Roof Rot: Ignorance Is an Easy Way to Damage Low-slope Residential Roofs

Change often brings with it unintended consequences, and the issue of reflective roof surfaces in North America is no exception. In the late 1990s, U.S. cities in northern climates started to mandate the use of reflective roof—more for politics, feel-good, pseudo-environmental reasons than sustainable, resilient and durable reasons. In my estimation, cool roofs often did more to lower the quality of buildings than enhance them. Furthermore, code and standard changes were made with no understanding of the result and no education to the architects of America.

Figure 1: Reduced attic space resulted in a roof section comprised of the following components from the interior to the roof cover.

Figure 1: Reduced attic space resulted in a roof section comprised of the following components from the interior to the roof cover.

Although the resulting unintended consequences affected commercial and residential buildings, it was the often-catastrophic results on low-slope residential buildings that went untold and left homeowners with tens of thousands of dollars of corrective work on basically new residences.

Following is a summary of how these concerns evolved in wood-framed residential construction. I’ve included case studies of failures, potential solutions and lessons learned.

HISTORY

During the industrialization of America’s large cities throughout the 1800s, the need for labor caused populations to explode. To house the labor migration, row houses (3- to 4-story structures, often with a garden level and four or more narrow units) were constructed approximately 3-feet apart, block after block, creating medium-sized apartment blocks. Most of these row houses were wood-framed, masonry veneer with low-slope roof structures. The interior walls and ceilings were finished in cementitious plaster, which provided a durable, fire-resistive finish. The plaster also performed as an effective air and vapor barrier, preventing interior conditioned air from penetrating into the non-insulated walls and ceilings where it could condense within the walls and roof on cold days.

Photo 1: A contractor was called out to fix the “soft roof” and found this catastrophic situation.

Photo 1: A contractor was called out to fix the “soft roof” and found this catastrophic situation.

Heating costs were low, so little—if any—insulation was installed in the walls and roof. Roofs were composed of built-up asphalt and coal tar, both smooth and aggregate surfaced. Attic spaces often 4 to 6 feet in height were vented via static vents. Any conditioned air that passed to the attic was able to dissipate through these static vents. This method of construction performed without significant attic condensation, and the roof systems and roof structure served these buildings for decades.

In the mid 1990s, researchers (theoretical researchers with no architectural, engineering, roofing, construction or practical building technology experience or knowledge) at research institutes conducted studies into the effects of minimizing solar gain through the roof via a reflective surface. Based on the researchers’ algorithmic findings and recommendations (regardless of their validity), environmental groups used the concept to promote change. Large cities started introducing new energy codes with reflective roofing requirements and prescribed reflectance values. These new codes contained greater insulation requirements, which was a benefit. However, in this one code adoption, roof systems, such as coal-tar pitch, that had performed for centuries were no longer permitted. Consequently, roofing contractors went out of business and so did some roofing material manufacturers because of unproven and suspect research.

Photos and Details: Hutchinson Design Group Ltd.

Pages: 1 2 3 4

Dallas Roofing Contractor Partners with Habitat for Humanity to Repair and Replace Roofs for Deserving Homeowners

Chris Zazo, CEO of Aspenmark Roofing & Solar, Dallas, established the non-profit Roof Angels, which repairs and/or replaces up to 30 roofs per year through Habitat for Humanity’s A Brush with Kindness program.

Chris Zazo, CEO of Aspenmark Roofing & Solar, Dallas, established the non-profit Roof Angels, which repairs and/or replaces up to 30 roofs per year through Habitat for Humanity’s A Brush with Kindness program.

Chris Zazo is a CEO who sees opportunity everywhere. When he needed a corporate gift idea to give to hail-restoration customers of his commercial roofing business, Dallas-based Aspenmark Roofing & Solar, he established Hailstone Vineyards in Napa Valley, Calif., and now makes his own cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay.

While considering how to differentiate Aspenmark Roofing & Solar from its competitors in a market that has no licensing, Zazo embraced community service. “I wanted to find a way to better our industry and really take the sting off the title of ‘roofing contractor,’” he says. “We were getting asked every year by this charity and that organization to support their causes‚ which we were happy to do. Then we got involved doing the new-build roofs for Dallas Habitat for Humanity and really rallied around that organization.”

To differentiate his firm’s charitable work from its for-profit work, Zazo officially established the non-profit Roof Angels in 2013, but he couldn’t quiet his entrepreneurial spirit. He wondered how he could involve the entire roofing industry in community service. “I really wanted to put together a program for the industry,” he explains. “I wanted to get the manufacturers and distributors involved, get our employees involved and create a model in which if we took it to a national organization it could be replicated anywhere in the United States. I dug a little further and found out Habitat has a program called A Brush with Kindness, which is perfect for this idea.”

Although the homes chosen for restoration are usually small, Zazo says they often have extensive damage and four or five layers of shingles.

Although the homes chosen for restoration are usually small, Zazo says they often have extensive damage and four or five layers of shingles.

A Brush with Kindness is Habitat for Humanity’s home-repair program for owners who are struggling to maintain their homes. The program seeks $10,000 donations to support one family’s home repairs. “When we found out about this program, we jumped in and asked, ‘What if we [Aspenmark Roofing & Solar] took the roof off of your hands?’” Zazo recalls. “The roof is usually about 50 to 70 percent of the budget for the home repairs, so, without it in the budget, A Brush with Kindness could do much more to a deserving family’s home. I reached out to GAF to see if they’d donate the shingles. I called SRS Distribution to see if they’d donate the accessory items and delivery. Then all we had to do was raise money for the labor. We proposed this model to Habitat and they said, ‘We love it. When can you start?’”

FUNDRAISING

A Brush with Kindness’ representatives asked Roof Angels and its partners, Parsippany, N.J.-based GAF and McKinney, Texas-based SRS Distribution, to repair and/or replace up to 30 roofs per year. In the beginning, Zazo hadn’t thought through the fundraising part of Roof Angels, so he was often paying his crews for these roof installations out of his own pocket. He started holding Happy Hours and other small events in which he could quickly raise a few thousand dollars.

Pages: 1 2

Roofing Contractor Brings Community Together to Help Homeowners in Need

Gwen Maechling

Gwen Maechling of Professional Restoration and APEX Home Solutions rallied members of the greater St. Louis community to help a family in desperate need of a new roof.

There is an old saying that goes, “A good deed is its own reward.” Sometimes one good deed can lead to another with amazing results. This is one of those stories. In the end, members of the greater St. Louis community came together to achieve something that once looked almost impossible: helping neighbors restore their home.

The community service project was spearheaded by Gwen Maechling. Maechling has been passionate about construction since her first project, a custom home she helped build in the St. Louis area when she was just 20 years old. “I was out there every single second during construction,” she recalls. “It was so exciting. It was different than any job I’d ever done. It just lit a fire in me. I’d been searching for that passion, and I found it.”

She later moved to Florida, earned her real-estate license and worked on several residential development projects. When she returned to the St. Louis area, she took a job selling residential roofing, siding and gutters for a company specializing in storm restoration work. She now manages production and sales training for another storm restoration company, Professional Restoration in St. Charles, Mo. She also is the owner and founder of St. Louis-based APEX Home Solutions, which handles residential roofing and remodeling projects.

A CHANCE ENCOUNTER

Maechling has overseen so many roofing projects in Glendale, Mo., that one realtor jokingly refers to it as “Gwendale.” In February 2014, she was working on a roofing project there and saw an elderly couple taking advantage of a break in the winter weather to rake leaves. She noticed the gutters were overflowing with leaves and debris, and she brought over a ladder and offered to clean the gutters out.

AFTER: Professional Restoration donated the labor to install the new roofing and siding.

AFTER: Professional Restoration donated the labor to install the new roofing and siding.

As she spoke with the couple, Charles and Jennie Blank, she realized they were both hearing impaired. At first, communicating was a bit difficult, but Maechling realized they could read lips very well, and they indicated they did not want any help. Maechling persisted, and while cleaning the gutters she noticed the home was in need of several repairs. The roof was old and leaking in several places, and the soffits, fascia board and window sills were rotting. The old three-tab shingles and siding showed evidence of extensive hail damage. “It was one of the worst homes I’ve seen,” she remembers.

Pages: 1 2

Understand Your State’s Limitations on Non-compete, Non-solicitation and Non-disclosure Agreements

It is likely that at some point in their careers, laborers will be asked or required to sign an agreement restricting their activities once the working relationship comes to an end. National Public Radio reported in November 2016 that roughly 18 percent of U.S. workers were bound by non-competition agreements alone. This is in spite of the fact that numerous states restrict these agreements, which are prevalent in the construction industry. Many contractors require workers—particularly high-level employees—to sign such agreements as a matter of course. But whether it makes sense to do so—and which type of agreement is the best fit—depends on businesses’ needs and goals, as well as the controlling law.

NON-COMPETITION AGREEMENTS

Generally, non-competition agreements or clauses—also known as “non-competes”—prevent workers from engaging in the same business as their employers’ business after the relationship is terminated. This agreement often occurs at the beginning of the labor relationship with employees making this promise in consideration of new employment. These clauses can prohibit workers not only from starting their own businesses in competition with a former employer but also from working for competitors.

For businesses, the goal of non-competes is to prevent former employees and independent contractors from offering the same services or products as the business. Should the employee or independent contractor choose to violate a non-competition agreement and engage in the same business, typically the employer is then entitled to injunctive relief whereby a court orders the worker to stop engaging in that type of business.

By their nature, non-competes are contracts that restrain trade or commerce. For this reason, many jurisdictions disfavor these agreements. States vary greatly as to whether non-compete clauses are enforceable and, if so, how agreements must be drafted to be enforceable. For example, most who do business in the state of California are aware of that state’s general ban on non-competes (see Section 16600 of the California Business and Professions Code).

Other states, such as Florida, allow non-competes to be enforced in particular circumstances set forth by state statute. In Florida, Title XXXIII, Chapter 541.335, requires that non-competes be signed and in writing to be enforceable. The law also sets forth detailed restrictions that depend on the party against whom they are being enforced. The Florida statute places duration and geographic limitations, among other limits, on these agreements.

In many states, though no statute governs non-competes specifically, court decisions have created com- mon-law restrictions on them. These restrictions tend to be time- and location-based limits similar to the ones codified in Florida. Under Chapter 75 of the North Carolina General Statutes, contracts “in restraint of trade or commerce” are illegal and generally unenforceable. However, in interpreting this ban, North Carolina courts have enforced non-competition clauses in certain, limited circumstances. Under North Carolina case law, to be enforceable, non-competition agreements must be in writing, signed by the employee/in- dependent contractor, and based on valuable consideration. Furthermore, the duration and location in which the worker cannot compete must be “reasonable”. Finally, such agreements must be designed to protect a legitimate business interest, such as investing time and resources toward training employees. (See Young v. Mastrom Inc., a 1990 N.C. Court of Appeals opinion.)

Provided that the terms of these agreements are reasonable, they are generally enforceable regardless of whether the worker quits or is terminated (as long as the termination is not otherwise in breach of an employment contract).

Adequate consideration is an essential element of any enforceable contract and of covenants not to compete in particular. In North Carolina and other states, courts have found that mere continued employment is not sufficient consideration to render a non-compete enforceable. In North Carolina, the promise of a bonus, raise in pay, promotion or a new job assignment is generally sufficient consideration. This means that employers who want current workers to sign a non-compete should be prepared to offer them something in addition to continued employment.

Pages: 1 2

Roof Sections of Cosmetics Manufacturing Facility Get Expert Makeover With Cold-applied System, SPF and Smoke-vent Skylights

American International Industries manufactures cosmetics at the facility, and great care had to be taken to ensure no dust or fragments would fall from above and contaminate the products. Photo courtesy of Highland Commercial Roofing.

American International Industries manufactures cosmetics at the facility, and great care had to be taken to ensure no dust or fragments would fall from above and contaminate the products. Photo courtesy of Highland Commercial Roofing.

American International Industries was faced with a conundrum. The roof diaphragm on its 1968, 210,000-square-foot, wood-frame manufacturing facility in Los Angeles had deflection caused by structural settlement, but a full roof replacement was not an option.

“The roof was built without a substantial amount of pitch to it and the plywood deck in between the main purlins had settled over time,” recalls Rick Cunningham, president of Highland Commercial Roofing in Baldwin Park, Calif. “Removing the existing roof and deck and restructuring a roof of this size to return it to its original slope was financially unfeasible.”

American International Industries contracted Ernest Orchard, owner of Irvine, Calif.-based Orchard Roofing and Waterproofing Consultants as a project consultant and owner’s representative who closely monitored the job. Orchard selected a reinforced fluid-applied roof restoration system and brought Highland Commercial Roofing into the project because of the company’s specialization with the process and its expertise in commercial flat roofing in the Southwest. (Highland Commercial Roofing has offices in the Las Vegas; Los Angeles; Oakland, Calif.; and Phoenix areas.)

American International Industries restored sections of its roof with a cold-applied system, spray polyurethane expanding foam and smoke-vent skylights. Photo courtesy of SKYCO Skylights.

American International Industries restored sections of its roof with a cold-applied system, spray polyurethane expanding foam and smoke-vent skylights. Photo courtesy of SKYCO Skylights.

According to Ernest Orchard, another critical consideration in selecting a roofing solution had to do with the activities inside the building. “American International Industries manufactures cosmetics here and we couldn’t have any dust or fragments falling from above into the product,” he says. “In addition, the installation was to take place over the winter while the facility remained operational, and we couldn’t have the building open to weather.”

Pages: 1 2 3

Two Commercial Installations Are Honored with ARMA’s QARC Awards

Advanced Roofing Inc. installed two new roofs at a luxury retired-living community in Palm Beach Gardens. These projects were Silver Award winners in ARMA’s 2016 QARC Awards.

Advanced Roofing Inc. installed two new roofs at a luxury retired-living community in Palm Beach Gardens. These projects were Silver Award winners in ARMA’s 2016 QARC Awards.

Commercial roofs are the workhorses of a building system. They endure wind, rain, hail and foot traffic while serving as an important line of defense between the outside world and a building’s occupants. If inhabitants never consider the roof over their heads, it means the roof system is doing its job well.

The Washington, D.C.-based Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association (ARMA) showcases these hardworking but rarely celebrated systems in its annual Quality Asphalt Roofing Case- study (QARC) Awards program. Each year, the organization seeks the top asphalt roofing projects in North America that demonstrate durability and high performance, as well as beauty. The QARC awards honor a Gold, Silver and Bronze winning project that illustrates the benefits of asphalt roofing.

The Silver Winner of ARMA’s 2016 QARC Awards is a prime example of what a commercial roofing system must stand up to while remaining water-resistant and durable. Advanced Roofing Inc. (ARI), which has service areas throughout much of Florida, was hired to install two new roofs at a luxury retired-living community in Palm Beach Gardens. These reroofs were completed in 2015 and were submitted to ARMA’s awards program.

The two buildings in this community were originally built in the 1990s and were found to have numerous issues that demanded immediate attention when new management reviewed the property. The area’s hot climate requires many air-conditioning units on the roof that frequently have to be serviced. This aspect of a commercial roof can be overlooked by building owners but has a significant impact on its service life and performance. Because HVAC units and related equipment are heavy and may require frequent maintenance that brings extensive foot traffic, they can cause a roof system to deteriorate faster than normal. That was the case with the existing roofs in this living community.

Toward the end of the roofs’ service lives, temporary fixes, like patching and coatings, were made. These regular repairs only increased the operational budget while the core issues remained unresolved. According to Jessica Kornahrens, project manager at ARI, “The existing roofing system was at risk of a failure that could potentially close the building and leave its elderly residents without a home.”

ARI was hired by the new building owner and property manager to tear off the existing roofs of these two buildings and install an asphalt roofing system on each. Because of the significant durability required by the new roofs, the roofing contractor chose a high-performance three-ply modified bitumen asphalt roofing system.

The two buildings in the retirement facility were still occupied during the reroof project, creating an additional challenge during installation, but the work came in on schedule and within budget.

The two buildings in the retirement facility were still occupied during the reroof project, creating an additional challenge during installation, but the work came in on schedule and within budget.


“We knew that this type of redundant, multi-layered system would protect these buildings long-term despite the high foot traffic and heavy equipment they have to stand up to while also meeting the project budget,” Kornahrens says. “This particular system also has a Miami-Dade Notice of Acceptance with testing and approvals for Florida’s high-velocity hurricane zone.”

Between foot traffic and harsh weather, the contractors knew this asphalt roofing system was up to the task.

Challenging Installation

Before they could begin the project, ARI had to first stop the existing leaks in the first 45,900-square-foot building and the second 51,000-square-foot building, followed by a tear-off of the roof system down to the light- weight concrete. ARI fastened the modified anchor sheet with twin-lock fasteners directly into the lightweight insulated concrete deck and then torch applied an interply and fire-retardant granulated cap sheet.

Photos: Smith Aerial Photography

Pages: 1 2

Avoid Problems with Skylights through Proper Installation

As trendy as they are for green building and demonstrably beneficial for energy savings
through daylighting, skylights are sometimes viewed with a certain trepidation by roofing
contractors. After all, skylights are essentially holes in the roof with the potential to compromise roofing workers’ handiwork by providing unintended leakage paths.

Proper installation is essential to realizing designed-in leak-free performance and can vary by type of roofing involved and the type of skylight. It is recommended to always refer to and use the skylight manufacturer’s instructions that are specific to the roof system being installed. Of course, applicable code requirements supersede any instructions to the contrary.

 A commercial skylight provides more daylight and improves an indoor recreational setting. PHOTO: Structures Unlimited

A commercial skylight provides more daylight and improves an indoor recreational setting. PHOTO: Structures Unlimited

AAMA 1607-14, “Installation Guidelines for Unit Skylights”, which is an industry consensus guideline published by the Schaumburg, Ill.-based American Architectural Manufacturers Association, intended for use when manufacturer instructions are absent or incomplete, provides basic step- by-step installation instructions for 19 different ways to integrate various roofing materials, underlayment, flashing and skylight-mounting configurations to preserve the drainage plane. This must be the overriding intent of any installation protocols.

Note that some roofing contractors warrant their work against leakage, and skylight installation should not compromise or void such warranties. When in doubt, independent installers should confer with the roofing contractor.

INSTALLATION SUPPLIES

Proper installation begins with selection and use of the proper supplies—notably sealants, fasteners and flashing.

SEALANT SELECTION
If sealants are recommended by the manufacturer, follow the manufacturer’s specifications. When the manufacturer is silent about the use of sealants and the installation guidelines dictate their use, the following recommendations should be observed:

  • Compatibility—The sealant must not adversely react with or weaken the material it contacts.
  • Adhesion—The sealant must have good long-term adhesion. Surface preparation, cleaning procedures and, in some cases, primers are recommended by the sealant manufacturer.
  • Service Temperature—If the installation location involves elevated ambient temperatures, the sealant should exhibit corresponding service temperature performance.
  • Durability—The sealant must be capable of maintaining the required flexibility and integrity over time.
  • Application—Proper bead size and other application details should be followed to ensure a well-performing joint. Improper use of sealants can dam water pathways, so an important rule of thumb is not to block any weep holes that may be in the skylight system.

Typically, sealant or roofing cement is applied around the perimeter of the rough opening (deck mount) or the flange of self-flashing units or the top edge of a mounting frame. However, some skylights are designed with integral flashing flanges to be installed without the need for sealants.

It is also possible to utilize rolled roofing membranes as a substitute for sealants or plastic roofing cement.

Pages: 1 2 3

Architects and Roof System Designers: Your Details and Drawings Are Seriously Lacking Design Intent

Dear Mr. and Ms. Architect and Roof System Designer:
The following are comments I hear over and over:

  • “Seventy-five percent of the time I cannot determine what roof assembly an architect wants from a spec.”
  • “One always feels they have to play private detective and try to figure out what [a roof system designer] actually wants.”

As an architect and registered roof consultant, I take great pride in my roof system designs and detailing, which are project specific, at minimum meet the code, and more often than not exceed code with all conditions and building components that impinge on the roof detailed for the specific project. In listening to construction managers, general contractors, roofing contractors and suppliers talk, you would think that architects barely know that the roof is on top of the building! It seems most do not even have basic knowledge and certainly don’t know when water may flow uphill. This is embarrassing to hear! It starts in the university with the curriculum placing all emphasis on building design and not how to actually construct a building. In many ways, this is good for my firm as we are busy fixing what should never have required fixing.

Peer review of several projects designed by very large (and what you would assume to be very sophisticated firms) and even small boutique firms reveals the following:

A. The roof system design is not code compliant in regard to tapered insulation.

B. The roof system itself is not code compliant, but contract documents require “contractor to verify or be responsible for code compliance”. This begs the question: Who is being paid to design? Is it the architect or the contractor?

C. Structural and, especially, structural lightweight concrete pose significant roofing challenges and architects have no clue about that, resulting in roof systems in danger of imminent failure.

D. The accuracy of construction documents in general is very, very low. Even I cannot often determine what roof assembly an architect wants from a specification.

  • 1. For example, architects do not list products in the specs that will be used in the assembly.
  • 2. Substrate boards, cover boards and vapor barriers are frequently listed in the specs but never shown on the plan.

E. The detailing of wall air barriers to roof vapor or air barriers is not shown and certainly no definition of responsibility prescribed as to who is to tie these materials together.

F. Understanding of material limitations is non-existent.

  • 1. Weather, wind, cold, snow, humidity and temperature affect the installation of roof system components. I especially get a kick out of seeing water-based adhesives being specified for construction taking place in winter; this means future work for my firm.

G. Roof edges and how they terminate at high walls is never detailed.

H. Roof drains and curbs are improperly or not detailed.

I. Specifications are inadequate—often boilerplate generic—and do not match the drawings. I’ve also seen non-specific details that are not to scale or do not reflect actual conditions.

  • 1. Design wind speed is not given when appropriate.
  • 2. Warranty requirements are in- correct, not thought-out or not specified at all.

J. Architects or consultants sometimes have multiple designs listed in the specification, leaving it to the con- tractor to issue RFIs that, more often than not, are not answered.

  • 1. These inconsistencies lead to frustration and, in many cases, the contractors just decide it is not worth the time or effort to even bid the project or add a good deal of money to cover undefined items.

K. I’ve witnessed owners who have hired professionals to design build- ings costing hundreds of millions of dollars, and yet these “professionals” often do not exhibit the standard of care expected.

  • 1. Poor designs compound when met with an irresponsible contractor who will not do his or her due diligence and investigate what is needed to install a quality system.

Illustrations: courtesy of Hutchinson Design Group Ltd.

Pages: 1 2 3 4

A Michigan Contractor Is Challenged to Recreate a Roof’s 40-year-old Mural

Kevin Clausen has faced a lot of challenges during his 30 years at Great Lakes Systems, a Jenison, Mich.-based construction company specializing in single-ply commercial roofs. But when he received a call several years ago from a Kent County official about an unusual upcoming project, Clausen knew he might be taking on a challenge unlike any other.

Artist Alexander Calder created the 127-square-foot red, black and white mural painted on the roof of the Kent County Administration building.

Artist Alexander Calder created the 127-square-foot red, black and white mural painted on the roof of the Kent County Administration building.

Kent County is home to Grand Rapids, Mich. To understand the challenge that Clausen was about to face, it’s important to understand a little Grand Rapids history. In the late 1960s, swept along by the tide of enthusiasm for urban renewal, the city demolished 120 buildings in its aging downtown core and built a new City Hall and County Administration building, surrounded by a concrete plaza. The new government buildings were designed by architects who were shaped by mid-century ideas of good urban design: sleek, boxy single-use structures, easily accessed by automobile and, therefore, providing ample parking. Pedestrians were something of an afterthought.

At about the same time, the National Endowment for the Arts initiated its Art in Public Places Program. There was general agreement in Grand Rapids that the broad plaza in front of the new buildings seemed empty and generally lacked visual interest. The city applied for a grant to support the funding of a monumental sculpture to serve as a focal point for its new plaza and selected renowned sculptor Alexander Calder for the commission. Two years later, Calder’s sculpture—bright red, 43- feet tall, 54-feet long, 30-feet wide, weighing 42 tons—took its place on the central plaza. It was named “La Grande Vitesse”, which roughly translates into “Grand Rapids”. For obvious reasons, the broad plaza has been called Calder Plaza—and has been the focus of controversy ever since.

The Calder sculpture at ground level on the plaza inspired another important work of art in the area. The flat, unadorned roof of the administration building adjacent to the plaza was drawing attention for the wrong reasons. It was easily viewed from the nearby taller buildings, including the new City Hall, and several city administrators thought some sort of added visual element was necessary for the space. Calder again was pressed into service and designed a large mural for the roof of the administration building. When it was completed in 1974, the 127-square-foot red, black and white mural painted on the roof of the Kent County Administration building was the largest Calder painting in the world.

A DURABLE ROOF

Fast-forward three decades and the aging modified bitumen roofing membrane, which supported the Calder mural, had weathered badly and was in need of repair or replacement. The challenge? How to repair the roof and still preserve the Calder mural. Given the deteriorated condition of the roofing membrane, a complete tear-off was required. Basically, the task at hand was to replace the canvas of a painting and recreate the painting, maintaining its original appearance.

Great Lakes Systems, Jenison, Mich., was challenged to recreate the Calder mural on a new EPDM roof after tearing off the modified bitumen roof on which the mural was originally painted.

Great Lakes Systems, Jenison, Mich., was challenged to recreate the Calder mural on a new EPDM roof after tearing off the modified bitumen roof on which the mural was originally painted.

The team at Great Lakes Systems has a long track record of doing work for Kent County, including the jail, juvenile facility and several libraries. Therefore, county leaders turned to Great Lakes Systems when they realized they need- ed a creative solution to repair their unique roof. Clausen says the county wanted to preserve the mural, but a long-lasting, durable roof was a top priority. “They definitely wanted a high-quality roof,” he says.

The project faced other constraints, in addition to the painted surface. The administration building is located in a prominent spot in the middle of downtown Grand Rapids, near the museum dedicated to former President Gerald Ford and adjacent to two major expressways. No interruption of normal activities could be allowed—either on the plaza or in the building supporting the Calder mural. And—perhaps most challenging—Great Lakes Systems was given three weeks to complete the project before the inaugural ArtPrize competition would take over much of downtown Grand Rapids. That meant the team would have two weeks for the roof installation, leaving one week to repaint the mural. This was less than half the time usually required for a comparable project.

For Clausen, one part of the project was easy. He had used EPDM membrane on a variety of prior projects for county buildings, and county officials had been pleased with the results, especially the balance of cost-effective installation and long service life. “We looked at other membranes, given the nature of the project, but we always came back to EPDM, given its 30-year plus lifespan,” Clausen notes. “If we have to paint again, that’s OK, but we don’t want to reroof.”

For this project, fully adhered EPDM, as well as insulation ad- hered to the concrete deck, offered two important benefits: a painting surface that would be appropriate for the repainted mural and minimal noise (compared to a mechanically attached system) so that work in the building below could continue as normal.

Great Lakes Systems used 60-mil EPDM to replace the aging modified bitumen system. The 18,500-square-foot roof was backed by two layers of 2-inch polyiso insulation, and the EPDM membrane was covered with an acrylic top coat to provide a smooth surface for the new painting. The top coat matched the three colors of the mural—red, black and white. The red was a custom tinted acrylic paint deemed to be compatible with the EPDM membrane and the black and white acrylic top coat provided by the EPDM manufacturer.

Great Lakes Systems took aerial photos of the existing roof, created a grid of the roof and—scaling the design from the photos—recreated the mural exactly, a sort of large-scale paint- by-number approach.

Great Lakes Systems took aerial photos of the existing roof, created a grid of the roof and—scaling the design from the photos—recreated the mural exactly, a sort of large-scale paint- by-number approach.

A BEAUTIFUL ROOF

The Great Lakes Systems’ team applied a creative approach to recreate the mural, adhering carefully to the original design. Because the county used the same colors on its street signs as in the original mural, color codes were available to allow the team to access colors that were identical to those specified by Calder.

Great Lakes Systems took aerial photos of the existing roof, created a grid of the roof and—scaling the design from the photos—recreated the mural exactly, a sort of large-scale paint-by-number approach. The most intricate part of the painting was the layout. Although some free-hand painting had to be done along several jagged edges, the team painstakingly followed the scaled grid and applied chalk lines to outline the original design on the repaired roof. Roller applications were used at the border of the chalk lines to define individual spaces and mark the stopping and starting points for the different colors. Following this “outlining” work, the large areas were sprayed to complete the painting process. The three-man painting crew finished the job with several days to spare, helped along with very good weather.

The roofing project was an informal jump-start toward reimagining uses for Calder Plaza. This past summer, Grand Rapids residents were given the opportunity to voice their preferences for new landscaping for the plaza, provide input for activities that would attract more families and children, and generally make the space more pedestrian friendly. The new proposals are generating excitement and enthusiasm in Grand Rapids. As the new plans become reality, the citizens of Grand Rapids can be assured the Calder mural and the roof supporting it will be doing their part to add beauty and shelter to Calder Plaza and its buildings for decades to come.

Roof Materials

60-mil EPDM: Firestone Building Products Co.
2-inch Polyiso Insulation: Firestone Building Products
Black and White Acrylic Top Coat: Firestone Building Products

PHOTOS: Great Lakes Systems

Nothing Boosts Lead Generation Like a Strong SEO Plan and Solid Rankings

What better way to attract potential customers for your roofing business than to rank at the top of Google, Bing and Yahoo for your products and services! Ranking organically in “search” is the ultimate form of inbound lead generation.

However, common laments heard in business circles are that SEO, or search engine optimization, is dead, it no longer works or it just costs too much to get results. All three statements couldn’t be further from the truth. Business people know that paid ads are a quick way to show up at the top of the search engine results pages, which are commonly called SERPs. But research shows that most savvy searchers bypass these paid ads at the top and opt to click on the first few organic results.

Many so-called SEO experts have given up on the tried-and-true SEO tactics in favor of other avenues, like social media, to direct relevant traffic. Although social media has its place in an online marketing strategy, nothing truly helps boost lead generation like a strong SEO plan and solid rankings. Every business needs to take advantage of the potential results SEO may achieve by doing what it takes to compete and start collecting that low-hanging fruit of new customers on the web.

Unfortunately, hundreds of thousands of websites are created every single year, making it more difficult to rank well—in the top 10 spots on page one of a SERP. Getting those coveted, top spots on search engines for related searches may seem inaccessible, but there are some SEO strategies that can help.

Because the original algorithms to rank websites on SERPs was easily manipulated, constant changes were made to increase the complexity of the algorithms and weed out SPAM websites that deliver little to no value to users. The constant evolution of these algorithms has made it a real necessity for every business to have a serious, ongoing SEO strategy. As business owners, we all know that worthy achievements rarely come without deliberate and concerted efforts. The good news is there are some basic on-page SEO tactics that can deliver real results in today’s competitive internet landscape.

Focus Keywords

The foundation of ranking well with a website should center around a list of words or phrases that are targeted. These keywords should be relevant to the business, brand or service. It helps to have a specific keyword or phrase in mind for each and every web page that is created. For instance, a roofing company may have a separate page for “roof repairs”, “new roof” and “replacement roof”. By focusing the keywords in each page around each specific topic, the chances of ranking for searches that include those words increases.

Be sure to include information about your service area, naming the towns in which you work. The keywords or phrases that are targeted will ultimately determine the focus of the content, meta tags and the entire architecture of a website. Start with the keywords you hope to rank for and build content around them.

Instead of trying to rank for generic terms, like “roofer” or “roofing”, which have lots of competition, try ranking for long-tail keyword phrases, like “new roof in Stockbridge Massachusetts” or “roofing repair contractor near Chicago” for more achievable results. Long-tail keyword phrases should be highly valued because they give businesses a better chance at reaching customers that are close to the point-of-purchase. Being more specific with keyword phrases will yield less competition and higher results for the pages. Remember, potential customers who use these more specific terms in their search are more likely to convert into paying customers.

Pages: 1 2