New Roof Brings Hope to Families in San Diego

Aug. 15, 2006

Roofing professionals agree that design and performance are two of the most important attributes of any roofing system. These qualities can only be long-term if the roof is properly maintained - a task that some building owners neglect. The consequences of improper roof maintenance are hindered performance and functionality, sometimes leading to roof degradation.

The detrimental repercussions of improper roof care are not only an issue for current building owners, but also for new owners that move into an existing building. That was the case for San Diego-based Rebuilding Together San Diego (RTSD), a non-profit, grassroots organization and local affiliate of the nation’s largest volunteer home-rehabilitation organization, which moved into an existing building that had a roof that wasn’t maintained.

“We knew once we purchased the warehouse that it was in desperate need of a roof renovation,” says Pamela Thorsch, executive director at RTSD. Since 1995, Thorsch, along with volunteers, has taken part in an annual “April Event Day” to rebuild homes for low-income families in San Diego at no cost to recipients. To expand efforts for a year-round program, RTSD had to acquire a warehouse to store items for homeowners and to serve as its headquarters. With limited funds, RTSD purchased a less-expensive, distressed facility, which included a residential home on the property offering temporary housing for a family affected by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

The original roof on the 3,500-square-foot warehouse, which included low and flat slopes, was old, neglected, and in need of a complete tear-off and re-roof, according to Thorsch. With a 3-ply roof that had a rotted wood structure, there was extensive work to be done before a new roof could be installed.

In addition to the low-slope roof, the steep-slope roof on the residential home was neglected and in need of new shingles.

Similar to any roof renovation, a major concern was that the warehouse roof needed protection from the elements. The roof had to be watertight for San Diego’s rainy season in mid-January, explains David Susi, president at RSI Roofing, who contributed to the roof repairs.

With knowledge of the situation at hand, Rand McReynolds, western director of sales at Polyglass, a world leader in modified commercial and residential roofing products, and recognized leader of SA self-adhesive membranes with ADESO® technology, offered a solution that would meet all the needs of the warehouse roof.

Polyglass donated Elastoflex® SA V and Polyflex® SA P premium self-adhesive roofing membranes with ADESO technology. The membranes provide a simple, safe, and economical roof installation without compromising structural integrity and lap-sealing capabilities. Elastoflex SA V membranes consist of a “true” SBS compound on the top layer, and Polyflex SA P membranes consist of an APP compound on the top layer. Eliminating the need for torching and mopping, both membranes provide strength, weathering resistance, and waterproofing performance.

With limited funds for future roof restoration, RTSD needed a roof with guaranteed longevity. The bottom layers of the Elastoflex SA V and Polyflex SA P membranes made this possible by utilizing an aggressive self-adhesive compound that ensures a long-lasting, durable roof.  Elastoflex SA V membranes are reinforced with a strong fiberglass mat to guarantee excellent dimensional stability and provide pliability at low temperature conditions. Also guaranteeing excellent dimensional stability, Polyflex SA P is built with high-performance reinforced polyester.

In addition to these benefits, Elastoflex SA V membranes are finished with a polyolefin film with lay lines on the top surface and a split release film on the bottom surface. Polyflex SA P membranes are finished with granules on the top surface utilizing SealLap® and FastLap®.  SealLap is a patented, unique, factory-applied adhesive treatment system that enhances sealing at the side and end laps of membranes, and FastLap is a patented process through which granulated sheets are manufactured with granule-free roll ends, making tight seals at the seams and faster end laps. Together, SealLap and FastLap create a unique lapping system that allows membranes to bond instantaneously to each other.

Built amid San Diego’s rainy season, the roof benefited from both self-adhesive membranes being cleaner, safer, stronger, easier, and quicker than traditional and conventional systems to install. “During this project, Polyglass SA self-adhesive products offered a quick application and proved to be versatile, clean, odorless, and watertight,” says McReynolds.

The donations from Polyglass, among donations from several roofing companies, came to RTSD through the San Diego Roofing Contractors Association’s (SDRCA) Build-A-Roof program. SDRCA, formed in 1957 to preserve and promote the art of roofing application, sponsors one roofing project per year through its Build-A-Roof program by donating materials and volunteers. For 40 years, SDRCA has helped the community by contributing roofs to senior citizens, halfway houses, wild fire victims, non-profit organizations, and museums.

Approached by Thorsch in 2005, SDRCA, with Susi as chairman of the Build-A-Roof program, chose RTSD as its 2006 Build-A-Roof project. “Pamela gave a great presentation about why our association should fund the project,” admits Susi. “We knew we would be helping out a lot of people when we made our decision.”

Before Build-A-Roof volunteers could begin installing the Polyglass roofing membranes, RTSD had to find someone to tear off the old warehouse roof and replace rotted fascia boards, which became an issue due to large amounts of dry rot.

Job Corps, a vocational training program for at-risk youths funded by the U.S Labor Department, was recruited and tore off the dry-rot wood and replaced the fascia boards in preparation of the new roof. With the old roof removed, the installation of the Polyglass products took only 5 days to complete with the help of 12 volunteers from various companies, including California-based RSI Roofing and Top Line Roofing, as well as Polyglass. “Considering the short time span, confined work space and the amount of people we had on the site, the project went smoothly,” says Susi.

“All the volunteers were absolutely amazing,” says Thorsch. “I am really impressed with companies like Polyglass because, not only did they donate material, but the company also had management contributing to the actual building process.”

Polyglass’ National Technical Services Manager Steve Wadding, and Technical/Sales Representative Steve Bogner, donated their time to help with the roof installation and have since traveled back to San Diego with McReynolds on several occasions to ensure proper roof maintenance.

As a result of the new roofs and the dedicated Build-A-Roof volunteers, RTSD was able to successfully expand to include a year-round program in addition to the annual April Event Day.

“We could not have done this without all the time and effort from everyone who contributed to the project - especially SDRCA, David Susi, and the San Diego roofing community for making the whole project possible,” says Thorsch. “Everyone really made a difference.”

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