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commercial roof leak

Commercial Roof Leaks & Causes

By Informational
Engineers inspecting a commerical roof leak

Your Commercial Roof Is Leaking. Now What? 

 

Drip, drip, drip. As a building owner or property manager, that is not a sound you ever want to hear. But when drip, drip, drip happens, ignoring it has consequences that accelerate over time. And just in case you’re thinking about ignoring the problem, consider this: 70% of commercial property damage comes from water intrusion. In other words, commercial roof leaks matter, a lot.  

 

How Leaks Happen  

 

Sometimes leaks are obvious, like when a tornado, hurricane, blizzard, or other devasting event punches an actual hole through the roof into your structure. Weather is a top cause of commercial roof leaks, and when catastrophic damage happens, it must be addressed immediately.  

 

But there are plenty of less turbulent forces that cause leakage as they constantly impact your roof.  

 

  • Bad drainage means that rather than channeling water off the roof’s surface, scuppers, gutters, and downspouts are blocked, clogged, and not working properly. As a result, water is pooling and staying on the roof rather than draining away from the building. Eventually such pooling deteriorates the roof’s structure as water seeps through cracks, crevices, and weak spots to find a path to lower ground. Ponding water also puts weight on your roof. A mere one-inch-deep pool of water weighs more than 5 pounds per square foot of surface area; multiply that over a 25-foot-wide puddle to understand how quickly the stress on your building adds up. Ice dams cause similar problems, as do snow melt and refreeze.  
  • Material damage to the membrane that covers your roof, the base substrate under the membrane, and/or the flashings that seal the perimeter are common causes of leaks. Over time, the membrane can crack, split, or shrink, compromising its integrity. Heavy foot traffic, debris, UV rays, and pollution are often at fault. Breaks in the membrane expose the substrate, allowing damage to spread. Flashings are thin strips of metal or similar material that protect the membrane’s edges and seal the joints between different parts of the roof. Over time, flashings expand and contract with temperature changes and are loosened by storms, inhibiting their capacity to prevent water seepage into the building’s interior.  
  • Deteriorating seals around penetrations for HVAC units, conduits, drains, hot stacks, skylights, vents, and other protrusions let water penetrate the membrane and spread inside the building. Each hole must be sealed properly and tightly around the penetration, with closures monitored and maintained over time.  
  • Aging is a fact of roofing life. Commercial flat roofs typically last 15 to 20 years; after that, even with proper maintenance, they deteriorate beyond repair and need to be replaced.  
  • Improper installation or system mismatch can compromise a roof from the outset. Commercial roofs are complex structures that require installation by qualified, knowledgeable contractors to function properly. Different types of systems are available, with SPF (spray polyurethane foam), BUR (built-up roofing), and single-ply membranes (EPDM, TPO, and PVC) most common for commercial purposes. But which type of roof is appropriate for what application is a complicated decision that impacts every aspect of your facility.  
spotting a commercial roof leak

Why Leaks Matter  

 

Anytime water is visible within your building, your roof is leaking somewhere. Understanding that is important for a number of reasons, starting with customer and employee health and safety concerns. Water is a hazard but often difficult to see, especially in small puddles on the floor. A wrong step can cause a slip-and-fall incident, with potential injury and lawsuits as a result. Growth of mold and mildew in damp spaces is another risk, especially for those with respiratory illnesses or immunity concerns. Water stains on walls and ceilings are not only unpleasant to look at; if severely damaged, building materials like drywall and ceiling tiles can actually rot and fall.   

 

The same is true for the wood framing, joists, trusses, and rafters that make up the framework of your building. Wood absorbs moisture, causing it to expand and contract, affecting structural integrity to the eventual point of collapse. Electrical wiring is equally vulnerable. Over time, water exposure causes moisture-proof coatings to become brittle and crack, exposing the wiring beneath. Outlets, fixtures, panels, and switchboxes can short out, spark, and trigger a fire, which is a disaster no one wants.  

 

Higher energy bills are yet another indicator that your roof is no longer fully intact. Water-saturated insulation caused by leakage can lead to a 40% loss in R-value; before long, this expense shows up in inflated costs as you try to keep your building property heated and cooled.  

building inspectors identify roof damage

What To Do  

 

Sooner or later, most commercial roofs leak. Handling the issue quickly and efficiently is key to containing damage and keeping repair costs under control. Several steps make up your action plan.  

 

  • Don’t panic but take the leak seriously. Commercial roof leaks inevitably get worse, so dealing with them as soon as possible means the roof should be repairable. But be prepared and have emergency funds available so you can act fast. 
  • Clear the affected area of people, supplies, and equipment. That confines damage to the smallest possible space and protects valuable resources. Collect water in a bucket and mop frequently to keep the floor dry. If you have large, heavy objects that can’t be moved, cover them with plastic to prevent damage.   
  • Pinpoint and mark the source of the leak. Try to do this while it’s still raining or snowing so you know where water is coming in. Once the area dries, finding the intrusion is tough. When conditions are safe, get onto the roof to check for ponding; also make sure drains, downspouts, and gutters are clear and working properly. While you’re at it, look for other problems, just in case.  
  • Contact your roofing contractor partner to assess the damage and determine the repair. Then get the roof fixed promptly and professionally before damage spreads.    
  • Talk to your insurance agent and review your warranty. Depending on the cause of the leak, coverage may be available to offset repair costs.  

 

Weather is a top cause of commercial roof leaks, and when catastrophic damage happens, it must be addressed immediately. To stay ahead of water problems, you want to set up a twice-yearly inspection and maintenance program with your roofing partner. Working with your contractor to maintain the integrity of your roofing system is the best possible strategy for protecting your facility and the people and property inside

commercial roofing pros and cons male worker picking up piece of roof

Pros and Cons of Commercial Roofing Systems

By Informational, Spray Foam
commercial roofing pros and cons male worker picking up piece of roof

A Comparison of Commercial Roofing Systems—Process, Longevity, Pros and Cons 

 

Lots of options. Lots of variables to sort through. Lots of advantages and disadvantages. Lots of decisions to be made.  

 

When it comes to figuring out what type of roofing system is best for your commercial property, you’ve got plenty of things to work out. Attaining your best results involves having a detailed understanding of your people and business, knowing your physical location and type of facility, and analyzing the roofing systems available to you, including upfront costs and long-term warranties. When it comes to actually doing the job, use of top-quality materials and installation by qualified professionals is a must, as is performing both routine maintenance and taking care of immediate emergency repairs over the long haul.  

 

To help with all that, check chart for an overview of six common commercial roofing choices, along with a brief description of the processes, estimated longevity, and a listing of pros and cons associated with each one.  

Pros and Cons of Commercial Roofing Systems 

 

TYPE OF ROOF  PROCESS  PROS  CONS  LIFESPAN 
Built-up Systems  
 

BUR ‒ Built-up roofing 

Commonly called tar-and-gravel, roofs are built of multiple, alternating layers of bitumen (asphalt) and reinforcing fabrics, topped with a protective layer of gravel or stone. In use 100+ years, BUR offers well-proved effectiveness.  
  • Strong protection from UV rays increases energy efficiency of property  
  • Number of layers is adjustable to each situation, more layers = better protection  
  • Low maintenance is required over roof lifespan  
  • Good fire resistance built in 
  • Excellent for very large commercial properties, BUR is more affordable than newer, synthetic systems  
  • Installation is hot, messy, slow, labor-intensive, with hazardous materials, fumes, disruption of business activity 
  • Heavy materials add weight to building  
  • System can be susceptible to wind/water damage  
  • Leaks, tears are difficult to find, repair  
  • System is better suited to warmer than cold climates 
 

15-30 yrs. 

 

 

TYPE OF ROOF  PROCESS  PROS  CONS  LIFESPAN 
Built-up Systems (continued)  
 

Mod bit – Modified bitumen roofing  

Similar to BUR, mod bit has fewer layers, more adhesive options. Plys (layers) are sealed down to the roof deck or coverboard with no seams. Three different surfaces are available, mineral, foil, or laminate, with ceramic coating.  
  • System is strong, waterproof, airtight, tear-resistant  
  • Minimal maintenance is needed 
  • Mod bit is more affordable than newer, synthetic systems  
  • On-site installation is labor-intensive 
  • Dark color of materials absorbs heat, decreases energy efficiency 
  • Vulnerable to UV damage 
  • Supplemental coating is needed to improve energy efficiency 
 

10-20 yrs. 

 

 

 

TYPE OF ROOF  PROCESS  PROS  CONS  LIFESPAN 
Single-ply Membrane Systems 
 

EPDM ‒ Ethylene propylene diene monomer 

AKA rubber roofing, EPDM is a thermoset process using a membrane manufactured offsite with all ingredients incorporated into rolls of material. Chemically cross-linked polymers become rigid once applied. One layer of membrane is applied to the roofing substrate. Seams are sealed between membranes with mechanical fasteners.  
  • Rolls of membrane come in varying thicknesses to match material specifications to each property, situation  
  • Installation is easy since membranes are ready to place when delivered  
  • The system is not easily damaged by UV rays, is lightweight, durable, fire- and weather-resistant 
  • The membrane is resistant to leaks, punctures 
  • Seams between membranes can fail, allowing moisture leakage into building 
  • Finished membrane is black, looks like unfurled inner tube, and is not particularly aesthetically attractive 
  • While available, lighter colors are considerably more expensive  
 

15-25 yrs. 

 

 

 

TYPE OF ROOF  PROCESS  PROS  CONS  LIFESPAN 
Single-ply Membrane Systems (continued)  
 

TPO – Thermoplastic roofing  

Also a rubber-like membrane system, thermoplastic roofing is made of synthetic substances that soften when heated, harden when cooled, and can be reshaped over time. Seams are heat-welded, melted together for a dependable bond.  
  • Reflective white membrane repels sunlight, reflects heat, UV damage 
  • System resists corrosion, breakdown  
  • Seams are heat-welded/melted together for dependable bond  
  • Surface is resistant to mold, hail, fire, impact, air pollution, providing long-term durability  
  • Laminating of top layer, narrow width of rolls produce weak points that can shrink, crack, deteriorate, leak  
  • Fire-resistance is low, requiring integration of proper retardants  
  • Uneven quality of materials, variations in thickness lead to consistency problems  
 

7-20 yrs. 

 

 

PVC ‒ Polyvinyl chloride  

This is another type of thermoplastic system. Two layers of PVC material are reinforced with polyester plasticizers placed between plys to provide UV stability, flexibility, and prevent curling. Heat-welding keeps seams securely adhered together.  
  • Roofing is durable, flexible, energy efficient  
  • System is resistant to moisture, fire, pollution, wind 
  • PVC is well suited to fluctuating climates, varying natural settings  
  • Materials are recyclable, eco-friendly  
  • Upfront cost is higher than some other systems 
  • Membrane tends to shrink over time, pulling apart at seams, corners, causing leaks 
  • Older roofs may shatter, puncture, be difficult to repair 
 

15-30 yrs. 

 

 

 

TYPE OF ROOF  PROCESS  PROS  CONS  LIFESPAN 
Spray Foam Systems  
 

SPF ‒ Spray polyurethane foam  

A specialized system, SPF blends two chemical elements together under heat and pressure, forming a plastic that transforms from liquid to solid within seconds, expanding 30 times in volume as it dries. Once hardened, a fully adhered roof surface results. The foam must be covered with an elastomeric coating of silicone, acrylic, urethane, or butyl rubber and finished with a layer of crushed stone granules to prevent damage from UV radiation and other elements. Each roof is custom-created on-site and endlessly renewable with careful maintenance and regular elastomeric recoatings. 
  • Highest R-value of any roofing for energy efficiency that saves on both heating and cooling costs  
  • Expansion properties of foam make it self-forming around protrusions (no vulnerable flashings, fasteners, tape), formable to channel water and prevent ponding 
  • Gaps, nooks, crannies, overlaps are sealed to make roof water- and airtight 
  • System is lightweight, with good tensile strength 
  • Depth of foam can be increased for greater energy savings, weather-resistance 
  • Installation creates few business disruptions, can be installed over most existing systems 
  • Installation must take place in temperatures above 50 degrees, with low humidity, calm wind, in order for foam to form correctly  
  • Technicians must be properly trained, use highly specialized equipment for desired chemical reaction to occur  
  • Initial cost is higher than some other systems 
  • Elastomeric coating must be reapplied every 10 to 15 years to maintain integrity of system 
  • Semi-annual inspections, immediate repairs are recommended to correct issues from debris, foot traffic, weather, UV radiation  
 

25-40+ yrs. 

 

Male builder doing thermal insulation on roof of wooden frame house. Man worker spraying polyurethane foam on rooftop pros and cons of commercial roofing

It should be noted that costs vary widely and are subject to volatility. At this writing (December 2022) per-square-foot pricing ranges from $2.00 at the low end to $10.50 or more at the top. Always work with a knowledgeable, qualified professional to get the roofing system that works best for you.  

spray foam cost vs. benefit: guy on roof using SPF

Spray Foam Cost vs. Benefit

By Informational, Spray Foam
spray foam cost vs. benefit: guy on roof using SPF

ROI for SPF Is Impressive, Especially Long-Term  

 

As in 30 years—even indefinitely according to some commercial roofing experts. Although attaining such over-the-decades longevity does require care upfront at installation and consistent ongoing maintenance every year, the numbers confirm potential SPF value. Let’s take a look, with an important caveat. Costs within the roofing sector are extremely volatile and, like pretty much everything else as of this writing (November 2022), subject to inflation. Any numbers cited here should be regarded strictly as examples. Actual estimates for any project, including yours, must be provided by a roofing professional with deep knowledge of the industry, expertise in applicable requirements in your area, and specific understanding of your property and job. Here is spray foam cost vs. benefit explained. 

 

SPF Basics Explained  

 

To set the stage, let’s look quickly at what SPF is all about. SPF is spray polyurethane foam, which is a type of sprayed-on roofing material. The spray foam is a mix of two chemical substances, a polyol resin and an isocyanate. The two elements are stored at the job site in separate tanks and pumped through high-pressure hoses with heat applied. Materials are mixed in a spray gun and sprayed in a thin coat on the surface of the roof. The thin coat of SPF expands in volume as it dries, increasing about 30 times within a matter of seconds. Cured to 1” thickness, SPF yields an approximate R-value of 6.5. R-value measures the capacity of an insulating material to resist heat flow in or out of the building, so the higher the R-value, the greater the insulating power. Many states and municipalities have a minimum R-value requirement for commercial properties, meaning to achieve an R-value of 30, which is the Department of Energy recommendation, you’ll need 4.6 inches of SPF on your roof.  

Once installed, the foam must be covered with an elastomeric coating to protect from UV radiation. Bare SPF is extremely UV-susceptible and begins to deteriorate within days, making the elastomeric coating, usually acrylic, silicone, or urethanes, essential to SPF longevity. Granules are added during elastomeric application to further reflect UV rays and also create traction on the roof.  

Ongoing maintenance is a fact of successful SPF roofing. While the two-part SPF layer itself is durable for decades, the elastomeric coating does wear thin over time, with replacement necessary every 10 to 15 years. Semi-annual inspections monitor the coating’s condition, as well as finding any other compromises caused by weather, wildlife, or activity on the roof. Fixes should be made immediately while problems are minor and easy to repair. 

Multiple Factors Affect SPF Cost  

 

Arriving at an estimate for your SPF system involves looking at a number of considerations that directly impact cost when comparing spray foam cost vs. benefit. Among them: 

  • Size of the roof. Knowing how many square feet need to be covered is fundamental. Economies of scale do kick in somewhere around the 20,000 square-foot range: Because overhead costs apply to every project, the bigger the roof, the lower the cost per square foot.  
  • Roof height and access. A roof that’s low and easy to get to costs less than one that’s steeply sloped, high off the ground, or can’t be walked on. Some roofs require the use of cranes, lifts, hoists, or rappelling equipment, all of which are extra costs.  
  • Condition of existing roof. SPF can be sprayed over one layer of most existing materials, although there are exceptions. In such cases, a coverboard must be installed to the roof deck before SPF is applied. Prep work includes inspection of the roof and repair of damage, removal of debris and loose material like ballast or gravel, replacement of wet insulation, and cleaning of dirty surfaces.  
  • Number of penetrations. The liquid nature of SPF makes installation around openings for vents, pipes, HVAC equipment, skylights, and other protrusions much easier than with other systems—the foam shapes itself around penetrations as it dries. Still, penetrations are a time factor, and time equals cost.  
  • Desired foam thickness. The more SPF you need to get to the desired R-value, the greater the cost. Certain types of buildings with greater than normal heating and cooling requirements (think IT companies or chemical plants) need elevated R-values, which factors into roofing costs. Secure Identification Display Area (SIDA) authorization is another possible extra; when a job involves a secure location, background checks and fingerprinting must be completed before workers are allowed on site.  
  • Elastomeric coating and length of warranty. The amount of UV-protective coating is another variable, and it’s directly related to project warranty. For a 10-year warranty, 20 mils of coating are installed, 25 mils are typical for a 15-year warranty, 30 mils for 20 years. The thicker your coating, the greater the expense.   

Many other factors can be involved in a specific situation; your professional roofing partner will help you sort those out and determine how they relate to cost. He or she can also help you evaluate alternatives to SPF roofing. A number of other systems are available, each with advantages and drawbacks that may be relevant to your situation, including cost.  

Spray Foam Roofing Technician spraying foam insulation using Plural Component Gun for polyurethane foam

Build a Chart to Look at Spray Foam Cost vs. Benefit 

 

Probably the best way to figure out spray foam cost vs. benefit is to put together a matrix listing items associated with costing and where your job ranks relative to each. Then be as specific as possible as you fill in the blanks and work with your contractor to equate each element to actual dollars and cents.  

 

 

 

Cost factor 

 

Low impact on
price  

 

 

Average impact on price  

 

 

High impact on
price  

 

 

Size of roof (sq. ft.) 

     
 

Roof height 

     
 

Roof access  

     
 

Roof repairs needed  

     
 

Cleaning, debris removal needed   

     
 

Coverboard needed 

     
 

Roof penetrations  

     
 

Desired foam thickness 

     
 

Desired coating thickness  

     
 

Warranty length, type  

     
 

Cost estimate  

     

 

As of November 2022, roofing experts indicate the price for a spray foam roof averages between $8.00 and $12.00 per square foot. If you already have SPF in place, you can also use the chart to estimate recoating costs since most of the same factors apply. Recoating presently runs in the $1.50 to $3.00 per square foot range. But given the many influences at play, costs associated with all aspects of SPF could easily go higher. That may be a good reason to carefully analyze your needs and move ahead as soon as you can.  

 

Bottom Line: SPF May Pay for Itself in 5 Years 

 

Calculating true return-on-investment for any commercial system is a long-term proposition. And while the initial expense for SPF can be somewhat higher than other choices, when it comes to lifetime cost, it pays off.  

With a rating of 6.5 per inch of thickness, SPF has the highest R-value of any roof system, keeping more heat and cooling inside your building rather than letting those commodities leak through the roof. That lightens the load on your HVAC units, bringing down your overall energy costs. In some cases, SPF savings are equal to the expense of installation in only five years—your spray foam roof has paid for itself! 

And that’s just the beginning of the cost benefits. With proper maintenance and recoating of your basic foam layers every 10 or so years, your roof is renewable, both in terms of performance and an extension of your warranty. While claims that SPF can last forever are probably exaggerated, with proper recoating (never skip that!) your roof should easily last 30 to even 50 years. Contrast that with the lifespans of other common commercial systems, which after 15 to 20 years must be replaced completely, which is always a sizeable expense.  

Add the seamless, waterproof, self-flashing, environmentally friendly, easy maintenance characteristics of the system—ROI for SPF is truly significant long-term!   

Spray foam roofing maintenance guy holding foam gun applicator

Extending the Life of a Spray Foam Roof

By Informational, Spray Foam
Spray foam roofing maintenance guy holding foam gun applicator

Spray Foam Roofing is Infinitely Renewable—Think 50 Years! Here’s How  

When it comes to extending the life of your spray foam roofing, one word says it all—maintenance.  

Spray foam roofing systems bring many exceptional properties to commercial buildings—durability, dependability, energy efficiency, thermal resistance, and waterproofing among them. With smart management, spray foam roofs can last indefinitely; a 30-year life span is common and some remain in service for as long as 50 years. But achieving that kind of longevity requires work on your part, because set-it-and-forget-it performance is the one thing you cannot expect a foam roof to do.   

The formula for keeping your spray polyurethane foam (SPF) roof in peak operating condition can be summarized in three easy-to-remember words—inspect, recoat, repair. Let’s look at each of these so you know what to do and why doing it is so important.  

Inspections Let Your Know What’s Happening Overhead 

Regularly planned and scheduled inspections are at the center of your spray foam roofing maintenance program. Establishing an ongoing relationship with a qualified contractor is a good idea; that way you’re working with someone who has intimate knowledge of your roofing system. Such familiarity allows them quickly spot changes when something is amiss. 

Plan on getting your roof inspected twice annually; ideal timing is in late fall to prepare for the upcoming winter and in mid-spring to identify any damage that may have occurred. You also want to bring in your partner after any severe weather event (heavy rain storm, large hail, high wind, tornado, blizzard) to make sure everything is okay. Speaking of blizzards, think through your removal plan in advance so you’re ready to clear off snow weight and melt quickly; just be sure to keep tools with sharp edges away from your roof.   

As part of your regular inspections, remove dirt, debris, leaves, moss, tree branches, weeds, wildlife, and any other foreign objects that may have landed atop your building. If trees overhang the structure, get them trimmed back to prevent limbs from scrapping the foam or breaking and falling down. Make sure water is draining properly by checking gutters, scuppers, and downspouts and making sure they’re clear.  

Your inspection plan should also include checking around penetrations for HVAC, chimneys, pipes, vents, curbs, skylights, supports, and other equipment installed on the roof. Although foam conforms around such irregularities upon installation, your want to make sure the seals are sound and all cracks and crevasses remain closed.   

Keeping records with dates of all inspections, findings, and outcomes is important to tracking the condition of your roof. Photos are a good idea. Conditions change as your roof ages, with deterioration inevitable over time. Regular inspections let you know when and what to do.  

spray polyurethane foam for roof - technician spraying foam insulation using plural component gun for polyurethane foam, inside

Recoating Rebuilds Protection from UV Rays   

One of the most important steps in every inspection is measuring the condition of the elastomeric coating covering the foam. Since UV light is the biggest single enemy of spray foam roofing systems, the foam must be protected from the sun. That’s exactly what the elastomeric coating is all about. The coating allows the roof to provide the energy efficiency, insulation, and waterproofing that make SPF such an ideal commercial choice. Without it, the foam takes on water and damage to your building results.  

A roof is protected from the sun’s harmful UV rays when the elastomeric coating is at least 15 dry mills thick. But the sun’s UV intensity is relentless, and over time, the coating thins. Once that layer reaches 10 mils, the time to recoat has come. Generally, that’s about a decade after the original SPF installation; your roofing partner can gauge condition and provide sound advice.  

Recoating should only be done by a qualified contractor. The first step in the process is making a thorough inspection of the roof to make sure there are no leaks or areas of wet foam. Any such issues must be addressed before recoating takes place. Of great importance is using the same coating material (usually silicone, acrylic, urethane, or butyl rubber) as initially applied. Depending on climate, location, and other ambient conditions, two layers may be needed to deliver optimum protection. Your original coating may have been reflective to increase R-rating and UV shielding; if so, your recoating should be the same.  

The real beauty of SPF systems is that once a new coating has been applied, the roof’s warranty can be extended. A typical warranty is 20 years, which means recoating yields many more years of worry-free protection. That’s major return on investment, which is what SPF roofing is all about.   

 

Repairs Are Easy When Handled Quickly 

With many powerful forces constantly impacting your roof, holes, blisters, cracks, punctures, and other intrusions are bound to occur. That’s an important purpose of your regular inspections—finding such things promptly while they’re still easy to fix. Trust your contractor to do it properly; don’t try to make repairs yourself.   

After cleaning the affected area, your partner removes the defective coating and foam with a knife or similar tool. Then, using a compatible caulking material, they fill the resulting holes. To complete the repair, an area of acrylic or silicone top coating is applied. That’s all there is to it and the best reason for moving fast: Damage doesn’t fix itself; it grows.  

 

Take Care of Your Roof and It Will Take Care of You  

Some experts say that SPF roofs last basically forever. While that may be something of an exaggeration, it is true that, with routine care and proper maintenance, there are no real threats that cause foam to deteriorate and no known limits to how many times you can recoat a roof. As long as you’re diligent about protecting your foam from the sun, the life span of your foam roof is indefinite. Extending the life of your SPF system is as simple as paying attention and taking action at appropriate times.  

Spray Foam Roofing Technician spraying foam insulation using Plural Component Gun for polyurethane foam

Spray Foam Roofing Basics

By Informational, Spray Foam
Spray Foam Roofing Technician spraying foam insulation using Plural Component Gun for polyurethane foam

What To Consider When Using a Spray Foam Roof  

As one of the most versatile plastic materials, polyurethanes are everywhere. Thanks to the chemistry involved, polyurethanes can be molded and adapted to solve all sorts of challenges, like how to put a roof on your commercial building that’s durable, flexible, lightweight, renewable, waterproof, and easy to install and maintain.  Here are some spray foam roofing basics that’ll help you make the right solution. 

The solution you’re looking for is spray foam roofing, because when it comes to energy efficiency and long-term performance, spray foam roofing is tough to beat.  

 

Spray Foam Roofing Explained  

Spray polyurethane foam (SPF) is a plural-component chemical product created by blending two materials, isocyanate and polyol resin. These two elements react when mixed together under heat and pressure, significantly expanding the liquid volume after being sprayed in place. When used for roofing purposes, once the substance hardens, a solid, fully adhered roofing membrane results. This type of roofing is particularly well-suited for commercial structures because it efficiently covers large surfaces and does not add significant weight.  

Your spray foam roof is made up of several layers.  

  • An existing roof or decking forms the base. This underlying layer or substrate supports the foam system; it can be made up of any number of materials, including whatever built-up roofing, modified bitumen, EPDM, PVC, TPO, metal, or concrete is already in place. (Some may require installation of a cover board prior to application of foam.) The base must be thoroughly cleaned to remove dirt, dust, debris, and other contaminants to ensure maximum adhesion.   
  • Next, spray polyurethane foam is applied to the substrate; a specialized spray foam rig is required. The two chemicals that make up SPF are housed onsite in separate containers and pumped through high-pressure hoses to a mixing gun at a temperature between 115-130° F. After the SPF liquid is applied to the roof, it expands and solidifies into a dense foam membrane, typically 1 to 1.5 inches thick, as it cures. Thickness of the foam is determined by the polyol component, with a density of 2.7-3.0 lbs. needed; this makes the foam rigid enough to walk on without being damaged, which is important for commercial purposes.  
  • To protect from damage by UV radiation and other elements, the foam must be covered with an elastomeric coating of silicone, acrylic, urethane, or butyl rubber. Two layers may be needed depending on climate, location, warranty, and other requirements; the top layer is often reflective to increase energy efficiency and shield against UV rays.  
  • Finally, #11-grade roofing granules are broadcast into the elastomeric top coat. These bits of crushed stone add strength, durability, UV protection, and resistance to wildlife to the foam membrane that covers up the roof.  

Understanding that installation of SPF roofing system is not a job for amateurs is essential. Significant knowledge of SPF chemistry and expert use of sophisticated application equipment is required. Technicians must be property trained on all aspects of SPF technology, a proficiency that can take years to acquire. To make sure you’re working with a certified SPF contractor, ask to see job references, industry certifications, case studies, product samples, and, if possible, arrange an in-person roof walk of a recently completed project. Any qualified contractor is proud to show off the company’s work. 

Spray Foam Roofing Polyurea Spraying, warming foam coating of roof, focus on wall

The Pros of SPF   

For facility managers and property owners alike, the benefits of SPF are impressive.  

That starts with thermal resistance: Spray foam has the highest R-value of any conventional roofing material. Since R-value measures a material’s capacity to resist heat flow, SPF’s R-value of 6.6 per inch of thickness means less heat is penetrating your building and more cool is kept inside. These insulation properties translate into lower energy bills, which is especially important given the relentless escalation of costs. The longevity of SPF roofing—a properly installed and maintained system will last a minimum of 20 years and often 30 or more—delivers significant savings over the long haul.  

Compared with other commercial systems, SPF can be installed quickly and with less disruption to building occupants. Among the reasons: No tear-off of existing roofing saves time and mess. There’s less odor than with other types of installations, especially built-up tar and gravel. The self-contained nature of SPF means fewer materials need to be hauled to the rooftop, and the risk of objects blowing or falling from the roof is reduced. Being able to spray around penetrations for HVAC, pipes, curbs, and skylights is a real advantage. Within 30 seconds of contact, foam conforms around such irregularities and grows to close cracks and seal crevasses. Contrast that with other systems and the hours consumed by manually fitting flashings, installing fasteners, and taping gaps.  

And since SPF roofs are seamless, waterproofing is enhanced. Foam is sprayed in one continuous layer, without nooks, crannies, and overlaps for water to seep through. The closed-cell nature of the foam (ask your contractor to explain the chemistry) resists standing water and absorption as well. Should damage occur, generally it can be repaired with roofing-grade mastic or sealant.  

 

Understanding SPF Downsides  

 Of course, nothing is perfect, including SPF. 

For best results and maximum longevity, care and attention to the membrane are required. Twice-yearly inspections by a qualified roofing contractor trained to spot issues from debris, weather, wildlife, foot traffic, ultraviolet radiation, and other impacts are recommended. Every decade or so the elastomeric coating must be reapplied to protect the foam below.   

Potential health hazards from fumes during installation and curing are of concern, and these can linger if a building if not properly ventilated. For workers doing installation or maintenance, wearing protective equipment is a must. Overspray during application is another concern; structures, property, vehicles, and people near your building must be moved or protected from droplets that stray from the roof onto objects below.  

Understanding the limited application window is essential. SPF will not stick when moisture, frost, or ice are present, and the foam fails to form correctly if temperatures are too low. The system must be installed on days above 50° F, in relatively low humidity and calm wind. Depending on geographic location and season of the year, SPF application may have to wait for favorable conditions, so careful planning and a degree of flexibility are required.  

 

The SPF Bottom Line  

Although SPF has a reputation for being somewhat more expensive than other roofing systems, working with a qualified professional is the only way to get an accurate reading on actual price. Your contractor partner can help you analyze the many factors involved in your decision—the size of your building(s), age, purpose, location, climate, people, equipment, surroundings, and how best to protect the structure and what’s happening inside. Given the ease of installation, durability and insulating qualities of materials, and long-term energy efficiency, spray foam may be your ideal commercial roofing choice.  

Types of Commercial Roofing - Beige Commercial roof

Types of Commercial Roofing

By Informational

Commercial Low-Slope Roofing Basics – What You Need to Know 

Commercial roofs are complicated. That’s because every instillation is essentially a custom application designed for a specific situation. Each solution must accommodate a complex combination of factors – the size of your building(s), age, purpose, location, climate, people, equipment, surroundings – which are constantly interacting to protect the structure and what’s happening inside.  Find out which types of commercial roofing are right for you.

 Since you’ll be living with your roofing decisions for a long time (15 to 40 or more years), you want to understand the options available to you, including what and how each type of commercial system works. Since the majority of commercial roofs are of the low-slope variety, this discussion focuses on those types of systems. And please don’t call them flat because they’re not. To work properly, a commercial roof must be slightly sloped. Typically, that means having a minimum pitch of one-fourth inch vertical to twelve-inch horizontal (¼:12 or 2 percent), but that can vary depending on the setting and roofing material. Roofs are considered low-slope up to 3:12 pitch.  

Figuring out your ideal slope and the myriad other details associated with commercial roofing is why your best advice is to work with a qualified, experienced professional. He or she understands everything about roofing and can apply expertise developed through years of experience, industry training, and local knowledge to your situation.  

What’s Under Your Roof Matters  

It’s easy to think of your roof as what you can see. The reality is, multiple layers are involved in making your roof work.  

  • Structural decking is the bottom layer, forming the backbone of the entire system. Steel is the most common roof deck in U.S. commercial buildings, although this foundation must be carefully matched to each structure in order to give adequate support to all the materials and activities on top.  
  • A vapor control layer helps prevent water condensation from forming and reaching interior walls, ceilings, and attics, where it can cause structural elements to grow mold, rot, and collapse. Usually made of plastic or asphalt, a vapor barrier is especially important in northern climates where exterior temperatures are colder than those inside.  
  • Thermal insulation is a layer of material installed under the roof’s surface to create a barrier between inside and outside forces. It’s important to managing heating and cooling costs.  
  • Coverboard, while not always required, can improve the quality and extend the life of a roof. Made of gypsum or high-density polyiso foam, this thin, dense substrate goes directly below the surface, adding puncture resistance and protecting from hail, foot traffic, tools, and other intrusions that can damage the roof.  
  • The roofing membrane is the outer, top layer of a low-slope roof, sealing, waterproofing, and protecting the entire roofing assembly.  
Types of Commercial Roofing Material Comparisons - Standing-Seam Metal Roof

What’s Happening on the Surface Impacts Roofing Design  

 What goes on atop the membrane is an essential part of planning the correct roofing solution for you. 

  • Size and weight. The fact that commercial buildings are often large structures with huge roof surfaces is an important part of the design equation. Relatively lightweight roofing materials are essential in order for the building to support the weight.  
  • Water. Getting water, snow, hail, and anything else liquid off the roof quickly can be a challenge because low-slope systems may not easily drain. Standing water can cause leakage and also add dangerous weight, making an efficient drainage system essential.  
  • Foot traffic. Commercial roofs generally house HVAC equipment, solar panels, ventilation fans, skylights, cooling towers, and more on the surface. These add weight and require penetrations of the roof. Service and repair technicians will need to access these items from time to time, creating foot traffic and increasing the likelihood of punctures to the membrane. Making the surface durable enough to resist such damage adds much-needed longevity and functionality.   
  • Weather, UV rays, seasonal changes, wildlife. Weather, especially storms and sunlight, is one of the main things that can degrade a roof. Birds and other wildlife also cause damage. Every commercial roof must be designed to withstand the climate; reflective outer surfaces are particularly important to controlling the interior environment.  

With all that going on, it’s easy to see why commercial roofing is such as challenge to design and maintain.  

 

Three Types of Low-Slope Systems Are Commonly in Use  

Single-ply roofing, built-up roofing, and modified bitumen roofing are the systems most commonly used in commercial, low-slope installations. Each has advantages and disadvantages, so you want to thoroughly investigate which application is appropriate for your situation. Your professional roofing consultant is a great asset in that regard.  

  • Single-ply roofing is a type of membrane that is manufactured offsite with all ingredients already incorporated into rolls of material. Launched in the 1965 when the first EPDM roof membrane was created (more about that below), single-ply systems consist of one layer (or ply) of membrane applied to the roofing substrate. Several types of single-ply roofing are in common use.  
    • Thermoset roofing incorporates polymers that are chemically cross-linked or vulcanized and is rigid once applied. EPDM (ethylene propylene diene monomer) is a type of synthetic rubber that for roofing purposes comes in varying thicknesses, in rolls up to 50 feet wide and 200 feet long. Lasting 15 to 20 years, EPDM roofs are durable, cost-effective, and fire- and weather-resistant. Downsides are seams between membranes that can fail and a utilitarian rubber look that’s effective but not particularly attractive.  
    • Thermoplastic roofing is made of synthetic substances that soften when heated, harden when cooled, and can be reshaped over time. It comes in two types: TPO (thermoplastic polyolefin) and PVC (polyvinyl chloride); the latter includes added plasticizers, the former does not, giving each unique properties suited to various situations. Both substances are impact and chemical-resistant, with a highly reflective white membrane that repels sunlight and helps energy efficiency. While upfront costs are higher than other options, long-term durability (20+ years) helps offset initial investment.  

 

  • Built-up roofing or BUR has been around for more than 100 years so is obviously very effective. This tar-and-gravel system consists of multiple, alternating layers of reinforcing fabrics adhered with asphalt and topped with a protective layer of gravel or stone. Because BUR is manufactured on the roof, this method is hot, messy, slow, and disruptive. It’s also heavy and leaks and tears are difficult to find and fix. Affordability is a big upside, along with as many built-up, redundant layers of protection as you want.  
  • Modified bitumen roofing is similar to BUR but with fewer layers and more adhesive options. Plies are sealed down to the roof with no seams, making the system strong, energy-efficient, and tear-resistant. But it’s not inexpensive, can be vulnerable to UV damage, and is prone to breakdowns if water is allowed to pond.

Like we said at the beginning: commercial roofs are complicated, as these brief descriptions make clear. And while each of these low-slope systems is effective, choices regarding which one to use must be site- and purpose-specific. The reward is knowing your facility is well protected and the valuable activity inside it secured.   

How to Choose the Right Roofing Contractor - A close up shot of rust-colored roofing material with a silver-colored rectangle in the center. Commercial Roof Leaks.

What to Do with Commercial Roof Leaks

By Informational

Three Steps Summarize What to Do When Your Commercial Roof Is Leaking  

 

Often It starts small, with a drip in a doorway, a wet streak down a wall, a damp spot on the ceiling, a puddle on the floor. While shrugging off water intrusions as a simple annoyance or minor anomaly is common, that’s not a wise response. The appearance of a leak in your building is a clear indicator that something is wrong with your roof. That’s a problem which can quickly compromise your capacity to do business and endanger your employees.  

 

What you should do is easy to remember: Figure out why; get it fixed. The best way to do that is by following three basic steps to fix your commercial roof leak 

1. Pinpoint the Cause 

You may be asking yourself “What do I do with a Commercial Roof Leak?”

Any number of things could be the source of your roof leaking. A climate-related disaster is obvious; even the toughest roofing system can’t fully withstand tornado-force winds, grapefruit-sized hail, hurricane-heavy rainfall, flying debris from disintegrating structures, or multiple feet of blizzard-driven snow. Fortunately, such natural catastrophes are rare.  

 

Much more common are minute tears in a roof’s surface or failures in flashings around penetrations for vents or skylights and along valleys and ledges. These may be small or hidden, which makes them lots tougher to identify. But when such breaches happen, you end up with water running down your inside walls. Clogged drains, gutters, downspouts, and scuppers are another common issue; water needs to move off your roof as quickly as possible rather than ponding for any period of time. Other common issues: Malfunctions with plumbing, heating, and cooling units housed on the roof. Damage to the waterproof membrane from weather, foot traffic, trees, animals, and other situations. Flaws in the roof design or construction allow water to get through and saturate what’s below. And age is always a factor. Most commercial roofing systems last from 15 to 20 years, but at a certain point, they simply wear out.  

 

When a leak happens, your most important asset is an experienced, qualified, well-trained roofing professional. You want someone who is thoroughly versed in all types of commercial roofing systems and knows how and why they work. He or she stays on top of technical advances in the field and utilizes sophisticated detection equipment to diagnose your problem. Understanding local weather and working conditions and being current on regional codes and governmental regulations is required. Having financial information available is also important because the reality is, roof projects cost. Ideally, you already partner with a roofing contractor for annual roof inspections and routine maintenance; then, when a special need arises, a pro who is well-acquainted with you and your business is quickly on the job.  

spray foam insulation types

2. Minimize Interior Damage  

Taking quick action as soon as you detect water in your facility is important to containing the damage and controlling costs. Be sure to: 

  • Mark the leak’s point of entry while it’s occurring, using colored tape or chalk or some other substance you can easily see. Later, you may not be able to locate the leak when the water stops, and the area is dry. These visible marks help you and your contractor avoid wasting time hunting for the source. Remember that water is sneaky; it can run under a ceiling or flow along a pipe until a leak shows up far from the actual cause.  

 

  • Alert employees, get them away from water, and cordon off affected areas. Slip-and-fall incidents are largely avoidable with such simple precautions. Keep customers away too. Be vigilant for musty odors or foul smells as indicators of mold behind a wall or in overhead insulation and keep people out of such areas so health is not at risk.  

 

  • Protect equipment, electronics, furniture, supplies, merchandise, artwork, and other goods by moving them out of the affected area. If items are too large or heavy to move, cover them with a tarp. Tarp the roof outside also to keep more water from coming in.  

 

  • Do a full walkthrough of your entire property to look for other leaks in the facility. Problems in one area could well be indicative of weaknesses elsewhere. If possible, complete such an inspection while it’s raining or snowing or blowing so it’s easier to spot signs of leaks.  

 

  • Call your insurance agent to discuss what’s covered under your policy. Interior damage from a roof leak may be included, as well as the cost of the repair. Review your warranties also. Depending on the cause of the leak, coverage related to materials and/or installation may be available. Your roofing partner can help in this regard. Be sure to take photos so you have documentation of what’s happening inside and out.  

3. Complete the Repair  

To minimize damage and losses, you and your roofing partner want to get a repair plan in place quickly. Usually, that involves one of three options. Depending on the severity of the issue, you’ll repair the damaged area; restore the top coating or membrane; or replace the entire roofing system, including decking, insulation, drainage, flashings, and other components. The latter solution is the most extensive and expensive, but if the roof is old and really worn out, blown off, penetrated, or heavily damaged by a natural disaster or fire, that may be your only choice. Repairing the affected area is much easier and may be as simple as clearing debris from gutters, downspouts, and drains; or replacing flashings around penetrations, along edges, and across openings and cracks; or fixing the damaged portion of the roof. Restoring the membrane involves repairing or replacing the topmost waterproof coating, either completely or in part.  

 

The importance of working with a trusted consultant becomes obvious at this point. Repairing a damaged area, for example, means matching new to existing materials since you can’t mix and match tar and gravel and TPO and PVC and EPDM in the same space. Restoring the membrane starts with knowing what kind of membrane is in place. Opting for replacement is a big decision that requires analysis of your entire enterprise. Cost implications are everywhere, from size and function of your complex, to accessibility of the roof, to the season of the year, to building codes, to long-term plans, to plenty more.  

 

Odds are that sooner or later, your roof is going to spring a leak. When that happens, work on the problem by following the Figure out why; get it fixed formula. That helps you resolve the issue quickly and keep your business functioning and robust.  

 

Commercial Roof Lifespan - Energy Shield

How To Get Maximum Lifespan from Your Commercial Roof

By Informational

Commercial Roof Lifespan

Let’s say your spiffy new commercial roof comes with a 25-year warranty. That means you can step back and forget about the surface topping your building, trusting it to protect the people, materials, equipment, and ideas inside, right?

Wrong! 

Your commercial roof represents a substantial investment in your business, and like every other part of your enterprise, it requires periodic attention. You know your body needs regular care, feeding, inspection, and revision to operate at peak efficiency, especially over 25+ years. So does your roof.

Why EUL Matters

EUL is estimated useful life – the length of time you can expect your roof to last, otherwise known as getting as much bang as possible for your (considerable) bucks. Your roofing consultant will discuss EUL with you as you decide what type of roof is best for your business. It’s part of the complicated calculus of size, use, location, weather, energy, timing, materials, installation, codes, maintenance, cost, and myriad other considerations that impact the makeup of your roof.

Given such complexity, working with a qualified professional is essential. Applying expertise developed through years of hands-on experience, industry training, and local knowledge, he or she will emphasize that your roof is not a set-it-and-forget-it undertaking. Rather, it’s a highly functional, continuously active system that’s always on the job. Make sure your discussions include specifics about achieving maximum lifespan because there are a number of things to think about and actions to be taken to achieve EUL.

Keep Your Roof in Peak Condition

There’s a lot happening on the roof over your head. Paying attention to the many issues that impact it is essential to extending useful life.

  • Weather. From blinding blizzards to ranging thunderstorms with wind and hail, to summer days from balmy to baking, your roof absorbs everything mother nature dumps on it. Constant change is hard on your roof, and extreme events – heatwave, high wind, large hail, sleet and freezing rain, tornado – can cause real damage, like punching a hole through to the inside. Hot weather causes roofing materials to expand; they shrink when temperatures fall. Excessive snow load puts weight and pressure on a roof; so does ponded water. While you can’t do anything about the weather, you certainly need to be aware of what it’s doing to your roof and address any issues immediately.   
  • Design and materials. The configuration of your roof and the materials used to construct it must match your application, taking into consideration everything from the size and layout of your structure, to what’s happening inside – factory, office, medical facility, school, warehouse – to your climate, location, and traffic. That’s why your certified commercial partner is so important; design and materials must be right for each situation because it’s different every time.
  • Installation. Just as important is how your roof is installed. Each type of roofing material (at least half a dozen are commonly used) comes with different requirements; flaws during the installation process can shorten life and void the warranty. The cheapest option isn’t always the best; spending more upfront to ensure proper design, materials, and installation pays off in savings over time.    
  • Ventilation. Although technically part of the design process, the need for proper ventilation is often overlooked. The attic space just underneath your roof needs to prevent the build-up of moisture, heat, and rot, especially when the summertime sun is baking your roofing materials. Make sure you’re talking about this upfront with your roofing consultant; having to correct problems after the fact is a costly complication you don’t want.
  • Maintenance and inspection. Twice-a-year inspections by a roofing professional are recommended; in fact, some warranties and building codes require it. During an inspection, your expert will look over the membrane, surface conditions, penetration and wall flashings, gutters and drains, sealants, parapet walls, building structure, HVAC units, and more. Keeping track of the state of your roof detects any problems and notes gradual declines. More frequent viewings by a building manager or knowledgeable staff member make sense, especially after an adverse weather event or when workers have been on your roof.
  • Damage. Don’t ignore seemingly small tears, loose fasteners, mold growth, or spongey depressions. Minor issues can turn quickly into big problems, ultimately threatening the health of your roof and along with it, whatever goes on underneath. Any damage needs to be fixed immediately before escalation takes place.
  • Time. Even the best roofs are subject to deterioration, especially from weather and wear and tear. Age of your roof and where you are in its expected life cycle affects what you need to do to keep it working efficiently.
  • Debris and traffic. Tree branches, gravel, litter, leaves – all that and more can blow or fall onto your roof. Remove any foreign objects immediately. Prune nearby trees and clear gutters and downspouts. Keeping the roof clean is especially important if you have a coating that reflects sunlight and UV rays. The coating isn’t effective if it’s covered with junk. If people are on your roof for any reason, like repairing or upgrading HVAC, check when they’re finished to make sure there’s no inadvertent damage or tools left behind.
  • Warranty. Understanding the duration and coverage of warranties is another factor in roof maintenance. Often separate warranties cover materials and installation; many are pro-rated by the age of your installation. But they’re essential to roof well-being, especially in paying for repairs should something go wrong. Your roofing professional must thoroughly understand the warranties that apply to your structure and educate you as well.
  • Building codes. Most municipalities maintain building codes for commercial structures. You need to know what applies to you. Being out of compliance can result in fines and penalties or even shut you down. The purpose of codes is to protect the community and ensure safety; they also protect you by making sure your place of business is sound.

The life of your commercial roof is dependent on all these factors, each interacting with the others, through all kinds of weather, over an extended period of time. Working with a certified contractor, taking preventive measures, and addressing issues immediately delivers the long lifespan you want and need.

Commercial Roof Repair & Replacement - Energy Shield

How Do You Know When to Patch, Repair, or Replace Your Commercial Roof?

By Informational

Commercial Roof Repair & Replacement

The simple answer is – when it leaks.  

Leaks indicate that your roof is compromised, that somewhere overhead there’s damage – a tear, a hole, a weakness, clogging, weathering, wear-and-tear. And while other indicators of roofing problems may be present, leaking – whether drips, seeps, stains, ponds, waterfalls, or mold (to name a few) – is a warning that should never be brushed off or ignored.  

Let’s look at some of the factors you need to consider in determining what to do. For purposes of this discussion, we’re focusing on the flat roofs found atop apartment buildings, big box stores, factories, offices, strip malls, warehouses, and similar commercial structures.  

Figuring Out What’s Wrong and Why 

This is not always as easy as it sounds. Although some causes are obvious, like a natural disaster punching holes in the roof or seams pulled apart by weathering and age, other problems are much tougher to find. Minute tears in the roof surface are a good example. These tears are difficult to see, but they let water get through. And water is sneaky; it can run under a ceiling or flow along a pipe until it shows up far from the point of penetration.  

The best advice is to consult with a qualified, experienced professional who understands everything about how and why roofs work. Applying expertise developed through years of experience, industry training, and local knowledge, he or she can pinpoint your issue and work with you to develop solutions. Sometimes a repair is as straightforward as freeing up a blocked drainage system or fixing flashing around a vent. In other instances, a roof is just plain worn out; aging is the single biggest reason a roof needs to be completely replaced.  

Determining the Type of Roofing Material  

Several materials are used on commercial structures, with single-ply membrane systems being the most common. These consist of a sheet of rubber or other synthetic substance secured to the roof frame and decking. Each of the three types of single-ply membrane roofs comes with pros and cons. 

  • EPDM (ethylene propylene diene terpolymer) roofing is a single-ply rubber material that’s versatile, lightweight, durable, and easy to install and maintain. Reflective of UV rays, flexible in colder temperatures, and resistant to leaks and punctures, EPDM saves on energy costs and lasts 25 to 30 years.   
  • TPO (thermoplastic polyolefin) can be installed over almost any surface and is resistant to mold, hail, wind, fire, and air pollution. Reflecting heat makes TPO energy efficient. Life span is 15 to 20 years.  
  • PVC (polyvinyl chloride) offers excellent energy efficiency throughout 20+ years. Made of multiple layers of PVC and polyester, PVC roofing is durable and flexible, especially in fluctuating climates and varying natural settings, as well as fire-resistant, recyclable, and eco-friendly.  

BTU or built-up roofing is another option; this tar-and-gravel concept has been around for 100 years. BTU consists of alternating layers of bitumen (asphalt) with ply sheets and is surfaced with gravel or stone. Installation can be time-consuming, although the sealed surface is waterproof, energy-saving, and good for 15 to more than 30 years. 

Decking is another important consideration that shouldn’t be overlooked. Decking can be wood, metal, or tectum composite; condition often can’t be determined until a job is underway. Repair or replacement may be needed because quality decking is just as important as good materials and solid workmanship to longevity and durability of your roof.  

Clearly, roofing gets very complicated, which is why sorting out options with a roofing professional is so important. The best choice for another building may not be appropriate for your structure, and you need to know why. Your roofing consultant can assist you in understanding every aspect of your project, including the investment required. 

Estimating the Cost

Repairing or replacing your roof is a big investment. How big depends on lots of factors in addition to the ones mentioned so far. Among them:  

  • Size of your building and what happens there. The heat and vibrations of a factory making trucks puts very different stresses on a roof than kids coming and going to elementary school, and roofing must take that into consideration.  
  • Accessibility of the rooftop. The taller the building, the more difficult getting workers and materials to and from the job site becomes. Difficulty costs.  
  • Number and types of penetrations. Openings and flashing for installation of ducts, drains, HVAC, chimneys, plumbing, skylights, and vents are part of building function and roofing plan. More openings mean more money.  
  • Building codes. State, regional, county, and city requirements for everything from fasteners and fire resistance, to weather durability, energy efficiency, and wildlife interactions, must pass inspection and meet code. The stricter the code, the higher the price of compliance.  
  • Protection and disruption. During construction, the people in your facility must be shielded from equipment, injury, noise, and odors. That may translate to lost production, which equates to cost.  

Anticipating use, expansion, remodeling, and other changes to the property 2, 12, 25 years out impacts the roofing decisions you make today. Plus, the cost of materials and labor continues to go up, so acting sooner rather than later may save you money in the long run.   

Thinking EUL

That’s estimated useful life … essentially, the bottom line.  

To protect your investment, the roofing solution must be appropriate to your situation and structure, taking every item mentioned here, and more, into account. Expert installation by experienced crew using top-quality materials is essential. Inferior workmanship can compromise warranties; be sure you know what your warranties cover and for how long. Stick to a schedule of regular inspection and maintenance – even the best roof won’t take care of itself.  

Patching, repairing, or replacing your commercial roof is a complex process with lots of variables. The goal is getting maximum useful life from your venture, making sure your roof lasts a long, successful time.  

How Snow & Ice Impact Your Roof

By Informational

How Snow & Ice Impact Your Commercial Roof

It is no mystery that certain weather conditions can destroy your commercial roof, and snow and ice are no exception. When you have a standard mechanically fastened roof with board insulation, warmed air from the inside of your building escapes through the cracks, holes, and seams. When the snow melts around those areas, here come the ice dams and leaky roofs.

Ice Dams

We all know that heat rises. The snow melts when the warm air rises to the roof. The snowmelt migrates to other parts of the roof, where it starts to freeze again, creating an ice buildup around the cracks and seams. It then forms a valley for water to sit and collect, and this water will eventually start leaking through the roof.

How to Prevent Damage

Spray polyurethane foam (SPF, or Spray Foam), or a silicone roof coating solution is an excellent way to combat the damage done by winter days. Not only will it insulate your commercial building, but it will also prevent your current roof, whatever the type, from succumbing to the harsh environment. Any existing holes and open seams will be filled, which will create a seamless air barrier to stop the snowmelt. If no warm air can escape, then there’s no snowmelt. Ice dams will not be able to form if there are no open seams, and leaks will become a thing of the past.

Energy & Cost Savings

Stopping air loss through the roof will reduce wear and tear on your HVAC system. All in all, you will be giving your commercial roof a lifetime of snow and water damage and corrosion protection, which can make your energy bills go down. And imagine saving even more money by avoiding a costly roof tear-off. Keep the warm air inside of your building every winter!