Follow Proper Safety Standards and Procedures When Loading Materials on the Roof

Ladder hoists can easily transport up to 400 pounds of materials to high rooftops.

Ladder hoists can easily transport up to 400 pounds of materials to high rooftops.

Architects, building owners, contractors, facility managers and other skilled professionals allied with the roofing industry rely on proven safety standards and procedures to keep workers safe. This attention to safety is even more important in areas where natural disasters like earthquakes, hurricanes and tornadoes are a frequent occurrence.

Earthquake-resistant roofing: After an earthquake, the collapse of poorly constructed concrete roofs and walls leads to significant injuries and death. This is especially true in economically disadvantaged countries where building codes are absent and financial resources are limited. Lighter roofing materials like aluminum and other metals pose less risk for earthquake survivors, and disaster-resistant monolithic shells made of reinforced concrete show real promise.

Hurricane-resistant roofing: Clay tiles and concrete tiles hold up better than wood and other types of shingles in hurricane conditions. In Guam, monolithic domes made completely of reinforced concrete have withstood both earthquakes and hurricanes for 50 years.

Tornado-resistant roofing: Unlike earthquake zones and likely hurricane pathways, tornado-prone areas have no international code for building. Keeping the roof on a building may prevent the walls from collapsing and heavier materials like reinforced concrete seem to best suit this purpose. Insulating concrete forms (ICFs) are being used for roofing but serve more for insulation than for structural integrity in a storm. Once again, reinforced concrete building materials hold up the best. Kenneth Luttrell, PE/CE/SE, MACI, and Joseph Warnes, PE/CE, FACI, FPCI provide detailed analysis in their study titled “Hurricane and Tornado-Resistant Concrete Houses.”

Of course, the very materials that make buildings resistant to natural disasters—especially the reinforced concrete and clay tiles that stand up to hurricanes and tornadoes—present a greater worker safety risk due to their size and weight. You can still get those bulky, heavy materials to the roof and safeguard worker well-being if you choose the right material hoist to prevent falls, decrease injuries, and minimize the chances of both non-fatal and fatal accidents.

Material Transport Options and Risks

Roofing jobs include inherent costs and risks. Transporting materials to the roof is labor-intensive, hazardous work when you must manually carry objects up a ladder. Bulky and/or heavy items increase the risk of accidents, including falls that can lead to death. If you violate the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s “three points of contact” regulation regarding ladders, you face stiff fines. Boom trucks and roofing conveyors may partially eliminate some of this risk, but they require operator training, rental fees and significant space. They can also potentially cause property damage to driveways, lawns and landscaping. These machines can fail to unload materials safely away from the edge of the roof, which is precisely where you want them. In many cases, an OSHA-approved material hoist is the better, safer alternative.

A platform hoist can decrease the risk of injuries, minimize OSHA infractions, prevent accidents and reduce worker fatigue.

A platform hoist can decrease the risk of injuries, minimize OSHA infractions, prevent accidents and reduce worker fatigue.

OSHA Regulations

OSHA ruling 29 CFR §1910.28(a), which took effect in January 2017, puts the responsibility for worker safety—especially the testing and certification of fall-protection systems—on the building owners who hire roofing contractors. Employers must now provide fall protection for employees who will be walking or working on a surface with an edge that is four or more feet above the ground. Depending on the fall danger, employers are free to choose from guardrails, personal fall arrest (PFA) systems, safety nets, travel-restraining systems, or warning lines that mark a designated work area near a low drop-off.

This ruling revised previous industry rules regarding falling, slipping and tripping in the workplace so that the construction rules and the general industry rules are more closely aligned. Unfortunately, repair work—governed by OSHA’s mandate 29 CFR §1926 for the construction industry—and maintenance work—regulated by 29 CFR §1910 for general industry—are still ambiguous.

A provision for ladders is also included in the new ruling. A cage, ladder safety system (a body harness and connectors, carrier, lanyard, or safety sleeve), a PFA system, or a well must be included on fixed ladders installed before Nov. 19, 2018, that extend more than 24 feet from a lower level. On or after that date, fixed ladders must include a ladder safety system or a PFA to eliminate or reduce the likelihood of falls.

Under the new regulation, roofing contractors using these fixed ladders must ensure their workers’ safety with a cage, ladder safety device, self-retracting lifeline or well. Rest platforms are also required, depending on the height of the fixed ladder. Rope descent systems (RDSs) and their anchorages must be tested and certified in writing by the building owners.

In addition to regulating how workers should be protected from falls, OSHA also monitors how objects are carried and loaded/unloaded. For those doing manual lifting, OSHA states that:

  • Every person going up and/or down a ladder will grasp the ladder with at least one hand at all times, maintaining three points of contact with the ladder—either with two hands and one foot or one hand and two feet.
  • Workers must not carry loads and objects that might cause them to slip or fall.
  • All ladders, including portable extension ladders, fall under these OSHA rules.
  • Ladders must support four times their intended load unless they are labeled “rugged use, extra-heavy-duty,” in which case they are require to support a minimum of 3.3 times their 375-pound capacity.
  • No load is allowed to exceed the published weight limit.
  • Ladders may only be used for their intended purpose.
  • Non-self-supporting ladders must be tilted at an angle so the base of the ladder is one-quarter of the working length of the ladder away from whatever is supporting the top of the ladder.

Choose an OSHA-approved ladder hoist to meet these safety standards.

Material Hoists

For your workers’ safety, choose a material hoist company committed to your safety and to excellence, quality and service. Their products should easily transport up to 400 pounds of materials to high rooftops, keeping your team off of ladders. By handling the bulky, unstable and heaviest objects, a platform hoist decreases the risk of injuries, minimizes OSHA infractions, prevents accidents and cuts workers compensation claims. It also reduces worker fatigue.

Look for a ladder hoist designed to accommodate all types of building materials. This includes the new, heavier shingle packages that increase efficiency by increasing the number of shingles (and therefore the weight) of each shingle package. Also take into account the heavier materials that have proven their worth in areas prone to earthquakes, hurricanes and tornadoes including:

  • Clay tiles, which can weigh up to 2,000 pounds/100 square feet
  • Concrete tiles, which can weigh up to 700 pounds /100 square feet
  • Reinforced concrete, which varies in weight due to thickness
  • Slate tiles, which can weigh up to 1300 pounds /100 square feet

Product Attachments

Choose a ladder hoist with product attachments that can handle the bulkier materials required for natural-disaster-resistant construction. An unloading ramp automatically unloads away from the roof’s edge, increasing safety and efficiency. Custom support braces stabilize your hoist or “laddervator,” protecting workers at greater heights. A plywood carrier can transport bulky material like rolled goods, sheets of metal or plywood, skylights, and trusses, keeping workers safe from carrying unwieldy items up a ladder one-handed.

Don’t let unwieldy, heavy objects or special materials that have proven their effectiveness in natural disaster zones keep you from a great safety record. Start with an OSHA-compliant platform hoist.

Learn more about this latest regulation at OSHA’s fall protection page.

Innovative Roofing Insulation Appeals to Owners, Architects

Because Rich-E-Board roofing insulation is light and easy to install, it lowers the cost of delivery and handling and can reduce labor costs by more than half.

Because Rich-E-Board roofing insulation is light and easy to install, it lowers the cost of delivery and handling and can reduce labor costs by more than half.

It’s exceptionally thin and easy to install. It delivers an R-value of 50 to commercial, industrial and government buildings. Now, Rich-E-Board, the innovative new roofing insulation, is enjoying a groundswell of interest from building
owners, contractors and architects seeking to drive down construction costs and boost energy efficiency.

Rich-E-Board recently received a patent for its proprietary Vacuum Insulated Panel—two polymeric foam cover boards that sandwich the panel—and the adhesive ribbons that bind the boards and panel together. This ultra-thin insulation offers a certified alternative to a huge commercial roofing market—billions of square feet in construction every year—challenged with
meeting stringent standards for energy efficiency.

While conventional insulation requires a thickness of 15 inches to reach an R-value of 50, Rich-E-Board achieves the same result at just 1.5 inches thick. Rich-E-Board can be installed on most roof deck types, including ballasted roof systems, and can support all conventional low-slope roof systems.

Rich-E-Board’s design delivers significant advantages:

  • Lower energy bills: Achieving an R-value of 50 can cut a building’s heating and cooling costs by 8 to 10 percent, according to the GSA.
  • Simpler retrofits: Rich-E-Board enables retrofitted structures to achieve required R-values in less time, with fewer materials, and without costly and destructive building modifications.
  • Reduced construction costs: Because Rich-E-Board is light and easy to install, it lowers the cost of delivery and handling and can reduce labor costs by more than half.
  • Design flexibility: With its slim profile— especially compared with multi-layer insulation— Rich-E-Board saves space, expanding the design options for architects.

Rich-E-Board is also fireproof and water and mold resistant, notes Joanne Collins, president and CEO of R-50 Systems, maker of Rich-EBoard. “Our team focused on creating a game-changing alternative,” Collins says. “Rich-E-Board fills a significant
void in the marketplace by providing an insulation system capable of meeting today’s tougher energy standards.”

Success in the Field

Rich-E-Board has made a successful transition from the drawing board to the marketplace. Owners and architects have taken advantage of the insulation’s slim profile and high R-value on several building projects.

At a government building in Chicago, for example, owners chose to install 3,600 square-feet of Rich-E-Board as part of a roof retrofit aimed at lowering lifetime energy costs. Rich-E-Board’s slim profile also cut construction costs by more than $20,000 by streamlining design and installation.

At the Cohen Courthouse in Camden, N.J., Rich-E-Board was selected for the roof retrofit, eliminating the need for expensive building modifications that would have been required for conventional insulation. The decision lowered the project cost by $200,000.

Earlier this year, Rich-E-Board was awarded a patent for its design. More recently, the insulation earned its first LEED 4 designation.

“We’re seeing a huge increase in Rich-E-Board as the roofing market learns more about the benefits it brings to the commercial roofing,” Collins says. “This product fills a significant void by providing an insulation system capable
of meeting today’s tougher energy standards.”

Collins notes that, in addition to the $5 billion annual market for commercial roofing, Rich-E-Board can be used in walls and other building applications. Rich-E-Board is 99 percent recyclable and made entirely in the U.S.

PHOTOS: R-50 SYSTEMS

The Beer That Saved My Life

Did I ever tell you about the beer that saved my life?

One day, the freezer motor in my refrigerator started to make a horrendous shrieking sound. I opened the freezer door, grabbed a pound of frozen ground round, and threw it at the back wall of the freezer. The noise stopped. Problem solved.

Unfortunately, the shrieking episodes continued and became more and more frequent. When I began dating Patti, the lovely woman who later became my wife, she was not impressed. “What are you going to do about that?” she said, hooking a thumb at my musical freezer. “What do you mean?” I replied. “I’m just never going to thaw that ground round.”

I knew that wasn’t a good long-term answer, but a new refrigerator was just not in my budget. However, Patti did some research and found out that a new freezer motor was relatively inexpensive and easy to install.

After purchasing the motor, I pulled out the refrigerator to install it. The galley kitchen was tight, so I had to reach around the refrigerator blindly to unplug it. I removed the back panel of the freezer and took out the old motor without too much difficulty. It was thirsty work, and remembered I had some beer in the refrigerator that would still be cold. I opened the door to pull one out, and realized with alarm that the refrigerator light was on. The unit was still plugged in!

Suddenly I wasn’t very thirsty any more. I realized that I had unplugged the microwave instead of the refrigerator. I was lucky not to have been shocked. It probably wouldn’t have been fatal, but I guess it possibly might have been, and it makes a better story to tell it that way. In any event, after unplugging the unit, I was able to complete the repair. We thawed the ground round and cooked up some hamburgers that night to celebrate.

What does this have to do with roofing? Unfortunately, too much. Many building owners think of their roofs much like I thought of my refrigerator. It is the job of roofing professionals to educate them so they can avoid these common mistakes:

  • Out of sight, out of mind: Roofs are often overlooked by building owners unless a problem crops up. But that’s often too late. Routine maintenance can be the key to spotting minor problems before they become major ones. It can also be a necessary component of the warranty.
  • Using stopgap measures: If a problem does crop up, owners might try to repair it themselves and cause more harm than good. As the roof becomes a platform for not only HVAC equipment but solar arrays, cell towers and satellite dishes, damage to the roof becomes more and more likely.
  • Not consulting a professional: Roofs face potential damage from extreme weather, debris, foot traffic, and a host of other problems. To get the most out of their investment, building owners need expert advice. Planning ahead can make budgeting a future repair or roof replacement much easier.
  • If you are a roofing professional with clients who might not be getting the most out of their roofing assets, stop by and talk to them about the benefits of a roof inspection or a maintenance program. Invite them out for a beer to talk it over. Of course, drinking alcoholic beverages on the job is never advisable under any circumstances, but a beer after work never hurt anyone. Who knows, it just might save someone’s life.

    Research Underscores the Importance of Roof Color on a Home’s Perceived Value

    Since the roof is such a prominent exterior component, figuring out how it plays into the home’s color palette is crucial. Photo: Owens Corning.

    Since the roof is such a prominent exterior component, figuring out how it plays into the home’s color palette is crucial. Photo: Owens Corning.

    Could anything be more ubiquitous in our daily lives than color? From “feeling blue” to “going green,” color is often used to describe feelings, explain behaviors and describe surroundings. As a form of self-expression, color has long been a staple of home design and decor, and the roof is no different. Third-party research and focus groups conducted by Owens Corning makes it clear that consumers are seeking inspiration inside and outside their homes. Color can be a critical tool in making a style statement on the home’s exterior.

    But there is often a gap between homeowners’ use of color inside and outside their home—particularly when it comes to the roof. Too often, homeowners and contractors opt for the “safe choice”—choosing black, brown, or gray shingles. What are homeowners looking for when it comes to the exteriors of their homes? Who do they trust to guide them in choosing exterior roofing colors? How does a color-coordinated home impact perceived value?

    To glean insights regarding these questions, Owens Corning conducted qualitative and quantitative research with homeowners and real estate professionals. In conversations with homeowners, it quickly became clear that consumers are looking for ways to differentiate their homes’ exteriors and express their personal style. Homeowners told us they want to feel proud of their home and the statement it makes about them when they turn into their driveway. They want the exterior of their home to reflect their personality and distinguish their home from others on the block. In fact, some homeowners joked about their homes, saying things like theirs was “the fifth brown house on the left.”

    Return on Investment

    Of course, homeowners are also concerned about the return on investment a home improvement—including a new roof—delivers. In the fourth quarter of 2016, Owens Corning retained an independent research firm to better understand how a home’s roof affects perceived value in the minds of consumers and real estate professionals. The conclusion? Color contributes value! Ninety-four percent of consumers and 91 percent of real estate professionals agreed that a color-coordinated exterior increases the value of a home. Additionally, 91 percent of consumers and 87 percent of real estate professionals agreed that a roof with a color coordinating with the rest of the exterior increases a home’s value. Clearly, homeowners are seeking both inspiration and a return on their home improvement investment—and color delivers both.

    Owens Corning has created easy-to-use tools to assist contractors and homeowners in selecting a shingle color. The Design EyeQ Visualization Tool makes it easy for homeowners to upload a photo of their home and virtually “try on” different shingle colors.

    Owens Corning has created easy-to-use tools to assist contractors and homeowners in selecting a shingle color. The Design EyeQ Visualization Tool makes it easy for homeowners to upload a photo of their home and virtually “try on” different shingle colors.

    Despite the power of color to inspire and add value, why are so many roofs black, brown, or gray? Color is personal, and while homeowners confidently make decisions regarding countertop granite or bedroom paint colors, they often defer to the contractor when it comes to their home’s roof. Contractors have historically not been trained to serve as design experts, so it’s easy for a contractor to recommend a “safe” shingle color. But going for a neutral shade can mean a missed opportunity to boost the home’s curb appeal. Representing 40 percent or even more of a home’s exterior, the roof can be a powerful design element.

    While roofing contractors are comfortable talking about the functionality of a roof—how the various parts of the system work to seal the home, defend the home and help a home breathe—they have traditionally been reluctant to take on the role of design expert. How can they move the roof conversation beyond functionality to also include curb appeal?

    Reaching Homeowners

    Owens Corning has created complimentary, easy-to-use tools and resources to assist contractors and homeowners in the shingle color selection process. These free color and design tools help homeowners integrate their personal color preferences into their home’s roof. Style boards on the Owens Corning website can help inspire homeowners to visualize how trending colors might be applied to their homes’ exterior, including the roof. Homeowners can also order sample shingle swatches directly from the Owens Corning website, allowing them to place the various swatches against their current trim, paint, and exterior finishes.

    Homeowners can take the online Roofing Color Compass Color Personality Quiz, which features 10 fun questions that help lead a homeowner to their “color personality.” It also offers up the Owens Corning shingle colors that complement their personality.

    Homeowners can take the online Roofing Color Compass Color Personality Quiz, which features 10 fun questions that help lead a homeowner to their “color personality.” It also offers up the Owens Corning shingle colors that complement their personality.

    A fun place to start for homeowners is the online Roofing Color Compass Color Personality Quiz, which features 10 fun questions that help lead a homeowner to their “color personality.” It also offers up the Owens Corning shingle colors that complement their personality. From there, the Owens Corning Design EyeQ Visualization Tool makes it easy for homeowners to upload a photo of their home and virtually “try on” different shingle colors. Both resources are available here.

    Style-conscious homeowners often await the announcement of spring and fall fashion shades announced by the PANTONE Color Institute. Owens Corning worked with Leatrice Eiseman, global color guru and executive director of the PANTONE Color Institute, to pair popular trending colors with Owens Corning Duration Series shingles to show homeowners how easy it is to coordinate their home’s exterior with popular “fashion” colors used on doors or other exterior accessories, such as shutters.

    During the 2017 International Builders Show in Orlando, Owens Corning announced Sedona Canyon as the 2017 Shingle Color of the Year. Sedona Canyon is a good example of a shingle color designed to work with both traditional and fashion-forward exterior colors. A 2018 Shingle Color of the Year will be announced later this year along with inspiring new color pairings.

    Owens Corning announced Sedona Canyon as its 2017 Shingle Color of the Year. A 2018 Shingle Color of the Year will be announced later this year along with inspiring new color pairings.

    Owens Corning announced Sedona Canyon as its 2017 Shingle Color of the Year. A 2018 Shingle Color of the Year will be announced later this year along with inspiring new color pairings.

    While the use of color on homes’ rooftops is still expanding, color has long been recognized as an important design element. Consider the following quote from celebrated Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi, whose style defined many late 19th and early 20th century buildings: “Color in certain places has the great value of making the outlines and structural planes seem more energetic.”

    Connecting color to a home’s roof can boost curb appeal and potentially increase the home’s perceived value in the eyes of consumers and real estate professionals.

    For More on This Topic

    For more advice on the use of color with exterior design, click here for a related article featuring suggestions from the star’s of HGTV’s “Good Bones.”

    Antis Roofing & Waterproofing Is Making a Difference By Embracing Community Service

    Antis Roofing encourages employees, business partners and customers to join its quarterly team build projects for Habitat for Humanity.

    Antis Roofing encourages employees, business partners and customers to join its quarterly team build projects for Habitat for Humanity.

    If the name Antis Roofing & Waterproofing sounds familiar, it’s probably because you’ve seen it in the trade press quite a bit lately. The Irvine, Calif.-based company received several awards at the 130th National Roofing Contractors Association Convention, including first place in the CNA/NRCA Community Involvement Award, which honors NRCA contractor members for charitable works. Two Antis Roofing employees, Narciso Alarcon and Manuel Cortez, received Most Valuable Player (MVP) awards from the Roofing Industry Alliance for Progress, and Alarcon was also named the Best of the Best by the Alliance and Professional Roofing magazine.

    In March, the company’s founder and CEO, Charles Antis, was elected to the board of directors for the NRCA. Later that month, he was honored by Alzheimer’s Orange County for his volunteer work on behalf of that organization and his company’s community service projects. In April, Antis was named to the board of the Orange County Ronald McDonald House.

    For Charles Antis and everyone else at the company, it’s been a whirlwind year. “Someone was joking that it’s like Academy Award season,” Antis says. “I don’t want to get too caught up in it, but this may never happen again, so I want to enjoy every moment of it. I want to make sure my team enjoys every moment of it. It’s been really nice to be recognized for stuff that we think is important because it shows us that other people think it’s important, too. And there was a period where maybe it didn’t feel that way. It feels like it’s working and we’re making a difference, and that’s why it feels pretty awesome today.”

    Filling a Niche

    For Antis, the company’s community service projects are inextricably linked to its purpose and mission as a company. He says it just took him a while to realize that fact.

    Founded in 1989, Antis Roofing has 90 employees and specializes exclusively in work for homeowners associations. Most of the roofing work involves clay tile, but it also does a lot of asphalt shingle roofs, metal roofs, and single-ply systems—primarily PVC. “Our only focus is HOA,” say Antis. “Our company services approximately 1,200 HOAs that average 200 units each. That’s 240,000 individual homeowners that could call us at any one time, so that’s a challenge.”

    Charles Antis was recently appointed to the board of the Orange County Ronald McDonald House.

    Charles Antis was recently appointed to the board of the Orange County Ronald McDonald House.

    The demanding HOA market keeps the business running on all cylinders, notes Antis.“Because we were focused on this super-high customer care market, we developed some really great qualities as a business,” he notes. “For example, we photograph virtually everything we touch, everything we see, everything we do. We upload about 6,000 images per day because that’s what it takes to protect all of our stakeholders, from our material suppliers to our manufacturers to the individual homeowners association board members and homeowners. We memorialize everything that occurs with photographs and notes in our enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, much like a property manager would.”

    In the drive to improve his company, Antis asked himself a lot of questions, including basic questions about what motivates him and the true purpose of his company. “Somewhere along the line we discovered that our purpose is to keep families safe and dry,” he says. “That’s what helped lead us to our philanthropy. It brought us back to the community.”

    Finding a Passion

    Antis believes the company’s community service efforts help employees find their passion and make a connection with the community. “Our philanthropy is tied to our central theme,” he notes. “We believe everybody deserves an opportunity to live in safe, dry home and have a happy family there.”

    The first board Antis joined was for Habitat for Humanity in Orange County, which embraces the same goal. He also serves on NRCA committees and will begin serving on the NRCA board for the same reason. “I’m able to give back in a way that lifts me, my people, my stakeholders and my industry,” he says. “I’m also on the board of Ronald McDonald House, which is again giving people a safe, dry place to live while they visit their sick children in the hospital. All of these board memberships that I do are focused on keeping families safe and dry, which is the central mission of Antis Roofing.”

    The company has worked with Habitat for Humanity since 2009, and it also helps other nonprofit organizations by repairing, maintaining and replacing their roofs at no charge through the Antis Foundation “This year we are keeping 15 different nonprofits dry,” he says. “In fact, we have two complete re-roofs we are setting up this summer for the Boy Scouts of America and America Family Housing.”

    Everyone at the company has found community service projects personally rewarding, notes Antis. It’s also helped the business grow and thrive. “We’ve discovered that the more we give, the more we grow, the more money we make, and the more we can give,” he says. “We are in this awesome little cycle where we have purpose in our work. We understand that there is something magical happening right now, and we just have a hard time saying no when somebody has a leaky roof.”

    Antis Roofing CEO Charles Antis (left) accepts an award at Alzheimer’s Orange County’s 19th annual fundraising event from Jim McAleer, president and CEO of Alzheimer’s Orange County.

    Antis Roofing CEO Charles Antis (left) accepts an award at Alzheimer’s Orange County’s 19th annual fundraising event from Jim McAleer, president and CEO of Alzheimer’s Orange County.

    Antis believes his purpose in life is to ignite passion in others to create social change. “We believe that we can bring that passion out in every worker in our company and all of our stakeholders. We have this crazy philosophy around here that we are changing the world, and because of that, we are changing the world. And that’s freaking awesome.”

    Changing the World

    Antis is extremely proud of the awards his company has won. He is also extremely grateful. “Winning those awards from the roofing industry just filled my heart with such gratitude,” he says. “It was just awesome to experience the way our whole company received the Community Involvement Award. We all feel like we are making the roofing industry a better place. We all feel at Antis Roofing that we are working to lift the brand and lift the paycheck of all 250,000 roofers in America. We have that purpose in what we do, and it was gratifying to win that award as a team.”

    Alarcon and Cortez, the winners of the individual awards, both lead by example, according to Antis. “It also felt really good to see two of our really hardworking employees honored with MVP Awards, one of them the Best of the Best,” he notes. “We are really proud of our team members achieving recognition because we are family.”

    Charles Antis believes the company’s philanthropic efforts have inspired everyone at his company and made it a more exciting place to come to work.

    Charles Antis believes the company’s philanthropic efforts have inspired everyone at his company and made it a more exciting place to come to work.


    Antis is thankful for the recognition his team has received, especially because it allows him to share his message with others in the industry. “We have this amazing story right now, and it is getting a lot of attention, but I don’t want to miss this opportunity to tell other business owners that this is not very complicated,” he says. “It’s just a slight shift in the way you look at business. It’s bringing a why—why you exist—into the picture. And suddenly, there’s a stronger culture. Everybody wants to come work here because there is purpose here.”

    “We don’t consider ourselves lowly roofers anymore,” he concludes. “We consider ourselves roofing professionals that are truly making the world a better place. We have a very important service that we provide, and we provide it in the best way possible.”

    Photos: Antis Roofing & Waterproofing

    Tips for Reducing Insulation Labor Time and Costs on Commercial Jobs

    Composite products can help simplify insulation installation on high-traffic roofs.

    Composite products can help simplify insulation installation on high-traffic roofs.

    It’s no secret that the roofing industry continues to suffer a severe shortage of skilled labor, resulting in lost business and profits. Former National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) chairman of the board Nelson Braddy Jr. was quoted in the Wall Street Journal last fall saying his Texas roofing company had to decline $20 million in projects over the past two years due to worker shortages. “It’s the worst I’ve seen in my career,” he said.

    While there is no silver bullet to fix this problem, using materials and methods that simplify installation can help you maximize the people you do have, and potentially even reduce material costs. It’s a win-win for improving profitability.

    This article highlights some simple-to-use options for streamlining insulation work on re-roofing jobs and new construction.

    Measuring What Matters

    When it comes to insulation, roofers can choose from several commonly used rigid foam insulations: polyisocyanurate (polyiso), extruded polystyrene (XPS), and expanded polystyrene (EPS).

    The first step in reducing insulation costs is to consider which metric matters most to your bottom line. As the job of insulation is to reduce heat loss through the roof assembly, many manufacturers promote their products’ R-value per inch of thickness. Although this can be helpful if the goal is to build the thinnest roof assembly possible, it says nothing about the material’s benefit vs. cost. To figure out which insulation products will give you the biggest bang for your buck, it is important to evaluate the R-value per dollar.

    Figure 1

    Figure 1. R-Value per dollar for common types of insulation, including materials and labor.

    The table in Figure 1 compares how rigid foam insulations stack-up for R-value per dollar. While specific R-value per dollar figures change frequently, EPS consistently rates highest when compared to other rigid foam insulations.

    Easy, Economical Insulation Solutions

    For roofing pros who select EPS insulations for their benefit/cost advantages, along with outstanding moisture performance and stable long-term R-values, following are five practical ways to help save tens of thousands of dollars, or more, depending on your job’s size.

    1. Build-up of low-sloped roofs. Converting a flat or low-sloped roof to a greater slope for better drainage typically requires roof crews to stack multiple layers of insulation. This can be a labor-intensive process with XPS and polyiso, as crews must haul and place numerous rigid foam sheets of only a few inches of thickness. By comparison, EPS insulation is available in blocks up to 40 inches thick. As some manufacturers will cut those blocks to virtually any slope and any shape to fit roof crickets, saddles, valleys and ridges, tapered EPS speeds insulation installation, and can reduce roof insulation costs up to 30 percent compared to other tapered insulations. The saved man-hours can be deployed to other jobs to help you build your business. Additional cost savings result from reduced dumpster fees to dispose of insulation cut-offs.

    2. Roof re-covers. An easy-to-use option for roof re-covers is EPS panels pre-folded into bundles, and with polymeric facers on both sides. Such products are available in standard sizes up to 200 square feet, comprised of 25 panels that are 2 feet by 4 feet each. A typical two-square bundle weighs less than 11 pounds, so is easy for one person to carry.

    Fan-folded bundles of EPS require fewer fasteners per square foot than most roofing insulations, and are less expensive than virtually every re-cover board. The man-hours needed to install fan-fold bundles are about 60 percent less than individual sheets. Material costs are also lower than wood fiber, perlite, or gypsum board. On large projects, the total savings can add up to tens of thousands of dollars.

    Flute fill insulation helps reduce labor costs on re-covers of standing seam metal roofs.

    Flute fill insulation helps reduce labor costs on re-covers of standing seam metal roofs.

    3. Metal roof re-covers. Up to 70 percent of metal roofing jobs involve standing seams. Both architectural and structural standing seams make it challenging to create a flat, stable surface during roof re-covers. A simple way to insulate the roof and provide an even surface for other parts of the roof assembly is to install “flute fill” insulation. Such products fit between the spaces of the metal roof’s flanges and are designed to fit into place easily.

    An advantage of EPS flute fill over other insulations is that it can be custom-cut to fit any metal roof flange profile. It also comes in a range of compressive strengths suitable for nearly any roofing application. EPS flute fill can save up to 25 percent in costs compared to similar polyiso products.

    4. High-traffic roofs. For roofs that need additional strength to withstand foot traffic and severe weather, an ideal option is composite insulation. One product incorporates EPS as a lightweight, insulating and resilient insulation, while a polyiso layer serves as a durable, insulating cover board. Some composite products of this type carry a UL Class A fire rating for both combustible and non-combustible decks, and are compatible with a range of roofing membranes, including EPDM, TPO, PVC, CSPE, as well as low-sloped, built-up and modified bitumen membrane systems.

    The Facebook headquarters garden roof uses EPS geofoam as a lightweight fill material to form landscape contours.

    The Facebook headquarters garden roof uses EPS geofoam as a lightweight fill material to form landscape contours.

    5. Planted roofs. For planted roofs that include landscape contours for hills and valleys, roofers face the challenge of not adding excess weight while defending against moisture intrusion. An effective solution is provided by EPS geofoam. Successfully used in civil engineering and building projects for decades, the material is an ultra-lightweight engineered fill that can be used to create contoured landscape features such as hills and valleys. EPS geofoam weighs from 1 to 3 pounds per cubic foot, depending on the product type specified, compared to 110 to 120 pounds per cubic foot for soil.

    And, as EPS geofoam dries quickly and has minimal long-term moisture retention, it helps defend planted roofs from moisture intrusion.

    The project team for Facebook’s MPK 20 building in Menlo Park, California, used EPS geofoam in the building’s 9-acre landscaped roof. Landscape contours, more than 400 trees and a half-mile walking trail create a relaxing, park-like setting.

    Selecting an Insulation Supplier

    Many domestic and foreign companies manufacture EPS insulation, but quality and capabilities can vary widely. To help streamline your insulation material and labor costs further, while ensuring a quality roofing job, it is important to evaluate manufacturers for the following:

  • Technical support: What support services does the manufacturer offer that can reduce roofing contractor costs? Examples include design expertise, material take-offs, consultation on product substitutions, and in-field support.
  • Customized products: Can the manufacturer supply custom-cut insulation components to help reduce field labor?
  • Code compliance: Does the manufacturer have code acceptance reports for its products, including testing to industry standards?
  • Photos courtesy of Insulfoam.

    All in the Family

    Chris King

    Chris King

    As I attended the 2017 International Roofing Expo with the team at Roofing, I thought back to my first roofing trade show. I had covered plumbing and HVAC for six years, but I had just joined a roofing publication and was looking to make a good first impression. Just a few minutes into my time on the trade show floor, I found myself talking with a group that included an NRCA executive officer, a regional sales director for a national distributor, and a marketing manager with a major manufacturer. After I introduced myself, they asked if I had any experience covering roofing, and I was forced to admit that I was new to the industry.

    They could not have been more helpful. They all welcomed me warmly, asked about my previous experience, and told me how they entered the field. They all gave me their business cards and told me to feel free to call them any time if I had any questions.

    As the conversation began to break up, the distributor shook my hand. “Welcome to the roofing industry,” he said. “You see, people enter the roofing industry, but they never leave it. There’s something about it that keeps people hanging around. It’s like a family. You might see someone with a different color shirt at a different booth at the next trade show. People might move around, but they almost never leave the roofing industry—and when they do, they usually come back.”

    The roofing industry is amazingly close-knit, and it has been an honor to be a small part of it for the past 12 years. It has been inspiring to share stories about people, companies, products and services that have improved the lives of families and building owners. It has been a pleasure to document the improvements in an industry that continues to raise the bar on professionalism and safety.

    It’s rare in the business world to encounter genuine feel-good stories, but they are easy to find in the roofing industry. How about products that are better for the environment, provide a better value to the building owner, and a bigger profit margin for the installing contractor—a true win-win. In this issue, we share the story of a manufacturer and contractors who teamed up to help people in need and profile a contractor who makes philanthropic work the cornerstone of his company’s mission.

    When I was in college, I had no idea about the world of business-to-business publishing. I thought journalists just covered politics or sports. At that time, I never dreamed I’d cover the construction industry for 18 years, and that I’d hope to cover it for many more. As the reputations of politicians and athletes have declined over the last couple of decades, the reputation of roofing contractors has been elevated, one roof at a time. There is something so elemental, so important in the concept of the roof—what is the goal of working, after all, but to “put a roof over your head.”

    I know what an excellent job my predecessor, Christina Koch, has done here because I watched her do it. I’ll do my best to live up to her expectations. After all, she’s still in the family as editor in chief of retrofit. Like me, she’ll just be wearing a different color shirt.

    Roofing Torch Program Reduces Fire Hazards During Modified Bitumen Application

    CERTA offers a certification program in which authorized trainers deliver behavior-based training to roofing workers who install polymer modified bitumen roof systems.

    CERTA offers a certification program in which authorized trainers deliver behavior-based training to roofing workers who install polymer modified bitumen roof systems.

    The latest market survey conducted by the National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) shows the use of polymer modified bitumen as a percentage of all new roof systems, installed both in new construction and re-roofing projects, comprises about 10 percent of the total low-slope market, according to members responding. The significance of that share of the market for polymer-modified bitumen also highlights the importance of proper training in the use of roofing torches, the most common method for installation of such systems.

    Background

    In 1986, the Midwest Roofing Contractors Association (MRCA), in conjunction with industry organizations, the Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association, and the United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers, developed a curriculum to train roofing workers in the safe application of torch-applied roof systems. This program was named the Certified Roofing Torch Applicator, or CERTA, program.

    In 2003, insurance industry representatives approached NRCA to address concerns about an increase of losses and incidents involving torching activities conducted by roofing workers. One prominent insurer experienced over $7 million in roofing torch-related claims in 2002 spread over more than 30 separate occurrences. The need for enhanced work practices and focused safety training to address torching activities became apparent, and NRCA arranged with MRCA to adopt and revise the nature of and deliverables offered by the CERTA program.

    CERTA now offers a unique, comprehensive certification program in which authorized trainers deliver effective behavior-based training to roofing workers who install polymer modified bitumen roof systems. CERTA-authorized trainers undergo a rigorous full-day training session that includes classroom and hands-on instruction in propane safety, hazards related to torch use, proper techniques for safe installation of polymer modified bitumen, and development of training skills. Individuals who successfully complete all aspects of the program then are authorized to deliver training, under the CERTA protocol, to workers who qualify as certified roofing torch applicators.

    MRCA continues to work with NRCA to make sure the program is up-to-date and uses the most effective procedures to develop authorized trainers and enhance the curriculum. Since its inception, roofing contractors who have trained their workers under CERTA generally have experienced fewer torch-related fires, injuries and property damage. Insurance industry claims also are a testament to the CERTA program success—the insurer that experienced over 30 torch-related claims in 2002 now can count such average yearly claims on one hand with a significantly reduced average yearly dollar loss.

    Safety Specifics

    Trainees in a CERTA class spend a great deal of time on some specific aspects of the use of roofing torches to install a polymer modified bitumen roof system. Those specifics have a direct correlation to keeping workers and others safe, and minimizing the likelihood of property damage. First, the CERTA curriculum focuses on the inherent danger of roofing torches and discusses assessing job hazards and establishing controls for torching operations. Details cover the proper personal protective equipment to minimize or eliminate exposure to burns and the critical need to handle propane properly and make sure equipment is in good condition.

    Pre-job planning enforces the significance of determining the hazards unique to the particular worksite and developing the necessary controls to address those hazards. In addition to general working conditions and weather issues that may influence job site safety, specific hazards such as the presence of a combustible roof deck, roof penetrations, concealed attic areas and combustible flashing substrates are addressed and suitable controls are suggested and discussed. Also, attendees get comprehensive information on the types and ratings of fire extinguishers and how they are used most effectively along with the minimum CERTA requirements for appropriate fire extinguishers that must be on a roof. In fact, CERTA requires a fire extinguisher capacity far exceeding OSHA’s fire protection requirements during torch operations— two 4A60BC-rated fire extinguishers within 10 feet of torching activity.

    Another important fire prevention protocol is the use of a fire watch system. The intent of the fire watch is that a dedicated individual is charged with inspecting the work area after the last torch, or other heat generating tool, is extinguished. Ordinarily, this is accomplished visually, but it can also be done more scientifically with the use of temperature sensing infrared thermometer. These are inexpensive tools that read the temperature of an area that the tool is pointed at and display the reading in degrees on the screen. The fire watch individual would shoot various specific locations where hot work was done—for example, at roof penetrations, flashings or field areas—noting the temperature for each spot. This procedure would be followed for the same spots a short time later, and if the temperature had increased, the possibility that a fire under the roof surface could be a source of the increased heat being generated would require further steps to determine the nature of the heat increase and the proper action to take.

    Historically, many industries and building owners have required a 30-minute fire watch be maintained after the last torch or other tool has been extinguished. Under the CERTA protocol, a two-hour fire watch is demanded of a CERTA roofing torch applicator. The fire watch must be maintained not just at the end of the day but at other break times, such as lunch, so that fires do not start when workers may be away from the work area or inattentive during break times.

    Another key element of training for the CERTA torch applicator involves installation techniques that are intended to reduce the likelihood of a fire being started. The techniques include specified thermal barriers to protect combustible roof decks and substrate protection for flashing installations, along with an alternative torching technique that minimizes the use of direct torching.

    Certa Works

    Installation of polymer-modified bitumen roof systems using propane roofing torches requires adherence to a number of safety procedures and an awareness of the hazards that workers may encounter. The CERTA program has a proven track record of enhancing the safe practices of roofing workers who install these systems and the roofing industry, building owners and the general public are all safer because of its development and use.

    Photo: NRCA

    Single-Component Butyl Provides a Permanent Seal Without Hardening

    The butyl sealant can be used in a variety of metal roof applications where a low modulus sealant is desired.

    The butyl sealant can be used in a variety of metal roof applications where a low modulus sealant is desired.

    R.M. Lucas Co. has added a single-component, non-skinning butyl rubber sealant to its product line. Lucas #8660 provides adhesion and a permanent seal between concealed end laps, metal roof panels, standing-seam roof panels, ridge caps, wall panels and other applications where a non-hardening weather seal is desired. This product is also ideal for use with OEM and shop-assembled metal details.

    According to the manufacturer, Lucas #8660 creates a non-hardening, weathertight seal. Designed as a non-skinning, non-sag sealant, the product exhibits high moisture resistance, with an exceptional ability to absorb sound and movement. Lucas #8660 comes in a neutral color, guns easily in cold or hot weather, and is packaged in 10-ounce fiber cartridges, 12 per case.

    “Lucas #8660 won’t stain substrates and exhibits primerless adhesion to most roofing and building materials, including Kynar,” says Jason Morris, technical sales representative for Lucas. “The product is easy to gun and tool, even in cold weather, and is also self-healing.”

    The butyl sealant can be used in a variety of metal roof applications where a low modulus sealant is desired, including metal roof panels, ribs, standing seams, and ridge cap flashing, as well as metal wall panels. Lucas #8660 is also recommended for OEM trailer and RV application, installation of walk-in coolers and freezers, and as a vapor barrier sealant. In addition, Lucas #8660 can be used as a sound-deadening sealant in installation of acoustical ceilings as well as both gypsum and metal wall panels. It is not designed for use as a single-ply roofing adhesive or lap adhesive.

    When applying the sealant, the surface to be sealed must be dry and free of dirt or loose corrosion particles. A primer is not needed. Simply apply the sealant to the area as desired. Tooling is not normally necessary. The product can be cleaned with Lucas #125 Safe Solve. It also has a long shelf life, remaining active two years from the date of manufacture.

    “We feel that this will be an excellent addition to our product line whether you are restoring, renovating or maintaining building structures,” states Morris.

    Photo: McElroy Metal

    Prevent Roof Fires During Torch-Down Projects

    Torch-Down Safety While driving to work recently, I heard a news story on the radio: An unlicensed roofer was charged with causing a fire at a local apartment complex. When I arrived at the office, I Googled “fires caused by roofers.” The results included stories from across the nation:

  • Roofing crew blamed for a Chicago strip-mall fire.
  • Roofer’s torch likely cause of huge Arizona construction-site blaze.
  • Roofer’s blowtorch sparks a six-alarm fire in Hamilton Township, N.J.
  • Obviously, using an open-flame torch to install torch-down roofing systems can pose a fire risk. Torch-down roofing is a type of roofing that consists of layers of modified bitumen adhered to layers of fiberglass with a flame torch. Torch-down roofing is used only for flat or low-slope roofs. This process is popular with many contractors, mainly because of its ease of installation and its adaptability. With this system, the modified bitumen can bond tightly to metal flashings while the rubbery additives in the asphalt allow the roofing to expand and contract when other roofing systems may crack. In addition, roofers like torch-down roofing because it is easy to apply. Unfortunately, it can also be dangerous!

    It is easy to make a mistake with the torch that could result in disaster. Consider roofers that are torching down a roof and accidentally overheat something in the attic—insulation, for instance. They end their work for the day, not noticing the smoke coming out of soffit vents. Before long, that smoldering material in the attic heats up and starts a fire that quickly spreads throughout the dry, hot attic and, often, to the rest of the structure. 

    Regulations and Best Practices

    OSHA has developed standards that can help prevent these types of fires. Here are some of OSHA’s fire-protection and -prevention rules from the construction and general industry standards:

  • A fire extinguisher must be immediately accessible for all torch-down operations.
  • A fire extinguisher is needed within 50 feet of anywhere where more than 5 gallons of flammable or combustible liquids or 5 pounds of flammable gas are being used on the job site.
  • No one on a job site can be more than 100 feet from a fire extinguisher at all times.
  • There must be at least one fire extinguisher for 3,000 square feet of work area.
  • All flammable or combustible debris must be located well away from flammable liquids or gases.
  • Combustible scrap and debris must be removed regularly during the course of a job.
  • Piles of scrap and debris must be kept at least 10 feet from any building.
  • A fire watch person should be posted to immediately address any possible smolders or flare-ups.
  • The fire watch person should remain on post for 30 minutes after the torch-down job is finished for the day.
  • While the actions spelled out in these construction regulations are mandatory, roofing professionals should be aware that these are minimum requirements. The National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) and the Midwest Roofing Contractors Association (MRCA) have developed a roofing torch applicator certification program designed to reduce fire hazards during torch application of modified bitumen products. According to Harry Dietz, Director of Risk Management for NRCA, the Certified Torch Applicator (CERTA) program teaches installers to minimize the exposure of combustible structural materials to the heat and flame of the roofing torch. The program also spells out a number of safe practices that go well beyond OSHA’s regulations in dealing with roofing torch use. Among other program elements, these include:

  • The requirement for two 4A60BC fire extinguishers during torch work (more than 10 times the firefighting capability required under the OSHA rules).
  • A two-hour fire watch performed after the last torch has been extinguished.
  • Following these guidelines for fire prevention can protect roofing professionals and the public. It can also save roofers money and time, as well as protect contractors from lawsuits and other legal charges. 

    “In 2002, a leading insurer of roofing contractors had over $7 million in torch related claims in 33 occurrences prior to requiring CERTA for its insureds,” said Dietz. “In 2015, that same insurance company reported only one torch-related claim with a loss of less than $10,000.”

    Visit this site to learn more about OSHA’s Safety and Health Regulations for Construction, Welding and Cutting, Fire Prevention. To learn more about the Certified Torch Applicator (CERTA) program, click here.