CertainTeed’s Guide to the Perfect Gingerbread House


5 Steps to a Well-Constructed Icing and Gumdrop Confection

As we celebrate National Gingerbread House Day, my mind starts to wander through the seven levels of the candy cane forest and a sea of swirly gumdrops to the abrupt realization of how frustrating it can be to build one of these masterpieces.

How many valiant attempts have you made at building one of these culinary confections only to have it collapse midway because you didn’t let the icing dry long enough? You know who you are!

So, let’s talk about how to do it right.

The most important part of this project is the roof. Without a well-built roof, using the right materials, moisture can infiltrate your ginger creation and leave you with a pile of mush. Not a good scene when you have anxious toddlers looking on.

1) Start with a Solid Base

Before we get to the roof, you have to make sure the rest of the house is built right. A good roof is heavy, so make sure your walls are solid and the icing is dry. So, we’ll make the assumption that you’ve steadied your walls using the right amount of icing, allowing them to set for the recommended amount of time—and not a minute sooner!

It’s important that your home is well insulated with a thin layer of cotton candy on the interior walls to help keep the home cozy during the cold Christmas season. You may want to use Tootsie Rolls on the outside walls as your siding, for that nouveau-riche log cabin look.

Now for the important stuff–roof construction.

2) Protect Your Roof with a Nice Underlayment

Your first line of defense is high quality icing underlayment at the edges of your roof to keep moisture out should you have that pesky icing buildup in your gutters. While the icicles that hang from your gutters will look really cool, all of that can melt and seep into your home, leaving you with syrup between your walls and through your ceilings. So, double-up your icing in this area.

Next, apply an even coating of icing on the remainder of your roof to complete your roof underlayment. Icing with peppermint sprinkles works best, as it gives your contractors something with traction to walk on when installing your shingles.

Tips for constructing that perfect Gingerbread House

We recommend sub-contracting all exterior detailing to your favorite child-sized elves.

3) Invest in a Quality Shingle

Time for your roof shingles. There are all types of looks you could go for when choosing a top-quality roofing product. Personally, I’m all about the Nilla Wafer. A properly installed Nilla Wafer roof will give you a unique rounded or chamfered look (as we like to say in the biz) for a distinctive designer touch to your Gingerbread home. Don’t skimp by using the reduced fat or gluten-free versions. Go with the original to ensure optimal roof performance.

4) Do Not Underestimate the Importance of Proper Ventilation

A key component of your gingerbread house’s roof is ventilation. It’s important to allow fresh air to cycle through your attic space to keep your roof system ‘breathing’ and performing at its best year-round. While the temptation is to line the peak of your roof with gumdrops, you may want to consider a continuous candy cane to achieve optimal roof ventilation. You only need the straight part of the candy cane, so feel to take a breather from all this work and indulge yourself by breaking off and eating the curved part. Remember, the candy cane needs to go the entire length of the peak. Don’t skimp!

5) Make Sure All Staff is Well-Educated in Candy Canes and Rainbow Sprinkles

If you’re feeling festive this holiday season and want to make use of those gumdrops, do your best Clark Griswold impersonation and use them to over-decorate around the doors and windows. Rainbow sprinkles and a chocolate Santa would be a nice touch for the roof. Remember, don’t use push pins to attach anything to your roof as they may compromise the Nilla Wafer shingles and cause your roof to leak. Also, practice proper ladder safety!

Finally, while hiring a reputable contractor with strong credentials is critical to home improvement success, we’ll cut you some slack and encourage you to use child-sized elves for your gingerbread creation! So, Happy National Gingerbread House Day! May your efforts at building the ultimate confectionary abode be as satisfying as your next home improvement project.

Happy Holidays from the CertainTeed family to yours.

Mike Loughery is Manager of Roofing Contractor Communications

Plus, tips for hanging lights on your life-sized house.

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