Help Homeowners Understand the Quality Proposition of a Tile Roof

Buying a home is the largest purchase most people ever make. Buyers work intensely to identify their needs and wants, assess the individual benefits of various choices and evaluate the long-term financial return to ensure they make a quality decision. Once living in that new home, kitchen remodels and reroofing can be the largest expenses faced by homeowners.

 In addition to increasing curb appeal, modern tile roofing systems and accessories offer an opportunity to improve the energy efficiency of a home.

In addition to increasing curb appeal, modern tile roofing systems and accessories offer an opportunity to improve the energy efficiency of
a home.

We all have firsthand, daily experience with our kitchen. We know what we like and what we don’t. Advertisements showing features and benefits of new appliances, more spacious cabinets and better lighting are appealing. Learning and planning for a new kitchen is fun and exciting. We know we will use it every day and we can show it off to our friends. We choose to do a kitchen remodel.

Reroofing is different. The process usually starts with a surprise—a roof leak a repairman fails to resolve. Then a second attempt, maybe a third, followed by an explanation that the system has reached the end of its useful and serviceable life. Reroofing becomes necessary to preserve the integrity of the home. It’s not fun and it’s not by choice. Compared to new stainless-steel appliances, soft-close drawers and a built-in wine cooler, it’s not exciting.

With little understanding of modern roofing, the first (and often only) question asked is, “How much is it going to cost?” If lowest initial cost was the only criteria for a roof, we would all have blue tarps overhead.

The true cost of roofing is defined by the life-cycle cost, which includes consideration of the initial cost, life expectancy, potential energy savings and potential insurance discounts.

A quality tile roof installation will set a home apart from neighboring homes now and will be a great investment to help the home garner the best sale price later. This is where a knowledgeable contractor can help a homeowner identify his or her needs and wants, assess the benefits of various choices and calculate the value of the given system.

1. IDENTIFY THE HOMEOWNER’S NEEDS AND WANTS

Residential roofing is a functional part of the building envelope. Its primary purpose is to protect the home and its contents from the elements. Residential roofing is also a largely visible part of a home’s curb appeal. A tile roof will increase the curb appeal of a house when compared to similar homes with less substantial roofing materials.

Concrete and clay roof tiles’ resistance to weathering, hail, high winds and UV means that look of quality will be consistent from the day the roof is installed until the day it helps the homeowner get the best return on his/her original investment by enhancing the home’s curb appeal when the house is sold. Without the excitement of center islands and granite counter- tops, the homeowner needs help to be informed about options and benefits a tile roof can provide.

2. ASSESS THE BENEFITS OF VARIOUS CHOICES

In addition to increasing curb appeal, modern tile roofing systems and accessories offer an opportunity to improve the energy efficiency of a home. The inherent insulation properties created by tile’s high thermal mass can be enhanced with above-sheathing ventilation, or ASV. These raised batten systems can “… offer a significant 50 percent reduction in the heat penetrating the conditioned space compared to direct nailed roof systems that are in direct contact with the roof deck,” says Dr. William Miller, Ph.D., P.E., Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, Tenn.

The energy savings of ASV is recognized by the California Energy Commission, Sacramento, and included in the Title 24 Energy Code revisions for reroofing and alterations. (Learn more about ASV in “Details”, March/April 2015 issue, page 79.)

PHOTOS: Boral Roofing Products

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Are You ‘PV Ready’?

Commercial rooftops are an attractive platform for the installation of solar photovoltaic (PV) electricity-producing systems. These low-slope roofs offer an economical and sustainable structural foundation for renewable solar energy. As an example, one of the largest roof-mounted PV systems in North Carolina has been online for several months at the Old Dominion Freight Line Inc. vault logistics facility in Thomasville. Almost 7,700 solar panels completely cover the warehouse’s 160,000-square-foot roof and produce enough power (1.8 megawatts) to offset more than 90 percent of the building’s annual energy costs.

Success stories like Old Dominion’s are becoming increasingly common in the sunny Carolinas. However, it is important to remember a roof’s function is, first and foremost, to protect the building’s contents and people from the elements. In this regard, roofing professionals need to anticipate the potential risks associated with the installation of a roof-mounted PV system (array). This sort of due diligence is particularly important when installing PV systems on existing warranted roofs.

A broad selection of membranes and thicknesses are available for consideration when a PV installation is planned. Photo courtesy of GAF, Wayne, N.J., and Protech Roofing Service, San Diego

A broad selection of membranes and thicknesses are available for consideration when a PV installation is planned. Photo courtesy of GAF, Wayne, N.J., and Protech Roofing Service, San Diego

To help in these industry efforts, members of Waltham, Mass.-based SPRI—the trade association that represents sheet membrane and component suppliers to the commercial roofing industry—have developed “PV Ready” roof assemblies and guidelines designed to provide maximum protection for the roof (and maintain its warranty coverage).

In September, SPRI’s technical committee and board of directors also approved and distributed to its members Technical Bulletin 1-13A, “Summary of SPRI Membrane Manufacturer Photovoltaic (PV) Ready Roof Systems and Services”. The bulletin contains general guidelines from SPRI related to “PV Ready” roof assemblies. This article goes into more depth about issues related to PV installations, particularly on existing warranted roofs.

Ask the Right Questions

The installation of a PV system on an existing warranted roof raises many important questions for the roofing professional and building owner. For example, will the roof accommodate the added weight of the PV array? Logistically speaking, before property owners decide on a solar-power system, they will need to determine whether their roofs are sturdy enough to support
the additional loads put on the existing roof structure by the solar array.

An average solar panel and support system typically add a minimum of 3 to 4 pounds per square foot to the existing roof. It is the responsibility of the roofing professional to ensure this additional weight does not exceed the load limits determined by the building’s designer.

From an economic (life-cycle-cost) point of view, it makes sense the service life of the existing roof membrane will come close to matching the projected service life of the PV system. If not, a complex and costly reroofing project may be required long before the solar panels need to be replaced. In general, the underlying roofing system must provide the same minimum investment horizon—generally at least 25 years—to realize the full potential of the rooftop PV system.

Most PV arrays require penetrating the roof membrane. Even non-rack-type systems may include electrical conduits, wiring and other components that may need to be flashed in a professional manner. It is essential the responsibility for this flashing work rests with the roofing contractor.

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