Steep-Slope Projects: Risks, Considerations and Best Practices for Contractors

Photos: Atlas Roofing

Photos: Atlas Roofing

Many contractors treat residential roofing as routine. However, whether a re-roof or new construction, each project can be infinitely complex and should be addressed as such by always accounting for weather and safety issues, as well as proper installation and customer service.

One of the most prominent and popular elements of residential architecture is a steep-slope roof. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), steep-slope roofs have slopes greater than 4:12 and range from 18.5 degrees to 45 degrees or more. While the process of installing a roof with these angles isn’t necessarily much different from a low-slope roof, it can pose more risks and considerations for workers.

Weather Woes

Weather plays an important role in every roofing project, but staying on top of potential issues from Mother Nature is especially crucial during steep-slope jobs.

Photos: Atlas Roofing

Photos: Atlas Roofing

In high temperatures, workers may fall victim to heat cramps, heat exhaustion, heatstroke or worse. The best way to beat the heat is to start early and get as much done as possible before the temperature peaks. Starting early in the summer—specifically in the South—can allow work to be completed before daily rain showers roll in. Proper hydration and attire are also important.

Cold temperatures can create even more complications because some manufacturers advise against installing their products in weather below 45 degrees Fahrenheit and certain equipment is susceptible to freezing. Furthermore, workers have to pay extra attention to the grip of their shoes to avoid slipping and falling. Not to mention, freezing-cold hands and feet may cause an otherwise adept worker to become clumsy. Wearing the proper clothing is key during cold-weather jobs, and workers should be advised to keep an eye out for the first signs of frostbite, including cold skin, redness, tingling and numbness.

Safety Considerations

In 2015, falls were the leading cause of private-sector work deaths in the construction industry, accounting for nearly 40 percent of worker fatalities, according to OSHA. In addition, OSHA reports nearly 90 percent of fatal falls happen due to the lack of a fall-protection system.

Photos: Atlas Roofing

Photos: Atlas Roofing

When working on a roof slope greater than 4/12, OSHA requires additional safety measures, which include either a guardrail system with toeboards, safety net systems or personal fall arrest systems. Yet, many contractors—especially residential roofers—choose to forgo protective devices because they feel they are not feasible or create a greater hazard. In such cases, OSHA does allow the use of alternative fall-protection methods in residential construction, as long as contractors develop a written, job-specific fall-protection plan that complies with OSHA regulations.

Proper Installation

During the installation process, roofers should keep a few things in mind whether they’re applying shingles to a steep-slope or low-slope structure.

  • Valleys
Photos: Atlas Roofing

Photos: Atlas Roofing

Valleys are a critical part of proper roof installation because they experience the most water flow during rainstorms and can be potential leak points.

In an open valley, a piece of aluminum, copper or other type of metal is used to help keep rainwater flowing off the roof. Open valleys are often used when a homeowner wants a showier look, such as on a Colonial-style home.

Closed valleys—the most common valley installation method—use asphalt shingles and offer a more traditional look. When properly installed, they keep water from getting trapped in the valley and allow for proper drainage.

In addition to open and closed valleys, contractors also have the option to create a weave valley, which alternates shingles through the valley from both sides, creating a braid-like effect.

Laminate/architectural shingles should not be used for weave valleys. Because laminate shingles aren’t one-dimensional, they do not create the flat surface needed for a weave valley, which should only be used with three-tab shingles.

When using laminate shingles, be sure to follow instructions on the wrapper for either an open or closed application.

Contractors also need to be extremely careful around obstacles such as chimneys and skylights, which require their own flashing and water divergence methods. For instance, more flashing may be needed in these areas to divert water and prevent leaks.

  • Starter Shingles

Starter shingles allow the first course of shingles to properly seal down, protecting the edge of the roof and providing anchoring power for high-wind resistance at the critical eave and rake areas. They further protect the roof by filling in spaces under the cutouts and edges for the first course of exposed shingles, preventing wind uplift.

Photos: Atlas Roofing

Photos: Atlas Roofing

The most common mistake when installing starter shingles or modifying traditional three-tab shingles is putting them on backward or upside-down.

Additionally, the overhang should be no more than three-quarters of an inch to prevent wind from penetrating beneath shingles, as well as to keep shingles from curling or cracking.

In addition, many manufacturers caution against double-stacking pallets of starter shingles, which can cause the bottom shingles to warp. Be sure to read all storage and handling instructions prior to installation.

  • Underlayment

Underlayment is an important part of the roofing process and is required by code for residential properties to meet Class A fire requirements. Serving as a secondary barrier, underlayment protects rakes, eaves and critical flashings from water infiltration. Most warranties also require underlayment for the roof to be ASTM compliant. However, some contractors still opt not to use it because they want to save time on a project or their customer balks at the cost.

Photos: Atlas Roofing

Photos: Atlas Roofing

Another frequent error during underlayment installation is incorrect overlaps. On low-slope roofs (slopes between 2:12 and 4:12), underlayment should have double coverage. And while traditional installation is fine on steep-slope roofs, always follow manufacturer instructions for overlaps from course to course.

Last but not least, be sure to keep underlayment from wrinkling, which can cause ripples in the shingles. While trying to keep underlayment as flat as possible, avoid pulling it too tight because it has a natural expansion and contraction. If underlayment gets wet, be sure it adequately dries out before continuing the installation process.

  • Shingles and Nails

Shingles should be installed with the manufacturer’s recommended offset, which will help prevent leak points and also properly align the shingles across the roof. Once all of the shingles are aligned, only the shingles themselves should be exposed—not the nails.

Because the common bond area is the strongest part of a shingle, manufacturers require nails be placed there to achieve the advertised wind performance. Nails should not be too high or too low, or unevenly spaced. If nails aren’t positioned correctly, the manufacturer’s wind warranty may not be valid.

Customer Service Follow-Up

Providing excellent customer service is key to every roofing job. Homeowners who have a good experience are more likely to share positive reviews and opinions.

Photos: Atlas Roofing

Photos: Atlas Roofing

Before starting a steep-slope project, be sure to discuss the entire process with homeowners to ensure that they know what to expect, as well as the types of warranties they will receive with their new roof. In addition, prepare the surrounding property, such as windows and landscaping, to prevent damage during the installation process.

During the job, be sure workers are vigilant about not dropping nails anywhere on the jobsite. After the job, walk the property with the homeowners to ensure all debris and materials were cleaned up; magnets can be used to double-check for stray nails. If the homeowners are happy with the finished product and their experience, don’t be afraid to ask them to write a nice review on the company website, Angie’s List, Yelp or other customer referral app.

Most of the best practices for steep-slope roofing can be applied to any type of roofing project. However, steep-slope work can pose additional challenges that other projects may not. Always follow manufacturer’s instructions and OSHA guidelines on all roofing jobs, but especially on steep-slope projects, when one minor slip could turn into major consequences for all involved.

 

TAMKO Adds Four Shingle Colors in Southeastern United States

TAMKO ShinglesFour new shingle colors are now available for TAMKO Building Products Inc.’s customers in the southeastern United States. The colors, Rustic Brown, Grey Mist, Driftwood and Painted Desert, have been added to TAMKO’s popular Heritage laminated asphalt shingle line and are being produced out of TAMKO’s Tuscaloosa, Alabama, manufacturing facility.

Rustic Brown, Grey Mist and Driftwood are all part of TAMKO’s Classic color collection, and Painted Desert is a part of TAMKO’s innovative America’s Natural Colors collection. According to the company, Rustic Brown features several shades of deep brown, with red highlights and black lowlights to create a warm and classic exterior. Grey Mist is an ethereal combination of light to mid grey tones. Driftwood features a variety of mid-tone browns to create the illusion of deep shadowing. And finally, Painted Desert has a mid-tone golden base, with bold highlights and lowlights in shades of blue, green, red, gold and brown.

“TAMKO’s customers in the southeast U.S. can now enjoy an expanded range of our already extensive collection of beautiful shingle colors for the Heritage line,” said TAMKO Vice President of Sales and Marketing Stephen McNally.

All four of these new color options can be purchased now in the southeastern United States. For more information on product availability, visit www.tamko.com.

Architectural Shingle Roofing System on New Field House Helps St. David’s Prepare for the Future

St. David’s Episcopal School’s new field house features an architectural shingle roof designed to provide long life and protection from algae growth. Photo: Atlas Roofing.

St. David’s Episcopal School’s new field house features an architectural shingle roof designed to provide long life and protection from algae growth. Photo: Atlas Roofing.

Originally founded in 1972 as a high school, St. David’s Episcopal School now serves students in pre-K programs all the way through graduation. Located on a wooded campus in suburban Raleigh, N.C., the school now attracts students from Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, Wake Forest and Cary. And as the student body grows, so does the campus of St. David’s.

The school’s facilities are being built with the future in mind, and when the decision was made to add a new athletic field house, durability and longevity were key factors in the decision-making process.

For the roof on the new complex, the school turned to Baker Roofing and Executive Vice President John Matthews, a parent of two St. David’s students who has worked with the school for the past decade. To ensure that the campus itself was built for longevity, Matthews selected 60 squares of Atlas Pinnacle Pristine shingles in Pristine Desert. Other products installed on the project include ProCut Hip & Ridge Shingles, ProCut Starter Shingles, and Summit 180 Synthetic Underlayment.

The architectural shingles feature Scotchgard Protector, which will help the field house maintain its appearance by resisting ugly black streaks caused by algae. In fact, more than 80 percent of the roofs in the U.S. are prone to algae invasion, so protection is the key to a long-lasting roof. “Having the Pinnacle Pristine shingles means the school will have the best protection and appearance,” Matthews says.

His personal relationship with St. David’s and his commitment to the donors who made the new construction possible meant that this project was especially important to Matthews. “The quality education provided by St. David’s is critical to shaping young lives,” he says. “With that in mind, it was essential I feel confident in the products we installed. Knowing that Atlas stands by its products made me sure of the roof the school would be receiving. The extended premium protection period on the Signature Select Roofing System gave everyone a lot of confidence in the decision to go with Atlas.”

When St. David’s Episcopal School in suburban Raleigh, N.C., decided to add a new athletic field house, durability and longevity were key factors in the decision-making process. Photo: Atlas Roofing.

When St. David’s Episcopal School in suburban Raleigh, N.C., decided to add a new athletic field house, durability and longevity were key factors in the decision-making process. Photo: Atlas Roofing.


On a campus where everything they do is geared toward the future, building a facility with longevity in mind is key. “Knowing my own children attend St. David’s and our family is a part of this community made it extremely important that the work we do and the materials we chose be of superior quality,” Matthews notes. “The Atlas system is a product that will ensure the building offers lasting protection and a beautiful appearance for years to come.”

TEAM

Roofing Contractor: Baker Roofing Company, Raleigh, N.C., Bakerroofing.com
Roof System Manufacturer: Atlas Roofing, Atlasroofing.com

ARMA Completes EPDs for Five Types of Asphalt Roofing

The Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association (ARMA) has completed a multi-year effort to develop Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) for asphalt roofing systems. These five new documents provide information that building and construction professionals can use both to support environmental aspects of roof systems as part of sustainable building projects and to better understand their impact over time. EPDs are now available for asphalt shingle roofing systems, SBS and APP modified bitumen systems, and built-up roofing systems. 

When architects and specifiers embark on new green building initiatives, they need to validate the environmental aspects of the building materials they use. EPDs are used to provide this information and to support the credibility of environmental claims.  ARMA worked with thinkstep, a sustainability consulting company, and with UL Environment to validate the EPDs.  These comprehensive documents outline the environmental attributes associated with the manufacturing of various asphalt-related roofing materials. 
ARMA’s development of these five EPDs reflects the continued use and advancement of asphalt roofing materials. In some cases, these documents are needed to fulfill requirements for green building rating systems and initiatives such as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), Green Globes, and the International Green Construction Code (IgCC).

“As the worldwide building and construction community continues to expand the focus on creating environmentally responsible and resource-efficient building projects, asphalt roofing has a critical role to play,” said Reed Hitchcock, ARMA’s executive vice president. “ARMA is committed to supporting sustainable building initiatives, and we are proud to provide the industry with this important environmental information.”

“These EPDs will help architects and engineers make sustainable choices in roof design,” said Amy Ferryman, chair of ARMA’s Sustainability Task Force. “Our work to develop these resources helps ensure that the asphalt roofing industry can fully participate in increasingly important green building practices.”
The five EPDs from ARMA are now publically available and can be accessed on ARMA’s website.

A Coastal Home Is Built to Withstand the Severe Weather that Destroyed Its Predecessor

Dave Caldwell doesn’t have to travel into the future to see how a sustainable beach house—a complete rebuild of a home destroyed by Hurricane Sandy—in Westerly, R.I., will survive the next major storm. Half an hour northeast along the coastline, on the ocean side of Narragansett Bay, stands a testament to resiliency, another new home that Caldwell built in October 2012, just two weeks before Sandy swept in.

The Westerly, R.I., coastal home features an asphalt laminate shingle and integrated solar shingle roofing system.

The Westerly, R.I., coastal home features an asphalt laminate shingle and integrated solar shingle roofing system.

Featuring the same asphalt laminate shingle and integrated solar shingle roofing system, the Narragansett Bay home weathered the worst storm to hit the Ocean State in more than half a century, emerging unscathed while 1,000 other coastal Rhode Island properties incurred a combined $35 million in damage. The home’s survival demonstrated the power of construction techniques used to protect against the forces of nature—techniques that Caldwell repeated in the re-creation of the Westerly home.

For Caldwell, the second-generation owner of North Kingstown, R.I.-based Caldwell & Johnson, a design-build firm founded in 1968, the construction industry’s response to Hurricane Sandy only validates an approach to sustainable building that emphasizes long-term value over one-time costs. He says the owners of the Westerly home, a retired couple from South Carolina, were not afraid to put a little money into making the building stout and durable after their previous home was destroyed by the storm. “The goal,” he says, “was to sit and watch the next category 5 hurricane blow through.”

HURRICANE DESTRUCTION AND ITS AFTERMATH

It’s a good thing nobody was at the Westerly home in late October 2012 when 15-foot waves carrying softball-sized stones and tons of sand crashed onto Misquamicut State Beach. The structure there at the time was a bedrock of family tradition, an annual summer destination for the owners and their children and grandchildren. But without insulation to even keep out cold air in winter, it was no match for flooding and gale-force winds. Caldwell describes the storm’s impact in neat and peaceful terms. “After the tidal surge, not much of the house was left,” he says. “Where the living room used to be, there was a 4-foot pile of sand.”

Commissioned to rebuild using the maximum footprint allowed by regulatory agencies, Caldwell designed a flood-resistant foundation using concrete footings and pilings reinforced with rebar and breakaway walls at ground level so the rest of the house will not be compromised by the next big storm. The whole house received airtight insulation, efficient heating and cooling systems, and a third-party-verified air quality measurement that combined to achieve a silver rating by the National Green Building Standard, which is maintained by the National Association of Home Builders, Washington, D.C.

Caldwell gets a lot of customer requests to add rooftop solar panels. Many times he says no because of shading impacts or suboptimal roof orientation that can limit energy production. When site conditions allow for solar, Caldwell usually brings in a subcontractor for the installation. For high-end projects with an aesthetic that requires preserving the architectural integrity of the roofline, Caldwell has his own construction crew, led by foreman Dwayne Smith, install solar shingles that integrate with traditional shingles to form a seam- less roof system. Smith went through a manufacturer’s training program to become a certified roof shingle and solar shingle installer, making Caldwell & Johnson eligible for warranty protection from the supplier and demonstrating to customers that the firm is serious about the product.

Traditional solar panels would not have been suitable for the Westerly beach home, because durability was a principal concern for the client, a retired physicist.

Traditional solar panels would not have been suitable for the Westerly beach home, because durability was a principal concern

Traditional solar panels would not have been suitable for the Westerly beach home, because durability was a principal concern.

“Durability is a key component of sustainable green building,” Caldwell explains. “Oceanfront homes in our region are exposed to some pretty harsh elements throughout the year, including high winds, ice, salt and more. Fortunately, the individual components of the integrated solar system are up to task, and the fastening system allows the entire array to be secured directly to the roof deck as an integral unit.”

Caldwell was able to easily dispel the concern by referring to the Narragansett Bay project that survived Hurricane Sandy, where his team had installed solar shingles for the first time. “That home came through the storm with no problem at all. The solar energy system turned on and hasn’t had a problem since,” he says.

If the conditions in Rhode Island don’t provide enough assurance that solar shingles can withstand the worst that Mother Nature has to offer, Caldwell can also point to an installation he’s put on his own ski house in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, about 4,000 feet above sea level. “If you wanted to test this stuff, that’s getting on the outer edge of the bell curve,” he says. “I wouldn’t put traditional solar panels there. It would be too dangerous. But in pretty harsh conditions, the solar shingles work great.”

Pages: 1 2