Roof Coatings Articles

Stopping Leaks in the Lone Star State

Photos courtesy of Foam Kote, Inc.
Vendor Team

Safety equipment manufacturer
3M Center
St. Paul, MN 55144
(888) 364-3577

Foam Kote, Inc.
SPF and coatings contractor
1102 Minnesota St.
South Houston, TX 77587
(713) 943-0672

Graco Inc.
Equipment manufacturer
88 11th Ave. NE
Minneapolis, MN 55413
(612) 623-6000

Miller by Honeywell
Safety equipment manufacturer
1345 15th St.
Franklin, PA 16323
(800) 873-5242

Lapolla Industries
SPF manufacturer
15402 Vantage Pkwy. E #322
Houston, TX 77032
(281) 219-4100

When Dixie Safe and Lock Inc. in Houston realized their 25-year-old corrugated metal roof was beginning to rust and leak into their building, they felt anything but secure. Not wanting to disrupt business during the project, the locksmith and commercial security company needed an experienced contractor that could fix the roof while the business remained open. Dixie knew a specialized roofing contractor was the key.

Enter Foam Kote Inc. Established in 1973, Foam Kote is a father and sons owned and operated commercial, industrial, and residential insulating and roofing company. Butch Umberger and his two sons, Archie and Cyrus, run the business along with Butch’s business partner.

With more than 40 years in the business, Foam Kote, which is also based in Houston, Texas, has many loyal clients and has earned a reputation for excellence in Texas and across the United States.

“It is pretty unique in the foam business to be open as long as we have been, and in the same location,” said Archie. “We provide quality service and commitment to our customers and bring professionalism and personal attention to every project.”

In addition to commercial roofs, the company also specializes in tanks, coolers, freezers, vans, rail cars, buoys, barges, and skids. The Foam Kote team sprays all types of foam and coatings: closed-cell spray polyurethane foams (SPFs), open-cell foams, pour foams, polyurea coatings, acrylic elastomerics, butyls, silicones, thermal fire barrier protective coatings, and trans-coat emulsion under coatings. On this project, the solution included an acrylic-coated SPF system.

A Family Affair

The project team for Dixie included Butch, Archie, and Cyrus. Foam Kote had some hurdles to face on this project, especially from Mother Nature.

While most people do not associate Texas with rain, it showered off and on throughout the entire two-week-long project period. There were also very high winds, sometimes with 30 mph (48.3 km/hr.) gusts, that greeted the team on various days.

Since the business remained open, customers and employees were in and out of the building all day and there were lots of vehicles in the parking lot.

“We had to wait a couple of days with the wind to make sure it was safe to be up on the roof and to make sure the foam didn’t spray off of the roof and onto cars or people,” said Archie. “We also had to wait with the rain for things to dry up to make sure the coating process was successful.”

Adding to the pressure, the roof was quite steep. The project area consisted of three separate corrugated metal roofs across the building.

Not Their First Rodeo

Despite these obstacles, the experienced team got to work on the days when the wind and rain weren’t too extreme. Butch and his sons made sure the wind wasn’t going in the direction of vehicles and moved cars accordingly. They also used a wind screen to prevent the coating from spraying off the roof and down to the parking lot.

To stop the roof from further deteriorating, two members of the team first cleaned the roof with 4,000 psi (27.6 MPa) pressure washers and then let it dry. They also primed and prepped all 6,142 square feet (570.6 m²) of surface area. To prime, they used Lapolla’s Thermo-Prime black acrylic primer at a rate of 1/2 gal./ft.² (20.4 L/m²).

Given the steep roof, they kept the heavy equipment on the ground. That included a Graco H-40 proportioner for the next step: applying Lapolla 2.8 lb. (1.3 kg) SPF, also called spray foam. That layer went down in one 2-inch (5.1 cm) layer over all three corrugated roofs.

To finish the project, the team applied two coats of Lapolla’s thermo-flex acrylic elastomeric protective coating with a Graco Extreme King 45:1 airless pump. The first coat was a tan basecoat and the next was bright white. Applying two different colored coats allows the team to know where they have applied both coats and ensure coverage of the entire area, a total of 35 mils (889.0 microns) dry film thickness (DFT).

During this process, Butch, the Umberger patriarch, remained on the ground, watching the equipment and monitoring materials so the team on the roof — his two sons — didn’t run out.

By remaining on the ground, Butch also ensured the safety of his sons, who each wore a harness and lanyard by Miller, 3M respirators, and steel-toed boots. Since the roof was 30 feet (9.1 m) in height, safety was critical. Archie and Cyrus also wore safety glasses and protective, long-sleeve clothing to guard against the heat and foam overspray.

“As a close-knit family, my brother, father, and I can often anticipate each other’s needs during the project, which helps make for a seamless process — from prepping to coating,” said Archie.

A Cool Success

The father and son team completed the project without a hitch.

“Dixie saved money by not having to replace the roof,” said Archie. “Plus, the building was very hot, but thanks to our [work], the roof is now insulated, which helps cool the building.”

Indeed, the project will stop leaks and help with energy costs because the insulation will cool temperatures from radiant heat. The white topcoat on the roof will also reflect the sun’s heat, rather than absorbing it, to further reduce energy costs and the building’s temperature. That can amount to big savings in a state like Texas that often experiences extreme heat.

With the cost savings and 10-year warranty on the new roof, the clients were very pleased with their new roof. One might even say that they were through the roof!

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