What You Need to Know About Commercial Roofing Systems

At The Buildings Show in 2015, Richard Ruppert, Architectural Services Manager for Firestone Building Products Canada, discussed the evolution of roofing materials, techniques for builders, roofers and contractors, and the benefits of these technological advancements.

In his presentation, “It’s Not a Cover-Up!” Roofing 2.0: What You Need to Know about Modern Commercial Roofing Applications, Richard provides an overview of:

  • Technological advancements and improvements in the commercial roofing market
  • In-demand roofing systems of today
  • The roof of the future today: integrating green roofs, daylighting and solar PV on roofs

Overall, roofs share the same basic elements, including slope, step flashing, available materials suitable for a particular type of project, and the basic need for shelter.

One of the most important factors is how a roofing system works with a building to achieve the project’s overall specifications and goals. Conventional roofing systems are changing, and thanks to advances in technology, they are safer, easier to install and last longer.

Commercial Roofing Options

Richard walks us through the top two commercial roofing systems in use today: built-up and single-ply roofing.

Built-Up Systems

Asphaltic and bitumen systems have performed well, despite few technological updates for more than 100 years. Built-up systems require at least two to four layers. Modified bitumen can offer many installation options. Richard warns us of the drawbacks to these systems:

  • They are susceptible to all types of weather conditions
  • They are more complex to install
  • They pose potential hazards due to the equipment used applying materials
  • It is believe they pose a threat due to exposure to off-gassing and carcinogens
  • Fewer skilled labourers are trained and qualified to do this type of installation

The Alternative – Single Ply

Single-ply roofing is an inexpensive alternative to built-up systems. Single-ply also comes in two types, thermoset and thermoplastic. They have been engineered for easier and quicker application, have a higher puncture resistance, are easier to tape seams, and more. Some types of single-ply can be applied when it’s as cold as -6 °C, compared to other systems which require higher temperatures for installation. This means that for crews that tent to apply to roofs, they can lengthen their roofing season. Single-ply systems also offer the greatest variety of membrane and installation options.

Where are Roofing Systems Headed?

The single-ply system today owns 80% of the market, and Richard believes this number will continue to grow for many reasons, including:

  • Continued performance in all geographic areas
  • Continued performance for more than 30 years
  • They offer the longest warranties of all roof system types

Watch the video to learn more about how these two systems compare, to gain a more technical understanding of the single-ply roofing systems, installation and trends.

As a LEED® Accredited Professional, Albert has performed reviews for the USGBC and CaGBC on projects applying for LEED certification. He previously sat on the City of Vancouver Urban Design Panel – only the second mechanical engineer to serve in this capacity. He has a wide range of experience in Canada, USA, and Asia including the SMP for several university campuses, and consulting services for mixed-used developments in North America and Asia. Albert brings not only technical expertise but recognizes the importance of business case and value analysis.

Interest(s): Date: November 16, 2015