Danish Heritage

Shingles Complement Classic Danish Architecture of Solvang, California, Elementary School

by Paul Batt, senior brand manager, CertainTeed Corporation

From Western Roofing Jan/Feb ’08

Nestled among gently rolling hills in the midst of the serene Santa Ynez Valley and rich in Danish heritage, the city of Solvang, California, has won such accolades as the “Danish Capital of America” and one of Sunset magazine’s, “10 Most Beautiful Small Towns in the Western United States.” The little town is well known among tourists for its classic Danish architecture, cobblestone streets, thatched roofs, old-world craftsmanship, and traditional Danish-style windmills.

Such a town can only preserve its rich tradition and reputation by keeping buildings and structures well maintained and in-line with traditional Danish design. The city of Solvang established an architectural review board for that very purpose; to ensure that building renovations are done authentically to complement the traditional architectural style. The board monitors all renovation and new construction projects in Solvang and created a list of approved building products that will not compromise the town’s old world design.

Though schools are not required to follow the building codes set by the Solvang architectural review board, the Solvang School District still wanted to remain in compliance when it came time to reroof Solvang Elementary School this year. The District hired Santa Maria, California, architectural firm Westberg + White Architects and Planners to design a new roof for the school.

In the interest of maintaining the traditional Danish architecture appearance, the school district consulted the architectural review board’s list of approved roofing materials for Solvang buildings. They selected CertainTeed Grand Manor luxury shingles, laminated asphalt shingles that emulate the look of classic slate roofs, in the Georgian brick color. The shingle’s thickness and lifetime-limited warranty, mixed with its old-world appearance, were all big selling factors.

“On school roofing projects, we try to specify the best-quality, longest-lasting product that we can and get the best warranty that we can on the product,” says Don Hertel, project architect for Westberg + White. “A school roof has to last at least 30 to 40 years because most schools don’t have it in their budget to put on a new roof every 15 years.”

The Solvang School District hired Best Contracting Services, Los Angeles, to reroof Solvang Elementary School. Best Contracting Services began work with a crew of 12. The first thing the crew found was five different roofing products interspersed throughout the school’s roof, including three different types of clay tile roofing and worn-out three-tab asphalt shingles. Best Contracting removed the smorgasbord of previous roofing materials and focused on putting a new unified roof on the structure, calling for 660 squares of Grand Manor Shangle® luxury shingles.

Working on a fairly steep roof with pitches that ranged from 8:12 to 10:12, the crew first installed one layer of CertainTeed® Roofers’ Select ™ high-performance underlayment onto the roof deck. Then, they installed the shingles, new gutters and metal step flashing and counter flashing. Aside from the steep roofs and windy days, the biggest challenge for the crew was the 60-day timeframe for substantial completion of the job.

“It was contracted as a 120-day job, but the last 60 days of it were meant for tending to punch list items,” says Darrell French, operations manager, Best Contracting Services. “So, we had to get the old roof torn off and get everything installed and dried-in as quickly as possible. The building had to be ready before the start of the new school year.”

The crew extended its workdays to seven days a week and substantially completed the job seven weeks later, eleven days ahead of schedule. All in all, the job went along pretty smoothly. “It turned out to be a really nice job,” French says. “The shingles look great.”

The Solvang School District and other Solvang residents have expressed their approval of the new roof as well. “We love the new roof,” says Solvang School District Superintendent Steve Michaud. “All those people who were upset with us for getting rid of the tile roof are now driving by and telling us how much they like the new shingles. They look beautiful.”

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