Roof Coating System Is Key to Adaptive Re-Use Project

When Ian Wilson was asked to check out the roof on a historic structure in Houston that was being redeveloped, he knew it would be an interesting project. Originally built in approximately 1930 as the headquarters of the Star Engraving Company, the building later served as a cultural center and a theater for the Stages performing arts organization. The site was renovated by developer Radom Capital and transformed into a retail, office and mixed-use facility in 2020.

Wilson is president of Market Makers Inc., a Houston-based manufacturers rep firm servicing the commercial and residential roofing markets. He’s often contacted by building owners and roofing contractors to provide advice and write specifications. “I got involved and wrote specifications for the owner,” Wilson says. “We started talking about their budgetary concerns and what they were trying to accomplish, and we looked at the whole project.”

As he walked the roof, Wilson saw historic clay coping caps and a section of metal roofing that had been installed over the theater stage. The existing modified system over the main roof was still in good condition, and Wilson realized it would be a great candidate for a high-solids silicone coating. He specified Karnak 670 for the vast majority of the project. “The modified was nearing the end of its useful life, but it was still performing,” he says. “The roofs all had relatively good slope. The idea was, do we get another two or three years out of this modified, or do we coat it, and have a reflective roof system that’s going to be energy efficient and cool off the building. The coating is going extend the life of this roof for another 20 years. That was the logic.”

The historic Houston building that had once housed the Star Engraving Company and the Stages theater was transformed into a retail, office and mixed-use facility. Photos: Strategic Roofing Solutions, LLC

Eliminating the tear off would also minimize waste — and allow work to begin on the inside of the building right away. “It sped up their process pretty dramatically,” says Wilson. “It was an excellent choice from a sustainability issue and an energy-efficiency issue.”

In an area that was to covered with plaza pavers for outdoor dining and entertaining, Wilson recommend installing a Fleeceback TPO system from Versico. “The plaza pavers would be on pedestals, and we wanted to make sure the system could cope well with high pressure points,” he says. “So, I said, ‘Let’s put TPO over the existing modified in that area, and then you are good to go there.’ The rest of the roof was coated with silicone. We coated all of the walls and all of the field, except for the area we installed a full TPO system. I wrote a spec that encompassed all of the low-slope areas of the roof.”

The Installation

Three contractors were invited to bid on the project, and Strategic Roofing Solutions, LLC, got the nod. The company is a commercial roofing, sheet metal and waterproofing contractor based in Houston. “We hang off high rises and do full exterior waterproofing and renovations, as well as roofing replacement, roofing renovation, new construction roofing, and sheet metal,” says owner and president Mike Martin. “We do it all.”

Work began on the area where the pavers would be installed. “We mechanically attached a cover board — half-inch DensDeck Prime — and then mechanically attached 60 mil Versiweld TPO on that section of roof,” Martin notes. “We stripped it all in with the flashings per the manufacturer’s system requirements.”

Work on the main roof continued as other trades installed pavers from Bison Innovative Products, skylights and new HVAC equipment. “We cleaned and prepared the surface and installed the Karnak silicone coating system,” Martin says. “They went with that particular coating because it is a high-solids formulation. The modified roof was a really good substrate for the job. In this case, it was probably their best bang for the buck with a long-term system warranty.”

The first step was cleaning and prepping the substrate. “We used 3,000 psi pressure washers,” Martin notes. “Karnak has a solution called Spray & Wash that you spray down first and let it sit on the roof. When you power wash the roof, it helps eliminate any residue on the substrate.”

Crews from Strategic Roofing Solutions applied the Karnak 670 high-solids silicone coating system to the main low-slope roof.

Any damaged areas of the existing roof were then repaired or replaced. “Any sections of the modified that were lifted or blistered, we cut out those areas and repaired them prior to applying the coating system,” Martin says. “Then we went in and detailed all the laps, seams, flashings and penetrations with Karnak’s detail materials. It’s a three-course method embedded in fabric for all of those conditions.”

The coating, which can be applied with sprayers or rollers, was installed in two coats. “We actually rolled that whole thing out,” Martin says. “It was a little more time-consuming, but it allowed us to really confirm our coverage ratios. We mark out our areas so we know how much material should cover each area. We also use squeegees that have notches in them so we can provide the mils we are looking for, so it gets us really close as we spread the material out for the guys to back-roll.”

The coating system was also applied to the R-panel metal roof over the old theater stage.

Successful Outcome

The roofing portion of the project was completed in September of 2020, and despite the coronavirus pandemic and the rainy Houston weather, the installation went smoothly. “The most challenging part of this project was ensuring the roof was protected from other trades,” Martin says. “We had to go back and repair the roof after it was done because other trades weren’t being cautious.”

The project was completed on time and without any accidents or incidents. Safety is the top priority for Strategic Roofing Solutions, which has a full-time safety director. “We had a weekly safety meeting on site and also a weekly safety inspection to ensure OSHA requirements were met and the guys were keeping safety on their minds,” says Martin. “We have incentive programs for our employees regarding safety. One of the things I like to brag about is that since incorporating my business since 2016, we have not had an injury or an incident.”

Martin is proud of his company’s work on the project. “We project managed it very well,” he says. “We had good communication with the general contractor and the owner. We were very fortunate because the manufacturer was very supportive with us on anything we needed. It was a really smooth job and we enjoyed doing it. That area is kind of hoppin’ and poppin’ right now, so it was a unique experience to be a part of it.”

For Wilson, success this complicated project began with specifying the right system. “For us, this really defines who we are,” Wilson says. “We call ourselves ‘your roofing solutions resource.’ That’s our mantra. We don’t sell products; we bring people together. We create solutions by writing good specifications — by creating the right system for the right project.”

TEAM

Architect: Perkins + Will, Houston, Texas, perkinswill.com

General Contractor: Pruitt Structures, Houston, Texas, pruittstructures.com

Manufacturers Representative: Market Makers Inc., Houston, Texas, marketmakersinc.com

Roofing Contractor: Strategic Roofing Solutions, LLC, Houston, Texas, strategicroofing.com

MATERIALS

Roof Coating System: Karnak 670 high-solids silicone, Karnak, karnakcorp.com

Membrane: 60 mil Versiweld TPO, Versico, versico.com

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

Pavers: Bison Innovative Products, bisonip.com

About the Author

Chris King
Chris King is the editor in chief of Roofing magazine. He has covered the construction industry for more than 20 years, previously serving as editor of Roofing Contractor, managing editor of the Air Conditioning, Heating & Refrigeration News, and associate editor of Plumbing & Mechanical. He can be reached by email at chris@roofingmagazine.com.

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