Replacing Structural Metal Deck in Re-Roofing Applications

Photo: A.C.T. Metal Deck Supply

The commercial roof replacement project has been specified, the tear-off process begins, and crews are surprised to find unexpected corrosion and damage in the structural metal decking — the cold-formed corrugated steel sheets connected to steel joists or beams that support the roof system. They soon realize that large areas of the deck will need to be replaced, and the project grinds to a halt as crews try to figure out what type of deck is needed and how long it will take to get it to the jobsite. This doesn’t happen every day, but it happens often enough that specialty metal deck suppliers have evolved to help roofing contractors cope with such emergencies — and, hopefully, work with them to prevent similar problems in the future.

Roofing spoke with metal deck suppliers about the common questions they encounter and the ways they can help roofing contractors meet their needs. We also spoke with a contractor and a roof consultant to get their perspectives on issues surrounding metal decks and asked them to share some recommendations for successful re-roofing projects involving the replacement of structural metal decking.

Frequently Asked Questions

Nick V. Polizzi is president of A.C.T. Metal Deck Supply, headquartered in Aurora, Illinois. The company got its start as a metal decking subcontractor, furnishing and installing metal deck in the Chicagoland, and it started stocking metal deck 27 years ago. A.C.T. Metal Deck eventually got out of the installation side of the business, and the company now has 15 locations in 11 states that specialize in metal deck distribution.

Polizzi sums up the most frequent queries from roofing contractors this way: “The most common questions we receive are ‘What is this existing deck?’ ‘What do we use if we can’t match it exactly?’ and ‘Can I get it today?’ That is, do we have it in stock.”

In industrial facilities, the deck is typically left exposed. Often corrosion and damage are easy to spot during a visual inspection. Photo: CentiMark

It’s the type of phone call that’s familiar to Matt Weiss, president of O’Donnell Metal Deck, headquartered in Elkridge, Maryland. The company has been supplying metal deck in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic for 35 years from its headquarters and a second location in Darby, Pennsylvania. “I do the same kind of dance every day,” Weiss says. “I hear, ‘Hey, we’re up on a roof and need some deck.’ I say, ‘What kind?’ Often there is just silence.”

John D’Annunzio, president of Paragon Roofing Technology in Troy, Michigan, has been a roof consultant for more than 25 years. He says he can’t remember a re-roofing job over a metal deck that didn’t require replacing at least some portion of the decking. Even with a thorough inspection, surprises can crop up. “There are times you look at it from the underside and don’t spot any problems, but when you start replacing the roof you find some issues,” D’Annunzio notes.

These are the types of problems Mike Horwath, Mid-Atlantic Regional Manager for CentiMark, tries to anticipate and avoid. CentiMark is a full-service roofing contractor headquartered is in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, that covers the entire country. Horwath’s office is in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania. According to Horwath, his company’s crews are taught to identify the type of metal deck and the thickness before work on the project begins. “We determine what type of deck it is and have some of it sent to the jobsite, so that if we encounter any damage, we are prepared, versus shutting the jobsite down and going out to get it,” Horwath says.

When emergencies do arise, Horwath maintains it’s easier to get replacement decking more quickly than it was just a few years ago. Specialty deck suppliers often have a wide variety of materials in stock, and they can offer other services, including making deliveries in phases as the job progresses, to help with logistics.

Roof Inspections and Safety Precautions

D’Annunzio and Horwath try to go into every job with as much information as they can gather at the jobsite. If possible, D’Annunzio recommends obtaining documentation and as-built drawings. Horwath agrees, noting that the customer, building owner and facility managers can all be excellent resources. “They will have the history and context to discuss leaks, integrity issues or problem areas,” Horwath says, “Areas affected by high humidity levels or other processes from inside the building are also susceptible to deterioration.”

Workers must follow a site-specific safety plan with proper fall protection equipment during deck removal and replacement. Photo: CentiMark

The use of the building can be a critical factor. Certain industrial processes can raise a red flag. “Trash-to steam plants have ash houses with high pH levels. A pool environment can have very high humidity levels. Batteries and other manufacturing can involve acidic processes,” says Horwath. “Those are three of the most common points of concern: chemicals, high levels of humidity, and pH level.”

A visual inspection of the underside of the metal deck can provide crucial information. “We try to look at the underside of the deck from the interior, but it’s not always possible,” D’Annunzio notes. “In industrial facilities, the deck is typically left exposed, but in office buildings and retail locations, you often don’t have access from the interior to look at the deck.”

The underside of the metal deck should be examined for excessive corrosion, openings and abrasions, and structural damage, including deformation and deflection. “All areas that illustrate structural damage and/or excessive corrosion should be considered safety concerns and should be barricaded off at the roof level,” says D’Annunzio. “If the interior of the metal deck has been painted, a close-up inspection from a ladder or man lift may be required. The level of corrosion can often be determined by banging on suspect areas of the deck with a hammer.”

Sheets of metal deck are lifted to the rooftop. Decking should be secured by certified riggers. Photo: O’Donnell Metal Deck

Safety is the paramount concern, even at the inspection stage. Inspectors should never walk on a roof that isn’t safe. “First off, all personnel should have proper safety training and be properly trained to inspect decking,” Horwath states. “For our guys to go up on the roof, they have to be able to do an underdeck inspection and verify that no condition exists that would create a fall hazard in the roof. If they cannot do that, they would have to assume that there is a fall hazard, and they would have to set up fall protection to do that inspection.”

If a fall hazard can’t be ruled out, it has to be assumed that the potential for a fall hazard is there, and a site-specific safety plan with proper fall protection equipment is required until it can be proven that the decking is safe. If problems areas are discovered, they should be marked and barricaded off. “We will establish the level of severity and put together a fall prevention plan for the guys to follow,” Horwath says.

When inspecting the roof system on top of the building, core cuts can provide visual clues about the deck. D’Annunzio notes that core cuts are typically done on every project, and if corrosion is evident on the deck, he will expand the test cut to see how extensive it could be.

The inspection process should continue throughout the project, according to D’Annunzio. “During the remedial roof removal process, the metal deck should be inspected on a daily basis,” he states. “Deck panels that exhibit extensive corrosion and/or structural damage should be removed and replaced. Light rust and corrosion can be repaired with a wire brush and application of a rust inhibitor. Minor openings such as small holes can be covered with metal plates or overlay of a metal deck panel that is fastened to the existing metal deck panel.”

It’s not only workers on the roof that have to follow proper safety procedures. Everyone in the building below has to take precautions. “When decking is being removed or replaced, there can’t any workers below the area,” says D’Annunzio. “We’ve had instances in automotive projects where deck has had to be replaced, and the work has to be done during off-shift hours, whether it’s a night or a weekend.”

Identifying the Existing Deck

If the type of deck used isn’t available in the construction documents, the type, gauge and finish of the deck must be determined at the site.

The type of deck is based on the profile, which is designated by a letter. The most common types are A, B and F. (See Figure 1.) “The changes are in the shape, and the shape creates a different design strength,” notes Polizzi. “A-22 is not the same strength as B-22.”

Each profile has its own distinct measurements. “We give out a laminated profile card to all of our customers to keep in their trucks, so when they are out on the job, they can do a couple measurements to determine the profile,” Polizzi says. “It’s nice if they can measure both the bottom and the top, as we have measurements for both. If they aren’t sure, we can send them a sample, and they can take it out to the job and lay it into what they’ve got on site.”

According to Weiss, the simplest way to identify the type of deck on an existing building is to measure the gaps in the ribs on the profile. (See Figure 2.) “Check the top rib opening located between the top high hats or flanges of the deck,” Weiss recommends. “This dimension will quickly determine the type. Most of the time, the top rib opening is 2.5 inches, 1.75 inches or 1 inch, so you’re typically dealing with B deck, F deck or A deck — or it’s 3-inch-tall deck, and that’s usually N deck. However, the top rib isn’t always exposed until after a project has begun. In this case, the deck can be identified by the bottom width of the high hat.”

There are a few caveats, notes Weiss, as in some cases the deck might be from an older mill that doesn’t exist anymore. Texting pictures back and forth can help identify the type of deck.

The next steps are to determine the gauge and finish. “The easiest way to determine the gauge is by using a micrometer,” notes Weiss. “However, if you’re unable to obtain this measurement, a knowledgeable deck supplier should be able to recommend a gauge by understand the spacing supports and project requirements.”

The finish is usually determined based on visual inspection. The three most common finishes for roof decks are:

  1. Primer painted
  2. Galvanized G-60
  3. Galvanized G-90

“With no harsh environments, then painted deck is probably what’s used,” says Polizzi. “In wetter, harsher, more corrosive environments, galvanized finishes are more common. In very corrosive environments, stainless steel decking is used.”

The deck should be inspected for damage and corrosion throughout the course of the project. Photo: O’Donnell Metal Deck

B deck is the most common. “B deck, 22-gauge, with a galvanized finish is probably the most common type,” Weiss notes. “B-22, G-60 finish constitutes probably 70 percent of the roofing jobs we do.”

If the type of deck can’t be matched, suppliers can often recommend a compatible alternate. “Typically, when roofers are replacing a portion of an existing structure, the key is identifying the correct deck type to allow the new deck to lay into the existing flutes of the deck,” says Weiss. “This makes for faster install.”

B deck has the widest rib openings. F deck will nest inside B deck, and A deck will nest inside F and B. “They are all 6-inch centers; the difference is just in the width of the opening,” notes Polizzi. “The A deck is narrow, so it will fit on top of B, but if you try to put B on top of A, it will not work.”

“That’s why you still need these older roof profiles, because on a huge building with those narrow ribs, the 2.5-inch flute is not going to jam down into an inch,” says Weiss. “You can always take an F deck or an A deck and use it on a job with B deck because it nests in there.”

Removal and Replacement

By definition, deck panels are fastened to structural members, and this is crucial in determining the methods of removal and replacement — and determining the number and size of sheets needed for the project. “If it’s a new piece of decking, it has to be secured to a structural connection,” says D’Annunzio. “It should go from structural point to structural point. When covering major openings like skylight holes, for example, the replacement panel must span from joist to joist, and typically is nested in the existing deck.”

It’s critical to ensure the deck beneath a new roof system is sound and will perform well beyond the expected life span of the system. Photo: A.C.T. Metal Deck Supply

During the removal process, the safety plan must remain the top priority. “Ensure proper training and safety equipment is used on the roof and inside the building,” Horwath says. “Make sure the interior inspection limits the impact on the customer’s business. Clear out areas below the roof, make sure there is adequate material storage on the jobsite, and protect objects from damage. Keep the below area flagged off and keep people out of the area. The contractor should keep a fire watch to keep employees and people out the way. Remove and replace decking in full sheets. Remove and replace the roof and make it watertight by end of day.”

When installing new decking in a roof replacement project, the vast majority of the time fasteners are used, as often welding is not allowed. “CentiMark does not weld anything,” says Horwath. “We fasten everything down per Steel Deck Institute (SDI) standards or FM. We require our guys to be tied off until all of the decking is fastened down. With the stitch seams, they should be tied off while putting that together because it helps strengthen the seam joints. They should be tied off for the entire process until it is anchored and secured down.”

Fastening the side laps of deck together is typically done with a standard #10 self-tapping screw, according to Weiss. Fastening to beams or joist will depend on the project. A fastening pattern will determine the number and spacing of the fasteners to a support. The Engineer of Record (EOR) determines the fastening pattern based on the designed load calculations for building. “A fastener supplier can help guide you for qualified fasteners based on your needs,” Weiss notes.

If the profile cannot be matched or the decking won’t nest, it may be necessary to cut out the portion of deck to be replaced and butt the end of the new profile against the existing deck at the joist. When different types of deck are butted together, the gap is usually covered with a metal plate.

Common Mistakes

D’Annunzio pointed to roof details and penetrations as common problem spots. “The biggest areas of concern I see involve larger penetrations, such as a curb that’s 4 feet by 4 feet,” he says. “Contractors who replace the decking around the curb at an opening for an exhaust vent, for example, have to make sure it’s fastened correctly. If the deck is not properly fastened at the curb, it could lead to vibration, splits or openings in the roof system.”

Extreme care has to be used when removing old sections of decking, notes Horwath. “Be careful to watch out for electrical conduit and data lines,” he cautions. “No one wants to cut through conduit underneath the decking.”

Other common errors include underestimating the size and scope of the deck repair. D’Annunzio and Horwath recommend specifying the cost for deck replacement in every contract, even if the decking looks perfect. But estimating the amount of new deck material needed can be difficult, as total square footage is not the only concern. “It’s all about knowing what the bar joists spans are, and that determines the size of the panels you get,” Horwath points out.

Depending on the width of the building and the dimensions of the deck sheets, contractors might have to order an extra sheet to cover a given area. Weiss uses this example: “Let’s pretend you have a building that’s 76 feet wide. Sheets are 3 feet wide. Because it’s 76 feet wide, with 25 sheets, you still have an extra foot hanging off. So, what do you do with that extra foot? Technically you need an extra sheet, and you back lap that sheet.”

The spacing of supports and the cover width of the decking sheets are also critical, notes Weiss. “Knowing the spacing of the joist will allow a deck supplier to maximize your coverage while limiting waste from excessive overlap and save time by limiting field cuts,” he says.

Planning Ahead

Metal deck suppliers keep multiple profiles, gauges, finishes and lengths in stock at all times to help contractors. That’s a key part of their value proposition. But Polizzi and Weiss also emphasize that they are also available to help contractors plan ahead to maximize efficiency. After all, there could be lead times involved with some products. “Partnering with a knowledgeable deck supplier will save you time, money and frustration,” Weiss says. “We will aid you in the process by asking the right questions upfront to ensure a project’s success.”

Polizzi notes that some of his customers maintain their own stock of B deck. “Some roofers themselves will buy a couple of bundles from us so that when they do have an emergency or a tear-off, they can start to pull out of their own inventory,” Polizzi says. “They don’t have to keep a lot; they just have to keep enough to get going, and we’ll take care of the rest of the job.”

“It’s all about having it on hand and available and getting it to the contractor when they need it,” says Weiss. “But the more lead time they have, the better off the contractor really is. When projects become larger and/or supports are not typical or complicated, a specialty deck supplier should be able to provide shop drawings to include a deck layout to save time and minimize material waste.”

“In the past, roofers used to avoid anything to do with metal deck replacement because they often couldn’t get what they wanted,” notes Polizzi. “Today, we have helped these roofers create a new profit center because they know now they can go after that work and they can count on us to be there for them when they open up a roof.”

Replacing the deck can mean more profit for the contractor, but it can also adversely affect the schedule. According to D’Annunzio, when it comes to the deck, the key is to think long-term. “You have to go with the assumption that the roof you’re installing will last at least 20 years, and these days it can be much longer than that, with re-covers and maintenance,” he notes. “So, chances are you’re not going to see that deck again for more than 20 years. If it’s suspect, it’s better to deal with it while you are doing the remedial work.”

“We’ve been called in to examine projects with a roof that’s just a few years old where the deck below should have been replaced beneath the roof system, and it wasn’t,” D’Annunzio continues. “You can imagine the difficulty of replacing the deck at that point. When it comes to metal deck, my attitude is, ‘When in doubt, take it out.’”

Metal Deck Resources

For more information about metal decks, visit:

Steel Deck Institute, www.sdi.org

NRCA, www.nrca.net

SMACNA, www.smacna.org

Factory Mutual, www.fmglobal.com

A.C.T. Metal Deck Supply, www.metaldecksupply.com

O’Donnell Metal Deck, www.odonnellmetaldeck.com

Sensitive Re-Roofing Project Necessitates Durable System, Flawless Execution

The 250,000-square-foot Pepper River data center project would pose challenges including a tight schedule and difficult weather conditions. Utah Tile and Roofing Inc.

Utah Tile and Roofing Inc. prides itself in its ability to tackle difficult projects. When Okland Construction approached the company to help prepare budgets for a bid on a roof replacement on a building that would become a data processing center, they immediately knew this one would fit the bill.

Founded in 1948 in Price, Utah, Utah Tile and Roofing (UTR) relocated to Salt Lake City in 1966. The company handles all types of commercial roofing projects, as well as waterproofing, sheet metal, and wall panels. The current owners are Paul and Andrew Seppi, who took over from their father, founder Herman Seppi, in 1977. According to J.C. Hill, vice president, the company continues to build a reputation for craftsmanship as it works on some of Utah’s iconic buildings. “We’ve done a lot of high-end work here in the state of Utah,” Hill says. “A lot of the architectural gems here locally have our fingerprints all over them. The higher-end, more difficult work is where we’ve found our niche.”

The Aligned Energy data facility known as Pepper River in West Jordan, Utah, would also have its challenges, including a tight schedule and difficult weather conditions. Approximately 250,000 square feet of existing roof would have to be removed and replaced, but the sensitive nature of the building would require not only a durable temporary roof to keep everything dry during construction, but a resilient, long-lasting finished roof to protect the equipment below. The answer was a hybrid roof system from Sika with a vapor barrier set in hot asphalt. It would be topped with insulation, a cover board, and an 80-mil Sarnafil PVC membrane.

The design for the roof system was developed by UTR in conjunction with the architect, roof consultant, general contractor, and the manufacturer. “The vapor barrier would be set in hot asphalt as a temporary roof. The insulation and the tapered insulation would also set in hot asphalt,” Hill says. “That gave them some redundancy, which is a term those tech guys like.”

Roof Removal

The building’s original gravel-surfaced built-up roof had been covered over at some point with a mechanically attached white TPO roof on one side and a mechanically attached black EPDM roof on the other.

“We had to keep the building watertight as we tore it off,” says Hill. “We put the temporary roof down and crews would do a nightly seal to keep everything watertight as they progressed across the building.”

The existing roof systems included the building’s original gravel-surfaced built-up roof. It was cut into sections and pried off the metal deck.

Work was done in sections, beginning on one half the roof and then finishing up on the other. The expansion joint in the center of the building was the dividing line.

The safety plan included a perimeter flag system, and those outside the warning line were tied off 100 percent of the time. A scaffold stair tower was built to provide safe access to and from the roof.

Debris from the tear-off was removed using chutes and dumpsters. First the roof membrane was sliced up into manageable sections, rolled up, and deposited into a dumpster, along with the cover board. Then the built-up roof was cut into 3-foot-by-3-foot squares and pried off the metal deck.

The deck was swept clean of debris and inspected. Some of the decking had to be replaced, including sections where skylights were eliminated. A 5/8-inch DensDeck cover board was then screwed down to the metal deck. The vapor barrier sheets were unrolled and allowed to relax in the hot sun, and then set in hot asphalt. “We were able to do about 2,000 or 2,500 square feet a day with the tear-off and dry in,” notes Hill.

One unusual obstacle was a Canadian goose that had set up her nest in the expansion joint. “We had to leave that section undisturbed while she was waiting for her chicks to hatch,” says Hill. “Actually, there was a pretty good-size section of the roof in the middle that we weren’t able to address until she left. Luckily there was plenty of roof to work in, and we didn’t want to disrupt her. Even after she left with her chicks, she would come back and chase the guys around every once in a while.”

After the temporary roof was installed, the existing parapet walls were raised. The durable temporary roof allowed carpenters other trades to work on the roof without excessive fear of damage. After the trades completed their work, the finished roof system was installed right over the temporary roof.

The PVC System

First a layer of polyiso insulation was set in hot asphalt. Next the tapered insulation layer was also set in hot asphalt, followed by another layer of insulation to achieve R-30. Half-inch DensDeck Prime was then set in low-rise adhesive and the white PVC membrane was fully adhered.

To provide the durability the project needed, a hybrid roof system from Sika was specified. It included a vapor barrier set in hot asphalt and an 80-mil Sarnafil PVC roof system.

“We actually had two crews for that phase: a hot crew and a single ply crew,” Hill states. “The hot crew would be laying the insulation out in front, and then the single-ply crew would lay the cover board in the low-rise foam and start fully adhering that membrane down. It took a coordinated effort with the guys we had out there to make sure that there was no asphalt contamination of the PVC membrane and that white roof remained clean.”

As work continued on the second half of the roof, cold weather set in. Due to the temperature limitations of the membrane adhesive, the decision was made to switch to a self-adhered membrane. “We were having production issues with the cold weather, and we went back to Sarnafil and they recommended putting the SA down,” notes Hill. “It was the first time we had ever installed the self-adhered membrane. It saved our production, and we were able to install nearly as much as we were doing in the better weather days.”

The last steps on the project included installing edge metal. “We did a Sarnafil high-wind edge detail with their clad metal and a pre-finished metal fascia plate over the top,” says Hill. “It gave the building a nice finishing touch from the ground and also from the roof side.”

Meeting the Challenges

The biggest challenge on the first phase of the project was the tight schedule. “We had to get that first phase operational so they could get the data hall up and running,” says Hill. “We had to get the first section dried in so the trades — electricians, drywallers, painters, and tech guys — could get in there and do their work.”

Work began in April of 2019 and wrapped up in December of the same year. After the first phase was completed, the weather posed the greatest difficulties. “The winter was quite heavy,” Hill says. “We had to remove snow quite often to be able to go back to work.”

In the last phase of the project, cold weather and heavy snow affected the schedule.

Hill credits the teamwork between all of the principals and the excellent craftsmanship of job foreman Rudolfo Garcia and his crew for the success of the project. He also cites durability of the temporary roof and the extra protection the hybrid system provides as critical components in the design. “With carpenters and steel guys working over that temporary roof, the typical peel-and-stick vapor barriers simply wouldn’t have been durable enough,” he says. “This building has to remain dry. That temporary roof with a cap sheet over the top of it could have been a completed system, so it gave them the backup that they needed. If there ever is a problem on the top layer with that single ply, there is still that temporary roof underneath to keep them dry.”

Utah Tile and Roofing received first place in the 2019 Sika Sarnafil Project of the Year Awards in the Low-Slope Re-Roof category. “The award is a testament to how good our guys in the field are,” Hill says. “Because we have such good field mechanics, we are able to take on these tougher projects that take more critical thinking and more experience. They are the best at what they do, the engine that drives this thing. They are the ones that make it happen.”

TEAM

Architect: HKS Inc., Salt Lake City, Utah, www.hksinc.com

General Contractor: Okland Construction, Salt Lake City, Utah, www.okland.com

Roofing Contractor: Utah Tile and Roofing Inc., Salt Lake City, Utah, www.utahtileandroofing.com

MATERIALS

Roof Membrane: Sarnafil G410 80-mil PVC, Sika, https://usa.sika.com/sarnafil/

Insulation: Sarnatherm ISO, Sika

Vapor Barrier: HA-87 SBS Ply Sheet, Sika

Cover Board: DensDeck Prime, Georgia-Pacific, www.buildgp.com

Tips for Improving Ventilation on Residential Re-Roofing Projects

During residential re-roofing applications, it is important to ensure the roof system is properly ventilated. Photos: John R. Crookston

If the question is “Should I provide ventilation on this steep-slope roof?” there is a simple, one-word answer: Yes. The problem with this answer is that it would make a very short article, and I am sure that is not what was expected. Let me explain!

Ventilation is required if you have unconditioned space, and it is that space that needs to be ventilated. In most commercial applications, you are dealing with a flat roof membrane over insulation installed directly over a metal deck. With no “attic” involved, there is no unconditioned space and, therefore, there is no space to ventilate. You still have to find a way to control the moisture, but this is accomplished through the use of mechanical air conditioning and heating units, and also through the introduction of outside air and air exchanges. For this article, I want to concentrate on a typical residential steep-slope application, and the basis for most normal houses all goes back to 1 John 1:1, which goes something like this: “Thou Shalt Ventilate.”

To help all of this make sense, it is important to define some terms I use. “Conditioned space” is anywhere in the house that we are attempting to control the temperature or humidity — the living space of the house. “Unconditioned space” refers to areas of the structure where we are not attempting to control the temperature or humidity — typically attics (although some attics are treated as conditioned spaces). Unconditioned spaces should be as close to the outside temperature and humidity as possible. To accomplish this, we would use vapor barriers, insulation, and ventilation. The insulation would be anything that would restrict the transfer of either heat or cold in either direction; the vapor barrier would be anything that stops the transfer of moisture between the hot and the cold areas; and ventilation would be the method by which we allow the hot or cold air to move between the inside of the unconditioned space and the outside atmosphere.

Erecting scaffolding at the roof’s edge ensures safety and gives technicians a comfortable spot to examine and repair intake ventilation at the soffits.

Current building codes and building technologies have improved the performance of homes greatly by making them able to “breathe” and at the same time resist that transfer of energy. Examples would include the newer thermo-pane windows with better weather stripping, and house wrap to stop the wind pressure from penetrating the house. There are also truss roof systems that incorporate high “energy heels” at the plate to allow insulation all the way out to the edge of the plate and still allow a 4 inch air space at the plate to allow the air to flow freely.

To make this all work, it is important to fully ventilate the soffit area, and to combine this with a system to get the air out of the attic space. This could include a ridge vent system, regular roof louvers, turbine vents or gable end vents. It is important to remember, however, that you cannot mix these vents. We need to understand that air is lazy and will always follow the path of least resistance. If we mix the different types of vents on the roof, the air will move from one to the other and short-circuit the airflow. For example, air might flow from a roof vent near the peak to the ridge vent just a couple of feet away, leaving the rest of the attic with no airflow. In this case, more is not better.

Wide Range of Energy Efficiencies

You will find that most of the houses built after the late ’70s used truss systems that incorporated the energy heel. This also corresponded with the “energy crisis,” which saw a massive increase in the amount of insulation blown into the attics. Four to 6 inches became 12 to 20 inches, and it is important to know that the more you tighten up a house, the more important it is to increase the ventilation. A fully insulated house demands a fully ventilated house to perform effectively. About 10 years ago, we built a house and a cheese-making facility, using R-panels, which are made from EPS foam sandwiched between layers of OSB panels. They are incredibly strong and energy efficient. They can get so tight it is difficult to open or shut a door because of the air pressure. That can potentially be dangerous in the event of poor indoor air quality and pollution. In this instance, we engineered a mechanical system to completely change the air twice an hour — and at the same time, saving the energy of the heated or cooled air with an air-to-air heat exchanger. The system supplied combustion air for the furnace and the stove, and also recycled the heated air from the bathroom fans and the oven exhaust, saving the heat, but exchanging the air itself.

The soffit should be removed as part of the tear-off process.

Our projects have ranged from this extreme of efficiency to some of the older homes — some more than 150 years old — that had no insulation. They were wonders of efficiency for their time, and the builders understood all of these principles. It was common to see some of these elaborate homes with what looked like a “widow’s watch” observation tower with windows all around at the very peak of a low-sloped hip roof. Combined with a large central staircase, the owners could open the windows and inside doors in the summer, and the central hallway and the “widow’s watch” acted as a large chimney, moving the hot air out and pulling cool air in without any fans or electricity.

Many churches and other large buildings used the same principle to control the air inside, using either the steeples or large towers to act as chimneys as well as architectural and design focal points on these buildings. Problems often begin when we try and upgrade buildings to modern standards without taking into consideration how the changes will affect the design and operation of the building. Addressing these large, complicated buildings will be the subject of another article, but right now I want to specifically address the needs of residential houses built from the ’20s up through the late ’70s.

Homes Built From 1920-1979

There are millions of them. Before World War II, most were built with perhaps some minimal insulation or some aluminum foil to act as a radiant barrier, but energy was cheap and to do more would have been a waste of money. Without much insulation, there was little need for ventilation, as the house was drafty and, by definition, a drafty house is ventilating itself. After the war, the ranch-style house was the rage and I worked on thousands of them growing up. I have home movies of myself on the roof with my father when I was only four years old. By the time I was 10, I could lay out a roof and knew exactly what I was doing up there. Today, they would call that child abuse, but back then it was life. The point is that I lived and worked through this transition. In the ’50s, 2 inches of insulation in the walls was common and 3-1/2 inches in the ceilings. We would install some roof louvers in the attics and they would install some 3 inch vent strips in the wooden soffits for an intake. It was not much, but it was enough. Then the oil embargo occurred in the early ’70s and energy prices jumped.

It may be necessary to remove the bottom sheet of plywood to access the area from above. Often insulation will be found blocking the soffit.

Demand for insulation to save energy skyrocketed, and suddenly there were six pages of ads in the Yellow Pages for insulators. If some insulation was good, then more was better, and they blew insulation everywhere. Some was installed in the walls, but the biggest bang for the buck was in the attics, and it seems that all of the soffits were filled and the opening at the plate was blocked. Without this intake, the only thing that the roof louvers could do was let out some heat; the air movement stopped. The water vapor still got into the unconditioned attic space through whatever insulation was installed, and since it could not get out, it would condense in the insulation and on the wood surfaces and cause mold, rot and mildew.

Since there was no air movement at the plate, and the insulation was packed tightly against the bottom of the roof decking, in northern climates the heat would transfer to the roof surface during the winter, and ice buildup became a huge problem. In the southern climates things were reversed, and problems cropped up during the summer months when the air conditioning was running. Simply put, “You cannot fool Mother Nature!” Shingles that used to last for 25 to 30 years were now “cooked” in place in 10 to 15 years. Mold and algae became a problem on roof surfaces to a much greater extent than in years past, and most of this is and was caused by a lack of ventilation.

Tips for Avoiding Mistakes

Roofing is so much more than just installing shingles, but we have to be able to see the bigger picture to understand why. As a third-generation union carpenter, who is still working on roofs at 67 years of age, I love what I do and I am very good at it. Since I see the same mistakes being repeated again and again, I feel obligated to pass on the experience that I have accumulated over the years. I have learned some hard lessons making all of the mistakes I am talking about here, and hopefully all of us can learn from them.

Installing proper vent baffles at the soffit creates an air channel into the attic from the soffit and prevents the insulation from touching the underside of the roof deck.

Here are some tips for avoiding common ventilation mistakes at each stage of the re-roofing process:

  • Check the attic space when you figure a new roof.
  • If you can’t see light coming from the soffit into the attic, then there is no air getting in either. · At this point, you either have to become a carpenter or soffit man — or hire one.
  • Take apart the soffit as you do the roofing tear-off.
  • You may need to remove the bottom sheet of plywood to see what you are doing from above.
  • If the soffit is aluminum or vinyl, chances are that there is an original wooden soffit beneath it.
  • Tear it all out. Take out the insulation that has been blown into the soffit at the same time.
  • Replace the old soffit with a fully vented aluminum or vinyl soffit system. Vented aluminum has twice the Net Free Area as vinyl for the same square footage, but they both work.
  • Install proper vent baffles at the soffit to create an air channel into the attic from the soffit. You cannot let the insulation touch the bottom side of the roof deck.
  • Check the bathroom vents and make sure that they are vented to the outside with a flapper vent through the roof and not vented into the attic space.
  • Do the same for any kitchen vents.
  • Install new sheeting along the bottom after you have fixed all of these problems.
  • Determine how much ventilation you need to vent the attic space (square inches). Normally, this is 1/150 of the attic floor space. (For example, if the attic floor is 30 feet by 50 feet, the attic floor area is 1,500 square feet. 1,500 divided by 150 = 10 square feet of ventilation.)
  • You need this much ventilation opening at the high point of the roof, ideally at the ridge.
  • If you install a ridge vent, take out and cover over the holes of the old roof louvers, turbine vents and gable end vents. You can just install some felt or plastic sheeting over the gable vents from the inside.
  • This will give you one intake at the soffit area, and one exhaust at the ridge. Don’t worry about having too much intake at the soffit, as it will only allow as much air in as it exhausted at the peak.
  • Install the new roof as per code.

Ensuring Safety and Efficiency

Making sure the new roof system is properly ventilated will maximize the service life of the shingles installed.

We will normally erect a scaffold around the perimeter of every job we do to give us access to this important area of the roof. This may sound like overkill, but that is the area where you want to spend the most time, as that is where the problems normally occur. It can be more expensive, but what we are talking about is value as opposed to price. Quite simply, I am not interested in talking to someone whose only concern is the cheapest price. On a steeper, higher roof, you will find that this is actually a faster and cheaper way to work, too. With a catch platform around the building, you have a place to work and store materials, you can see exactly what you are doing, and you also don’t need to have harnesses and ropes to obstruct you and still meet OSHA standards. Since I sell the jobs but also work on them, this is what I prefer. It is also impressive for the homeowner and it sets us apart from most of the competition. We have been doing it like this since 1986, so I know that it is a viable option. Scaffold is expensive initially, but when you have used it once, you will wonder how you did the work without it. It is also a line item on all of my bid forms, and after it has been paid for it is a profit center, too. That is the best of all worlds.

I have read that experience is what you get when you are looking for something else. I have many years invested in looking for “something else,” so I hope that this article helps you avoid just some of the mistakes that I have made in my lifetime.

About the Author: John R. Crookston is a roofing contractor and consultant located in Kalamazoo, Michigan. He has more than 60 years of experience in the roofing industry and has written technical articles for a variety of publications under the pseudonym “Old School.”

Award-Winning Re-Roofing Project Showcases Quality Workmanship

Photo: Duro-Last

Replacing the roof on an occupied building with multiple tenants means not only meeting the needs of the building owner but several other businesses as well. When the roof is high above a busy metro area, the job can be even more demanding, but when the failing roof on a CBRE Group high-rise in Cambridge, Massachusetts, needed to be replaced, Commonwealth Building Systems was up to the challenge.

Located near the Longfellow bridge across the Charles River from downtown Boston, the building houses a variety of business and retail tenants. RMX Northeast Inc., the consultant on the project, specified the use of a PVC roofing system from Duro-Last to replace the existing stone-ballasted system and invited local contractors to bid on the project. Commonwealth Building Systems of Rockland, Massachusetts was awarded the job.

Photo: Duro-Last

Commonwealth is a commercial roofing and sheet metal contractor that focuses on the Boston and Cambridge area. Daniel Hulverson, principal at Commonwealth Building Systems, knew the logistics on the project would be a challenge. Due to construction taking place on the Longfellow Bridge at the time of the project, traffic in the area was diverted around the building, and use of a crane was limited to Saturdays. The Commonwealth team commissioned the use of a 300-ton crane on two consecutive weekends to remove the stone ballast, pavers, and existing EPDM membrane from the 180-foot-tall, multi-level roof.

“The ballast removal was probably the hardest part of the project,” Hulverson recalls. “We couldn’t do any work doing the week because of the tenants for one, because of the noise, and the Longfellow Bridge was under construction at the time. It was actually closed, so traffic was pretty much a nightmare.”

R.K. Hydrovac was called in to remove the stone ballast. The crane was used to hoist the vacuum hoses to the roof. “It was quite an undertaking on their end,” Hulverson says. “We got the stone ballast off and got all of the stock up there on two consecutive weekends. Actually, after the first weekend we were able to get started roofing. We stockpiled all of the trash and got most of the trash off on the second weekend. We had a couple more crane days to get trash out at the end, so we had maybe four of five crane setups in all.”

A Custom Solution

The new roofing system was designed to stand up to the area’s high winds. Leaving the existing insulation in place, the Commonwealth crew covered each roof area with 2 additional inches of Duro-Guard ISO II insulation, which was mechanically attached. The upper roof was above a steel deck, and the lower roof covered a concrete deck, so different fasters were used, but the fastening patterns were identical.

After the existing ballasted EPDM system was removed, crews installed a thermoplastic roof system manufactured by Duro-Last. Photo: Duro-Last

After the insulation was in place, the Duro-Last PVC membrane was attached using the Duro-Bond induction welding system. The membrane is delivered custom fabricated to fit the site. “Duro-Last comes out and pre-measures the job with our assistance, and then the sheets are made,” Hulverson says. “They give you a map and tell you where the sheets go. They measure around all of the penetrations, and everything is pre-cut. It’s pretty cool how it comes out. The rolls are listed A, B, C, D, and so on, and you just kick out the rolls and weld them in place. The sheets are pre-welded at any laps, so it reduces the amount of welding you are doing on the job and saves time.”

The Duro-Bond system uses specially coated plates that are screwed down to the deck before the membrane is put in place. The membrane is adhered to the plates using an induction welder.

Work began on the upper level and moved down to the lower level. “We went from side to side, working our way toward where the crane setup was going to be,” Hulverson explains

The upper roof was constructed over a mechanical room, so crews could work any time without fear of disrupting the tenants. Work hours were restricted on the lower level because it covered occupied business space. “We had to switch to very early hours in the morning because of the noise,” Hulverson notes. “We were starting at three in the morning so we didn’t disrupt the tenants.”

Commonwealth’s dedication to quality workmanship on the project earned the company Duro-Last’s Edge-to-Edge & Deck-to-Sky Award. Photo: Duro-Last

Staging areas were moved as the project progressed to limit the possibility of damage to the completed sections of the roof. On the last day, the roof membrane was protected by tarps and plywood as the final loads of debris were removed.

The safety concerns were straightforward. “There was a parapet wall that was above 42 inches high around the whole perimeter of the building, so safety-wise, this job was fairly easy for us,” Hulverson says.

Custom-fabricated curbs and stacks were utilized to help reduce rooftop labor. “All of Duro-Last’s curbs and pipe seals come pre-made, and they are all listed on that diagram,” Hulverson says. “You just unfold them and weld them. The corners are already pre-done. It’s a very nice system.”

Commonwealth’s sheet metal division installed all of the edge metal, which was custom fabricated by EXCEPTIONAL Metals. “Again, Duro-Last measures everything along with our superintendent, and it’s all sent out prefabrication,” Hulverson says. “The pre-assembled wall cap was installed on top of the walls.”

During the last phase of the project, Walkway pads were welded down in high-traffic areas.

Luckily, weather wasn’t a key factor. “There were some challenging windy days, as there always are in Boston, but nothing I can really remember that slowed us down to the point we couldn’t work,” says Hulverson. “The weekend crane setups and the size of the crane were unusual, but other than that it was a pretty smooth job. And the views are beautiful — you’re looking across the Charles River into Boston, so it was pretty nice.”

Commonwealth’s dedication attention to detail on this project earned the company Duro-Last’s 2018 Edge-to-Edge & Deck-to-Sky Award, which was presented in 2019. “Duro-Last was impressed by the neatness of the job, especially the wall flashing,” Hulverson says. “They were impressed with our workmanship. If there were any challenges or changes, we just met them head on and moved forward, like we typically do. The customer is always first.”

Hulverson believes the key to ensuring quality workmanship is dedicated employees, from top to bottom. “Our foremen are well trained, as are our superintendents, and I actually look over the jobs in the field as one of four owners,” he says. “We make sure the quality and craftsmanship are done the right way.”

TEAM

Roof Consultant: RMX Northeast Inc., Milford, Massachusetts, www.rmxne.com

Roofing Contractor: Commonwealth Building Systems, Rockland, Massachusetts, www.commonwealthbuildingsystems.com

MATERIALS

PVC Membrane: Duro-Last, www.duro-last.com

Insulation: Duro-Guard ISO II, Duro-Last

Edge Metal: EXCEPTIONAL Metals, www.exceptionalmetals.com

Copper Accents Complement Synthetic Shake Roof System

This home in Northfield, Illinois, features custom copper dormers, four copper gable vents and four small flat standing seam copper roofs that tie into the synthetic shake roof system. Photos: Davinci Roofscapes

What makes a re-roofing project truly stand out? According to Chad Janisch, owner and President of Shake Guys, it’s the ability to aesthetically and functionally blend copper accents with synthetic shake to create a one-of-a-kind roof. The home they re-roofed last year in Northfield, Illinois, perfectly illustrates his point.

“The Mayberry home project had numerous custom copper dormers that had to be tied in with the DaVinci Roofscapes system,” says Janisch. “Most re-roof projects in this market that have this much custom copper work choose to reuse the existing copper metals. However, for this project the owners approved the use of new copper.

“We created eight custom copper roof dormers, four copper gable vents and four smaller flat standing seam copper roofs. The various roof dormers and sharp angles of the roof all added to the value of capturing the beautiful details of the Bellaforté Shake roofing system.”

Prior to hiring Shake Guys, homeowner Trent Mayberry knew his real cedar shake roof was in poor condition. Hail, wind damage and severe weather had taken its toll on the roof. When he inspected the roof, Chris Paulus, a field representative for Shake Guys, found that the cedar shakes were in the beginning stages of cupping and curling. Even worse, numerous cedar shakes were starting to fail and slide off the roof. Due to the amount of damage and overall poor condition of the roof, it was determined that a replacement roof was needed.

The various roof dormers and sharp angles of the roof accent the detials of the Bellaforté Shake roofing system by DaVinci Roofscapes. Photos: Davinci Roofscapes

“Shake Guys helped me from the initial roof assessment to coordinating all aspects of the estimates,” says Mayberry. “They worked with the insurance company to get a replacement roof approved, provided references so I could see their other projects, then did a professional installation job and great follow-up. This was a responsive, knowledgeable and caring team that I would highly recommend. Overall they provided great ‘end-to-end’ service.”

Enhanced Curb Appeal

Pleased with his selection of a roofing team for his home, Mayberry next had to make a decision on a roofing material. He wanted an alternative cedar shake that enhanced the curb appeal of his home. At the same time his top desire was to find a roofing product that would not deteriorate over time and put him in a similar situation for replacement.

“We’ve installed DaVinci synthetic shake roofs for the past three years,” says Janisch. “During that time, we’ve seen a very sharp increase and demand for alternative shake roofs and have installed more than 70 DaVinci roofing systems. Real cedar shake shingles just can’t hold up long-term against our Chicago-area weather conditions.”

Janisch points to some key benefits for homeowners. “The synthetic shake tiles are Class A fire and Class 4 impact rated, they withstand high winds and severe weather, plus they resist insects, algae and decay,” he notes. “With the Lifetime Limited Warranty on the DaVinci product and low maintenance appeal, you can’t beat the return on investment.”

Photos: Davinci Roofscapes

Shake Guys, whose primary focus is to replace real cedar roofs with an alternative composite roofing system, worked with Mayberry to select the Tahoe color for the Bellaforté Shake shingles. The new color and refreshed roof has added substantially to the curb appeal of the home.

“This roofing project took about 10 days to complete due to the custom copper work, but it was well worth it,” says Janisch. “The house looks stunning. I believe this will serve as a showpiece house to other residents in the area who are considering a new roof.”

“The investment that the Mayberry family made in this new synthetic shake roof gives them instant added curb appeal and value for their home,” he concludes. “Over time, this low-maintenance roof will also save them money and headaches. They’ll no longer have to invest in preserving real cedar tiles and maintaining them.”

Re-Roofing a Busy Hospital Poses Logistical Challenges

At Holmes Regional Medical Center, Advanced Roofing replaced 32,000 square feet of roofing on four different levels. Photos: Smith Aerial Photos

When leaks on the existing roof on the Holmes Regional Medical Center in Melbourne, Florida, became too much to bear, the need for a new roof on four levels of the building was obvious. But so were the numerous difficulties posed by removing and replacing the roof on an active hospital. To make matters more complicated, the areas affected were directly over the hospital’s main entrance and the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), which cares for premature infants.

It would take a talented team of roofing professionals using the right products to install a durable roof system without disrupting patient care. Advanced Roofing Inc. was up to the challenge.

Advanced Roofing is a full-service commercial roofing contractor based in Florida. The company’s corporate headquarters is in Fort Lauderdale, with offices in Sanford, Tampa, Miami, Jupiter, Fort Myers and Jacksonville. According to Jason Carruth, branch manager of the Sanford location, the company installs almost every type of low-slope and steep-slope roof system. “We do production, service, maintenance — anything to do with commercial roofing,” he says. “Our specialty is re-roofing occupied buildings.”

For Holmes Regional Medical Center, a two-ply modified system with a reflective coating from Tremco was specified. This was an ideal fit for the re-roofing application at the hospital, notes Carruth, as it was a cold-applied system with low VOCs. “As a certified Tremco applicator, we were invited to bid on the project, and we were successful with the contract,” says Carruth.

High Degree of Difficulty

The project involved the complete tear-off and replacement of the roofs on the four lowest levels of the hospital, totaling approximately 32,000 square feet. These included two of the most sensitive areas on the building. “We did the whole section over the main entrance where everyone drops people off,” notes Carruth. “Another section was directly over the NICU center. We did the staging and handled personnel coming in and out on four roof levels over that area. The entire roof section also surrounds an open-air atrium below, so we had to roof around not only the main entrance, but an atrium as well.”

No torches could be used on the project, so cold-applied modified system from Tremco was specified. It was topped with a reflective coating. Photos: Advanced Roofing Inc.

Safety was the top priority, both on the roof and on the ground. “We had to have full-time supervision on the ground,” Carruth says. “We had ground safety monitors that worked for us, and they had to coordinate traffic at the drive-through and the turnaround, as well as the pedestrian walkway, which was right at the edge of our staging area.”

The site posed numerous challenges, as the lone staging area was limited and the schedule was subject to change at a moment’s notice due to emergency surgeries. “Work over the NICU unit was a little more involved due to the fact that we were almost continually on call,” Carruth explains. “On days we were able to work, we had to be ready to stop if there was anything critical going on.”

Work began in the areas with the most problems. “We started in different sections based on the priorities of the hospital,” Carruth notes. “We initially focused on the areas where the leaks were the worst.”

After the problem areas were fixed, work proceeded in sections, working from the back to the front to minimize traffic on completed areas. The process involved tearing off the existing built-up roof down to the concrete deck and installing a temporary roof to keep everything watertight. Then tapered insulation was applied in cold adhesive, followed by a cover board and the two-ply smooth modified system. The last step was the application of the Alpha-Guard MT coating, which was set in a polyester mat.

Logistics, loading and disposal of debris was a complicated process, as crews could only load the roof at one point accessible to a telehandler — a 10K Lull. This meant much of the material had to be moved a long way across the roof. “We had to haul all of the material and all of the debris from the old roofs across a level, down a level, and up a level to one spot,” Carruth explains. “Mobilization was a little bit difficult on it because we were only allocated one staging area.”

Tear-Off and Installation

Advanced used a 10-man crew on the project, doing most of the demolition work at night and installation work during the day. The fall protection plan included Raptor tie-off carts and anchor points at higher levels of the building.

Photos: Advanced Roofing Inc.

Mechanical roof cutters were used to tear off the existing built-up roof. In some sections, lightweight concrete also had to be removed. Debris was placed in a custom-fabricated trash box with a lid that had special forks for use with the telehandler. “We cut the old roof into small sections and just used hard elbow grease to pop them off the bottom,” Carruth says. “We utilized a Lull and a trash box to dispose of the that debris, driving it over to the dumpster, which was in the parking lot.”

After the temporary roof was installed, tapered insulation was set in a low-rise foam adhesive. This was topped with half-inch Securock cover board and the modified sheets. The two-ply Tremco system consisted of a PowerPly HD base sheet and Composite Ply HT top sheet, both set in PowerPly adhesive. Before the coating was applied, all of the edge metal and trim were installed. “We put all of flashings in, put all of the sheet metal on, we put the counterflashing in,” notes Carruth. “All metals were installed on this project were stainless steel, as it was in Melbourne and pretty close to the coast.”

The Alpha-Guard MT base coat and Alpha-Guard MT top coat were set in Permafab polyester fabric. The coating was applied using a squeegee.

The system supplies the benefits of solar reflectance, which include lowering the roof temperature and minimizing utility costs, but the roofs also had to be aesthetically pleasing. “There are patient rooms that look down in this roof, so that’s why we went with the light gray coating, which still supplies the necessary SRI [Solar Reflectance Index] value,” Carruth points out.

Minimizing Disruptions

The work areas also necessitated other considerations for patients and staff. “We had guest rooms where we had to hang tarps up so people couldn’t see us working at the time,” notes Carruth. “There were passive air louvers that we had to cover to keep debris from the tear-off from getting inside the building. We also had to put charcoal filters in all of the air intakes.”

The work schedule could change on a moment’s notice, so the roofing crews kept in almost constant contact with facility managers. “We’d provide them with a weekly schedule and every day we let them know where we would be working and what we’d be doing. If anything changed, we’d hear about it from their facility people and adjust on the fly.”

The project was completed on time, despite numerous weather delays and interruptions because of surgeries in the NICU. “The communication between the manufacturer’s rep, the owners and ourselves was excellent,” Carruth says. “Pre-planning is everything. When the key players on a job are all on the same page, that’s when a project ends up being successful.”

Success on this project meant protecting the patients and pleasing the owner with a top-quality system. The roof system was designed for high-priority, high-sensitivity projects, and there are few areas that are more sensitive than a neonatal intensive care unit. But these types of projects are familiar territory for Advanced Roofing.

“This is what we do. We re-roof occupied buildings,” Carruth says. “Not only are we putting on a roof system, we’re dealing with customers, we’re watching the weather forecast and making sure the roof is always watertight. The experience Advanced has roofing occupied building is why Tremco and Holmes selected us for the project. We know how to handle those situations and keep the roofs watertight on a daily basis.”

TEAM

Roofing Contractor: Advanced Roofing Inc., headquartered in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. www.advancedroofing.com

MATERIALS

Cold-Applied Modified System: PowerPly HD and Composite Ply HT, Tremco, www.tremcoinc.com

Roof Coating: Alpha-Guard MT in Light Gray, Tremco

Cover Board: Securock, USG, www.usg.com

Working With Homeowners Associations Means Taking on Big Challenges

Glenwood Townhomes in San Dimas, California, includes 185 residential units, a clubhouse, standalone garage and park restroom building. The re-roofing project encompassed 250,000 square feet of shingles. Photos: La Rocque Better Roofs

A quick glance at the numbers reveals that Glenwood Townhomes in San Dimas, California, is not your everyday residential re-roofing project. Featuring 185 units plus a clubhouse, standalone garage and park restroom building, and requiring the installation of 250,000 square feet of shingles, the project is expansive in scope, to say the least. But for nearly 40 years, La Rocque Better Roofs has enjoyed taking on challenging roofing projects, and the team put a plan in place to take on a very ambitious and complex assignment.

With literally hundreds of homeowners impacted by the re-roofing project, the Glenwood Townhomes Home Owner Association (HOA) board of directors through its property management company, Personal Touch Property Management Company, actively sought a roofing company that had been in business for 20-plus years and, most importantly, was experienced in working with HOAs. Doug McCaulley, owner of Personal Touch Property Management Company, has managed Glenwood HOA for several years and knew he needed a company that was large enough and had the proper labor force to handle the size of the project — and would also be around to honor its warranty.

La Rocque Better Roofs has served customers throughout Southern California since 1981, and approximately 80 percent its business is focused on HOAs. The company has developed a process for effectively managing the multiple parties and considerations involved in HOA remodeling projects. Beyond the HOA board, other parties commonly involved in re-roofing projects include property management companies, roofing consultants, and maintenance and service organizations. From a project management perspective, challenges involved in HOA remodeling projects include dealing with any structural or code-related discoveries that arise once the project begins and minimizing inconvenience to residents.

The HOA board selected the Owens Corning TruDefinition Duration shingle in Desert Tan. Members desired both the aesthetics and the benefits of solar reflectivity. Photos: La Rocque Better Roofs

Labor availability is a key consideration for HOA projects, as such projects require a sizeable labor pool to be available for an extended period. Rory Davis, vice president of HOA Sales at La Rocque Better Roofs, says a readily available roofing team was a key factor in the selection of La Rocque Better Roofs for the project. “We do not subcontract our workers and work with a team of 75-110 people, depending upon the time of year, so that the project stays on schedule,” says Davis.

While project management skills, logistical know-how and labor are all required for HOA projects, the most important element in a re-roofing project is satisfying the homeowners living in the community. All these considerations went into La Rocque Better Roofs’ approach to the re-roofing of Glenwood Townhomes.

A Customized Approach to Roof Removal

The design of the Glenwood Townhomes community presented some structural challenges. Detached garages adjacent to each building blocked access for workers during the removal process. La Rocque Better Roofs found a way to resolve this challenge, investing in customized, extra-wide, sturdy walk boards to bridge the distance between the homes and garages. The walk boards allowed roofers to remove roofing from the home and then walk the removed materials directly into the truck. “Walking the debris right to the truck was a big plus, because materials didn’t touch the ground and didn’t come into contact with mature shrubs and landscaping,” says Guy La Rocque, president and CEO. “It was reassuring to homeowners to know that nails and debris wouldn’t be dropped in their yards and exterior living areas.” The system also supported efficiency. La Rocque estimates the walk boards reduced tear-off time by four to five hours per building.

“Safety and efficiency on all of worksites are key factors in being a successful and sought-after company,” La Rocque states. “The rules and requirements are constantly changing with OSHA, and it’s our responsibility as the management team at La Rocque Better Roofs to make sure all our employees are always up to date with the latest information. Our weekly Tailgate Safety Meetings as well as our monthly safety and education meetings help us maintain a level of awareness. It’s one thing to be educated in OSHA’s safety requirements; it’s another thing to implement and monitor these safety procedures on our jobsites.”

Surprises are not uncommon when remodeling mature properties. During the re-roofing project, some fireplaces in the community were found to be unstable. La Rocque Better Roofs worked with city permitting officials and engineers to retrofit the fireplaces so that they remained safe and functional without requiring a complete tear-down and rebuilding of the fireplaces.

Communication and the “Contractor Bubble”

Among the many steps La Rocque Better Roofs employed to simplify the process, Guy La Rocque says communication with residents was especially valuable. “We scheduled after-hours meetings with the residents to keep them informed about the project, answer their questions and let them know what to expect,” he says. “Over the years, we’ve found the best thing you can do is get homeowners involved. You can never communicate enough, so we let residents know what time our crews would be on site, where the crews would be working and what we expected to accomplish. “

Crews from La Rocque Better Roofs made sure to protect the landscaping as the project progressed. The company has made working for HOAs its primary focus. Photos: La Rocque Better Roofs

From La Rocque’s perspective, too many contractors operate in a “contractor bubble,” losing sight of other opportunities to add value to both homeowners and the contractor’s business. Listening to homeowners helps open up opportunities that may exist for additional work. “When you get homeowners involved, you get a different perception of what needs to happen,” La Rocque says. “The majority of us are homeowners, but many times we forget the most important thing we want from a contractor is communication.” He adds that the construction industry has suffered from a perception that too often contractors show up and leave whenever they want, leaving the customers in the dark. No one likes to be surprised. Keeping the homeowner informed can go a long way toward achieving more satisfied customers and generating more referrals.

Davis says that communication has never been more important than today, in the era of social media. “Yelp has become the new Better Business Bureau,” he says. “Social media provides more opportunities than ever before for consumers to either pat us on the back or criticize us.”

 Changing it Up

The Glenwood Townhomes community was built in 1973, and the roof replacement provided an opportunity to introduce trending colors and technology improvements to residents’ roofs. The HOA board wanted to select a color that would lighten up the overall look of the community and also take advantage of solar reflectivity. The HOA selected the Owens Corning TruDefinition Duration shingle in Desert Tan.

Asked about the shingle manufacturer’s involvement in the project, Davis says manufacturers’ reps can make a big difference. “Availability is key, and a willingness to bring samples onsite or address any problems that come up is critical. You learn a lot by how a manufacturer deals with any problems that arise. We may go years without a problem, but when something happens, we want someone who will step up,” he says. He also likes the Owens Corning Sure Nail technology and says the strip that ensures optimal placement of each nail is a plus.

HOA projects are not for every contractor. But through planning, establishing strong relationships with engineers, permitting organizations and other partners, thoughtful approaches to on-site challenges and most importantly, listening to customers, HOAs present an opportunity for contractors to take on projects of size and style.

Coordination Is the Key to Re-Roofing Active Port Terminal

Owned by the Port of New Orleans, the Nashville Ave. Terminal Complex offers more than a million square feet of cargo space. When the structure’s original built-up roof reached the end of its service life, a standing seam metal roof was manufactured and installed by Ray Bros. Inc. on the vast majority of the building. Photo: Aero Photo.

Construction projects on active jobsites can mean coordinating a lot of moving parts. Projects don’t get much more complicated than the recent roof replacement at the Nashville Ave. Terminal Complex, owned by the Port of New Orleans. The scope of work was multifaceted, the schedule was daunting, and everyone entering the facility had to have the proper security credentials. All of the work was performed next to the Mississippi River on top of an active wharf building, with cargo coming in and going out on trucks and forklifts as ships were loaded and unloaded. Materials housed inside the building were sensitive to moisture, dust and debris — and often had to be moved as work progressed.

Gino Ray Sr., president of Ray Bros. Inc., the roofing contractor on the project, likened it to a giant, three-dimensional puzzle. “It was almost like a Rubik’s Cube,” he says. “They had to move a section of material, and then when we finished a section, they slid the material over there so we could move on the next one. The whole time, the port was in operation. There was a lot of dancing involved.”

The Terminal

The Nashville Ave. Terminal Complex, operated by Ports America Louisiana Inc., offers more than 1 million square feet of storage space. Built in the 1960s, the structure was a rigid-frame, iron building with a ballasted tar and gravel roof over a heavy tongue-and-groove wooden deck. Decades of problems had seriously deteriorated the wooden deck, as well as the four-by-four wood nailers that were bolted to the rafters and purlins.

Key members of the team on the project included (from Left) N. Guy Williams of ECM Consultants, Kevin Haslauer of Glendale Enterprises, Gino Ray Sr. of Ray Bros. Inc., Craig Clark of Gulf Coast Service Group, and Curtis Shinogle of Gulf Coast Service Group.

The structure’s failing roof was replaced in three phases. During Phase 1, undertaken about a decade ago, a new built-up roof system was installed on one end of the building. When that section experienced performance issues, the owners looked for other options. Ray Bros. had the answer: an architectural metal roof.

Ray Bros. has been in business in New Orleans since 1996, when it was founded by Gino Ray Sr. The company has always focused primarily on metal roofing, and in the late ’90s it began roll forming and manufacturing its own panels and systems. “Today we manufacture everything we install,” Ray notes. “We’re kind of a hybrid — a manufacturer/contractor.”

The company’s metal panel system had been installed on several other port buildings, and the owners specified it for Phase 2 of the project, which covered a 230,000-square-foot section near the center of the building on either side of the firewall. Phase 2 was completed in 2014. Phase 3 encompassed 420,000 square feet to complete the sections on either side of Phase 2. Work began in August of 2016 and completed in May of 2017.

Ray Bros. manufactured and installed all of the metal roofing on the building — a total of 650,000 square feet — and served as both the prime contractor and the roofing contractor on the third phase of the project. Ray credits his dedicated team, the cooperation of all of the companies involved, and an innovative strategy for coping with the project’s many hurdles as the keys to a successful outcome.

Beefing Up the Structure

The standing seam metal roof system recommended by Ray Bros. was specified for its durability and low maintenance. The new system would give the port the long lifespan the owners desired, but it would necessitate some structural changes.

“Before we put the metal roof on, we had to beef up the existing trusses and reinforce the existing structure because it was such a light building now,” Ray notes. “There was an enormous amount of welding to the exiting trusses and existing purlins that had to be done before we could begin to put the roof on.”

Metal panels were roll formed directly onto the roof for installation. The panels on one side of the roof were 180 feet long. Photo: Ray Bros. Inc.

The plan was to beef up the structure from the inside and install the new gutters. Then the old roof could then be torn off and the new metal roof installed. The roof installation would be completed in sections, with crews moving from one area to the next in sequence.

Gulf Coast Service Group served as the structural steel and demolition contractor. Crews on man lifts set up inside the building reinforced the existing steel structure. New angle irons were welded to the bottom of the purlins. The existing sprinkler system had to be reconfigured, as it was attached to the four-by-four wood nailers that had to be removed. Work on the sprinklers was performed in conjunction with S & S Sprinkler Company. “We didn’t have to dismantle the sprinkler system, just move it,” Ray explains. “New hangers were mounted to the steel. We had to put a hanger on, take a hanger off. That was part of the tango dance as well.”

After the welders completed their work, crews from RK Hydrovac vacuumed the ballast off the roof. Prior to the demolition work, approximately 4,100 linear feet of gutters were installed. Oversized gutters were manufactured from 16-gauge stainless steel in the Ray Bros. metal shop, and all of the joints were welded together. Gutter sections were raised into place with a lift and secured with stainless steel brackets and hangers. “That gutter weighed about 11 pounds per running foot, and we made it in 21-foot lengths,” Ray notes.

The Roof Installation

The demolition crews and installation crews then swung into action. After sections of the deck were removed, metal panels were roll-formed on the site and installed. “The demo people would tear out a bay — which is a 20-foot section — all the way up to the ridge,” Ray explains. “On one side of the roof, the panels were 180 feet long. So, they would tear out a 20-foot-by-180-foot section, and we would come in right after that and put a 20-foot section of 180-foot panels down.”

Crew members on lifts reinforced the existing steel structure before the new roof was installed. Photo: Ray Bros. Inc.

Panels were made from 22-gauge galvalume. Zimmerman Metals supplied roll forming machines to Ray Bros. Inc. so the company could manufacture its proprietary product. The RBI MT-240 panels were 18 inches wide and interlock using continuous clips. A batten cap was installed over the top and then mechanically seamed using a machine manufactured by D.I. Roof Seamers.

The roll-up bay doors along the sides of the building and at the gable ends of the warehouse qualified it as a partially enclosed structure, which necessitated strict engineering standards. “In order to meet engineering standards, we had to use continuous clips,” Ray notes.

Every third bay had a skylight system to light the interior. Skylights used on the project were manufactured by CPI Daylighting Systems and installed by Glendale Industries. Custom-made curbs and crickets were fashioned by Ray Bros.

When skylights could not be installed right away, the openings were covered with plywood and felt to eliminate safety hazards and keep the interior of the building dry. “When the Glendale Industries people would show up, we’d remove the plywood and they would put on their system,” Ray notes. “As the job progressed, we’d re-use the same plywood and temporary coverings as we went along. We’d just leapfrog the plywood from curb to curb.”

After the roof was completed, the last step was to replace the wall panels in the interior that were designed to trap the smoke in the event of a fire. The old corrugated smoke panels were wired to the steel, but that system would not comply with today’s standards, so Ray Bros. created a sub-framing system to attach new ones. “We had 500 squares of smoke panels to install beneath the roof system,” Ray states. “We put in some16-gauge furring channels and attached the panels with screws. We manufactured all of that in house.”

After the roof was installed, 50,000 square feet of new corrugated smoke panels were installed. Photo: Ray Bros. Inc.

The demo crews, installation crews, and skylight crews kept moving in sequence under the direction of Jobsite Superintendent Robert Sinopoli, a 30-year industry veteran who has been with Ray Bros. ever since the company was founded. Sinopoli monitored everyone’s progress on the site and made sure everyone knew their assignments each day. “Everybody leapfrogged everybody else,” Ray notes. “Everyone had their own song and dance, and if one person got out of rhythm, it would domino back.”

Everyone involved on the project also needed to have a dance card, as security on the site was tight. Workers needed to have a background check and Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC). Every vehicle had to have proper registration, insurance and inspection tags. The jobsite did not allow personal vehicles, and this posed a problem for Ray Bros., as the company routinely had 40 to 50 workers on site. “Everybody had to be on a company vehicle in a seat with a seat belt,” Ray notes. “I had to buy a used bus to transport workers in and out. We painted it, put our logo on it and made it look pretty. We just drove it 1.5 miles a day. At the end of the job, I sold the bus.”

Big Chunks

The project was wrapped up ahead of schedule, and it was the sequencing of work that was the key its success, according to Ray. “We didn’t want to tackle this project one bay at a time; we were looking at big chunks at a time,” he says. “We were able to develop a rhythm quicker that way. Instead of changing hats several times in the course of a day or a week, we put a hat on, let it stay on, got a big section done and moved on to the next. We didn’t want to change tools and change personnel. We wanted to look at it like a monolithic application.”

In the end, it all boiled down to pride — no one wanted to be the one to falter. “We self-perform a lot of our work, and we have existing relationships with all of the subcontractors we use,” Ray says. “I’m never going to let them down or leave them hanging, and I know they are going to do the same for me. That’s what made that job go — no one wanted to be the weak link. Everybody had a job to do and they did it. It worked out great.”

It was a true team effort. “This was like our Super Bowl, and we won,” Ray concludes. “I’m real proud of my company, our people, and all the people we worked with. I know that on our next job, I can count on them and they know they can count on me.”

TEAM

Architect: ECM Consultants, Metairie, Louisiana, www.ecmconsultants.com
General Contractor and Roofing Contractor: Ray Bros. Inc., New Orleans, Louisiana, www.raybrosinc.com
Structural Steel and Demolition Contractor: Gulf Coast Service Group, Harvey, Louisiana
Skylight Installer: Glendale Enterprises, Norco, Louisiana, www.glendaleinc.com
Sprinkler Repair Contractor: S & S Sprinkler Company, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, www.sssprinkler.com

MATERIALS

Metal Roof Panels: 18-inch wide, 22-gauge galvalume MT-240 standing seam panels, Ray Bros. Inc.
Skylights: CPI Daylighting Systems, www.cpidaylighting.com
Roll Former: Zimmerman Metals Inc., www.zimmerman-metals.com

Ultra-Steep Slope Roof Poses Challenges in Historic Church Re-Roofing Project

Century Christian Church is a landmark building in Owensboro, Kentucky. Completed in 1963, the church is included on the Kentucky Historic Register and recognized for its unique architectural style.
Photos: Owens Corning

At Century Christian Church in Owensboro, Kentucky, it is not the steeple that points toward the heavens above, but rather the entire roof. The church’s 50/12 pitch roof has become one of the most distinguishing features in the local landscape.

Completed in 1963, Century Christian Church is included on the Kentucky Historic Register and recognized for its unique architectural style. In fact, the roof is so eye-catching that it has been incorporated into the church’s website message which reads, “Our roof reaches up; our hearts reach out.” The roof ascends 40 feet and is divided into four quarters or “bows,” with each symbolizing one of the four Gospels in the Bible.

In 2016, the church’s building committee realized it was time for a new roof. Located in an open field apart from other structures, the roof had been struck by lightning on several occasions. The protective cable that ran down the sides of the church as a conduit for lightning strikes had been eroded and just one section of cable was intact. The building’s location also presented airflow challenges. Storms and strong winds crossing the field had caused shingles to loosen and fly off the building.

According to Harold King, a member of the Century Christian Church building committee, the church considered several criteria when selecting All American Home Improvement, LLC in Evansville, Indiana, to complete the re-roofing project. “We wanted a reputable company who was experienced in doing steep slope work, had an excellent safety record, and had a workforce equipped to meet the needs of this labor-intensive job,” he says, adding that the

The roof ascends 40 feet and is divided into four quarters or “bows,” with each bow symbolizing one of the four Gospels in The Holy Bible. Photos: Owens Corning

company’s Owens Corning Roofing Platinum Contractor certification provided additional confidence. “Our Owens Corning area sales manager, John Sabbak, explained the warranty for the re-roofing project and that was very important for us in selecting the materials for the project,” King says, noting that Sabbak also stopped by at different times during the installation to check in on the progress.

A Daunting Task

What were the challenges the roofing contractor faced in tackling the project? “What wasn’t a challenge?” asked Josh Long, Western Kentucky Sales Manager at All American Home Improvement. The metal capping required to protect the building from lightening, and the scorching summer heat during the installation were just a few of the challenges. By far, however, the two most daunting challenges were the safety concerns associated with the pitch and the wind issues that challenged shingle adhesion.

To help foster safety on the steep slopes, teams were assigned to cover each of the four “bows” comprising the roof. The teams used a precisely calculated system of ladders and walkboards to safely navigate and scale the roof. “Roofers getting home to their families safely every night will always be a top priority at Owens Corning,” says Sabbak, noting that All American Home Improvement teams were outfitted with personal protection equipment and participated in advance walk-through processes to safely tackle the project.

Installation teams from All American Home Improvement participated in advance walk-throughs to ensure everyone was well versed in the safety plan. Photos: Owens Corning

The building committee at Century Christian Church also wanted to avoid the safety and aesthetic concerns associated with shingle fly-off. That’s where Owens Corning SureNail Technology and Duration Shingles came into play. Developed to provide exceptional wind resistance, the system can qualify for a 130-mph wind warranty. “The Duration shingle delivered both the performance and the warranty we needed for a job with this kind of pitch and exposure to airflow,” says Long. According to Long, the shingles were also hand sealed as required by Owens Corning for the building’s pitch. “The SureNail Technology made it easy for the teams to install the shingle correctly because the white strip in the middle of the shingle leaves no doubt as to where the nail should go and facilitated a smooth installation,” he says.

As the roofing project progressed, so did public interest. The local newspaper stopped by to capture photos of residents watching the re-roofing spectacle from lawn chairs on the church lawn. The combination of re-roofing a challenging structure, improving the aesthetics of a historic building and scaling a very steep roof made it a memorable project according to Long. “It was a very unusual project from our daily jobs, and the challenges were part of what made the project so fun,” he notes.

TEAM

Roofing Contractor: All American Home Improvement, LLC, Evansville, Indiana, 1shingleatatime.com

MATERIALS

Steep-Slope Roof System: Duration Shingles with SureNail Technology, Owens Corning
Underlayment: ProArmor, Owens Corning

North Carolina Legislative Building Restoration Poses Unique Challenges

The North Carolina State Legislative Building was the site of a renovation project that included asbestos abatement in the interior and a complete restoration of the building’s roof systems.

The North Carolina State Legislative Building was the site of a renovation project that included asbestos abatement in the interior and a complete restoration of the building’s roof systems. Photos: SkySite Images

Some of the variables that can make a project difficult include a variety of complex, interconnected systems, unique design elements, and a tight schedule. These challenges are heightened on a highly visible, historic building, where the goal of keeping the design historically accurate must be balanced with making improvements to the structure and functionality of the systems. All of these elements and more were in play during the restoration of the one-of-a-kind roof on the North Carolina State Legislative Building in Raleigh, North Carolina. It took a talented team of design, engineering, and roofing professionals to bring the project to a successful conclusion.

Originally designed by architect Edward Durell Stone, the building has been the home of the state legislature since 1963, but water intrusion under its copper pyramids and at windows and doors on the promenade level precipitated a complete restoration project. Renovation work conducted in 2016 and 2017 included asbestos abatement in the interior and a complete restoration of the building’s roof systems.

The roofing phase of the project included removing and replacing the metal roof systems on the five copper-clad pyramids, as well as re-roofing the low-slope sections adjacent to the pyramids with a two-ply modified bitumen system. A liquid-applied waterproofing system was installed in the planter areas and under the pavers in the promenade section. The project also involved the removal and replacement of windows, doors, and skylights, as well as repairing and coating the concrete surfaces at the perimeter of the roof.

The design of the quilted flat lock copper panel system involved 17 different panel profiles. A false batten was added after the panels were in place.

The design of the quilted flat lock copper panel system involved 17 different panel profiles. A false batten was added after the panels were in place. Photos: SkySite Images

Companies involved in the project included Raymond Engineering, headquartered in Raleigh, North Carolina, which provided engineering and architectural services; Owens Roofing Inc., also located in Raleigh, which served as the general contractor on the roofing phase of the project and installed the low-slope systems; and The Century Slate Company, headquartered in Durham, North Carolina, which removed and replaced the copper roofs on the five pyramids.

Some of the key players in the project shared their insights with Roofing, including John Willers, a senior engineer with Raymond Engineering; Bert Owens, president of Owens Roofing; and Mike Tenoever, president of Century Slate.

“This is an iconic state building with a unique roof system which the owner and designer required to be aesthetically replicated,” Tenoever notes. “At the same time, some functionality and technical improvements were incorporated. This is a very high-profile project with a lot of complexity, particularly given the schedule. There were a lot of details compressed into a very short period of time.”

Design and Pre-Construction

Raymond Engineering conducted testing on the existing roofs and specified systems designed to match the originals and provide some necessary improvements, including added insulation and ventilation under the pyramids. Willers worked closely with Jason Mobraten, the senior architect on the project. “We provided the engineering and architectural services, beginning with design and then assisting with bidding and managing the construction phase of this project,” says Willers. “We engineered the copper roof, all of the detailing for the modified asphalt roof, and the detailing for the drainage, the pavers, and the sealants for the promenade.”

Crews from Owens Roofing removed the existing plants, media and drainage system from four 42-foot-by-42-foot fixed planters with skylights. After the substrate was cleaned and primed, a liquid-applied waterproofing system was installed.

Crews from Owens Roofing removed the existing plants, media and drainage system from four 42-foot-by-42-foot fixed planters with skylights. After the substrate was cleaned and primed, a liquid-applied waterproofing system was installed. Photos: SkySite Images

The schedule was an obvious challenge, as the majority of the work had to be completed while the legislature was in recess, and there were substantial financial penalties that would come into play if the work was not completed on time. “The client also required that the asbestos abatement be completed before re-roofing the copper-clad pyramids to avoid the risk of dislodging the asbestos-containing textured ceiling finish. However, doing the work in two phases allowed the asbestos contractor to get started while the rest of the job was designed and bid,” Willers states.

The building houses legislators’ offices, and it was open and occupied during construction, with the exception of the areas undergoing asbestos abatement. The schedule had to be carefully adjusted as the job progressed. “In addition to our role in monitoring the technical aspects of the construction, we closely monitored the construction phasing and sequencing, as it was directly driven by the schedule of the state legislature,” Willers notes. “We had to take a lot of care in developing the schedule and monitoring it.”

Willers and Mobraten knew that the details on this project would be crucial. “There were previously some issues where the copper and the low-slope membrane roofs met,” Willers says. “We detailed that very carefully so that we had redundancy in keeping that watertight.”

Extensive mock-ups of the copper pyramids were constructed and tested to ensure the quilted pattern could be exactly replicated while avoiding the leaks that plagued the existing structure.

Photos: SkySite Images

Photos: SkySite Images

As designers looked for ways to improve construction, they explored the design and construction of the quilted panels. “From a design standpoint, we wondered why we had this odd diamond-shaped pattern,” Willers recalls. “After we played with the dimensions a bit, we realized that if you fly over the building, from above all of those diamond sections look like squares.”

The key was to replicate the design with its false battens while avoiding leaks. “We were concerned about how to detail out the joining of the copper sheets that formed the diamond-shaped panels,” Willers says. “What had been done was susceptible to windblown rain getting in. We did two things differently: the little clips that supported these battens were secured by forming the clips with hooks that would be integral with the single-locked seams and soldering the clips to the top surface of the copper panels. Previously they were held in place by pop rivets, which went through the copper.”

The Secrets of the Pyramids

Century Slate was well prepared to tackle the copper roofing on the project. The company has been in business more than 20 years, and it specializes in historic restoration projects including slate, tile, wood, copper and other historical metals.

Crews from Century Slate removed the existing copper panels. The copper was salvaged and recycled.

Crews from Century Slate removed the existing copper panels. The copper was salvaged and recycled. Photos: SkySite Images

Tenoever knew the design of the original quilted flat lock copper panel system needed to be replicated exactly. “There were 17 different panel profiles, each within a very particular location within the roof’s quilted pattern,” Tenoever notes. “Proper placement of each different profile was essential to the whole system working correctly and looking like the original.”

The first step was to remove the existing copper roofs. “We tore off the entire system down to the deck,” Tenoever explains. “We then installed a semi permeable a vapor barrier, insulation, and a vapor retarder.”

Along with added insulation and Carlisle WIP 300HT self-adhering underlayment, crews also installed a vented nail base from Hunter Panels. “The Hunter Cool-Vent is a vented nail base that gets screwed down,” Tenoever says. “The goal was to have a breathable air cavity. All of the hip caps are actually vented to allow the air to get out.”

With the addition of the insulation and nail base, the roof was built up approximately 6 inches from the previous configuration. This added height necessitated changes in the custom flashing at the base of the pyramids but did not change the configuration of the copper panels.

In all, 22,500 square feet of copper panels fabricated by K&M Sheet Metal in Durham were installed. Each of the 17 different panels was labeled with a letter code. “When they were out at the site, we could just grab an A panel or a B panel, as needed, and bring them to that layout,” Tenoever explains. “Four of the pyramids were the same, and the center one was different, as that was the one that had skylights built into it.”

The areas between the pyramids were covered with a two-ply modified bitumen roofing system. Photos: SkySite Images

The panels feature flat-lock clips that were screwed down to the nail base. “It’s a typical flat seam panel system, and the panels interlock together,” says Tenoever. “You can see the batten panel above it, which is an aesthetic feature. The battens and the clips that held them were amazingly intricate, for what they were. They were cut out with a CNC machine and soldered onto the copper panels prior to installation. Later we came back and installed the batten system over the top.”

Century Slate built new curbs in the center pyramid for the new skylights, which were manufactured by Wasco. “The skylights were one of the last things to go on,” says Tenoever. “They were custom made because even though they look square, there isn’t a square angle on them.”

Custom copper flashings were installed at the bases. “One of the trickier parts for us probably would have been the tie-in of the modified roof, because Owens Roofing had to do their bit, and we were also replacing all of the wood blocking and everything all along the bottom edge before we could put our flashing on,” Tenoever recalls. “It took a lot of coordination between the two trades, but it all worked out.”

The Low-Slope Roof Systems

Owens Roofing served as the general contractor on the project and installed the low-slope roof systems. The company was established in 1986 in Raleigh, and focuses on commercial and institutional buildings, almost exclusively re-roofing. Much of its work is on historic buildings, so Owens was confident he could execute the project and complete it on schedule.

A scaffolding system offered secure roof access, but material had to be loaded and removed from one access point, so logistics had to be carefully mapped out.

A scaffolding system offered secure roof access, but material had to be loaded and removed from one access point, so logistics had to be carefully mapped out. Photos: SkySite Images

Crews from Owens Roofing installed 18,900 square feet of modified bitumen roofing from Soprema over concrete decks, including the areas between the pyramids. Tapered polyiso and half-inch DEXcell cover board from National Gypsum were installed using Duotack adhesive, followed by the two plies of modified bitumen membrane.

A liquid waterproofing system from Sika was specified for the large planter areas. Crews from Owens Roofing removed the existing plants, media and drainage system from four 42-foot-by-42-foot fixed planters with skylights. After the substrate had been cleaned and primed, the Sika RoofPro system was installed.

“Once it’s cleaned and primed, it’s pretty simple,” says Owens. “The product is one part, and you don’t even have to mix it. We applied it with rollers on this project. You embed fabric sheets in the system and then topcoat it. It was a cold-weather job, but fortunately we caught a break last winter in that it wasn’t as cold as usual, and we didn’t miss as much time as we might have.”

The 30,000-square-foot promenade section was originally covered by white granite pavers native to North Carolina. The old pavers were removed and replaced over a new roof system, which was comprised of modified bitumen sheets beneath the liquid-applied waterproofing system. “The concrete deck was primed and a modified bitumen base ply heat welded to the deck,” Owens explains. “This surface was primed in preparation for the Roof Pro system, which was then installed.”

Innovative Roof Services of Raleigh was called in to conduct a high-voltage electrical testing to ensure there were no voids in the system before the pavers were re-installed. The pavers had originally been set in a bed of mortar, and they had to be removed and cleaned, which revealed a problem. “When we took the pavers up, we found out that they ranged between 1-1/8 and 1-3/4 inches thick,” Owens notes. “That wasn’t a problem when they were set in a bed of mortar, but over extruded polystyrene, they would have been all up and down. We put in a change order and had the pavers set in a bed of sand on top of one layer polystyrene.” The sand was adjusted by hand to ensure the pavers were level. New pavers were added to replace those broken over the years.

On the roof’s concrete eyebrows, damaged areas of concrete were repaired, joints were sealed, and a cold-applied waterproofing system from Sika Sarnafil was used to cover 8,800 square feet of concrete.

Numerous Challenges

Important considerations on the project included safety and logistics, as well as the tight schedule. Safety was paramount, and a third-party safety monitor was on the site to ensure the safety plan was designed and executed properly. During the time between when the original skylights were removed and when their replacements installed, the voids in the roof deck needed to be cordoned off and covered according to OSHA regulations. Personal fall arrest systems were used on the pyramids and outside of the safety perimeter, which was marked with flags. “With the promenade, you had a wide concrete eyebrow, so it made it easier to set up the safety lines and keep everyone safely away from the edge,” Owens notes.

This aerial photo taken before the restoration project shows the copper roofs with their green patina. Photos: SkySite Images

“Safety is a key concern as on all jobs, but this one in particular was highly visible out the windows of the nearby Department of Labor,” Owens continues. “We were paid a courtesy visit and agreed with them that an on-site safety meeting conducted by their personnel might be useful. The owner allowed us use of one of their auditoriums and we had a very productive half-day meeting for all trades. Every week we had a meeting with a state construction monitor.”

A scaffolding system was set up that offered secure roof access, but there was only one point for loading and unloading material, so logistics at the site were a concern. “We had to use wheelbarrows and roof carts to transport materials back and forth to the scaffolding tower,” Tenoever notes. “Between the removal of the original roof and the installation of the multiple layers of the new roof system, over 150,000 square feet of roofing materials were moved by hand over an average distance of approximately 200 feet.”

Loading and unloading added another wrinkle to the complicated schedule. “The schedule was based on when the legislature was scheduled to come back to town—not how long the job was supposed to take,” Owens says. “We were all concerned with the ambitious time frame and $1,000 a day liquidated damages included with this job.”

Willers cited excellent communication as one of the keys to completing the project on time. “Fortunately, the project managers for the general contractor and other trades were highly organized individuals,” Willers says. “Regular site meetings were detailed and thorough. Although setbacks did occur, communication kept the ball rolling.”

The roof system on the building’s iconic copper clad pyramids was removed and carefully recreated, matching the original design while adding a vented cavity and increasing the thermal insulation. Photos: SkySite Images

A Unique Experience

Copper removed from the existing roof was salvaged and recycled, notes Willers, with the exception of a few pieces that

were cut into the shape of the state of North Carolina to serve as mementos of the unique project. “We’re very proud of the design and the outcome—and the assistance we got from all of the contractors involved,” Willers says. “We had some pretty heavy rains after the project was completed, including some high winds, and there were no leaks.”

Tenoever also looks back on the project with pride. “A one-of-a-kind roof system was custom built and delivered on schedule and with the owner and designer’s praises,” he says. “Taking something so amazing and restoring it to the beauty it originally had—we all get a kick out of that.”

TEAM

Design and Engineering Services: Raymond Engineering, Raleigh, North Carolina, RaymondLLC.com
General Contractor: Owens Roofing Inc., Raleigh, North Carolina
Metal Roofing Contractor: The Century Slate Company, Durham, North Carolina, CenturySlate.com
Leak Testing: Innovative Roof Services, LLC, Raleigh, North Carolina, IRS-LLC.net

MATERIALS

Metal Roof System
Copper: 20-ounce copper sheet metal
Vented Nail Base: Hunter Cool-Vent, Hunter Panels, HunterPanels.com
Underlayment: Carlisle WIP 300HT, Carlisle, Carlislewipproducts.com
Skylights: Wasco Skylights, Wascoskylights.com

Modified Bitumen Membrane Roof System

Membrane: Sopralene Flam 180 and Sopralene Flam 180 FR GR, Soprema, Soprema.us
Adhesive: Duotack, Soprema
Insulation: Sopra-Iso, Soprema
Cover Board: DEXcell, National Gypsum, NationalGypsum.com

Waterproofing System

Liquid Applied Membrane: RoofPro 641, Sika Corp., USA.Sika.com
Reinforcing Fabric: Reemat, Sika Corp.
Primer: Sikalastic EP Primer/Sealer
Extruded Polystyrene Insulation: Foamular 604, Owens Corning, OwensCorning.com