Replacing Structural Metal Deck in Re-Roofing Applications

Photo: A.C.T. Metal Deck Supply

The commercial roof replacement project has been specified, the tear-off process begins, and crews are surprised to find unexpected corrosion and damage in the structural metal decking — the cold-formed corrugated steel sheets connected to steel joists or beams that support the roof system. They soon realize that large areas of the deck will need to be replaced, and the project grinds to a halt as crews try to figure out what type of deck is needed and how long it will take to get it to the jobsite. This doesn’t happen every day, but it happens often enough that specialty metal deck suppliers have evolved to help roofing contractors cope with such emergencies — and, hopefully, work with them to prevent similar problems in the future.

Roofing spoke with metal deck suppliers about the common questions they encounter and the ways they can help roofing contractors meet their needs. We also spoke with a contractor and a roof consultant to get their perspectives on issues surrounding metal decks and asked them to share some recommendations for successful re-roofing projects involving the replacement of structural metal decking.

Frequently Asked Questions

Nick V. Polizzi is president of A.C.T. Metal Deck Supply, headquartered in Aurora, Illinois. The company got its start as a metal decking subcontractor, furnishing and installing metal deck in the Chicagoland, and it started stocking metal deck 27 years ago. A.C.T. Metal Deck eventually got out of the installation side of the business, and the company now has 15 locations in 11 states that specialize in metal deck distribution.

Polizzi sums up the most frequent queries from roofing contractors this way: “The most common questions we receive are ‘What is this existing deck?’ ‘What do we use if we can’t match it exactly?’ and ‘Can I get it today?’ That is, do we have it in stock.”

In industrial facilities, the deck is typically left exposed. Often corrosion and damage are easy to spot during a visual inspection. Photo: CentiMark

It’s the type of phone call that’s familiar to Matt Weiss, president of O’Donnell Metal Deck, headquartered in Elkridge, Maryland. The company has been supplying metal deck in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic for 35 years from its headquarters and a second location in Darby, Pennsylvania. “I do the same kind of dance every day,” Weiss says. “I hear, ‘Hey, we’re up on a roof and need some deck.’ I say, ‘What kind?’ Often there is just silence.”

John D’Annunzio, president of Paragon Roofing Technology in Troy, Michigan, has been a roof consultant for more than 25 years. He says he can’t remember a re-roofing job over a metal deck that didn’t require replacing at least some portion of the decking. Even with a thorough inspection, surprises can crop up. “There are times you look at it from the underside and don’t spot any problems, but when you start replacing the roof you find some issues,” D’Annunzio notes.

These are the types of problems Mike Horwath, Mid-Atlantic Regional Manager for CentiMark, tries to anticipate and avoid. CentiMark is a full-service roofing contractor headquartered is in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, that covers the entire country. Horwath’s office is in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania. According to Horwath, his company’s crews are taught to identify the type of metal deck and the thickness before work on the project begins. “We determine what type of deck it is and have some of it sent to the jobsite, so that if we encounter any damage, we are prepared, versus shutting the jobsite down and going out to get it,” Horwath says.

When emergencies do arise, Horwath maintains it’s easier to get replacement decking more quickly than it was just a few years ago. Specialty deck suppliers often have a wide variety of materials in stock, and they can offer other services, including making deliveries in phases as the job progresses, to help with logistics.

Roof Inspections and Safety Precautions

D’Annunzio and Horwath try to go into every job with as much information as they can gather at the jobsite. If possible, D’Annunzio recommends obtaining documentation and as-built drawings. Horwath agrees, noting that the customer, building owner and facility managers can all be excellent resources. “They will have the history and context to discuss leaks, integrity issues or problem areas,” Horwath says, “Areas affected by high humidity levels or other processes from inside the building are also susceptible to deterioration.”

Workers must follow a site-specific safety plan with proper fall protection equipment during deck removal and replacement. Photo: CentiMark

The use of the building can be a critical factor. Certain industrial processes can raise a red flag. “Trash-to steam plants have ash houses with high pH levels. A pool environment can have very high humidity levels. Batteries and other manufacturing can involve acidic processes,” says Horwath. “Those are three of the most common points of concern: chemicals, high levels of humidity, and pH level.”

A visual inspection of the underside of the metal deck can provide crucial information. “We try to look at the underside of the deck from the interior, but it’s not always possible,” D’Annunzio notes. “In industrial facilities, the deck is typically left exposed, but in office buildings and retail locations, you often don’t have access from the interior to look at the deck.”

The underside of the metal deck should be examined for excessive corrosion, openings and abrasions, and structural damage, including deformation and deflection. “All areas that illustrate structural damage and/or excessive corrosion should be considered safety concerns and should be barricaded off at the roof level,” says D’Annunzio. “If the interior of the metal deck has been painted, a close-up inspection from a ladder or man lift may be required. The level of corrosion can often be determined by banging on suspect areas of the deck with a hammer.”

Sheets of metal deck are lifted to the rooftop. Decking should be secured by certified riggers. Photo: O’Donnell Metal Deck

Safety is the paramount concern, even at the inspection stage. Inspectors should never walk on a roof that isn’t safe. “First off, all personnel should have proper safety training and be properly trained to inspect decking,” Horwath states. “For our guys to go up on the roof, they have to be able to do an underdeck inspection and verify that no condition exists that would create a fall hazard in the roof. If they cannot do that, they would have to assume that there is a fall hazard, and they would have to set up fall protection to do that inspection.”

If a fall hazard can’t be ruled out, it has to be assumed that the potential for a fall hazard is there, and a site-specific safety plan with proper fall protection equipment is required until it can be proven that the decking is safe. If problems areas are discovered, they should be marked and barricaded off. “We will establish the level of severity and put together a fall prevention plan for the guys to follow,” Horwath says.

When inspecting the roof system on top of the building, core cuts can provide visual clues about the deck. D’Annunzio notes that core cuts are typically done on every project, and if corrosion is evident on the deck, he will expand the test cut to see how extensive it could be.

The inspection process should continue throughout the project, according to D’Annunzio. “During the remedial roof removal process, the metal deck should be inspected on a daily basis,” he states. “Deck panels that exhibit extensive corrosion and/or structural damage should be removed and replaced. Light rust and corrosion can be repaired with a wire brush and application of a rust inhibitor. Minor openings such as small holes can be covered with metal plates or overlay of a metal deck panel that is fastened to the existing metal deck panel.”

It’s not only workers on the roof that have to follow proper safety procedures. Everyone in the building below has to take precautions. “When decking is being removed or replaced, there can’t any workers below the area,” says D’Annunzio. “We’ve had instances in automotive projects where deck has had to be replaced, and the work has to be done during off-shift hours, whether it’s a night or a weekend.”

Identifying the Existing Deck

If the type of deck used isn’t available in the construction documents, the type, gauge and finish of the deck must be determined at the site.

The type of deck is based on the profile, which is designated by a letter. The most common types are A, B and F. (See Figure 1.) “The changes are in the shape, and the shape creates a different design strength,” notes Polizzi. “A-22 is not the same strength as B-22.”

Each profile has its own distinct measurements. “We give out a laminated profile card to all of our customers to keep in their trucks, so when they are out on the job, they can do a couple measurements to determine the profile,” Polizzi says. “It’s nice if they can measure both the bottom and the top, as we have measurements for both. If they aren’t sure, we can send them a sample, and they can take it out to the job and lay it into what they’ve got on site.”

According to Weiss, the simplest way to identify the type of deck on an existing building is to measure the gaps in the ribs on the profile. (See Figure 2.) “Check the top rib opening located between the top high hats or flanges of the deck,” Weiss recommends. “This dimension will quickly determine the type. Most of the time, the top rib opening is 2.5 inches, 1.75 inches or 1 inch, so you’re typically dealing with B deck, F deck or A deck — or it’s 3-inch-tall deck, and that’s usually N deck. However, the top rib isn’t always exposed until after a project has begun. In this case, the deck can be identified by the bottom width of the high hat.”

There are a few caveats, notes Weiss, as in some cases the deck might be from an older mill that doesn’t exist anymore. Texting pictures back and forth can help identify the type of deck.

The next steps are to determine the gauge and finish. “The easiest way to determine the gauge is by using a micrometer,” notes Weiss. “However, if you’re unable to obtain this measurement, a knowledgeable deck supplier should be able to recommend a gauge by understand the spacing supports and project requirements.”

The finish is usually determined based on visual inspection. The three most common finishes for roof decks are:

  1. Primer painted
  2. Galvanized G-60
  3. Galvanized G-90

“With no harsh environments, then painted deck is probably what’s used,” says Polizzi. “In wetter, harsher, more corrosive environments, galvanized finishes are more common. In very corrosive environments, stainless steel decking is used.”

The deck should be inspected for damage and corrosion throughout the course of the project. Photo: O’Donnell Metal Deck

B deck is the most common. “B deck, 22-gauge, with a galvanized finish is probably the most common type,” Weiss notes. “B-22, G-60 finish constitutes probably 70 percent of the roofing jobs we do.”

If the type of deck can’t be matched, suppliers can often recommend a compatible alternate. “Typically, when roofers are replacing a portion of an existing structure, the key is identifying the correct deck type to allow the new deck to lay into the existing flutes of the deck,” says Weiss. “This makes for faster install.”

B deck has the widest rib openings. F deck will nest inside B deck, and A deck will nest inside F and B. “They are all 6-inch centers; the difference is just in the width of the opening,” notes Polizzi. “The A deck is narrow, so it will fit on top of B, but if you try to put B on top of A, it will not work.”

“That’s why you still need these older roof profiles, because on a huge building with those narrow ribs, the 2.5-inch flute is not going to jam down into an inch,” says Weiss. “You can always take an F deck or an A deck and use it on a job with B deck because it nests in there.”

Removal and Replacement

By definition, deck panels are fastened to structural members, and this is crucial in determining the methods of removal and replacement — and determining the number and size of sheets needed for the project. “If it’s a new piece of decking, it has to be secured to a structural connection,” says D’Annunzio. “It should go from structural point to structural point. When covering major openings like skylight holes, for example, the replacement panel must span from joist to joist, and typically is nested in the existing deck.”

It’s critical to ensure the deck beneath a new roof system is sound and will perform well beyond the expected life span of the system. Photo: A.C.T. Metal Deck Supply

During the removal process, the safety plan must remain the top priority. “Ensure proper training and safety equipment is used on the roof and inside the building,” Horwath says. “Make sure the interior inspection limits the impact on the customer’s business. Clear out areas below the roof, make sure there is adequate material storage on the jobsite, and protect objects from damage. Keep the below area flagged off and keep people out of the area. The contractor should keep a fire watch to keep employees and people out the way. Remove and replace decking in full sheets. Remove and replace the roof and make it watertight by end of day.”

When installing new decking in a roof replacement project, the vast majority of the time fasteners are used, as often welding is not allowed. “CentiMark does not weld anything,” says Horwath. “We fasten everything down per Steel Deck Institute (SDI) standards or FM. We require our guys to be tied off until all of the decking is fastened down. With the stitch seams, they should be tied off while putting that together because it helps strengthen the seam joints. They should be tied off for the entire process until it is anchored and secured down.”

Fastening the side laps of deck together is typically done with a standard #10 self-tapping screw, according to Weiss. Fastening to beams or joist will depend on the project. A fastening pattern will determine the number and spacing of the fasteners to a support. The Engineer of Record (EOR) determines the fastening pattern based on the designed load calculations for building. “A fastener supplier can help guide you for qualified fasteners based on your needs,” Weiss notes.

If the profile cannot be matched or the decking won’t nest, it may be necessary to cut out the portion of deck to be replaced and butt the end of the new profile against the existing deck at the joist. When different types of deck are butted together, the gap is usually covered with a metal plate.

Common Mistakes

D’Annunzio pointed to roof details and penetrations as common problem spots. “The biggest areas of concern I see involve larger penetrations, such as a curb that’s 4 feet by 4 feet,” he says. “Contractors who replace the decking around the curb at an opening for an exhaust vent, for example, have to make sure it’s fastened correctly. If the deck is not properly fastened at the curb, it could lead to vibration, splits or openings in the roof system.”

Extreme care has to be used when removing old sections of decking, notes Horwath. “Be careful to watch out for electrical conduit and data lines,” he cautions. “No one wants to cut through conduit underneath the decking.”

Other common errors include underestimating the size and scope of the deck repair. D’Annunzio and Horwath recommend specifying the cost for deck replacement in every contract, even if the decking looks perfect. But estimating the amount of new deck material needed can be difficult, as total square footage is not the only concern. “It’s all about knowing what the bar joists spans are, and that determines the size of the panels you get,” Horwath points out.

Depending on the width of the building and the dimensions of the deck sheets, contractors might have to order an extra sheet to cover a given area. Weiss uses this example: “Let’s pretend you have a building that’s 76 feet wide. Sheets are 3 feet wide. Because it’s 76 feet wide, with 25 sheets, you still have an extra foot hanging off. So, what do you do with that extra foot? Technically you need an extra sheet, and you back lap that sheet.”

The spacing of supports and the cover width of the decking sheets are also critical, notes Weiss. “Knowing the spacing of the joist will allow a deck supplier to maximize your coverage while limiting waste from excessive overlap and save time by limiting field cuts,” he says.

Planning Ahead

Metal deck suppliers keep multiple profiles, gauges, finishes and lengths in stock at all times to help contractors. That’s a key part of their value proposition. But Polizzi and Weiss also emphasize that they are also available to help contractors plan ahead to maximize efficiency. After all, there could be lead times involved with some products. “Partnering with a knowledgeable deck supplier will save you time, money and frustration,” Weiss says. “We will aid you in the process by asking the right questions upfront to ensure a project’s success.”

Polizzi notes that some of his customers maintain their own stock of B deck. “Some roofers themselves will buy a couple of bundles from us so that when they do have an emergency or a tear-off, they can start to pull out of their own inventory,” Polizzi says. “They don’t have to keep a lot; they just have to keep enough to get going, and we’ll take care of the rest of the job.”

“It’s all about having it on hand and available and getting it to the contractor when they need it,” says Weiss. “But the more lead time they have, the better off the contractor really is. When projects become larger and/or supports are not typical or complicated, a specialty deck supplier should be able to provide shop drawings to include a deck layout to save time and minimize material waste.”

“In the past, roofers used to avoid anything to do with metal deck replacement because they often couldn’t get what they wanted,” notes Polizzi. “Today, we have helped these roofers create a new profit center because they know now they can go after that work and they can count on us to be there for them when they open up a roof.”

Replacing the deck can mean more profit for the contractor, but it can also adversely affect the schedule. According to D’Annunzio, when it comes to the deck, the key is to think long-term. “You have to go with the assumption that the roof you’re installing will last at least 20 years, and these days it can be much longer than that, with re-covers and maintenance,” he notes. “So, chances are you’re not going to see that deck again for more than 20 years. If it’s suspect, it’s better to deal with it while you are doing the remedial work.”

“We’ve been called in to examine projects with a roof that’s just a few years old where the deck below should have been replaced beneath the roof system, and it wasn’t,” D’Annunzio continues. “You can imagine the difficulty of replacing the deck at that point. When it comes to metal deck, my attitude is, ‘When in doubt, take it out.’”

Metal Deck Resources

For more information about metal decks, visit:

Steel Deck Institute, www.sdi.org

NRCA, www.nrca.net

SMACNA, www.smacna.org

Factory Mutual, www.fmglobal.com

A.C.T. Metal Deck Supply, www.metaldecksupply.com

O’Donnell Metal Deck, www.odonnellmetaldeck.com

Cole Roofing Celebrates its Centennial Anniversary

Cole Roofing focuses on commercial roofing work, with a diverse portfolio that includes single ply, built-up roofing, metal, wall panels, and renewable energy systems. Photos: Cole Roofing Company Inc.

Cole Roofing Company is celebrating its 100th birthday this year. Founded in 1919 in Baltimore, Maryland, the company currently employs more than 100 workers and focuses on commercial roofing work, with a diverse portfolio that includes single ply, built-up roofing, metal, wall panels, and renewable energy systems.

In 2012, William Robert Cole, known as Billy, took over the helm of the company from his father, William Roland Cole, known as Bill. Billy Cole represents the fourth generation of his family to run the business. As the company commemorated this milestone, Bill and Billy Cole shared their memories of the company and insights on the industry with Roofing.

100 Years of History

Bill’s grandfather, John H. Cole Sr., founded the company as John H. Cole & Sons after World War I. “My grandfather started the business in his basement making ductwork for home furnaces,” Bill says.

The business expanded to include gutters and downspouts, which led to installing shingle roofing. “Near the end of World War WII, my grandfather died suddenly,” Bill recalls. “All three of the older sons were off in the military. My grandmother, Mary Cole, ran the business for about two years until the war ended and the sons returned.”

Two of Mary’s sons, John and Bud Cole, took over the business after the war. In the 50s, the company started installing BUR on row houses in Baltimore. In the 60s, at Bud’s initiative, the company began doing commercial work. Bud bought out his brother in the mid-60s, and the commercial side of the business continued to grow as the residential side tapered off.

John H. Cole Sr. founded the company as John H. Cole & Sons in 1919.

“In the late 70s, I saw an opportunity with the introduction of single-ply membranes,” Bill says. “We shut down our residential side and trained all our steep roofers to install single-ply roofing.”

Bill Cole became president of the company in 1989 and continued to build the company, expanding into metal roofing. After years of being known as Cole Roofing, the company officially changed its name from John H. Cole & Sons to Cole Roofing Company Inc. in 1998. The business has continued to diversify in the 21st century, expanding into areas including green roofs, photovoltaic systems and metal wall panels. Bill served as president until 2012, when Billy was named president; Bill remains with the company as senior vice president.

Following in Their Father’s Footsteps

Bill remembers being exposed to the business at an early age. “Sometimes on Saturdays when I was 10 or 12, my dad would go out and look at jobs, and sometimes he would take me with him,” Bill notes. He began working summers at the company in 1971 after his sophomore year of high school. His starting wage was $2.75 an hour. He was surprised to find out the laborer working alongside him — a college student — was making $3 an hour. “I stormed into my dad’s office to ask him what the heck was going on,” Bill recalls. “My dad didn’t even blink. He said, ‘Well, one day you’ll be able to tell people you truly started at the bottom.’”

Cole Roofing Company is a fourth-generation family business. Billy Cole (left) is the company’s president. His father, Bill Cole (right), the former president, remains with the company as senior vice president.

Bill worked on some of the company’s high-profile projects, including Baltimore City Hall, the National Aquarium, M&T Bank Stadium and the U.S. Naval Academy. “We did almost all of the slate roofs at the Naval Academy,” he notes. “Over the years, we did a tremendous amount of work down there. We don’t do much slate anymore, but back in its heyday, in the late 50s and 60s, we did a lot of slate work.”

Billy got his first opportunity to work for the company at age 13, when he did odd jobs including cleaning up the yard and cutting the grass. “I moved on to destroying things with fork lifts, and then when I got my driver’s license, I moved on to destroying things with pickup trucks,” Billy explains. “Thank goodness my dad was patient.”

Cole Roofing Company’s leadership team includes (from left) Billy Cole, Bill Cole and Jim Layman.

Billy worked summers for Cole Roofing while in high school and continued to work at the company while taking night courses at nearby Towson University. He decided to follow in his father’s and grandfather’s footsteps, and he’s found it a rewarding experience.

“I had the fortunate opportunity to learn a lot about succession planning and running a family business from my grandfather and father,” Billy says. “I like what I do. Roofing fills this need for people. You’re genuinely helping them when they need it the most. People do need an expert to help them at that point, when water is coming in their building and preventing them from functioning. It ranks high on their crisis level.”

Adapting to a Changing World

Bill and Billy Cole believe the company has thrived by staying on the leading edge — and not the bleeding edge — of change in the industry. “We have always kept an eye toward the future,” notes Bill. “We don’t always want to be the first — let someone else work the bugs out — but we are never far behind.”

The Coles point to three examples of key technological advancements over the years that benefitted the company: embracing single-ply membranes, the early adoption of computers, and taking a leading role in roof-related renewable energy.

The demand for green roofs has surged in the Baltimore and D.C. markets, and Cole Roofing adapted to help customers meet their needs.

“The biggest change during my time was the introduction of single-ply membranes,” Bill says. “We always treated single ply as a separate division because in our opinion the skill set was so different. Retraining our steep roofers to be single-ply roofers was a great move for the guys and the company.”

While some companies abandoned built-up roofing entirely, Cole Roofing’s approach kept BUR as a viable part of the company’s portfolio. “Built-up roofing never went away from Cole Roofing,” Bill says. “As a result of that, we were able to use our single-ply division to grow the company. We never gave up on built-up roofing. It has stood the test of time.”

Bill readily admits that adding computers benefitted the business, but he was not fond of the idea at first. The company introduced computers to the accounting department, and it snowballed from there. “We fought that change like almost every other contractor I know,” Bill says. “Once we got into that world, it was wonderful. Eventually they put a computer on my desk and I became the spread sheet king. For a ten-year period, it really gave us a leg up on the competition.”

Under Billy’s leadership, the company has focused on further upgrading its computer capabilities. Billy also spearheaded a program to focus on living roofs and renewable energy, including photovoltaics.

“Historically, I saw where my grandfather and father felt it was important that if there was a reliable, trustworthy product that got introduced into the roofing universe, we needed to be able to provide that for our customers,” Billy says. “In the early 2000s, vegetative roofs started to pop up, and that made sense to us. We believed there was a way to do it that would maintain the integrity of the roof and still provide some ancillary benefits.”

Aided by legislation in the Baltimore and D.C. markets promoting storm water management, the green roof market surged. “That opened our eyes to the concept of using the roof as a platform — as something other than the roof being just an umbrella for your building,” Billy recalls. “Once I learned about solar and understood the economics and the return, that made me gravitate toward the idea of building small power plants on top of people’s buildings.”

A Culture of Safety

For all of the company’s accomplishments, there is one that stands above the rest, according to the Coles: the development of a comprehensive safety and loss prevention program.

“Cole was a leader in introducing real safety to the roofing industry,” Bill says. “It all started when I met an insurance consultant named Ben Tyler in the late 70s. He convinced me that we should be partners with our insurance companies, not adversaries. I put together a subcommittee of field employees and supervisors, and with guidance from Ben we built a comprehensive loss control program.”

The subcommittee developed two manuals — a company handbook and a safety handbook — and the experience changed the company. “It was an eye-opener, but we saw results,” Bill says. “We’ve been told by the insurance companies that we have dealt with over the years our experience mod was much lower than any other roofers that they knew.”

Cole Roofing was asked to give a presentation about its loss control program at the NRCA convention in the mid 80s. “I got to know some of my competitors, and I began to share some of the stuff we were doing,” Bill remembers. “People asked us to share our program with them, and we freely did that. A lot of companies are probably still running a version of the Cole Roofing safety program today.”

Cole Roofing now employs a full-time loss control manager and two quality control inspectors. “We all put safety first and provide support, training, and accountability to the field team,” Billy says. “The field team has a culture of brotherhood. They all look out for one another and are encouraged to hold each other accountable, regardless of rank, to be safe and follow the rules. We start with focusing on getting everyone back to their family every day; compliance is a byproduct.”

Family Matters

Since announcing the 100th anniversary, the Coles have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from former employees and competitors alike. Bill chalks his company’s successful track record to “keeping it simple.” He also points to a company culture that emphasizes a strong work ethic and a commitment to its employees.

“Somewhere along the line, my dad made it clear to me that our biggest asset in our company was its employees,” Bill says. “Running a family business is not easy. We’ve had our trials and tribulations. I think the answer for us is that we have always treated our employees as family, which better prepares us to deal with our own family.”

For Billy, summing up the formula for the company’s success is simple: “We put our integrity first.”

Four Views From a 44th Floor Manhattan Green Roof

The green roof is a living ecosystem, and multiple species of sedum give it the best chance of success. The vegetative mat from ZinCo is pre-cultivated with about 12 to 16 hardy plant species.

SL Green Realty Corp., the largest commercial landlord in New York City, is working with tenants across its NYC properties to achieve a 30-50 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions over 10 years. Green roofs are playing a role in the effort, including one 44 stories up at 1185 Avenue of the Americas.

The 1.1 million-square-foot commercial office building is owned and managed by SL Green, a leader in urban sustainability. Among the many environmental advantages of green roofs, they reduce the urban heat island effect, ease storm water runoff, filter pollutants in rainwater and remove carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, from the air. In addition, by lowering building cooling demand, they can cut greenhouse gas emissions associated with producing electricity.

The roof replacement project was completed in the fall of 2017, and key participants shared their perspectives on the project, including representatives of four companies:

  1. SL Green, the property owner and management company
  2. CANY Architecture and Engineering DPC, the construction management firm
  3. Nations Roof LLC, the installer
  4. ZinCo USA, the green roof system consultant and manufacturer

1. The Realty Management Company

Daniel Huster, Senior Project Manager, SL Green Realty Corp.

How did this project get started?

Before the new Kemperol waterproofing membrane could be installed, the existing bituminous roof needed to be removed down to the concrete deck. Photo: Nations Roof LLC.

SL Green has an on-site team that manages 1185 Avenue of the Americas. I handle all the construction within the building and several others in our portfolio. The old (bituminous) roof was past its warranty. It had absorbed water, and we were showing signs of leaks in our mechanical room and the spaces below. We engaged CANY to put together a package to design and replace the roof system. They specified a reinforced waterproofing membrane from Kemper System America Inc. for the main roof, and we also asked CANY to bid with a green roof on top.

Green roofs are uncommon at such heights. What convinced SL Green?

When we originally put the RFP out for roofing renovation, we asked for the green roof as an alternative. After the group considered all the advantages and then saw the pricing, we made a collective decision that it was worthwhile to pursue.

SL Green already has two buildings in New York with green roofs — 100 Park Avenue and a vegetable garden at 1515 Broadway near Times Square. But those are setback roofs at much lower elevations. The roof at 1185 is essentially rectangular, so this was an opportunity. The floor plates spread the weight, and the green roof and pavers could cover roughly 4,500 to 5,000 square feet of the 14,200 square foot total. It took a while to work out the details on the elevation, but CANY and the green roof consultant from ZinCo figured out a design that could work.

2. The Construction Management Firm

Andrew Cucciniello, Project Manager, CANY

What was the condition of the existing roof?

The existing roof was a modified bituminous system — a torch-applied sheet on the concrete deck followed by layers of rigid insulation, topped with cover board and two more plies of the mod bit. Judging by the wear, it had been down about 20 years. We completed an investigation of the assembly, and found that it had failed in a number of locations and water had infiltrated the layers. This was one of the driving forces behind our recommendation for a full replacement aside from any repair.

What is involved with the investigation?

Typical with any investigation for us, we coordinate with an environmental consultant and an independent agent, who cuts holes into the main roof frame down to the structural deck so we can understand all the existing components. This also gives us an opportunity to do material sampling and test for asbestos-containing materials (ACMs). (There were none.)

Testing lets the demolition contractor know the extent of material removal. Also, the environmental consultant is required to submit a laboratory report and must notify the NY Department of Buildings before we can file for permits. The city wants to know there are no ACMs present, and if there are, the Department of Environmental Protection will receive notification about the abatement procedures.

What do you consider in specifying the green roof waterproofing assembly?

When we get a project like this, there are several different types of materials we can consider. We try to analyze the use of the roof and what kind of traffic it will experience in terms of mechanical equipment, people performing maintenance and repairs, etc. Also, for a protective roof assembly, there can be NY Energy Conservation Code requirements for insulation.

In this case, if we were to go with a built-up roof (BUR) it would require drainage at the surface, which would mean tapered insulation (likely a polyisocyanurate). Tapered insulation would drive our base flashing height halfway up the parapet, which we could not accommodate due to a scaffold track around the perimeter.

Nations Roof crews are acquainted with the challenges and procedures of working at height. In this photo, crew members are appropriately harnessed as they remove an old metal railing. Photo: Nations Roof LLC.

So we selected the liquid-applied Kemperol 2K-PUR reinforced membrane system, which is self-flashing and installs directly to the deck. Since it is a fully-adhered system that can withstand ponding water, we did not have to design for slope. A (non-tapered) rigid-styrene insulation board sits on top. Because the Kemperolmembrane is root resistant, a separate root barrier was not required. There were also ongoing discussions with Kemper System and ZinCo throughout our design process to assist with the final overburden components.

Are inspections conducted during the construction phase?

Our company performs QC inspections throughout the course of construction. From existing roof material removal and any preparation of substrates, as well as the new roof installation, flashing details, and the overburden placement. We have been involved with Kemper System for about two decades. With these roof assemblies which offer a 20-year warranty, we conduct periodic inspections with Kemper System to make sure the installation meets their warranty compliance requirements. We were the applicant of record with the NY Department of Buildings, though, and are on board until the project gets closed out.

3. The Installer

Michael Johannes, President, Nations Roof-East

Why was Nations Roof selected for this green roof rather than an architectural landscape company?

When a realty management firm first looks at us as a roofing and waterproofing company, they see our financial stability and our commitment to working safely. Nations Roof consistently ranks in the top five roofing contractors in the U.S. We are committed to delivering comprehensive roofing solutions. During any repair or construction project, we understand the need to protect employees, guests and valuable assets, and at the same time, to maintain business operations and service levels throughout the project. This project was completed working off-hours and through occupied spaces that needed to be ready for the next workday without interruption.  

Also, not a lot of landscaping companies are going to carry the required levels of insurance coverage without numerous exclusions for such things as building height. We work constantly on projects from eight to 50 stories in the air installing roofing systems both on new construction and renovations such as 1185 Avenue of the Americas.

What about the quality of the waterproofing installation?

1185 Avenue of the Americas in New York City earned a LEED Silver rating from the U.S. Green Building Council and is one of the most efficient commercial office buildings in the nation. The property features expansive views and a green roof on the 44th floor.

Landscape contractors are not generally authorized to install roofing and waterproofing systems. Our foreman, project managers and installers are employees and most have been with our company for years. Our crews are trained and experienced in installing leak-free systems. That includes certified training by Kemper System in the liquid-applied reinforced membrane system used on this project. Plus, ZinCo provided guidance on installing the garden components and the transitions to the interlocking paver walkways. We can supply a “finished turnkey green-roof” with all the components, and provide the owner with a warranted watertight installation.

Has Nations Roof installed other green roofs in New York City?

Actually, we’ve done many garden roof installations. For example, we successfully completed 100 Park Avenue with SL Green, which was a LEED Silver project, and Via Verde, an affordable housing complex in the Bronx.

New York and Chicago are at the front of the green roof trend. Via Verde was former N.Y. Mayor Michael Blomberg’s first initiative into green gardens back in 2010, and they caught on. Most new roof projects we do in the city now have some form of hardscape and softscape. It’s valuable space that in the past has gone unused for the owner and the tenants. If you live or work in one of these buildings, it’s nice to have a place you can go that is secure. When we go to Via Verde now, we see mothers with baby strollers sitting and reading books in what would have been just a roof a few years ago.

What do you see for the future of green roofs?

We believe the market will continue to be strong for livable roof space that improves the environment, and we will continue to be in the middle of that with big developers. It is also the commitment and leadership of property owners like SL Green to invest in these initiatives that will continue to drive success.

4. Green Roof System Consultant and Manufacturer

Nick Smith, National Account Manager, ZinCo USA

What are the primary issues with installing a green roof at this height?

Any green roof installed at 500 feet can invite potential problems with horticulture, erosion and exposure. Let’s focus on those three: To analyze exposure, we recommend a wind study and sun/shade study, and CANY performed these tests.

Wind uplift is a major issue with the physical properties of the green roof. We are concerned with getting the proper ballast. In this situation, a standard engineered-material assembly would not be heavy enough to protect against a worst-case scenario. The solution was to add significant weight to the assembly within the cups and the drainage elements. The engineered growing media is also a bit heavier than normal.

Wind scour, a horticultural issue, is the plant’s ability to stay vital with continuous wind. We know after looking at hundreds of studies that trouble spots most often occur around the perimeter and at corners, where you get microcurrents of fast-moving or swirling air. The conventional wisdom is that on a building over 500 feet tall that is going to withstand serious wind 24 hours a day, plants simply won’t grow at the perimeter and corners.

To combat erosion, we separated the vegetated area from the walkway deck in many areas with an aluminum angled-edge. The aluminum barrier acts as a separation for the way the wind moves. So we make sure the installer understands that at the edge angle, the depth of the growing media must be exactly compacted in the cup wells to 3 inches plus. A shallower depth may not be significant at the center, but at the edge you must have that specificity in quality control to safeguard against erosion.

Finally, once the plants are down, we place a “jute net” over the entire assembly. Our erosion blanket is a biodegradable coco-fiber. It is really important on the perimeter that the jute net is wrapped around the vegetation and under the soil profile at full depth to make sure the plants have the best chance. 

What were some other ways you adapted the green roof for this project?

One unusual thing is we infilled the drainage element with an aggregate. That’s not totally uncommon on a green roof assembly, but it is on sedum. We wouldn’t do that at a lesser height, but it served as ballasting. The mineral-based aggregates we use also wick the water saved in the cups up into the growing layer, which in this case had a slightly higher dry weight (28.9 pounds per square foot) than a traditional assembly, again primarily for ballasting.

Dry weight always compromises nutritional content in the media. That means you can’t think strictly about weight, or you lose plant vitality. This was a balancing act we performed with CANY — to make sure proper weight was maintained for ballasting without undermining the needs for plant life, while also keeping the fully saturated weight within the load-bearing requirements of the structure.

What about the installation?

Green roof design, engineering and global experience are important, but the success of a green roof also depends on the installation. We worked with Nations Roof on proper installation technique, both generally and specifically for this challenging installation, and they did a fantastic job.

TEAM

Building Management: SL Green Realty Corp., New York, www.slgreen.com

Construction Management: CANY Architecture and Engineering DPC, New York, www.cany.com

Installer: Nations Roof-East, Yonkers, N. Y., www.nationsroof.com
Green Roof Consultant: ZinCo USA, Stoughton, Massachusetts, www.zinco-usa.com

MATERIALS

Roof Waterproofing System: Kemperol 2K-PUR cold liquid-applied reinforced membrane system, Kemper System, West Seneca, N.Y., www.kemper-system.com

Green Roof: Custom Sedum System by ZinCo USA, Stoughton, Massachusetts, www.zinco-usa.com

Miami-Dade County Approves PolyPUF Foam Systems From Polyglass

Miami-Dade County Department of Regulatory and Economic Resources issued several Notices of Acceptance (NOA) for Polyglass’ PolyPUF Foam Systems, certifying the commercial roofing solution for use in high velocity hurricane zones.

“We are delighted to have the quality and safety of our Spray Polyurethane Foam System affirmed by Miami-Dade County, a Florida building code agency recognized nationally for its rigorous testing methods for building materials,” said Maury Alpert, codes and compliance manager at Polyglass U.S.A., Inc. “This certification allows us to provide roofing products and systems to roofers building in cities with extreme weather.”

PolyPUF is a closed cell sprayed in place polyurethane foam that acts as an air barrier, insulation and roofing system in a single application. The NOAsconfirm that PolyPUF (2.5, 2.8 and 3.0 lb densities) is designed and tested in accordance with Miami-Dade Product Control Section requirements and is approved for use over wood, steel, recover and concrete decks. Aside from its durability and long-term performance, PolyPUF offers a high R-value, which means greater potential for energy savings. To maximize the performance of PolyPUF apply Polyglass’ Miami-Dade approved PolyBrite 70, 90 or 95 roof coatings.

For more information, visit www.polyglass.us.

 

Elite Roofing Supply Celebrates its Fifth Year in Business with Six Branch Openings

Elite Roofing Supply recently added branches in Monroe and Bossier City, LA; Tucson and Mesa, AZ; and Denver, CO to its list of branch locations and is scheduled to open Lynwood, CA on September 1, 2018. Founded in 2013, Elite’s mission is to provide roofers with an independent distributor that is knowledgeable in both commercial and residential roofing and committed to being good stewards in the industry and serving the professional roofing contractor community.

Recognizing the Louisiana market was underserved, Elite opened two strategically-placed locations in Bossier City and Monroe. The Bossier City branch with its 11 team members and fleet of three trucks, serves the surrounding Shreveport area and is operated by Managing Partner, Robert McCalman. Robert is from Bossier City and has been in the construction industry for 25 years, 14 of which have been in roofing distribution. The Monroe, LA location serves customers within a 100-mile radius of its location. Managing Partner and Branch Manager, Doug Norman, a Louisiana native, has a long history in the industry having worked in building product distribution as an owner and manager for over 35 years. He oversees a team of 12 highly skilled people and a fleet of four trucks to serve the area.

With its roots in Arizona, Elite’s growth with its Mesa and Tucson branches expands its opportunity to service this important market. The Tucson location is led by Managing Partner, Rick D’Alessio, a seasoned professional with over 30 years in the roofing and construction industry. This branch employs 11 people and operates four vehicles in its fleet. Paul LeFevre is the managing partner of the Mesa branch, overseeing a team of 14 people and a fleet of four vehicles. Paul has more than 30 years of industry experience starting in 1986 as a truck driver and quickly moving into an inside sales position. He ascended the ranks holding different positions such as Purchasing Manager, Manager of Procurement and Regional Manager for one of the larger distributors.

The Lynwood, CA branch is placed at a key location close to where I-105 meets I-710 to serve the South Los Angeles area. Managing Partner and Branch Manager, Rick Sasseen has been in the building products distribution industry for over 30 years. Working in various roles including driver, crane operator, inside sales, operations and management, Rick knows the business inside and out. A native Californian, Rick will oversee a team of 15 people at this location with its five trucks and looks forward to opening their doors in September.

Elites’ CEO and Chairman of the Board, Brian Torry says, “We open branches in markets where we find synergies with the right people who have expressed interest in joining the Elite family. Our goal is clear – to be the preeminent independent distributor west of the Mississippi, and our expansion plans are determined by the strong partners who wish to be part of our independent distribution culture.”

“Elite offers a unique value proposition to our customers,” commented Chief Operating Officer, Sarah Weiss. “Each branch’s managing partner has long-lasting relationships in their markets, understands the challenges of the business and is empowered to partner with customers and vendors to create winning scenarios for all involved. This year marks our fifth year in business and with 12 branches open and more to come, we remain committed to our philosophy of being a locally-owned distributor that provides a customized customer experience and a comprehensive line of quality roofing materials.”

For more information, visit www.eliteroofingsupply.com.

Ridgeworth Roofing Company Showcases Commercial Roofing Projects on New Website

Ridgeworth Roofing Company has launched a new website, www.ridgeworthroofing.com, to provide an even better user experience and showcase the company’s exceptional commercial, institutional, condominium, and industrial roofing projects.

“All of us at Ridgeworth Roofing are proud to have served the Chicagoland area for 44 years,” said Rodney Petrick, Owner and President. “We’re also proud to announce the launch of our new website, which is designed to provide our current and future customers with a wealth of information about how we can provide them with the best products and service available in the roofing industry today.”

The new website features a project gallery that includes photos and details of a wide range of roofing applications on buildings such as schools, warehouses, commercial buildings, and a 36-story Chicago high rise.

“We’re excited to present in even more detail the extensive skill and expertise of our team,” said Petrick.

Ridgeworth Roofing is a family-owned business, founded in 1974 by Petrick’s father, Robert Petrick. The business continues to thrive today, driven by the same passion and dedication to customer service that Robert Petrick brought to the company at its start.

“Our company is more than a business,” said Rodney Petrick. “It’s a family legacy. Every project we take on advances the tradition of excellence in both craftsmanship and customer service my dad started in 1974.”

Ridgeworth Roofing’s commitment to customer service extends into its dedication to the local community. In addition to offering superior service at a fair price, the company has provided materials and labor for a number of charitable roofing projects.

A leader in the industry, Petrick serves as a member of various professional committees and has held key positions in the National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA), the Chicago Roofing Contractors Association (CRCA), and the Midwest Roofing Contractors Association (MRCA).

“Our new website is an attractive and engaging starting point for potential customers to see what we can do. We then encourage them to contact us about how we can solve their commercial or industrial roofing problems, no matter how complicated,” said Petrick.

For more information, visit www.ridgeworthroofing.com.

Moser Roofing Solutions, LLC Recognized for Donating Roofing Repairs to Mom’s House

Moser Roofing, a family owned business that provides award-winning installation and services to commercial properties in Lancaster, Lebanon, Dauphin, Berks, Bucks, Montgomery, and Chester counties, as well as the Mid-Atlantic states, recently contributed significant roofing repairs to the Queen Street facility of Mom’s House of Lancaster.

Mom’s House has served families across Lancaster County for over 27 years, specifically through offering child care services and educational and life skills support to single parents who desire to continue and complete their education.

Moser Roofing’s contribution allows Mom’s House to provide quality care to single parent families across Lancaster County move their families out of poverty and onto a path toward long-term economic stability.

“Mom’s House is honored to have the support of Moser Roofing. Their generosity fuels our mission and removes barriers to serve current and future families. We are so grateful to Moser Roofing Solutions, LLC!” said Sara Johns, Executive Director for Mom’s House.

“I want to personally thank you for the opportunity to serve you with in our community giveback program for roofing repairs.” said Josh Moser, President, Moser Roofing Solutions, LLC

For more information, visit www.moserroofingsolutions.com.

Rigid Insulation Designed for Variety of Commercial Wall Assemblies

Atlas EnergyShield Pro is a rigid insulation designed for commercial wall assemblies. With thousands of NFPA 285 approved assemblies, EnergyShield Pro can be used in a variety of wall configurations, according to the manufacturer. In addition, the product offers a high R-value and meets rigorous testing requirements for use as a weather-resistant barrier (WRB) and as an air barrier.

Available with foil or coated glass facers, EnergyShield Pro products offer options for vapor closed or vapor open designs. In addition, foil faced EnergyShield Pro is suitable for both exterior and interior exposed use. Glass-faced EnergyShield CGF Pro includes a dark gray facer on one side for open rain-screen designs. EnergyShield PlyPro offers a fire-treated plywood surface to make cladding fastening quick and easy. Choose the option that enhances the productivity on your project by saving material and labor.

For more information, visit www.atlasrwi.com.

ARMA’s Newest eBook Provides Guidance for Installing Three-Tab Asphalt Shingles

The Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association (ARMA) has converted its popular manual, a Good Application Makes A Good Roof Better: A Simplified Guide – Installing Three-Tab Asphalt Shingles For Maximum Life & Weather Protection, into an eBook, making it easier for contractors to access it on the jobsite.

ARMA’s Good Application Guide serves as a resource for roofing professionals installing three-tab asphalt shingles, including for new-roof construction, reroofing/roof replacement and roof recovery projects.

The recently updated guide also includes special procedures for both low and steep-slope roofing systems, proper attic ventilation, ice dam protection, correct nailing methods, roof deck preparation, hip and ridge application, and underlayment, drip edge and flashing installation. As with all technical guidance, installers should also follow manufacturer’s recommended installation instructions. View a preview of the guide by clicking here.

“Three-tab shingles come in a variety of colors, styles and textures, but like with any asphalt roofing system, they have to be properly installed in order to achieve the best performance,” said Tim McQuillen, ARMA’s director of technical services, a 25-year building products industry veteran. “By converting the Good Application Guide: Three-Tab Shingles into an eBook, we can ensure contractors can access expert asphalt roofing installation techniques directly on their smartphone or tablet.”

The Good Application Guide: Three-Tab Shingles is available for $9.95 as a print-on-demand copy or $8.95 as an eBook from the ARMA Bookstore. It is also sold on other prominent digital platforms such as Amazon’s Kindle Store, Kobo, Barnes and Nobles’ Nook, Apple’s iBookstore and the Google Play store. To purchase the guide, visit www.asphaltroofing.org/arma-bookstore.

ARMA also offers several other technical publications for both residential and commercial asphalt roofing applications. They are available for purchase as print-on-demand and eBooks, and include the Good Application Makes a Good Roof Better – A Simplified Guide: Installing Laminated Asphalt Shingles for Maximum Life & Weather Protection, the Modified Bitumen Design Guide for Building Owners, and the Residential Asphalt Roofing Manual – Design and Application Methods.

For more information visit www.asphaltroofing.org

Ventco Announces Winner of a Pallet of ProfileVent at Frame Building Expo

Ervin Yoder of Ridge & Valley Metals of Dover, Del., was selected randomly as the winner of a pallet of ProfileVent from Ventco.

Yoder was one of hundreds to sign up for the drawing at the Vento booth at the recent Frame Building Expo in Columbus, Ohio. “The drawing and our products attracted plenty of attention,” says Marty Rotter, owner of Ventco. “It was another great Frame Building Expo and we were happy to be a part of it. We’re guessing Ervin Yoder was happy he showed up, too!”

ProfileVent is a ventilation system for commercial and residential metal roofs and is a single-layer ridge vent on a roll. It’s a strong, durable modified polyester, non-woven, non-wicking fiber-based matting, designed specifically for metal roofs and cut to fit 47 metal roofing profiles.

For more information, visit www.profilevent.com