cool roofs

Metal Shingles Roof Installation in Cumberland, RI

This metal roof installation was more of an emergency job. During Hurricane Irene, a large (1500 lbs.) tree fell on the roof of this house in Cumberland, RI, breaking much of the framing and roof sheeting, and leaving a huge hole in the roof, as well as destroying a previous roof that was on the house – Interlock’s aluminum shingles roof, that was installed just a few years prior.

image of Metal Shingles Roof in Cumberland, RI - view from the back Continue reading

Flat Roofing Tapered Insulation Questions (from an email conversation with a customer)

This post is actually an email conversation with a customer, regarding Tapered Insulation and our flat roof installation in Cambridge, MA done in the summer of 2010. This email conversation is posted as is with the customer’s permission – the only editing on this post was done to remove any personal information, and spelling :). I thought this would be helpful to our readers, who are interested in tapered insulation and/or have ponding water problems with their flat roofs.

Here is the original roof video, so you have a better idea about this roof:

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What makes PVC the Best Single-Ply Roofing Membrane for Flat and Low -sloped Roofs

Senior project written by Riess Stanley
Nov 4, 2010

With economic strife on the rise, it has now become necessary to seek out ways to save money, as well as to find ways to “stay green”, and to do what you can to help the environment. Unfortunately, accomplishing both at the same time seems to be very difficult. Believe it or not, there is a smart, fairly simple, and very efficient way to succeed in these two areas in a way not often looked upon as a money saver, but rather a necessary and costly project when it doesn’t need to be; the roof. When you really get down to it, the roof is either costing too much, or saving plenty.

First off, if a building with a flat or low-sloped pitch was to have a black tar roof, it would be taking more money than one would realize. In warm weather, the black roof will absorb so much heat that an abundance of energy and money would need to be invested into cooling down the building. Moreover, all that heat beating down on the roof will make it crack, which in turn will cause it to leak once the rainy weather begins. This defeats the entire purpose of a roof. So, what is a low cost alternative for a black tar roof, that can keep the roof cool during summer months and can keep out the rain? The answer; PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) single-ply membrane. Continue reading

TPO Roofing – Is it Good Or Bad For the Roofing Industry And Building Owners?

Recently, the MRCA (Midwest Roofing Contractors Association) issued a warning bulletin regarding TPO roof failures caused by the sun’s UV rays. You can read more about it in our original TPO Roofing page, as well as my commentary on this bulletin.

At the same time, major roofing distributors are shamelessly pushing TPO into the market and onto the roofing contractors without much regard for home and building owners. Bear in mind that because of low prices and “same cool roof” and “welded seams” qualities as PVC roofing has, TPO is now the fastest growing commercial roofing product.

TPO Roofing Product for Residential Contractors

Here is a good example – pictures below will show you “manufacturer’s” stand showing a TPO roof designed for residential roofing contractors.

Why residential roofing contractors? Well, the way I was told, these are the roofers who can’t afford to spend $12,000 on hot-air welding equipment, so the roof manufacturer created a system that would allow these guys to jump on the TPO band-wagon.

(The TPO stand above, is displaying outside corner flashing, inside corner flashing, pipe boot, and drip-edge details. When I asked about the caulking along the seams, i was told it’s not caulking. It’s seam tape 🙂 )

Here comes the best part! This TPO roof system is put together with … no, not hot air. Seams are primed and a seam tape is used to seal overlaps! 😀 But, it gets better – since there is no uncured flashing material in the TPO world, and these “shingle-bangers” don’t have Liesters (hot air welders) nor do they want to buy them, since the cheapest one – a hand welder – is $450 before tax. So, this manufacturer uses white EPDM uncured flashing for all detail work such as inside / outside corners, posts, curbs (skylights, chimneys, roof hatches, HVAC equipment, etc.). EPDM rubber on TPO – really?
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Green Roofing Contractors – How Are We Different From Other Roofers?

The term “green” has become very popular during the last decade and consequently overused, misused and abused. Anything and everything can be called “green” today. To make money and to attract environmentally-conscious customers, people will call themselves and their products “green”, even when it is just a blatant lie to confuse uneducated consumers. Being a roofing contractor, I will concentrate on roofing products and services. For example, many asphalt shingles manufacturers now offer “cool” and “green”  shingle products – to me it’s just a shameless tactic to sell the same NOT-GREEN crap that is painted A different color (usually some shade of white). Excuse me, but asphalts shingles are not green, period! TheY are made with asphalt, can’t be recycled and end up in landfills in 10-15 years.

Since the term green is very vague and can be interpreted in many ways, I’ll offer my vision of “green” – a green roofing contractor to be exact, which describes the way I think and try to operate our roofing business. I want to mention that when I say “green roofing contractor”, it has nothing to do with with a roofing contractor installing green roofs or roof-top gardens. To me a contractor installing roof-top vegetation is a highly-specialized landscaping company, but not a roofing contractor (unless they also install the actual flat roofing membrane to waterproof the building).

Quick navigation in this article:
What is a “green” roofing contractor and how one is different from regular roofing companies.
Learn about green benefits of Metal Roofing and IB Flat Roof

What is a “green” roofing contractor?

In my mind a green roofing contractor is a company that works hard to help protect environment and reduce its energy consumption and green-house gas production or carbon footprint. Sure, almost any company will have a carbon-footprint as it’s nearly impossible to be carbon-neutral, but there are many ways to achieve a much lower carbon footprint. Continue reading

Flat Roof in Lowell, Massachusetts

Replacing an old rubber roof with IB PVC roofing membrane in Lowell, MA.

In the beginning of Dec. 09 we installed a new IB PVC roof in Lowell, MA. This roof replaced an old EPDM rubber roof, which was installed by a hack roofing contractor about two years ago. The roof was failing miserably, due to two factors: poor roofing system design on the part of EPDM, and a horrible installation job by the contractor. I suspect that this contractor had almost zero knowledge about flat roofing and rubber installation. Before I go into the IB roof installation, I want to talk a bit about the two factors mentioned above that contributed to the roof failure.

Rubber roof failure due to EPDM flaws and limitations and faulty installation by a roofing contractor

The roof actually consisted of two sections not connected to each other. One smaller roof in the front of this historic home was about 100 sq. ft. in total, but its shape made using a rubber roof not feasible due to limitations / flaws of rubber roof system design. Another roof section was just over 300 sq. ft. and covered an enclosed porch in the rear of the house. This section had a low slope (about 2 in 12 pitch) and a hip roof design. The failure of both front and rear roof sections was the result of bad installation by the roofing contractor, EPDM membrane’s shrinkage, as well as seam adhesive failure.

When EPDM rubber roofing membrane is installed on a roof connected to a wall of a building, the membrane must be laid down with a flap going up the wall – in essence, the wall flashing and the roof covering must be done with one piece of material to eliminate leaks in the the roof to wall connection. In the case of EPDM, the field sheet of roofing membrane is only held down by glue (which happens to break down after 5-7 years). While in some cases this work out fine, very often the rubber shrinks and pulls away from the wall-to-roof connection point. This results in either the detachment of wall flashing, membrane pulling away from the corner of roof to wall connection, or in some rare cases, when the wall flashing is securely attached to the wall, the shrinking rubber roof may pull the wall with it – for example it can pull a brick parapet wall. Continue reading

Boston Solar Decathlon Home: Solar PV / Hot Water Panels and IB Flat Roof Installation

Boston Solar home in Washington DC

As I’m writing this, the 2009 Solar Decathlon in Washington, DC is nearing its completion. Twenty teams from around the globe are competing to build the best Solar Home, judged in ten different categories, including: architecture, engineering, net metering, living comfort as well as others. This year, Massachusetts – home to some of the greatest colleges and universities in the world – is represented by Team Boston – the joined efforts of Tufts, Boston Architectural College and a team of volunteers, all with the common goal to create green and sustainable home designs that could be readily available and affordable for actual home buyers and home builders.

2009 Solar Decathlon

Cool Flat Roofs and IB Roof Systems are proud sponsors of Team Boston’s solar home.  We provided the project with IB flat roofing materials (provided by IB Roof Systems) and a professional installation, as well as last minute roof design changes, and modifications to roof penetration placement and drainage setup. Continue reading

Rubber Roof Replacement in Boston, MA

Rubber roofing (EPDM) is not the best system for flat roofs, but in some instances, it just does not work right off the bet, and when it leaks, repairing such a roof is not even an option. In late July of 2009 we began work on one such roof in Roxbury, MA – a neighborhood of Boston, located 15 minutes from downtown.

IB 80-mil white flat roof installed in Boston, MA

The roof was installed by an unqualified roofing contractor who apperanly never installed a rubber roof before, nor did he care about quality at all, which you can judge for yourself from the photographs of the roof that we’ve provided. As you will be able to see, this particular roof, though small, required a lot of detail work, which was the defining factor of whether this roof would leak or not. The roofer that installed the EPDM rubber on this roof, completely skipped the flashing part, choosing to instead caulk the corners with rubber lap sealants, and in some cases used the sealant to adhere membrane seams. As a result, most seams – even those that were glued together with rubber glue, partially or completely came apart.

Rubber roof inside corner caulked with rubber lap sealant instead of corner flashing

In addition to the careless installation practice used by the contractor, the homeowner, Jim, was very concerned about insulation screws being loose under the roof and in some places penetrating it, creating more leaks. Despite all the corner cutting and improper installation, Jim had one advantage that kept his house more or less watertight, and without major roof leaks. The roof was built with a slight slope, which diverted all the water toward the wall drain, while parapet walls kept the water from spilling over the roof edges.

EPDM rubber roof - vent pipe flashing

Just as a side note, this house used to be a part of a larger building, which was partially demolished at some point in time. Its current back wall used to be a separation firewall between different sections of the building. You can easily figure this out by looking at the brick on the front and back of the house. This brings up a mystery which I cannot solve: the through-wall drain is located in the back of the house, where the old separation wall is now. Therefore, back when the house was bigger, all the water would flow to the adjacent section of the roof. Still it had to drain somewhere, otherwise the house would be completely flooded, and the roof could have actually collapsed under all that weight. I suppose there were through-roof drains, which were buried / removed during one of the re-roofs and a through-wall drain was created when the rear part of the building was removed. I will come back to this topic later on, when I’ll discuss the parapet walls on this house. Continue reading

Flat Roof Deck Installation in Wellesley, MA

This is a project profile of a flat roofing system installed over a sun-room roof in Wellesley, Massachusetts. The roof system was planned in such a way that a premium wooden deck would be installed over it, and long-lasting water-tightness was the most important aspect, while at the the same time, aesthetics were also important.

Flat roof deck in Wellesley, MA

Waterproofing a flat roof deck:

Wellesley is known for its beautiful mansions and only the best building products (such as an IB Flat roof) make their way into these homes. Having a backyard deck is a great addition to the coziness of any home, and very often such decks are built over a sun room, garage, or other living space. Therefore, having such deck completely watertight is of utmost importance. If this flat roof deck leaks, it would be very difficult to trace this leak, since a wooden deck siting on slippers over the waterproofing layer is usually built as one piece, and complete dis-assembly of the deck would be required to find and fix the leak.

Railing systems on flat roof decks:

Ground view of sun room with deck flat roof.

Each deck must have a railing system. For aesthetic and structural reasons, it is best to install the railing posts through the roof and tie them into roof rafters, rather than attach them to the outside perimeter of the deck. However, to make these through the roof posts watertight using conventional flat roofing systems, such as rubber roof, is nearly impossible in the long run.

Why IB Roof is the perfect waterproofing system for flat roof decks:

Because of such high demands for the roofing material to be watertight and long lasting, IB Flat Roof was chosen for this high end residential home. While this home was going through a complete renovation, a large addition was built in the rear of the house including a beautiful sun roof, and a beautiful premium wooden deck would be built on top of an 80-mil commercial grade PVC roofing membrane. Continue reading

Standing Seam Metal Roof Installation in Wayland, MA




Recently we finished installing an aluminum standing seam metal on a residential home in Wayland, Massachusetts. The roof is made of .032 Aluminum, coated with grey finish Kynar 500 coating. It is a 1.5″ snap-lock standing seam, attached with stainless steel clips and wood screws. Also, as you can see, there is a rail snow retention system, which I will describe in detail below. It consists of cast-aluminum mounts attached to ribs of the standing seam roof and two rows of stainless steel cross bars (rails) to hold snow and ice from sliding off the roof.

Standing seam metal roof installed in Wayland, MA

Originally, the homeowner was having bad problems with Ice dams and leaks. Originally, the roof had an “ice belt” made of copper, but it only covered the bottom 2 feet of the roof and as we discovered later, during tear-off, it was tucked under the shingles above it by only 2-3 inches. Needles to say, this copper ice-belt did not work as it was intended to, and the ice dams were still creating leaks. After a while, to solve the Ice Dams problem the homeowner installed large sheets of aluminum.

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