Installing Tubular Skylights on Cement and Clay Tile Roofs

Elite Solar Systems installed six tubular skylights and solar-powered attic fans, incorporating them into the existing tile roof of this 3,900-square-foot Gilbert home. Photos: Elite Solar Systems

Installing tubular skylights, or solar tubes, can add a profit niche for any roofing company and provide a lifestyle enhancement for existing and new clients.

“Tubular skylights allow natural light in to brighten rooms and offices during the day without the need for an electrical light source,” explains Jovane Estrada, general manager for Elite Solar Lighting & Fans, based in Chandler, Arizona, southeast of Phoenix. “They can be retrofitted into any existing roof system and placed where windows or traditional skylights are not options.”

In the desert Southwest, cement or clay tiles on pitched rooftops are a popular choice by owners of upscale homes. Recently, Estrada’s team installed six tubular skylights and solar-powered attic fans on a 3,900-square-foot two-story home built in 2009 with cement tiles in Gilbert, Arizona.

In 2001, the company began offering high-quality residential and commercial tubular skylights, solar-powered attic fans and garage exhaust fans. The parent manufacturing company, Southwest Metal Spinning, was founded 26 years ago by Estrada’s father, Saul, and brother, Juan. The components for the Elite product are made in the same location.

Typical tubular skylight components include a high-impact acrylic dome, which locks into a ring on the 1100-O aluminum flashing; this seals to a flat or pitched rooftop, protecting against rain and cracking. Beneath this, an acrylic diffusing lens connects to highly reflective anodized tubing leading to the ceiling, where it fits into a three-glazed polycarbonate diffuser.

For the Gilbert home, Elite installed a 10-inch-diameter tubular skylight with a bathroom exhaust fan kit and light kit; a 10-inch-diameter tubular skylight through the garage into a downstairs bathroom where the skylight was installed on a wall; four 13-inch-diamter tubular skylights with synchronized dimmers, which open and close the solar lights at the same time and position; two solar-powered attic fans; and a solar-powered garage exhaust fan.

“Experienced professionals can install a tubular skylight with any roof penetration,” Estrada says. “If they can cut and seal roof flashing on the tile roof, they should know or learn how to install the tubular skylight fairly easily, and your clients can enjoy new light and the peace of mind knowing the job has been done right.”

Cement Tile Challenges

The tools required for a cement or clay tile installation are minimal: safety googles; gloves; stud finder; measuring tape; pencil; drill gun; ladder; reciprocating saw to cut wood deck; grinder to cut roof tiles; caulk gun for sealant; drywall saw; tin snips; utility knife; and plumb bob/laser.

Of course, installing tubular skylights through cement tiles requires following the basic steps for any roof breach.

To avoid damage to clay tiles, unless a roofer has a great deal of experience walking on them, Estrada recommends that the tiles be removed from walk areas on the roof up to where the tubular skylight will be installed.

“Make sure the install is possible — and sometimes it isn’t, at least exactly where the client wants it — and have the appropriate tools and materials available,” Estrada says.

Next, mark where the tubular skylight is to be placed and check in the attic or crawl space for plumbing pipes and vents, wires, trusses, HVAC heat pumps and ductwork, water pipes and roof valleys that might be obstructive. “If there is an obstacle, the challenge is determining if using tubular skylight adjustable elbows will allow the install to be completed,” he says.

With the attic inspection and cuts done, an aluminum tile skirt and pitched flashing must be installed properly to the deck. “Most roofers do not use a tile skirt for tile roofs, and later a leak can damage the paper underneath the tiles,” Estrada says. He recommends applying a premium flexible sealant (supplied) to the flashing.

In this home, the central challenge was installing the tubular skylight on the roof through and into the first-floor bathroom, without disturbing the second floor just above it. “We knew we had to go through the side wall of the bathroom, but we had to make sure we had the room in the attic and inside the adjacent garage to install the tube on the sidewall,” he explains.

To do this, the 90-degree adjustable elbows were needed to be able to make the turn from having the tube travel straight down into the inside of the garage and then shift direction into the bathroom, Estrada says.

“This kind of installation requires more effort and time,” Estrada says, “but the result is that a lower level, even a basement, can be enhanced with more natural light.”

All Ups, No Downs, for Roofers, Clients

For the roofer and the homeowner, the best time to install a tubular skylight (other than at construction) is during a roof replacement or repair. The attic space and roof are open and accessible and can be sealed along with the new roof or repair. But as this case study shows, most retrofits can be easily completed, too.

“It’s an extra income stream and an incentive for customers to choose your company,” Estrada says. For example, one of Elite’s roofer clients offers a free 10-inch tubular skylight with each signed re-roofing contract.

With these, home- and business-owners light up their homes, garages, offices, hallways, bathrooms and warehouses. And, tubular skylights also offer lifestyle benefits for pets, plants and people, Estrada says. “They’ve been reported to improve a person’s mood, and the owner of this home in Gilbert told us they’ve simply changed his life.”

About the author: David M. Brown has been writing books and articles for newspapers, magazines, ezines, websites and businesses for many years. A graduate of LaSalle University and Temple University in native Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, he is the father of two grown children, Shaun and Sheena, who live near him in the Phoenix area.

TEAM

Tubular Skylight Installer: Elite Solar Systems, Chandler, Arizona, www.elitesolarsystems.com

MATERIALS

Tubular Skylights: 10-inch Elite Tubular Skylight, 13-inch Elite Tubular Skylight, Elite Solar Systems

Attic Fans: 20-Watt Elite Solar Attic Fan

Tips for Tubular Skylights

Once the vertical pitched flashing is sealed and fastened properly on the roof deck, place the aluminum tile flashing over the pitched flashing, with the EPDM rubber facing down toward flashing. Fold the sides of the aluminum tile flashing and make sure flashing goes over the bottom tiles.

1. Follow the step-by-step instruction manual, supplied with the tubular skylight. Call the manufacturer and ask questions, if necessary.

2. Use all of the parts included with the tubular skylight kit. “Typically, when a part is left out, it is because the installer or roofer does not know its function,” Estrada says. “Leaving out a part can cause condensation issues, dust or bugs to enter the unit, a rainbow (distracting prism) effect on the interior of the home or other issues down the line.”

3. Quality and safety are paramount: Tested and certified products ensure your clients that the units will last through the harshest weather. Check products for certification by the International Code Council (ICC). Secondly, quality products offer UV-protection plastic, which inhibits fading of interiors. And, for installers, find out if the tubular skylights adhere to OSHA fall-protection standards.

The roof install is complete, with the tiles back in place. Notice that you can see the aluminum tile flashing toward the bottom of the tiles. Both the flashing and the aluminum tile flashing can be painted to blend in with roof.

4. For condensation control, the skylight must breathe, so don’t place sealant between the dome assembly and the roof flashing. This will cause condensation buildup.

5. For condensation, dust and bug issues, seal any gaps between the ceiling kit and the light tube as well as the light tube and the flashing with tape or spray-foam insulation, following the manufacturer’s recommendations. 

6. Offer no-leak guarantees to fully back your work for your customers. As a respected roofing company, you offer warrantied materials and installation. Look for that, too, in the tubular skylights you install.

Skylight Design Lets Glass Take the Spotlight

Good skylight design and project integration can mean a product not only provides light and possible ventilation — it also can make a statement as a strong aesthetic component.
Photo: Wasco

Skylights continue to gain recognition as energy-efficient daylight harvesting devices. When properly specified, proportioned, located and installed, skylights can meet the latest editions of national model energy conservation and green building codes and rating systems. Beyond the concerns of daylighting and thermal performance, skylights also must serve as a viable element of the building envelope.

Consequently, given the growing use of large, complex sloped glazing systems, design criteria for skylights and sloped glazing  are undergoing rapid creative evolution, as are the codes — primarily the International Building Code (IBC) — governing their application. In some cases, best practice can be to consider requirements in excess of those in the codes. Sloped glazing is defined in building codes as those where glass is inclined 15 degrees or more from vertical.

Potential Breakage is Key

Proper glass selection and system design is intended to meet specified design load(s), with the primary goal of reducing the probability of glass breakage, which can pose risks to people and property.

Breakage may occur due to several factors, either alone or in combination, some of which are noted below:

  • Loads in excess of the specified design loads
  • Large thermal stresses
  • Damage to the glass during handling or installation
  • Forces exerted by the framing system
  • Vandalism
  • Wind-borne gravel or other debris
  • Large hailstones
  • Impurities in the glass causing spontaneous fracture
Proper glass selection and system design must meet specified design load(s), with the primary goal of reducing the probability of glass breakage, which can pose risks to people and property. Photo: CrystaLite

The differences in design considerations between vertical and sloped glazing must be considered. For example, sloped glass is more susceptible to impact from falling objects than vertical glass. Sloped glazing is also more likely to fall from its opening when it breaks than vertical glass.

Typically, the preferred practice for glass selection in skylights and sloped glazing is to provide firm support for all edges of the glass for both inward (positive) and outward (negative) loads. This is mandatory for insulating glass units. The support may be by conventional channel glazing or by structural retention with a silicone sealant.

Design Considerations

Glazed systems require special glass design considerations. Designers and architects must orchestrate the use of such industry and regulatory standards and guidelines, as ASTM E1300-16,Standard Practice for Determining Load Resistance of Glass in Buildings,” ASCE/SEI 7,Minimum Design Loads for Buildings and Other Structures,” and others, as well as the IBC and International Residential Code (IRC).

Glazed systems of skylights often require special glass design considerations when designing for things like structure, thermal design and control of solar heat gain. Designers and architects must orchestrate the use of industry and regulatory standards and guidelines. Photos: FGIA

Once the 2021 edition of the IBC is adopted, new code language in IBC Section 2405.1, 2405.3 will clarify that screens are not required below skylights and sloped glazing when 30-mil interlayer laminated glass is used. The use of 30 mil-laminated glass in skylights improves daylighting, aesthetics, and helps protect building occupants, along with eliminating the need for screens.

Other design considerations are outlined below.

Strength

At base, the selection of glass for skylights and sloped glazing begins with the use of ASTM E1300, which uses a failure prediction model with the glass strength based on weathered glass. This takes into account a rational reduction in glass strength from initial production to in-service use. The procedure determines if the proposed glass type (annealed, heat-strengthened, fully tempered or laminated) will meet the specified load, allowing it to be determined whether to consider either a thinner or thicker glass.

A skylight is an integral part of the building envelope, controlling the movement of moisture and air. Photos: FGIA

ASTM E1300 supplies load resistance charts for a glass probability of breakage of eight per 1000, as this is considered practical and reasonable for most glass applications. The designer should aim for a low probability of breakage, but if breakage does occur, the consequences must be acceptable.

ASCE/SEI 7 lists formulas for calculating the equivalent combined pressure due to a combination of dead, wind, snow and other loads, as does Chapter 24 of the IBC. For common shapes of buildings, background guidance on design wind velocities may be found in ASCE/SEI 7 — with a caveat: buildings of unusual shape or geometry may render that standard inadequate for defining loads on sloped glazing and skylights.

Load Duration

The strength of glass is a function of load duration. Long duration loads, or any load lasting approximately 30 days, such as snow loads, must be treated differently than short duration loads, defined as any load lasting three seconds or less, such as wind loads.

Surface Damage

Mechanical damage to the surface of glass, as opposed to weathering, can cause a significant reduction in glass strength.

Thermal stress happens where there is a mix of heavy sunlight and shade. Glass must accommodate these changes. Photo: CrystaLite

Flat glass surfaces inherently have numerous, randomly occurring, microscopic flaws, resulting in widely varying strengths among otherwise identical lites. (A lite is a pane of glass or an insulating glass unit used in a window, door, tubular daylighting device, roof window, secondary storm product or unit skylight.)

So, the strength of glass exposed to transient and static loads must be analyzed on a statistical basis. This may be expressed in various ways, one of which is the coefficient of variation, a measure of the distribution of the glass strength for a large number of lites. It is influenced by the degree of heat treatment of the glass, being highest (0.25) for annealed and lowest for fully tempered glass (0.10) due to surface compression of the latter. This minimizes the tendency of surface flaws to propagate under load and cause glass breakage.

Impact From Wind-Borne Items

Limiting deflection of the frame is important. Care should be taken not to bow or distort the frame due to over-compaction of insulation. Photos: FGIA

The ability of fenestration of all types to resist such impacts is especially important in areas where high wind events, such as hurricanes, regularly occur. Building codes or other regulations in these areas frequently require that fenestration products either be rated as impact-resistant or be protected by impact-resistant devices. Resistance to hail impact — especially applicable to skylights — is a special case of impact resistance. Here, FM 4431, “Approval Standard for Skylights,” is often the governing standard.

Thermal Stress

Differential thermal expansion between framing and glazing, as well as between exposed and shaded areas of a given lite, must be accommodated through appropriate glass bite dimensions and selection of proper sealant, as well as glass type. For most orientations, the temperature that sloped glass may reach is usually higher than for vertical glazing due to the sun’s radiation being oriented more directly to the glass surface. Consequently, thermal stresses created in the glass most often require heat treated glass (heat-strengthened or fully tempered).

Edge Strength

Both the design of the skylight system and the integration into the structure of the building take careful consideration to ensure water is controlled and drained away properly. It is imperative in all glazing systems that water infiltration and condensation be drained or weeped away from edges of the glass and away from the skylight system.

The quality of the glass cutting and the edge finish are critical variables. For example, good quality, clean cut glass edges have an average strength of about 4650 psi (32 MPa) and a predicted failure of 1 percent at about 2,400 psi (16 MPa). For very poorly cut, nipped or damaged edges, the average strength may be in the range of 1,200-1,500 psi (8-10 MPa).

Frame Deflection Limits

A supported glass edge should have an edge deflection limited by the framing member to no greater than L/175 where “L” is the length of the glass edge and the deflection is determined by the displacement of the framing member along the edge.

Water Drainage

It is imperative in all glazing systems that water infiltration and condensation be drained or weeped away from the edges of the glass. This is to prevent detrimental freezing of the water or deleterious effects of moisture on edge seals of insulating glass, or possible debonding of interlayer material in laminated glass. The framing system must always drain the water from the lowest point of the glazing channel and the lowest point of the framing system.

All these design considerations and more, as well as guidance in applying them, are detailed in AAMA GDSG-1, Glass Design Guide for Sloped Glazing and Skylights, published by the Fenestration and Glass Industry Alliance (FGIA). Other published FGIA resources include the following.

  • AAMA SDGS-1-89, “Structural Design Guidelines for Aluminum Framed Skylights”
  • AAMA TIR-A7-11, “Sloped Glazing Guidelines”
  • AAMA TIR-A11-15, “Maximum Allowable Deflection of Framing Systems for Building Cladding Components at Design Wind Loads”
  • IGMA TB-3001, “Guidelines for Sloped Glazing”

All are available at aamanet.org/store.

About the author: Glenn Ferris is the Fenestration and Glass Industry Alliance’s (FGIA’s) Fenestration Standards Specialist. He began his career with the association in 2018. He has extensive experience in the fenestration industry dating back to 1992. Ferris is a liaison for many councils, committees and study/work/task groups guiding them in the completion of the scope of each group.

32-Inch Industrial Tubular Skylight

Elite Solar Systems releases its 32-inch Industrial Tubular Skylight for open-ceiling installations in large spaces such as warehouses, truck bays, storage rooms and manufacturing areas. Included is a high-impact acrylic dome, which locks into an 1100-O aluminum dome ring; one-piece seamless flat or curb flashing; a scatter disk; two 24-inch reflective anodized aluminum rigid light tubes; a one-piece dual-lens prismatic domed diffuser and brushed aluminum ring; flashing sealant; aluminum foil tape; and screws to install the flashing to the roof, the dome to the flashing and to connect the light tube(s). 

The .220-inch-thick rooftop dome comprises light-transmission, nonyellowing material with UV stabilizers and is OSHA fall-protection certified. To eliminate stress and increase long-term durability, the dome locks to the ring and is leak protected with sealant. Aluminum flashing is available for industrial or commercial applications on flat or metal roofs. Choose either flat (.125 inches thick) or curb (.80 inches) for wood or metal build-ups by the installer. The product is manufactured with 1100-0 aluminum, and the durable 4-inch-wide base flange secures against leaks.

Also manufactured from light-transmission, nonyellowing high-impact prismatic acrylic with UV stabilizers, the scatter disk helps distribute light evenly throughout the room. According to the manufacturer, it eliminates sharp sun and the rainbow effect, and also captures sunlight from low angles into the light tube. 

Light tubes are built to maximize reflectivity and resistance to moisture, corrosion and extreme temperatures. Dust seals, placed on either end of the light tubes, are designed to prevent bug, dirt and air infiltration; they are manufactured with polypropylene weatherstrip pile and 3M adhesive backing. 

Optional are a security bar at roof level and, inside, a wire suspension kit for additional support and a ceiling flange, which connects between the tube and the ceiling for enhanced aesthetics. The assembly is warrantied through Elite for 25 years against cracking, peeling and yellowing.

 “Our new 32-inch Industrial Tubular Skylight will help transform dark warehouses and storerooms into bright workplaces, enhancing employee working conditions and productivity,” said Jované Estrada, general manager for Elite Solar Systems, based in Chandler, Arizona. 

For more information, visit www.elitesolarsystems.com

Kingspan Light & Air Acquires Skyco Skylights


Skyco Skylights Inc. announced that the company has been acquired by Kingspan Light & Air LLC. 

Ryan Marshall, chief executive officer of Skyco, said, “I’m pleased to announce that after a successful five years, Skyco Skylights Inc. is joining forces with Kingspan Light & Air LLC. Kingspan’s acquisition of Skyco will enable us to continue our mission of utilizing innovation and value-added technology to develop better quality, longer lasting skylights. Kingspan offers Skyco a wealth of resources and the ability to reach beyond our current scope, while Skyco brings to Kingspan proprietary design and engineering expertise, as well as cutting edge manufacturing capabilities.” 

According to Marshall, Skyco will begin doing business under the Kingspan Light & Air brand once the acquisition is completed. 

For more information, visit https://www.kingspan.com/us/en-us/kla

Skylights Designed for Flat Roofs Feature Curved, Edge-to-Edge Glass

Designed to meet the growing demand for skylights in house extensions with flat or low-pitch roofs, VELUX introduces CurveTech Skylights and Roof Access Skylights. CurveTech Skylights combine elegant design with exceptional daylighting for design- and quality-conscious architects and builders in the United States.

Designed for use on flat or low-pitch roofs, CurveTech Skylights feature a curved edge-to-edge glass cover that allows rain water to disperse off the glass while installed on a zero-degree pitch roof. 

“Because of the attractive glass design, this product is ideal for flat roof home extensions where the extension roof is visible from upper stories,” said Ross Vandermark, national product manager for VELUX. “The refined, modern appearance of the curved glass also complements the popular mid-century modern architectural style and modular homes with a modern aesthetic.” 

The new flat roof skylights, which will be available for purchase in Summer 2019, come with a PVC curb with polystyrene filling. The Fixed Flat Roof Skylight (CFP) is available with CurveTech or polycarbonate dome cover options. The Flat Roof Exit Skylight (CXP), available for polycarbonate dome covers, has a clean interior appearance and opens to a 60-degree angle to allow for roof access. 

The highly energy efficient design features an insulated PVC curb, double glazed skylight and a protective cover that keeps the inner pane warmer. These flat roof skylights can be installed on roofs with pitches between 0:12 and 3:12 (0 to 15 degrees).

For more information, visit www.veluxusa.com.

Capped Skylight Conversion Kit

Skyco Skylights offers the Capped Conversion Kit, which converts old capless skylights to a more trusted capped system. With the kit, commercial roofers receive a universal fitting Polycarbonate dome, a custom-sized aluminum cap, and Tek Screw with EPDM gaskets.

According to the company, using a cap around the perimeter of the polycarbonate dome creates a leak-free seal and eliminates cracking. The custom-fitted aluminum cap is fastened to the skylight frame with Tek-Screws instead of drilling through the plastic dome. Penetrating the dome with screws is a major cause for cracking. Many times, installers will over-torque the screw, immediately cause the dome to crack. Drilling through the Conversion Kit’s aluminum cap into a steal frames makes it easy to drill without cracking. 

Accroding to the manufacturer, the average install time for two installers is 1-2 minutes per kit. Watch the install video here.

For more information, visit www.skycoskylights.com.

Commercial Roofing Contractor Flexes Its Muscles on 1.3 Million-Square-Foot Project

The new Under Armour distribution warehouse roof encompasses 1,286,000 square feet. It was topped with a TPO roof system manufactured by Johns Manville. Photo: Orndorff & Spaid Roofing Inc.

Industrial projects exceeding one million square feet of roofing might give some contractors pause, but at Orndorff & Spaid Roofing Inc., it’s just another day at the office.

The third-generation family run roofing contractor has been in business since 1953. Orndorff & Spaid services the Baltimore-Washington metro area, as well as parts of Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Delaware. It focuses primarily on large-scale commercial projects, including warehouses, distribution centers, retail businesses, schools and data centers.

Orndorff & Spaid routinely tackles roofing projects up to 1.5 million square feet. The company strives to keep as much work as possible under its own control, and the necessary supplies and equipment are always on hand at its 13-acre headquarters in Beltsville, Maryland.

“We’re a little bit unique as a roofing company in that we self-perform almost everything,” says Richard Harville, vice president of estimating. “We have our own cranes, all our own lifts. We do our own trucking. We have an in-house mechanic’s shop that repairs all of the equipment. All fuel servicing is done from our yard here. We also warehouse a fair share of material here because the logistics of running a job.”

Photo: Johns Manville

A recent new construction project at the former location of a Bethlehem Steel factory in Tradepoint St. John’s was right up their alley. “This was a new construction project, fairly conventional in most regards except for one, and that had to do with the site,” notes Harville. “Most of the site had been infilled over the years, and there was a lot of slag and other materials on this site, so it is not bedrock, for sure.” Due to the potential for movement, seismic expansion joints were specified. The gaps in the deck were as wide as 9 inches.

The owner of the complex was kept under wraps during construction phase, but the completed Under Armour distribution warehouse is now an area landmark. The roof encompasses 1,286,000 square feet, and the project had to be completed under a very tight schedule.

The general contractor on the project, FCL, reached out to Orndorff & Spaid during the design phase, and they recommended a TPO roof system manufactured by Johns Manville.

Harville shared his insights on the project with Roofing, along with members of the project team including Dane Grudzien, estimator; Carl Spraker, project manager, single ply; and Mike McKinney, project manager, sheet metal.

The Clock Is Ticking

Work began in April 2017 with a deadline to finish by the end of July. “The schedule was what made this project difficult,” notes Harville. “They had an end user set to come in and they were in an extreme hurry to get this thing done.”

Workers outside the safety perimeter were tied off 100 percent of the time using AES Raptor TriRex Safety Carts. Photo: Orndorff & Spaid Roofing Inc.

Harville and Spraker were confident the experienced team would be up to the task. “Once we got our bearings, we rock and rolled this job,” Spraker says. “We had up to 40 employees on the site and worked six days a week.”

The roof system installed over the structure’s metal deck included two layers of 2.5-inch polyiso and a 60-mil TPO membrane. “This job was mechanically attached at 6 inches on center, with perimeter and corner enhancements as required by FM,” notes Grudzien.

The roof installation began with a 10-man crew, and crews were added as the work ramped up. “We ended up with four 10-man crews, with the foreman on the first crew in charge the team,” Spraker recalls. “We just did as much as we could every day and kept track of everything. We averaged 700 squares a day. One day we did 1,000 squares.”

Crews worked on half of the building at a time, with falling back as needed to install flashings or strip in the gravel stop. “We started on one side of the building and went from end to end, following the steel contractor,” says Spraker. “When we finished one side, we came all the way back to the end where they started and followed them down the opposite side.”

The roof system incorporates 276 VELUX skylights that provide daylighting in key areas of the facility. Photo: Orndorff & Spaid Roofing Inc.

The roof also incorporated 276 VELUX skylights to illuminate key areas of the facility. Logistics Lighting delivered them all in one shipment, as Orndorff & Spaid requested. The 4-foot-by-8-foot skylights were stored on site and loaded to the roof with a crane for installation after a plasma cutter was used to cut holes in the deck. Prefabricated curbs were installed and flashed. “I had a separate crew designated just to install skylights,” Spraker notes

Safety precautions included perimeter warning lines, and workers outside that area were tied off 100 percent of the time, as they were when the skylights were installed. AES Raptor TriRex Safety Carts were used as anchor points.

Safety is always crucial, notes Harville, and the company makes it a priority on every project. “Our safety parameters go above and beyond standard state or federal mandating,” he notes.

Metal Work

The scope of work included large external gutters, downspouts and edge metal. According to McKinney, the sheet metal application was pretty straightforward. “There was just a lot of it — long, straight runs down two sides,” he says. “The coping was installed on the parapets on the shorter ends.”

Gutters were installed after the roof system was in place. “The roof wasn’t 100 percent complete, but once areas of the roof were installed and the walls were painted white, we could begin to install the gutters,” says McKinney. “After work was completed on one side, crews moved to the other side.”

The large gutter featured internal and external hangers, alternating 36 inches on center. All the metal was fabricated in house, and the exterior hangers were powder coated to match the steel.

Once the external hangers were installed, the gutter sections were lowered into place and secured by crew members in a man lift. “Once you had your hangers up, you could just lower the gutter over the side and into the external hangers,” McKinney explains. “We put the internal hangers into place after that. After the drip edge is installed, the single-ply crews come back and flash the drip edge into the roof system.”

Downspouts were custom-designed to match the building’s paint scheme. Photo: Orndorff & Spaid Roofing Inc.

Installation of the downspouts had to wait until the walls were painted. One wrinkle was the change in color of the downspouts. About two-thirds of the way up the wall, the paint scheme went from black to white, and the building owner wanted the downspouts to change colors to match. “We reverse-engineered it,” notes McKinney. “We measured from the paint line up and put in a 30-foot section of downspouts there, because we put our bands at the joints and we didn’t want to have the bands too close together in the middle of the wall.”

Talented Team

The project was completed on budget — and a month early. FCL hosted a barbecue to celebrate. “FCL had a big cookout for the contractors with a steak dinner for everyone,” notes Harville. “They really went over and above on that.”

The Orndorff & Spaid team credits the effort of all companies involved for the success of the project. “The steel contractor was phenomenal, and FCL did an excellent job of coordinating everything,” Spraker says.

The large gutter featured internal and external hangers. Photo: Orndorff & Spaid Roofing Inc.

The manufacturer also did an excellent job, notes Harville, who commended the work of Melissa Duvall, the JM sales rep on the project, and Barney Conway, the field rep, who visited the site at least once a week. “JM did a good job keeping us well stocked with material and getting us deliveries when we needed them,” Harville notes.

The team members at Orndorff & Spaid believe their confidence comes from experience and knowing that most of the variables are under control. “A lot of that has to do with the equipment we can bring to bear when we need to,” Harville states. “We control the logistics all the way through. Most companies are going to rent a crane or hire trucking — we do all of that. We have our own lifts, we have our own cranes, we do all of our flatbed trucking. We bring a unique process to the table. Beyond that, and our project managers are well versed at doing this. It’s not our first rodeo.”

TEAM

Architect: MacGregor Associates Architects, Atlanta, www.macgregorassoc.com
General Contractor: FCL Builders, Chicago, www.fclbuilders.com
Roofing Contractor: Orndorff & Spaid Roofing Inc., Beltsville, Maryland, www.osroofing.com

MATERIALS

Membrane: 60-mil TPO, Johns Manville, www.jm.com
Insulation: Two layers of 2.5-inch ENRGY 3 Polyisocyanurate, Johns Manville
Skylights: Dynamic Dome Skylights Model 4896, VELUX, www.veluxusa.com

Coordination Is the Key to Re-Roofing Active Port Terminal

Owned by the Port of New Orleans, the Nashville Ave. Terminal Complex offers more than a million square feet of cargo space. When the structure’s original built-up roof reached the end of its service life, a standing seam metal roof was manufactured and installed by Ray Bros. Inc. on the vast majority of the building. Photo: Aero Photo.

Construction projects on active jobsites can mean coordinating a lot of moving parts. Projects don’t get much more complicated than the recent roof replacement at the Nashville Ave. Terminal Complex, owned by the Port of New Orleans. The scope of work was multifaceted, the schedule was daunting, and everyone entering the facility had to have the proper security credentials. All of the work was performed next to the Mississippi River on top of an active wharf building, with cargo coming in and going out on trucks and forklifts as ships were loaded and unloaded. Materials housed inside the building were sensitive to moisture, dust and debris — and often had to be moved as work progressed.

Gino Ray Sr., president of Ray Bros. Inc., the roofing contractor on the project, likened it to a giant, three-dimensional puzzle. “It was almost like a Rubik’s Cube,” he says. “They had to move a section of material, and then when we finished a section, they slid the material over there so we could move on the next one. The whole time, the port was in operation. There was a lot of dancing involved.”

The Terminal

The Nashville Ave. Terminal Complex, operated by Ports America Louisiana Inc., offers more than 1 million square feet of storage space. Built in the 1960s, the structure was a rigid-frame, iron building with a ballasted tar and gravel roof over a heavy tongue-and-groove wooden deck. Decades of problems had seriously deteriorated the wooden deck, as well as the four-by-four wood nailers that were bolted to the rafters and purlins.

Key members of the team on the project included (from Left) N. Guy Williams of ECM Consultants, Kevin Haslauer of Glendale Enterprises, Gino Ray Sr. of Ray Bros. Inc., Craig Clark of Gulf Coast Service Group, and Curtis Shinogle of Gulf Coast Service Group.

The structure’s failing roof was replaced in three phases. During Phase 1, undertaken about a decade ago, a new built-up roof system was installed on one end of the building. When that section experienced performance issues, the owners looked for other options. Ray Bros. had the answer: an architectural metal roof.

Ray Bros. has been in business in New Orleans since 1996, when it was founded by Gino Ray Sr. The company has always focused primarily on metal roofing, and in the late ’90s it began roll forming and manufacturing its own panels and systems. “Today we manufacture everything we install,” Ray notes. “We’re kind of a hybrid — a manufacturer/contractor.”

The company’s metal panel system had been installed on several other port buildings, and the owners specified it for Phase 2 of the project, which covered a 230,000-square-foot section near the center of the building on either side of the firewall. Phase 2 was completed in 2014. Phase 3 encompassed 420,000 square feet to complete the sections on either side of Phase 2. Work began in August of 2016 and completed in May of 2017.

Ray Bros. manufactured and installed all of the metal roofing on the building — a total of 650,000 square feet — and served as both the prime contractor and the roofing contractor on the third phase of the project. Ray credits his dedicated team, the cooperation of all of the companies involved, and an innovative strategy for coping with the project’s many hurdles as the keys to a successful outcome.

Beefing Up the Structure

The standing seam metal roof system recommended by Ray Bros. was specified for its durability and low maintenance. The new system would give the port the long lifespan the owners desired, but it would necessitate some structural changes.

“Before we put the metal roof on, we had to beef up the existing trusses and reinforce the existing structure because it was such a light building now,” Ray notes. “There was an enormous amount of welding to the exiting trusses and existing purlins that had to be done before we could begin to put the roof on.”

Metal panels were roll formed directly onto the roof for installation. The panels on one side of the roof were 180 feet long. Photo: Ray Bros. Inc.

The plan was to beef up the structure from the inside and install the new gutters. Then the old roof could then be torn off and the new metal roof installed. The roof installation would be completed in sections, with crews moving from one area to the next in sequence.

Gulf Coast Service Group served as the structural steel and demolition contractor. Crews on man lifts set up inside the building reinforced the existing steel structure. New angle irons were welded to the bottom of the purlins. The existing sprinkler system had to be reconfigured, as it was attached to the four-by-four wood nailers that had to be removed. Work on the sprinklers was performed in conjunction with S & S Sprinkler Company. “We didn’t have to dismantle the sprinkler system, just move it,” Ray explains. “New hangers were mounted to the steel. We had to put a hanger on, take a hanger off. That was part of the tango dance as well.”

After the welders completed their work, crews from RK Hydrovac vacuumed the ballast off the roof. Prior to the demolition work, approximately 4,100 linear feet of gutters were installed. Oversized gutters were manufactured from 16-gauge stainless steel in the Ray Bros. metal shop, and all of the joints were welded together. Gutter sections were raised into place with a lift and secured with stainless steel brackets and hangers. “That gutter weighed about 11 pounds per running foot, and we made it in 21-foot lengths,” Ray notes.

The Roof Installation

The demolition crews and installation crews then swung into action. After sections of the deck were removed, metal panels were roll-formed on the site and installed. “The demo people would tear out a bay — which is a 20-foot section — all the way up to the ridge,” Ray explains. “On one side of the roof, the panels were 180 feet long. So, they would tear out a 20-foot-by-180-foot section, and we would come in right after that and put a 20-foot section of 180-foot panels down.”

Crew members on lifts reinforced the existing steel structure before the new roof was installed. Photo: Ray Bros. Inc.

Panels were made from 22-gauge galvalume. Zimmerman Metals supplied roll forming machines to Ray Bros. Inc. so the company could manufacture its proprietary product. The RBI MT-240 panels were 18 inches wide and interlock using continuous clips. A batten cap was installed over the top and then mechanically seamed using a machine manufactured by D.I. Roof Seamers.

The roll-up bay doors along the sides of the building and at the gable ends of the warehouse qualified it as a partially enclosed structure, which necessitated strict engineering standards. “In order to meet engineering standards, we had to use continuous clips,” Ray notes.

Every third bay had a skylight system to light the interior. Skylights used on the project were manufactured by CPI Daylighting Systems and installed by Glendale Industries. Custom-made curbs and crickets were fashioned by Ray Bros.

When skylights could not be installed right away, the openings were covered with plywood and felt to eliminate safety hazards and keep the interior of the building dry. “When the Glendale Industries people would show up, we’d remove the plywood and they would put on their system,” Ray notes. “As the job progressed, we’d re-use the same plywood and temporary coverings as we went along. We’d just leapfrog the plywood from curb to curb.”

After the roof was completed, the last step was to replace the wall panels in the interior that were designed to trap the smoke in the event of a fire. The old corrugated smoke panels were wired to the steel, but that system would not comply with today’s standards, so Ray Bros. created a sub-framing system to attach new ones. “We had 500 squares of smoke panels to install beneath the roof system,” Ray states. “We put in some16-gauge furring channels and attached the panels with screws. We manufactured all of that in house.”

After the roof was installed, 50,000 square feet of new corrugated smoke panels were installed. Photo: Ray Bros. Inc.

The demo crews, installation crews, and skylight crews kept moving in sequence under the direction of Jobsite Superintendent Robert Sinopoli, a 30-year industry veteran who has been with Ray Bros. ever since the company was founded. Sinopoli monitored everyone’s progress on the site and made sure everyone knew their assignments each day. “Everybody leapfrogged everybody else,” Ray notes. “Everyone had their own song and dance, and if one person got out of rhythm, it would domino back.”

Everyone involved on the project also needed to have a dance card, as security on the site was tight. Workers needed to have a background check and Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC). Every vehicle had to have proper registration, insurance and inspection tags. The jobsite did not allow personal vehicles, and this posed a problem for Ray Bros., as the company routinely had 40 to 50 workers on site. “Everybody had to be on a company vehicle in a seat with a seat belt,” Ray notes. “I had to buy a used bus to transport workers in and out. We painted it, put our logo on it and made it look pretty. We just drove it 1.5 miles a day. At the end of the job, I sold the bus.”

Big Chunks

The project was wrapped up ahead of schedule, and it was the sequencing of work that was the key its success, according to Ray. “We didn’t want to tackle this project one bay at a time; we were looking at big chunks at a time,” he says. “We were able to develop a rhythm quicker that way. Instead of changing hats several times in the course of a day or a week, we put a hat on, let it stay on, got a big section done and moved on to the next. We didn’t want to change tools and change personnel. We wanted to look at it like a monolithic application.”

In the end, it all boiled down to pride — no one wanted to be the one to falter. “We self-perform a lot of our work, and we have existing relationships with all of the subcontractors we use,” Ray says. “I’m never going to let them down or leave them hanging, and I know they are going to do the same for me. That’s what made that job go — no one wanted to be the weak link. Everybody had a job to do and they did it. It worked out great.”

It was a true team effort. “This was like our Super Bowl, and we won,” Ray concludes. “I’m real proud of my company, our people, and all the people we worked with. I know that on our next job, I can count on them and they know they can count on me.”

TEAM

Architect: ECM Consultants, Metairie, Louisiana, www.ecmconsultants.com
General Contractor and Roofing Contractor: Ray Bros. Inc., New Orleans, Louisiana, www.raybrosinc.com
Structural Steel and Demolition Contractor: Gulf Coast Service Group, Harvey, Louisiana
Skylight Installer: Glendale Enterprises, Norco, Louisiana, www.glendaleinc.com
Sprinkler Repair Contractor: S & S Sprinkler Company, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, www.sssprinkler.com

MATERIALS

Metal Roof Panels: 18-inch wide, 22-gauge galvalume MT-240 standing seam panels, Ray Bros. Inc.
Skylights: CPI Daylighting Systems, www.cpidaylighting.com
Roll Former: Zimmerman Metals Inc., www.zimmerman-metals.com

Johns Manville Partners With Logistics Lighting

Johns Manville announced the company has formed a partnership with Logistics Lighting to create the Johns Manville skylight program. The skylight program was established to allow JM to integrate skylights into clients’ projects and incorporate a seamless process for including a complete system with the roofing package. This program includes various skylight products with different brands in order to provide the most cost-effective option, with up to a 20-year warranty. The products offered through the program include skylights, smoke vents, tubular skylights, safety screens, burglar bars and roof curbs. There are also several services offered through the JM skylight program, including design and layout of skylights, energy savings calculations, specification review, submittal packages, and project specific meetings with designers and contractors.

This program has allowed JM to broaden the company’s offering and create more opportunities for customers to diversify based on their needs. The goal of the partnership was to combine Logistics Lighting’s extensive knowledge of skylights with the expertise that JM brings to roofing, creating real value for the consumers. According to JM, this partnership provides consumers with quality products, a competitive price, and a guarantee that is backed by a trusted company.

The JM skylight program includes a skylight warranty, issued by JM, as an addendum to the 20-year roof guarantee. The 20-year guarantee is only available on Velux and Kingspan products. The other two brands that are offered are Sunoptics and Wasco, and those have up to five and 10-year warranties, depending on the product.

President of Logistics Lighting Eric Huffman stated, “We are proud to be a part of the Johns Manville skylight program. We are honored to serve Johns Manville clients and sales team, and to provide the finest skylight and smoke vent options for their projects, combined with the best warranty available. The skylight program allows JM to help their clients to cost-effectively meet their daylighting and sustainability goals, and serve as a single source for the entire roof guarantee.”

For more information about the skylight program, contact Huffman at EHuffman@LogisticsLighting.com or call (307) 633-9696.

Avoid Problems with Skylights through Proper Installation

As trendy as they are for green building and demonstrably beneficial for energy savings
through daylighting, skylights are sometimes viewed with a certain trepidation by roofing
contractors. After all, skylights are essentially holes in the roof with the potential to compromise roofing workers’ handiwork by providing unintended leakage paths.

Proper installation is essential to realizing designed-in leak-free performance and can vary by type of roofing involved and the type of skylight. It is recommended to always refer to and use the skylight manufacturer’s instructions that are specific to the roof system being installed. Of course, applicable code requirements supersede any instructions to the contrary.

 A commercial skylight provides more daylight and improves an indoor recreational setting. PHOTO: Structures Unlimited

A commercial skylight provides more daylight and improves an indoor recreational setting. PHOTO: Structures Unlimited

AAMA 1607-14, “Installation Guidelines for Unit Skylights”, which is an industry consensus guideline published by the Schaumburg, Ill.-based American Architectural Manufacturers Association, intended for use when manufacturer instructions are absent or incomplete, provides basic step- by-step installation instructions for 19 different ways to integrate various roofing materials, underlayment, flashing and skylight-mounting configurations to preserve the drainage plane. This must be the overriding intent of any installation protocols.

Note that some roofing contractors warrant their work against leakage, and skylight installation should not compromise or void such warranties. When in doubt, independent installers should confer with the roofing contractor.

INSTALLATION SUPPLIES

Proper installation begins with selection and use of the proper supplies—notably sealants, fasteners and flashing.

SEALANT SELECTION
If sealants are recommended by the manufacturer, follow the manufacturer’s specifications. When the manufacturer is silent about the use of sealants and the installation guidelines dictate their use, the following recommendations should be observed:

  • Compatibility—The sealant must not adversely react with or weaken the material it contacts.
  • Adhesion—The sealant must have good long-term adhesion. Surface preparation, cleaning procedures and, in some cases, primers are recommended by the sealant manufacturer.
  • Service Temperature—If the installation location involves elevated ambient temperatures, the sealant should exhibit corresponding service temperature performance.
  • Durability—The sealant must be capable of maintaining the required flexibility and integrity over time.
  • Application—Proper bead size and other application details should be followed to ensure a well-performing joint. Improper use of sealants can dam water pathways, so an important rule of thumb is not to block any weep holes that may be in the skylight system.

Typically, sealant or roofing cement is applied around the perimeter of the rough opening (deck mount) or the flange of self-flashing units or the top edge of a mounting frame. However, some skylights are designed with integral flashing flanges to be installed without the need for sealants.

It is also possible to utilize rolled roofing membranes as a substitute for sealants or plastic roofing cement.

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