As last October came to a close, super storm Hurricane Sandy hurled itself at Belmar, N.J., destroying the borough’s popular oceanfront boardwalk and causing heavy damage to businesses and public buildings near the shore — including the loss of several roofs. The hurricane wasn’t tough enough, however, for the newly installed composite slate shingle roof on the historic Belmar Public Library, located slightly more than three blocks from the shore. It did not move an inch, nor did it leak.

“Our new roof immediately got the test of a lifetime from Hurricane Sandy, and it passed,” said Ray Claudio, assistant librarian at Belmar Public Library. “We are very pleased with how well it held up. Unfortunately, the bottom floor of the library didn’t fare so well, with all of the flooding through the streets, but at least we didn’t have to put on another roof.”

Installed just weeks before the hurricane’s arrival, the new roof had been one in a series of projects last year to refurbish the library, which will celebrate its 100th anniversary next year. The Borough of Belmar hired engineering firm Birdsall Services Group, based in Eatontown, N.J., to oversee the project and Gen II Contracting Co. Inc. of Clarksburg, N.J., to install the roof and make other exterior improvements. Birdsall presented a variety of roofing material options appropriate for replacing the library’s original variegated slate roof, including CertainTeed® Symphony™ composite slate luxury shingles.

A certified installer of the Symphony shingles, the contractor selected the product for the project. Symphony is a specially engineered composite roofing shingle that mimics the look and feel of natural slate, but is lighter, more durable and costs less. The product also has the highest rating for impact resistance, UL2218 Class IV, making it an ideal choice for installations in storm-prone regions.

Gen II Contracting Co. began work last September, with a crew of five, accessing the 30-foot-high, 6:12-pitched roof with a combination of scaffolding and 52-foot roofer lifts. The crew first removed the old slate tiles, which revealed an old wood tongue-and-groove roof deck that had shrunk and moved slightly throughout the years.

“The original roof deck was in good enough shape structurally, but any time you have deck shrinkage that creates a gap of more than a quarter inch, you have to put another solid surface over it,” said Frank Knight, senior project manager for Gen II Contracting Co. “To address that problem, we put a half-inch sheet of plywood over the deck.”

The crew then put down a layer of self-adhering CertainTeed WinterGuard™ HT advanced waterproofing underlayment and 45 squares of Symphony shingles in Evergreen Blend with the accompanying hip-and-ridge accessory. In addition, the crew installed new copper step and counter flashing around the roof, made repairs to masonry, applied new stucco to the exterior and painted the building a cream color. Throughout the project, the biggest challenge was getting supplies delivered and moved to the roof while other contractors worked on different aspects of the renovation below.

“They were digging on the grounds to put in new drainage pipe at the same time we were working on the roof, so we had to coordinate with the other contractors,” Knight said. “It created some obstacles, but it was nothing we couldn’t overcome. You just move around a little bit and make it work.”

Outside of that, the job ran smoothly and was completed in three weeks. The contractor’s crew liked working with the Symphony composite slate shingles. “The Symphony shingles are easier to work with than real slate, and do an excellent job recreating the look of slate on the library’s roof,” Knight said. “The roof looks tremendous, and most importantly, it held its own against Hurricane Sandy. What better test could you have on your roof system than that? With so many of the other roofs around here falling off, they didn’t lose one shingle at the library.”

Belmar Public Library management is also very pleased with the resilience of the new roof, as well as the reviews it’s been getting from people around town.

“We’ve gotten plenty of compliments from people on the new roof,” Claudio said. “The roof had to be pleasing to the eye, since the library is a public building, and we definitely met that requirement.”

Gen II Contracting Co. is a family-run contracting company founded by Frank Knight in 2005. His daughter, Jaimie Lyn Knight, is now president of the company.