Roofing Contractor Tackles Obstacles Both Seen and Unforeseeable

Clark Roofing installed nearly 40,000 square feet of TPO from Mule-Hide Products Co. on three buildings in Waco: the McLennan County Sheriff’s Office (lower center), McLennan County Records Management (upper right), and the McLennan County Courthouse Annex. Photos: Clark Roofing

When Clark Roofing of Waco, Texas, was selected to re-roof three McLennan County facilities in downtown Waco, they knew there would be challenges. The roofs were all 35-plus years old and leaked; one was notorious for ponding water. There was 95 tons of gravel ballast to remove. Product deliveries would require navigating busy streets, power lines and rooftop-mounted communication towers. The buildings’ historic features needed to be preserved.

What the crew could not have predicted were the added challenges of working during the early weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic and during protests for racial justice.

But attention to detail, determination, and a knack for finding creative solutions are deeply engrained in the Clark Roofing culture. The crew completed the work in just 20 working days, delivering new TPO roofing systems that will stand up to the Texas heat and hail. Most important, everyone remained safe.

The built-up roofing (BUR) systems on the McLennan County Sheriff’s Office, the McLennan County Records Management building, and the McLennan County Courthouse Annex were in rough shape. At 35 years old, 45-50 years old, and 45-50 years old respectively, each had significant leaks. They remained structurally sound, however, so recovering them, rather full tear-offs, was chosen.

Designed to Take What Texas Dishes Out

Waco is in “Hail Alley,” and average high temperatures top 90 degrees Fahrenheit from mid-June until mid-September. To create roofing systems that would withstand those conditions over the long haul and receive the desired 30-year no-dollar-limit system warranties, Clark Roofing looked to their go-to single-ply roofing system — 80-mil-thick standard TPO in white, fully adhered.

Nearly 400 squares of TPO from Mule-Hide Products Co. was installed on the three buildings.

The Records Management building was originally constructed in 1916 and expanded in the early 1950s. Its failing built-up roof was replaced with a fully adhered TPO system.

“In our experience, the thicker TPO is by far the best option in terms of durability and getting hail ratings and FM Global coverage,” says Clark Roofing General Manager Mike Anderson. “TPO can handle the Texas heat.”

The fully adhered systems also will withstand the hailstorms Waco experiences every year better than mechanically attached system would.

“If a large piece of hail strikes a plate or screw, it can damage the membrane,” Anderson explains. “With full adhesion, you’re only using fasteners on the perimeter to meet wind uplift or FM Global requirements.”

Full adhesion costs 10 percent to 20 percent more than mechanical attachment, but given the pounding that Texas roofs take, it is an investment that will be recouped in roofing system durability and longer lifespan, according to Anderson.

The key is the wrinkle-free installation that full adhesion provides. “To withstand hail, the roof needs to be very tight,” Anderson says. “If there are places where the membrane isn’t touching the substrate, hail has a better chance of puncturing it. You’re also less likely to have ponding water when the membrane is wrinkle-free.”

One of the signature features of the Records Management building is the clay tile parapet, which was preserved during the roof replacement project.

TPO Bonding Adhesive from Mule-Hide Products was used to adhere the membranes. “Solvent-based adhesives flash off faster than water-based adhesives, deliver a stronger bond, and can be used on cooler days,” Anderson says.

In each roofing system, a single layer of 1.5-inch-thick Mule-Hide Poly ISO Flat insulation was used as a top layer insulation and a separation board. The insulation was adhered using Helix Max Low-Rise Adhesive from Mule-Hide Products.

Heavy Lifting

But before the new roofing systems could be installed, 95 tons of gravel ballast had to be removed. To ensure proper adhesion of the adhesive, the substrate must be clean and dry before the adhesive is applied. Many contractors would have simply shoveled the gravel off, filling three dumpsters, and called it a day.

From their previous, off-the-jobsite experimentation, the Clark Roofing crew knew that extra attention paid to surface preparation would result in a stronger bond. So, after shoveling, they swept the surfaces with a motorized broom and blew away the remaining dust, filling 19 dumpsters.

On the roof of the Sheriff’s Office, Clark Roofing installed six TPO-clad troughs to drain water to the scupper outlets on the building’s perimeter.

All three rooftops were ballast-free and clean before installation of the first new roofing system began, ensuring that crew members cleaning one roof section did not track dirt onto newly installed TPO.

It took nearly two full days to complete the clean-up, but it paid off in a tight bond between the insulation and the substrate.

Eliminating Problems

The roof of the Sheriff’s Office building had been plagued by ponding water for years. The original project specifications called for using tapered insulation to remove the water. But Clark Roofing had another solution that cost approximately $40,000 less to implement. Six TPO-clad troughs — 12 inches wide and 200 feet long — were instead installed, each connecting to scupper outlets on the building’s perimeter to direct the water off the roof.

The Clark Roofing crew installs the TPO membrane on the Sheriff’s Office.

The roof of the Courthouse Annex building was littered with 40 obsolete, damaged or torn-off penetrations for exhaust fans, sewer fans and air-conditioning units. They created an obstacle course and were the source of many of the roof’s leaks.

The crew removed the penetrations, along with miles of unneeded conduit and wire, reducing the potential for future leaks and making navigating the rooftop far easier.

“When we started, you couldn’t walk 3 feet without bumping into something,” Anderson says. “Now you can go 10 or 15 feet without any trouble.”

Preserving History

The Records Management building, constructed in 1916 for the Texas Telephone Co. and expanded in the early 1950s, is an architecturally significant fixture in downtown Waco. One of its signature features is its clay tile parapet walls.

Following the standard practice of installing wood blocking, then plywood, and finally the TPO membranes would have taken away from the building’s historic look. So, the Clark Roofing crew stopped the TPO membranes short of the parapet caps and terminated them inside the walls, out of sight from the street. They then refilled the joints and applied Foxfire Matrix Pro SS-WB for waterproofing. The roof was watertight, with the building’s character preserved.

Challenging Roof Access

Busy streets and the presence of high-voltage power lines made material deliveries challenging at all three buildings. Crews blocked off streets as necessary, working quickly to minimize disruptions. Many deliveries were scheduled at night or on weekends when traffic was lighter.

The crew removed 40 obsolete, damaged or torn-off penetrations, along with miles of unneeded conduit and wire, as they installed the new roof on the Courthouse Annex building.

Deliveries at the Courthouse Annex required flawless communication between the crane operator and roofing crew. There was only a 15-foot area in which to work. Communication towers used by the Sheriff’s department and other county agencies are located on the building’s roof, anchored by big guidewires. The building’s parapet wall is 5 feet high.

The crane operator could not rely on visual signals from crew members on the rooftop to direct him, as he could not see them over the wall. So, they used two-way radios, with crew members verbally guiding the crane operator inch by inch.

“You have to really trust someone to do that,” Anderson says. “He was spot-on.”

Early Days of COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic arrived just as the projects were beginning. But the roofs had been leaking for months, so there was no thought of postponing the work.

A variety of protocols were followed to keep everyone safe, including:

  • A supervisor was always on the jobsite for quality control and safety. Sometimes two were there — one on the ground and one on the roof.
  • All meetings were conducted virtually.
  • To avoid going inside the buildings, crew members rode a manlift to the rooftops. It took a full hour to get the eight- to 12-person team in place, adding a full day to the job.
  • All crew members wore face coverings, safety goggles and disposable gloves and regularly sanitized their hands. The crew went through as many as 200 disposable facemasks each week, and gaiters reminded them not to touch their faces.
  • Social distancing was practiced. “We don’t even think about staying 6 feet apart anymore,” Andersons says. “It’s automatic.”
  • Hand tools were not shared. If equipment, such as welders, needed to be shared, it was sanitized before changing hands.
  • Crew members had their temperature taken multiple times a day, and anyone found to be running warm was required to get a COVID-19 test.
  • Disposable water cups were provided. No bottles or cans were allowed on the roofs.
  • At lunchtime, crew members left the roof and cleaned up before eating.

The precautions worked. There were no known cases of COVID-19 among the crew.

Protests for Racial Justice

Sheriff’s deputies shut down the Courthouse Annex jobsite on three occasions, having received word that protesters for racial justice were planning to assemble outside the building. The crew was ordered to get off the roof. Anything that could be used to cause injury or damage property — from sharp tools to the Sky Trak — was removed from the jobsite.

Approximately 95 tons of gravel ballast had to be removed before the new roof systems could be installed.

On one occasion, the crew had just removed the exhaust fans from the roof. Anderson says, “We told the deputies, ‘There are 3-foot openings in the roof. If it rains, the building will flood.’ They said, ‘Get off the roof. If it leaks, it leaks; we’ll take responsibility.’ Luckily, it didn’t rain.”

Thankfully, the protests were peaceful, with no injuries and no damage to property. The shutdowns ranged in length from one to three days and delayed completion of the job by four or five days.

Three roofs. Twenty working days. Four hundred squares of new hail-resistant TPO roofing installed. Challenges — from the expected to the unforeseeable — overcome. No leaks during the active hail season that followed. Just another day at the office for the Clark Roofing team.


Roofing Contractor: Clark Roofing, Waco, Texas,

Roofing Materials Distributor: ABC Supply Co. Inc., Branch #040, Waco, Texas,

Crane Operator: Wales Crane & Rigging Service, Woodway, Texas,

Equipment Rental: Equipment Depot, Waco, Texas,

Gravel Disposal: Rise Up Refuse Dumpster Rental & Demolition, Waco, Texas,


Membrane: 80-mil Standard TPO in White, Mule-Hide Products Co.,

Roof Insulation: Mule-Hide Poly-ISO Flat insulation, Mule-Hide Products Co.,

Adhesives: TPO Bonding Adhesive (to adhere membrane) and Helix Max Low-Rise Adhesive (to adhere insulation), Mule-Hide Products Co.

Edge Metal: TPO-Coated Edge Metal with Attached TPO Skirt, Mule-Hide Products Co.,

Roof Drains: TPO-clad retrofit roof drains, Mule-Hide Products Co.

Tapered EPS Approach Protects Airline Facility’s Roof

When a 200,000-square-foot warehouse was converted into an airport network operation center, the roof system needed a complete overhaul. Photos: Insulfoam

Dubbed the world’s sixth busiest airport in terms of total passengers, Chicago O’Hare International Airport accommodated 84 million passengers and 900,000 arriving and departing flights in 2019. Naturally, nearly every domestic commercial airline carrier is represented at the international transportation hub. To ensure passengers arrive to their final destination safely and on time, each airline company is supported by a network operation center (NOC). From this offsite locale, hundreds of highly trained employees coordinate travel logistics and monitor day-to-day flight activity.

When it comes to designing a best-in-class NOC facility, a properly insulated roofing system plays an integral role in optimizing operating efficiencies and ensuring long-term protection overhead. So, when a major commercial airline carrier purchased a 200,000-square-foot warehouse space near O’Hare to house its new NOC, project designers turned their attention to the roof. Upon initial examination, the existing roof system was deemed subpar and the NOC project designers elected for a complete overhaul.

A Creative Roofing Solution

Challenged with sourcing a superior insulation material for the renovation, the project’s roofing company, Olsson Roofing, opted for tapered expanded polystyrene (EPS) from Insulfoam. Tapered EPS satisfies International Building Code (IBC) requirements across both new construction and re-roofing applications, while maintaining consistent thermal performance and long-term moisture resistance.

NOC project designers turned to this rigid foam insulation as a logical, cost-effective means of building up the pitch of the low-slope structure. Positive slope will reduce stress on the roof’s membrane by eliminating the risk of standing water, a serious threat to the integrity of the building system. Without adequate drainage, the building owners may face costly repairs down the road or premature roof failure. By employing the tapered EPS approach, NOC project designers will proactively avoid these issues and extend the lifespan of the roof system.

Moisture Resistance

Crews from Olsson Roofing installed flat and tapered EPS insulation and TPO membrane.

Long-term exposure to moisture can be extremely detrimental to a roofing system. But while the purpose of a tapered EPS approach is to keep pooling water at bay, moisture absorption is sometimes inevitable — particularly during Chicago’s winter months. To the NOC project designers’ advantage, EPS provides a high level of moisture resistance and breathability. A study by the Energy Materials Testing Laboratories (EMTL) has shown that EPS installed in a well-constructed roof does not absorb appreciable moisture, even under conditions characteristic of prolonged, cold, damp winters. The same amount of moisture absorbed (an average of 0.2 percent by weight) has little or no effect on its compressive or flexural strength, and the material retains between 95 and 97 percent of its thermal efficiency. With this level of ingenuity, NOC project designers can ensure the roof system is equipped to withstand Chicago’s harsh weather.


Because tapered EPS is available in large blocks up to 40 inches thick and can be cut to satisfy virtually any slope, it’s possible to achieve superior thermal efficiency — high R-values — without the added material or labor costs that are typically associated with building up multiple layers of insulation. Installed much like enormous puzzle pieces, the small crew hired to construct the NOC was able to easily adhere three layers of 4-inch tapered EPS, in combination with flat EPS, across the roof deck. The factory-cut pieces of material were installed quickly thanks to their ultra-lightweight composition. In application, the rigid foam material kept the project on budget by decreasing upfront material costs and minimizing the number of hours spent on the jobsite.

NOC project designers looked to tapered EPS not only for material and labor cost savings, but also for its stable thermal performance. EPS insulation delivers R-values ranging from 3.6 to 4.2 per inch. EPS rated at R-4 per inch can provide up to two times greater insulating effectiveness than other insulation materials of the same thickness. Much to the delight of NOC project designers, Insulfoam was able to deliver the desired R-25 designation in three layers of material, slimming the costs associated with building up the pitch. 

Further, third-party testing conducted in 2008 evaluated the field performance of EPS following a continuous 15-year installation period. The results demonstrated that EPS delivers 94 percent of its specified R-value after 15 years in use. Because the material does not experience off-gassing, the R-value remains stable over its entire service life.

Valley Panels

In addition to employing tapered EPS roofing insulation solutions, the NOC design team also opted for factory-cut EPS valley panels from Insulfoam. “Opting for pre-cut EPS valley panels was perhaps the biggest time saving element of the entire NOC renovation project,” says Kris Eschmeyer, Territory Sales Manager, Insulfoam. “Often with new sloped roofing systems, builders have to cut every valley in half diagonally and throw the unused piece away. It’s a big waste of time and materials.” To combat this, Insulfoam offers custom-made valley panels that can be tailored to meet exact project specifications. This level of customization reduces the amount of material waste on the jobsite. It also eliminates much of the field-cutting, which again supports labor cost-savings and accelerates the projects’ timeline.

High-Performance System

The roof membrane installed was a 90-mil, grey FleeceBACK TPO manufactured by Carlisle SynTec. The newly minted roof was completed in July of 2020 after two years of construction. By taking the tapered EPS approach, project designers were able to reap the benefits of the rigid foam material. They achieved a positive pitch in fewer layers of material, creating a slope for positive drainage and bringing forth a high R-value in twofold. In turn, designers kept material and labor spending in check, and ensured a high-performance roof system. Like a protective blanket, the well-insulated roofing system will safeguard NOC operations for years to come.

About the author: Tom Savoy is the technical director for Insulfoam, a division of Carlisle Construction Materials. He has worked in the EPS Industry for 33 years and in construction materials (manufacturing and testing) for 38 years. He actively participates in many trade organizations including ASTM, SPRI


Architect: ROOFTECH Roof Technical Services Inc., Fort Worth and San Antonio, Texas,

General Contractor: Clune Construction, Chicago, Illinois,

Roofing Contractor: Olsson Roofing, Aurora, Illinois,


Membrane: 90-mil grey FleeceBACK TPO, Carlisle SynTec Systems,

Insulation: Insulfoam IX Flat and Taper Panels, Insulfoam,

Restoring Warehouse District Complex Poses Re-Roofing Challenges

Five warehouse buildings constructed in the early 1900s were renovated into mixed-use space in 1980. The complex was topped with a new roof system in 2020. Photos: Central Roofing Company

In the trendy North Loop section of Minneapolis, the Warehouse District is anchored by Itasca Lofts condominiums. More than 100 years old, the converted warehouse is home to 71 units plus a restaurant, comedy club and commercial space on the first floor. Six stories tall, the structure’s old roof was failing until Encompass Inc. and Central Roofing Company stepped in to help.

Built in the early 1900s, Itasca’s five warehouse buildings were renovated into mixed-use space in 1980 by the Cuningham Group. Four decades later, age-related issues and leaks resulted in Itasca getting a new roof in 2020. The difficult project revealed layers of roofing challenges.

“We started by removing a built-up roof (BUR) that was probably 35 to 40 years old,” says Henri Germain, project manager with Central Roofing Company. “Once we got down to the original roof deck, we were surprised to discover it was made of old three-inch thick planks. Today’s roof decks are made of one-half-inch of plywood. These original planks were an old style of tongue-and-groove. It’s fascinating to really see the way structures were built more than a century ago.”

Forensic Roof Review

Before the Central Roofing team started the re-roofing process on the 30,000-square-foot roof space, Encompass was brought in to analyze the failures of the roof system and oversee the construction. Through a bid process they hired Central Roofing.

“There were various unknown elements and unforeseen conditions when the project started,” says Ben Sandvig, project engineer with Encompass, Inc. “Central Roofing’s experience was evident and critical to executing this project effectively.”

Rooftop Obstacles

Challenging aspects of the project included numerous penetrations, curbs, pavers and HVAC units on the existing roof.

According to Germain, the most challenging aspect of the project was working around dozens of different rooftop elements. A variety of penetrations, curbs, pavers and HVAC units exist on the condo’s roof. To help make the job easier, a Potain crane was brought to the site.

“We started by installing plastic on all the interior ceilings to protect the individual homeowner units,” says Germain. “Then our foreman Adam Freitche and superintendent Matt Tueffel led the effort to demolish all the wood decks and railings owned by top floor unit owners. After that, we removed flashing at the parapets between sections. Next, the old tar and gravel roof system was taken out down to the wood planks.”

Rebuilding the Roof

To start the rebuilding of the roof, the Central team used a variety of Johns Manville products. The fully adhered roof system includes 90-mil EPDM to reduce the potential of future leaks. Three-inch JM Enrgy 3 ISO insulation was installed along with a half-inch coverboard. The roof system included a JM Vapor Barrier SA.

As the weeks of work progressed, 17 Wasco and Velux skylights were installed, and curbs were raised to account for the height of the roof. At the roof entry doors, along with the base and top of the stairs, walkway pads and paths were installed to access HVAC units. Paths were also created for the top floor unit owners to reach their newly-built roof decks.

Working around the stand-out roof structures, the Central team installed Firestone Una-Clad 24-gauge sheet metal to provide a roof with a stunning appearance. Just over five months of re-roofing was completed in late August of 2020.

Team Effort

With the re-roof now complete, the leaks are gone and condo owners are once again enjoying their Warehouse District living space.

“The Encompass and Central Roofing teams really worked well together on this project,” says Brian Droske, association manager with FirstService Residential. “Our company has managed the homeowners association for Itasca Lofts for about 40 years. The top floor condo owners are especially pleased with the roof renovation.

“These owners have the ability to purchase a license agreement from the condo association, allowing them to build roof decks directly on top of their units. Some of these owners also have roof access staircases going from their unit to their rooftop decks that overlook the Mississippi River. The new roof and their roof decks make these condos all the more valuable for residents.

“Despite many challenges that everyone acknowledges, this project was completed successfully. Central Roofing’s experience was evident and critical to executing the project effectively given the various unknown and unforeseen conditions of the existing construction.”


Architect: Cuningham Group, Minneapolis, Minnesota,

Roofing Contractor: Central Roofing Company, Minneapolis, Minnesota,

Consulting Engineer: Encompass Inc., Minnetonka, Minnesota,


Membrane: 90-mil EPDM, Johns Manville,

Insulation: JM ENRGY 3 ISO, Johns Manville

Vapor Barrier: JM Vapor Barrier SA, Johns Manville

Edge Metal: Una-Clad 24-gauge sheet metal, Firestone Building Products,

Hybrid Design Rescues Roof at Virginia Hazmat Storage Building

Architects from Gauther Alvarado Associates designed a unique hybrid roofing solution for hazardous chemical storage building for the Virginia Department of Transportation in Cross Junction, Virginia. Photos: Dylan Francis Photography

Many people enjoy the splendor of Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. The vistas, spectacular autumn colors, activities, history and generally temperate climate make the region a tourist destination and wonderful place to call home.

Except when it snows. While the region only receives an average of 19 inches of snow per year — well below the national average of 28 — driving can be risky. The peaks and valleys that make the region such a pretty-as-a-postcard setting also make for treacherous driving conditions in any snow or ice weather pattern, from a dusting to a full-bore blizzard. Interstate 81, a major north-south thoroughfare, travels through the heart of the region and links to West Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania in the north, and southern Virginia and Tennessee in the south.

The responsibility for making the road safe for travel falls on the Virginia Department of Transportation. The agency faced a complicated roofing issue at its hazardous chemical storage building in Cross Junction, where it keeps salt and de-icing products to help keep nearby roads safe for travel.

The building sits in a rural, hilly location and salt is distributed through roof hatches in the structure. The existing hatches, however, started to fail. Age, weather and corrosion from salt required VDOT to replace the entire roof, especially the hatches.

Working with architect and project engineer Gauther Alvarado Associates, general contractor Dinks Construction and Don Largent Roofing, VDOT approved a hybrid roofing solution that is expected to provide decades of service. The eventual design is efficient, cost-saving and durable, checking off three of the most important boxes on VDOT’s project requirements.

Narrow Project Scope

The scope of the project was not wide. The priority was to replace the roof hatches and the roof, which measured 1,960 square feet. The hatches, however, needed to be custom-built, corrosion-resistant, and structurally strong enough to support the weight of the salt during loading operations.

“In the early fall, salt is loaded into the building through three roof hatches accessible from the upper part of the site,” said Stephanie Stein, lead architect on the project for Gauther Alvarado. “During the winter, the salt stored in the building’s three bays is accessed on the lower part of the site as needed, in response to snow events.”

Crews installed three roof hatches from BILCO that were equipped with a liner to protect against corrosion caused by salt that is stored in the facility.

The top priority was to install roof hatches that could withstand the corrosive effects of salt. Architects selected three aluminum roof hatches manufactured by BILCO. The hatches are 3-feet, 11-inches wide and 11 feet long. They are manufactured with Type 316L stainless steel hardware, which is the most corrosion-resistant type of stainless steel. The roof hatch curbs were coated in an asphalt-based liquid coating to provide an additional layer of protection for the concrete inside the building.

“BILCO offers stainless steel roof hatches, but since this is a project that is designed and built on a government budget, we provided a more economical solution,” Stein said.

To protect the interior of the roof hatch that comes into contact with the salt, a team from Rhino Linings in Winchester, Va. installed a liner. Similar to the lining on truck beds, the spray-on material protects against corrosion while also providing excellent abrasion, impact and chemical resistance.

“With this solution, we combined the durability associated with the BILCO pre-manufactured aluminum roof hatches with the corrosion-resistant properties of the truck bed liner,” Stein said.

Dinks’ workers installed the roof hatches while the roofing team installed EPDM on the remainder of the roof. The durability of the roof hatches with the unique liner applied and the EPDM roofing material is expected to extend the roof’s durability up to 35 years.

Standing Up to Salt

The architectural team also designed another unique solution to protect the durability of the hatches.

“One of our prime concerns during the design phase was the additional force exerted on to the roof hatches during salt loading operations,” Stein said.

The time-saving design allows drivers to drop off loads of salt through hatches that are structurally reinforced. The roof hatches with the liner and a roof with an EPDM roofing membrane is expected to extend the roof’s durability up to 35 years.

They designed a structural steel bumper to provide additional support to the roof hatch. When the hatches are open prior to loading the building with salt, the roof hatch covers rest upon the bumpers. “The additional force applied to the roof hatch covers during the salt loading is then directly transferred to the steel bumpers to protect the structural integrity of the roof hatches,” Stein said.

The unique design of the building and the roof allows for a quicker, more efficient solution for storing the chemicals. For hazardous storage buildings without roof access, salt has to be moved by front-end loaders or some other type of conveyance. With the chemical storage facing more stringent regulations, the drop-and-go solution is much more favorable for the environment. Road crews access the salt from the lower part of the building.

Worrisome Corrosion

The corrosive nature of salt can impact almost any building material. When Dinks Construction started the project, workers found issues with decay in some concrete walls caused by salt corrosion. Teams tore out a portion of the wall and rebuilt it before replacing the roof.

Road salt can also cause paint corrosion on vehicles, and can even impact brakes, electrical systems and wiring. The American Trucking Association Foundation reported a direct correlation between increased magnesium chloride use and a significant escalation in truck corrosion and electrical system damage. Some states are even decreasing the use of sodium chloride in favor of magnesium chloride with added corrosion inhibitors.

“The building holds anti-icing, de-icing and snowmelt chemicals,” Stein said. “All of these chemical agents contain salt. Since this is a government project, longevity was a concern. As a result, any surface that comes into direct contact with the salt needed to be corrosion resistant to increase the lifespan of the building in this extremely corrosive environment. “

One additional concern was the increased weight of the roof hatch with the protective liner. BILCO provided a lift mechanism to handle the roof hatch and the protective lining.

Underappreciated Project

The tiny town of Cross Junction sits on the border of a small piece of West Virginia. The building is located several miles from the interstate, and is hardly the Lincoln Memorial in terms of an architectural masterpiece. Functionality in this project was more important than visual appeal. The structure is largely unnoticed by visitors to the region.

Yet, the building plays a key part in keeping drivers safe as they travel the region’s roadways. It might not be flashy, but drivers would certainly know if snow-covered roads were untreated as they attempt to navigate them. “It’s one of those buildings you don’t pay attention to until you actually need it,” Stein said.

The design and construction required ingenuity, attention to detail and creativity in solving some unique challenges. Every project has its own distinct and difficult equations, but the Cross Junction project posed questions that architects rarely see.

“This was a fun project because it was quite different,” Stein said. “This was our second roof and roof hatch system that we designed for VDOT. We had the opportunity to incorporate a few lessons learned from the first roof system replacement. It is our hope that we will continue to adapt this roof system prototype for additional VDOT sites in the future.”

About the author: Thomas Renner writes on building, construction, engineering and other trade industry topics for publications throughout the United States.


Architect: Gauther Alvarado Associates, Fairfax, Virginia,

General Contractor: Dinks Construction, Linville, Virginia,

Roofing Contractor: Don Largent Roofing Inc., Harrisonburg, Virginia,


Roof Hatches: Custom-made aluminum roof hatches, BILCO,