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2011 Roofing Contractor's Editor's Choice: Innovation on Display

March 31, 2011
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At trade shows, it seems everyone leads off with the same question: “What’s new?” New products are introduced to the world of roofing in a variety of ways, and new product announcements are often timed to coincide with the big trade shows, including METALCON, the International Builders Show (IBS) and the International Roofing Expo (IRE).



At trade shows, it seems everyone leads off with the same question: “What’s new?”

New products are introduced to the world of roofing in a variety of ways, and new product announcements are often timed to coincide with the big trade shows, including METALCON, the International Builders Show (IBS) and the International Roofing Expo (IRE).

Here are some of the more interesting and innovative new products singled out by the editors of Roofing Contractor for our annual Editor’s Choice awards.

Dow’s Powerhouse Solar Shingles are designed to be nailed in place. The wiring is connected from shingle to shingle and row to row.

Dow Powerhouse Solar Shingle

With all the solar products on the market it is refreshing to see two very familiar words on a solar product. That is two things even this not-so-smart editor can understand: Dow and shingle.

Dow Chemical Company with its trademark red diamond is about as familiar a sight to contractors and consumers as you will find. And what consumer does not know what a shingle is? Roofing contractors will appreciate these things when they are in the kitchen making a presentation and while they are on the roof nailing Dow Powerhouse Solar Shingles along with the rest of the roofing system.

Dow engineers have taken the time to explore and understand the important relationship that anything installed on the roof has with the rest of the structure. They also seem to have figured out that roofing contractors are the preferred contractor to install solar collectors on residential structures. They have designed a product that installs like a shingle (hand-nailed or gun-nailed) with one simple connection to the inside to connect an entire solar array to the electrical system that finishes the job of converting the sun’s rays into power that will be usable in the house. As the shingles go on, the wiring is connected shingle to shingle and row to row.

Dow did show the Powerhouse Solar Shingle at the IBS and IRE this year, but they are moving at a guarded pace as they ramp up production to meet anticipated demand. Full-scale production is nearing as details of introducing a new building product are worked out. The company recently announced that it had achieved UL Certification, the details of which you will find on their website (www.dowsolar.com). This product promises to be a significant part of the future for residential construction and re-roofing.

Chris Yeatts (right), Vice President of Sales, Commercial Roofing Systems, explains the benefits of EverGuard Extreme to attendees at this year’s International Roofing Expo.

EverGuard Extreme Thermal Protection TPO

As the installation of rooftop solar panels becomes more common, the potential problems they bring to the roof system equation also become more common. One problem is heat. Solar panels themselves are dark objects that can reach temperatures as high as 200 degrees Fahrenheit, leading to the risk that the roofing membrane could fail prematurely.

Another problem that could lead to premature failure is solar convergence, which can occur when highly reflective surfaces such as white parapet walls or windows focus sunlight on the field of the roof.

GAF Materials Corporation (www.gaf.com) has addressed these issues with its EverGuard® Extreme™ TPO. This next-generation TPO membrane was designed with the use of building-integrated solar in mind. It has increased reflectivity and higher heat resistance and can withstand conditions that far exceed even the most rigorous proposed ASTM standards. In conventional roofing applications, this product will also reduce the risk of failures caused by spot heating due to solar convergence.

The company notes that current ASTM testing is conducted at 240 degrees Fahrenheit and requires the roofing product to survive 28 days without changes in physical properties. GAF designed EverGuard Extreme to meet far more rigorous testing criteria; it can survive over 180 days at 280 degrees before failure occurs.

The PROtecta Pro-Line Horizontal Lifeline System from Capital Safety USA comes with a carrying bag and 60 feet of 2-inch lifeline webbing.

PROtecta Pro-Line Horizontal Lifeline System

With the new focus on fall protection by OSHA, all contractors are becoming more focused on personal fall arrest systems and other solutions to keep their roofers safe from falls. The same goes for suppliers who routinely work loading material on roofs. No worker is exempt, and with the slide-guard rule being taken off the table it becomes necessary to consider other alternatives.

There is a world of ropes and harnesses and retractable devices and carabineers and attachment devices. There is a world of rules relating to the proper use and care of this equipment. Paramount among all of this is worker training. The best fall protection equipment in the world is no good unless it is in suitable condition for use and deployed properly.

One system we can point to as user friendly is the PROtecta Pro-Line Horizontal Lifeline System from Capital Safety USA (www.capitalsafety.com). The package is complete and will provide a simple setup for roofers working at height on a variety of project styles. The first problem a roofer encounters on a residential structure is the attachment point. With the horizontal lifeline, two attachment points are required but the system gives roofers (or roof loaders) a great deal of lateral movement.

Lateral movement with fall arrest systems can be a problem with multiple roofers on the deck. With a horizontal lifeline system the “territory” for each roofer can be sized up and worked out early on and adjusted as the work progresses. The standard package comes with a carrying bag and 60 feet of 2-inch lifeline webbing. Always consult manufacturers’ instructions on the installation and limitation of any lifeline system.

X-Tred walkway pads from Firestone Building Products are easy to install, slip-resistant and do not impede water runoff.

X-Tred Walkway

Traffic on the roofs - before and after completion - is a problem at least as old as the first HVAC units placed on the roof. Walkway pads offer protection, but some can create drainage problems and trap water, encouraging microscopic growth. Affixing the pads to the membrane can also create problems down the road. The X-Tred walkway pad from Firestone Building Products (www.firestonebpco.com) is a simple solution to these concerns.

X-Tred is a premium walkway pad made of 100 percent TPO. It can be used on TPO, PVC and modified bitumen roofing systems. Its tread design is slip-resistant and does not impede water runoff. The pad can be loose laid, as its self-ballasting feature keeps it in place. It also means there is no heat welding or attachment to the membrane system. The pad is easily installed or removed to facilitate repairs, and it can be recycled at the end of its service life. X-Tred is available in 30-foot rolls with a width of 30 inches and weighs 1.2 pounds per foot.

Soprema’s Mini Macaden 1000 is a selfpropelled welder for modified bitumen applications.

Mini Macaden 1000 Hot Air Welding System

Introduced by Soprema (www.soprema.us) at the IRE, the Mini Macaden 1000 is the “flame-free” solution for weldable modified bitumen applications. The Mini Macaden 1000 not only welds full rolls of modified bitumen - it does it using considerably less fuel. And it does it with greater accuracy and less labor than conventional torch machines.

The maker claims, in fact, that the system installs four times more membrane per hour, and is equipped with a direction finder which ensures consistent and uniform welding while requiring up to 75 percent less propane compared to manual installation.

The design is complex. It has to be to achieve and maintain the kind of temperatures needed to weld modified bitumen. The engineering challenges are significant. The Mini Macaden is self-propelled and complete in nearly every way. The only thing the operator is required to do is to crank it up, load a roll on it, and get it started in the right direction. And then do it over again in a few minutes time. The operator uses touch-screen controls and aligns the modified roll through the cradle and beneath a special soft roller that presses the membrane down to the substrate as it goes down. Alignment adjustments are made with a joystick.

The best feature of the Mini Macaden 1000 has to be the elimination of the open flame. The many years of torch-application of modified bitumen membranes and we have yet to see a machine that could successfully weld a full roll of modified flame free. This could be the one.

Malco’s Kirk Langbehn demonstrates the TurboShear slate cutter at the International Roofing Expo.

Malco TurboShear Slate Cutter

Malco offers shears for cutting metal roofing and asphalt shingles designed for use with any drill - you just slip them on and cut away. A new product made its debut this year at the IRE: a shear designed to cut natural roofing slate.

Like the other Malco power shears, it easily attaches to any cordless or corded drill. It’s lightweight, portable, and can be used with one hand. However, this model produces an edge with a hand-cut appearance on roofing slate 4 millimeters to 8 millimeters thick. It can make straight, curved or angled cuts with ease. The blade is designed for long wear, and when the blade and padded skid plate reach the end of their useful life, they can be easily replaced on the job.

The WT6500 by Windtronics is a roof-mounted wind turbine designed to generate electricity from wind.

Windtronics WT6500 Wind Turbine

A windmill as an Editor’s Choice in a magazine for roofing contractors? OK, this one may seem a bit off the beaten path, but bear with us.

Shown at the 2011 IBS, the WT6500 Wind Turbine by Windtronics (www.windtronics.com) of Muskegon, Mich., is a roof-mounted wind turbine designed to generate electricity from the wind. And the company producing the system sees commercial roofing contractors as the ideal dealer to take the product to market and install it.

Like roof-mounted solar arrays, installing a wind turbine requires a lot of the same equipment and expertise that roofing does. The contractor has to have the ability to work at heights and on the roof without disturbing the watertight integrity of the roofing system. It could be a match made in heaven for enterprising commercial roofing contractors.

What is more intriguing about this concept than the synergistic nature of the installation is the fact that it could open up broad new business opportunities to contractors seeking to do more business with their existing client base. And as fossil-fuel prices continue to rise, the attention to this kind of solution grows and grows.

The RiskPro High Risk Hatch Safety Solution by SafePro L.P. (www.safeprosafety.com) features a guardrail assembly with a self-closing gate.

RiskPro - High Risk Hatch Safety Solution

While it is true that safety standards for roof hatches have been ramping up for years, the reality is they were not historically designed with the user in mind. This editor has climbed in and out of a number of roof hatches, and the experience is usually, in a word, “scary” when you approach the top rung of the ladder. In the past, roof hatches have been chosen primarily to do their part in building security while being structurally sound and maintaining watertight integrity. Nothing wrong with that until you actually climb in and out of the darn things.

Here is a system designed by roofing contractors to do more than keep wind, water, and bad guys out. The RiskPro High Risk Hatch Safety Solution by SafePro L.P. (www.safeprosafety.com) provides building owners with a roof access system that will keep their maintenance personnel safe while performing all the traditional functions of a roof hatch.

The RiskPro Solution consists of a tubular guardrail assembly with a self-closing gate, ladder extension, and a power hatch lift. The hatch lift is operated by wireless remote-control, leaving two hands free upon entering or exiting the hatch. The wireless remote is included and there is an optional card reader for higher security applications.

The hatch lift is powered by a solar-charged battery that is included in the package; 110-volt power is an option but requires an outlet within 6 feet of the hatch. The guardrail system is designed to be mounted without penetrating the flashing and the entire package can be used to retrofit any existing roof hatch. The guardrail system and the hatch lift are also offered individually.

Leister’s dual weld extruder welds both sides of a roofing profile in one step.

Leister Dual Weld Extruder

The use of roofing profiles to simulate the look of batten seam and standing seam metal roofs with single-ply membrane systems is becoming more commonplace. Leister (www.leister.com) has developed a tool to make their installation quicker and easier: the Dual Weld Extruder.

According to the company, the tool offers a quick, reliable way to join the roofing profiles to the single-ply membrane in one step. The ergonomically designed unit has four silicone wheels which straddle the profile, simultaneously welding the seams on each side. It has two different shapes to accommodate both standing seam and batten seam profiles.

Garlock’s Invisi-Rail system can be folded down when not needed so it can’t be seen from the ground.

Invisi-Rail From Garlock Safety Systems

Permanent guardrail systems are being specified on more low-slope commercial, institutional, and industrial roofing projects than ever before. With the new focus on fall protection from OSHA this trend is expected to continue.

A problem many building owners and plant managers have is in retrofitting existing buildings. Garlock Safety Systems (and others) have for years offered a variety of solutions that offer non-penetrating guardrail systems for this application. Some building owners find the guardrail systems do not blend well with the architectural look of their structures, which were designed without guardrails in mind. To accommodate them, Garlock Safety Systems offers Invisi-Rail (www.railguard.net).

The Invisi-Rail operates as a non-penetrating guardrail system, but with a bolt-on adapter the building facilities personnel can fold the railings down on the roof so they are not seen from the ground. The railings can be left down as long as there are no personnel working where the guardrails are required. When workers show up, the guardrails are there and can be easily erected.

DryFlekt Products offers a simple device that diverts water at the end of a wall flashing to prevent water damage.

DryFlekt Kick-Out Diverter Flashing

You have to love details. One that is a consistent problem is the diversion of water at the end of a flashing detail. We discovered a very unique flashing product at the Dow booth at the IBS. They were not selling or hawking the product, but they thought it was a great idea. We agreed.

You can immediately see that this product will have many applications, especially on sloped roofs. When you get to the end of a wall flashing, the right thing to do is to install a diverter that will send the water away from any other exposed vertical surface and send it into the roof drainage system (in some cases directly to the ground). But metal, the flashing of choice in most cases, is not that easy to form in the field. Besides, many roofers are going too fast to pay good attention to this sort of detail.

DryFlekt Products (www.dryflekt.com) offers a simple flashing “add-on” that provides the needed diversion for water that will otherwise get into all the wrong places and cause all kinds of problems as years go by. It’s a very worthwhile investment. It’s also a product that you can show a homeowner or building owner to set yourself apart from competition. You can show them you care about where every single drop of rainwater goes on the roof you are about to install.

Steve Bogner demonstrate how Polykool membrane is installed at the Polyglass booth at the IRE.

Polykool Membrane and Tape

Polyglass® USA, Inc. (www.polyglass.com) launched a new and improved version of its white, reflective Polykool® modified bitumen membrane at this year’s IRE. According to the company, this next generation of Polykool still features excellent reflectivity and emissivity, and the patented dual-compound, self-adhering ADESO® Technology, as well as a stronger surface.

The membrane is designed to be self-cleaning and anti-staining, making it suitable for even the harshest conditions, including fast-food chains, airports and educational facilities. It is easy to maintain, allowing the building owner to continue to have a pristine, white, reflective roof.

Polykool self-adhered membranes are listed by both Energy Star® and Cool Roof Rating Council with a reflectivity of 0.76 and a thermal emissivity of 0.80, directly aiding in the reduction of building energy costs and the heat island effect. Polykool is compliant with California’s Title 24 Energy Efficiency Building Standards and can be used to gain LEED credits.

Polykool is designed to be installed with Polykool Tape, a sealing tape used for roof seams and flashings that provides a uniform monolithic appearance. The tape features a technology that consists of a 100 percent solid formulation of synthetic resins, thermoplastic and non-curing rubber with a built-in primer and is resistant to contaminants on the roof surface.

Duo-Fast Construction offers the first cordless roofing nailer, the DFCR175C.

Duo-Fast Cordless Roofing Nailer

Remember the feeling when you saw a cordless phone for the first time? That’s the allure of Duo-Fast Construction’s cordless roofing nailer, which operates without the need of an external compressor or hose (www.duo-fastconstruction.com). The company’s fuel-powered cordless roofing nailer system (DFCR175C) has the necessary power without the setup time for a compressor-based system, making it perfect for a variety of one-man roof repair jobs, as well as hip and ridge replacement.

At 7.5 pounds, the tool is light and compact and features an adjustable depth of drive. It has a rechargeable battery and works with Roofer’s Choice™ Fuel + Nail packs, which are designed to never run out of fuel before they run out of nails. Each pack contains one fuel cell and 720 uniquely grooved nails with the PowerBoost™ black tip coating for greater ease of drive. The cordless nailer is not for every job, but it’s a great tool to have in your truck when you need it.

The Chem Link booth at the IRE was busy with contractors asking about its new single ply adhesive.

EPDM Single Ply Adhesive

When the folks at Chem Link (www.chemlinkinc.com) told this editor that their new EPDM Single Ply Adhesive had extremely low VOCs because it wasn’t solvent-based, it was easy to jump to the conclusion that it was another water-based adhesive. That conclusion was wrong.

Dennis Kelley, Chem Link’s National Brand Manager, noted that the new adhesive is not solvent-based or water-based. It’s a patented polymer formulation that’s composed of 100 percent solids.

The solvent-free, odor-free wet lay adhesive is designed to bond aggressively with most materials. It eliminates the health issues inherent with solvents. It’s not flammable, so transportation poses no problems; the adhesive is Ozone Transport Commission (OTC) compliant and exceeds all known VOC and regulatory requirements in North America.

Single-side application makes installation easier and quicker, saving time and money. According to Kelley, the adhesive offers improved performance as well as environmentally friendly characteristics. He noted systems incorporating the Chem Link adhesive have demonstrated values of 195 pounds per square foot in wind uplift tests at Underwriters Laboratories, and even then the mode of failure involved breakage of the insulation board, not adhesive failure. It’s not often a product can boast improved performance while minimizing the harmful impact on the environment and ensuring a safer workplace; only time will tell, but it appears Chem Link’s new adhesive does just that.

When exposed to sunlight, the Smog-Eating Tile from Boral Roofing breaks down nitrogen oxide, a major component of smog.

Boral's Smog-Eating Tile

Sometimes a product’s name is so interesting it almost guarantees further examination. This was the case with the Smog-Eating Tile from Boral Roofing (www.boralna.com). The company claims it is the first and only roofing system in the United States that reduces the formation of smog.

According to the company, when exposed to sunlight the concrete tile breaks down nitrogen oxide, a major smog component, making it safer to breathe the air. The tile contains a specially prepared catalyst - titanium dioxide - embedded in the upper part of the tile body. When exposed to sunlight, it speeds up the oxidization process, resulting in reduced pollution. The company maintains the photo-catalytic properties in the tile are long-lasting and kind to the environment. They have the added benefit of destroying organic substances that come into contact with the tile, including algae and organic dirt. The dirt and algae are then rinsed off with the rain.

The Smog-Eating Tile is the new line of roof tiles from MonierLifetile L.L.C., a Boral Roofing company, which claims that over one year, 2,000 square feet of the new tiles can destroy approximately the same amount of nitrogen oxide as a car produces from being driven 10,800 miles. While we can’t verify these scientific claims, it does seem clear that for home buyers and builders looking to minimize their smog footprint, this tile could be a very attractive option.

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