Category Archives: Home Design

Rain Chains Cost, DIY Options & Styles 2017-2018 – Buying Guide

Rain chains demonstrate a beautiful blend of decorative form and useful function. Instead of water traveling from your roof through a closed downspout, rain chains allow you to enjoy rainwater’s pleasing sound and aesthetics, like a babbling brook cascading downward.

Rain Chains DIY Installation

via Hallmark Channel

In Japan, where rain chains had their origin, they are a common element of traditional building design. Gutters are viewed as too utilitarian to use when the function can be handled by something that also enhances the beauty of the structure. — That view is spreading, and the popularity of rain chains is growing in North America and around the world.

This buying guide provides a comprehensive overview of rain chain styles, materials, options, installation methods, costs, and DIY options.

The guide is presented in the form of FAQs, so you can quickly access the information you want:

What are Rain Chains?

If you’re unfamiliar with rain chains, or kusari doi in Japanese, lets discuss their anatomy.

  • An adapter or bracket is attached to the gutter in place of a downspout
  • The rain chain hangs from it
  • The chain is anchored by a basin, stake or weight

These three essential components might be sold separately, but many top manufacturers produce kits with everything included.

What are the Most Popular Rain Chain Styles?

  • Chain links are interspersed with artistically designed cups or other features such as birds, leaves or flowers at intervals of a few inches to as much as a foot apart.
  • Most rain chain cups have holes in the bottom to allow water to pass through. Other chains are produced with shallow cups, and the rainwater fills the cup and spills over into the cup below.
  • Single links or another type of connector are used to hold each cup to the one above it, so that the rain chain is really a series of cups with little or no chainwork.
  • The rain chain is a series of decoratively fashioned links or loops, often of varying size and artfully interwoven, with no cups at all.

Because of the artistic nature of rain chain design, these three basic styles are produced in nearly limitless variations and combinations.

What Rain Chain Materials are Available?

via Eichler Network

Traditionally, rain chains were crafted from metal, and most still are.

Most Popular Materials:

  • Copper: This is the traditional material choice of rain chain artisans. The copper must be polished regularly if you wish it to maintain its gleam. Most copper rain chains are allowed to develop an appealing patina finish that changes as the copper ages.
  • Steel: This is another traditional metal. Make sure any steel rain chain you consider is coated or painted to prevent rust, though corrosion is probably inevitable.
  • Stainless steel: This corrosion-resistant metal is often used by itself or in a rain chain design with copper.
  • Aluminum: More affordable than stainless, aluminum is durable and will develop a light patina too.
  • Brass: This material is a staple of plumbing fixtures because it resists corrosion. It’s an attractive choice for rain chains too.

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Tamko vs. Owens Corning Roofing Shingles: Cost, ROI – Definitive Guide for Homeowners

Owens Corning Roofing Shingles Display

Owens Corning and Tamko are two asphalt shingle manufacturers sharing the adage, “we’re second-best, so we try harder.” CertainTeed is the consensus leader for overall asphalt shingle quality. GAF is the largest producer of shingles, and its products get high marks. Right behind those giants are Owens Corning, certainly one of the most recognizable names in roofing products, and Tamko (or TAMKO), a brand that has its fans, too.

The Bottom Line from the Beginning

The bottom line, which all the details in this guide lead to, is that the Owens Corning vs. Tamko comparison is about as even as it gets in the roofing products industry. Both get ratings in the “good” to “very good” range from roofing contractors who install them every day and from home inspectors who have seen their share of durable shingles and shingles that have failed before they should.

What it comes down to is the quality of the installation. You’ve got two above-average shingle brands that can deliver superior durability for 20+ years, fail in just a few years or perform somewhere in the middle. What makes the difference is how well the installers do their job.

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More on the installation below. Along the way we’ll address where each brand has bragging rights. While OC and Tamko are close to equal in total score, each brand has strong and weak points.

OC vs. Tamko: Quality and Reliability

Quality is a product of the materials used and the production process. Here’s an overview of Owens Corning and Tamko shingle construction.

  • Owens Corning: OC makes three tiers of shingles in basic (Oakridge, Supreme), better (Duration, OC’s best-seller) and best (Devonshire, Woodmoor, Woodcrest, Berkshire) categories.
  • Tamko: This brand makes a very similar lineup with basic (Elite Glass-Seal), better (Heritage, Heritage Woodgate) and best (Heritage Premium, Heritage Vintage).

All shingles from Owens Corning and Tamko feature fiberglass mat bases saturated with asphalt and dressed with coated granules to resist the sun’s UV radiation. Each shingle is constructed with fused layers. When installed, less than half of each shingle is exposed. The result is that 3-tab roofs (OC Supreme and Tamko Elite Glass-Seal 3-tab) have 2-3 layers of coverage at any given point on your roof.

All other shingles from both brands are architectural style shingles with 4-5 layers of coverage. The result are shingles with wind ratings of 60mph for 3-tab products and 110/130mph for all others. The brands have the same ratings in most ASTM materials and fire rating tests. Both are on par or superior to most other brands including CertainTeed and GAF.

Bad shingles are often the result of production rather than the materials used. The production processes for these brands are similar. The processes are slightly tweaked, even from run to run (runs of shingle batches).

When errors occur, a bad batch of shingles, such as layers that don’t properly fuse, are produced. What makes a brand worth considering is the consistency of the quality from run to run. Owens Corning and Tamko deliver good consistency.

Advantage—Tie: We’re not afraid to take sides, but there’s no clear winner here. These brands are rated about as equal as you will find in terms of quality and reliability, especially the two most-popular series, the Owens Corning Duration and Tamko Heritage.

Owens Corning vs. Tamko: Cost

Since these brands compete aggressively head to head, their prices are comparable across all products (and are very competitive with GAF, too).

Here is a breakdown of the shingle series and their costs from both brands:

Prices are per square, which is 100 square feet of coverage (and 3 or 4 bundles of shingles, so check product specs for the bundles-per-square).

3-tab shingles:

  • OC Supreme: $70-$85
  • Tamko Elite Glass-Seal: $72-$77

Average architectural/dimensional shingles:

  • OC Duration: $110-$120
  • Tamko Heritage: $84-$100

Best-selling architectural/dimensional shingles:

  • OC Duration Designer, STORM & COOL: $105-$135
  • Tamko Heritage Premium: $90-$105

Premium, architectural/dimensional shingles:

  • OC Devonshire, Woodmoor, Woodcrest, Berkshire: $175-$280
  • Tamko Heritage Woodgate, Heritage Vintage: $180-$205

Advantage – Tamko: As you can see, Tamko offers better value in each tier of products. It always makes sense to get written estimates on the specific roofing materials you’re considering, to get a direct comparison of cost.

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GAF vs. CertainTeed Roofing Shingles: Cost, ROI – Definitive Guide for Homeowners

GAF and CertainTeed combine for a huge piece of the roofing shingle market. This comparison hits all the important factors in deciding – Quality, cost, styles, pros and cons of each option, warranties and more. Our guide also addresses the return on investment and explains when either GAF or CertainTeed shingles are a better choice for a homeowner.

Let’s put the comparison into perspective right from the start:

CertainTeed, by every measure, is the premier manufacturer of exterior building materials and a winner of the Professional Remodelers Best in Class award.

CertainTeed Landmark series Shingles Roof in Weathered Wood

While most of its lines are upmarket, CertainTeed has begun making less expensive lines like the Landmark Series to compete with value-priced asphalt shingle brands.

GAF, the largest manufacturer of residential roofing materials, makes mostly good-quality shingles with a few lines like Camelot that are exceptional.

GAF Premium Asphalt Shingles: Camelot Williamsburg Slate

CertainTeed didn’t appear worried about cost a decade ago, and it still dominates the “best” category of roofing shingles, though competition is growing.

Most GAF shingles are cost-conscious products that compete with Owens-Corning, IKO, Tamko, Malarkey and similar brands for “basic and better” ranges — niches it ranks first in.

  • CertainTeed: Mainly high-end, high-cost products with some affordable lines.
  • GAF: Mainly affordable shingle lines with some high-end products.

Here are some important qualitative and quantitative details to consider within the larger scope of CertainTeed vs. GAF shingles debate:

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