low slope roof

Pros and Cons of Roofing in the Winter



Most homeowners, who did not have a chance to replace their leaking roofs during spring and summer want to get it done in the fall – before the cold weather arrives. August, September and October are the busiest months of the year for a roofing contractor (for us at least) we get many calls and online estimate requests from homeowners looking to install a new IB Flat Roof or a Metal Roof on their home. At least 75 percent of these inquiries mention that they would like to have a new roof installed before the winter.

While we do understand your desire to have a new roof before winter weather comes, I must point out a misconception among many homeowners who believe that a roof can only be installed during the warm months. While this is partially true, due to limitations of specific roof types (technologies), for us, installing our roof systems in the winter is the same as it is in the summer – just a little colder.




Winter Roofing - Snow Removal

In fact, WINTER, is the best time for homeowners to have a new roof installed, as you will get the best roof prices, as well as a choice of the best roofing contractors. Because work is limited during the winter season, contractors compete for work and lower their prices to get the job. However, be aware that some roofs can’t or should not be installed in the winter – read on to find out what you should know about winter roofing, and which roofing materials should not be installed in the cold weather.

Which roofs can be installed in the winter and which cannot be:

Let’s take a look at the roofing systems which can be installed in the winter without compromising quality, and the systems that need to be installed in the warmer weather.I will divide roofing systems into two categories – flat and sloped roofs. Also, lets establish that by “winter” I mean temperatures below 40 degrees F.

Installation of Metal Roof at IHOP restaurant in Brighton, MA

Flat Roofs

When it comes to flat roofing, there are only two systems that can be safely installed in the winter – PVC and TPO. These are thermoplastic single ply flat roofing products, which are installed using Hot Air Welded seams, instead of various types of adhesives.

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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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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 and Low Slope Roofing on Shed Dormers

Discover a permanent solution to leaks on shed dormers and other flat roofs

IB Flat Roofing on a shed dormer roof in Andover, CT

Many homes in New England have shed dormers, which are build to use otherwise unusable space in the attic, and greatly expand square footage of the home, without huge expenses of building an addition. However, the way these shed dormers are built, requires them to have a very low sloped roof, at times almost flat. These roofs are the first to leak, as conventional roofing materials cannot stand up to the Ice Dams build up and wind driven rain water, penetrating the roof between the seams in shingles and rolled roofing products.

This low slope roof had been patched many times around the chimney and along the eaves, and even with the Ice-melting cables, the Ice dams and leaks could not be stopped.

The problem with shed dormer roofs is that often asphalt shingles or rolled roofing materials are used, and the seams on such roofs are held together with adhesives – usually tar that melts under the sun’s heat and seals the seam. When asphalt shingle is used in such roof assembly, the joints between the shingles and the overlaps between them are an easy way for water to penetrate the roof. In the winter, moisture between shingles freezes, expands and breaks the seal. At this point, the roof leaks constantly, and no matter how many patch jobs you do, it will still leak. Also, a low slope on the roof greatly shortens the life of the shingles. Not to mention that when shingles are installed on a pitch of less than 3 in 12″, the warranty is immediately void on them.

While many roofing contractors will try to convince you that with the use of Ice & Water shield such as Grace (considered by many to be one of the best I/W shield products),  will make your roof water-tight and leaks free, real life experience shows that even on a steeper slope, such as 3 or even 4 in 12, the roof still leaks, and Ice dams leaks find their way inside your house.

This lake front home in Andover, Connecticut has a rolled asphalt roof that has been patched multiple times and still leaks.

A metal roof could be used to solve the constant roof leaks and ice dams on such low slope roofs, but in this particular case (the picture above), the pitch of the roof is too low for even a standing seam metal roof to work, and the best solution in this case would be an IB Flat and Low-slope roofing membrane. Besides, standing seam would cost double of what an IB flat roof cost would be.

Another solution commonly used by residential roofing contractors is the rolled asphalt roofing, or simply rolled roofing. Please keep in mind that most flat roofing systems come in rolls, but each type has it’s own trade name, such as Tar & Gravel, Rubber roofing, etc., and rolled roofing usually refers to a fiberglass membrane saturated in asphalt and asphalt, and coated with stone granules – very similar to asphalt shingles. Learn more about different types of flat roofing materials. Rolled asphalt was a popular choice for DIY roofing projects and many residential roofing contractors would use it, as it was fairly easy to install and easy to buy from a local roofing warehouse, without any special training involved. Unfortunately, these roofs only last about five years, and often begin leaking even sooner, causing expensive to repair structural damages, such as those shown in the picture below. Because the seams of rolled asphalt roofing are sealed with roof cement and fastened with roofing nails right through the membrane, the condensation below and the ice above the rolled asphalt quickly break the seal and the roof begins to leak. Patching such a roof will temporarily stop the leak, but it will actually create more damages, as in the meantime you allow water more time to destroy the roof decking and rafters.

Rotten wood damage to decking and rafters on a flat roof in Andover, CT

We recommend that homeowners with a flat or low-slope roofs avoid the cheap alternatives which may last you 5 years, and will cost much more the next time you have to replace them, as additional repairs of rotten wood replacement and tear-off / disposal fees add on to the total price tag. Instead, choosing a lifetime IB roof system will make your roof last for decades of leaks free performance and will reduce your cooling costs, as its Cool Roof surface will reflect almost 90% of the solar heat. You will also be eligible to receive up-to $1500 tax credit for installing an Energy Star rated Cool Roof, making your final price almost the same as that of a cheap leaky alternative.

Benefits of installing an IB Roof are many, but here are some of them:

  • IB Roofing membrane is a fully watertight system, utilizing hot-air fusion welded seams, which insure a permanent bond between the sheets, flashing and even the drip edge.
  • There is no glues or adhesives involved in the installation, as is the case with EPDM rubber roofs. Rubber roofs use splice tape or black glue to keep the seams together, and after just a short period of time the adhesives break down, and the roof begins to leak.
  • IB Roof is a complete roofing system with all the components made out of PVC / CPA material, which are welded right to the membrane, ensuring permanent watertightness. There is a flashing for every possible roof penetration, such as in-roof drains, inside and outside corners, air vents, pipe boots, etc.


IB roof flashing accessories

  • IB Roofing membrane does not cure over time, and remains weldable even 25 years after installation. What does this mean for you? If there is ever any mechanical damage to the roof, such as falling tree branches or accidental cuts, the roof is easily fixed by just welding a patch to the damaged area. No need for special cleaners or glue. Just wipe the dust off and weld.

As an additional benefit to the environment and to your wallet, an IB roof will outlast 2, 3 or even more conventional roofs, which would otherwise have to be dumped in a landfill.

As a certified IB Roof Systems Installer, we can install and IB roof for you in any part of Massachusetts, Connecticut & Rhode Island, as well as in southern ME, NH and VT. Schedule your flat roofing inspection / estimate today.

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.