Commercial Roofing: Insider Tips on Costs and Durability

I’d like to offer a few tips and some industry examples to help you make an informed decision — one that is good for your budget and good for business. Need a new roof but not ready (or able) to invest? Coatings are a cost-effective option for roof maintenance and restoration. Reflective roof coatings can extend roof life, eliminate leaks and improve a building’s aesthetics and energy usage — and often at a much lower cost than a new roof. Know what to look for in a coating: 

- A product that offers excellent adhesion to a wide variety of roofing substrates including metal, bitumen, TPO, EPDM, Hypalon and PVC. 
- A product formulated using water-based acrylic technology low in odor and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). 
- A formulation for your climate and climate variations. 
- A product that meets the cool roofing requirements of Energy Star, California Title 24, LEED and Green Globes programs. 
- A product with high solar reflectance to help to reduce heat transfer into the building, lowering cooling energy costs, and reducing membrane stress and heat accelerated degradation.

Coatings can be a reasonable choice for those challenged by a roof nearing the end of its service life or building owners frustrated by metal roof leaks and other types of roofing failures.

Need a Cost- Effective Roofing System and Want Proven Durability?

Single-ply PVC roofing membrane is ideally suited for applications that require a quality, cost-effective roofing membrane.

When speed and ease of installation are important, this is one of your best choices — especially if your company has a policy that re-roofing cannot hinder function or operations in any way. When General Motors re-roofed a major portion of an old PVC roof on a Customer Care & Aftersales (CCA) building in Lansing, Michigan, the building needed to remain operational throughout the project. Using economical 60 mil membrane, which comes in 10- by 100-foot rolls, helped the team install with speed and efficiency.

Looking to Reduce Building Operation Costs While Providing Maximum Protection Against the Elements?

A system with a range of demonstrated capabilities like the ability to reduce a building’s energy requirements, lower maintenance costs, and minimize the urban heat flow through the building roof. Preventing solar radiation from elevating a building’s internal temperature is a key strategy in reducing energy consumption.

The Tucson Mall in Tucson, Arizona, is enjoying energy savings since its new roof was installed. After the first section of the new Tucson Mall roof was installed and during the installation of the second section, one of the two chillers in the mall kept turning itself off quite a bit — even during peak hours of the day. Normally both chillers would be running constantly in the heat of summer.The team decided to test the surface temperatures of the mall’s old and new roofs during the installation, and found quite a difference between the two roofing systems. With an ambient temperature of 99 degrees, the temperature on the old, ballasted EPDM registered 175 degrees, while the new roofing membrane was only 125 degrees.

 It is expected that the Tucson Mall will enjoy energy savings similar to those experienced by the Altamonte Mall in Florida. This mall, which has a similar roof, has noticed a 14% savings in its energy usage since the roof was installed.

Consider Installation Options for Cost Savings

Look for innovative system options that could provide additional cost savings during installation and be sure to choose a reputable roofing contractor that has solid relationships with the roofing manufacturer. You may be able to save significant costs and meet your deadline if your team is knowledgeable enough and needs to get a little creative — like H.E. Butt Grocery Company did when it found its San Marcos, Texas, distribution center had a leaking standing seam roof.

A Mechanical Attachment System

The H-E-B facility is used to store and distribute household, cosmetic and pharmaceutical products, and the building’s 396,126-square-foot roof was in need of a re-roof. The original specification was for a mechanically fastened system; however, the roof had to qualify for Factory Mutual approval and carry a FM 1-75 rating, and the 24-gauge standing seam panels on the H-E-B distribution center roof were not recognized by Factory Mutual as being an approved substrate for mechanical securement. This meant that the roof would have to be fastened into the structural steel purlins, which would be very labor-intensive and make it difficult to meet the specified 180-working days installation timetable.

Fortunately, the roofing representative knew of another alternative: a mechanical attachment system that is based on induction welding technology, and is ideal for metal retrofit applications. The roof system uses a special electromagnetic welding tool that bonds the underside of the PVC membrane to specially coated plates affixed to the roof deck.

Thanks to a bit of creative thinking and technical expertise, the roof system was the perfect solution — fast and easy to install and expected to perform well for many years to come.

Getting the Job Done Right

Pressure on facility managers to keep costs down is an ever-increasing burden. Whether a budget conscious coating is the right solution or your need calls for a system with options to aid in cost savings, the best approach to a completed, high quality roofing project is to work with a manufacturer that participates in all three of the major milestones of the roofing project’s life:

1. Proven Materials

Look for products with a proven track record and only the highest quality materials.

2. Expert Assistance

Work only with partners that can offer ongoing, skilled technical experts at all phases including design assistance, purchase documentation and training on proper installation techniques. 

3. Skillful Worksmanship

Work only with trained, authorized applicators to ensure quality is maintained throughout the installation process.