This product is a lightweight synthetic textile fiber designed for use as an alternative to traditional fiberboard and perlite insulations.

Are you bored with your usual roofing routine? Do you want to try something that is different, yet effective and labor saving? How about something that makes you rich, thin and popular?

OK, just kidding about that last part, but you should still investigate Nova Rollout from Leggett and Platt, Textile and Fiber Division, Nashville, Tenn. This product is a lightweight synthetic textile fiber designed for use as an alternative to traditional fiberboard and perlite insulations under thermoset and thermoplastic single-ply roofing membranes. The roll product can also be used as a substitute for other single-ply separator sheet materials. It is composed of processed textile fiber that is needled for strength and resin-bonded for durability.

Nova Rollout is available in 6-foot by 60-foot and 12-foot by 60-foot rolls that cover 360 square feet and 720 square feet respectively. One 360-square-foot roll weighs only about 65 pounds and covers the same area as 11 4-foot by 8-foot sheets of fiberboard or perlite.

According to Karl VanBecelaere, executive vice president for Leggett & Platt's Textile and Fiber Division, "We have a product that replaces coverboards in a re-cover situation in a membrane application. That's when they use our product - when you would traditionally use wood fiberboard and screws."

And speaking of screws, "It doesn't require as many fasteners to hold it down," says division president, Norman Manning. He adds that with respect to moisture resistance, the all-synthetic fiber will not disintegrate like a typical board and will not support mold and mildew. It also prevents problems with termites.

VanBecelaere explains that the material's physical properties - such as puncture and tear resistance, tensile strength, and flexibility for handling and positioning - make it easier to use for going around pipes, AC units, skylights, etc. "It's easier to cut and adapt using an electric knife or scissors," he says.

Rene M. Dupuis, PhD, PE, of Structural Research Inc., Middleton, Wis., attests to Nova Rollout's technical merits. "The material has demonstrated a remarkable ability to withstand high rooftop temperatures with moisture present," he says. "I personally cut into an EPDM roof that was used to recover an older EPDM roof. Water had gotten into, and was lying beneath, the new EPDM, and it was trapped on top of the old EPDM. The Nova Rollout had beeen there for about five years cooking under the EPDM during the hot summers, immersed in water."

Dupuis says that he extracted samples of the Nova Rollout and tested them for strength and resilience to see what was lost due to wet heat aging on the roof. "The material tested out as almost new, which is way above and beyond where any other overlayment product that I have seen could ever hope to be," he reports. "Wood fiberboard would have been destroyed and foam overlays would eventually pick up moisture, leaving the top membrane vulnerable to mechanical damage if walked on."

Dupuis adds, "The product offers physical properties and resistance to heat aging (in the presence of moisture) that I have not seen in other materials commonly used for a separator or divorcement or protection layer." In addition, "The material is a recycled product, which has a lot of environmental appeal."

While Dupuis says that several single-ply manufacturers immediately saw the usefulness of this material, now having been on the market for about five years, he believes that it has yet to be appreciated and understood by contractors. "The product's origin is from the commercial, heavy duty carpet industry and may not offer enough glamour to the contractors," he says. "Sometimes the solution to a problem is right in front of you and you cannot see it."

We did, however, find a contractor who gives a glowing review. Herman Schrader, president of JD Hilton Roofing, Chattanooga, Tenn., began using Nova Rollout two years ago. Why did he try it in the first place? "I was looking for an alternative to the 1/2-inch wood fiberboard," he says. "It was a good replacement - easy to handle."

Schrader only uses the product on certain occasions, usually a smooth-surface built-up roof. One recent job involved a 120,000-square-foot factory. It took crews only a week to complete, no doubt aided by the rollout product. "It's a 750-square-foot roll - just roll it out and you have a good sized area covered," says Schrader. On this project, the crew used the Nova Rollout over a gravel-surfaced built-up roof and then covered it with a Carlisle mechanically attached EPDM membrane.

Schrader definitely recommends this product to other contractors. "Try it, you can pick up a lot of time," he says. "It will save you a lot of labor - two guys can handle 750 square feet relatively easy. I recommend it to anyone who hasn't tried it, it's labor saving and works really well."