Horrible Rubber Roofing

There has been a lot of discussion on our rubber roofing page (created a while ago), with many roofing contractors defending the EPDM rubber roof as a “good and proven” system, that is widely installed. While I agree that it is widely installed, I contest the notion that it is good and proven, for many reasons, which I will outline below, with examples as proof. But first, I will outline the basic premise on which I will base my statements.

Basic Premise of this “Horrible Rubber Roofing” article

Rubber roof (EPDM) is widely installed because of its relatively low cost. It is NOT as good as many roofing contractors say it is, and the reason why I call it “horrible” is a complex, but there are two major parts to it: Continue reading

Flat Roof Repair in Needham, MA

We performed this PVC roof repair in Needham, Mass. in October 2011. This was the second time we repaired this 25+ years old Sarnafil PVC flat roof in the last two years. The first time we fixed this roof was exactly two years ago, in October of ’09 – check out our first overview, which covers this roof in particular, and nuances of repairing old PVC flat roofs in general.

Quick Overview of the First Repair

In October of 2009, we fixed this roof for the first time. A contractor was doing some fascia repair work there, and threw some tools onto the roof, creating a hole in the old PVC membrane. We repaired it using new IB PVC flat roofing material. First, we cleaned the old roof with warm water (to remove all dirt and small debris). Next, we rubbed it with acetone and a rough brush, to clean the membrane thoroughly, so the new patch would weld nicely. Then, we welded a PVC patch over the hole, which sealed the roof.

Old patch next to 2 new patches:

Image of PVC Flat Roof Repair in Needham, MA, done by CoolFlatRoof.com

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Flat Roof Installation in Cambridge, MA

Image of Flat Roof in Cambridge MA

We installed this flat roof near Harvard Square in Cambridge, Massachusetts in the summer of 2010. The installation consisted of four separate roof sections on different levels of this house, which at the time was undergoing major renovations inside and out, including total new insulation in walls and between roof rafters, a new heating system with radiant floor heat, new energy efficient windows, and a new IB PVC flat roof (which we installed of course).

The old rubber roof was leaking and we had to remove it, including the wet roof insulation. We installed a new 50-mil white IB Flat Roof, with 4 inches of tapered insulation (4 inches at the highest point and 1 inch at the lowest level). The tapered insulation system was utilized to eliminate ponding water on the two bigger sections of the roof. At the deepest point, there was as much as 2 inches of ponding water, and a puddle with at least 12 feet diameter. This ponding water caused both roof leaks and the roof rafters settlement.

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Flat Copper Roofing – Newton MA

In July of 2010 we installed a new IB PVC flat roofing system with custom-made copper drip edge metal, on a new construction home in Newton, Massachusetts. This house is located around the corner from Newton Center.

In this job profile we will demonstrate all stages of this roof installation, and show the new Copper Drip Edge, which IB roof systems has recently introduced and made available to its certified roofing contractors.

First, let’s go over the roof specs and details. The building on which the roof was installed is an new construction garage / guest house with two car bays on the first floor and guest rooms with a balcony / deck on the second floor. Because of height limitations in Newton, MA, the top portion of the roof had to be flat, with a little slate roofing mansard around the roof perimeter, to resemble the slate roof on the main house. The home owner chose IB PVC Flat Roof, as the roofing material for their building project.

image of Flat Roof with Copper Drip Edge in Newton, MA

The roofing material we used was an 80-mil white IB PVC membrane, mechanically attached to a wooden substrate, over 3 inches of tapered ISO insulation. All seams were hot air welded using Liester welding equipment.

Around the roof perimeter, we installed IB’s new Copper Drip edge metal with PVC coated flange, which allows us to seamlessly integrate copper with an IB roof. The PVC cover tape is welded to both the roofing membrane and a drip edge metal, leaving exposed copper to give this roof a beautiful look of a classic slate roof with copper flashing.

On the second floor, we installed the same 80 mil roof with differently shaped copper metal, over a walk-out balcony deck, and additionally flashed the roof and door opening, with IB’s pre-manufactured flashing accessories. After the membrane was installed, a floating roof deck was installed on top.
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PVC Roof Repair – Trocal and Sarnafil PVC Roofs Repaired With IB Roofing Material

Update – Oct 26, 2011: Exactly 2 years after the initial Sarnafil PVC Roof repair (read details below) I went back to that roof. This time, there were 17 new holes in the roof. I repaired it once again with IB PVC flat roofing material. Check out the full review of this latest .

Update 2: a Trocal roof repair also reviewed below – a section of that roof has completely shattered over the past winter, and we had replaced it with an IB PVC Flat Roof in the spring of 2011.

Check out the video of this new PVC Roof repair:

Original PVC Roof repair article

PVC roofing is one of the longest lasting flat roof membrane systems, and most PVC roofs installed, will last in excess of 25-30 years. PVC roofing utilizes Hot-Air welding of the seams, which allows the roof to remain watertight for many years, as there is no adhesive to fail ( as is the case with EPDM rubber roofing ). Still, even PVC roofs can leak. Sometimes because of poor installation, and sometimes because of physical damage to the roofing membrane. You may have heard about the Trocal PVC roof failures, which was the only major case of PVC roof failures (below we will explain how Trocal roofs failed).

In this article we will discuss and demonstrate the PVC roof leaks and repair procedure, based on two recent repairs we have done. First, please note that even if your PVC roof leaks – you should not be too worried – PVC roofs are rather easy to repair, and you will rarely need to replace your entire roof.

Trocal PVC Roof Repair – West Hartford, CT – Winter, 2010

As promised – a quick look into why Trocal PVC roofs failed on a massive scale, forcing the company to be sold to another large roofing materials manufacturer.

Image of shattered Trocal PVC roof

Trocal PVC roofing was one of the first commercially available PVC roofs in the US, and they worked great at first. But they had one major drawback – they were unreinforced (today, most PVC membranes are reinforced with polyester scrim sitting between the top and bottom ply of the membrane). When the ambient temperatures were below freezing, a Trocal roof could crack or shatter if you simply stepped on it. Later, all PVC manufacturers switched to reinforced membrane, and some would add special chemicals to increase the elasticity of the membrane. Today, unreinforced PVC membrane is used only for flashing accessories such as inside / outside corners, pipe flashing, etc.

Repair of a Trocal PVC Roof

Image of Trocal PVC Roof Repair

This Trocal roof sustained damage from a falling tree branch in December of 2009, and cracked along the edge. Although the roof was over 20 years old, it was still fully weldable and we were able to repair it with a new IB PVC roofing membrane in Jan. 2010. We removed the damaged section of the roof, cleaned the surface with MEK solution, installed new PVC coated IB Drip Edge metal, and welded a 50-mil white IB roofing membrane. The repair was performed in a 25 degrees outside temperature, so we had to take special care not to damage the rest of the original roof.
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