Copper Is the Solution for Challenging Residential Roof Restoration

This home in Alexandria, Va., was retrofitted with a copper double-lock standing seam roof system

This home in Alexandria, Va., was retrofitted with a copper double-lock standing seam roof system installed by Wagner Roofing. The 16-ounce copper roof panels were 17 inches wide. Photos: Landmarks Photography—Jay Stearns

“We like the tough jobs,” says Dean Jagusch, president and owner of Wagner Roofing Company. “We like the intricate jobs.”

Headquartered in Hyattsville, Md., Wagner Roofing has served the Washington area market for more than a century. “We specialize in historic restoration and innovative architectural roofing and sheet metal,” Jagusch notes. “We’re full service. We do slate, copper, tile, and have a low-slope commercial division as well. But our trophy stuff tends to be of the steep-slope variety.”

A recent residential restoration project in Alexandria, Va., certainly qualifies as “trophy stuff,” taking home a North American Copper in Architecture Award from the Copper Development Association (CDA) in the “Restoration: Roof and Wall” category.

It’s easy to see why. The origami-inspired design features multiple roof angles, but the daring design was problematic. Even though the home was relatively new, the owners were plagued by leaks. Along with Restoration Engineering Inc. of Fairfax, Va., Wagner Roofing was called in to consult on the project, determine the source of the leaks, and come up with a solution.

The original galvalume standing seam roof channeled the water into a large, stainless steel internal gutter with roof drains. Jagusch found that the leaks were occurring at two types of critical points. First, there were leaks where the internal roof drains met the central gutter. The other problem spots were along the pitch transitions.

Jagusch felt that installing a conventional-style painted galvalume roofing system in those spots was almost impossible. “We felt that was since it was an area that was failing, we wanted a metal we could work with when we met a transition and turn the panels vertical where we needed to without having to break them and rely on rivets and caulk,” he says.

Custom five-sided downspouts were fabricated

Custom five-sided downspouts were fabricated, but large windows at the back of the home offered few options for support. The downspouts were attached up under the framing system. Photos: Landmarks Photography—Jay Stearns

Copper was the answer. “The detailing was pretty tough to do, so we recommended changing it to copper so we could work with it, be able to solder and have a more seamless roofing assembly,” Jagusch recalls.

Another key to the project was redesigning how the roof drained. “We decided to push all the water to the exterior,” he says. “We collaborated with Restoration Engineering and we fleshed out the original redesign.”

The team decided that installing a copper roof system with a new drainage plan would be the best way to eliminate the leaks and keep the inspiring look the homeowners desired.

“We wanted to eliminate the drains and push all the water to the exterior, so that’s why we went for the re-slope of the big central gutter,” Jagusch says. “Also, at the transitions, we wanted to make sure we were 100 percent watertight, so we used a combination of turning up panels and soldered cleats to get everything into place.”

Solving the Puzzle

With its intersecting planes, the roof made laying out the panels an intricate puzzle. “You also had large expanses of roofing that changed pitch throughout,” Jagusch explains. “Panels had to be laid correctly because not only does the roof slope up, but it also slopes sideways. The layout of the panels was critical from the get-go. We all looked at it and agreed that we would follow parallel to the actual trusses, which we felt was the best solution.”

The old roof system was removed and stripped down to the 3/4–inch plywood deck. “We covered the entire roof deck with Grace Ultra,” said Jagusch. “We then used a slip sheet and installed 1-inch-high, double lock, 17-inch-wide, 16-ounce copper standing seam panels.”

Photos: Landmarks Photography—Jay Stearns

Photos: Landmarks Photography—Jay Stearns

Panels were roll formed at the Wagner metal shop out of 20-inch-wide coils using an ESE roll former and trailered to the jobsite. Approximately 5,400 square feet of copper panels were installed on the project. The double-lock seams were mechanically seamed. Twenty-ounce copper flat-seamed panels were used in the large valleys.

The safety plan included full scaffolding during every phase of the project. “We have our own safety scaffolding system,” Jagusch says. “Our guys demand it on our jobs, and we demand it of them to come home safely every day. We are very proud of our safety record. It’s front of mind for us.”

In addition to the roof, all of the metal cladding was replaced on the southeast feature wall. The top of the wall was reconfigured to accommodate the new sloped valley. Where the wall met the roof, a band was fabricated to match the top part of the fascia. Other details included copper cladding for the chimney.

Drainage was redirected to the perimeter, where custom-fabricated gutters were installed. “On the west side, the roof was originally designed to dump off straight onto a rock feature on the ground, but we fashioned a custom copper box gutter about 35 or 40 feet long,” Jagusch states.

At the either end of the large internal gutter and at the end of a large valley, shop-fabricated copper conductor heads were installed. Custom five-sided downspouts were fabricated, but installing them posed another challenge, as large window areas offered few options for support. The downspouts had to be snugged up under the framing system.

“Everything had to work with the other building components,” Jagusch explains. “One of the tougher things on this project was being able to have the function and the form both top of mind, in that order. The key was to make the functional stuff look good.”

Showpiece Project

The project was completed about a year ago, and the copper has begun to change in color. “The copper now has a gorgeous bronze, kind of purplish hue to it,” notes Jagusch. “I think it will eventually develop a green patina, but with the way the environment is these days, I think it will take 15 years or so before it gets to that point. That’s the cool thing about copper—it’s a natural, breathing material that is constantly changing, constantly evolving.”

Copper cladding was installed on a feature wall

Copper cladding was installed on a feature wall, which also featured changes in slope. The top of the wall was reconfigured and a band was added to match the top part of the fascia. Photos: Landmarks Photography—Jay Stearns

Wagner Roofing has a maintenance agreement in place on the home, so Jagusch has stayed in touch with the owners and kept tabs on the project, which is performing well. “I’ve got just one hell of a team here,” he says. “It wasn’t just one estimator that went out and brought this thing in. In our business, estimating and roofing is a team sport. We kicked this thing around a lot with all divisions of the company, from estimating to operations to the actual installers before we finally settled on a number for this thing.”

“We work on some pretty spectacular places, and of course this is one of them,” he concludes. “We like a challenge, and this is the stuff that my team really loves to get their teeth into.”

Students Take the Lead on Roof Restoration Project

NTEC Systems applied a high-solids silicone coating

NTEC Systems applied a high-solids silicone coating. The system was chosen because it would extend the life of the existing roof and cut utility costs for the building. The system was approved for a 20-year warranty.
Photos: NTEC Systems

Thomas Portaro is the owner of NTEC Systems, a company headquartered in Alpharetta, Ga., that specializes in roof restoration projects. Portaro owns the company, but on a recent project on the campus of Georgia Tech, it was definitely the college students who were in charge.

Portaro was contacted by students who were researching different roof systems as part of a class project. Members of the class had been tasked to come up with ways to reduce carbon dioxide emissions on the school’s Atlanta campus.

Students were exploring all sorts of environmentally friendly building systems, including LED lighting and HVAC equipment. One group of students explored various building envelope modifications, eventually narrowing their focus to the roof system.

“This particular group of students showed the school and their professors how they were going to reduce carbon emissions and the energy footprint of the O. Lamar Allen Sustainable Education Building by doing a roof restoration,” Portaro said.

Photos: NTEC Systems

Photos: NTEC Systems

Portaro, a Georgia Tech graduate, was contacted by the group to provide some insights on the potential benefits of coatings. “I was asked to come down to the campus and give a brief lecture on the values of roof restorations, the types of coatings I was familiar with, how they were applied, and how they could restore this particular roof.

The building was built in 1998, and its roof was the original modified bitumen system. When students learned how a cool roof system would extend the life of the roof and save on utility costs for the building, they not only presented their findings to their professors but officials at the university. The school ultimately decided to fund the project.

NTEC Systems completed the installation of a high-solids silicone roof coating manufactured by GE. “The students pioneered all of this,” Portaro says. “This is an amazing group of kids. To be invited back to my alma mater and to execute this project really hit a chord with me. The project really worked out well, and it was really cool because I got a check from Georgia Tech. Think about all of the money I’ve paid them over the years. It was nice to get a little bit of that money back.”

Practical Application

One key concern for the university was achieving a 20-year warranty, so the first step was to ensure that the existing roof was compatible with the system. “One of the big value adds of GE Performance Coatings is that their tech side is very strong,” Portaro notes. “GE has great specifications, and they make it pretty simple for me as an engineer to go up and evaluate a roof and make sure it meets certain criteria. You have to evaluate each roof to ensure it meets the criteria for a restoration.”

“A great phrase—and I forget who coined it—is, ‘We do roof restorations, not roof resurrections,’” Portaro continues. “The existing roof has to be in a restorable condition.”

Georgia Tech funded a roof restoratio

Georgia Tech funded a roof restoration for the O. Lamar Allen Sustainable Education Building after a student project detailed the energy-saving benefits of a cool roof coating.
Photos: NTEC Systems

Infrared analysis was conducted to ensure the roof system was dry. Some minor repairs were needed, but overall the modified roof was in good shape. It was cleaned with pressure washer and primed with an asphalt bleed-blocker from GE Performance Coatings. NTEC crews then spray-applied two coats of GE Enduris 3502 high-solids silicone roof coating to a minimum thickness of 40 mils when dry. The system forms a monolithic coating that is self-flashing. “We detailed it all out, the inspectors inspected it, and at the end of the day it was all done, the 20-year warranty was in place, and everyone was happy,” Portaro says.

He points out that the GE silicone coatings rarely require a primer. “This is the only type of roof that requires a primer, and the only reason it does is that asphalts tend to bleed through silicones and can tobacco-stain them,” he notes. “It’s aesthetics—that’s it. The GE system is one of our ‘tried and trues’ in part because for 99 percent of the roofs we do, it’s a primerless system. So, we save that step, which saves us time and ultimately saves the owner money.”

NTEC Systems excels at large, high-volume jobs, and the company is always looking for tools to make it more productive. “We are highly automated here,” Portaro says. “That’s our strength. It’s what we do. We have the ability to do a ton of square footage in a short period of time because we have the latest and greatest machinery. We’ve actually created our own method of going from ground to roof and getting coatings spray applied.”

The company has modified some industrial machinery to move large volumes of high-solids silicone under control, according to Portaro. “Now, it’s not robotics,” he explains. “It still takes artistry. It still takes an expert pulling the trigger. We have guys that are very talented, and now the machinery is keeping up. We can do four or five times as much work in a day as we used to do just a few years ago. Our production levels have blown up.”

A Learning Experience

Photos: NTEC Systems

Photos: NTEC Systems

One of the challenges on this project was taking the time to use the application as a teaching tool. “The students were there the entire time,” Portaro remembers. “We were surrounded by some of the smartest people in the world. I’ve never had so many managers on a project in my life. These students brought a passion to the building industry like you’ve never seen before. They believe they are going to change the world, and they probably will.”

Portaro also shared his passion for environmentally friendly roof systems. The students apparently took that message to heart. “These kids are something special,” he says. “They went to Washington, D.C., to present this project to the Congress of the United States. These kids weren’t happy with just affecting one building on the campus of Georgia Tech. They wanted to share the story. This project got national recognition. I was really proud of these kids, who I met for the first time on this project. My hat’s off to them.”

Portaro has installed a lot of cool roofs, but the Georgia Tech project was special. “This was certainly the coolest project I’ve ever done,” he says.

Roof Restoration Project Keeps Rehab Facility Operating

Skyline Roof Restoration

Bill Steeves (left) and Steve Broda launched Skyline Roof Restoration, a company that specializes in restoring roofs with coatings.

Rehabilitation facilities help their patients stay healthy. Keeping roofs healthy is another matter.

When the roof at a rehabilitation center in Colorado was reaching the end of its service life, roofing contractor Bill Steeves recognized it was the perfect candidate for roof restoration project. Steeves is the president of Skyline Roof Restoration Inc., based in Frederick, Colo. The company specializes in roof coatings. It was launched last year by Steeves and his partner, Steve Broda. Broda is the founder of Skyline Roofing Inc., a full-service commercial roof contracting firm, also located in Frederick, where both men have worked since 2006.

“We formed Skyline Roof Restoration as a vehicle to promote restoring roofs with coatings,” Steeves says. “We have both been involved with various coating projects in the past and wanted to offer our expertise to clients where restoration is their most prudent option.”

In the Denver area, the coatings market is booming in part due to changes in local energy codes, notes Broda. Several municipalities have mandated with that a roof tear-off and replacement, the R-values in the roof have to be brought up to those for new construction. “It was becoming unaffordable for some people to do total roof replacement and upgrade to R-30 or R-38,” Broda says. “We needed another tool to provide them with a roofing option that was economical and did not force them to add the extra R-value to their roof systems.”

In many cases, coating an existing membrane roof can be an excellent option. “It can save the customers a lot of money compared to a roof replacement, and depending on the system and the thickness, we can offer a 20-year NDL warranty,” Broda notes.

Skyline Roof Restoration

The Centre Avenue Health & Rehab project encompassed 21,863 square feet of low-slope roof on 10 separate roof levels. The low-slope sections were surrounded by a standing seam metal roof.

According to Steeves and Broda, the key to the success of a roof restoration is making sure the underlying substrate is a good candidate for the coating. Skyline Roof Restoration will only authorize a coating project if it is the best option for the facility. “Steve and I have a combined 77 years of experience in commercial roofing, and there are very few scenarios we have not run across,” Steeves says. “We have both built very strong commercial companies based on return customers and referrals. We both really care about the final product, value to our customers, and the relationships we have developed over the years.”

The Diagnosis

Steeves had a hunch that the roof at the Centre Avenue Health & Rehab facility in Fort Collins might be reaching the end of its life span. “We have been doing all of the roofing work for Columbine Health Systems, the owner of Centre Avenue Health & Rehab, for more than seven years and have developed a great working relationship with the owner,” he says. “We had never been called to Centre Avenue for any leaks, but I knew the building was about 18 years old.”

This aerial photo shows the Centre Avenue Heath & Rehab roof after the restoration process was completed.

This aerial photo shows the Centre Avenue Heath & Rehab roof after the restoration process was completed.

Steeves suggested it was time to conduct a roof inspection at Centre Avenue but was told to wait. Sure enough, the next time it rained, a leak was detected. When Steeves met his repair crew on the site, he noticed that the fully adhered EPDM roof system on the flat roof sections was just beginning to exhibit signs of oxidation. A few stress fractures were visible in the membrane. “It was a perfect candidate for a roof restoration,” he says.

In a meeting with the owner, Steeves suggested the application of a high-solids silicone restoration system from GE Momentive. “I explained that the restoration process would, in effect, freeze the aging process of the EPDM by protecting it from further UV degradation,” Steeves says. “I had also, prior to our meeting, completed some research and found out that the local power company was offering a rebate for any Energy Star-qualified roof covering, which further reduced his total capital outlay.”

When Steeves detailed the costs involved with the coating project as opposed to a tear-off and replacement, the owner gave him the go ahead on the roof restoration plan and opted for a 15-year NDL warranty.

Broda and Steeves note that there are cases in which the existing roof is too far degraded to work well with a coating, and in those cases, the only viable option is a roof replacement. The silicone coating can be used on membranes including EPDM, TPO, PVC, modified bitumen and smooth built-up roofs, as well as metal. “It works with all types of membranes, but you have to catch these roofs before the end of their serviceable life,” says Broda. “They have to have some life left in them to coat them. If we are not comfortable putting a coating on a roof, we won’t do it.”

Often all that is needed is minor repair of wall flashings, curb flashings and penetrations. Wet insulation is another problem to look out for. “We’ll do an infrared scan of the roof before we coat it to make sure we don’t have any wet insulation in there.”

Every proposal is also contingent on a successful adhesion test. A sample area is set up and a pullout test is conducted to determine if the product will adhere well.

Photos: Skyline Roof Restoration Inc.

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GE Performance Coatings & Sealants Roof Solutions Will Be Displayed at IRE

International Roofing Expo attendees will find roof solutions and product specialists at GE Performance Coatings & Sealants Booth 340. On display during the March 1-3 event in Las Vegas, the 100 percent silicone GE Enduris roof coating is a solution that provides durability.

“GE Enduris is an answer for roofing protection and restoration,” says Peter Friedli, marketing manager. “For over 50 years, contractors and building owners have trusted us to deliver building products. Our team is looking forward to helping attendees leverage our benefits for themselves.”

GE Performance Coatings experts will be on-site to consult about the components of GE Enduris, provide technical insight, and explore application possibilities.

GE Enduris high solids roof coating stops leaks, improves performance, and extends roof life with a single-coat, primerless application. Able to withstand fluctuating conditions and ponding water, GE Enduris can restore most every type of roof substrate.

For more information on GE Enduris, visit GE Performance Coatings & Sealants’ booth at IRE, or click on this link to visit the website.

Restore Roofs that Retain Water

The #8000 from RM Lucas is ideal for flat roofs that experience periods of retained water.

The #8000 from RM Lucas is ideal for flat roofs that experience periods of retained water.


RM Lucas adds #8000 Silicone Roof Coating to its line of roof restoration products. The #8000 is ideal for flat roofs that experience periods of retained water. The breathable coating may be applied by spray or roller and is available in reflective white and other common colors. The coating bonds to all major roof substrates and comes with a warranty.