Waterproofing Strategies for Vegetative Roofs

  April 11, 2011

This is Chris Matt, Managing Editor of Print & E-Media with Maintenance Solutions magazine. Today's tip is waterproofing strategies for vegetative roofs.

Project specifications related to waterproofing of vegetative roofing assemblies should include root barriers and membrane protection, fully adhered or grid-isolated attachment, water testing of the installed membrane, and electronic leak-monitoring systems, if desired.

Fully adhered systems inhibit water movement between the roof deck and the waterproofing membrane, so if a leak occurs, the water will not travel far. This feature simplifies leak detection and repair.

Managers can specify grid isolation if the membrane is loose-laid or partially adhered. When it is adhered in a grid pattern, the assembly isolates leaks to a single area of the grid. For systems that are not fully or grid adhered, locating and repairing leaks can be time-consuming and expensive, particularly on intensive vegetative systems. Specifying an electronic leak-detection system also can reduce costs associated with leaks. If leaks occur, electronic systems can pinpoint the breaches and ensure quick and efficient repairs.

Specifications also should include quality-assurance requirements, including flood testing and regular installation inspections by an independent inspector and a manufacturer's representative.

Many manufacturers require flood testing of waterproofing membranes before the installation of protection mats and growing media. Inspection of the installation, especially of the waterproofing membrane, is essential. Inspectors also should monitor the membrane for damage caused by installers or other workers on site, especially for new construction projects.

Punctures in the waterproofing membrane often can occur after flood testing. If the spaces below the roof are sensitive to moisture, technicians should conduct regular electronic monitoring.

Maintaining vegetative roofs can be relatively simple if managers choose drought-resistant plants and are looking for a natural aesthetic. But some systems require irrigation and regular landscaping.


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