Which Single-Ply Roofing System Is Best for Your Facility? (PVC, EPDM or TPO?)
Choosing the right singly-ply roof system for your facility is important to the structure of your building. Before you dive into a decision, consider a few key details about your roof. How severe is the slope? Will there be lots of foot traffic? Knowing the answers to these and similar questions will help you choose the best roof for your facility.
If strength and weather resistance are your primary concerns, PVC will be a compelling option. According to ASTM minimum standards, this material needs at least 200 pounds of pressure per square inch before it breaks. However, it is common to find material with a 350-pounds-per-inch strength. Additionally, PVC is easy to install and is resistant to fire, wind and chemicals.
On the other hand, PVC is one of the more expensive options. The thickness of the material makes it susceptible to damage, and plasticizer leaks out over time. The material has a tendency to shrink which makes it pull at the seams, lift at corners, and potentially cause leaks. While it is not known to be the most environmentally friendly, PVC is designed to be a cool roofing system, reflecting up to 90% of the sun’s rays and reducing energy costs.
The TPO option is one of the fastest growing roofing systems on the market. This relatively new material is still young, and though the ASTM has instituted regulations, they change frequently. Finding a quality TPO supplier can be difficult, but the material is highly effective when made well. The flexible membrane makes it particularly resistant to impact damage, and the product is resistant to ozone, ultraviolet and chemical exposure. The seams are up to three to four times stronger than EPDM’s adhesive seams. TPO is 100 percent recyclable and carries solar reflective properties. The membrane is Energy Star rated, can lower HVAC costs and offers better control of internal temperatures.
EPDM is one of the most economical choices in single-ply membranes. It is made of synthetic rubber and its typical carbon black color can serve to transform UV rays into heat. If you live in a particularly cold environment, the material can even help to melt small amounts of snow. It comes in thicknesses up to 90 mils and comes in reinforced and non-reinforced varieties. Depending on its thickness, this material can be extremely puncture resistant and can withstand extreme weather, ozone, and temperature. However, the material does not hold up well when exposed to chemicals, solvents and oils. These conditions can cause irreparable damage and require a new roof be installed sooner than expected. In addition, the seams are known to fail over time, and can result in failures at roof penetrations, flashing and seams.
Once you take stock of what you need from your single-ply roof, compare it to the above breakdowns. Do not forget to factor budget into your decision, and choose what will be most durable for your facility. If you still have questions, consult with a local trusted contractor.
We are available to help consult with you on any of these systems. Just give us a call at 866-295-5401.
Taking advantage of the seasonality of the roofing industry
It’s a pretty well known fact that the easiest time to replace a roof is when the weather is perfect – sun is shining and there is no impending threat of rain. It’s really just common sense. Similar to any company in the construction industry, roofing is easier to install typically from early spring to late fall. However, with the advent of new technologies and programs offered by nationwide contractors, the seasonality of roofing can sometimes include the winter months.
What to consider for roofing in the winter months
Typically roofing systems are a project better handled in the spring to fall months, but winter roofing projects can be undertaken during the winter as long as you and your roofing contractor recognize the limitations and challenges associated with these types of installations. Here are a few things to consider based on where your facility is located:
- Southern/Western U.S. - For the southern and western parts of the U.S., roofing in the winter is seldom a problem as the weather is pretty consistent in all seasons. In these areas, some of the most cost effective prices for roofing systems can be found. Since roofing crews are limited to the amount of work they can do in other parts of the country, the availability of crews can be to the advantage to these roofing projects. Additionally, when roofing crews don’t have to travel across the country to go from job to job, the cost savings is typically passed down to the customer allowing them to take advantage of roofing project efficiencies.
- Mid-Atlantic /Midwest U.S. – In the Mid-Atlantic and Midwest states, weather conditions can often times be unpredictable. Roofing systems for these areas during the winter months have many factors to consider. Roof replacements that involve simple re-skins or single-ply tear offs are the best to do when temperatures are on the decline. These types of systems allow for rapid removal of existing material and easier tie-ins at the end of the day in case inclement weather rolls in overnight. Built up roof tear offs or multiple roof tear offs can be slow and can have difficult tie-ins. EPDM roofs are also a better fit for colder installs simply because they can heat up and melt off any ice or frost faster than the white TPO or PVC roofing materials. Fully adhered roofing systems can only be installed when temperatures are above freezing and materials must be stored inside to avoid poor adhesion. Ballasted roofs can only be removed or placed when the ballast contains no icing. Ice will likely stall a project as the surfaces must be clean and dry. Mechanically attached TPO and PVC roofs can be installed in lower temperatures. However, when the materials are installed in colder temperatures, thermal expansion will occur when the membrane warms, causing some cosmetic wrinkles in the membrane. These will dissipate as the membrane normalizes and it may take up to 2 years to completely tighten up. If a quality and safely-installed project may be jeopardized due to extended inclement weather, good nationwide contractors, like North American Roofing can offer to complete a portion of your roof, secure the roof and related materials, and shut the project down until early spring when they can return to complete the project.
- Northeast/Upper Midwest U.S. – In the Northeast and Upper Midwest states, temperatures can drop dramatically and snow and ice can accumulate quickly. For roofing projects in these areas, it is recommended to contract a portion of the roof to be completed prior to the worst weather conditions rolling in and have the remainder completed in the spring. In addition, nationwide contractors like North American Roofing can offer programs that will allow you to contract your new roof replacement in the fall and hold the pricing until spring. In addition, they can provide within the contracted project, roof repair work to make sure your facility is less likely to experience active leaks until your roof replacement project is started in the spring. This keeps your costs in line and lets you realize savings from year over year price increases. For projects in these areas, it is also imperative to have a fall inspection and maintenance performed to catch any problem areas prior to snow and ice accumulating as well as an established snow removal plan as snow loads can quickly damage a roof.
Overall, the ability to take on these types of projects rests with the roofing contractor you choose. With North American Roofing, we provide a collaborative approach to planning your roofing project. We work to understand the complexities of every roofing design and to provide the best solution – no matter what the season or the location. Contact us today to learn about the great programs we have available to lock in your winter project.
A new roof is a major investment, so before you hire a roofing contractor, it pays to ask a few questions. Getting estimates from contractors is the easy part, but the contractor who promises to get the job done the fastest and cheapest, isn’t always the best choice. When you’re looking for a reputable roofing company, a few questions, and a little sleuthing, will ensure that you get the best roof for your money.
1. Contractor References
You know you’re supposed to ask for a contractor’s references, but most contractors offer a list of only those customers they know are satisfied with their work. Instead, ask for a list of the contractor’s last three clients. It’s important to talk to recent clients because their experience is a good indicator of what you can expect. In addition, ask the contractor to provide references from at least two clients with roofing projects that took place three or more years ago. These clients can give you better idea of the long-term quality of their roofs and how the contractor handled callbacks.
2. How Long Has the Roofing Contractor Been in Business?
Just because a contractor is the new kid on the block doesn’t mean that the company is substandard, but in the roofing business, longevity is a good indicator of quality and service. A company can’t stay in business for 20 or 30 years, unless it develops a strong and trusted customer base.
3. Proof of Insurance
A roofing contractor should carry commercial liability insurance to protect his clients from unforeseen events that can occur during the project. Many contractors will include a certificate of insurance when they submit their proposal. If not, ask to see a copy of the contractor’s policy and call the phone number on the policy to see if it’s still in force.
4. Manufacturer Qualifications
The manufacturers of some roofing materials require special training and/or certification before they allow a contractor to install their products. Ask the contractor which roofing products the company is qualified to install. In general, the more roofing products a contractor is qualified to install, the better your odds are of getting the best product for your roof.
5. Manufacturer’s Specification Sheets
Ask the contractor if he supplies copies of the manufacturer’s specification sheets. These sheets contain the proper installation methods and detail what types of fasteners, adhesives or other materials are compatible with the roofing product. The specification sheets serve as a valuable reference for inspecting the roof in the future.
6. Get a Copy of the Manufacturer’s Warranty
Ask the contractor to provide a copy of the manufacturer’s warranty for the roofing materials. Not only does this warranty let you know your rights concerning a defective roofing product, it also details circumstances that can void the warranty. For example, not performing regular preventative maintenance or using the wrong type of fasteners or adhesive could void a manufacturer’s warranty.
7. Contractor’s Warranty
Does the roofing contractor offer an additional warranty? If so, find out how long the warranty is in effect and what it covers. Reputable contractors offer workmanship warranties that cover issues arising from installation methods.
8. Scope of Work
What is the contractor’s scope of work? Can the company offer you a variety of roofing options? While it might be counterproductive to hire a roofing contractor that performs numerous other services, such as pouring concrete, installing swimming pools or laying carpet, it’s in your best interest to find a roofing contractor that can offer a variety of roof-related options. Does the contractor offer solar solutions? Will you have a value-engineered roofing system?
9. Will Subcontractors Perform Some of the Work?
Some roofing companies handle the entire project, but other companies depend on subs to perform specific jobs. If the company uses subcontractors, ask for each sub’s contact information, certification, proof of insurance and references. The roofing company should submit subcontractor bids as a part of the larger proposal. If a subcontractor will be used, will the contractor manage the crew on-site?
10. Maintenance Program
Find out if the roofing company offers a preventative maintenance program. Regular inspections and upkeep protect the life of your new roof by identifying and fixing potential problems before they require major roof repair.
11. Worker Knowledge
How does the roofing company train its workers? Do new hires go through a probationary period while they’re learning? Does the company train its workers in OSHA safety procedures? Are the workers skilled in installing the type of roof you want? Adequate worker training is essential, not only for a high quality roof, but also to reduce the risk of injury to the workers and to anyone else in or near the work zone.
12. Inspecting for Quality
How does the contractor ensure quality workmanship? Building codes determine some types of inspections, and depending on the regulations in your community, a building compliance inspector might come out and check the project at specific stages. It’s important, however, for the roofing company to have a knowledgeable expert on hand to exam the roof during installation and upon completion.
13. Industry Memberships and Affiliations
Find out what trade associations the roofing contractor belongs to. A reputable roofing company often holds memberships in a variety of trade and professional associations. These could be industry-specify, such as state and national roofing contractor boards, or they could be in related industries such as associations that serve commercial building owners or the owners/managers of shopping malls, restaurants, warehouses and other large-scale facilities. Memberships in a variety of associations signify the roofing company’s commitment to their client’s needs.
14. Is this Contractor a Safety Liability?
Ask the contractor to see a copy of their safety records. They should be able to provide a copy of their EMR rating as well as OSHA logs from recent years. A contractor lacking commitment to safety is a serious liability to your facility and should be avoided.
15. Is the Roof Edge Metal Code-Compliant?
If you’re installing a new roof system, you’re likely installing new roof edge metal too. Since the perimeters (edges) of the roof are most vulnerable to wind damage, it’s important the metal system you choose is ES-1 certified. If a contractor touts an in-house metal shop, make sure their designs, specifications and products have all been tested and approved to meet wind standards. Using an uncertified roof edge metal system is the quickest way to wind damage, which directly leads to water damage and roof failure.
Here at North American Roofing, your questions are always welcome. We understand that your new roof is a major purchase, and we want you to feel comfortable through every step of the process. Our business relationship with our clients is based on integrity, trust and a firm commitment to quality.
When frequent maintenance on an aging roof can no longer keep pace with leaks and deterioration, it’s time for a new roof. Facility managers are notorious for putting off roof replacement because choosing a roof system and the right contractor to install it, can be complex and confusing. At North American Roofing, we understand the dilemma facility managers face, so we’ve put together some tips to help guide you through the process.
Initial Roof Investigation
If the existing roof is failing, don’t immediately assume that installing an identical roof system will fix all the problems. Your building’s roof assembly is a complex structure, designed to protect the inhabitants and contents from water damage, so it pays to research design options with a qualified roofing professional. A roofing-design expert will inspect and address existing issues such as penetrations, terminations, transitions and roof intersections and offer design options that will extend the new roof’s useful life.
Additional Selection Tips
Armed with the results of the roof inspection, you’ll have a better idea of the types of roof systems suitable for your facility. Because the new roof should protect the facility for decades, it’s important to consider additional factors.
- Will local environmental laws apply?
- Is a part of the roof visible from other buildings?
- How much foot traffic will be on the roof?
- Is it important to minimize roof-installation disturbance to inhabitants?
- Is controlling utility costs a top priority?
- What type of ongoing maintenance is required?
Do your homework. The best practice is to prequalify contractors before asking them to submit proposals. In addition to contacting the contractor’s last three customers, consider the following factors:
- The contractor’s track record installing similar systems
- How many years the contractor has been in business
- Whether the contractor is certified to install the desired manufacturer’s brand of roofing
- The experience level of the installation crew
- Whether the contractor offers follow-up and maintenance services
If you’re on a budget, it can be tempting to jump at the cheapest bid, but that can end up costing you more in the long run. In no industry is the adage, “you get what you pay for” more fitting than in commercial roofing. Give every contractor detailed bid sheets that specify the desired products and methods. Don’t be swayed by a contractor that comes back with a one-size-fits-all solution at a bargain-basement price.
Give Us a Chance — We’ll Give You a Great Roof Installation
Reputation is everything. At North American Roofing, we’ve earned our reputation as the “most trusted and respected roofing company” in the nation because we put our customers first. Always. We’re not just another roofing company – we’re the roofing company you can depend on to install the right roof for your facility at the best price. We’re certified to install all major brands of roof systems, including EPDM, PVC and TPO membrane, metal roofing, solar arrays, modified built-up and roof coatings. We’ll walk you, step-by-step, through the decision-making and installation process. When it’s all said and done, we’ll add you to our long and ever-growing list of satisfied customers. Call us today at (800) 551-5602 to get started on the road to a successful roof installation.
When you think of single-ply EPDM roofing systems, you probably think about the membrane’s superior weatherability, its remarkable resistance to deterioration and its capacity to remain strong and flexible even in frigid temperatures. You might already know that rubberized EPDM membrane is recyclable and that it often comes with one of the longest warranties in the roofing industry. But, you might not know that when combined with ballasted installation and the right amount of insulation, EPDM roofing can go toe-to-toe with conventional “cool” roofing systems.
EPDM’s Cool-Roof Factor
In warm/hot regions where facility managers spend more to cool their buildings than to heat them, highly reflective single-ply membrane systems are popular. A ballasted EPDM roofing system that features natural river-washed stone or pavers, sustains a typical surface temperature of 90-103 degrees Fahrenheit, which is comparable to that of highly reflective membranes. An added benefit of ballasted EPDM is that it does not reflect heat onto overworked rooftop HVAC units or nearby windows.
How Does It Work?
The largest conclusive study to date was conducted by the Oak National Laboratory (ORNL) and lasted four years. During that time, heat data was gathered from different types of ballasted EPDM roofs and their “cool roof” competitors. The results were something professional roofing companies have known all along – under a layer of concrete pavers or river-washed stones, black single-ply EPDM will not exceed acceptable cool roofing temperature ranges. While ballasted itself is not reflective, it offers superior thermal mass; retaining heat instead of transferring it to the membrane. This thermal retention not only reduces cooling costs in warm climates, it prevents heat loss during winter in cooler climates as well.
Additional Benefits of Ballasted EPDM Roofing Systems
Ballasted EPDM roofs are aesthetically pleasing, and they have an enviable low life cycle cost when compared to some other roof systems. With wider membrane widths – up to 50 feet – less seams are required, making installation fast, efficient and less opportunities for water intrusion. Adding appropriate insulation beneath the ballasted EPDM further reduces heat transfer and resultant facility cooling costs. A ballasted EPDM roof decreases sound transfer and provides great wind uplift resistance. In addition, EPDM will not pollute water runoff.
Why North American Roofing for Ballasted EPDM Systems
With all the benefits ballasted EPDM offers, bear in mind that any roof system is only as good as the company that installs it. At North American Roofing, we’ve installed more EPDM membrane than any other roofing company around. We hold premier contractor status with major manufacturers including Carlisle SynTec, Firestone Building Products, and Johns Manville. Since 1979, we’ve installed hundreds of millions of square feet of EPDM membrane. We’re licensed in every state, so no matter where your facility is – we can help.
If you’d like to know more about the benefits of ballasted EPDM, and how it can protect your facility while reducing your climate-control costs, give us a call today at 800-551-5602. We’re here to help you make the roofing decision that’s right for you.