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Northern Michigan Commercial Industrial Roofing Services

Typical Roof Installation Process

The Environment’s Effect on your Roof.

The conditions found on your roof are perhaps the most hostile environment on your building. All the elements that make northern Michigan such a challenging place to live and play, wreak havoc on your roof. Our area is famous for both beautiful summer days, and winters that are measured by the foot. Both subject a unique stress on a roof. Even harder on your roof are the transitional changes caused by a warm day temperature followed by a nighttime plummet of well below freezing. This condition is referred to as Thermal Shock. Roofs without flexibility built into them will, sooner or later, fail because of this condition. By design, the darker the roofing membrane, the larger the temperature swings (a black membrane can have a surface temperature of nearly 200 f during hot weather). Add to this mix, the fact that a large percentage of flat roofs do not drain properly. Ponding water breaks down roof coatings, membrane seams, unprotected roofing felts etc…

So What Works?

It would be quite arrogant to claim to have all the answers, then again if we did not feel confident in the materials we utilize and the expertise in which they were applied worked, we would be negligent toward our valued customers. Our goal at Bloxsom Roofing has been to keep abreast of the latest roofing innovations, while being conservative in implementing such changes. After much consideration, Bloxsom Roofing became one of the first roofing companies in northern Michigan to begin installing a single ply thermo-plastic roof. This occurred in the mid-’70s.

At that time nearly all single ply roofs were ballasted (1″ to 1 1/2″ round stone weighing down a loose laid roofing membrane). This was meant to prevent penetration of the new membrane by mechanical fasteners, and to keep application cost low. While a ballasted roof is still a less expensive way to secure a roofing membrane, the cost of alternative methods have been reduced. Over the twenty plus years this has been used, negative results have become manifest, deterring many from this style of roof. The roofing stone used adds 10 lbs. per sq. ft. weight to a building. This is especially critical when you consider that many buildings are underrated for snow load weight before any additional weight. Because of the loose laid nature of this style of roof, non-reinforced membranes (both thermo-plastic and EPDM {rubber}) through their expansion and contraction cycles have pulled flashings off walls and rotated gravelstops off building edges.

Today the majority of roofs that we do are non-ballasted. For many roofs, however, removing the roofing stone presents new challenges. The dual role of this stone was to also protect the roof, not only from the elements but in many formulations from FIRE. Many roofing membranes are combustible (EPDM included) without the stone. Also the addition of stone helps to modify the extreme temperature swings (especially in black membranes).

For many years now Bloxsom Roofing has seen the advantages of thermo-plastic roofing membranes. Being white in color, they reflect rather than absorb the sun’s damaging rays, and unlike most membranes, PVC is a class-A fire rated system in any installation (it will not support a flame). One of the largest strengths PVC brings to the table is its field fabricated seams. Electronically heat welded seams are actually STRONGER than the membrane sheet itself, whereas EPDM seams are a weak link in that roofing composition. By design, these seams are a challenge to put together correctly. In order to perform, these seams need to be kept dry and debris free during the process of cleaning (unleaded gasoline), seam primer, and adhesive/or seamtape (much of this process is under change because of environmental concerns). Between each step this seam needs to flash dry and stay clean of any contaminants (i.e. snow, rain, humidity, frost, and construction debris) or the seam WILL be compromised. In the real world, these conditions are hard, if not impossible, to maintain.

While we have had a lot of experience with PVC roofing, it has not been without its own set of challenges. The early membranes we began with did not have reinforcement scrims (this adds stability to the membrane), and the plasticizers (the strength of PVC, giving it elasticity through the years) were not always consistent. Thus a roof that was correctly installed prematurely failed. The inconsistency of failures was frustrating. Some would go trouble free for 20 years, while other roofs would fail some five or more years earlier. The early failures are unacceptable. Our job was to find a roofing system that had all the advantages that we came to expect from the membranes we were using, without the premature failures. We were not willing to just begin putting down another roofing system in an attempt to clear our skirts.

After much consideration, including visits to older installations in the mid-west, Bloxsom Roofing began installing what we feel is a superior roofing system, Sarnafil. Sarnafil from the start chose to use high quality plasticizers (in fact, because of their manufacturing process, low quality plasticizers cannot work), and Sarnafil has always utilized reinforcements in its membranes. Because of these and other high manufacturing standards, Sarnafil offers a roofing system that has lasted over 40 YEARS. That is a track record that is unprecedented in the single ply industry. It has always been recommended to keep roof tops free of standing water. While Sarnafil shares this thought, they are one of the few manufacturers confident enough not to exclude (in their warranty) any areas that pond water.

Northern Michigan Commercial Industrial Roofing Services