One of the most important decisions you’ll make for your facility is what you put on the roof. It’s an expensive decision, so you’ll want to feel confident your choice will protect your assets.
The commercial roofing market is flooded with options that range greatly in price and performance. Emerging as a top choice is the single ply membrane roofing system, a roofing solution that has proven to be a great high-performance, long-term investment. Many manufacturers produce membranes that are lightweight, energy efficient, and easy to maintain.
But not all membrane systems are created equal. The right questions will help you determine which one will work best.
1. What is the product’s performance record?
Look for proof that the product already stands up to the tests you plan to give it. If you want your roof to last 20 years, withstanding exposure to harsh chemicals and intense sunshine, ask the manufacturer for examples of similar success stories. Be aware: Many products that start out performing like champions lose their original physical properties with age. Request aged physical property tests.
2. Who stands behind the system and what kind of service and warranty do they offer?
Don’t overestimate the value of a warranty. In many cases, it’s just a piece of paper used as a marketing tool. A warranty for 15 or 20 years makes you feel safe the day you buy it, but first get proof that the roof system – or its manufacturer – will last that long.
Take time to understand the warranty, especially its exclusions. Many warranties are pro-rated and exclude common conditions like ponding water, hail, oil, or grease. Definitions for wind speed can be vague. Request references to measure customer satisfaction with warranty claims.
Big or small manufacturer, nothing is more important than their integrity and proven commitment to service and product performance.
3. Who will install my roof and what is their experience with this system?
The best roof system in the world put in the wrong hands can fail. The quality of the finished product depends on the experience of the installer. See if the product manufacturer provides installation training and ask for a complete project list to verify customer satisfaction.
4. Will this system remain viable over time, allowing me to make alterations or repairs?
Some systems’ original physical properties change with age, making them next to impossible to modify or repair. It’s common to make alterations after installation, such as changing the HVAC system, or adding rooftop equipment or exhaust fans. Make sure repairs meet manufacturer’s specifications to lessen possible frustrations.
5. Does this system meet the performance standards required by my insurance company?
Make sure you understand the local fire codes and your insurance underwriter’s requirements regarding the fire and wind performance characteristics of your roof. Communicate them to the supplier. Remember: Many systems lose the integrity of their performance ratings with time.
In the end, your choice will only be as good as your information. Understanding your requirements and the roofing system’s capabilities will make a big difference in your satisfaction. Kim Seaman is marketing & communications coordinator at Seaman Corp.,Wooster, OH.