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haldi's picture

my friends house built in 1985, had a sick roof. not a single vent. lots of mold. this summer he had a complete tear-off, plywood too.  I sugested soffit vents and a ridge vent, the roofer agreed. 100 sheets of plywood, and $11,000 later everyone is happy. the roofer appeared to do a nice job. My friend had been waiting for me (8 months) to help him vent his bathroom fans, instead of dumping moisture into the attic. I finally get there, and I'm in the attic, it's dark but I'm noticing the plywood is the prettiest looking sheathing I've ever seen. It is sanded smooth and has no stamps or labels. I found a small cut-out from around the stack pipe and brought it into the light, and it is 1/2" luan.

How bad is this?

Luan is not rated for spacing, I think it has interior glue so it should'nt get wet, but if the roof holds up it won't get wet.

around here the cost of cdx and OSB has nearly tripled in the last 2 years, while luan has remained the same. so it must have been a cost issue.

how bad is this? and should I even tell my friend?

(post #97384, reply #1 of 36)

Holy Sh!d haldi, Welcome to Breaktime.

Time to find out what it really is for sure.

More to follow from other posters shortly.

be reamed

"Live Free,
      not Die"


(post #97384, reply #2 of 36)

How bad is this?

It depends. Should you (he) ever sell the house and a buyer's inspector catch this...or should you (he) not disclose this tidbit on the disclosure could be a problem.

Luan products are not manufactured under any recognized grading rules or controlled measures. Luan is not recognized in the US by any major model building code or organization and does not carry a grade stamp or have any known structural design value. The American Plywood Association (APA) does not provide compliance assurance for any products utilizing the Luan species.

There are 10 kinds of people in this world; those who understand binary and those who do not.

(post #97384, reply #3 of 36)

without even going into the glue issue, I don't think lauan ply has a structural rating.

CDX ply has a grade stamp rating the span

I'd at least bring it to your friend's attention; what he does at that point is up to him. If it were me, I'd contact the roofer and get his story.

A thought about the glue- even if the ply doesn't get wet, I don't know how well it'll hold up in the temp extremes a roof endures.

And I would have used 5/8" cdx ply. I know 1/2" meets code, but the 5/8s makes the roof so much stronger.

(post #97384, reply #4 of 36)

Was a permit pulled for this job? Was the roofer licensed? Was an inspection done? If your friend has 100 sheets of improper material on his house, he should consider taking some kind of action. We ALL need to be protected from bad work like this.

Al Mollitor, Sharon MA

(post #97384, reply #5 of 36)

tell him to rip the roof off, install some vinyl sheet flooring, and call it "art"

seriously, if it is in fact luan, it's very bad

Team Logo

(post #97384, reply #6 of 36)

That was freakin' hilarious.  I agree though.... better his buddy finds out now when he can actually do something about it.  Who knows where the roofer will be in another year or so.  At least there's still a chance that he can track him down and get something done.

That's quite a problem though.  There is no solution I can think of other than stripping the roof.  I'm thinking the luan could probably be left in place but cover with an appropriate sheathing.... still, there's no saving the roofing materials.   Unless I'm totally missing something, I'm 99% sure that luan's structural integrity is not standardized or monitered in any way.  Bummer.

(post #97384, reply #9 of 36)

I'd be real hesitant to leave the luan, if in fact that's what it is, and go over it, eventually temp flux and humidity is going ot break it down and then what?


Team Logo

(post #97384, reply #10 of 36)

Good point.  sticky situation.  Sukks all around.

(post #97384, reply #7 of 36)

Are you sure it is luan? I understood that a cheap mahogany 4' x 8' plywood, 1/8" to 1/4" thick used for cabinet backing was called luan.
I am thinking of another product that is a light brown yellow in colour and made up of fine wood chip particles. It has a smooth surface and is sometime used as backing on cheaper furniture.

(post #97384, reply #8 of 36)

You can get Luan up to at least 3/4".  I had to play clean up on a really screwed up tile roof out side Morgantown WV a couple years ago.  It had 1/4" Luan nailed to steel framing 24"centers (this is not a typo) and the inspectors there were pr!cks.  How it ever flew who know. But then again it was concrete tile.  I've installed tile before without sheating on 24" centers.  Now that makes for a long day stocking materials.  Is it exterior glue?  Years ago it was the standard underlayment for ceramic.


(post #97384, reply #11 of 36)

First thing i'd do is what's already mentioned - check about permits/lic/inspection etc - then try to get some info on the luan - maybe it could be used (but I doubt it) - call the roofer and get some info from him but unfortunately, the next step after that would reviewing the contract and then calling the lawyers - sounds like the whole roof might have to be redone - hope the roofer has insurance and they'll step up - maybe contact the homeowner's insurance and have them go after the roofer

(post #97384, reply #12 of 36)

does insurance usually cover gross negligence on behalf of the contractor?


Team Logo

(post #97384, reply #13 of 36)

Who's insurance - the contractor's or the homeowner's? time to get out the coverage and read it or call the agent - the contractor's coverage/contract should have something about "workmanship" - basically says if something is done "commonly", then it's acceptable - using OSB instead of plywood is done "commonly" - using luan as roof shealthing is probably not "commonly" done - other consideration is the homeowner's insurance might not cover a loss due to the roof failing since it was installed improperly - either way - sounds like a nasty situation

(post #97384, reply #15 of 36)

I can just seeing calling the insurance company, if I was the roofer, and saying:

I'm a [JOBSITE WORD] and I managed to install the wrong sheathing for a roof, will you pay to replace it?

can you imagine the response from the insurance company?

along the same lines, if the roofer was dumb enough to use luan, I doubt he has the integrity to stand behind his work and replace it with the correct sheathing.

Team Logo

(post #97384, reply #16 of 36)

Yeah, I don't think it will be pretty trying to get it resolved - maybe someone will figure out how to get the roofing certified - another view might be the homeowner calling his insurance and saying I got a deal on getting my roof done but the guy used the wrong sheathing, what now?

(post #97384, reply #17 of 36)

I'm thinking the roofer has probably changed names a few times by now.

(post #97384, reply #18 of 36)

thanks for all the comments, guys. I knew there wouldn't be an easy answer, insurance would'nt cover a screw up like this.  It would probably be up to the lawyers. The whole roofing job would wind up in the dumpster. I am positive the plywood is luan, I am certain an inspector would not give a thumbs up to any plywood without a stamp on it. And even if a court forced him to fix it, I don't think I'd want a pissed off roofer up there working for free. This is what I'm going to tell him.

step 1 find the contract.   step 2 call the roofer.   step 3 call the lawyer.   step 4 try to negotiate a settlement $.   step 5 If he won't come back, get a few years out of this roof, then replace. 

I know there are a lot of bad contractors in this business, but I would bet that this roofer just does'nt realize what he's done. I would also think he'll be puking in the toilet when he realizes he might be on the hook for his last 20 roofs.

thanks again


(post #97384, reply #20 of 36)

I wish your friend luck

please keep us posted on how things turn out

(post #97384, reply #14 of 36)

!/2" is pretty thick for luan. Are you positive that's what it is? And eleven grand for a roof worries me more. But not as bad as the fact that someone bought a house with no venting in the roof. Some drunk derelect do tha thouse inspection before he bought it?

Who Dares Wins.




(post #97384, reply #19 of 36)

lately plywood coming from one mill in Canada has been using Basswood instead of pine as their top layer.  Looks fabulous! and yes it's rated and graded.. 

(post #97384, reply #21 of 36)

1/2 thick wheat straw board check it out looks like laun but thicker

(post #97384, reply #22 of 36)

 to all,

 I could be wrong here


I have my doubts that the plywood is luan.

2 reasons--------

1)I have never seen  half inch luan----just that really thin stuff sometimes used as floor underlayment.-----To me---it seems like it would be a giant PITA and MORE expensive to even FIND half inch luan then to just use 7/16 osb. (  but hey, wadda I know---I have never looked for half inch luan---maybe it's readily available but always hidden on all my trips to the lumber yard---------)

2) the second reason is that everybody seemed to be happy with  the roofers work and everything was just peachey-----untill after the fact when this poster( not the customer mind you---but a 3rd party) is pokeing around in the attic and decides on his own that the  plywood looks  TO NICE!!!!!!!

think on that for a minute---suddenly we are running a dude down cause he used plywood that looks  TO NICE.

AND---all the sudden we are making comments about how the roofer is gonna skip town etc.

Frankly---I don't think we have enough info here to make any judgement---maybe it is luan---maybe not---I don't know.

the $11,000 seems a little low to me----but if the roof has a simple configuration and is walkable AND is 20 square or so---it's within the realm of possibility.

BTW------this roof was not new construction.

 It was a tear-off and roof replacement. I have never seen an inspector go inside a house and check the attic for stamps on plywood in a case like this-----heck I doubt if the "inspector" even gets out of his city owned car!!!! LOL

 but instead of getting your shorts in a  knot---why not just call the roofing contractor up----tell him how nice the roof looks and how happy you are with it----and ask him to send you a xerox copy of the lumber receipt cause ya have a freind that liked that decking so much he wants to use some on HIS project......... and see what THAT gets ya.



(post #97384, reply #23 of 36)

You are a brilliant guy .liked the way you hand your probs if more people handled things like that their would be less probs on sites etc......

(post #97384, reply #24 of 36)

Haldi said that there was 100 sheats of plywood put down so that's at least 32 squares. If your customer called you and asked you to send him your lumber receipt would you do it or would you just tell him what type of plywood you used or do you usually tell your customers what your materials cost?

Joe Carola
Joe Carola

(post #97384, reply #27 of 36)


BEFORE the fact I would NEVER tell what my material costs were----but I might tell what quantities I was estimating using.

AFTER the fact---having already been paid---by a customer I had a good relationship with------ I would probably be happy to provide a copy of a  receipt for  lumber if asked. I probably wouldn't provide receipts for ALL materials---but a plausible request for info on one material would likely generate a reasonable response-----I would have no reason not too.

If---however---the customer had been a putz during the job----I wouldn't provide any additional service voluntarily----even if I had nothing to hide. I would have no reason to do so.


 BTW------he says 100 sheets. Is that 100 full sheets or is he counting partial sheets along the valley and partial sheets along the gables as full????

Regaurdless------at 25 or 30 squares $11,000 wouldn't meet MY pricing requirements-----but I have a  couple of subs who would think that good money if they were bidding it on their own.

Edited 2/13/2005 8:59 am ET by Stephen_Haz

(post #97384, reply #25 of 36)

A flavor of Luaun is called "Meranti" it is commonly available in 1/8", 1/4" , 1/2", and 3/4"...I use it often for Substrate for laminate. Basically, one of the Mahogonies.

Light, strong, and smooth...comparable to birch in price, but not quite as voidy and the face veneers are thicker. Good stuff..also CAN be exterior glue if requested. Used in Boat building too..


Spheramid Enterprises Architectural Woodworks

Restoring, Remodeling, Reclaiming The Quality..  

(post #97384, reply #28 of 36)

 Sphere--------- that's outside my realm of experience


 What would  a 1/2" sheet of that stuff cost?

Would 100 sheets of 1/2" be available at the type of lumberyard roofers frequent?????

 the reason I ask---is that I  usually buy roof decking from a different type of yard  then I buy oak or cherry stock for personal woodworking projects.



(post #97384, reply #32 of 36)

Yup...when I was in NC (last yr.) if they were out of OSB or SYP ( they hardly ever had fir) I could substitute Meranti or "Luaun" for close too or less than the same cost.

They stocked it as an alternative to birch for cab. parts or just general purpose plywood. It is ALL G1S..sanded and sometimes plugged.

IIRC at that time 1/2" was about 15.00 a sheet, 3/4 was about 27.00.

Whether or not it is "span rated" is another point tho'..but from using a lot of it, it seems to me that it would be fine. 5 plies of it is very much like 5 plies of A/C Fir. And I am certain that MOST of it is Exterior rated. And one hell of lot better than SYP 3 ply crap.

When another specialty wood store close by became well stocked in Baltic birch in 60x60 in. sheets, and I had a large beauty salon interior to fabricate, I chose that instead, because of the resemblence to MAple..which was what the solid wood accents were..but if it would have been painted or a darker accent wood..I would have gladly used the Meranti.


Spheramid Enterprises Architectural Woodworks

Restoring, Remodeling, Reclaiming The Quality..  

(post #97384, reply #33 of 36)

The Merrantii luan is a Phillipine mohagany and not the good looking honduras mohagany. The merrantiis are actually a broad class of tree and the qyuality of the grain can vary quite a bit from one batch to th enext.. I wouldn't count on it regularly fior woodworking projects

I'm just fleshing out the info, not steppionginto argue this case one way or the other.



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Oh Well,

We did the best we could...

(post #97384, reply #34 of 36)



Spheramid Enterprises Architectural Woodworks

Restoring, Remodeling, Reclaiming The Quality..