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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Dome Commercial Skylights Boast Balanced Light, Structural Performance

Dynamic Dome commercial skylights feature a proprietary wicking system, which evacuates condensation to the skylight exterior.

Dynamic Dome commercial skylights feature a proprietary wicking system, which evacuates condensation to the skylight exterior.

VELUX Dynamic Dome commercial skylights are engineered to reflect less light and harvest more light, especially in the early morning and late afternoon. The focus of the design is on maximizing low-sun-angle performance. This can result in reduced energy costs; electric lights can be turned off earlier in the day and will not have to be turned back on until later in the day. Other features include a proprietary wicking system, which evacuates condensation to the skylight exterior, and an encapsulating design that provides a water barrier with a 100 percent thermally broken skylight frame.

AAMA Releases Document Clarifying Weathering Requirements for Solar Reflective Finishes

The American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA) releases a document describing the test procedures and performance requirements for pigmented organic coatings applied to aluminum, fiber reinforced thermoset or wood and cellulosic composite profiles for windows, doors, wall panels, skylights, sloped glazing and similar products. The update is a clarification to the requirements for outdoor or accelerated weathering testing. The document Voluntary Specification, Performance Requirements and Test Procedures for Solar Reflective Finishes was originally released in 2013.

“Advances in coatings technologies for architectural products have provided the opportunity to expand the use of solar reflective coatings,” says Manny Mayer, architectural products manager at Tiger Drylac. “Selecting high-performance coatings with these solar reflective attributes can positively impact the energy efficiency associated with all exterior coated building components. The primary purpose for utilizing coatings with solar reflective properties is to keep the coated surfaces cooler than they would be with standard coatings.”

This specification is a supplement to the existing specifications (AAMA 613, 614, 615, 623, 624, 625, 653, 2603, 2604 and 2605) and does not in any way supersede the performance requirements contained in those documents, particularly the weathering requirements.

AAMA 643-16, as well as other AAMA documents, may be purchased from AAMA’s online store.

Self-flashing Skylights on Commercial Warehouses Are Beginning to Leak

Today, many commercial roofers are dealing with a large-scale problem—reinstalling and replacing leaky self-flashing skylights on commercial warehouses. I have seen firsthand how improper installation of self-flashing skylights has become a headache for commercial property owners.

many of the skylights installed on commercial warehouse properties in the western Sunbelt states were installed improperly because they were installed first and foremost as fall protection for the open floor in the roof during construction by the builder and not by the roofer.

Many of the self-flashing skylights installed on commercial warehouse properties in the western Sunbelt states were installed improperly because they were installed first and foremost as fall protection for the open floor in the roof during construction by the builder and not by the roofer.

Around the late 1970s and early 1980s, intermodal freight became a huge part of global distribution. To handle the increase in freight projects, warehouse construction exploded. The Port of Oakland, for instance, invested heavily in intermodal container transfer capabilities in the ’80s. In fact, the aggressive growth of intermodal freight distribution continued into the early 2000s.

The cheapest and easiest way for skylights to be installed on these warehouses was to use self-flashing skylights. The metal curb or L bracket attached to the bottom of the skylight was, in theory, supposed to be set on top of the built-up roofing material and then stripped in, sandwiching the flange between he roofing layers. The result would be roofing material, then skylight, then more roofing material over the flashing on the skylight.

Unfortunately, many of the skylights installed on commercial warehouse properties in the western Sunbelt states were installed improperly because they were installed first and foremost as fall protection for the open floor in the roof during construction by the builder and not by the roofer. Our teams have seen thousands of these original self-flashing skylight installations where self-flashing flanges are set directly on the plywood roof deck, below all the roofing materials.

Most of the original roofers didn’t budget in the time and money it took to pull the skylight assembly apart from the roof deck and re-install it the proper way. Nor did they wash the oils off the new metal from the galvanizing process or use asphalt primer to prep the steel flanges of the assembly and ensure the roofing asphalt would stick properly. Over the years, as the metal of the skylight flanges expanded and contracted and the built-up roof did the same, but at a different rate, the roofing system eventually separated from the skylight, leaving a self-flashing skylight that’s now turned into what we jokingly refer to as a “self-leaking skylight”. This is part of the reason why everyone thinks skylights always leak.

The best way we’ve found to install leak-free skylights on a commercial warehouse roof, especially when re- placing the self-flashing skylights on an existing building, is to use a curb-mounted skylight. A curb-mounted skylight fits like a shoebox lid over a new curb the roofing contractor fabricates as part of the installation. This curbed design eliminates the metal flange and offers waterproofing redundancy in critical areas of the installation, so water can’t get into the building at the skylight opening. Because the new skylight is installed on a curb, it’s also much easier to address any future issues with the skylight or to replace it down the road if necessary. This especially comes in handy when owners lease to new tenants. New building occupancy regulations mean skylights may be required by municipalities to be changed out for smoke vents to comply with fire codes.

If you’re dealing with one or more self-flashing skylight leaks, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Check if there is condensation on the inside of the skylight; a lot of skylights have a trough where condensation runoff will leak into the building.
  • Be sure to check the juncture where the skylight and the roof meet (the skylight base flashing), which can sometimes include up to 5 inches of mastic at the base flashing.
  • If the skylight has a frameless acrylic cap without a metal frame around the outside, check the acrylic dome for stress cracks. It is possible to replace some acrylic domes on some skylights but often the cost of an acrylic dome is roughly the same as the cost of a new skylight, and if you’re already considering installing a new roof with a 15- to 20-year warranty, it doesn’t make much sense to leave the “self-leaking skylight” frame in place. Replacing the skylights during the reroofing project is much more cost-effective than re- turning to replace skylights later. In addition, skylight technology is far better now than it was 15 or 20 years ago (think about today’s impact-resistant polycarbonate and better UV and fall protection).

Above all else, don’t let self-flashing skylights give you and your roofing business a bad name. Instead, address the issue with your commercial clients and educate them about the best choices for their skylights and how they can stay current with the International Building Code and municipal codes. You’ll be helping them protect one of their biggest assets by ensuring their skylights stay leak-free.

PHOTOS: Highland Commercial Roofing

Six Risks You Should Know Before Putting Skylights on Your Roof

Skylights are popular for a reason. They add an extra dash of beauty to any commercial building, and they’re a great source of free lighting. But there are also drawbacks, and, if you’re not aware of them, the costs can end up being far greater than the benefits. Whether you already have a skylight or are considering adding one to the design of a new roof, make sure you’re prepared to deal with the downsides:

  • 1. Leaks
    Skylights are famous—or maybe that should be infamous—for leaking. Over time, the seals and flashing can deteriorate, providing an opportunity for water to penetrate your roof. Things like rain, snow and debris can accelerate the process. Modern skylights are less prone to leaks than older versions, but even the best skylight can leak if it isn’t installed properly.

    There’s an additional leak risk, too: ice dams. Skylights transfer heat to the surrounding roofing material, causing any accumulated snow to melt. That, in turn, can contribute to ice dams, eventually causing even more leaks and adding to the cost of roof maintenance.

  • 2. Breakage
    Even standard roofs are vulnerable to the elements, particularly wind and storm damage, but skylights are even more so. Hail and flying debris, for in-stance, can easily crack a skylight. And, when it comes to snow loads, skylights can be the weakest part of the roof. If you calculate the maximum weight load based on the rest of the roof, your sky-light could fail from the excess weight of a heavy snowfall.

  • 3. Falls
    For workers performing roof maintenance, skylights pose a risk for serious injury, or even death. Some workers simply assume skylights are designed to bear their weight and will intentionally stand or sit on them. Tripping and falling onto a skylight presents yet another risk. That’s why the Washington, D.C.-based Occupational Safety and Health Administration puts skylights in the same category as other open holes and requires that each one is protected by a screen or guard rail that meets OSHA’s regulations.

    However, guard rails aren’t 100 percent safe either. Depending on the quality of the safety net or the weight of the victim, roof-maintenance professionals can fall through just as easily as they would through a skylight.

  • 4. Light Exposure
    While access to free natural light is one of the primary benefits of skylights, there’s also a drawback. Depending on the placement, skylights can actually let in too much light, contributing to glare and excess UV exposure. Not only can that be hard on employees, it can cause preventable damage to furniture, carpeting, art and more valuable items.

  • 5. Energy Loss
    In stark contrast to the lure of free lighting, skylights can have a significant negative impact on heating and cooling costs. Skylights simply don’t present the same barrier to heat transfer that more traditional roofing materials do. In the winter, heat escapes. In the summer, heat seeps into the building—and sun-light and glare only add to that effect. According to the National Fenestration Rating Council Inc., Greenbelt, Md., skylights can cause a building’s interior temperature to fluctuate by more than half the difference between the exterior temperature.

  • 6. Space Constraints
    Skylights take up rooftop space that could be used for equipment or other purposes. To get the maximum benefit of free natural lighting, you need to dedicate 7 to 10 percent of your roof to skylights. That’s space that can’t be used for things like rooftop equipment and supports. It also claims space that might be needed for workers to perform roof maintenance. And if you have a small roof, that is going to be a problem!

There’s no doubt that skylights contribute to a building’s aesthetic appeal, and they can also reduce the cost of electrical lighting. But they have drawbacks, too, and building managers have to consider both aspects to make an informed decision. When considering skylights as part of your building’s future, remember to think about the hidden costs, like increased roof maintenance, heating and cooling, and safety precautions.

LMCurbs Celebrates 50th Anniversary

LMC celebrates its 50th anniversary this year by launching a new website, completing the addition of new CNC machines, and looking forward to adding quality products and services to its current product offerings.

LMC celebrates its 50th anniversary this year by launching a new website, completing the addition of new CNC machines, and looking forward to adding quality products and services to its current product offerings.

2016 marks an important anniversary for LMCurbs, a supplier to the metal building industry for aluminum roof curbs, roof hatches, snow guards, skylights, roof walkways, utility clamps, solar attachments, industrial fans, ladders and more. LMC celebrates its 50th anniversary this year by launching a new website, completing the addition of new CNC machines, and looking forward to adding quality products and services to its current product offerings.

Started in 1966 by Sam Funderburk, Longview Mechanical Contractors (the parent company of LMCurbs) concentrated on being the best Mechanical Contracting business in the surrounding area. LMC then began manufacturing roof curbs in the late ’70s to diversify the company and began marketing to all 50 states. Since the mid-’80s, LMC has been owned and operated by David and Randy Funderburk focusing on the continuous efforts of diversifying the company. Now there are multiple businesses focusing on specific industries. LMCurbs focuses on the metal building industry reaching all 50 states and some international markets. LMC Fabrication Services focuses on local metal fabrication for various oil/gas, construction and manufacturing companies. LMCurbSolar focuses on the attachment methods for roof mounted solar arrays reaching all 50 states and some international markets.

Today, LMC employees multiple family members that started with the company at young ages and worked their way up to management positions. LMC is now a third-generation family owned business.
Along with looking back at the strategies, work ethics, services and products that helped LMC succeed, the company and its employees plan to continue focusing on expanding their offerings and capabilities to service and retain current customers, as well as expand their market share to obtain new customers.

Daylighting Can Create Significant Energy Savings and Human Benefits

Daylighting is the practice of placing skylights or windows on a building so during the day, natural light provides effective internal lighting. This strategy allows natural sunlight to illuminate the interior space of a building without the need to rely exclusively on electrical lighting during the day. Electrical lighting can account for as much as 40 percent of power consumption in many commercial buildings, meaning reducing such loads can significantly lower energy usage. One means to lowering energy use is to install prismatic skylights and light tubes to increase natural daylighting. Although there are many myths surrounding skylights, evidence shows they not only improve energy efficiency, they also provide multiple benefits to people living and working within daylit facilities.

Prismatic skylights have a thermal break with flashing details around the curb. If water gets in the skylight, it is diverted around the skylight and not through the roof as a leak.

Prismatic skylights have a thermal break with flashing details around the curb. If water gets in the skylight, it is diverted around the skylight and not through the roof as a leak.

Skylight Types

There are a number of different skylight categories on the market today, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. Prismatic skylights are the most widely used because they allow for the most diffused and evenly distributed light. Other, non-diffused skylights can create hotspots within the building and tend to have poor U-values with high solar-heat-gain coefficients that decrease the thermal efficiency of the skylight. Skylight spacing should be 1 1/2 times the distance from the floor to the underside of the roof. (To learn more, read “Modular Skylight Systems: Best Practices for Designing Skylights with Suspended Ceilings”.

The materials used for skylights also vary. Polycarbonates have the best impact resistance and are the most hurricane and burglar proof. Some acrylic diffusers can yellow with age. Lastly, glass skylights are commonly used in residential applications and large, custom jobs that vary widely depending upon the customer’s specifications.

Different skylight manufacturers offer various alternative designs to achieve improved daylighting. One such alternate design is a tubular skylight or “light pipe”. Tubular designs are great for drop ceilings, because the tube reflects light down through a diffuser at the bottom of the fixture and ends up looking just like a normal lighting fixture on the interior of the building.

Saving Money

Although skylights can be installed at any time on a flat or steep-slope roof, significant savings can be realized when you install skylights during reroofing. The cost of installation decreases because manpower is already onsite, safety is in place, and there is significant reduction in overall time and labor leading to more cost-efficiency. With larger skylights, installations can be spread out over the roof and, ultimately, that saves money, as well.

By leveraging relationships with skylight manufacturers and lighting controllers’ manufacturers, roofing contractors may be able to access additional skylight models, better pricing and longer-term warranties.

To maximize the benefits of a daylighting strategy, the building owner should consider combining new skylights with new interior lighting controls. Photo-sensor technology incorporated with skylights can further conserve energy by actively sensing when artificial lighting is not needed.

When you capture sunlight and brighten the inside of your building with daylighting, there are positive effects—from boosting morale and productivity to reducing energy costs.

When you capture sunlight and brighten the inside of your building with daylighting, there are positive effects—from boosting morale and productivity to reducing energy costs.

Daylighting Benefits

Environmentally, daylighting reduces the load on power plants, lowers greenhouse-gas emissions and lessens air and water pollution resulting from byproducts of electricity generation. The payback for energy savings and reduction of electricity is typically one to two years. For customers seeking to achieve LEED certification, a green-building program administered by the Washington, D.C.-based U.S. Green Building Council, daylighting is another green solution. Skylights can contribute to a number of LEED credits by optimizing energy performance, using recycled materials, and increasing daylight and views.

One of the most documented outcomes of increasing natural daylighting is an aesthetically pleasing environment in which to live, work and interact that improves productivity and personal satisfaction while decreasing energy costs associated with maintaining that facility. A reduction in energy costs and increase in productivity for manufacturing and office environments mean the payback period on daylighting investments can be relatively short. Schools also experience improved test scores. Hospitals see speedier recovery times and retail stores see an increase in sales all linked to increased daylighting. Daylighting can add to the value of a building, and daylit stores see an average of 5.5 percent increase in sales relative to stores without daylighting, according to “Daylight & Retail Sales”, a California Energy Commission report.

Daylighting Myths

The old-school thinking about day-lighting is that it is expensive and increases the chance of roof leaks around the skylights. Some building maintenance staff members do not want to deal with skylights. However, once a sample prismatic skylight is installed, the same maintenance staff usually becomes enthusiastic about the new lighting source. As for roof leaks, prismatic skylights have a thermal break with flashing details around the curb. If water gets in the skylight, it is diverted around the skylight and not through the roof as a leak.

Another myth is that with natural sunlight from the skylights, the building will be too hot. That’s not true because there is a reflective lens on top and an opaque lens on bottom. Light is brought in from all different angles and mitigates heat transfer into the building.

When you capture sunlight and brighten the inside of your building with daylighting, there are positive effects—from boosting morale and productivity to reducing energy costs. Once the CentiMark Corp. team installs a sample skylight on a roof, our customers typically get really excited and the interest level increases. Customers then rethink skylights and the lighting inside their buildings.

PHOTOS: Centimark Corp.