Asphalt-based Low-slope Roof Systems Provide Long-term Service Life

Asphalt-based roof systems have a long-standing track record of success in the roofing industry. In fact, asphalt-based roof systems have more than a century of use in the U.S. Building owners, roofing specifiers and contractors should not lose sight of this fact. It is important to understand why asphalt roofing has been successful for so long. Asphalt roofs demonstrate characteristics, such as durability and longevity of materials and components, redundancy of waterproofing, ease and understanding of installation, excellent tensile strength and impact resistance. Each of these characteristics helps ensure long-term performance.

Using a composite built-up/ modified bitumen roof system provides redundancy helping ensure durability and longevity. Surface reflectivity and a multilayer insulation layer provide excellent thermal resistance. Quality details and regular maintenance will provide long-term performance. PHOTO: Advanced Roofing

Using a composite built-up/
modified bitumen roof system provides redundancy helping ensure durability and longevity. Surface reflectivity and a multilayer insulation layer provide excellent thermal resistance. Quality details
and regular maintenance will provide long-term performance. PHOTO: Advanced Roofing

There are two types of asphalt-based low-slope roof systems: modified bitumen (MB) roof systems and builtup roof (BUR) systems. MB sheets are composed primarily of polymer-modified bitumen reinforced with one or more plies of fabric, such as polyester, glass fiber or a combination of both. Assembled in factories using optimal quality-control standards, modified bitumen sheets are manufactured to have uniform thickness and consistent physical properties throughout the sheet. Modified bitumen roof systems are further divided into atactic polypropylene (APP) and styrene butadiene styrene (SBS) modified systems. APP and SBS modifiers create a uniform matrix that enhances the physical properties of the asphalt. APP is a thermoplastic polymer that forms a uniform matrix within the bitumen. This matrix increases the bitumen’s resistance to ultraviolet light, its flexibility at high and low temperatures, and its ability to resist water penetration. SBS membranes resist water penetration while exhibiting excellent elongation and recovery properties over a wide range of temperature extremes. This high-performance benefit makes SBS membranes durable and particularly appropriate where there may be movement or deflection of the underlying deck.

BUR systems consist of multiple layers of bitumen alternated with ply sheets (felts) applied over the roof deck, vapor retarder, and most often insulation or coverboard. BUR systems are particularly advantageous for lowslope applications. The strength of the system comes from the membrane, which includes the layers of hot-applied bitumen and the reinforcing plies of roofing felt.

FACTORS FOR LONG-TERM PERFORMANCE AND SERVICE LIFE

It is important for building owners and roof system designers to recognize the principles of long-lasting, high-performance roof systems. Roof longevity and performance are determined by factors that include building and roof system design, job specifications, materials quality and suitability, application procedures and maintenance. The level of quality in the workmanship during the application process is critical.

Longevity and performance start with proper design of the asphalt-based roof system. Proper roof system design includes several components: the roof deck, a base layer supporting a vapor retarder or air barrier when necessary, multi-layer insulation and a coverboard, the asphaltic membrane, appropriate surfacing material or coating, and the attachment methods for all layers. Roof consultants, architects and roof manufacturers understand proper design. Roof design needs to follow applicable code requirements for wind, fire and impact resistance, as well as site-specific issues, such as enhanced wind resistance design, positive drainage and rooftop traffic protection. Roof designers can provide or assist with the development of written specifications and construction details that are specific to a roofing project for new construction or reroofing.

Low-slope asphalt-based roof systems are redundant; they are multi-layered systems. BUR systems include a base sheet, three or four reinforcing ply sheets and a surfacing, either aggregate (rock) or a cap sheet. MB sheets include one and sometimes two reinforcing layers and are commonly installed over a substantial asphaltic base sheet. Modified bitumen roofs can be granule surfaced, finished with reflective options or coated after installation. Aggregate, granules, films and coatings add UV protection, assist with fire resistance, provide durability to the roof system and can improve roof aesthetics.

An asphaltic cap sheet with a factory-applied reflective roof coating is installed over three glass-fiber ply sheets and a venting base sheet. The reflective coating reduces heat gain, and insulating concrete provides a stable substrate and high R-value. PHOTO: Aerial Photography Inc.

An asphaltic cap sheet with a factory-applied reflective roof coating is installed over three glass-fiber ply sheets and a venting base sheet. The reflective coating reduces heat gain, and insulating concrete provides a stable substrate and high R-value. PHOTO: Aerial Photography Inc.

Coverboards provide a durable layer immediately below the membrane, are resistant to foot traffic and separate the membrane from the thermal insulation layer. Protecting the thermal insulation helps maintain the insulation R-value as specified and installed.

Asphalt is a durable and long-lasting material for roof membranes and flashings. Asphalt is stable under significant temperature swings and can be highly impact resistant. Various reinforcements can be used to increase an asphaltic membrane’s durability. All asphaltic membranes are reinforced, during installation (BUR) or the manufacturing process (MB membranes). Polyester reinforcement has excellent elongation, tensile strength and recovery. It provides good puncture resistance and stands up well to foot traffic. Glass fiber reinforcement resists flame penetration and provides excellent tensile strength and dimensional stability.

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EPDs Provide a New Level of Environmental Transparency to Building Products

The sustainability movement has impacted the building industry in many ways. Today’s architects, owners and occupants have much greater expectations for the environmental performance of the buildings they design, operate and dwell in. Part of this expectation is focused on the components that make up the building. For example, did the wood come from responsibly harvested forests? Is the metal made of recycled material? Do the paint and interior finishes contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs)?

An Environmental Product Declaration, or EPD, is developed by applying a Product Category Rule, or PCR. PCRs are developed, maintained and warehoused by program operators. Examples of program operators include ASTM, CSA, ICC-ES, Environdec and UL Environment. Program operators also verify that an EPD and its associated life-cycle assessment conform with ISO 14025 and the ISO 14040 series. PCR development is commonly a collaborative effort between industry associations, manufacturers, and/or others.

An EPD is developed by applying a Product Category Rule. PCRs are developed, maintained and warehoused by program operators. Examples of program operators include ASTM, CSA, ICC-ES, Environdec and UL Environment. Program operators also verify that an EPD and its associated life-cycle assessment conform with ISO 14025 and the ISO 14040 series. PCR development is commonly a collaborative effort between industry associations, manufacturers, and/or others. IMAGE: Quantis US

Information technology has encouraged and facilitated this increased demand for in-depth data about building components and systems. People have become accustomed to being able to gather exhaustive information about the products they buy through extensive labeling or online research.

In response to the growing demand for environmental product information, building component manufacturers have begun rolling out environmental product declarations, or EPDs.

It’s a term now commonly heard, but what are they? EPDs are often spoken in the same breath as things like LCA (life-cycle assessment), PCRs (product category rules) and many other TLAs (three-letter acronyms). The fact is they are all related and are part of an ongoing effort to provide as much transparency as possible about what goes into the products that go in and on a building.

“An EPD is a specific document that informs the reader about the environmental performance of a product,” explains Sarah Mandlebaum, life-cycle analyst with Quantis US, the Boston-based branch of the global sustainability consulting firm Quantis. “It balances the need for credible and thorough information with the need to make such information reasonably understandable. The information provided in the document is based on a life-cycle assessment, or LCA, of the product, which documents the environmental impacts of that product from ‘cradle to grave.’ This includes impacts from material production, manufacturing, transportation, use and disposal of the product. An EPD is simply a standardized way of communicating the outcomes of such an assessment.”

The concept of product LCAs has been around for some time and has often been looked at as a way of determining the sustainability of a particular product by establishing the full scope of its environmental footprint. The basic idea is to closely catalog everything that goes into a product throughout its entire life. That means the energy, raw materials, and emissions associated with sourcing its materials, manufacturing it, transporting it, installing it and, ultimately, removing and disposing of it. In the end, an LCA results in a dizzying amount of data that can be difficult to translate or put in any context. EPDs are one way to help provide context and help put LCA data to use.

“The summary of environmental impact data in the form of an EPD can be analogous to a nutrition label on food,” says Scott Kriner, LEED AP, technical director of the Metal Construction Association (MCA), Chicago. “There is plenty of information on the label, but the information itself is meaningless unless one is focused on one area. An LCA determines the water, energy and waste involved in the extraction of raw materials, the manufacturing process, the transportation to a job site and the reclamation of waste at the end of the useful life of a product. With that data in hand, the various environmental impact categories can be determined and an EPD can be developed to summarize the environmental impact information.”

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Long-term Performance of Roof Systems

The April e-newsletter distributed by Roofing contained an online exclusive about sustainability. The author, Brooks Gentleman, an owner of window refurbisher Re-View, Kansas City, Mo., questioned whether we’re talking about the right things when referring to a building as sustainable. He says, “During the past 10 years, there has been a great deal of talk about green buildings and sustainability, but how many of these ‘green’ commercial or residential buildings are designed or constructed to last for centuries? When will the life cycle of the structure and the construction materials themselves become factors in the sustainability criteria? It seems to me that more effort is placed on whether a material is recyclable than whether it can perform over the long haul. It is time that the design community, manufacturers and construction processes begin to consider the life of the building if we are truly going to incorporate sustainability in our industry.” (Read the entire article.)

Gentleman’s commentary is the perfect precursor to this issue, which has a focus on the long-term performance of a roof system. Three “Tech Point” articles explain the life spans of metal, EPDM and asphalt, respectively. The authors—Chuck Howard P.E., a Roofing editorial advisor; Thomas W. Hutchinson, AIA, CSI, FRCI, RRC, RRP, a Roofing editorial advisor; and James R. Kirby, AIA—share roof-cover characteristics that achieve and industry studies that prove long-term performance.

Insulation is a component that will help extend the life of a roof system. In “Cool Roofing”, Kyle Menard, president of Bloom Roofing, Brighton, Mich., shares insight about polyisocyanurate, specifically how it contributes to long-term roof performance and why the roofing industry should educate clients about its importance as part of a roof system.

As architects, building owners and occupants increase their expectations for the environmental performance of the buildings they design, operate and dwell in, building component manufacturers have begun rolling out environmental product declarations, or EPDs. EPDs are related to life-cycle assessments and product category rules, all of which are part of an ongoing effort to provide as much transparency as possible about what goes into the products that go in and on a building. In “Environmental Trends”, Allen Barry writes about the significance of EPDs for the roofing industry.

As a longtime proponent of sustainability, it’s wonderful to see the conversation turning toward the critical issue of durability and long-term performance. Yes, specifying materials with recycled content or from sustainably managed forests is a nice consideration, but if those materials will only last a few years and must be replaced, we’re expending more energy—and money—using them. There’s nothing sustainable about that.

Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association Celebrates 100 Years of Commitment to the Roofing Industry

Since its early days in 1915—a year when women couldn’t vote, President Woodrow Wilson was in office and Babe Ruth hit his first career home run—the Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association (ARMA) has had a momentous impact on the roofing industry.

The trade association has brought the majority of North American manufacturers together under the common goal of championing asphalt roofing and promoting the industry. This year, the association celebrates its 100th anniversary with a new logo and looks back on a century of commitment to asphalt roofing excellence.

ARMA celebrates its 100th anniversary with a new logo and looks back on a century of commitment to asphalt roofing excellence.

ARMA celebrates its 100th anniversary with a new logo and looks back on a century of commitment to asphalt roofing excellence.

Asphalt has been used as a roofing product since roll roofing hit the market in 1893—three years before Henry Ford built his first automobile engine. Since then, it has become the standard in roofing, with four out of five homes in the U.S. choosing asphalt for its beauty, affordability and reliability. Through continuous innovation, asphalt roofing manufacturers have developed high-quality, high-value products.

Since its humble beginnings in New York City as the Asphalt Roofing Industry Bureau 100 years ago, ARMA has served as an industry leader for asphalt roofing and has dedicated its services to the long-term vibrancy and sustainability of the roofing community. Over the years, ARMA’s location has changed from New York City, to Garland, Texas, to its current headquarters in the nation’s capital, but its purpose has remained the same. ARMA represents the majority of North America’s asphalt roofing manufacturing companies and their raw material suppliers and includes almost 95 percent of U.S. manufacturers of bituminous-based roofing products.

When first introduced, all asphalt shingles were organic, with mica, dolomite and even oyster shell granules added to the shingle surface to make it more durable. Now there are many different asphalt roofing systems available, from traditional residential roofing shingles to Built-Up Roofing (BUR), Atactic Polyproylene (APP) and Styrene Butadiene Styrene (SBS) modified systems. Asphalt roofing comes in a variety of colors, styles and textures and continues to be the preferred roofing material based on its durability, long-life expectancy and low maintenance.

ARMA is kicking off its 100th year by unveiling a new association logo with a sleek, modern design that represents steep- and low-slope roofing systems. Throughout 2015, ARMA will promote its centennial celebration with an anniversary banner that reads “ARMA: Celebrating a Century of Roofing Excellence.”

The new ARMA logo reflects the association’s commitment to innovation and advancements in the roofing industry. In recent years, ARMA has redesigned its website to improve the user experience and enhance the mobile application of its industry news, technical information and educational resources. The association is also streamlining its bookstore by offering technical manuals and other important publications as eBooks this year.

As ARMA positions itself as a technologically savvy and contemporary organization, it will look back at its century-long history throughout 2015. Check ARMA’s website for historical asphalt roofing information, vintage collateral and fun facts.

ARMA’s Website Now Is More Interactive

With technology changing the way the roofing industry communicates, the Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association (ARMA) has made its website more interactive in an effort to keep users better connected in today’s fast-paced world.

The website’s new capabilities will mean convenient access to information for roofing professionals working on job sites and more content on asphalt shingles in the hands of consumers where they are increasingly demanding it—on their smartphones and tablets.

“ARMA makes available industry-leading roofing information to the public through our website,” says Reed Hitchcock, executive vice-president, ARMA. “Now that the site features mobile responsive functionality, roofing professionals and consumers alike will be able to easily access the same resources from their phone or tablet as they do from their desktop or laptop.”

All of the features available on the ARMA website are now optimized for viewing on Apple or Android mobile and tablet devices. ARMA’s popular resources, including Technical Bulletins, Fast Facts, commercial and residential photo galleries, FAQs and videos, have been formatted to fit on the screen of the device with which they are being viewed.

“Whether you are a roofing contractor who’s looking for shingle installation tips while working on a home or a homeowner who wants to see different design options while shopping at the store, visitors to the site will benefit greatly from the more easily accessed information that ARMA’s upgraded website will offer,” adds Hitchcock.

ARMA redesigned its website a year ago to provide visitors with both enhanced user-friendly features which improved navigation and online shopping for roofing publications. ARMA offers a wide variety of general, educational and specialized design and installation guides for both residential and commercial asphalt roofing systems.

Natural Orange Solvent Designed to Clean Up Tar, Asphalt, Mastic and More

Roofer’s and Paver’s Edge Tar, Asphalt, Adhesive and Tack Oil Remover

Roofer’s and Paver’s Edge Tar, Asphalt, Adhesive and Tack Oil Remover

Roofer’s and Paver’s Edge Tar, Asphalt, Adhesive and Tack Oil Remover is the strongest natural orange solvent available. Specifically formulated for the tough jobs encountered by roofing and paving companies, this biodegradable product is safe on most painted surfaces. The product is great for tar, asphalt, oil, grease, adhesives, mastic, etc. It is biodegradable and 100 percent natural. The convenient aerosols make cleanup a breeze.

Available in convenient aerosols, 4- by 1-gallons, 35-gallon drums and 55-gallon drums.

Asphalt Roofing Projects Awarded for Sustainable Use and Beautiful Design

What do one of the largest independent supermarket chains, a local government city hall and historic mansion all have in common? An understanding and appreciation of the value provided by asphaltic roofing. From shingles to BUR to modified bitumen, these systems provided beautiful, affordable and reliable performance to the winners of the 2014 Quality Asphalt Roofing Case-Study Awards (QARC) program.

The Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association (ARMA) bestowed the Gold Award to Precision Roofing Corp. for Doral City Hall, located in a city that was incorporated just a decade ago; the Silver Award to Advanced Roofing Inc. for a newly constructed Publix supermarket in Miami; and the Bronze Award to Certified Inc. for the Phelps Mansion, which was built in 1888 and was home to Mayor Edward Phelps, best known for bringing electric street lights, a telephone system and a Washington, D.C., railroad connection to his hometown of Laurel, Md. In addition to the three QARC winners, a series of projects were also recognized with honorable mentions.

For each of the winning projects, the asphalt roofing system played an important role; whether it was to add multiply redundancy to ensure the safety of employees and shoppers alike, meet requirements set by a historic commission that requested a product that imitated slate, or to surpass energy-efficiency standards established by the local building code.

“Asphalt roofing’s beauty and reliability contributed to making each of these distinct projects a success,” says Reed Hitchcock, executive vice-president for ARMA. “Property owners look to asphalt roofing for aesthetic designs and durable, long-lasting protection. Asphalt roofing provides the adaptability they need, evident by its use in the QARC award-winning projects.”

The annual QARC Awards program honors the architects, contractors and specifiers who use asphaltic roofing materials on low-slope and steep-slope building projects. Each year, the program reveals the most exceptional residential and commercial roofing projects from across North America. The 2014 award recipients are:

    Gold
    Project Name: Doral City Hall
    Doral, Fla.
    Company: Precision Roofing Corp.
    Project description: The roofing system consisted of multiple roof areas, including three plies of premium glass ply and an energy-efficient cap sheet that exceeded the reflectance requirements of ENERGY STAR®, Title 24 and the Miami 21 Initiative.

    Silver
    Project Name: Publix
    Miami
    Company: Advanced Roofing Inc.
    Project description: Due to the high-rise buildings adjacent to the new store, Publix’s specification required the roofing contractor top-coat the roof with a white and gray striped design consisting of a 2.5-inch Polyiso, a Stratavent Eliminator Base Sheet, three plies of Type IV and a 190 FR Modified Bitumen Cap Sheet.

    Bronze
    Project Name: Everett Victorian
    Laurel, Md.
    Company: Certified Inc.
    Project description: The asphalt roofing shingle on this home was chosen because it imitated natural slate, one of the products that had been approved by the local historic commission. The product was also easy to work with, providing a safe environment for the contractors onsite.

    Honorable Mentions
    Watts
    Mill Creek, Wash.
    Chris Howard Roofing LLC

    Dufrene Ranch
    Sloughhouse, Calif.
    Lucero’s Roofing

    Waid
    Marietta, Ga.
    Atlanta Re-Roof Specialists Inc.

    Luzerne County Courthouse
    Wilkes-Barre, Pa.
    Mark J. Sobeck Roof Consulting Inc.

The 2014 QARC judges represented experts in the roofing and home design industry, as well as the building and construction trade media. For the low-slope commercial systems, the judging criteria focused on the project’s unique aesthetics, performance and adaptability; while the steep-slope residential projects were evaluated based on the different asphalt shingle textures, styles and colors which can transform a home.

One of the judges stated that the gold winner best exemplified “how asphalt-based roofing products meet the key needs of commercial buildings – energy-efficiency, reliability and affordability—in ways that other roofing products are simply unable to.”

Another judge stated about the silver winner: “Miami presents roofing challenges with wind, hot temperatures, humidity and hurricanes. I was impressed with the use of four plies and Publix’s commitment to excellence. The cool roof is an added bonus which will save the owner in energy costs.”

The top three winners will receive a check from ARMA in the amounts of $2,000, $1,000 and $500, and will have their roofing projects featured on the ARMA website.

ARMA is now accepting submissions for the 2015 QARC awards campaign. For more information about the QARC Awards or to submit a project, please visit the association’s website.