According to a report released in 2013, roughly 10 million homes were built in or near higher wildfire-risk zones between 1990 and 2008. If your home was built in a zone that has a high risk of wildfires, you may want to consider making several improvements to your home to protect it from wildfires. Here are a few ideas.
Clay roofing tiles
Replace your current roofing with clay roofing tiles, especially if you have asphalt shingles. If there is a wildfire near your home, the embers can fall on your roof and catch it on fire if the roof is made of a material that is not fire-resistant.
Clay roofing tiles, however, are heavier than most other types of roofing materials. According to Bob Vila, a tile roof can weigh as much as 1,100 pounds for every 10’x10′ section. Before you move ahead with replacing your roofing with clay tiles, hire a structural engineer to determine if your home’s structure can take on the additional weight. If not, you may need to have your foundation underpinned.
Fiber cement siding
Fiber cement siding, sometimes called James Hardie siding, can withstand 2-4 hours of high heat before it starts to fail, which makes it an ideal siding material. Other siding materials, such as vinyl, can melt in high heat and make the home more susceptible to becoming engulfed in a fire.
Installation of fiber cement siding should be done by a professional for the best fire-protection. Corners, joints and seams should be caulked to eliminate gaps in the cladding where embers could reach. Fiber cement siding should be painted with a fire-resistant paint or stain immediately after installation.
Replace your current exterior doors with steel doors. Steel doors can be hollow inside or contain a fire-resistant material such as gypsum. Be sure to choose a steel door that is framed with steel. For the best protection from fire, choose steel doors that are specifically designed to withstand fire, which may mean having no glass or other embellishments in the doors.
Steel doors come in traditional sizes, so you should be able to find the appropriate sizes for your home. However, sometimes homeowners need to have steel doors custom-made by a metal fabrication company.
The glass of your current windows may crack in extreme heat from a nearby fire. If so, then embers from the fire could drift into the interior of your home and catch it on fire. Install windows with heat-reflective glass and steel frames.
Be prepared for a costly endeavor, because these special windows can cost twice as much as traditional windows. However, they can reduce the amount of heat transfer through the glass by 90%. Speak with a representative for a window installation company for more information about heat-reflective windows.
Remove your wooden deck and replace it with one made of steel or a fire-resistant composite material. If you don’t want to remove your wooden deck, you can coat it with a fire-resistant paint or stain instead.
It’s important to understand that if you install fiber cement siding, you’ll need a 2″ gap in between the deck and the siding material, regardless of what type of decking you have. Therefore, you may need to remove a portion of your wooden deck anyhow if you want to keep it. If so, apply the fire-resistant coating to the newly-cut wood for protection from embers.
Living in or near a forest can be idyllic, but it can also be a nightmare in the event of a wildfire. Protect your home from wildfires with the home improvements listed in this article. However, be prepared for the worst with proper homeowner’s insurance coverage in case a wildfire overtakes your property.