How to choose the right roofing materials

By admin on February 2, 2017 in Solutions for Facility Project Managers


Choosing the right roofing materials is a critical first step for builders, architects and designers as they construct a new building, and for facility managers who work with these professionals to remodel existing ones. However, choosing the right materials for the job means weighing not only the benefits of each roofing system, but ensuring the company installing the materials is of the highest quality and the most experience necessary.

Commercial roofing basics

The roof of most larger structures for commercial use, like a school building, warehouse or retail outlet, needs to adhere to requirements unique to its particular use case. As explained in an article from the Chicago Roofing Contractors Association, low sloped roofing is among the most common design choices for commercial, industrial and institutional buildings. Low slope roofing can be thought of in contrast to residential roofing designs, which tend to utilize much steeper slopes to ensure rain and snow can easily drain from their surfaces. This is generally impractical in larger commercial structures, however, due to their size and function. Therefore, roofing materials designed for commercial use need to be optimized to perform in a low sloped design, which requires enhanced strength and flexibility.

Commercial roofing materials also must be easy to install on a large scale and adhere to strict requirements for environmental safety and basic efficiency. Add all of these factors together and the selection process for roofing materials can quickly become complicated.

SBS Modified bitumen roofing membranes

Among the most common types of roofing materials for modern commercial structures is a modified bitumen membrane system. Modified bitumen roofing systems first cover the base of the roof structure with multiple layers (plies) of a polymer membrane. This is then coated with the modified bitumen material which is similar to asphalt. Typical asphalt has long been used to seal roofs but tends to brittle over time. Modified bitumen solves this issue by adding elastomeric compounds to the asphalt, making it more flexible and resistant to fatigue.

Modified bitumen meets the needs of many commercial roofing projects by conferring several advantages over other materials:

  • Modified bitumen comes in rolls making transport easy.
  • The material can be applied either using a torch-activated or heat weld process. A cold adhesive is also available to minimize odor.
  • Multi-ply membranes resist punctures from foot traffic as well as long-term stress much better than alternatives.
  • Maintenance of modified bitumen is much easier and less expensive than a single-ply system.
mb techCommercial roofing materials also must be easy to install on a large scale and adhere to strict requirements for environmental safety and basic efficiency.

Why the right contractor matters

Choosing the right roofing materials for a project may be the start of the process, but the quality and reputation of the contractors performing the work cannot be overlooked in the meantime. According to the National Roofing Contractors Association, picking the right installation professional may be just as important as the material used.

Even the perfect roofing material isn’t of much use if it’s installed improperly. That’s why the NRCA recommended facility managers thoroughly vet a roofing contractor before signing any agreement. Contractors should be chosen based on the merits of their product as well as their level of professional service during initial installation and with regular recurring maintenance.

  • The NRCA suggested paying special attention to the warranty offered by the contractor. Warranties should focus on regular inspection of the roof over a long-term period following application, and prioritize detailed analysis and education of the consumer.
  • Roofing contractors should be fully insured, licensed and bonded for the work they will perform, and in accordance with all local laws. Facility managers should insist on seeing proof of insurance and certification prior to the beginning of any job, and verify that it is in effect for the duration of the project.
  • References from past or current clients are always helpful when choosing the right professionals for the job. Consumers can ask the company directly for references or search online for reviews and additional information about the company.

Any commercial roofing project can be a long process from the very beginning of materials selection all the way through to regular inspections and maintenance. That’s why it always pays to make the right choice of materials and service the first time. Reach out to MBTechnology for more information about how they provide the best tools and services for the job.

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