Services & Maintenance: The Roofing Crew
By Kate Baumann
Published in the November 2007 issue of Today’s Facility Manager
Today’sroof coatings offer a host of advantages, from improved energyefficiency to exceptional strength and the ability to extend a roof’slife cycle. To deliver these benefits fully, however, coatings must beproperly applied by a well trained crew.
While shingles on asteep slope roof must simply shed water, a low slope roofing systemmust be watertight. The coating and the application technique must becarefully matched to the specific surface. Finally, before the coatingis applied, the crew must assess the soundness of the roof, make anynecessary repairs, and prepare the surface to accept the coating.
Forall these reasons, it is essential to give the job to a crew—whether anin-house team or an outside vendor—that has roofing experience and hasbeen fully trained by the coating manufacturer. What follows is anoverview of the five most important things facility managers shoulddiscuss with prospective contractors or their in-house crew to ensurethe proper training has been provided.
1. Training.Ongoing training is essential to ensure application crews stay up tospeed on the latest products and techniques. There is simply nosubstitute for hands-on experience. Reputable manufacturers offerapplicators regular training, with the manufacturer’s representativeworking side by side with the crew on a job site or at a wellconstructed mock-up.
2. Repairs. Before thecoating is applied, the roof must be inspected for damage and anynecessary repairs must be made. The National Roofing ContractorsAssociation (NRCA) has developed guidelines for evaluating roofsoundness and selecting the appropriate materials and techniques to usein making repairs.
A properly trained crew will be well versedin these guidelines and will follow them. They will also adhere to theoriginal roofing system manufacturer’s guidelines to ensure thewarranty remains in force.
3. Preparation.When it comes to roof coatings, one size does not fit all. Roofcoatings are designed to work with specific surfaces, and it isessential to match the coating carefully to the roof and to prepare thesurface so it will adhere properly.
Knowledgeable applicatorswill begin by performing an adhesion test. This not only aids inselecting the appropriate coating for the job, but it also helpsidentify what must be done to prepare the surface for the coating.
Thisis especially vital in the case of metal roofs, since they may notaccept certain coatings. Some have a factory applied Kynar® 500 finish,which is a Teflon®-based paint, and could require sanding to create asurface the coating will adhere to. Galvalume® and other galvanizedfinishes may have residual zinc, requiring the application of a mildacidic solution.
4. Tools and techniques.As with any project, getting a roof coating job done right requireshaving the proper tools and knowing how to use them correctly. Welltrained crews will be experts in choosing the right tools andtechniques for a particular job. They also will have received hands ontraining to ensure they are proficient in using the equipment.
Oneof the most critical factors is achieving proper coating thickness. Anuneven application can become evident within weeks; spots on the roofthat begin to bubble and peel are a sure sign of uneven application.
Contractors should use a wet film gauge to monitorthe mil thickness of each coat. They also should be well versed in thecoating manufacturer’s guidelines for coverage rates per gallon and thenumber of coats recommended to achieve the desired mil thickness.
Crewsalso must take steps to prevent overspray, or the facility manager willbe fielding complaints from the owners of cars parked nearby. Reputablecoatings manufacturers teach application crews the best spraytechniques and show them how to monitor wind conditions to preventoverspray.
5. Vendor relationships.Facility managers hiring an outside crew can be assured that a goodvendor will happily discuss the training its crews receive, how oftenits employees are able to attend training sessions provided by roofcoating manufacturers, and whether teams have benefited from in thefield training.
By taking the time to do their homework andasking a few simple questions, facility managers can save time, money,and hassle, and help ensure they receive high quality repairs that willmaximize the performance and life of their roof.
Have you tried to handle roofing repairs on your own? Share your stories by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.