Retrofit Roofing Project Highlights Advancements in Building Materials and Methods

The roof was replaced on Huntsman Corporation’s Advanced Technology Center, an L-shaped, 70,000-square-foot facility housing expensive equipment and research labs. A TPO membrane roof system was installed over high-density polyiso cover board.

The roof was replaced on Huntsman Corporation’s Advanced Technology Center, an L-shaped, 70,000-square-foot facility housing expensive equipment and research labs.

Over the last few decades, computer and scientific innovations have evolved at a furious pace, with new technologies rapidly replacing only slightly older ones. In this race for the latest and greatest, it sometimes feels like the devices in our pockets and controlling our home stereos are from some virtual reality, while the building materials of our homes and workplaces are relics of a bygone age. But, looks can be deceiving, and the polyiso insulation industry is playing a role in evolving our built environment.

For example, many commercial buildings seem only superficially different from those built a generation ago when seen from a distance. But, from behind the glass curtain walls and updated building amenities, we may not notice the disruptive technologies that have substantially improved building systems in recent years. Informed by sophisticated research and utilizing advanced components, cutting-edge building materials are thinner, stronger and more resilient than traditional products. Adopting them in both new construction and renovation can appreciably improve building performance, while also decreasing environmental impact. These products are particularly attractive to forward-looking companies interested in buildings that will prove cost-effective over the long term.

A Case in Point

When the Huntsman Corporation began considering facility improvements for its Huntsman Advanced Technology Center (HATC) in The Woodlands, Texas, they decided to embrace the most innovative materials available. This four-building campus, located about 35 miles north of Houston, serves as the company’s leading research and development facility in the Americas, so it is appropriate that it be built with products as advanced as the technology it houses. Replacing the aging PVC roof on Building 1 was a key element in this upgrade.

After more than two decades of exposure to the Texas heat, the roof was approaching the end of its useful life. With expensive equipment and valuable research in labs throughout the building, Huntsman didn’t want to take any chances in modernizing the L-shaped, 70,000-square foot facility. With the added incentive of receiving the highest-level certification from its insurer, the company decided to remove and completely replace the existing roof with state-of-the-art materials.

Commercial roofs in Texas are required to have an insulation R-value of 20 or higher, so simply replacing the existing membrane and lightweight insulating concrete on a metal deck that the building had used before with the same materials would not have sufficed. In addition, current codes which say that old roofs need to be brought up to current code when doing a tear-off job. After reviewing the options, they chose to install thermoplastic polyolefin (TPO) membrane roofing over high-density polyiso cover board.

The polyiso cover boards are lightweight and easy to cut, which reduces both time and labor costs for installation. They add strength and protection to a roofing system, enhancing the system’s long-term performance. They can be shipped with approximately three times more square feet per truckload than gypsum products, so fewer trucks are needed, leading to fuel and transportation savings. Plus, they can be cut without specialized tools and workers don’t have to worry about the dust that is created when sawing, as they would with other types of cover boards. And most importantly, these high-density boards are based on proven technology.

A TPO membrane roof system was installed over high-density polyiso cover board.

A TPO membrane roof system was installed over high-density polyiso cover board.


Drawn to polyiso for its high R-value per inch of thickness, compressive strength, impressive fire-, wind- and moisture-resistance, long-term durability, and low environmental impact, Huntsman partnered with roof mechanics experienced in working with these materials and committed to both safety and quality.

If the original installers of the previous roof 22-years earlier had witnessed this new project, they would have been amazed. Instead of hoisting heavy materials up ladders, pallets are deposited on the roof by crane. Boards are attached with fasteners and plates or foam adhesives to the deck, and robotic welders seal the seams in the TPO membrane.

The new roof is resistant to ultraviolet, ozone and chemical exposure, which contributes to a lifespan of more than 20 years, while being virtually maintenance-free. Workers who access the roof to remove debris from the tall trees on the HATC campus can easily stay on the safety-taped walk pad areas. The roof materials are all recyclable later, leading to a very low environmental impact.

Increasing the thermal resistance to an impressive R-21 for the combined roof system, the building now exceeds local, state and international building codes. This added insulation and the reflective white surface of the new roof are going to lower energy consumption and lead to greater indoor comfort and a decreased load on HVAC systems. The roof is much less susceptible to the mold, mildew, and will help prevent water from pooling and ponding as it did on the old roof.

A new commercial roof is a substantial investment. Luckily, with all the cost savings inherent in both the installation process and the whole-life use of high-density polyiso cover boards, companies don’t have to forego state-of-the-art materials for financial reasons. Factoring in the ease of installation (from cutting to less dust) and weight of the cover boards, retrofitting an older building with updated roof systems can be a win-win for both clients and crews.

PHOTOS: HUNTSMAN CORPORATION

Single-Component Butyl Provides a Permanent Seal Without Hardening

The butyl sealant can be used in a variety of metal roof applications where a low modulus sealant is desired.

The butyl sealant can be used in a variety of metal roof applications where a low modulus sealant is desired.

R.M. Lucas Co. has added a single-component, non-skinning butyl rubber sealant to its product line. Lucas #8660 provides adhesion and a permanent seal between concealed end laps, metal roof panels, standing-seam roof panels, ridge caps, wall panels and other applications where a non-hardening weather seal is desired. This product is also ideal for use with OEM and shop-assembled metal details.

According to the manufacturer, Lucas #8660 creates a non-hardening, weathertight seal. Designed as a non-skinning, non-sag sealant, the product exhibits high moisture resistance, with an exceptional ability to absorb sound and movement. Lucas #8660 comes in a neutral color, guns easily in cold or hot weather, and is packaged in 10-ounce fiber cartridges, 12 per case.

“Lucas #8660 won’t stain substrates and exhibits primerless adhesion to most roofing and building materials, including Kynar,” says Jason Morris, technical sales representative for Lucas. “The product is easy to gun and tool, even in cold weather, and is also self-healing.”

The butyl sealant can be used in a variety of metal roof applications where a low modulus sealant is desired, including metal roof panels, ribs, standing seams, and ridge cap flashing, as well as metal wall panels. Lucas #8660 is also recommended for OEM trailer and RV application, installation of walk-in coolers and freezers, and as a vapor barrier sealant. In addition, Lucas #8660 can be used as a sound-deadening sealant in installation of acoustical ceilings as well as both gypsum and metal wall panels. It is not designed for use as a single-ply roofing adhesive or lap adhesive.

When applying the sealant, the surface to be sealed must be dry and free of dirt or loose corrosion particles. A primer is not needed. Simply apply the sealant to the area as desired. Tooling is not normally necessary. The product can be cleaned with Lucas #125 Safe Solve. It also has a long shelf life, remaining active two years from the date of manufacture.

“We feel that this will be an excellent addition to our product line whether you are restoring, renovating or maintaining building structures,” states Morris.

Photo: McElroy Metal

Roof Coating Reduces Energy and Maintenance Costs

Crystal roof coating helps reduce energy costs.

Crystal roof coating helps reduce energy costs.

Using white colored roofs is a way to help reduce heat gain into a building or home in the southern climates where it stays hot most of the time. Just as wearing white or light colored clothes can help you stay cooler on a sunny day, a white roof can help keep a building cooler and lower the load on the air conditioning unit, reducing cooling costs.

Using the cool roof calculator on Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s website, it shows that if you live in Miami, Florida a white “cool” roof can save you approximately 0.185 USD per square foot per year as compared to a black roof. That’s roughly $647.50 per year for a 3500-square-foot home or $9,250 per year for a 50,000-square-foot office building or warehouse.

But what happens when a white roof turns grey?

When doing energy saving calculations, one of the overlooked errors is not factoring in the loss of insulating performance when white roofs get dirty or moldy. When that happens, the “cool roof” impact is less effective because the roof has gone from a reflective white to a grey or green.

For concrete roof tiles, especially, another factor that impacts energy efficiency is moisture. When a roof is wet, it conducts more heat than when it’s dry, making it less energy efficient.  

That’s why Crystal clear insulating and mold resistant roof coating benefits all types of roofs, including white roofs. It not only has its own insulating benefit (in all seasons and climates), it also helps the roof stay clean and resists the growth of mold. Another benefit it provides is a moisture resistant surface, so rain beads up and rolls off (taking dirt along with it) rather than soaking in.

If you tally the stay clean/maintenance benefits (not the energy saving ones), you can estimate saving approximately 25 cents per square feet to have a roof power washed. For a 5,000-square-foot roof that is $1250 per washing, which is usually done every one to two years by most. Product for that same amount of roof, would be approximately $3,000, so with incorporating maintenance savings, payback would be approximately 2.4 years, and your total maintenance savings over the 10-year warranty period would be approximately $12,500 if you previously had to clean the roof each year.

A School Used Crystal Roof Coating to Keep their White Roof Clean & Efficient

A Florida school had a costly issue, their white metal roof grew mold and collected dirt, meaning not only constant maintenance costs to clean it, but also a loss of energy efficiency. They looked to Crystal roof coating to solve the issue and ran a 60-day trial to see how it would help them.

Crystal roof coating applied to a section of the school roof remained clean.

Crystal roof coating applied to a section of the school roof remained clean.

The roof was cleaned and a section of the roof was painted with a coat of white paint and then over-coated with two coats of Crystal clear insulating and mold and UV resistant roof coating.

The photo above was taken 60-days after application. The spots where Crystal was applied stayed clean and white, while the unprotected areas became dingy and less energy efficient once again.

Additionally, the coating provided thermal insulation to lower cooling costs, even when the sun wasn’t shining.

Contact INI Worldwide for a quote for either product only or product and application.