinarian has checked Tiny out and tells us there doesn't appear to be any medical issue behind the behavior in her case.

  5. Actually if the shingles are applied correctly the plastic strips on the back of the shiingle sits above the adhesive (tar) on the front of the shingle. The reason the plastic strips are on the back of the shingles is so that if the shingles get hot while they're in the bundle they won't stick to together. As far as I know felt and tar paper is the same thing. Lastly like Karen Anne said I beleve butt scooting is a sign of worms (don't remember which variety though).