This year brings advances in productivity as well as materials and systems that will deliver improved building-envelope performance.

Carlisle SynTec Inc., Carlisle, Pa., celebrated its production of 10 billion square feet of single-ply roofing.
In spite of challenges with price and availability of some raw materials, the roofing industry continues to move forward in 2005. This year brings advances in productivity as well as materials and systems that will deliver improved building-envelope performance. Roofing Contractor stays in touch with these advances by maintaining a variety of contacts in the industry and by attending key industry shows and conventions.

The primary shows this winter featured productivity advances by way of some innovative equipment, but mostly by advanced materials technologies. Another theme was energy efficiency, as illustrated by cool roofing systems, garden roofs, and even some new initiatives in rooftop solar systems.

There are a number of industry events each winter, and our editors and contributors attend darn near all of them. Most new products were introduced to the world by way of the International Builders Show and the International Roofing Expo, both held this year in Orlando, Fla. Roofing Contractor was proud to be the official publication for the IRE.

GAF Freedom TPO is a self-adhering membrane that comes in both 5- and 10-foot rolls.

New Products

GAF Materials Corp., Wayne, N.J., delivered a stand-up triple to the IRE with the newest addition to its line of single-ply roofing products. The company claims that its product drastically improves productivity with an application that is environmentally friendly and a surface that qualifies it for an ENERGY STAR rating. So leave your kettle, torch, and welder home to install the new 10-foot widths of GAF Freedom™ TPO with RapidSeam™.

The Freedom TPO membrane is a self-adhering TPO that comes in both 5- and 10-foot rolls. RapidSeam, available now on the 10-foot rolls and later this year on the 5-foot rolls, is a patent-pending technology that nearly eliminates field seam preparation. The wider rolls will be welcome on larger projects where seaming and material-handling labor will be sharply reduced.

Roofing Contractor has reported on the emergence of cool roof shingles available in colors (February 2005, "Changing the Face of Roofing," by Shawn Holiday). Elk Premium Building Products, Dallas, has teamed up with 3M Industrial Mineral Products Division and is producing an intriguing line of earth-toned shingles with solar-reflective granules. This technology is still very new, but there should be no doubt that the consuming public is interested in any new product claiming to contain the rising cost of energy. Keep an eye on this one.

GAF started the designer shingle revolution many years ago with its Timberline series. Now the company has introduced Grand Timberline, an upscale version of the original that is 33 percent thicker and 50 percent bigger than standard-sized designer shingles. At 17 inches by 40 inches, Grand Timberline will save on application labor and will provide a unique, massive appearance on the roof that is sure to please discriminating owners.

A 103-year-old building-materials firm is the new kid on the block for roofing products. USG Corp., Chicago, has announced the entry of Securock™ Roof Board, a solid-core fiber-reinforced coverboard. Securock Roof Board is designed to be moisture-resistant and mold-resistant, provides excellent wind-uplift performance and exceptional bond strength, and is manufactured from 95 percent recycled material. Securock also claims excellent fire performance (ASTM E084 Flame Spread 5, Smoke Developed 0).

Securock can be used as a component in single-ply, fluid-applied, built-up, spray foam, metal, and modified-bitumen roofing systems. Like any truly new product for use in a variety of roofing systems, it will take some time for specific assembly approvals to come on stream. It will be interesting to see how this new product will perform in the competitive and demanding roofing marketplace.

Speaking of "experienced" companies, our old friend Johns Manville, Denver, has begun to tout one of its longstanding core competencies: engineered fabrics. JM's Engineered Products Group (EPG) markets to the construction industry, including fabrics for the manufacture of steep-sloped and low-sloped roofing products in the United States, as well as Asia, the Middle East and Europe.

EPG is broken into four business units: High Performance Nonwovens, Reinforcements, Glass Textiles, and Construction Materials & Services. Roofing Contractor recently learned a few interesting things about this segment of JM's international business. To begin with, JM claims a number one position in glass fiber nonwovens and polyester spunbonds for roofing carriers. A truly international business, focus areas for growth include the emerging markets of Eastern Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

This international footprint and the investment JM is making in this important segment of their business should yield innovations in products that will be required to keep the roofing industry pushing the productivity envelope into the future.

USG Corp., Chicago, has announced the entry of Securock Roof Board, a solid-core fiber-reinforced coverboard.

News, Events and Other Initiatives

Four single-ply roofing manufacturers celebrated milestone events in the history of their respective companies. Carlisle SynTec Inc., Carlisle, Pa., celebrated its production of 10 billion square feet of single-ply roofing. Firestone Building Products, Carmel, Ind., has marked the 25th anniversary of its benchmark product, RubberGard™ EPDM. GenFlex Roofing Systems, Maumee, Ohio, and Stevens Roofing Systems, Holyoke, Mass., are both celebrating 25 years in business.

Firestone also introduced a new packaging for its polyiso product. This innovation is truly useful and long overdue. The packaging is a heavy-duty wrap that is superior in strength and stability to the conventional baggie. So much so, it will be unnecessary for truckers to tarp the loads while transporting flatbed loads. This is a great safety feature for truckers and suppliers who risk falls from height when tarping double-stacked loads of iso.

It would not be right to leave out our Choice for tradeshows for 2005: the International Roofing Expo produced by Hanley-Wood and sponsored by the National Roofing Contractors Association. For the "handoff" year in the changing of this important industry event, it was an overwhelming success. Congratulations to NRCA president Dane Bradford, executive vice-president, Bill Good, and Hanley-Wood senior show director, Rick McConnell.

A joint venture between GAF, The Center for the Advancement of Roofing Excellence (CARE), the NRCA, and the International Racing League (IRL) has created "Winning Ways of Winning Teams." This 30-minute DVD is available at no charge through CARE, an educational institute supported by GAF, US Intec, and Building Materials Corporation of America.

This is not your standard safety or team-building DVD. Using the experience of all these industry groups and the IRL, combined with a slick and fast-paced production, this DVD will be a winner at any safety meeting, sales meeting, production, or team-building meeting. This is the second such collaboration, and we highly recommend that roofing contractors latch onto a copy and share it with your teams. "Winning Ways of Winning Teams" is also suitable for use by roofing suppliers and other industry interests.

We have noted the emergence of the Cool Roof Ratings Council as the premier rating authority for cool roofing products. Roofing manufacturers have taken note as well, and we could not help but notice as we travel around the industry that we are seeing the CRRC logo being featured prominently in literature and on point-of-sale displays of cool roofing products.

Speaking of cool roofing, ERSystems, a manufacturer of cool roofing products, has recently completed construction of its new headquarters facility. A 50,000-square-foot plant and office complex in Rockford, Minn., the roof features a 5,000-square-foot Prairie Garden Roof and 40,000 square feet of roofing with a highly reflective coating. The balance has a natural dark-surfaced membrane roof. As part of the construction of the facility, there are separate HVAC units working on top of each of the three roof assemblies, and monitoring equipment to measure the effects of each on energy consumption.

The project also has some other unique features, including electricity-producing windmills and 10,000 square feet of pervious Prairie Garden paving. Monitoring of the roof can be viewed in real time by way of a Webcast that is set up on this "no high-tech innovation spared" building. The project is registered with the United States Green Building Council LEED program, and ERSystems expects it to be certified in late 2005.

CertainTeed has announced that its credentialed roofing contractors may be able to obtain comprehensive insurance coverage from top-rated insurance carriers by way of an exclusive arrangement with Norman Spencer McKernan, Inc. (NSM). In addition to that, CertainTeed announced a new arrangement with GB HomeImprovement Lending whereby CertainTeed's credentialed contractors can now directly connect homeowners to a home equity loan or line of credit to finance home improvement projects.

CertainTeed also caught our attention with the news that it has stepped up its NASCAR sponsorship of the #0 NetZero/Best Buy Chevy Monte Carlo driven by Mike Bliss. Keep an eye on Roofing Contractor for more on this interesting development.

New Technologies

We noted competing solar-panel systems from Kyocera and Sharp that were designed for application as part of an interlocking concrete tile roof. Both systems are said to be nearly "ready for prime time," so expect to see and hear more about this innovation, particularly in some Sunbelt regions where tile dominates the steep-slope market.

FM Approvals, a member of the FM Global Group, has announced the rollout of RoofNav, a new software tool that will help the user design FM Approved roofing systems in a fraction of the time it used to take using paper documents. RoofNav promises not only to cut down on the time it takes to find an FM Approved assembly, but will reduce the instances of errors and will even produce paper reports for presentation and submittal. According to a recent survey of building owners by Roofing Contractor and Buildings magazines, 87 percent of building owners surveyed indicated that FM Approved roof assemblies are a "must have" or at least a "should have" for their buildings.

RoofNav is a robust, dynamic piece of software that stands to revolutionize the FM Approvals process. FM Approvals plans to demonstrate the capabilities of RoofNav by way of online seminars to be presented to interested parties several times each month. It is expected that RoofNav will be popular with building designers as well as roof consultants and roofing contractors.

New Equipment

Firestone introduced QuickTaper, a machine that allows the application of 3-, 6-, or 7-inch Firestone QuickSeam™ Tape. With the QuickTaper, the mechanic can install traditional hand-rolled seams while standing up.

In a constant state of innovation, Garlock Equipment Co., Plymouth, Minn., has once again produced another answer to a common production problem. Garlock has introduced the new Ranger Twin-Gun Sprayer.

This unique airless spray outfit features the ability for two sprayers to work at once, but its real versatility comes from the quick-change lower units. Lighter materials such as primers or elastomerics can be sprayed using the 22:1 lower unit. For heavier materials such as adhesives, you would change to the 30:1 lower unit. Garlock has developed a vast array of spray equipment and accessories and can equip nearly any spray job for nearly any climate.

Our good friends at Reeves Roofing Equipment Co. introduced the new patent-pending "Shingle Cap Cutter." This simple device, which mounts on a workbench or on the 2-inch hitch receiver of your pickup truck, makes easy work of making hip-and-ridge shingles from three-tabs. In one easy stroke, one three-tab shingle becomes three caps.

How do you improve on an extension ladder? American Innovations Corp. has answered that question with several new devices. The one that caught my attention was the WT02 Ladder Walk-Through Railing System. Claiming to "eliminate the most awkward and dangerous maneuver of entering and exiting an extension ladder at the top," this device consists of two rail extensions made of aluminum with stainless steel hardware. When secured to the top of the extension ladder, they allow the user to walk onto the roof straight through the center rather than having to swing to the left or right around the top of the ladder.

Other "improvements" to the ladder include a choice of several ladder dollies that allow you to wheel your ladder into position, and the LL05 Ladder Lift. The LL05 claims, "One person alone can easily lift up to a 40-foot extension ladder" by use of gas springs. Unfortunately we were unable to see a demonstration of the LL05, but it looks like a reasonable concept on paper.

All Things Considered

The roofing industry moves forward on the wheels of innovations such as these. Thanks to those who take the risk to try new methods and who work to build a better mousetrap. Those of us who work in this industry are better off for your efforts, and so are our home and building-owner customers.