Recycled Tires for Roofing a House

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PHOTO: MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
Converting old tires into roofing material is an eco-friendly construction technique.

“Everybody talks about the mountains of old tires that
constantly stack up in the industrialized nations,” Mark
Twain might say if he were still alive, “but nobody does
anything about them.”

Nobody, that is, but Karl-Ernst Kerkhof of Alfstet (near
Bremerhaven), Germany. Mr. Kerkhof decided he’d both [1] do
the environment a good deed by disposing of surplus used
tires, and [2] cut down on the consumption of roofing
materials … by, as you’ve probably guessed, finding a way
to substitute the first for the second.

And he did. Kerkhof has now patented a method of cutting
the sidewalls away from the tread portion of an old tire
… and then using as many sections of tread as he needs to
cover a roof. As the accompanying photograph shows, Mr.
Kerkhof alternates upside-down strips of the rubber with
rightside-up bands all the way across the surface he’s
covering. What the picture does not show is his “secret”
way of gluing the long, rubber “tiles” together and the
fact that he uses only rust-free nails to fasten the
flexible “shingles” to the structure underneath.

“There’s no doubt about it,” says Karl-Ernst Kerkhof. “This
roofing will outlast most present-day houses and
buildings.” Which is, perhaps, the reason that Mr. Kerkhof
has already shingled a number of new homes in his part of
Germany with his rubber tires. . . ah, tiles … ah, with
his patented strips of roofing.

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