Mercer County Airport, Bluefield, W.Va.
Roofing Contractor: Frye Roofing Inc., Bluefield
Roofing Distributor: ABC Supply Co. Inc., Roanoke, Va.
To protect multi-million-dollar aircraft and their sensitive instrumentation and equipment from damage, roofs over three hangars that had been leaking for more than eight years had to be repaired.
Cool fall weather—with nighttime temperatures dropping below 40 F and sometimes freezing—made a silicone roof coating system, which is cold-temperature tolerant and cures quickly, the ideal choice for this project.
Frye Roofing’s crew installed more than 36,500 square feet of the Silicone Roof Coating System on the three hangars’ metal roofs, each of which were 30- to 35-years old. This was the crew’s first job using the Silicone Roof Coating System. The manufacturer’s Territory Manager Hank Bonney worked with the crew throughout the process to ensure crew members had the knowledge they needed to get the job done right. Bonney walked the roof with the crew before work began, pointing out areas that would need to be addressed if the project was to be awarded the desired 10-year warranty on labor and materials. He led a training seminar at Frye Roofing’s facility, giving the crew valuable hands-on experience working with the coating system’s various components. He also made regular visits to the job site to answer questions and ensure everything was proceeding smoothly.
The contract stipulated work must be completed in just 45 working days, including the lead time to get materials to the job site and not counting missed days caused by inclement weather. Despite using the coating system for the first time, the Frye Roofing crew completed the project in just 26 working days.
Silicone Roof Coating Manufacturer: Mule-Hide Products Co. Inc.
The project was made possible in part by a $120,000 grant from the Hugh I. Shott Jr. Foundation in its effort to fund projects that better the Bluefield community and fuel local economic development.
Work on two of the three hangars was completed in November and December 2015. The roof on the third hangar was coated in April 2016, after a planned winter hiatus. The airport is nestled in the heart of a mountain valley, making it a windy place. Overspray could not be tolerated because it could damage the airplanes’ sensitive mechanics and instrumentation, creating a safety hazard. Therefore, the coating system was applied the old-fashioned way—by hand, using rollers.
A heavy coat of dew covered the roofs nearly every morning, so the crew started its day using leaf blowers to remove the water. Crew members then waited until afternoon to apply the coating, letting the sun dry the surfaces throughout the morning.
Roofing workers also had to navigate a variety of logistical considerations in completing the project:
- The airport’s well system did not provide access to sufficient running water, so the team had to bring tanks to the site.
- Precautions had to be taken to ensure no planes were damaged by an inadvertently spilled can of coating, dropped piece of sheet metal or tumbling tool. Regular games of “musical aircraft” were played with planes being moved out of their hangars—and into another hangar whenever possible—while crews were at work.
- The airport is, of course, a secure area, so an airport staff member had to be on hand whenever the crew was working.
The Frye Roofing team takes great pride in the service it provides to local businesses, and this project was a chance to showcase its work to the many community leaders who use the airport. In fact, not only has the coating system eliminated the hangars’ longstanding leak problems, pilots often comment about how good the new roofs look from the air.
Photos: Mule-Hide Products Co. Inc. (After) and Frye Roofing Inc. (Before)