A Brief Overview of Commercial Roofing Systems

A wide variety of commercial roof systems is available for building owners and managers who are in need of a replacement.

Thermoplastic membranes are the relative new kids on the block, although they have been around for decades, with occasional tweaks in chemical composition. They are lightweight, flexible, and usually white (although available in a variety of colors), which provides high reflectivity and energy savings for building owners.

They’re manufactured with a mesh scrim laminated between two layers of film, and installed on the roof with either adhered or mechanical attachment methods. Membrane sections are joined together on the rooftop by the contractor using hot air welding tools.

PVC (polyvinyl chloride) thermoplastic membranes are naturally flame resistant and will not sustain a flame when the fire source is removed. PVC roofing materials also enable a wide welding temperature window, which means they can be installed in a broad range of weather conditions.

TPO (thermoplastic polyolefin) thermoplastic membranes are the fastest growing segment of roofing systems in the market. They are typically less expensive than PVC, but do not offer the same degree of fire resistance. They also have a narrower welding temperature window on the rooftop.

Another common single-ply system is EPDM (ethylene propylene diene monomer), essentially rubber. This is a thermoset membrane that can’t be heat-welded, so sections must be joined on the rooftop with adhesives. It’s usually black in color, and heat-absorbent. EPDM roofs are often covered with a layer of gravel ballast to help minimize shrinkage and to protect the roof surface from sun and hail.

Modified bitumen (“mod-bit”) roofs are considered to be single-ply systems. They’re manufactured in factories from roofing asphalt and other materials, such as fiberglass or another synthetic fabric, to give strength to the membrane. Mod-bit roofs can be installed using a variety of methods including hot asphalt, cold process cement, self-adherence, or torch. Torch-down roofing is fading in popularity and even outlawed in some areas because of the risk of fire.

Built-up commercial roofing is so-called because these systems are literally “built” on the rooftop from alternative layers of mopped hot asphalt or coal tar and felt or another synthetic material. Built-up roofs are very durable, but are labor intensive to install. They are often covered with stone ballast to protect the roof surface from the elements.

At Complete Commercial Roofing, we understand all aspects of commercial roofing and can help you sort through the noise to choose the best roof system! Call today.

Commercial Roofing and Hail Damage

Three Indicators that Your Commercial Roof Has Been Damaged by Hail

Hail is a weather problem that causes significant financial loss every year in the US; it’s possible that a single hailstorm can cause a billion dollars’ worth of damage. According to the National Weather Service, even 1-inch hail is capable of producing considerable property damage.

Your commercial building is not exempt from the effects of hail and, after any storm that produces hail, you should inspect it to see if your roof has been damaged. Here are three things to look for:

  • Dimples or “minor” cracks in the roof membrane. The most obvious evidence of hail damage. Although these issues may seem harmless, their appearance means that the membrane’s long-term weatherproofing ability probably has been compromised.
  • Dents on metal equipment and rooftop components. If there’s no clear indication of a hail event on the roof surface, check your rooftop HVAC units, metal roof flashings, gutters and coping cap metal for dents. It’s likely they were caused by hail.
  • Low / soft spots in underlying insulation. This can mean that the hail stones dented and damaged the surface of the insulation beneath the roof membrane – possibly causing a separation between the insulation’s facer and its inner material. In addition to reducing R-value, an indentation of the insulation can cause the overlying roof membrane to not be flush against the surface, decreasing its ability to withstand weathering forces that can worsen or create new cracks.

Roof problems from a hailstorm may not appear immediately, but the roof may be more prone to leaking down the road. Also, the roof’s “life expectancy” has most likely been reduced. Your best course of action after a hail event is to have a commercial roofing professional take a look. The contractor will have the tools and knowledge to evaluate your roof’s condition and recommend the right course of action.

The professionals at Complete Commercial Roofing would welcome the opportunity to be “that” contractor. If you’re in need of a replacement roof, we can recommend options that will help minimize the negative effect of future hailstorms.


Considerations When You’re in the Market for a New Commercial Roof

A new commercial roof is a major capital investment and should prompt you to consider a number of cost factors before making your final decision.

Initial installation cost is usually the first thing that comes to mind, but that’s not necessarily the most important factor. If you’re expecting your roof to last 15 years or more, its cost over the entire life may be the most economical number. And that is dependent on several things:

Your new roofing system should be able to meet the unique watertight needs of your facility. A building with large rooftop expanses (a warehouse, for example) has different needs than one with multiple penetrations (like a restaurant). The roof with the penetrations will require more flashing components and has a greater potential for compromise. Make sure the system you choose – and the contractor installing It – will make these areas secure for the long term. If your building is a restaurant or another business that exhausts onto the roof surface, make sure that the membrane can handle it. Some systems are more impervious to grease and chemicals than others and will deliver a longer life in those conditions.

Reflective single-ply roofing systems (primarily PVC and TPO) can help facility managers save up to 40% of their summertime energy bill. Some roofing systems are classified as “cool,” because they are white or light-colored and reflect heat away from the building. This means lower air-conditioning costs. Studies have shown that cool roof systems also help preserve the long-term effectiveness of insulation, which means they will help stabilize your energy bills for the life of your roof.

A “hidden” cost of a new roof installation is whether it causes disruption to your normal building activities. Today’s lightweight, single-ply roofing systems can typically be installed quickly and safely, without loud machinery, kettles, hazardous materials, unpleasant fumes, hot tar, or mess. They often can be installed over an existing roof without a tear-off that might interfere with building traffic or operations.

It’s important to understand all the costs of your new roofing investment. At Complete Commercial Roofing, we can help you understand the financial pros and cons of different commercial roofing systems. We look forward to working with you.

Gutters, Downspouts, and Drains

Drainage on Your Commercial Roof

Ensuring that your commercial roof’s drainage system is working as designed is critical to maintaining watertight integrity. A gallon of water weighs about eight pounds and having a pool of undrained water on your rooftop adds stress to the surface and building structure and can significantly shorten the life of your roofing system.

“Flat” commercial roofs are typically not 100% flat – at least they shouldn’t be, because water needs gravity to flow. In fact, a flat – low-slope – commercial roof is usually defined as having a slope or pitch of no more than 3 inches of height for every 12 inches of length. The slope of most flat roofs are actually less than that, but sufficient to allow for good water flow.

A properly designed roof will typically have one of the following 3 types of drainage systems, or a combination: interior drains, scuppers, and gutters.

  • Interior drains are placed within the roof area with the surrounding roof deck sloped to enable water to flow freely toward the drains. The drains are connected to pipes that run through the interior of the building before emptying at ground level or directly into the sewer system that serves the building.
  • Scuppers are openings in the parapet wall of a roof that water is directed to because of sloping that’s intentionally built into the roof surface. Water runs through the scupper and usually into a device called a collector box that’s mounted on the exterior building wall. The boxes then typically drain into attached downspouts that send the water to ground level and away from the building.
  • Gutters on commercial facilities are also commonly used. They are normally wider than those used on residential installations – 6 inches vs. 5 inches – because a commercial roof’s larger surface area produces more water volume and runoff. Commercial gutter systems should also have downspouts attached to direct water away from the building.

If your commercial roof is not draining properly, the pros at Complete Commercial Roofing would welcome the opportunity to evaluate the situation and resolve the issues. Contact us today!



Some Facts About Your Commercial Roofing System

Commercial Roofing System

Roofing is often thought to be a commodity, with one type of roofing product to be pretty much like another. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. There are vast differences between shingle roofs and flat commercial roofing systems for example, and significant variations between the diversity of commercial roofing products that are available. Continue reading for some specific – and possibly new-to-you – details about commercial roofing systems.

Shingled roofs have a clear slope to them, for aesthetics and to enable good drainage. In fact, “flat” commercial roofs, although not typically visible, are sloped as well. When the building was originally constructed, it was engineered to slope toward the outside edges with gutters and downspouts or toward the interior of the roof where drains are located. These channel water through the building and empty at or below ground level. Commercial roofs can settle over time. In that case a new roof installation might include v-shaped structural additions called crickets, that are then covered by the new roof membrane and direct water so that it doesn’t collect on the rooftop.

Another way that commercial roofing systems are different from shingled roofs is that they require a special contractor skill set for installation and maintenance. It’s not uncommon for homeowners to replace damaged or missing shingles on their own. But commercial systems vary widely in their technology and installation and repairs are best left to commercial roofing professionals who understand attachment methods and termination, material compatibility, drainage, insulation, and other factors.

Your commercial roof could add value to your bottom line. The trend in roofing systems these days is toward highly reflective thermoplastic membranes. These systems help minimize the penetration of heat into your building, potentially reducing the energy (and cost) needed to cool a building by as much as 40%. Cool roofing systems have also been shown to help prolong the life of rooftop HVAC units and preserve the R-value of rooftop insulation.

At Complete Commercial Roofing, we clearly understand the differences between roofing products as well as how to help you get the most out of your commercial roof, whether it’s a new installation or modifications to your current system. We would welcome the opportunity to work with you on your next roofing project.

Roofing: An Important Component of Your Sustainable Commercial Construction Project

The concept of “sustainability” in commercial construction boils down to a few basic elements. These include using renewable and recyclable building materials during construction along with reducing energy consumption and waste during the building’s life cycle. The ultimate goal is to reduce its impact on the environment. Today’s commercial roofing systems can help achieve these objectives in several ways. Here’s a brief look at a few.

Waste reduction. The manufacture of roofing materials can generate a lot of waste. However, today’s roof production processes are efficient, and recycle manufacturing scrap back into the final product. This reduces the amount of waste sent to a landfill, as well as the amount of fuel needed to transport it. In addition, some commercial roofing materials can be recycled at the end of their lifespan on the building. Some manufacturers have recycling programs in place that take old roofing systems and convert them into other building materials.

Efficient energy use. Reflectivity provided by white roofing membranes has been making a positive environmental impact for many years, by decreasing the amount of solar heat transferred into a commercial building and reducing the power load on rooftop HVAC units. In addition, because modern single-ply roofing systems are lightweight, they require less fuel to transport to the job site.

Mitigating urban heat islands (UHIs). In the summertime, cities tend to become much warmer than the surrounding countryside, creating what are known as urban heat islands. This effect helps produce smog and greenhouse gases, both of which aggravate respiratory health problems. Reflective “cool” commercial roofs help reduce the urban heat island effect.

Enabling alternative roof system installations. Vegetative and solar roofing systems are relatively new, but becoming more common in the commercial space. It’s important to realize that these technologies require a reliable commercial roofing system underneath to provide long-term, watertight protection with minimal maintenance, because access to the roof surface once the solar or veggie system is installed will be difficult. If you’re considering such a rooftop installation, it’s a good financial choice to replace an aging roof underneath now, rather than later.

When it comes to choosing your roofing contractor, look for one who follows good environmental practices. This can include using fuel-efficient vehicles, keeping the worksite free of waste, and minimizing the generation of scrap during installation.

Complete Commercial Roofing is ready to help you meet your commercial building sustainability goals.  We look forward to working with you – Call 765-457-4848.

With winter officially here in the northern part of the US, you should understand how snow and ice can impact your roof and the potential problems they can bring.

A typical commercial roof not only includes the surface membrane and the deck it’s attached or adhered to, but layers of other materials such as insulation, thermal barriers and cover boards. The roof assembly itself can be “connected” to the building by beams, trusses, purlins or other support components. In short, it’s a multifaceted assembly that, although not fragile, can be displaced by the weight of accumulated show and ice.

In the wintertime, it’s common for the news to carry stories of building collapses because of the volume of snow and ice that’s collected on the rooftop. And it really should be no surprise, given these numbers:

According to FEMA, in its Snow Load Safety Guide, a cubic foot of light dry snow weighs about 3 pounds and a cubic foot of wet heavy snow weighs about 21 pounds. Just an inch-thick layer of ice, which is much denser and heavier than even wet heavy snow, weighs nearly five pounds per square foot. A cubic foot of ice can weigh almost 60 pounds. On the rooftop, a relatively small 10-foot by 10-foot area covered by 3 inches of ice can weigh 1,500 pounds. This scenario isn’t out of the question, as temperature changes that allow snow to melt then refreeze can turn small amounts of snow into perilous volumes of ice.

You may see signs of too much weight on your roof inside your building in the form of doors or windows that are wedged shut, or cracks that appear in walls or ceilings.

Obviously, as snow accumulates on your rooftop over the winter, you should keep an eye on the depth, and whether freeze-and-thaw cycles have created ice problems. If you have a maintenance crew, have them remove it – safely! – with tools that won’t damage the roof surface. Have them pay particular attention to drainage systems so that they are clear to handle snow melt.

At Complete Commercial Roofing, we would welcome the opportunity to discuss your wintertime roofing needs with you. Please contact us at your convenience at 877-227-5552.

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The Contractor: Your Commercial Roof Project Teammate

Pulling the trigger on a commercial roofing project is a big step, not to mention an expensive proposition. major undertaking for your business. You and your contractor should be on the same team when it comes to some of the key aspects of the job.

Your contractor should provide a thorough scope of work in the contract. In addition to the specifics of the labor and materials being used, the contract should specify when work will begin and end. Because commercial roofs are complex assemblies, sometimes an installation can reveal surprises that can delay completion of the project. The contractor should keep you apprised of these events, as well as how it will affect the schedule and cost.

It’s important to note that the installation doesn’t just involve the roofer and their crew; it can also affect your building occupants. Make sure you understand the measures they have in place to ensure the safety of all those who will be in and around the building during the project.

If you’re open for business during the roofing project, you need to keep your property tidy and inviting for occupants and visitors. To that end, your contractor should specify how this will be achieved. For roof tear-offs and installation debris, you and the contractor should agree on a designated ground area for discarded roof materials, and the contractor should furnish their own dumpster; make sure you agree as to where it will be placed during the project. Obviously, sharp objects on the ground (fasteners, metal components, etc.) should be picked up and disposed of immediately.

One significant issue to agree on is roof access. How will the roofing crew access the roof and how the materials will be delivered to the rooftop? For buildings with one or two stories, a crane or scissor lift (provided by the contractor) can be used; taller structures mean that the contractor probably will need to use a freight elevator in your building. Make sure that the roofer can get to these access points without obstructions, and that both they and building occupants will respect the others’ needs for “business as usual.”

When these bases are covered, your project is more likely to go smoothly. At Complete Commercial Roofing, our priority is ensuring your satisfaction on every roofing project. We look forward to working with you.

Four Questions for When Your Commercial Roof is Leaking

A leak in your commercial roof is, of course, never a good thing. It can lead to all kinds of expensive problems, including workers’ compensations claims or lawsuits from slips and falls; mold growth or insect infestation which can require costly remediation; higher heating and cooling bills because wet insulation loses its R-value; and water damage to inventory, equipment, and furniture.

Clearly, you should take immediate steps to repair the leak, and that will require a trip to your rooftop. Here are some things to look for and some questions to ask:

Is There Water that Doesn’t Drain?

It’s common for water to pool on the rooftop following a rain, but if it doesn’t empty fairly soon thereafter, you probably have drainage problems for one thing. More relevant to this topic is that it could lead to roof leaks. The downward pressure of pooling (or ponding) water can force it through the smallest hole(s) in the surface of your commercial roof and into your building. This pressure can also enlarge the holes. This gives you two problems to resolve: drainage and water penetration.

Are Flashings Worn or Damaged?

The transitions between planes on your rooftop (e.g., vertical to horizontal) are among the most vulnerable points. These include components like HVAC curbs, pipe vents, and wall parapets. When the flashing material bridging these angles is worn, has gaps, is detached, or is otherwise compromised, your roof is no longer watertight.

Are There Cracks or Tears in the Roof Surface?

Winter can be hard on your commercial roofing system, with storms dropping snow, ice, and debris that can damage the surface. Another factor is expansion and contraction due to day/night temperature swings. These pressures can create cracks in the membrane and pull seams apart – clearly opening the door for water intrusion.

Can the Leak Source be Located?

Sometimes, the source of the leak isn’t obvious, as water can flow a long way within your building before making an appearance. If you can’t locate it, it would be wise to bring in a commercial roofing specialist with infrared equipment that can detect where water might be flowing under the roof membrane.

Whether your roof is still providing leakproof protection or is showing signs of weakness, the commercial roofing professionals at Complete Commercial Roofing would welcome the opportunity to discuss your roofing needs with you. Call us today 877-227-5552.

Commercial Roof Leak Action Plans

Do you have an action plan in place should your commercial roof spring a leak…today? Puddles, the sight or sound of dripping water, and stains on ceilings and/or walls are all signs that you have a problem. The big question is: are you able to protect your building contents and keep your workers and visitors safe?

If you’re a commercial building owner or manager, you know that even a relatively small roof leak can have serious consequences. Unfortunately, the roof is often “out of sight, out of mind,” but as it’s always exposed to the elements, leaks are a constant possibility. So, it’s important to have a plan in place if water is penetrating your roof.

Your plan should include a list of action items to manage if you see evidence of a leak in your building. These should be clear and concise steps that can be understood by all employees in your organization and that will help mitigate any problems that could negatively affect your operation. Here are a few things to include:

  • Safety comes first, so place bright cones and/or signs around the affected area to keep foot traffic away.
  • Clean up the water from the floor. You should have the tools you’ll need (mop, squeegee, wet/dry vac, etc.) easily accessible.
  • Obviously, if water is visibly dripping, move affected furniture and equipment out of the way; pieces that can’t be moved should be covered with water repellent tarps.
  • If practical, place buckets or trash cans under the leak.
  • You’ll need to document the damage for insurance claims, so take photos and make a detailed list of areas and building contents that have been affected.
  • If there’s one leak in your building, there may be others, so inspect your entire facility, including storage areas and other little-used rooms.
  • Once the wet area is safe and secure, you’ll obviously need to contact a commercial roofing professional, who has the tools and equipment to find the source of and repair the leak.

Of course, we at Complete Commercial Roofing hope you never experience leak problems. But if you do, call on us to take care of it. And if you’re in the market for a new or replacement commercial roofing system, we would love to discuss options with you.

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