What is the best roof system? This question is posed to members of our industry on a daily basis. Although there are strong opinions from all sectors of the industry on the answer to this question, the answer actually depends on several factors.
Contrary to popular opinion, the maintenance-free roof system is a misnomer. All types of roofs require a certain level of attention. In fact, from the moment of installation, the roofing system undergoes continuous deterioration. Extreme temperature fluctuations as well as snow, ice, hail and wind prevail upon the roofing surface. In short, the elements are the biggest deterrents to the roof system over its service life. Traffic on the roof and the installation of mechanical and other equipment can also cause physical damage that could lead to roofing failures.
In the past few decades, solar cell technology has evolved from powering calculators to powering emergency road signs, parking lot lights and satellites to providing all of the electrical power for houses.
Over the course of the year, your company probably spends a significant amount of time and resources in providing training in such areas as computer operations, equipment operation and organizational procedures. These are all important elements of a successful company. However, they are all ancillary items, which can increase efficiency but do not add to the bottom line. In most cases, the type of formal training that will benefit your company the most is never provided: training for the applicators.
Most roofing experts would agree that it is a best practice to apply underlayments on steep-slope shingle applications. Underlayments provide benefits to the roof system at the deck and shingle components. These benefits add to the long-term weatherproofing success of the roof system. Another primary reason for their use is that most building codes require the application of underlayments on steep-slope roofs.
To a large extent, successful roof applications are completed by skilled mechanics that conduct systematic tasks in a repetitive manner. Repetition increases the skill level, which in turn increases productivity. This is a constant in an industry that (largely) derives profit from production. Most companies train their mechanics to be productive workers. There is one sector of the industry that requires a different mindset: the repair sector. Skills required here include patience, persistence and analytical thought.
A properly implemented roof management and maintenance program could effectively extend the service life of a roof system and eliminate some of the complexities associated with this critical building component. Detailing the procedures and benefits of a well-executed roof management program can help contractors convince building owners of the merits of instituting such a program, to the advantage of both parties.
The roofing industry is now at a point where we should collectively define a uniform standard for the determination of moisture content in roof systems. It is time to move past the days of the "educated toe," i.e., subjective claims of how the system felt as it was walked across. A standard would benefit all sectors of the industry preventing frivolous lawsuits and unsubstantiated claims driven by the pursuit of profit.