In early 2018, property management company MK Asset Management expanded its portfolio with two new business complexes in suburban Chicago, Illinois, and one near Atlanta, Georgia. As part of their plan to upgrade each facility, MK quickly reached out to West Roofing Systems, Inc. in search of assistance.
According to Brian Chavalia, president of the roofing contractor, MK made it clear from the start that flexibility on many fronts would be critical. “Initially, MK was looking for pricing on the three properties as separate projects, and they did not believe they could afford to re-roof all three locations in the same year,” Chavalia explained. But after sensing interest from the client in combining all three into one lump-sum contract, the contractor worked on economy-of-scale reductions to make it worth MK’s while.
“It started with our sales representative in Georgia,” said Chavalia, who is based out of West’s Ohio office. “I think they found us at a trade show. The biggest reason they selected us was because they knew we could handle all the locations.” West Roofing Systems coordinated logistics with crews in the Midwest and South, and since Chavalia is a Midwesterner himself, he took the lead on projects in Round Lake Beach and Des Plaines, Illinois.
Two Different Membranes
Of the three projects, the job in Round Lake Beach proved to be the most unique and challenging based on the diversity of the substrate. Since Chavalia has nearly 40 years of experience with West Roofing Systems, he was a natural fit to head up that operation.
“Round Lake Beach was interesting with different primer treatments on the two different single-ply membranes, both being installed at different rates,” Chavalia recalled. “This was definitely a little unusual, to have two different substrates. But because of our diversity of spray foam equipment, it wasn’t too challenging for us.” Round Lake was also the first of the three complexes for the crew to restore, so they wanted to make a strong first impression, too!
The roofing job consisted of a 33,000-square-foot (3,065.8 m2) thermoplastic polyolefin (TPO) section and a 35,000-square-foot (3,251.6 m2) ethylene propylene diene terpolymer (EPDM) part, which the West crew began working on in late April 2018. Given the challenges of Chicago winters, it helped that the client could wait until conditions were more ideal for coating. “Fortunately, we did hit a nice stretch of weather in there,” Chavalia said. The warmer late spring weather also helped because it meant coating materials could cure within hours, rather than having to potentially wait overnight before installing another layer.
Businesses including a Mexican restaurant, Big Lots, and a laundry facility remained open throughout the three-week project, so the crew aimed to be as quiet and efficient as possible. The 15-foot (4.6 m) tall roof sloped toward the back of the complex, where the crew utilized extension ladders to lift themselves, materials, and equipment onto the roof. “That’s why we set up in the rear,” Chavalia said. “We set up equipment to avoid any complications in deliveries coming into those buildings. We always work around the tenants.”
Two skilled craftsmen were the stars of the show during the first week, when they helped replace the roof’s gutters and perform metal work as needed. While they didn’t stick around for the final two weeks of coating and foam, Chavalia said his company’s ability to offer an end-to-end solution assured the client that West was the right choice for the job. “We make all our own gutters and have on-staff installers,” he said. “Nothing is subcontracted there. It’s all one turnkey operation.”
Foam and Coat
With gutters and minor metal repairs completed, the final two weeks of the three-week job consisted of applying the coating and spray polyurethane foam, also called SPF or spray foam. Personal protective equipment (PPE) for the crew, which doubled in size to four new members during application, consisted of half-face 3M respirators, work boots, safety glasses, and nitrile gloves. “We had two to three laborers to help with moving hoses and rolling out products,” Chavalia explained. “And then there is a ground man that operates pumps, or the equipment.”
With the application team in place, the rest of the crew power washed the substrate using 2,500–3,500 psi (17.2–24.1 MPa) washers from Mi-T-M to ensure proper surface preparation by cleaning and removing any contaminants. From there, the first step of the coating process involved applying Henry’s Pro-Grade 294 elastomeric base coating and sealer to the TPO membrane. The water-borne product is highly resistant to disbonding and is used as a stain-blocking sealer before the application of silicone. Working section by section, the 294 was rolled out at a rate of approximately 100 square feet per gallon (2.5 m2/L). Meanwhile, the EPDM portions were treated with Henry’s Pro-Grade 941 primer at a rate of approximately 1,000 square feet per gallon (24.5 m2/L) using a pump sprayer. The 941 works to promote adhesion.
Once the complete roof was primed, the crew used a Graco H-40 Reactor machine to spray Henry’s PERMAX 3.0 closed-cell spray foam insulation at an average of 1.5–2 inches (3.8–5.1 cm) to help seal most roof penetrations. On penetrations in tighter areas, the Pro-Grade 957 mastic membrane was instead applied by trowel at an 1/8-inch (0.3 cm) average. “Sometimes due to the drainage of the roof, you don’t want to use spray foam because it could gum it up,” Chavalia said.
With penetrations prepared, the closing step was the installation of Henry’s Pro-Grade 988 silicone white roof coating. Using a Graco Xtreme airless spray pump, the crew gave both roof areas at Round Lake a 6-inch (15.2 cm) striping on all seams of the existing membrane at an approximate rate of 0.75 gallons (2.8 L) per 100 square feet (9.3 m2), or “roofing square.” Then, the roof’s entire field received a Pro-Grade 988 at a rate of roughly 2 gallons (7.6 L) per roofing square.
The finishing touches involved areas with rooftop equipment, such as heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) units, where maintenance personnel might tread more frequently than most other areas. “For those, we did an additional coating layer with an aggregate finish,” Chavalia said. “It adds some slip resistance.” Using rollers for more intricacy, those spots received an extra layer of the silicone with granulated material added.
“We use chalk lines to make it nice and square and uniform looking, and then we roll it,” Chavalia explained. “It’s just like you’re a kid and painting with crayons. Stay between the lines, and make it look neat!”
Depth Pays Off
After two weeks of coating and three in total (including gutters and metal work), the West Roofing Systems crew completed its assignment on time and on budget. Chavalia cited his company’s flexibility as paramount to its success. “Our depth, to be able to cover those areas and have a diverse specification and be able to follow it, that was the key,” he said.
As the coating and spray foam supplier, Henry sent a representative to inspect the roof following application for warranty purposes. “We had no touchups that needed to be made or anything,” Chavalia said. “We passed the warranty inspection with flying colors.”
In the end, the client received its desired 15-year warranty, and the contractor earned even more trust that it was also the right choice for the final two legs of MK’s turnkey property assignment. It was a win for both parties, and for the environment, too!
“The use of the elastomeric coating application and SPF roof system eliminates the contribution of the roof system to already overburdened landfills,” Chavalia said. “The roof system is renewable, providing MK with a watertight roofing solution that will likely exceed the useful life of the structure. And it will have a significant impact on the fuel consumed to heat the building by adding monolithic insulation. I was very pleased with the way it all came together.”