Copper Is the Solution for Challenging Residential Roof Restoration

This home in Alexandria, Va., was retrofitted with a copper double-lock standing seam roof system

This home in Alexandria, Va., was retrofitted with a copper double-lock standing seam roof system installed by Wagner Roofing. The 16-ounce copper roof panels were 17 inches wide. Photos: Landmarks Photography—Jay Stearns

“We like the tough jobs,” says Dean Jagusch, president and owner of Wagner Roofing Company. “We like the intricate jobs.”

Headquartered in Hyattsville, Md., Wagner Roofing has served the Washington area market for more than a century. “We specialize in historic restoration and innovative architectural roofing and sheet metal,” Jagusch notes. “We’re full service. We do slate, copper, tile, and have a low-slope commercial division as well. But our trophy stuff tends to be of the steep-slope variety.”

A recent residential restoration project in Alexandria, Va., certainly qualifies as “trophy stuff,” taking home a North American Copper in Architecture Award from the Copper Development Association (CDA) in the “Restoration: Roof and Wall” category.

It’s easy to see why. The origami-inspired design features multiple roof angles, but the daring design was problematic. Even though the home was relatively new, the owners were plagued by leaks. Along with Restoration Engineering Inc. of Fairfax, Va., Wagner Roofing was called in to consult on the project, determine the source of the leaks, and come up with a solution.

The original galvalume standing seam roof channeled the water into a large, stainless steel internal gutter with roof drains. Jagusch found that the leaks were occurring at two types of critical points. First, there were leaks where the internal roof drains met the central gutter. The other problem spots were along the pitch transitions.

Jagusch felt that installing a conventional-style painted galvalume roofing system in those spots was almost impossible. “We felt that was since it was an area that was failing, we wanted a metal we could work with when we met a transition and turn the panels vertical where we needed to without having to break them and rely on rivets and caulk,” he says.

Custom five-sided downspouts were fabricated

Custom five-sided downspouts were fabricated, but large windows at the back of the home offered few options for support. The downspouts were attached up under the framing system. Photos: Landmarks Photography—Jay Stearns

Copper was the answer. “The detailing was pretty tough to do, so we recommended changing it to copper so we could work with it, be able to solder and have a more seamless roofing assembly,” Jagusch recalls.

Another key to the project was redesigning how the roof drained. “We decided to push all the water to the exterior,” he says. “We collaborated with Restoration Engineering and we fleshed out the original redesign.”

The team decided that installing a copper roof system with a new drainage plan would be the best way to eliminate the leaks and keep the inspiring look the homeowners desired.

“We wanted to eliminate the drains and push all the water to the exterior, so that’s why we went for the re-slope of the big central gutter,” Jagusch says. “Also, at the transitions, we wanted to make sure we were 100 percent watertight, so we used a combination of turning up panels and soldered cleats to get everything into place.”

Solving the Puzzle

With its intersecting planes, the roof made laying out the panels an intricate puzzle. “You also had large expanses of roofing that changed pitch throughout,” Jagusch explains. “Panels had to be laid correctly because not only does the roof slope up, but it also slopes sideways. The layout of the panels was critical from the get-go. We all looked at it and agreed that we would follow parallel to the actual trusses, which we felt was the best solution.”

The old roof system was removed and stripped down to the 3/4–inch plywood deck. “We covered the entire roof deck with Grace Ultra,” said Jagusch. “We then used a slip sheet and installed 1-inch-high, double lock, 17-inch-wide, 16-ounce copper standing seam panels.”

Photos: Landmarks Photography—Jay Stearns

Photos: Landmarks Photography—Jay Stearns

Panels were roll formed at the Wagner metal shop out of 20-inch-wide coils using an ESE roll former and trailered to the jobsite. Approximately 5,400 square feet of copper panels were installed on the project. The double-lock seams were mechanically seamed. Twenty-ounce copper flat-seamed panels were used in the large valleys.

The safety plan included full scaffolding during every phase of the project. “We have our own safety scaffolding system,” Jagusch says. “Our guys demand it on our jobs, and we demand it of them to come home safely every day. We are very proud of our safety record. It’s front of mind for us.”

In addition to the roof, all of the metal cladding was replaced on the southeast feature wall. The top of the wall was reconfigured to accommodate the new sloped valley. Where the wall met the roof, a band was fabricated to match the top part of the fascia. Other details included copper cladding for the chimney.

Drainage was redirected to the perimeter, where custom-fabricated gutters were installed. “On the west side, the roof was originally designed to dump off straight onto a rock feature on the ground, but we fashioned a custom copper box gutter about 35 or 40 feet long,” Jagusch states.

At the either end of the large internal gutter and at the end of a large valley, shop-fabricated copper conductor heads were installed. Custom five-sided downspouts were fabricated, but installing them posed another challenge, as large window areas offered few options for support. The downspouts had to be snugged up under the framing system.

“Everything had to work with the other building components,” Jagusch explains. “One of the tougher things on this project was being able to have the function and the form both top of mind, in that order. The key was to make the functional stuff look good.”

Showpiece Project

The project was completed about a year ago, and the copper has begun to change in color. “The copper now has a gorgeous bronze, kind of purplish hue to it,” notes Jagusch. “I think it will eventually develop a green patina, but with the way the environment is these days, I think it will take 15 years or so before it gets to that point. That’s the cool thing about copper—it’s a natural, breathing material that is constantly changing, constantly evolving.”

Copper cladding was installed on a feature wall

Copper cladding was installed on a feature wall, which also featured changes in slope. The top of the wall was reconfigured and a band was added to match the top part of the fascia. Photos: Landmarks Photography—Jay Stearns

Wagner Roofing has a maintenance agreement in place on the home, so Jagusch has stayed in touch with the owners and kept tabs on the project, which is performing well. “I’ve got just one hell of a team here,” he says. “It wasn’t just one estimator that went out and brought this thing in. In our business, estimating and roofing is a team sport. We kicked this thing around a lot with all divisions of the company, from estimating to operations to the actual installers before we finally settled on a number for this thing.”

“We work on some pretty spectacular places, and of course this is one of them,” he concludes. “We like a challenge, and this is the stuff that my team really loves to get their teeth into.”

A General Contractor Develops a Permanent Fall-protection Anchor Roofing Workers Will Use

The HitchClip’s main function is to provide roofing workers with fall protection.

The HitchClip’s main function is to provide roofing workers with fall protection.

Scott Fontaine was a general contractor for 30 years. Every day he was finding solutions to problems on job sites, one of which was convincing crews to wear safety equipment. He decided to put his problem-solving skills to work and created equipment that he could field test on the job. It was this entrepreneurial spirit that developed the HitchClip, a versatile and permanent residential fall-protection anchor.

Made from durable and lightweight powder-coated aluminum, the HitchClip is quick and easy to install (with six screws or six nails). Because it may be permanently installed, the HitchClip not only adds value to any home, but also helps reduce costs for contractors by allowing them to save money on temporary or one-use anchor options.

The HitchClip, which is now available for purchase from Qualcraft Industries, a division of Guardian Fall Protection, comes in black, gray or brown, and its sleek design allows it to easily blend in with nearly any roof. Its patented “key-hole” connection point allows it to be used as a standard fall-protection anchor and in combination with numerous attachment accessories, such as Qualcraft’s Bunk Jack, Roof Jack, Guardrails, Workbench, Platform Stage, Solar Panel Rack Bracket and more.

So far, the reaction in the marketplace has been enthusiastic. “The HitchClip system is widely used by contractors and homeowners alike,” Fontaine explains. “The simplicity and ease of use are a big factor, as well as the wide range of components that the system can utilize. There is no system quite like it.”

The HitchClip can help create a secure workbench on a residential roof.

The HitchClip can help create a secure workbench on a residential roof.

Inventors, though, can sometimes have a romanticized view of the product they’ve spent so much time developing. However, Justin Quick from Roofline Supply & Delivery, Eugene, Ore., says this is not the case with the HitchClip. “Roofers that I have sold HitchClip to love them,” Quick notes. “I like that they are an inexpensive add-on to an order that your customer will come back for over and over again.”

Learn More

Visit www.qualcraft.com.
Call (800) 231-5647.
Watch a HitchClip video.

“Roofers’ Choice” was determined by the product that received the most reader
inquiries from the May/June issue’s “Materials & Gadgets” section.