Spotlight on Single-Ply
GenFlex Roofing SystemsThere is definitely something new and innovative happening at GenFlex Roofing Systems, Maumee, Ohio. The company, which offers EPDM, TPO and PVC, has just introduced the industry’s first peel-and-stick TPO. The membrane comes with a pre-applied hot-melt adhesive, which cuts down on labor and eliminates VOCs. The 37.5-inch roll can cover a 3-square area, while weighing only 98 pounds. When directly applied to polyiso or wood-fiber board, the system has a UL Class A fire rating and meets FM 1-90 requirements. GenFlex is offering a TPO peel-and-stick 18.75-inch white curb flashing as well.
Also hot off the presses is 3-inch, white seam tape for fully adhered TPO. “This gives contractors the option of hot-air welding or using seam tape,” says Jim Burkett, director of marketing for GenFlex. Other product developments include a 12-foot-wide PVC sheet being produced at the company’s Muscle Shoals, Ala., plant.
On the marketing side GenFlex recently introduced its new Single-ply Workshop And Training (S.W.A.T.) program, designed to assist roofing contractors with increasing productivity and profits while reducing operating costs. As mentioned in the January 2003 issue of Roofing Contractor, the S.W.A.T. program focuses on teaching contractors how the market, and the business world in general, has changed over the last decade, and emphasizes the importance of constant re-evaluation of each contractor’s specific practices to continually improve their individual business.
Burkett doesn’t see an end to the upswing in the single-ply market. “Cool roofs and environmental requirements are helping the growth of white, thermoplastic systems,” he says. “Black, asphalt or torch-applied systems don’t have an answer for cool roofs or meeting Energy Star requirements.” Burkett also believes that while built-up roofing is loosing market share, “Designers and building owners are starting to recognize that white thermoplastic membranes will last for 15 to 20 years and reduce energy costs. This is supported by the growth in TPO and PVC.” Burkett adds that most “Big Box” retailers (such as Target and Lowes) are using white thermoplastic membranes on many of their buildings.
Stevens Roofing SystemsStevens Roofing Systems, Holyoke, Mass., offers TPO, PVC/Elvaloy and CSPE (Hypalon). The latest introduction from the company is an 80-mil TPO. Stevens EP-XL offers a typical puncture-resistance rating of 450 lbf., breaking strengths of up to 430 pounds, and brittleness to –70 F. In addition, the membrane is available with the Stevens PunctureGuard warranty and the Stevens GoGreen Reflectivity warranty.
Sam Everett, director of corporate communications for Stevens, sees a lot of opportunity for these thicker sheets, especially in urban areas where roofs experience a lot of foot traffic, vandalism and other damage. Another plus is “The building owner’s security with a thicker roof,” says Everett.
Also new at Stevens is the fact that the company is now manufacturing its own PVC/Elvaloy product, whereas before it was private-labeled. “Now that it’s in-house, we can control the process,” says Everett.
In terms of marketing, Stevens has not changed its approach. “Our strength is with building owners, but we believe in the ‘pull-through’ marketing approach,”’ says Everett. “Contractors are a critical component of that that process, and we have a lot of joint-marketing programs.”
Everett sees the continued growth of TPO and a continuation of the trend toward thermoplastics in general. He has also noticed a resurgence of Hypalon, saying that its use is “an opportunity for contractors to differentiate themselves.” Certain characteristics of the membrane, such as its fire resistance, “have always been superb,” continues Everett. Another trend on the single-ply scene, according to Everett, is that some building owners are moving away from wider sheets. He has seen some specifications with 7- and 8-foot limits. “There is concern about the long-term performance of 10- and 12-foot materials,” he says.
Sarnafil Inc.Sarnafil Inc., Canton, Mass., offers PVC and TPO systems. Jay Thomas, Sarnafil’s director of marketing, points to the availability of a 10-foot sheet, in addition to 6.5-foot sheets, as something new from the company.
Another innovation from Sarnafil is the D?r system — single-ply that looks like metal. Two versions are available. The first is D?r Profile, which consists of extruded sections welded to the finished Sarnafil PVC roof membrane. This system is designed to replicate the appearance of a metal rib. Made from the same formula as the company’s membrane, the profiles come in 10-foot lengths and are connected with dowels. The second D?r Profile system utilizes a post-and-rib system. The post is designed with a pre-welded base plate that supports a base rail and a cover piece of Sarnaclad metal. The post-and-rib system gives designers and building owners more flexibility. Both systems allow varied spacing of the profiles.
“The advantage of this system is that it is attractive to the architect. It gives the appearance of metal but it is flexible in terms of design,” says Thomas. “You can even put it on a flat roof if you want to, something you can’t do with real metal.”
Sarnafil’s marketing plan focuses on the building owner, with contractors as an integral part of the team. “Our key focus is on performance history. We have used the same formula for 40 years,” says Thomas. “With Sarnafil, there isn’t the risk of using a ‘new and improved’ system that ends up failing.”
Thomas predicts continued growth in the thermoplastic market because heat-weldable seams prevent leaks. Also, white reflective membranes are an increasingly popular choice in response to various state and local energy codes, as well as incentives offered by utilities companies. In some cases, Thomas points out, “You can save money by replacing a black roof with a white one, even if there are no problems.”
Versico Inc.Versico Inc., Akron, Ohio, offers a full line of TPO and EPDM systems. New things to look for, according to Mike McAuley, marketing manager, include 12-foot-wide TPO sheets and a 30-year total system warranty.
In addition, the company recently announced that it received UL Class A approval for VersiWeld SS (steep slope) TPO membranes in unlimited slope, fully adhered to gypsum applications. The product, in 45- and 60-mil thicknesses, is designed for use in specific higher-sloped roofing applications where UL & FM Class A fire ratings are required.
Versico also announced that with the increasing use of gypsum-type recovery boards in commercial roofing applications, the company is offering “Dens Deck distributed by Versico.” When a gypsum-type underlayment is needed, Dens Deck or Dens Deck Prime can be purchased through Versico. The product, labeled “Dens Deck - distributed by Versico” will be priced competitively with traditional Dens Deck.
Custom SealWhen Custom Seal, Fremont, Ohio, expanded its line of single-ply by adding TPO membranes, Steve Mayle, president, created a new machine specifically to address the need for custom curbs, outside corners and scupper boxes. Custom Seal is now the only roofing system manufacturer in the world that produces custom fabricated accessories for the TPO membrane.
In addition to a select group of independent reps across the country, the company advertises its products in various trade publications as well as targeted direct mail campaigns to selected markets. Mayle says, “There is no doubt, single-ply is the direction in which the roofing industry is moving, especially with rising fuel costs.”
GAF Materials Corp.The latest single-ply news at GAF Materials Corp., Wayne, N.J., is that the company has now added EverGuard EPDM to complete its full-line of single-ply membranes and accessories. EverGuard EPDM comes in wide sheets — available up to 40 feet by 100 feet — and its advanced formulation provides superior weathering and long-term performance.
GAF has also introduced TriPositeXL Extra-Long Life Roofing Systems, which combine aspects of asphalt and single-ply roofing systems with advanced insulating technology. The three key elements are: 1) Polyisocyanurate insulation, featuring a special, fiberglass-based facer; 2) The choice of either BUR or MB waterproofing layers, including the use of a patented venting base sheet; and 3) Single-ply, fleece-backed weathering membrane. The choice of membrane includes TPO or PVC, both offering a highly reflective white surface.
GAF markets its products to the contractor, specifier and building owner. Certified Contractor Programs offer value-added warranties for the company’s complete systems. Architects and specifiers have the Architectural Information Services hotline for any questions they may have. As for owners, “Being able to offer the full-line of single-ply membranes and accessories doesn’t limit property owners to just one option — now they can choose the best and safest product for their roofing needs,” says Jonathan Gardner, director of low-slope systems for GAF.Gardner sees the single-ply market as a whole continuing its momentum. “Single-ply systems are the fastest growing segment in low-slope roofing,” he says. “Architects, owners and roofing professionals alike have learned of the tremendous performance advantages of TPO and PVC, and the favorable cost of EPDM membrane systems.”
When asked where in the single-ply market GAF is competitive, Garnder responds, “No one offers a full line like GAF does … we are able to offer roofing solutions for any situation with the complete line of products. With the introduction of TriPositeXL, we now can offer the best of all single-ply technologies.”
IB Roof SystemsIB Roof Systems, Eugene, Ore., continues to stick with what works. “IB Roof Systems is not changing anything with regards to formulation,” says Shawn Stanley, marketing director. “A fantastic 20-plus-year track record makes a formulation change unwarranted.” The company has added tan and gray membrane to its 80-mil product line and has similarly enhanced its accessory line to include tan and gray nonreinforced flashing membrane.
“We have improved packaging and shipping of all product lines,” continues Stanley. “Even though there are no sweeping changes, we are always looking for newer, better technologies in manufacturing and distributing.”
In terms of marketing, “IB Roof Systems is always looking to increase its contractor base in areas that can be stronger. We market through roofing trade publications, direct mail, Web site referrals and personal visits,” says Stanley. He adds that the company is more competitive in the re-roof market than new construction.
“I see single-ply gaining market share over traditional BUR/asphalt roofing systems. Utilizing white membranes are having a huge impact on the environmental movement here in the USA,” Stanley observes. “Newer technologies and the ability to engineer different performance characteristics in a single-ply membrane give it an edge over systems that can’t offer such diversities. The market is asking flat roofing systems to do a lot more today than just keeping the building or home water tight. Energy efficiency, lighter weight, longer lasting and being more environmentally friendly are just a few of the areas we see the market heading.”
Duro-Last Roofing Inc.Duro-Last Roofing Inc., Saginaw, Mich., offers a PVC-based reinforced thermoplastic membrane available in white, gray and tan. “At Duro-Last, we’re celebrating 25 years of roofing excellence, and can attribute our success to a proven material formula and complete approach to the roofing market,” says Frederick D. Sitter,
marketing communications director for Duro-Last. Sitter says that the company makes ongoing improvements to its roofing system. “For example, we’re in the process of expanding our edge detail line,” he explains.
The company concentrates on promoting Duro-Last to highly regarded contractors who have solid reputations in their business communities. “The Duro-Last roofing system is prefabricated and manufactured to a building’s exact dimensions,” explains Sitter, “and we look for contractors who are interested in selling and installing the ‘World’s Best Roof,’ not a commodity product.”
Contractors who are part of the Duro-Last network are supported with a variety of tools to assist them in their local marketing activities, including the company’s Ad-PLUS advertising incentive program. “We also offer marketing literature, free design support, and a nationwide network of sales support and quality assurance staff,” says Sitter.
For building owners, facility managers and other specifiers, “We’ve established new brands to position Duro-Last in two unique market segments,” continues Sitter. “Our Duro-Last Cool ZoneT roofing system has the highest initial and weathered reflectivity of any single-ply membrane system (as determined by Energy Star roof products testing procedures), providing significant energy savings for buildings that have the … system installed.” The second system is the Duro-Shield metal retrofit roofing system, designed for buildings with flat or low-sloped metal roofs that have deteriorated.
“Market data shows that single-ply systems comprise the fastest growing segment of the roofing industry and Duro-Last is in the perfect position to take advantage of this trend,” says Sitter about the single-ply market. “We continue to set ourselves apart by delivering high-quality, pre-fabricated systems that are backed by the industry’s best commercial warranty — one that does not exclude ponding water or consequential damages — and by providing unparalleled support to our customers.”
FibertiteFibertite Roofing Systems by Seaman Corp., Wooster, Ohio, manufactures thermoplastic EIP-coated membranes utilizing DuPont KEE as the principal polymer within the coating matrix. “We haven’t changed our core formula in 24 years. Some of our oldest roofs are still protecting buildings in the high UV areas of Florida,” Joe Gaspro of Seaman Corp. explains.
“The ‘fiber’ in FiberTite begins with the industry’s highest tensile polyester yarns, densely packed and knitted together to lay the strongest fabric foundation available in roofing membranes,” he continues. “The knitted fabric then receives a unique proprietary pre-treatment to establish a molecular bond between the fabric and our inimitable KEE compound during the coating process. FiberTite was the benchmark for the new ASTM D6754-02 specification.”
Johns ManvilleJohns Manville, Denver, offers a full line of single-ply roofing membranes under the UltraGard brand name. The company has expanded its offering in both the EPDM and TPO product lines by adding 90-mil EPDM and 82- and 80-mil TPO. “We are continuing with a strong emphasis in our new product development efforts,” says Patrick Kelly, product manager, Single Ply Roofing.
Johns Manville has several new initiatives in its single-ply marketing as well. “Using newly gathered ‘Voice of the Customer’ information and working with our distributor partners, we have designed and are in the process of launching multiple marketing initiatives,” says Kelly. A new PVC program includes a features-and-benefits brochure, technical data and sample specifications that have been developed for contractors, specifiers and building owners.
There is also a new interactive CD featuring all of the UltraGard technical information as well as sample specifications and submittal packets. Finally, “We have redesigned and updated our contractor handbook to be more user friendly,” explains Kelly. “EPDM and TPO have been split into separate volumes for ease of use and the pared down handbooks are now available in both English and Spanish.”
Firestone Building ProductsFirestone Building Products, Carmel, Ind., offers several different roofing systems, including EPDM, PVC and TPO in the single-ply market. The company is putting a renewed emphasis on its EPDM products and its new extended warranties
“What's ‘new’ at Firestone is actually pretty old!” explains Jim Hoff, Firestone’s vice president of marketing. Firestone touts the “unmatched weatherability” of EPDM combined with “time-proven application techniques.” As a result, the company is offering its longest warranty yet: 30 years covering both materials and labor. Says Hoff, “The outstanding toughness of 90-mil Platinum (EPDM) membrane — the industry’s thickest monolithic roofing membrane — allows Firestone to provide coverage against hail and accidental puncture, while virtually eliminating the need for periodic maintenance.”
According to Hoff, the need for such a roofing system is also not a new trend. “For the past 10 years, the U.S. tax code has forced building owners to depreciate the cost of a new roof over a time period that exceeds three decades,” he explains. “To get the full tax value out of that depreciation, building owners need a roof that can actually last three decades or longer .… In addition to long-term financial implications, building owners also face ever-tightening operating budgets that cannot handle excessive and unexpected maintenance costs.”
As for contractors, Hoff says they are at the core of Firestone’s approach to the roofing market. “Without the dedication and commitment of the best contractors in the industry, no roofing manufacturer can be successful in the long run,” he says. “We are … gratified to see how important the Firestone Master Contractor and Inner Circle of Quality programs have become in designating the best in commercial roofing practice today.” In addition, “Every Firestone marketing effort directed at building owners and specifiers emphasizes the unique partnership between Firestone and Firestone licensed contractors.”
Finally, because Firestone manufactures every major flat roofing product, including rubber, thermoplastic and modified bitumen membranes as well as built-up roofing felts, “… we recognize each of these systems offers unique features and benefits that can be the ‘best choice’ for any particular roofing application,” says Hoff. “We also recognize the commercial roofing market is highly fragmented, with literally dozens of roofing manufacturers promoting specific products and system types.”
Hoff believes that a “fragmentation of marketing ‘voices’” can lead to “misperceptions” regarding different roofing systems, EPDM in particular. In response, Firestone has been actively involved in the formation of the EPDM Roofing Association to promote the product’s benefits and performance history. “We believe EPDM has an untold story that will appeal to today’s building owners,” Hoff explains. “EPDM offers low initial cost, low maintenance cost, and long service life that can provide building owners with the most sustainable solution to their roofing needs.”
Carlisle SynTecCarlisle SynTec, Carlisle, Pa., offers EPDM and TPO systems. The company recently introduced its 30-Year Golden-Seal Total System Warranty, utilizing the its thickest membrane — 90-mil EPDM. The warranty’s coverage includes membrane, insulation, fasteners and metal edgings and provides coverage for accidental punctures. The 30-year fully adhered roofing system can be applied over approved substrates to qualify for Factory Mutual’s 1-90 rating and Underwriters Laboratories UL Class A rating.
Carlisle has also introduced 60-mil EPDM and FleeceBACK membranes with factory-applied tape. According to the company, consistent placement of this SecurTAPE maximizes the splice area by controlling the placement within plus or minus 1/8 inch.
Finally, having recently expanded to accommodate growing sales, Carlisle’s TPO manufacturing facility has again invested heavily into new technology for the production of Sure-Weld FleeceBACK membranes. These membranes consist of an internally reinforced 45-mil- or 60-mil-thick membrane laminated to 55 mils of woven polyester fleece.
By offering these new products, Carlisle believes it can offer contractors products and systems that increase application speed, improve seaming productivity and get buildings “in the dry” much faster. In addition, specifiers, architects and building owners can be assured of outstanding value, long-term performance, low maintenance, and installation versatility.