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.

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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.

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RICOWI Provides Unbiased Research on Recent Hail Damage

Each time weather reports and news stories warn of impending heavy rains and hail, the Hail Investigation Program (HIP) Committee of the Roofing Industry Committee on Weather Issues (RICOWI) Inc., Clinton, Ohio, begins a process to determine whether the hail damage is sufficient to meet the HIP requirements for deployment of volunteer research teams.

Before the daily assignments began, the volunteers reviewed the various research requirements, met their team members and learned their responsibilities.

Before the daily assignments began, the volunteers reviewed the various research requirements, met their team members and learned their responsibilities.

Mobilization criteria is met when “An event is identified as a hailstorm with hail stones greater than 1 1/2 inches in diameter causing significant damage covering an area of 5 square miles or more on one of the target- ed areas.” Once a storm that meets the criteria has been confirmed and meteorological data and local input have been obtained by HIP, a conference call with RICOWI’s Executive Committee is held to discuss HIP’s recommendation and review information. The Executive Committee decides whether to deploy.

On April 11, 2016, the hailstorm that damaged the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex met the requirements for mobilization.

RESEARCH TEAMS AND BUILDINGS

Volunteer recruitment is an ongoing process throughout the year. RICOWI members are encouraged to volunteer as a deployment team member by completing forms online or at HIP committee meetings held twice a year in conjunction with RICOWI seminars and meetings.

Once a deployment is called, an email is sent to RICOWI members to alert the volunteers and encourage new volunteers. RICOWI sponsoring organizations also promote the investigation to their memberships. Volunteers are a mixture of new and returning personnel.

On May 2, 2016, 30 industry professionals traveled from across the U.S. to assemble in Texas. These volunteers were alerted to bring their trucks, ladders and safety equipment. To provide an impartial review, 10 teams of three volunteers were balanced with roofing material representatives, roofing consultants or engineers, meteorologists, contractors and researchers. Team members volunteered to be their team’s photographer, data collector or team leader.

When the deployment was called, press releases were sent to various media in the Dallas/Fort Worth area to alert local companies and homeowners of the research investigation. RICOWI staff began making calls immediately to the local area’s government officials to seek approval for the investigation teams to conduct research. Staff also made calls throughout the research week to help identify additional buildings.

A large area in and around Wylie, Texas, had hail as large as 4 inches in diameter.

A large area in and around Wylie, Texas, had hail as large as 4 inches in diameter.

Several methods are used to help determine which areas and roofs are chosen. A list of building permits were provided to RICOWI by local building officials to assist with roof choice. In addition, one of RICOWI’s members from the area did preliminary research and provided addresses for the teams. These site owners were contacted through phone and email to notify them of the research project.

Teams were assigned low- or steep- slope research and were assigned addresses accordingly. Team members carried copies of the press release and additional information to help introduce the investigation to business owners and homeowners.

Ultimately, the objective of the re- search project in Dallas/Fort Worth included the following:

  • Investigate the field performance of roofing assemblies after this major hail event.
  • Factually describe roof assembly performance and modes of damage.
  • Formally report the results for substantiated hail events.

DAY-TO-DAY DUTIES

Before the daily assignments began, the volunteers reviewed the various research requirements, met their team members and learned their responsibilities. The teams were briefed on safety, how to take proper photos and how to capture important data.

As each day began, a briefing was held providing assignments for the day. This included addresses for investigation based on whether the team was focused on low- or steep-slope research. The teams were encouraged to stop at other homes and facilities that were undergoing roof repairs in addition to their assigned inspections.

The days were hot and long for the teams. Volunteers began each day at 8 a.m. and many did not return until 5 or 6 p.m., depending on the number of roofs they were assigned. The temperature during the day was around 80 F and humid; the temperatures on the roofs were much worse.

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A Roofer’s Guide to Lightning Protection

Your roof is not only a weather barrier, it is a work platform for other trades, including lightning-protection installers. Understanding a few basics about lightning protection will simplify job-site coordination and lead to more successful projects.

Lightning protection installers are highly trained craftsmen. Like roofers, they work exposed to the weather and often at dangerous heights.

Lightning protection installers are highly trained craftsmen. Like roofers, they work exposed to the weather and often at dangerous heights.

Lightning protection systems (LPS) are increasingly being used to enhance building resilience to natural disasters. More architects are specifying them because climate change is increasing the frequency of lightning strikes, and the growing use of electronic devices in buildings make them vulnerable to lightning surges.

Lightning protection installers are among the first trades on a job site and one of the last to leave; grounding may have to be installed simultaneously with foundations and final connections cannot be made until all building systems are in place.

The Maryville, Mo.-based Lightning Protection Institute (LPI) has certification programs for journeymen and master installers. An advanced Master Installer/Designer certificate is also available; it is crucial because project architects typically delegate design authority to the lightning protection contractor. The installer/designer must then meet stringent standards issued by the Quincy, Mass.-based National Fire Protection Association; Northbrook, Ill.-based UL LLC; and LPI.

COMPONENTS

Most of an LPS is below roof level. The most obvious above-roof components are air terminals, formerly called lightning rods. They must be located at the highest points on a roof. Depending on the building’s size and configuration, additional air terminals are required around the roof perimeter at intervals not exceeding 20 feet, within the field of the roof, on rooftop equipment and as dictated by the standards. Air terminals can be as slender as 3/8-inch diameter and as short as 10-inches tall; larger ones can be used for decorative purposes or to meet special requirements. While most air terminals now have blunt tips, pointed ones are still encountered and can be a hazard to the unwary.

Air terminals are interconnected by conductors—typically multi-strand cables that can safely carry up to 3 million volts of lightning to ground. Conductors must also be used to bond rooftop equipment and metal components to ground. In most buildings, through-roof penetrations are required so the down conductors can be run inside the structure; the penetrations can be sealed with typical flashing details. If conductors are exposed to view, they should be located in the least conspicuous locations and follow the building’s architectural lines.

Every wire entering the building must have a surge-protective device on it, and these are sometimes mounted above the roof. A variety of mounting devices, connectors, fasten- ers and adhesives are also required. All LPS components should be listed by UL specifically for lightning protection.

LPS components are typically cop- per or aluminum. To prevent galvanic action with roofing and flashings, copper components should be used with copper roofing and aluminum components with steel or aluminum roofing.

Cables interconnect the air terminals (on top of the parapet) to roof penetration (foreground) and other metal items, such as the rooftop exhaust fans and their anchorage points. Interconnections are vital to the function of the lightning protection system.

Cables interconnect the air terminals (on top of the parapet) to roof penetration (foreground) and other metal items, such as the rooftop exhaust fans and their anchorage points. Interconnections are vital to the function of the lightning protection system.

CONSTRUCTION

Before getting on the job, the roofer, LPS installer, and general contractor should agree on project schedule and roof access, as well as review proposed locations of lightning protection components. Penetrations, especially, should be located and marked prior to roofing so they can be found afterward.

The roofing manufacturer should be consulted for its recommendations. Adhesives, for example, must be compatible with the roofing, and some manufacturers require an extra layer of membrane under attachment points.

For added assurance, the building owner should have UL or LPI Inspection Service inspect the job and certify the LPS was properly installed.

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Denver International Airport Is Reroofed with EPDM after a Hailstorm

The millions of passengers who pass through Denver International Airport each year no doubt have the usual list of things to review as they prepare for a flight: Checked baggage or carry-on? Buy some extra reading material or hope that the Wi-Fi on the plane is working? Grab
a quick bite before takeoff or take your chances with airline snacks?

The storm created concentric cracks at the point of hail impacts and, in most cases, the cracks ran completely through the original membrane.

The storm created concentric cracks at the point of hail impacts and, in most cases, the cracks ran completely through the original membrane.

Nick Lovato, a Denver-based roofing consultant, most likely runs through a similar checklist before each flight. But there’s one other important thing he does every time he walks through DIA. As he crosses the passenger bridge that connects the Jeppeson Terminal to Gate A, he always looks out at the terminal’s roof and notices with some pride that it is holding up well. Fifteen years ago, after a hailstorm shredded the original roof on Denver’s terminal building, his firm, CyberCon, Centennial, Colo., was brought in as part of the design team to assess the damage, assist in developing the specifications and oversee the installation of a new roof that would stand up to Denver’s sometimes unforgiving climate.

HAIL ALLEY

DIA, which opened in 1995, is located 23 miles northeast of the metropolitan Denver area, on the high mountain desert prairie of Colorado. Its location showcases its spectacular design incorporating peaked tent-like elements on its roof, meant to evoke the nearby Rocky Mountains or Native American dwellings or both. Unfortunately, this location also places the airport smack in the middle of what is known as “Hail Alley”, the area east of the Rockies centered in Colorado, Nebraska and Wyoming. According to the Silver Spring, Md.- based National Weather Service, this area experiences an average of nine “hail days” a year. The reason this area gets so much hail is that the freezing point—the area of the atmosphere at 32 F or less—in the high plains is much closer to the ground. In other words, the hail doesn’t have time to thaw and melt before it hits the ground.

Not only are hail storms in this area relatively frequent, they also produce the largest hail in North America. The Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association, Greenwood Village, Colo., says the area experiences three to four hailstorms a year categorized as “catastrophic”, causing at least $25 million in damage. Crops, commercial buildings, housing, automobiles and even livestock are at risk.

Statistically, more hail falls in June in Colorado than during any other month, and the storm that damaged DIA’s roof followed this pattern. In June 2001, the hailstorm swept over the airport. The storm was classified as “moderate” but still caused extensive damage to the flat roofs over Jeppesen Terminal and the passenger bridge. (It’s important to note that the storm did not damage the renowned tent roofs.) The airport’s original roof, non-reinforced PVC single-ply membrane, was “shredded” by the storm and needed extensive repair. Lovato and his team at CyberCon assessed the damage and recommended changes in the roofing materials that would stand up to Colorado’s climate. Lovato also oversaw the short-term emergency re- pairs to the roof and the installation of the new roof.

The initial examination of the roof also revealed that the existing polystyrene rigid insulation, ranging in thickness from 4 to 14 inches, was salvageable, representing significant savings.

The initial examination of the roof also revealed that the existing polystyrene rigid insulation, ranging in thickness from 4 to 14 inches, was salvageable, representing significant savings.

Under any circumstances, this would have been a challenging task. The fact that the work was being done at one of the busiest airports in the world made the challenge even more complex. The airport was the site of round-the-clock operations with ongoing public activity, meaning that noise and odor issues needed to be addressed. Hundreds of airplanes would be landing and taking off while the work was ongoing. And three months after the storm damaged the roof in Denver, terrorists attacked the World Trade Center, making security concerns paramount.

INSPECTION AND REROOFING

Lovato’s inspection of the hail damage revealed the extent of the problems with the airport roof. The original PVC membrane, installed in 1991, was showing signs of degradation and premature plasticizer loss prior to being pummeled by the June 2001 storm. The storm itself created concentric cracks at the point of hail impacts and, in most cases, the cracks ran completely through the membrane. In some instances, new cracks developed in the membranes that were not initially visible following the storm. The visible cracks were repaired immediately with EPDM primer and EPDM flashing tape until more extensive repairs could begin. Lovato notes that while nature caused the damage to DIA, nature was on the roofing team’s side when the repairs were being made: The reroofing project was performed during a drought, the driest in 50 years, minimizing worries about leaks into the terminal below and giving the construction teams almost endless sunny days to finish their job.

The initial examination of the roof also revealed that the existing polystyrene rigid insulation, ranging in thickness from 4 to 14 inches, was salvageable, representing significant savings. Although a single-ply, ballasted roof was considered and would have been an excellent choice in other locations, it was ruled out at the airport given that the original structure was not designed for the additional weight and substantial remediation at the roof edge perimeter possibly would have been required.

Lovato chose 90-mil black EPDM membrane for the new roof. “It’s the perfect roof for that facility. We wanted a roof that’s going to perform. EPDM survives the best out here, given our hailstorms,” he says. A single layer of 5/8-inch glass-faced gypsum board with a primed surface was installed over the existing polystyrene rigid insulation (secured with mechanical fasteners and metal plates) to provide a dense, hail-resistant substrate for the new membrane.

In some areas adjacent to the airport’s clerestory windows, the membrane received much more solar radiation than other areas of the roof.

In some areas adjacent to the airport’s clerestory windows, the membrane received much more solar radiation than other areas of the roof.

In some areas adjacent to the airport’s clerestory windows, the membrane received much more solar radiation than other areas of the roof. When ambient temperatures exceeded 100 F, some melting of the polystyrene rigid insulation occurred. “That section of the roof was getting double reflection,” Lovato points out. To reduce the impact of this reflection, the roof was covered with a high-albedo white coating, which prevented any further damage to the top layer of the polystyrene rigid insulation board and also met the aesthetic requirements of the building.

LONG-TERM SOLUTION

Lovato’s observations about the durability of EPDM are backed up by field experience and controlled scientific testing. In 2005, the EPDM Roofing Association, Washington, D.C., commissioned a study of the impact of hail on various roofing membranes. The study, conducted by Jim D. Koontz & Associates Inc., Hobbs, N.M., showed EPDM outperforms all other available membranes in terms of hail resistance. As would be expected, 90-mil membrane offers the highest resistance against punctures. But even thinner 45-mil membranes were affected only when impacted by a 3-inch diameter ice ball at 133.2 feet per second, more than 90 mph—extreme conditions that would rarely be experienced even in the harshest climates.

Lovato travels frequently, meaning he can informally inspect the DIA roof at regular intervals as he walks through the airport. He’s confident the EPDM roof is holding up well against the Denver weather extremes, and he’s optimistic about the future. With justified pride, Lovato says, “I would expect that roof to last 30-plus years.”

PHOTOS: CyberCon

Roof Materials

90-mil Non-reinforced EPDM: Firestone Building Products
Gypsum Board: 5/8-inch DensDeck Prime from Georgia-Pacific
Plates and Concrete Fasteners: Firestone Building Products
White Elastomeric Coating: AcryliTop from Firestone Building Products
Existing Polystyrene: Dow

Hiring Our Heroes Helps Veterans Find Employment in Roofing and Other Industries

When Grant Smith returned from active duty as a U.S. Infantryman in the Marine Corps, he was concerned about finding a job. He had been in the military since the age of 18 and, having been a rifleman, he did not believe he had any marketable skills that would lead him to a job with a future. Smith’s sergeant told him about a trade fair in Columbus, Ohio, in which potential employers would be available to interview veterans for a variety of jobs in the area. At the trade fair, Smith met Chad Muth, president of Muth & Co. Roofing, Westerville, Ohio, and was hired as an installer in the spring of 2013.

Fast-forward two years and Smith is now a field supervisor.

It was a win-win for Smith and Muth, and it was all thanks to the Hiring Our Heroes program.

HELPING VETERANS

Grant Smith (middle), a former U.S. Infantryman in the Marine Corps, was hired as an installer by Muth & Co. Roofing, Westerville, Ohio, through Hiring Our Heroes. Just two years later, he is a field supervisor.

Grant Smith (middle), a former U.S. Infantryman in the Marine Corps, was hired as an installer by Muth & Co. Roofing, Westerville, Ohio, through Hiring Our Heroes. Just two
years later, he is a field supervisor.


Hiring Our Heroes is a national initiative administered by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, Washington, D.C. Its mission is to help veterans, active service members and their spouses transition back into the workforce through a series of hiring fairs held throughout the country, as well as through an online process. To date, more than 850 fairs have been held with 35,000 employers participating, including businesses of all sizes, as well as government and nonprofits. The program also offers employment workshops, résumé reviews and career coaching.

The initiative began four years ago as a response to the gap between businesses looking for skilled workers and those returning from the military with no idea where to look for employment. Job seekers and potential employers may attend hiring fairs at no charge.

“That is one thing that makes the program stand out and makes it so successful—small- and medium-sized businesses can come. A lot don’t have recruiters or HR, but they want to hire a vet, a quality worker,” says Kim Morton, communications manager for Hiring Our Heroes.

Though the numbers are not updated daily, Morton says her team has been able to track 25,000 hires made through the hiring fairs, and those are only from employers reporting back to the program.

The draw for employers is multifold. “Most employers are there because they know they’re going to get a quality employee,” Morton notes. “[Veterans] have had years of discipline and dedication. They know how to stay until the job is done and know how to problem solve; that is the No. 1 skill employers are looking for.”

In addition, Morton adds, veterans know how to work in flexible and uncertain conditions and can be resourceful to get the job done. “Once [a company] hires a vet, they want more, so we see employers coming time and time again,” she says.

Although the fairs are open to veterans of any era, Morton says the majority who attend are post-9/11 vets because their unemployment rate consistently has been higher than the national unemployment average. “For veterans under age 25, those numbers are closer to 20 percent. Those are the ones we see come to events the most,” Morton states.

In addition to in-person fairs, employers and veterans can find each other via online tools, such as a jobs portal and an employer best practices site, within the Hiring Our Heroes website. “Our goal is to ensure veterans, transitioning service members and military spouses are able to utilize our resources to connect with employers no matter where they are in the world,” Morton remarks.

PHOTO: MUTH & CO. ROOFING

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A Review of Slate Roofs: Design and Installation Manual

The Fair St. Christian Church, Springfield, Ohio, features North Country Black, Vermont Unfading Green and Vermont Unfading Red.

The Fair St. Christian
Church, Springfield, Ohio,
features North Country Black, Vermont Unfading Green and Vermont Unfading Red.

Over the years, I have read every slate and sheet-metal book I have been able to get my hands on. The National Slate Association’s Slate Roofs: Design and Installation Manual, 2010 edition, is by far the most comprehensive and practically designed slate roofing book I have read. As a slate roofing contractor, I recognize the value of the information being put forth in this book. It is loaded with information, ranging from the basic characteristics of slate through some of the most complex installation details relating to slate roofing and affiliated sheet-metal details. The details are designed to match the intended life cycle of a slate roof, which should last a century or more with proper care.

Too often I see architectural details that are over- or under-designed. If they are over-designed, the result is likely a much higher price for the building owner. Also, over-designed roofs many times have the unintended consequence of failing prematurely. On paper, the detail looks like it will last a lifetime but experience shows some of these details just will not work in the field. Under-designed roofs just cannot stand up to the 100-year life cycle of a slate roof. The details the NSA brings forth in this publication have been time-tested and provide a standard way for designers to create a roof design that will stand the test of time.

I believe if this book can become the standard from which all slate roof installers, designers and building owners can work, then we will all win. When the details are correct the first time around, the building owner will end up with the best roof possible without a bloated budget caused by inefficient design; the designer does not end up with a strained relationship with the contractor and building owner because of poor design; and the contractor is able to correctly install a long-lasting slate roof and create another satisfied customer.

The 2010 NSA manual has become the main source of information for slate roofing for my roofing company.

The National Slate Association

Slate has long played a part in the architecture of the new world. It was first introduced to the U.S. as ballast for ships coming across the Atlantic in the 1600s. Slate roofs have been found by archeological excavations in Jamestown, Va., dating as early as 1625, according to Preservation Brief 29, “The Repair, Replacement, and Maintenance of Historic Slate Roofs,” from the National Park Service, Washington, D.C.

Nearly a decade after our nation’s independence, the first slate quarry opened in Peach Bottom Township, Pa. From 1785, slate roofing production grew rapidly and hit its all-time peak around 1914. There were active quarries in Maine, New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont and Virginia. In 1915, slate roofing began to slowly decline because WWI took many of the able-bodied men, leaving quarries short of workers.

In 1922, the Poultney, Vt.-based National Slate Association was formed to promote the use of slate in roofing and structural applications. Many of the first U.S. slate standards were set in a book by the organization called Slate Roofs. However, the association became inactive in the late 1920s because of a lack of cohesion.National Slate Association logo

In 2002, a historic meeting took place in Sarasota Springs, N.Y. A group of slate manufacturers, roofers, architects, consultants and other interested parties met and reorganized the National Slate Association and formed a three-member board of directors. Matt Millen, Millen Roofing, Milwaukee, became the first president of the association. Today, the board of directors
includes 15 diverse members who are determined to ensure slate will be used extensively around the country. The National Slate Association’s purpose is to promote excellence in slate roofing practices through the development and dissemination of technical information, standards and educational resources.

To ensure it meets its goals, the association has implemented hail testing for the purpose of knowing the thicknesses of slates needed in hail-prone areas and fire testing to certify slate as a fire-resistant material for insurance companies. It also released Slate Roofs: Design and Installation Manual, which won the Rosemont, Ill.-based National Roofing Contractors Association’s Gold Circle Award for outstanding service to the industry. (See “A Review of Slate Roofs: Design and Installation Manual, to learn more about the manual’s contents.)

The National Slate Association’s current board of directors includes President John Chan, The Durable Slate Co., New Orleans; Senior Vice President Robert Fulmer, Fulmer Consultants, Freeport, Maine; Vice President Dave Large, North Country Slate, Toronto; Vice President Brian Chalsma, The Roofing Co., Hampton, Va.; and Treasurer Pete Papay, Penn Big Bed Slate Co., Slatington, Pa. Jeff Levine, Levine and Co., Ardmore, Pa., is the immediate past president, and Julie Palmer, also of Levine and Co., is the office manager.

Board members are Dan Cornwell, CC&L Roofing, Portland, Ore.; Alan Buohl, GSM Roofing, Ephrata, Pa.; Glenn Downes, Garlock French, Minneapolis; Clay Heald, New England Slate, Poultney, Vt.; Matt Hicks, Evergreen Slate Co., Middle Granville, N.Y.; Brad Jones Sr., Buckingham Slate Co., Arvonia, Va.; Craig LeGere, Mid-America Slate and Stone, Chesterfield, Mo.; Matt Millen, Millen Roofing, Milwaukee; and Russ Watsky, Russell Watsky Inc., Ossining, N.Y.

The National Slate Association would like to invite any interested parties to join the association. Sign up online or email John Chan. Write P.O. Box 172, Poultney, VT 05764.

A Slate Roofer Shares Slate’s History in and Benefits for the Carolinas

Although slate had been used as ballast for ships crossing the Atlantic as early as the mid-1600s, its use was somewhat sparse in the Carolinas until after the great fire. With the Civil War in full bloom, a catastrophic fire broke out in Charleston in 1861, and the city was decimated. However, the Great Reconstruction Era (1865-77) brought shiploads of slate and bricks from North Wales. Welsh slate from the Penrhyn quarries and bricks and tiles from Flintshire and Chester made their way to nearby Liverpool, England, and ultimately to the historic Battery of Charleston.

Not to be outdone, the American quarries started to ship to the Carolinas also. New quarries opened up all along the New York and Vermont corridor, and, in the South, the Virginia Buckingham Co. started quarrying slate in 1867. Slate roofing was growing exponentially at this time, and the Carolinas were consuming it at a very rapid rate.

This dormer features Vermont Black installed in a German style.

This dormer features Vermont Black installed in a German style.

As a large port city, Charleston was able to acquire a wealth of different types of slate for its roofs: purple and gray slates from Penrhyn, Wales; Pennsylvania black slates; lustrous black Buckingham slates from Virginia; and greens, purples and reds from Vermont. Although it took more than a decade, Charleston was rebuilt in a grand manner with beautiful slate roofs as far as the eye could see.

Unfortunately, in 1989 Hurricane Hugo struck Charleston, causing nearly $6 billion in damage. The silver lining was many of these historic properties with slate roofs were 100 to 200 years old by 1989 and were in need of major restoration. From 1989-91, Charleston experienced a huge building boom with the insurance companies footing the bill for the restoration of the city. Tradespeople skilled in historic restoration were called in from all over the country and world. Among them were slate roofers hired to assess and restore the city’s slate roofs.

Learning Experience

Having only been a slate roofer for four years at the time, Charleston proved to be a great learning experience for me. Often working 12- to 15-hour days to keep up with the workload, I was able to personally observe various slating techniques from more than a century ago.

For example, still one of the most unique slate roofs I’ve encountered in my 20-plus years in slate roofing, was on a private residence on King Street. It had sustained minimal damage, and in the process of our repairs, we could see why. The entire slate roof was laid in a bed of mortar with wooden pegs where one usually finds nails. Needless to say, it was quite an adventure to restore it back to its prominence.

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Rooftop Equipment Mounting and Penetrations for Low-slope Standing-seam Metal Roofs

Standing-seam metal roofing offers a durable, sustainable alternative to other roof types and can provide maintenance-free service for five to 10 decades. Sadly, this exceptional lifespan often is sabotaged with the mounting of essential rooftop equipment and ancillary mechanicals.

Metal roofing can make use of special seam-clamping hardware that grips the standing seam without puncturing the membrane. Seam clamps have made metal roofing a preferred roof type for mounting photovoltaic solar arrays. PHOTO: Metal Roof Advisory Group Ltd.

Metal roofing can make use of special seam-clamping hardware that grips the standing seam without puncturing the membrane. Seam clamps have made metal roofing a preferred roof type for mounting photovoltaic solar arrays.

Regardless of the roof type involved, consultants generally agree that the best way to prevent roof-related problems is to clear the rooftop of everything possible and just let it function as a roof—not a mechanical equipment platform. However, such a perfect roof continues to elude us, as it becomes necessary or convenient to mount HVAC equipment, screens to hide it, piping to fuel it, scuttles to access it and walkways to service it. The list of rooftop mountings also may include plumbing vents, satellite dishes, lightning protection, snow retention systems, solar collectors, advertising signage and fall-protection systems to maintain all the foregoing. To help achieve relatively trouble-free roofs, this segment provides some basic understanding of the dos and don’ts in situations where rooftop equipment mounting is requisite.

Penetration-free Attachment

A good “first rule” about any rooftop mounting is to avoid penetrating the membrane whenever possible. While this may seem obvious, the tenet is often violated with standing-seam metal. The norm for attaching things seems to involve anchoring the item to the structure through the roof. When this happens, it not only threatens weather integrity, but can also violate the membrane’s thermal-cycling behavior by inadvertently pinning the panel to the structure. Such a point of attachment will fatigue and fail from forces of thermal expansion within a short time. Fortunately, scores of items and equipment can be securely mounted to metal rooftops without any penetration whatsoever, actually making metal roofing more user-friendly than other roof types.

In terms of mounting ancillaries, metal roofing can use special seam-clamping hardware that grips the standing seam without puncturing the membrane. Unlike many other types of roofing, metal is a rigid, high-tensile material. The seam area creates a beam-like structure that can provide convenient anchorage for walkways, solar arrays, condensing units and gas piping without harming the roof’s weathering characteristics. Mechanicals can be safely and cost-effectively secured to these seam clamps, leaving the roof membrane penetration free. Seam clamps can provide holding strength of up to several thousand pounds on some profiles and gauges, last the life of the roof and preserve thermal-cycling characteristics. Using seam clamps when possible for ancillary mounting will eliminate unwanted holes and other potential problems.

Seam clamps allow even cumbersome ancillary items to be attached to metal roofs without penetrating the rooftop. PHOTO: Metal Roof Advisory Group Ltd.

Seam clamps allow even cumbersome ancillary items to be attached to metal roofs without penetrating the rooftop.

Clamps should be made only of noncorrosive metals—typically, aluminum with stainless-steel mounting hardware. These metals are compatible with virtually anything found on a metal roof, except copper (with which there are dissimilar metallurgy issues). Dissimilar metals in electrolytic contact will induce galvanic corrosion of the less noble metal. In cases involving copper roofing, brass clamps should be used with stainless-steel hardware.

Seam clamps generally integrate with the profile and seam folding, and in some way “pinch” the seam material to anchor them in place. Preferred methods of doing this involve setscrews tightened against the seam causing a detent in the seam material that in turn creates a mechanical interlock of the setscrew, seam and clamp, providing the greatest holding strength and durability. Setscrews should have round, polished points to prevent galling metallic coatings, which can lead to corrosion. In like fashion, and regardless of the method of engagement, any clamp device should avoid any sharp points or nodes that could potentially pierce or gall metallic coatings of steel or cause fatigue and fracture points of other metals.

It also is important to remember that any loads introduced into the clamp will be transferred to the panels and their anchorage to the structure. Consequently, anchorage must be capable of withstanding the added load. The best practice is to utilize clamps that have been appropriately tested for material and seam-specific holding strength; be sure in-service load does not exceed that of the published holding strength, including factors of safety. The roof manufacturer should also be consulted with respect to approval of devices used.

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