Membrane Roofing Systems
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EPDM Roofing Systems are an economical install without disturbing day to day business.
TPO Roofing, known as an energy star rated eco-friendly flat roofing option.
PVC Roofing is popular for being heat reflective, lightweight, & eco-friendly
See an overview of our commercial roofing service options and comparisons.
Modified Bitumen is the classic standard in flat roofing, but has recently fallen in popularity.
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All commercial flat roofs are composed of several primary parts. Collectively these parts are referred to as a roof assembly or roof system. When talking about membrane roof systems, these typically consist of three primary parts. These are the insulation, the roof membrane which would be the weatherproof covering and lastly the membrane surfacing if present.
A few common roof membrane types would be, but not limited to, thermoplastic roof membranes, built-up roof membranes, polymer-modified bitumen roof membranes, single-ply, and liquid-applied roof membranes.
Membrane roof systems have fantastic durability, longevity, and fire retardant properties. They are very cost effective and easy/quick to install. Some are available in light colors which are highly reflective, protecting the roof from the sun and making the building more energy efficient and easier to cool.
Weather Conditions During Application
When going forward with a membrane roof system installation, it is important that it must always be installed over a clean, dry surface. It is recommended that membrane roof systems are not installed if there is a rainstorm of any kind. A commercial roofing contractor can proceed with the installation once the weather conditions are favorable for installment, in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations. In a state where there is cold weather, there are some roofing precautions and guidelines recommended by the membrane manufacturers. So when a roofing contractor is deciding to install your membrane they should pay attention to the membrane roofing material they are using in temperatures below 40 degrees. The reason that any commercial roofing contractor installing a roof membrane should pay attention to the weather is because you want to avoid any kind of moisture entrapment during installation. When moisture is captured in or on the material of the membrane, the membrane can end up with blistering which is not something a homeowner would want. If precipitation occurs before completely installing the roof membrane, the membrane surface in the immediate work area and the substrate should be dried or allowed to dry before work resumes.
Thermoplastic Roof Membranes
Thermoplastic membranes include a reinforcement layer that provides more strength and stability. In commercial roofing systems, the most common thermoplastic membrane systems are TPO Roofing (thermoplastic polyolefin), EPDM Roofing (ethylene propylene diene monomer rubber), PVC Roofing (polyvinyl chloride) and Modified Bitumen.
EPDM Roofing Membranes
First introduced in 1962, EPDM roofing is a single-ply roofing membrane. It became increasingly popular in the 1970s. EPDM is a synthetic and incredibly durable rubber roofing membrane (ethylene propylene diene terpolymer) widely used in low-slope commercial buildings. It has two key ingredients, ethylene and propylene, which are derived from oil and natural gas. EPDM roofing can be installed either fully adhered, mechanically attached or ballasted. The seams of the commercial roofing system are sealed with liquid adhesives or special tape.
TPO Roofing Membranes
TPO membranes were first introduced in the early 1990’s as a more economic and efficient commercial roofing alternative that was intended to replace PVC roofing products. TPO is a single-ply commercial roofing system that consists of a thermoplastic polyolefin membrane. This membrane is composed of three layers; the TPO polymer base, a polyester-reinforced fabric center (scrim) and finally the thermoplastic polyolefin compounded top ply.
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PVC Roofing Membranes
One of the pioneering single-ply commercial roofing materials, PVC membranes were specifically designed to address a wide range of roofing issues. Despite attempts to replace PVC roofing systems, it is still a very popular and viable choice today. PVC is a very durable and flexible commercial roofing system with incredible chemical resistance. It does not absorb or get weakened by oils and greases. This makes PVC the preferred membrane for restaurants and other buildings that have grease traps on the roof.
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Polymer-Modified Bitumen Roof Membranes
In the mid-1960s in Europe, polymer-modified bitumen was first created and in 1975 it made its way to America. Polymer-modified roof membranes are composed of reinforcing fabrics, which are usually polyester, fiberglass, or both. These two particular fabrics, they serve as the carries for polymer-modified bitumen as it is manufactured into a roll material. The purpose of reinforcement in polymer-modified bitumen sheets essentially is the same as felts in built-up roof membranes. The purpose of the reinforcement is so that it helps keep the bitumen in place within the sheet, with that being said it provides tensile strength and allows for varying degrees of sheet elongation.
When polymer-modified bitumen roof membrane was introduced in North America, it was sometimes specified in a single-layer configuration. However, it is not really recommended to use polymer-modified bitumen roof membranes in only one layer of roofing material, except when used as a temporary roof membrane. Currently, most polymer-modified bitumen roof membrane specifications employ multiple-layer configurations consisting of a base layer (or plies), and a polymer-modified bitumen membrane cap sheet.
When roofing with polymer-modified bituminous materials, know that it is quite similar to built-up roofing. The way that they are similar is that their roll materials are used in redundant manners so that they are effectively building up a durable, multiple-ply roof membrane. Many of the polymer-modified bitumen provide relatively low perm ratings, which make them weatherproof membranes. A perm rating is simply just a unit telling us the mass rate of water vapor that's flowing through one square foot material. With that being said these reinforced sheets do not need interplay layers of bitumen to provide the weatherproof component of the commercial roofing system. The bitumen, either hot-or cold-applied, is then used as an adhesive to adhere to the polymer-modified bitumen sheets together or to a substrate.
Built-Up Roof Membranes
Built-up roof membranes can also be referred to as felts. This commercial roofing system is also commonly referred to as tar and gravel roof. Built-up roof systems are generally composed of alternating layers of bitumen and reinforcing fabrics that create a finished membrane. In some instances, a built-up membrane is used as the base plies beneath a polymer-modified sheet membrane. A roof system composed of a built-up roof membrane with two or three plies and a polymer-modified bitumen membrane cap sheet is commonly referred to as a hybrid system.
Single-Ply Roof Membranes
Single-ply roof membranes use only one layer of roof membrane material on your commercial flat roof. It could be either homogeneous or composite, rather than just multiple layers. With the construction of single-ply roof membranes there are two principle types of roof materials used, and they are thermoset polymer sheets and thermoplastic polymer sheets. These terms describe the flat roofing materials’ different behaviors on heating that arise from the different molecular arrangements and chemical properties in them.
Single-ply membrane roof systems usually are designed and installed in three structure types, which are loose-laid, mechanically attached and adhered. The single-ply membrane typically is applied in a staggered end-lap configuration. Joints that occur at laps where three sheets intersect should be detailed in accordance with manufacturers’ instructions.
Air and Vapor Retarders
An air retarder or vapor retarder sometimes is used as a component of membrane roof assembly to minimize the passage of air or water vapor into the roof assembly. An air retarder is defined as a roofing material or system in building construction designed and installed to reduce air leakage either into or through the opaque wall. Vapor retarders, on the other hand, is defined as a material or system that significantly hinders the transmission of water vapor under specified conditions. Air retarders and vapor retarders quite frankly play similar but not identical roles in buildings. Air retarders are intended to restrict the passage of air through the roofing materials, and vapor retarders are intended to restrict the passage of water vapor through the roofing materials.
Water vapor diffusion through materials is only one of the mechanisms by which water can be transported into building assemblies, including roof assemblies. Another mechanism, which is now generally considered far more significant, is air leakage. The way that air leakage occurs is when joints, cracks, holes and other openings in a building’s thermal envelope, creating continuous pathways from inside to outside the building, and air pressure differential occurs across the opening. Both these mechanisms (vapor diffusion and air leakage), may occur at the same time.
The principle function of an air retarder is to restrict inside air from passing through the walls, windows or roof to the outside and also restrict outside air from passing through the building envelope to the inside. These conditions apply whether the air is humid or dry because air leakage can result in problems other than the deposition of moisture in cavities and building assemblies. For example, exfiltration also carries away heating and cooling energy.
A vapor retarder is a material or system that sufficiently retards the transmission of water vapor under specific conditions. The point of a vapor retarder is to help prevent water vapor from moving into building assemblies, for instance like walls, where it can condense into liquid water within the structure. What many homeowners don't realize is that liquid water can accumulate inside exterior walls and in roof and crawl spaces. Now if enough water happens to be present, rot and decay can cause significant damage. A vapor retarder sometimes is used as an additional component in membrane roof systems. Currently, there are no consensus or widely accepted guidelines for determining whether a specific membrane roof assembly should include a vapor retarder in its design.
Bituminous Membrane Vapor Retarders
The most common vapor retarder that is used is bituminous membrane vapor retarders. Modern bituminous vapor retarders are usually composed of two functions of type five fiberglass ply sheet. The five fiberglass ply sheet is also known as felt and it is installed with two or three moppings of hot asphalt. With this type of vapor retarder it provides a perm rating that approaches 0 perms. Asphalt can be similarly combined with organic felts or various base sheets to provide an effective vapor retarder. Therefore, the vapor retarders along with the continuous bituminous film serves as the primary vapor-resistant components.
Alternatives to two-ply bituminous vapor retarders include self-adhering polymer-modified bitumen sheet products and smooth-surfaced APP or SBA polymer-modified bitumen sheet products installed in adhered applications.
The different mechanical fastening devices can be used to attach single-ply membrane roof systems to various substrates. Mechanical fasteners typically are classified by material composition, fastener type and size, and surface coating. Additional classification may be required depending on specific fastener parameters.
Screws typically are classified by material composition, surfacing/coating, type of shank, type of point, type of drive, head shape and size.
Liquid-Applied Roof Membranes
Liquid-applied roof membrane is basically constructed in place from a liquid resin and other reinforcing roofing materials. With the liquid resin it is available as a one-or-two component product and is typically applied in two coats. Depending on resin chemistry, a catalyst or hardener may be added to induce the curing process. What usually happens in most cases is that a primer is required. Liquid-applied roof membranes are typically reinforced with polyester fleece or fiberglass mat. Reinforcement typically is set into the resin base coat. The reinforcing material provides the membrane’s crack-bridging ability and much of its mechanical strength.
A roof coating is generally a fluid material that is applied in the field as a film to the roof surface to provide weather protection to the original membrane. A roof coating protects the roof substrate from the weather ( solar radiation, heat, and moisture) and determines its radiative properties. Commercial roof coatings are typically composed of binders, pigments, fillers, modifiers and typically a solvent, along with the other ingredients. The solvent may be water or it may consist of one or more hydrocarbons.
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