The Grand Avenue Temple United Methodist Church in Kansas City, Missouri, was in dire need of a roof fix. The building has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1985, and, according to Robin Sova of the client in a testimonial, it houses a “one-of-a-kind Skinner Opus 190 Pipe Organ.” The organ is listed in the National Register of Historic Instruments.
Despite its storied past, the 100+-year-old structure was riddled with leaks. And, as is typical of many churches and other nonprofit organizations, finances were tight.
Luckily, the church, which offers food, housing, and sermonizing to local people who are homeless, received a flyer in the mail promoting roof coatings. From that point on, they decided to consider that solution, and they started looking for liquid-applied help.
They received three bids, but they were all too expensive — until Elite Roof Systems. “I looked at it and said, ‘There’s no reason it can’t be coated. It’s just a mod bid directly over concrete.’ So that’s what I presented to them,” explained Richard Tooley, owner of Elite Roof. He offered them a bid that was at a much more reasonable price, but the divine intervention didn’t stop there.
A donation came into the church the week right before Elite Roof was to start — and the gift was for almost the same amount as the roof coating. “It ended up being just enough money to do the roof, so they didn’t have any money to do change orders or upgrades, and we knew that going in,” Tooley said. It was a sign!
Stairway to Heaven
The roof was five stories tall, and aside from an 18-inch-wide (45.72 cm) spiral staircase from the neighbor’s building that wasn’t wide enough to carry materials, there was no other way for the coatings crew to access the site. “There were serious access problems,” Tooley explained.
Avoiding the use of a stairway, the 3- to 4-person Elite Roof crew relied on a boom lift from JLG to get the crew members and materials up top — only a few buckets at a time to avoid overloading it, according to Tooley. There was only on-street parking, though. “It had to remain in the alley and sometimes out on the street,” Tooley explained. “And there was barely any room. We had to move it a lot. Just to get it up and down, we had to move it because there wasn’t any room to let the boom down.”
The crew is certified in using the boom lift. They employed other safety protocols on this job, too, such as wearing harnesses from Guardian with retractable lanyards and anchor points around the roof. With a 6:12 pitch roof, safety was crucial. “It was flickin’ dangerous,” Tooley said.
Once up top, the crew started by power washing. It took them two days, and they used equipment from Water Cannon. According to Tooley, this wasn’t a big job at 8,712 square feet (809.4 m2), but it was a little complicated at this point due to the pitch. “It’s just harder to work on; it’s just slick. And you’re always having to work with your harness,” he explained.
The next step was to attend to all seams. “We had to re-torch a lot of the seams and use some polyester fabric in some areas,” Tooley said. They also used GE Silicone Enduris seam sealer in those areas and taped and papered the detail work, too.
With the substrate prepped and ready to go, it was finally time for the Elite Roof crew to get to the coating system. Two coats of GE Silicone’s Enduris coating went down at 1.25 gallons (4.7 L) per 100 square feet (9.3 m2) each.
“We started on the back side and worked our way from north to south. And then came up over the ridge and worked our way toward the man lift, which was on the northeast corner of the alley,” Tooley said.
The crew was able to spray apply the basecoat in two days using Graco’s GH 933. The next day was Sunday — it was time for church. By Monday, the day they were to apply the topcoat, the wind had picked up. As a result, Elite Roof decided to avoid any overspray issues and roll the second layer on instead. With more crew on site, they were able to knock out the topcoat with rollers in a single day.
The crew embedded light gray ceramic granules into the wet topcoat to help avoid recreating that troublesome slick surface. They used an SR 450 blower from Stihl to get the granules distributed. “We coated it, and then blew it out,” Tooley said. “Everything went really well.”
It took the crew nine days to complete the historic project. “The crew was hardworking, friendly, and courteous,” said Sova in the testimonial. “[Elite Roof] cleaned up the site every day and bent over backwards to move their lift equipment so we could accommodate our weekly trash Dumpster emptying.”
The system should not only fix the leak problem for the church and offer a 20-year warranty, but Tooley even offered 2 percent in charitable donations back to the church “upon completion,” he said. He offers that to all of the churches that his company works with. In addition to that, because of their agreement not to make any change orders, he threw in the anti-slip granules and the coating for the copper on top of the parapet walls for free, too. “That’s a copper coating that we’d put on a house a few months earlier and we had like five buckets left over,” Tooley said. “We didn’t think we’d ever use it again. I just threw it in there for them for free. They loved it. It gave it a little more elegant look.”
“In the end, Richard even gifted us with free add-ons that we had not originally contracted for: embedded granular surface grit and a copper-colored coating for our green weathered copper flashing!” Sova said. “The roof looks great, and we look forward to a leak-less future.”