Copyright 2005 Newsday, Inc.
Newsday (New York)
March 31, 2005 Thursday
HOME; Pg. B08
When passersby look at the new roof on the recent addition Mark and Carolyn Lamarr put on their center hall Colonial, it doesn't seem any different from the others in their Garden City community of slate-roofed homes that are more than three quarters of a century old. But it is.
That's because it isn't slate - it just looks like slate. The roofing shingles on the $125,000 addition are actually made of a lightweight rubberized composite that comes with a 50-year warranty and costs less than half of what a real slate roof would. More and more, homeowners like the Lamarrs as well as builders and contractors are "going faux," selecting synthetic building materials that look and feel like the real things - wood, stone and slate, for example - but are more durable or less expensive, or both, than their natural counterparts. "Some products look so real you have to go up and knock on them and say to yourself, 'Wait a minute,'" said Brian Rosenstein of S&H Building Material Corp. in Medford.
The list of such products includes polyurethane foam that can be carved to copy intricate architectural millwork and plaster ceiling medallions, cultured stones that appear as if they were lifted out of a Rocky Mountain river bed, and fiberglass doors with grain patterns that look so much like red oak you have to touch them to be sure. And, thermoplastic rubber roof shingles like the ones the Lamarrs used that resemble slate. For the Lamarrs, the faux slate shingles were a logical choice.
Natural slate tiles to complement the existing roof on the rest of their house would have cost nearly $20,000. Asphalt shingles would have been less expensive, "but we just couldn't do that . . .," said Mark, the hockey director at Cantiague Park ice rink in Hicksville. "It just wouldn't have looked right." Instead, they decided to fake it and went with a roof of Lamarite, a rubberized composite by Tamko that cost nearly $7,000 - about four to five times more than the asphalt option but less than natural slate.
And they maintained the aesthetic integrity of their house as well as that of the neighborhood of homes built by the Mott brothers in the 1930s. Looks also mattered to Peter Caradonna of Stony Brook. That's why the architect called his choice of exterior siding on the historic cross-gable farmhouse he remodeled a few years ago a "no-brainer." He picked fiber-cement siding - Hardiplank lap siding and shake shingles by James Hardie Corp., an industry leader in the faux material that looks and costs almost the same as cedar.
"The home goes back to the 1890s," he explained, "and we set out to reconstruct the original design." Caradonna, whose architectural firm is in Setauket, dismissed wood because of its high maintenance and weak performance against insects and the humid Long Island summers. "Vinyl was out, too, because it emits toxic gasses when it's improperly disposed of in the ground or when it burns.
And I wanted a material that passes what I call the five-foot test," he said. To translate, Caradonna's test means the fiber cement looks so real it can't be distinguished from wood until you get within five feet. And even then, most people who touch the synthetic lap siding and cedar shingles still can't be sure. Besides, he said, "with fiber cement, you know it's going to last."
Which, of course, is important to builders and contractors, who also are embracing these products. Contractor Mike Cannavale of Diversified Contracting in Bellmore has been using EverGrain, a synthetic lumber, to build decks the past few years. "Unlike wood, it has a consistency in color and size," Cannavale said. "It doesn't crack or splinter, and homeowners like it because it is virtually maintenance-free."
Natale Borriello of NBC Corp. in Woodmere has built three covered porches using TenduraPlank, a tongue-and-groove synthetic porch lumber. Although it can be brittle and crack during installation in cold weather, Borriello loves the way it looks when finished. "I'd definitely use it on my own house," he said. "It looks absolutely wonderful." On a larger scale, two new developments feature fibercement siding.
The Holiday Organization of Westbury is using a line of CertainTeed fiber-cement siding on all 102 homes in its Hamlet Estates of Jericho. And Pulte Homes of Medford is covering the exterior of the 189 villa-style and semiattached houses in its Westhampton Pines with Hardiplank siding. "When builders start using these materials," said S&H's Rosenstein, "it's a sign they've become acceptable, that they are durable, reliable and low-maintenance."
NEW AGE MATERIALS FOR MODERN HOME CONSTRUCTION CULTURED STONE
Also known as artificial stone and brick veneer, these materials are created by pouring lightweight concrete into molds made from real stones and brick. Manufacturers can copy natural stone and a variety of brick styles to the tiniest detail. Because shapes and sizes of stones used to make molds are hand-picked, the artificial versions are easy to piece together. Cultured stone is used as exterior siding, in fireplace surrounds, landscape borders, security fencing and to decorate interior walls.
It's lighter than natural stone, so there are significant savings in labor. The cost ranges from one-third to one-half less than natural materials. FIBER-CEMENT SIDING This high-end siding - made of cement, sand and cellulose fiber cured with pressurized steam - mimics wood planks, cedar shakes and vertical panels. The fiber helps prevent cracking, a common problem in concrete, and provides dimensional stability so the material can bend without easily breaking.
Although it costs almost the same as premium cedar wood siding, fiber cement resists fire, insects and moisture and is impervious to UV rays. Most manufacturers offer several styles, including a cedar shake, and all have limited warranties. FIBERGLASS DOORS These emulate wood but are more durable than the real thing. Entry doors made of compression-molded fiberglass often include a polyurethane foam core, which provides five to seven times greater insulation than solid wood doors.
Manufacturers offer wood-grain texture and color, including oak and mahogany. Unlike wood, fiberglass does not warp, shrink, swell, rot, crack or split. SYNTHETIC LUMBER Primarily used for decking, this blend of plastic and wood fibers was introduced in the mid 1990s. Colorless and without a grain pattern, the material had the appeal of day-old coffee. But homeowners were intrigued by synthetic lumber's resistance to insects, rot and decay. The new wave of materials looks more like wood, with cedar- and mahogany-like colors and raised grain textures.
Some planks feature a different grain pattern on each side, and some manufacturers also offer matching rail systems. The result is a deck that costs about the same as high-grade cedar but lasts years longer. These materials are not maintenance-free; occasional cleaning is required. Some newer synthetics are designed for specific uses. TenduraPlank, for example, is a tongue-and-groove plank for flooring on covered porches only. SLATE-LIKE ROOFING Thermoplastic rubber is the primary ingredient used to copy the look of slate roofing tiles. Lamarite, by Tamko, and Majestic Slate, by EcoStar, are two of the more popular copycats. They're lightweight and can be nailed to wood trusses and cut with utility knives.
Although they cost three to four times more than common asphalt shingles, the faux versions have 50-year warranties. A range of colors from dark grays and mulberrys to slate green as well as a variety of shapes are available. By the way, real slate tiles cost about seven times more than asphalt shingles, and, in some cases, roofs have to be reinforced because of the extra weight. POLYURETHANE FOAM Molded to recreate wood, stone, plaster, metal and other building materials, polyurethane is popular indoors and out.
Because it doesn't rot, warp or splinter, its decorative touch can be seen as exterior millwork on fascia boards, soffits and window and door trim. Indoors, it provides architectural elegance as crown moldings, fireplace mantels, ceiling medallions and wall niches. Ultralight polyurethane cuts easily and can be painted. In most cases, it's applied with construction adhesive and finishing nails. CELLULAR PVC TRIMBOARDS Cellular PVC (polyvinyl chloride) lumber is a light, smooth-finished material that handles like a soft wood but resists cracking, splitting and denting.
It is made by a foaming extrusion process that injects tiny air bubbles into the middle of the shape. It can be painted and milled and is often used as trim board and corner pieces for fiber-cement siding. Some manufacturers have a bead board, which can be used in wainscotting, soffits and exterior ceilings.
Here's a roundup of some of the faux materials out there waiting to fool you.
PVC TRIMBOARDS AZEK Trimboards 801 Corey St. Moosic, PA 18507 www.azek.com .
KOMA 3310 Stanwood Blvd. Huntsville, AL 35811
Trimplank Royal Mouldings 135 Bear Creek Rd. P.O. Box 610 Marion, VA 24354
FIBER CEMENT Cemplank Inc. P.O. Box 99 Blandon, PA 19510 www.cemplank.com  CertainTeed Corp. P.O. Box 860 Valley Forge, PA 19482 www.certainteed.com  James Hardie 26300 La Alameda, Suite 250 Mission Viejo, CA 92691 www.jameshardie.com  FIBERGLASS DOORS Jeld-Wen Inc. P.O. Box 1329 Klamath Falls, OR 97601 Magnum Entry Doors 110-34 Corona Ave. Queens, NY 11368 800-851-0550 Peachtree Doors & Windows 4350 Peachtree Industrial Blvd. Norcross, GA 30091 www.peach99.com  Therma-Tru Doors 1687 Woodlands Dr. Maumee, OH 43537 www.thermatru.com  MANUFACTURED STONE Cultured Stone One Owens Corning Pwy. Toledo, OH 43659 Eldorado Stone P.O. Box 489 Carnation, WA 98014 Coronado Stone 11191 Calabash Ave. Fontana, CA 92337 www.coronado.com  POLYURETHANE FOAM Balmer Architectural Moldings 271 Yorkland Blvd. Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M2J 1S5 www.balmer.com  Foam Visions 960 Johnson Ave. Ronkonkoma, NY 11779 www.foamvisions.com  Fypon Ltd. 960 W. Barre Rd. Archbold, OH 43502 www.fypon.com  Chemcrest Architectural Products 830 King Edward Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada R3H 0P5 www.chemcrest.com  ROOFING TILES EcoStar Inc. 104 Terrace Dr. Mundelein, IL 60060 www.ecostarinc.com  Lamarite c/o Tamko Corp. 220 W. 4th St. P.O. Box 1401 Joplin, MO 64801 SYNTHETIC LUMBER Trex Co. 160 Exeter Dr. Winchester, VA 22603 www.trex.com  TimberTech 894 Prairie Ave. Wilmington, OH 45177 www.timbertech.com  WeatherBest c/o LP Corp. 414 Union St., Ste. 2000 Nashville, TN 37219 EverGrain Epoch Composite Products Inc. P.O. Box 567 Lamar, MO 64759 ChoiceDek Weyerhaeuser Co. P.O. Box 9777 Federal Way, WA. 98063-9777 www.choicedek.com  Tendura P.O. Box 827 Troy, AL 36081 Geodeck Kadant Composites Inc. 8 Alfred Circle Bedford MA 01730 www.geodeck.com  CorrectDeck Correct Building Products 15 Morin St. Biddeford, ME 04005 www.correctdeck.com 
1) CertainTeed Corp. Photo - This house only looks as if it has clapboard siding and slate roof tiles, but the siding is fiber-cement and the roof tiles are a composite of fiberglass and asphalt. 2) NEWSDAY PHOTO / KEN SPENCER - Peter Caradonna, above, chose fiber-cement siding for his Stony Brook home. 3) Newsday Photo / Kathy Kmonicek - Mark Lamarr of Garden City, below, went with rubberized composite roofing shingles. PHOTOS - 4) POLYURETHANE FOAM; 5) SYNTHETIC LUMBER; 6) FIBERGLASS DOORS; 7) CULTURED STONE; 8) CELLULAR PVC TRIMBOARDS
March 31, 2005