Metal Roofing System Is the Answer for Rocky Mountain Home Retrofit

When it came time to replace the roof on this Colorado

When it came time to replace the roof on this Colorado custom home, the owner wanted a roof system that would look good and stand up to the elements. He chose the Riva Classic Copper Shingle from Vail Metal Systems. Photos: Vail Metal Systems

When the owner of a home situated in the Rocky Mountains was faced with replacing his 10,000-square-foot roof, he had a daunting set of criteria. He wanted a roof that would last longer and look better than the wood shake roof he had in place. He also wanted a roof that would be fire resistant, and one that would stand up to the elements in this harsh environment, as the home was situated high above the ski areas of Vail and Aspen in Colorado.

The elevation of this home is almost 10,000 feet, and snow loads are a major concern, as are high winds and exposure to ultraviolet rays. The homeowner needed a durable roof system that was designed for the Rocky Mountains, one that would add value to his investment.

He found the answer in Vail Metal Roof Systems. The product was originally developed in the Vail area more than 20 years ago by David Plath and his partners at Plath Construction for just these sorts of issues. “At the time, the roofs in Vail were failing in 15 to 20 years,” Plath remembers. “Maintenance cost were a huge, chronic problem for all types of roofing except cedar shakes. Clay tile was breaking at catastrophic rates. Copper standing seam roofs were being destroyed by sliding snow and ice dropping from upper roofs.”

Once installed, the copper panels

Once installed, the copper panels have an exposure that is 32 inches wide by 11 inches tall. Panels are held in place with clips that are fastened to the substrate, allowing for expansion and contraction. Photos: Vail Metal Systems

Plath’s goal was to develop a metal shingle product that was efficient to install, needed little or no maintenance, and could be priced competitively with standing seam metal roof systems. He came up with a metal shingle concept comprised of a folded panel 37.125 inches long and 13.5 inches wide, designed to look like four individual shingles side by side. When the product is installed, the exposure is 32 inches wide by 11 inches tall.

“I chose the metal shingle design because of its long history, with evidence of copper shingle roofs lasting centuries,” Plath recalls. “The copper shingle design was first tested in the winter of 1994. Our design didn’t invent metal shingle roofing, of course, but we did find a way to create a product with four metal shingles per panel. They were indistinguishable from custom, handmade metal shingles made by master craftsman.”

The Riva Series metal shingle has developed a history of meeting the needs of area homeowners since its invention, according to Plath. The company offers the product in copper and zinc, as well as steel and aluminum substrates pre-painted with PVDF coating systems in a variety of solid colors and print-coated patterns. “The durability of the roof system has been proven over many years with hundreds of installations, and we have a track record second to none in meeting these types of vigorous needs,” he says.

Replacing the Roof

For the Rocky Mountain retrofit project, the Riva Classic Copper Shingle was chosen. The original roof system had an insulation value of R-39, and the goal was to keep the house well insulated while installing the new roof system. This required a highly trained installer for the new roof, and no one had more experience than Plath Construction, the company originally co-founded by David Plath and now run by current owners Alberto Ortega and Francisco Castillo.

Ortega and Castillo worked in conjunction with Schaeffer Hyde Construction, the general contractor on the home when it was originally built. Rob Faucett of Schaeffer Hyde Construction was the project manager on the roof replacement project.

Photos: Vail Metal Systems

Photos: Vail Metal Systems

After the old roof was removed, the Vail Metal Roof system was installed. A layer of Grace Ice and Water Guard was applied to the deck, and new copper flashings and metal panels were installed per the manufacturer’s specifications. Clips were used to fasten the panels to the substrate and still allow for expansion and contraction. On this project, ridge vents were installed to control moisture buildup from the interior of the building.

The home was built with natural stone in a gorgeous landscape, and the homeowner wanted a roof system that would blend well with these architectural elements and make a strong statement as it stood up to the tough conditions. He found the right answer in the Riva Classic Copper Shingle, and he is pleased with the aesthetics and the performance of the roof, according to Plath.

At one time the product was licensed to another company, but Plath was recently thrilled to announce he is personally involved with Vail metal shingles once again as the owner of Vail Metal Systems. “Our customers love the product,” Plath says, “We have testimonials unlike anything I’ve ever heard throughout my career. It’s been my dream to manufacture this product and make it available to the industry, and relaunching Vail Metal Systems is the perfect retirement plan for a guy that doesn’t know when to slow down.”

TEAM

General Contractor: Shaeffer Hyde Construction, Avon, Colo., Shaefferhyde.com
Roofing Contractor: Plath Construction Inc., Eagle, Colo., Plathroofing.com
Metal Roof System Manufacturer: Vail Metal Systems, VailMetal.com

Feeling Comfortable With Metal Roofing

Metal Roof Consultants Inc

Photo: Metal Roof Consultants Inc.

Theodore Roosevelt once said, “The best thing you can do is the right thing; the next best thing you can do is the wrong thing; the worst thing you can do is nothing.” 

Throughout our lives, we must decide what to do and how to deal with the inevitable fear that surrounds doing anything for the first time. Remember that bicycle in the garage that looked so inviting—until you thought of how it would be impossible for you to balance yourself on those two tiny wheels and pedal it forward without falling and hurting yourself. Your mind focused on falling and not the excitement of being able to conquer riding that bicycle. Yet, as Theodore Roosevelt said many years ago, “the worst thing you can do is nothing.” 

We are faced with new things throughout our lives, and when we do we usually must weigh the possibilities of doing the right thing, the wrong thing, or nothing. However, if we expect to have a productive and peaceful life, we must force ourselves to always do “something.”  

Finally, we must also ask ourselves why we even consider new things we contemplate doing. When we take on a new task and we know why we are doing it, we are comfortable with taking whatever risk is anticipated. When we know that the only wrong thing to do is nothing, we have the possibility to achieve even greater things. Even if it turns out to be the wrong thing, we will learn valuable lessons about ourselves and the task we were trying to accomplish.  

Now, let’s look at the metal roofing industry and ask ourselves whether we are “doing nothing” either because we are afraid of “falling off the bicycle” or because we haven’t determined why we want to enter this market. Both reasons limit your personal and business potential to what you are doing now. Now, let’s explore some of the reasons you might not be comfortable entering the metal roof market, thereby limiting your growth potential. 

The Metal Market

Metal roofing has been around since 1932, when the first standing seam roof panel was introduced by Armco steel at the World’s Fair in Chicago. However, it is still a rather small percentage of the total roofing market. Why? In part, it’s because some contractors fear entering this market. Let’s look at some of the reasons that the unknown aspects of metal roofing, or the incorrect perception of a metal roofing system, can cause contractors to avoid this market: 

Metal Roof Consultants Inc.

Photo: Metal Roof Consultants Inc.

Specialized workforce. There is the perception that this market requires a field force that is very difficult to gather. The reality is that the metal roofing systems in today’s market include parts and components that are easily put together. Manufacturers provide training in how to install their specific pre-manufactured components that make up a metal roof system. In general, there are panels, clips, and termination components (ridge, rake, gutter/eave, curbs, etc.). These components have been developed over decades of trial and error and, when installed correctly, will create a leak-proof roof system which will last as long as any of the other building components. In addition to the metal roof manufacturers, the Metal Buildings and Erectors Association (MBCEA) is a group that provides independent training on the proper erection of metal buildings, including all components of a metal roof system. 

Engineering. The engineering associated with a metal roof system is the responsibility of the manufacturer per the International Building Code (IBC). Local engineering for a particular metal roof can be provided by a professional engineer licensed in the locale of the particular job site. Both sources are readily available to the contractor that wishes to enter the metal roof contracting business. The contractor should not have any concerns about this aspect of a metal roof if he does his due diligence and partners with a manufacturer that will provide the tested engineering characteristics of a particular roofing system and a local engineer who can take that information and perform a code-required analysis. 

Details. As opposed to sheet membrane or shingled roof systems, the metal roof system has its own details. These details require a different understanding of water protection. Metal components, including the actual roof sheet, will not allow water to penetrate and, if protected with a galvalume coating, will last well over 60 years (refer to Metalconstruction.org, Technical Resources, “Service Life Assessment of Low-Slope Unpainted 55% Al-Zn Alloy Coated Steel Standing Seam Metal Roof Systems”).  

These metal components, however, need to be joined and terminated with sealants and fasteners to create a total water-resisting barrier. Again, the panel manufacturers have time-tested details to assist contractors. A word of caution, however: Make sure that you properly select the panel type (standing seam, corrugated panel, snap seam panel, etc.) that best suits the project, and match those selections with a manufacturer and the detail that will perform best. Finally, the local engineer must be used to ensure the detailing will resist the local design loads. The contractor is only responsible to select that qualified manufacturer and engineer—not become one. 

Cost. “Since metal roofs cost a lot more than conventional roofs, they must be hard to sell.” While this statement is prevalent in the metal roofing market, it is blatantly untrue. While the initial cost may be higher than a conventional roof, a metal roof offers an exceptional value over its lifetime. In fewer than 20 years, the cost of a metal roof system can be as much as 50 percent less than that of many conventional roofs, and conservatively one-third the cost of these roofs over a 60-year time frame. End of argument!  

The Retrofit Segment

What about metal retrofit roofing? While that question might scare you more than merely considering entering the overall metal roofing market, it can definitely expand your horizon and offers more potential than just riding a bicycle. If you’ve ever ridden in a car, you know that the experience, comfort and potential for getting places is greatly enhanced. The same concept applies when expanding your metal roof market possibilities to include the lucrative metal retrofit roofing market. This market, with its extremely limited contractor participation and increasing customer demand, makes it very interesting to consider.  

Metal Roof Consultants Inc.

Photo: Metal Roof Consultants Inc.

A recent metal retrofit roofing package of six roofs totaling more than $20 million bid in North Carolina, and only three companies submitted bids. Each contractor ended up with two projects each, totaling between $6 and $9 million per contractor. During this same time, single-ply and shingle projects in the same geographical area attracted many more contractors. Again, you may feel that all-too-familiar twinge in your stomach caused by only looking at the negative consequences you might encounter. However, doing nothing is the worst thing you can do. It is true that finding manufacturers and engineers to assist you when entering the retrofit market can be difficult, as the pool is much more limited than that of the metal roofing industry in general, but these resources are available to you. Just be diligent and look harder!  

Finally, consider what a very wise man said many years ago to a young man just out of college. He said, “Can’t never did anything.” That wise man was my father, and he spoke those words on my college graduation day. My experience has seen the metal roof market develop with many new innovations. The metal retrofit roofing market was not even in existence in the 1970s, but it has since become a market that grows year after year. I have been lucky enough to see, and be part of, a revolution in the roofing industry with respect to metal roofing’s place. All the tools you need to enter the market are out there, but, like that bicycle many years ago, you must first determine why you want to ride it and be willing to risk falling off a few times. The rewards are worth it, even if you get your knees scraped a few times. 

Life Choices

I have a younger brother who makes choices I don’t always understand. I’m quite a bit older than he is, so I like to share my experiences in the hopes of guiding him toward more productive options. Meanwhile, I wondered why my parents weren’t doing more to steer their youngest child and, in a moment of exasperation, I asked them. My mom responded that she and my dad believe we need to figure our lives out on our own. If we ask for help, they are willing to give it but they don’t want to micromanage our lives and decisions.

I started thinking about what she said in relation to my own life choices. I remember when I decided to double major in English and history in college, my dad asked: “What are you going to do with that? Teach?” I said: “No. I’m going to write.” I knew, based on the look on his face, he was certain I’d never find gainful employment but he never said another word about it—not even on graduation day when I didn’t have a job or a place to live.

It was the roofing industry that gave me my first opportunity. After applying for a job I found online, I moved from my home state of Iowa to the Chicago suburbs to begin writing for Professional Roofing magazine in late 2000. Writing about roofing wasn’t exactly what I had in mind when I dreamt of my career but, here I am, almost 17 years later and couldn’t be more grateful to this industry for all it has given me.

Unfortunately, at this point in my career, I’m faced with another life choice. Those of you who have worked directly with me probably have noticed I rarely return phone calls or emails the same week, much less the same day! During the past five years, I’ve not only edited Roofing but also have been editing retrofit, a nationally circulated trade publication that focuses on the renovation of existing commercial, industrial and institutional buildings. Within the past year, both magazines have grown so much (a fantastic problem) that I’ve been having trouble keeping up.

To make matters worse, I never have time to think through new ideas or accomplish the aspirations on my list that I know would make the magazines better. I suddenly realized I was doing a disservice to these magazines and to you, the readers. (Not to mention, having recently gotten married, I’m trying to establish a better work-life balance than I had while I was building my career.)

Therefore, this is my last issue as editor in chief of Roofing. I’m thrilled my successor is Christopher K. King, a well-known writer in this industry who previously served as editor of Roofing Contractor magazine and has been writing articles for Roofing since 2015. (Read his “Special Report”, page 58, about how a community came together at the prompting of a roofing contractor to help a deserving couple restore their home.) I know Chris will do an excellent job taking Roofing to the next level and giving it the undivided attention it deserves.

Again, I’m so thankful for the opportunities the roofing industry has given me. Consequently, I’ve decided to dedicate my final issue to the wonderful people and initiatives that make this industry so special. Enjoy!

McElroy Metal Announces Website Relaunch

McElroy Metal, a metal roof and wall systems manufacturer serving the construction industry, announces its website relaunch at www.McElroyMetal.com.

McElroy Metal has dedicated sections of the new site to the specific markets it serves: residential, architectural/commercial, post frame, retrofit/recover, green building/solar and insulated metal panels. The site also contains animations highlighting installation sequences and a color visualizer enabling visitors to view their personal homes or businesses with McElroy Metal products and colors. The McElroy University portion of the site has been expanded to feature information on Hands-On Installation Classes, Substrate and Coating Facts, Finish and Substrate Warranty Education and Educational Videos.

MCA Offers Metal Roofing Training

The market for residential metal roofing continues to grow rapidly as homeowners are learning of its many energy-saving, aesthetic and long-lasting benefits. Contractors wanting to capitalize on this expanding metal roofing market can find in-depth educational resources about metal roofing training for existing and incoming personnel on the MCA website.

On the website, visitors will find comprehensive training in the form of a Metal Roofing Installation Manual and an optional online exam. The manual is a free download, which includes 20 chapters and hundreds of pages and illustrations to help ensure industry best practices are used when installing metal roofs. The accompanying online exam was designed to confirm that installers and contractors have a full grasp of the best practices outlined in the manual.

The exam includes tests for each different chapter with 10 questions each. A “Save and Resume” feature is enabled for the participant’s convenience. Each question addresses the various topics of metal roof installation and related accessories and includes questions pertaining to both new construction reroofing and retrofit projects. A certificate of completion is sent electronically to successful participants. The exam is available for $100 from the association’s online store accessible at www.metalconstruction.org. Unsuccessful participants may retake the exam at no additional charge.

Both are valuable resources to educate new and experienced roofing installers and can help spur contractor growth in the expanding metal roofing market.

MCA is also involved with the Metal Roofing Alliance, a great resource for residential roofing information and promotion through its national consumer marketing program.

MBCI Partners with Roof Hugger to Offer Metal-over-metal Retrofit Roofing

MBCI is now offering Roof Hugger retrofit systems. Roof Hugger products can be installed over most existing metal roofs, including trapezoidal and vertical standing-seam roofs, as well as existing R panel roofs. Roof Hugger systems provide many benefits and advantages to building owners, design professionals and roofing contractors.

Metal-over-metal retrofit roofing is the installation of a new, long-life metal roof over an existing metal roof in a way that is structurally correct, non-disruptive and cost effective. The Roof Hugger systems also add strength, are environmentally friendly and help conserve energy. In addition to fitting over most any existing roof, the Roof Hugger system can support a wide variety of new metal roof systems. The cavity created between the old and new roofs can be vented or the heated air can be used to preheat the make-up air for the HVAC system. This cavity can also be filled with either fiberglass or rigid insulation to increase the roof R-value. Additionally, a solar water heating system can be installed in the cavity.

MBCI’s family of companies manufacture metal roof and wall systems and roll-up doors. Solutions include single skin and insulated metal panels, standing seam roof systems, retrofit roofing systems, roll-up doors and photovoltaic systems. MBCI has 33 facilities located strategically throughout the U.S., including retail outlets in select cities, serving the commercial, industrial, architectural, agricultural, institutional, residential and self-storage market.