rubber roofing

Massachusetts Roofing – Recent Flat and Metal Roofs Installed in MA

Update – Dec. 12, 2010 – recently we’ve uploaded a gallery of many metal and flat roofs that we’ve installed in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island – see the roofing jobs gallery. All roofs mentioned below are listed on the roof gallery page, with references to job profiles, and before / after pictures.

Before we go into job reviews, here are a few additional articles you may find useful, when choosing a roof product for your home and a contractor to install it:

How to prevent Ice Dams – a comprehensive guide focused on the rout cause of Ice dams, which is usually a combination of poor ventilation and inadequate insulation in the attic space or between roof rafters. This guide will help homeowners minimize heat leaks in the attic, improve ventilation and eliminate the effects of ice dam leaks by installing a Metal Roof or an IB low-slope roofing membrane.

Low-slope roofs – Overview of the common problems associated with low slope residential roofs, such as shed dormers or roofs on most cape-style homes located in the northern MA. Common issues with such roofs include rotten roof decking / rafters and Ice-dams. Since these roofs are prone to Ice dam leaks, most of the rot damage is an effect of ice dams. Although many roofing contractors will insist that using Ice and Water shield will do the trick, our experience shows that most of the time I&W fails to protect the roof even if the entire roof deck is covered in Ice and Water. Therefore, we believe that the best solution for permanent protection of low-slope roofs and eliminating ice dams is to install a metal roof or an IB flat roofing membrane in conjunction with solving ventilation/insulation issues described in the article above.

Roofs we installed in Massachusetts:

Low slope shed dormer roof in Westminster, MA

Leaking low-slope roof on a shed dormer in Westminster, MA

We installed this roof in early May of 2009. The house is located in a heavily wooded area of central Mass, just north of Mount Wachusett. Westminster, MA is located along Rt. 2, and not very far from the New Hampshire border. These areas get major snowfall in the winter, together with colder temperatures than those in Boston. Consequently, ice dams become a major problem in Westminster, even for high slope roofs. Low slope roofs, such as the one we replaced there, are very likely to have ice dam leaks and other problems such as a rotten roof deck, wet insulation, and mold.

The roof has been leaking for some time around the chimney in the center of the roof and was patched many times with tar, but rather unsuccessfully. Also, due to Ice Dams and roof leaks caused by the ice formation along the roof eaves, the homeowner installed heating cables to stop the Ice dam leaks. These did not help either, and after one more unsuccessful roof repair, the homeowner decided to get an IB roof installed.

Flat roofing Westminster, MA

The homeowner and his cousin, who is a roofer in NH, did the roof tear-off and replaced all rotten plywood decking, to reduce the cost of installation, while we installed the roof itself, insulation, chimney flashing, ridge vent and snow guards (snow retention system).

Note – before we installed the IB membrane, the homeowner’s main concern was to get ice and snow off the roof. After the IB system was installed, our concern was that due to the roof’s pitch, which was about 3 in 12″, the snow and Ice would just slide off the roof in a large pile, crushing down onto the deck and perch bellow it. Also, there was a grill on the deck, which was not removable, since it was tied to a gas line.

IB flat roof westminster massachusetts

The chimney flashing, which may seem like a quick job, actually took about 6-7 hours to properly flash. The reason it turned out to be so time consuming, is that it is located in the center and separates the ridge vent, as well as creeping onto another side of the roof. Due to its position, size and the way an IB roof is installed, it not only took long to work around, but also slowed down the rest of installation. Because the ridge vent butts into the chimney, we had to make sure that not only the ridge vent was raised an inch off the roof level to prevent the wind-driven rain from leaking into the house, but also that it was completely tied to the roof, and flashed up the chimney. Once the chimney flashing was installed, counter flashing reglet had to be installed as well.

Chimney flashing on a flat roof in Wetminster, MA

All in all it took us 3 days to install this roof, though the 3rd day was rather short. What really slowed us down, was the first heat wave of that spring and an overwhelming amount of bugs / flies / mosquitoes in this wooded / swampy area of central Mass.

Roofing membrane used: 50 mil mechanically attached IB PVC flat roofing system.

Insulation used: 1/2″ fan-fold Styrofoam insulation with clear plastic / metal facing.

Total roof square footage: Approximately 500 sq. ft.

Standing seam metal roof in Wayland, MA

Right after the roof in Westminster was installed, we started getting ready for a big metal roofing project, in Wayland, MA. On this job, we installed a .032 Aluminum standing seam metal roof in 1 3/4″ snap lock profile with 16″ wide pan and stiffening ribs. This roof took about two weeks to install, including tear-off of old asphalt shingles, siding removal, replacement of rotten wood replacement, delays with material shipments and the wrong type of flashing being delivered.

Standing Seam metal roof in Wayland, MA

Actually one of the delays happened because our supplier ran out of Grey aluminum coil after 80 % of roofing panels were rolled out of their mobile standing seam roll-forming machine, which was based in Manchester, NH. As the supplier received more aluminum coil 3 days later, he sent a different truck, from New London, CT. As that truck arrived and rolled off the first test panel, just out of curiosity I decided to compare the first batch to the second one. It turned out that the machine on the New London truck was set up to be 1/8″ wider than the Manchester truck. This, over the course of 23 panels gave us an extra 3″ of panel, which converted to two extra panels – 1 1/2″ wide – on either side of the rear roof section and exactly 23 panels on the front. We had to send the truck back and wait for the Manchester, NH truck to deliver and roll out the same coil. Even the guys working for the supplier were not aware of this mismatch between the two machines.

F-Rail rib-mounted snow retention system from Berger snow-guards.
F-Rail rib-mounted snow retention system from Berger snow-guards.

Finally, the Manchester truck delivered the right-width panels and we were able to finish the job without any more delays. The homeowner,Glenn, was also very concerned with snow and ice falling off the roof and damaging the gutters bellow, so we installed a commercial-grade double rail snow retention system to eliminate the possibility of snow falls from the roof.

We already posted a full review of this roof installation on our blog, a few months back, so if you want to know more details, read the standing seam metal roof in Wayland, MA job profile.

IB PVC Roof installation in Boston, MA

leaking rubber roof boston ma

In August of 2009, we completed a rather small, but very tricky and complicated flat roof installation in Boston, on one of the traditional Boston-style homes/buildings, which you can see all along Mass. ave, Comm. ave, as well as Blue Hill avenue, on which this house is located. It was originally an EPDM rubber roof, which had over 50 percent of seams separated due to adhesive failure. The two-tower wood design made this roof much more difficult to repair and our client, Jim, chose to eliminate the hassles of frequent roof repairs and decided to have an 80-mil IB roof installed.

Although this should have been a pretty much straight-forward roof replacement, with rubber tear-off performed first and a new IB roof installed, I sensed that it will not be an easy job. Until we opened up the roof I could not say for sure what obstacles we were going to face, but once we did remove the rubber, we found that the entire length of the masonry parapet wall was damaged by water and poor quality of brick mortar. We also found that we would have to rebuild the parapet walls as much as 4 layers of brick deep.

Rubber roofing Massachusetts

Because I chose a careful approach to the rubber removal, by only pulling back the rubber membrane off the parapet wall, and not cutting it, we were able to do the entire brick repair work and roof preparation, while having the roof watertight each night with the original rubber membrane.

Once all brick repair was complete and mortar had sufficient time to cure, we installed a 2×8 pressure treated perimeter wood nailer to which IB wall flashing and drip edge would be attached. Only on the last day did we remove the whole rubber roof, installed new insulation and laid down the new, mechanically attached IB PVC flat roofing membrane.

rubber-roofing-boston-ma

We had to come back one more time to install the new gutter and downspouts, IB two-way membrane vents and 9″ IB attic vents over specially cut holes in the roof deck. These attic vents were installed to vent out the moisture that accumulated in the small attic space when the old rubber roof was leaking. Once in place,these over-sized vents will eventually dry out the attic and prevent any future mold growth.

Now Jim can enjoy his watertight roof and get sun baths sitting in his beach chair on the roof of his home, and not worry about damage to the membrane – he chose a very durable, commercial grade 80-mil IB roof. He will also enjoy a cooler home, due to the IB’s cool roofing features.

rubber roofing boston ma

You can read the complete job profile about this Flat roof in Boston, MA on our Cool Roofing Blog.

Flat roof in Framingham, MA

One of the more recent flat roofing jobs was in Framingham, MA, where we installed an IB roof on yet another shed dormer roof for Ed Kelly – a high-end remodeling contractor out of Northborough, MA. The builder had his crew remove old asphalt shingles off this roof and replace most of the old decking with new 3/4" plywood. We were there to install just the membrane and flash it 2 feet up the sloped roof.

Flat roofing Framingham, MA

During my conversation with Ed (the builder), he told me me why he chose the more expensive IB roof over a cheaper rubber EPDM membrane. His main reason was the IB’s hot-air welded seams, and hassle free roof performance. Before, Ed used rubber roofs on a few of his projects, and all but one of them leaked due to problems with seams, and required expensive rubber roof repair. Ed decided to end his flat roofing nightmares and constant leaks, and chose an IB roof.

IB flat roofing.

The entire job took us one day to complete. The roof was prepared when we arrived to the job site in the morning, and before dark, we packed our tools and were ready to leave, as the installation was all done. The roofing crew which did the tear off and deck replacement was putting the new asphalt shingles and aluminum fascia trim back on, as we were driving away.

Roofing material:50 mil white IB roof, mechanically attached.

Insulation: 1/2″ fan-fold Styrofoam.

Total roof size: Approximately 450 sq. ft.

Flat roof deck in Wellesley, MA

Just before the Framingham flat roof job described above, we did another job for Ed – an 80 mil IB roof that would be a water-proofing membraneroof deck over a garage being built as an addition to an already huge home in a very secluded area of Wellesley.
roof deck wellesley ma

Once again, a complete job profile for this roof deck is already on our blog, so there is no point to rewrite it here – read the Wellesley, MA  flat roof deck installation overview.

Solar flat roof in Medford, MA

This job, was actually sponsored by Cool Flat Roof (us) and IB Roof Systems, as it was a non-profit project, competing in the 2009 Solar Decathlon competition, sponsored by the US DOE. We installed an IB roof on a Boston solar home with some help from the project volunteers and Architecture students from BAC and Tufts.

Solar flat roof of  Boston solar home in Medford, MA

Once again, we have a complete coverage of the installation of the IB flat roof and the Solar PV panels on this roof – Solar roof installation in Boston, MA.

Low slope shed dormer roof in Hingham, MA

Yet another shed dormer roof and also with major ice dams problems and leaks. This roof was just a year old when we removed the old asphalt shingles, and installed a new 50 mil IB traditions roof with an asphalt shingles pattern printed onto an IB white roofing membrane. This roof was completely covered with Ice & water shield, which failed miserably and forced the homeowner to climb up the slippery ladder all winter long, sometimes two times a day, to brake off the ice along the roof edge.

Shed dormer roof in Hingham, MA - a quiet town on Massachusetts South Shore.

The homeowner, Paul, tried everything from sodium-filled socks above the skylights to heating cables – nothing seemed to help, as with a lack of proper ventilation and inherent limitations of asphalt shingles, his roof was still leaking, as it faced north, and the sun never shined over it in the winter.

Paul wanted a permanent solution to stop leaks and not a single contractor that Paul contacted could explain to him how they would stop the leaks or promise that their roof will work. Some even offered to install asphalt shingles with Ice & Water shield – Really? Paul already had shingles with Ice and Water and it was not working.

IB flat roofing membrane being installed on a low-slope roof in Hingham, MA

Initially, Paul contacted us about getting a metal roof installed on his house, but after examining the roof, I suggested he install an IB roof instead, and residential flat roofing solution form IB  – Traditions Classic seemed to be the best option as it combined all the benefits of an IB roof with the classic look of architectural asphalt shingles printed onto the membrane. After a little decision making, Paul and his wife chose to go with a seamless one piece IB roof. In this case, there would be zero possibility of ice dam leaks.

All skylights now have seamless 1-piece flashing welded to the roof, and the ridge vent is raised by an inch above the roof level to prevent wind driven water from penetrating the roof.

All skylights now have seamless 1-piece plashing whelded to the roof, and the rodge vent is raise by an inch above the roof level to prevent wind driven water from penetrating the roof.

Now that Paul has a new IB Traditions Membrane, which is in effect a seamless, one piece blanket over the entire roof, he and his wife won’t have to worry about leaks and breaking ice off the roof any more.

Getting an IB Membrane or a Metal Roof installed on your home in Massachusetts:

If your roof is leaking or you have Ice dams, and are tired of fighting with the ice, using heat cables, sodium-filled socks, raking your roof, and risking to fall off a ladder, you need to contact the low-slope roofing experts ( us :). Request a free roofing price quote and schedule a roof inspection / estimate. You can also use our online roofing calculator to estimate your roof replacement cost and compare prices of IB PVC membrane to Rubber roofing, Modified bitumen / Tar and gravel roofs.

Building Inspectors vs. Homeowners & Contractors (just a rant)

Foreword: If you are a building inspector / official, please try to understand that this rant is from a contractor’s point of view… Or at least try to be objective and unbiased.

Building permit

Pros and cons of building permits:

Why do we need building inspectors (and do we really need them)? Well, they are supposed to inspect – right? They are there to protect homeowners from shady contractors, and ensure that construction goes in accordance with state / national building codes. That’s why we also have specialty trade inspectors (electrical, plumbing, mechanical, etc). But do they really do their job? Another question – why do we need building permits? Yes, to pay the building inspector for doing his/her job of doing the inspections. Yea, right!

I will purposely omit building inspectors in charge of large construction projects, such as bridges, sky-scrapers, factories, etc. There is a lot more responsibility there, and these inspectors are a lot more knowledgeable than your average “Joe, the building inspector”.

In my time being a roofing contractor, I had to pull many permits in the last 10 years – for almost every job we did. In all this time, only once have I seen a building inspector at a job site, and he was there to harass the home-owner about the “illegal kitchen” that came with the house they just purchased. In the beginning of my career as a contractor, I needed to get permits, but did not have sufficient / adequate insurance and in some cases did not have the Home Improvement Contractor registration in a state where I was doing work. Luckily for me, I was able to get permits, and because I have dignity (I’d like to think so) I did decent work without code violations and nothing bad ever happened. I once had a “stop job” order posted at a job site, where we forgot to pull a permit. Ahh… the good old days.

When you get into serious contracting like Metal Roofing and IB Roof installations, you can’t afford not to have proper insurances and licenses. Your clients by default expect everything to be current and you to be fully insured – both worker’s comp and general liability.  And besides, it is easier to show proof of insurance than to explain why you do not have it, or better yet to ask a home owner to pull “an owners permit”. It is also much easier to get a permit in 5 minutes instead of waiting 3 days and hoping that the inspector is not a complete a$$ or is looking for a bribe – for some reason, I have a very strong suspicion that some building inspectors in Lynn, Revere, Malden and other surrounding towns in Massachusetts, purposely jerk contractors around, as if telling them – “give me $300 and you will have your permit”. I really believe so. Or they just hate people in general. But let me get back to building inspectors. 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

CoolFlatRoof.com moved to Blog / CSM platform

Dear visitors, It is my pleasure to announce that our main site – www.CoolFlatRoof.com – is now officially running on the awesome WordPress Blog / CSM platform, which makes it run faster and offers you, our visitors great usability and ease of finding information about Flat roofing, Metal roofs, Green roof top gardens and Solar PV roofing systems. New website features include:

  • Extensive Site-wide search. With over 30 different articles about cool flat and metal roofing it used to be difficult to navigate to the right page. Now, all you have to do is type what you are looking for into the search box at the bottom of the side-bar, and you will find what you are looking for.
  • Comments & Feedback. You can now leave comments about every article that we have and also subscribe to those comments (you will get responses by email). I personally answer most of the comments you leave on our blog, and will do the same for the comments on our main site. As always, please respect us and our readers and do not post offensive commentaries. All comments are moderated by a human and all spam gets filtered. If you post a genuine comment or question, it will post and I will answer it as best as I can.
  • Blog Roll / Green blog links: If you are an author of a green or renewable energy related blog, I welcome you to add us to your blog-roll, and I will do the same.
  • Publish your green articles here: If you want to write about anything related to green construction and renewable energy, I welcome you to become one of our Authors / Contributors. You can post relevant links to your own site or blog, which will help you promote your site with search engines such as Google, Yahoo, Bing and others.

These are just few new options that a new platform offers to make your search for roof related questions easier and more pleasant. Just a few roof related articles you may consider interesting:

IB Flat Roof: “A good roof is the one you can forget about” – such is the moto if IB Roof Systems – a great roofing materials manufacturer, who’s single-ply membranes we use exclusively for ALL our flat roof installations. We use IB roofs, because we as a contractor know that once installed correctly, an IB roof will outlast any conventional flat roofing system by 2-3 times. With a proven track record of 30+ years of real life, leak-free performance, IB roofing systems have nothing else to prove. An IB roof is a cool, truly sustainable roofing system that can be used for Green Roof-top gardens, Solar roofing and conventional flat roofing application in both residential and commercial markets.

Flat Roof Repair: Learn what to do when your flat roof begins to leak, how to choose a roofing contractor, what a roof repair will cost you and whether your should repair or replace your roof.

IB Roofing prices: Learn how much it will cost you to replace your old roof with an IB Cool Flat Roof.

EPDM Rubber Roofing: Discover the truth about rubber roofing materials, scam contractors that install residential rubber roofs without proper training / experience, and why you should definitely avoid these “super roofers”, and the inferior rubber roofing materials all together.

Rubber roof repair: Learn DIY techniques involved in fixing your leaky EPDM roofing system. This guide includes a complete list of tools & materials you will need and step-by-step instructions for Do-It-Yourself homeowners.

Home Solar systems: Comprehensive guide to designing, implementing and installing a Solar PV System on the roof of your home or small business. Lear now to position your solar panels, which inverter to use and how to minimize power losses, maximize Solar PV efficiency, and make your solar system pay for itself in as little time as possible.

These are just some of numerous informative and practical guides that we have created to help you solve your flat or metal roofing problems, find information on roofing materials and contractors. Let us know what you think of the new platform, the design of this site, and how we could make navigation / usability better and more comfortable for you. Enjoy! Sincerely, Leo – CoolFlatRoof.com

Single-ply Flat Roofing Systems: PVC and TPO

If you are a building owner, facility manager or even a homeowner with a flat roof that leaks, and you are interested in or got a bid from a contractor to install a new flat roofing system called TPO (Thermoplastic olefin), this is a must-read article for you, because you will not find this information anywhere else.

From The Editor: – this post has 50+ VERY interesting comments from “both sides of the aisle” so to speak. We highly recommend you read these comments, after the post.

Foreword: TPO is a hot-air welded thermoplastic single-ply roofing membrane produced by numerous manufacturers. TPO was created to be better than EPDM Rubber roofing and cheaper than PVC roofs, while it would still provide all the benefits of hot-air welded seams. It was a good plan, and now TPO membrane covers billions of square feet of roofs and represents a multi-billion dollar roofing market, but there are some problems…

In it’s fairly short life (about 15-16 years) TPO went through at least 2 generations. 1st generation of TPO roofs began to fail in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s. Now, some manufacturers are on their 3rd generation (or major reformulation) of their TPO products. At the same time, TPO’s main rival – PVC roofing membrane such as IB Flat Roof, has not changed its formula in over 30 years.

The video clip above below a brand new TPO roof burning on a roof of a new office building that was built in Salt Lake City, and filmed by the Fireman crew.



Why you should not get a TPO roof – TPO roof on fire video

Whether you are a customer looking for a new flat roof or a roofing contractor, I recommend that you to do some serious research on TPO before investing in it. This will serve your own benefit.

To start, you may want to check out the WSRCA (Western States Roofing Contractors Association)  “TPO roof study” – http://www.wsrca.com/bookstore/index.htm.

WSRCA’s test roofs in Las Vegas, NV, Anchorage, AK, San Antonio, TX, and Seattle, WA demonstrate the product service life in diverse climates throughout the western United States. All have weathered past the four year mark, and the results are now published.



The problem is that for some reason they pulled off 2007, there is still no 2008 edition and only a 2 year old report from 2006 is available. But here is the “rumor” from trusted sources:

TPO roofs in the above study lose minimum of 1 mil of thickness per year and some TPOs lose as much as two mil per year (in 10 years that will be 20 mil – imagine that on a 45 mil membrane). The average top ply thickness is 15 mil – some are 12. Once you are down to the scrim, the roof is gone, and the UV will eat the scrim and bottom ply.



Also, there are problems with seam failures, premature curing, cracks along the seams, etc. These are TPOs made in 2001-2002 (second generation) Supposedly there is no 3rd gen. going into production, and I suspect that the reason for the 2007/2008 edition of this book not being available is because manufacturers pressured WSRCA to pull those off. I could swear that I saw an ’07 edition available on sale in January ’09, and now its not even listed.

Aside from the above, most TPOs and maybe some PVCs (to cut costs) come with a wicking scrim, so you need to do something about the edge of the weld – that is like welding twice, and there is still lots of room for error, and once the water gets to the scrim, it will delaminate the membrane… I don’t need to explain the consequences.

So, the bottom line – do you want your customers to have a 2nd/3rd gen. of repeatedly failing roof technology and put your reputation on the line for a gimmick created by greedy roofing manufacturers, who are looking for ways to reduce costs at the expense of quality (putting cheap fillers into membrane to create nominal thickness)? What is the difference between 45 and 60 mil TPO if weathering surface is 12-15 mil? Just a thicker bottom play that is made of junk in a first place.

Another thing that amazes me about TPO is the peel-n-stick seams. WHY?… The whole point of thermoplastic roofs (PVC & TPO) is the hot-air welded seam… EPDM rubber roof can be peel and stick… but TPO? All it does, is attract hacks into thermoplastic roofing market. Those who do not care about quality install, fly-by-night dudes, etc. I mean, if you as a roofing contractor go and spend $10-20K on the hot-air welding equipment you probably won’t disappear tomorrow, as you need to pay for that equipment and make some money on top of that. You as a roofing contractor are probably in it for the long run…

Instead of conclusion:

As I mentioned in the beginning of this article, the idea of a TPO roof is great. A cheap, naturally cool, long lasting flat roof system featuring hot-air welded seams is something of an ideal for the roofing industry to strive toward. However, the “cheap” part in TPO is why all these roof failures occurred, and will be happening on a wide scale in the near future. TPO’s problem is not the faulty design. In Europe, TPO has been around for decades and is considered to be a very good flat roofing system.

However, here in the US, roofing manufacturers put the bottom line in their accounting books above product quality and interest of their clients by manufacturing their TPO membrane using primarily cheap fillers and low quality wicking scrim, without proper testing or acquiring UL certifications. In the end, roof owners and to some degree roofing contractors become victims of corporate greed and irresponsible business practices.[PSGallery=1ondfvgxk]

Flat Roof Installation in Andover, CT

I will describe the roof problems that our customer in Andover, CT had, and what we did to eliminate the roof leaks, as well as give him peace of mind that his IB Cool Roof will protect his home, and provide real money savings on the ever-rising energy costs.

On the roof in Andover, Connecticut - with a happy homeowner after the IB flat roof installation was complete
On the roof in Andover, Connecticut – with a happy homeowner after the IB flat roof installation was complete

Roofing problems and our roof installation in the words of the homeowner:

In December of 2008 my wife and I awoke to a dripping sound in our master bedroom. Much to our dismay the drip quickly became a steady stream of water, as we were experiencing a rain storm that totaled 4″. We placed buckets under the stream to mitigate the damages. The next morning I opened up the Sheetrock ceiling which was sagging down. Upon opening the ceiling I could see that all of the insulation and plywood was wet. As I moved across the room I found that it wasn’t just that area that was leaking, but several places. Our flat roof measures 20′ x 34′ and has a 1 pitch covered with 5 year old roll roofing. We tarped the roof and called a water damage restoration company to come in and dry us out. Unfortunately, MOLD was discovered growing on the underside of plywood decking, framing, and sheetrock. An industrial hygienist was hired to do testing and determine the mold spore levels. We ended up having to demolish the entire area and having the mold professionally re-mediated. The insurance company did not like to hear about mold. Their limit on coverage was $10,000.00 and we were facing $24,000.00 in damages!
This is a very small amount when you see how much it can cost to remove mold. Insurance companies also will not pay to repair your roof. Especially a flat one. They will only cover the resulting interior damage. I was frustrated with the extent of damages that occurred all from what appeared to be a little leak. Often times, by the time water comes through your sheetrock it is too late and you have lots of mold and wood damage waiting for you. After settling with the insurance company I began to research possible ideas to make sure this never happens again. I investigated the idea of raising the roof pitch, which proved to be very expensive. Next I looked into flat roof systems, such as rubber. I found that the seams end up leaking after a while. Not to mention the fact that it is ugly, and retains heat making the inside of your home hotter in the summer. I also looked into metal, but no one could install it on such a low pitch and guarantee me that it won’t leak. Finally, I found Leo’s website talking about the IB Roof system. I was amazed by the fact that this product provided a lifetime guarantee for the product and labor. I also loved the fact that it is attractive looking and reflects the hot sun keeping my home cooler in the summer. As an added bonus, in the future I can add IB solar panels to my IB Roof and generate my own electricity. I’m told that in some places the cost for IB Roof may be a bit more than the alternatives. However, for me the cost of the IB Roof was actually less than my quotes to go with a rubber roof. Therefore, it was a no brainier. Leo and his crew were on my job-site within just a few days after our initial contact. It was impressive to see how the construction was performed and you can really see the quality of the product. Leo and his crew were very respectful of our home and they kept the property clean. I have already recommended Leo and IB Roofing to a few people that I know have up coming flat roof projects. If you are considering a flat roof project you can’t go wrong with Leo and IB Roofing. Do it once, stay green, and enjoy!

Alex from Andover, CT

Roof problems, causes of leaks, and installation of a new IB Membrane.

When I first met with Alex, the roof had an expensive, heavy-duty tarp on it and about 5 inches of snow. Although it was the time of a very cold arctic air front in New England, it was actually good for Alex’s roof as cold temperatures kept the snow from melting for a couple of weeks.

Flat roof covered with tarp to prevent more leaks
Flat roof covered with tarp to prevent more leaks

Alex planned to tear-off the existing rolled asphalt roofing with the help of his friends over the weekend and, put the tarp back on, until we would come to install our roof. All went as planned, but it snowed the day after Alex and his friends removed the old roof, and replaced rotten plywood decking and fixed some rafters. On Monday morning snow melted and the roof began to leak again. The heavy-duty tarp turned out to be damaged in few spots, and the roof was virtually unprotected.

We had to adjust our work schedule to quickly come out and make Alex’s roof watertight, to prevent any more water damages and additional repair expenses. Fortunately, the weather was dry for a few days, and on Wednesday we came to install our roof. Once on the roof, we found that there were numerous causes of leaks. The major contributing factor was due to roof rafters caving in, and creating a cavity for water to puddle on the roof.

It is known among roofing professionals that standing water causes the majority of flat roof leaks. Standing / ponding water easily breaks the bond between roof laps, and enters the house, destroying insulation along the way. If left unattended, or unnoticed, these leaks will create thousands of dollars worth of damages, as well as pose a health risk – mold causes and/or aggravates allergies, asthma and other respiratory illnesses.

My evaluation is that most water damages occurred were water ponded on the roof. Other leaks occurred due to Ice Dams, where ice slowly “traveled” between the seams, and melted under the rolled asphalt, causing slow, but steady rot of plywood decking and mold. Although Alex’s roof is not completely flat, Ice dams are known to affect roofs that are completely non-walkable, so this very low pitch roof was an easy “prey”.

Roof Installation:

We use IB PVC roofs exclusively, because in my opinion it is not only the best flat roofing product on the US market, but it creates a completely watertight blanket over the entire roof. With IB, I can look customers straight into their eyes and honestly say: “Your roof will not leak!”

New IB flat roof.

A new IB flat roof

The reason why IB is such a great roofing system is the hot-air fusion welded seams. Once we weld two sheets of IB roofing membrane, a permanent bond is created, eliminating the possibility of water penetrations. Additionally, IB manufactures all the flashing components, which speeds up the installation process, and minimizes installation error.

Alex’s flat roof is actually an addition and was added as a shed dormer to a pitched roof. When this roof was constructed, builders put in a soffit / ridge ventilation system, which is always a good idea to have for wood roof frame / deck. However, a ridge vent can create many leaks problems, as it is very easy for water to be blown in by wind past the vent, and into the attic.

Normally, roofing contractors would just cover the ridge vent completely to eliminate leaks, but this would take away the ventilation, causing the plywood deck to dry out, de-laminate and slowly “dry-rot”.

We have created a custom design ridge vent assembly for low-slope roofs and shed dormers, where the vent sits two inches above roof level, eliminating the possibility of wind driven water entering the roof. Although the installation of such assembly is tedious and consumes a lot of time, it is the right was to go to maintain proper ventilation and to preserve the roof deck.

Ridge vent assembly for IB flat roof eliminates wind driven water leaks.

Ridge vent assembly for IB flat roof eliminates wind driven water leaks.

As you can see from the picture, the ridge vent sits on top of a 2×4 wood, which is completely wrapped with IB membrane to create a water-tight barrier, and prevent leaks through the ridge opening.

In Conclusion

Overall, it was a straight forward installation which took 2 days to complete.

Special thanks to Alex for providing us with delicious hot chocolate, which made our work easier and warmer during these cold January days.

If you have a flat roof in Connecticut, Massachusetts or Rhode Island, you can fill our roofing estimate request form. You can also get an instant price quote with our online Roofing Price Calculator.