Searching for an Answer to their Leaky Roof, Church Finds a Savior in Carlisle SynTec

Jan. 5, 2007
Local Roofing Contractor and Sure-Weld® TPO Offer St. John the Evangelist Church a Unique Roofing Solution

(Carlisle, PA) - The Roman Catholic Church, with a centuries-old history of sacred customs and rituals, seldom ventures far from its traditional path.  But one Catholic church in upstate New York decided to take a chance and go outside of the box to find a solution for its failing roof.

St. John the Evangelist Church in Greece, New York, is a uniquely designed building that features two rooftops - a lower level roof that covers the main entrance and an upper level roof that sits atop the church’s large sanctuary.  Both rooftops wrap around a central tower that extends high into the air, but the lower roof is low-sloped while the upper roof is drastically steeper.

When the church was originally constructed it featured a standing seam metal roof on the lower level and an interlocking flat seam roof on the upper level - both were installed over a tongue and groove wood deck.  That design proved to be impractical, as condensation quickly began forming under the metal, leading to severe leakage problems.  The metal roof was eventually replaced with a single-ply, PVC system, but over the past few years that roof began to experience leaks as well.  Knowing that the leaks would become a serious problem for its 5,000-plus parishioners, the church began shopping around for a replacement.

“The old PVC membrane was becoming very brittle and we were patching leaks and holes several times a year,” said Father Forni, pastor at St. John’s.  “Not only that, but its overall appearance was declining.  It was beginning to look very dirty.”

Working together with architects at Konopka Architecture PC from nearby Rochester, the church decided to replace their existing roof with a uniquely designed, Sure-Weld® TPO roof system from Carlisle SynTec.  Traditionally used on low-sloped roofs with minimal personality, Konopka incorporated the 72-mil, grey Sure-Weld system in such a way that the church’s rooftops now look like a combination of standing seam and interlocking metal roofs.

“We wanted the roof to look like it did when it was originally built,” said Michael Konopka, owner of Konopka Architecture PC.  “Flat seam and standing seam metal roofs would not have been warranted because of the slopes and valleys of the roofs, so we began looking for options.  We considered a number of systems, but the Carlisle TPO offered the most cost-effective, long-term solution.”

Given the task of installing this unique roof system was Upstate Roofing, Inc., a local contractor with over thirty years of experience installing Carlisle roofing products.  Upstate is a multiple recipient of Carlisle’s prestigious ESP (Excellence in Single-Ply), one of the most recognized awards in the roofing industry.  Having installed more than 500 flawless Carlisle roof systems, based on inspections from Carlisle’s technical service representatives, Upstate is also a distinguished member of Carlisle’s Hall of Fame.

“We are very comfortable with the Carlisle brand.  They are an industry leader and a long-time expert in the roofing business,” said Dave Pastore, president and owner of Upstate Roofing.

To make the church’s new roof look like a metal roof, Upstate utilized Carlisle’s Sure-Weld Coated Metal.  Available in four-foot by 10-foot sheets, Sure-Weld Coated Metal is a galvanized steel sheet that is coated with a layer of non-reinforced Sure-Weld flashing.  This allows Carlisle’s Sure-Weld membranes to be heat welded directly to the coated metal, eliminating the need to strip in the metal with a separate piece of membrane.

Upstate cut and formed the coated metal into battens that would later be installed onto the roof.  By mimicking the appearance of standing seam and flat seam metal roofs, these battens are what make the church’s new Sure-Weld roof system look like a traditional metal roof.

The 26,000-square-foot roof required a lot of these custom-formed battens.  In fact, Upstate used over 500 sheets of the Sure-Weld coated metal, forming the appropriate-sized battens over the winter so they would be ready when the job began in the spring.  The battens featured 4 3/4-inch flanges that provided ample room for welding the membranes to them and fastening them to the roof deck.

“We formed over 10,000 linear feet of the Sure-Weld Coated Metal from January to March,” said Pastore.  “All of that work actually kept a number of our employees from being laid off, which typically happens due to the decreased amount of work during the cold, New York winters.”

After all of the battens were formed and the weather cleared up, Upstate began work on the roof by tearing off the existing PVC membrane.  The six- to eight-member crew installed 7/16-inch OSB directly over the existing 1 1/2-inch polyisocyanurate insulation, removing and replacing the insulation only where leaks had occurred.

Breaking the rooftop into six different sections, Upstate then began the batten installation at the highest point on the roof and worked their way down, completing one section before moving onto the next.  On the upper level the battens were installed horizontally across the roof at a rate of 72 inches on center, while the lower roof battens were installed vertically at a rate of 20 inches on center.  The layout and subsequent distance between the battens is what gives the upper and lower rooftops their apparent flat and standing seam appearance.

Using Carlisle’s HP fasteners, Upstate installed the battens and then began the membrane application.  The distance between the battens was not the standard width of Carlisle’s Sure-Weld TPO membranes, which are six, eight, 10 and 12 feet wide, so Upstate had to cut the membranes to fit.  “We were working with six-foot wide sheets, so virtually everything had to be cut,” said Pastore.

After the Sure-Weld membranes were cut, Upstate laid them into place between the battens and heat-welded them to the flanges on the coated metal.  According to Pastore, “We cut the membranes so they overlapped the batten flanges by two inches, which provided our crew with enough room to get under the membrane and weld the seams to the flange.” 

Because of the unique design and the seams’ close proximity to the formed battens, Upstate was unable to utilize a machine welder and instead had to hand weld every seam.  After the seams were welded, project specifications required Upstate to finish the installation by sealing all of the cut edges with Carlisle’s Sure-Weld Cut-Edge Sealant to ensure a proper seal and watertight roof.

Making the installation of this unique roof system even more difficult were the daily masses and occasional weddings that interrupted Upstate’s work.  Before they even began work on the roof, Upstate made an agreement with the church to refrain from working during most church services. 

“Upstate did an amazing job of working around our busy schedule,” said Father Forni.  “They caused no major disruptions to our church life.”

And with its new Sure-Weld roof and 20-year warranty from Carlisle the church will not have to worry about disruptions for a long time.

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