Both the scope and the cost of a commercial roof replacement make it one of the larger property improvement projects you will undertake. Therefore, it is important to be fully aware of what to expect when the time comes to replace your roof.
The time required for a commercial roof replacement depends on a variety of factors, including the size of the project, the number of roof protrusions (HVAC units, vents, pipes, drains, etc.) and any required prep work. For example, when extensive repairs are needed to prepare the roof deck for a new membrane, the project will take longer.
When a roof removal is required, keep in mind that certain types will take longer to remove than others. Some roofs also conceal leaks more than others, which can slow down the process. For example, the removal of a tar and gravel roof may reveal significant damage that must be repaired before installation of the new roof can proceed.
Roof Replacements Step by Step
The various steps in the commercial roof replacement process are important because you are investing in decades of protection for your building.
Selecting Roofing Materials
Although energy-saving white TPO, PVC or EPDM (also available in black) roofing is recommended for many commercial projects, various factors come into play as a roofing material is selected.
- Weight capacity: Every roof is engineered to support a certain amount of weight. This is important to consider as the use of heavier materials, combined with heavy ice and snow accumulations, can cause problems.
- Total roof area: The size of the roof is another consideration. The larger the roof, the more cost-effective single-ply membrane roofs become. For example, since most of the seams in a Duro-Last PVC roof are joined in the factory, there are labor savings out on the job. The amount of detail in smaller roofs with numerous protrusions may increase labor costs per square foot.
- Roof pitch: Every type of roofing material requires a minimum roof pitch to allow for proper drainage. Most low-slope commercial roofs have a pitch of about ¼ inch per foot.
No two commercial roofs are alike. It is often ideal for a roofing contractor to have the expertise to properly customize a new commercial roof. Customization often addresses issues with existing drainage, airflow and other problems. For example, improved drainage can minimize standing water after heavy storms and vents may be added to enhance airflow so the roof layers can dry out and the roof can lay flat in heavy winds.
Your current roof type can influence whether it is removed or covered by the new roof. When local codes permit and the sub-roofing is in decent shape, it may be possible to install the new roof right over the existing one. This can eliminate the cost of removing modified bitumen or tar and gravel roofs and hauling the debris to a landfill. However, roof weight, roof slope, chemical contamination and wet substrates in the existing roof are all factors that may still result in a complete roof removal.
This is a critical step. A new membrane roof is only as good as the substructure underneath, including the roof deck, rafters and joists. The overall timing of the project is directly related to the magnitude of the required repairs, from minor to major. If your current roof is in relatively good shape, the required repairs will be relatively modest. On the other hand, extensive deterioration of the roof’s supporting structure may require the complete removal and replacement of parts of the roof deck.
Expert installation by a highly experienced crew is a must. The proper pitch must be maintained across the roof and every seam must be watertight. Since flashing is installed at points of contact between the membrane, the edge of the roof and the many protrusions, proper installation is vital. Bad seams and improper flashing and caulking are major causes of commercial roof leaks.
Drains and Vents
It is important to install drainage components as needed to expedite the flow of water off the roof. Existing drains can only be reused if they are properly cleaned. Specifically for Wind Vented roofs and the Duro-Last roof, installation of additional vents will allow your roof to dry out and breath.
Once the project is finished, it is important that the crew make sure all debris is properly disposed of, whether it is on the roof itself or on the surrounding grounds.
What to Expect During the Process
Most commercial roof replacements occur during normal business hours. Although professional crews make every effort to minimize noise, it is a part of the process. It is important that crews follow Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) safety regulations for the sake of workers and bystanders alike.
Future Inspections and Maintenance
Given the investment in a brand-new, warrantied roof, every effort should be made to protect this investment. The best way to do this is to arrange for annual or semi-annual roof inspections, or maintenance programs. It is also important to schedule a visit by a certified roof inspector anytime you suspect storm damage. Regular inspections keep your warranty in force and they can minimize maintenance costs for years to come.
CRS Is Here to Help
If you have any concerns about your commercial roof or you believe a complete roof replacement might be necessary, call the experts at CRS. Since our inception in 1977, we have addressed every kind of commercial roofing challenge for clients throughout NJ and across the Tri-state area. We customize solutions to our clients’ roofing issues, perform emergency repairs, commercial service work and routine maintenance. For prompt and friendly assistance, please contact us today!