Ultra-Steep Slope Roof Poses Challenges in Historic Church Re-Roofing Project

Century Christian Church is a landmark building in Owensboro, Kentucky. Completed in 1963, the church is included on the Kentucky Historic Register and recognized for its unique architectural style.
Photos: Owens Corning

At Century Christian Church in Owensboro, Kentucky, it is not the steeple that points toward the heavens above, but rather the entire roof. The church’s 50/12 pitch roof has become one of the most distinguishing features in the local landscape.

Completed in 1963, Century Christian Church is included on the Kentucky Historic Register and recognized for its unique architectural style. In fact, the roof is so eye-catching that it has been incorporated into the church’s website message which reads, “Our roof reaches up; our hearts reach out.” The roof ascends 40 feet and is divided into four quarters or “bows,” with each symbolizing one of the four Gospels in the Bible.

In 2016, the church’s building committee realized it was time for a new roof. Located in an open field apart from other structures, the roof had been struck by lightning on several occasions. The protective cable that ran down the sides of the church as a conduit for lightning strikes had been eroded and just one section of cable was intact. The building’s location also presented airflow challenges. Storms and strong winds crossing the field had caused shingles to loosen and fly off the building.

According to Harold King, a member of the Century Christian Church building committee, the church considered several criteria when selecting All American Home Improvement, LLC in Evansville, Indiana, to complete the re-roofing project. “We wanted a reputable company who was experienced in doing steep slope work, had an excellent safety record, and had a workforce equipped to meet the needs of this labor-intensive job,” he says, adding that the

The roof ascends 40 feet and is divided into four quarters or “bows,” with each bow symbolizing one of the four Gospels in The Holy Bible. Photos: Owens Corning

company’s Owens Corning Roofing Platinum Contractor certification provided additional confidence. “Our Owens Corning area sales manager, John Sabbak, explained the warranty for the re-roofing project and that was very important for us in selecting the materials for the project,” King says, noting that Sabbak also stopped by at different times during the installation to check in on the progress.

A Daunting Task

What were the challenges the roofing contractor faced in tackling the project? “What wasn’t a challenge?” asked Josh Long, Western Kentucky Sales Manager at All American Home Improvement. The metal capping required to protect the building from lightening, and the scorching summer heat during the installation were just a few of the challenges. By far, however, the two most daunting challenges were the safety concerns associated with the pitch and the wind issues that challenged shingle adhesion.

To help foster safety on the steep slopes, teams were assigned to cover each of the four “bows” comprising the roof. The teams used a precisely calculated system of ladders and walkboards to safely navigate and scale the roof. “Roofers getting home to their families safely every night will always be a top priority at Owens Corning,” says Sabbak, noting that All American Home Improvement teams were outfitted with personal protection equipment and participated in advance walk-through processes to safely tackle the project.

Installation teams from All American Home Improvement participated in advance walk-throughs to ensure everyone was well versed in the safety plan. Photos: Owens Corning

The building committee at Century Christian Church also wanted to avoid the safety and aesthetic concerns associated with shingle fly-off. That’s where Owens Corning SureNail Technology and Duration Shingles came into play. Developed to provide exceptional wind resistance, the system can qualify for a 130-mph wind warranty. “The Duration shingle delivered both the performance and the warranty we needed for a job with this kind of pitch and exposure to airflow,” says Long. According to Long, the shingles were also hand sealed as required by Owens Corning for the building’s pitch. “The SureNail Technology made it easy for the teams to install the shingle correctly because the white strip in the middle of the shingle leaves no doubt as to where the nail should go and facilitated a smooth installation,” he says.

As the roofing project progressed, so did public interest. The local newspaper stopped by to capture photos of residents watching the re-roofing spectacle from lawn chairs on the church lawn. The combination of re-roofing a challenging structure, improving the aesthetics of a historic building and scaling a very steep roof made it a memorable project according to Long. “It was a very unusual project from our daily jobs, and the challenges were part of what made the project so fun,” he notes.

TEAM

Roofing Contractor: All American Home Improvement, LLC, Evansville, Indiana, 1shingleatatime.com

MATERIALS

Steep-Slope Roof System: Duration Shingles with SureNail Technology, Owens Corning
Underlayment: ProArmor, Owens Corning

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