Tips For a Long Lasting Roof

  February 17, 2010

Today's tip is about how to get the longest life possible out of a roof. Without question, today’s focus on sustainable is influencing product-selection decisions, and there is nothing a facility executive can do that influences the sustainability of a roof more than not have to replace it prematurely.

According to the American Institute of Architects, the average building lasts about 75 years, but the National Roofing Contractors Association says the average roof lasts only 15. With some simple math, you can see that getting 25 years out of a year instead of 15 means two fewer roofs over the life of the building…and all the material, energy to manufacture and transport emissions that would come with those roofs.

To get the longest roof life, consider a balance between insulation, energy codes and roof life. Remember, the more insulation a building has, the greater thermal stress the roof must handle – because the membrane itself handles the energy that the insulation prevents from entering the building. This means greater day-night temperature swings for the membrane, more expansion and contraction, and a shorter roof life.

Find a third-party roof consultant with expertise in several different types of roofing. He or she can help match a particular membrane for your type of building.

Make sure your designer and contractor pay special attention to roof penetration and edges. Ninety percent of all leaks occur at these intersections, so make sure drawings are precise and followed to the letter.

When a re-roofing is necessary, make sure to examine all the components of the roof system at the same time. Don't just recover a roof with a problem without finding the source of that problem. You could be in for some unpleasant surprises later.

And, finally, make sure to do regular preventive maintenance. In fact, maintenance is probably THE most important factor in getting a long roof life. As many experts point out, maintenance is what you do to prevent a leak, not what you do to fix a leak.


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